Jack Attack on GamePolitics, Pt 1: The Demonizing

July 20, 2007 -
Although he is regularly covered here and is a frequent source of GP news items, anti-game attorney Jack Thompson has had a contentious relationship with GamePolitics over the years.

Last Thursday PopZart published an interview with Thompson in which GamePolitics was the primary target of the controversial attorney's spew. 

I was given the opportunity to participate, but declined when I realized the author was after a mano-a-mano feature pitting Thompson and GP. That tale is too complex to be left in the hands of a writer with whom I have no prior acquaintance. Reading the final product convinces me it was the right call.

In the article, the vitriolic attorney also takes off after Kotaku's Brian Crecente, Take Two Interactive boss Strauss Zelnick, the Penny Arcade crew and a few others. Here are some of his comments relating to GamePolitics as well as my responses.
JT: People tend to demonize their opponents in order better to try to marginalize them. I am sure I have been guilty of that at times, and I apologize.

GP: Damn straight you've been guilty of that. Apology accepted. Also, check with the Attorney Generals of Louisiana and Utah on that whole demonization issue. Check with former ESA boss Doug Lowenstein, who you compared unfavorably to Saddam Hussein.

In relation to this, I've often wondered why Thompson believes that demonizing people helps his cause? Likening Doug Lowenstein to Saddam, for example, is not only inflammatory, but ultimately a distraction from the issue at hand.

When this question has been posed, Jack typically spouts some nonsense about Jesus calling out the pharisees as the whited sepulchre. Maybe so, but I don't recall Jesus being so downright nasty about it. And what of the concept that men of good will may disagree? Not operative, it would seem, in this case. Finally, Thompson apparently doesn't care that his rancor has cost him dear among potential allies. But he should, his crusade would be far more effective with influential support.
JT: I was interviewed... by a major newspaper in the UK about the Manhunt 2 victory... They know over there that I was in the middle of this effort. Industry lapdog “news sites” like GamePolitics won’t acknowledge that because now Dennis McCauley of GamePolitics has totally sold out. He is part of ECA, an industry entity.

GP: The truth is, we write about Thompson so much on GamePolitics that some readers complain about it. Jack, on the other hand, seems to feel that if we don't print the precise story he would like to see, that we're trying to hide his activism.

However, if you search GP for "Thompson" and "Manhunt" you'll find at least a dozen recent articles containing those two terms. Most of them clearly delineate Thompson's activities, including this one, which explicitly lays out Thompson's key role in drawing the Florida Attorney General into the Manhunt 2 debate.

We didn't cover Thompson's interview? So what? Time is limited and so is space. There are a lot of things we don't cover every day. When Thompson gets to be GP editor, he can make those decisions. Until then...
JT: That [UK] story would have proven I am reasonable, which the likes of Dennis McCauley do not want because to demonize Jack Thompson is to demonize all opponents of the sale of adult-themed video games to children. These people don’t report the truth, because the truth is not in them.

GP: So the issue of whether Jack Thompson is "reasonable" hinges on a single article? That's pretty sad. What's more, by Thompson's logic, I guess I'm demonizing myself, too, because I don't want adult-themed games sold to children, either. I'm on record, for example, as supporting the AO rating assigned to Manhunt 2 by the ESRB.

The issue, as Thompson well knows, is whether or not game content should be legislated. Personally, I don't believe so, but you're welcome to disagree. I may take issue, but promise not to call you either a whited sepulcher or a Saddam Hussein clone.

An explanation for Thompson's penchant for attack may lie in his 2005 book, Out of Harm's Way. In a chapter offering tips to would-be culture warriors, Thompson writes:
Be mean... Trust no one... Use the media to your advantage... Take the offensive...

I'm not sure, however, that he read this part of his own book, which says:
Remember, it's not about you...

GP: Thompson's attack on GamePolitics was extensive. So is our reply. Look for Part 2 soon...

Comments

It ISN'T about you, It's ALL about Jack, though...

@neveranything

Hopefully, but this issue isn't quite that clear cut. The first amendment will obviously never just disappear, but further amendments and laws can potentially redefine obscenity or otherwise single out video games if enough people believe that they pose this nonexistent threat to human safety.

(I think. I'm not as much an expert as I should be.)

My personal stance on art:
Beauty is not all that is in the eye of the beholder.

Nightwng2000
Nw2K Software

What does he think you are, some kind of printing press?

Did he pass that one test they made him take to see if he was crazy or not?

Thompson sez:
"Remember, it's not about you..."

Damn coffee spit take! Someone owes me a new monitor!

Before we hear "blah blah blah" from John Bruce about GP's choice not to participate or the ever popular "Why don't you ask Dennis blah blah blah. He'll never tell you blah blah blah". (Actually, those "blah blah blah"s I hear more as the "adult" voices on the old Charlie Brown specials. John Bruce makes about as much intelligent sense as them, anyway), I'd like to voice my familiar comment of "I neither condemn nor approve of GP's choice not to participate in that interview. It was Dennis's choice. Would have been interesting, for sure. Nevertheless, I have nothing negative or positive to say about it. It was Dennis's choice for Dennis's reasons."

'nuff said.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

@evilzombie - He did pass the first psychiatric evaluation in the early 90s.

@Keith - Yes, let's go 'fight club' on him and prove his point of view right about gamers being violent thugs. :P

Could Rockstar take that as admitting to breaking that little contract? I would try for it anyways...

I swear, this all sounds like those crappy celebrity fights. JT just doesn't want to shut up. Other than GP, what other news-esque site posts JT information? Kotaku is about it, and I don't read Kotaku because its too many sites and theres a lot of unconfirmed stuff there (IMO).

So no offense, GP, you do feed the troll, but you do it as lightly as possible, in ways that only seem important. He's starving for attention, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, he'll eventually stop...or doing something drastic.

JT made a lot of nasty comments about me in that article. I plan to address them all. That's why this is a multi-parter.

We do give him coverage, but then, more than any other site, his activities are central to the topic we specialize in.

I remember how bad it was on Livejournal.
It wasn't just you, everyone who posted got venomous remarks

I've gotta hand it to dennis here. There are a number of things I've wanted to spit back in Jack's face, and I don't have the added rancor of being verbally assaulted by the man on a constant basis.

Bravo Dennis! There's no way in hell I'd be able to write something like this without including a few dozen curse words and personal insults to Jack. Youget 50 Bonus points for being a good writer. *Insert obligatory "Level Up" music here.*

As to Jack himself, who does he think he is? It's not all that hard to demonize someone who's already acting like a demon. He claims the moral high ground, then turns and pulls every sneaky, nasty little dirty trick he can pull out of his ass to achieve his goal. Hypocrite.

Thompson seems to spew irony out of every orifice. Strange that every bit of slander he mutters can be more easily attributed to him than his opponents. "Truth" has never been of interest to Mr. Thompson. He misrepresents psychiatric studies when he appears on television, and conveniently ignores those that propose the very opposite results. He downplays important factors which relate to violent outbursts such as poor psychiatric care, traumatic childhood experiences, and the violent writings many school shooters have had attributed to them.

Furthermore, Thompson asserts that content exists in the games he opposes that simply does not. "Gay sex" in Bully for example. Making a point to acknowledge that you can dunk a "black kid's head in a filthy toilet." Since race is a non-issue in this video game, and all students are subject to the same rules, such assertions of racism are absolutely reprehensible.

Thompson has stated that the DualShock controller is designed for conditioning, emitting a "pleasurable buzz to the hands" when you shoot someone. The absurdity of this cannot be overstated. Anyone who plays games know that the DualShock functionality is designed to emulate jarring effects such as crashes, explosions, and sometimes serves as a physical clue of some sort depending on the game.

Thompson also has a pattern of using filthy terminology and attempted to project that onto the games he combats. Parents don't like to hear words like "mental masturbation" and "pornography," but these are the scare tactics Thompson uses to push his agenda when they do not relate to the game industry at all.

But make no mistake about it. Jack Thompson knows what he is doing. He has done his research. It is by CHOICE that he ignores evidence contrary to his agenda and not due to being inept, as he'd like his opponents to believe. Jack Thompson is not a stupid man, nor is he clinically insane. He has nothing to prove to us, and instead feeds of the ignorant.

Is there NO picture that does not make him look like the biggest jerk in the universe?

Penny Arcade’s fabricating completely the “Modest Proposal” lies

....the HELL?

"about the Manhunt 2 victory… They know over there that I was in the middle of this effort. Industry lapdog “news sites” like GamePolitics won’t acknowledge that because now Dennis McCauley of GamePolitics has totally sold out. He is part of ECA, an industry entity."


Oh, I'll translate.

"About the censorship of Manhunt 2. I really don't like GamePolitics because they don't give into sensationalist news as the big television channels and newspapers do. On CNN I just have to say "Murder Simulator" and the knee jerk soccer mothers fall to my feet like unto a god. But on Gamepolitics they expect me to back up my rantings with these... facts."

GP, I'd just like to to thank you for actually replying. There are readers, no doubt, who would have preferred you ignore this, and they're entitled to their opinion, but I'm in the same camp as Hal Halpin on this one, and believe that to take what ought to be the high road, and remaining silent, abdicates our voice, as Mr. Halpin puts it. Now I'm sure he meant regarding video game legislation generally, but I believe it applies to critics such as JT as well.

I read the whole interview, and all I can say is, "meh". He spent the whole time glorifying himself, comparing himself to God, Jesus, or one of the saints, or demonizing anyone or anything he doesn't like.

Tipical Jack Thompson.

@Gil

JT promised to donate $10k to the charity of choice of whoever designed a video game to his specifications. I don't remember the exact requirements, but the idea (from the top of my head, and quite possibly inaccurate) was that the player was someone whose child was killed as the result of a violent video game, and went on a rampage killing game industry execs. A game was made which Penny Arcade (and most gamers) felt met the criteria Jack Thompson set forth, but Jack claimed his proposal was satire. Penny Arcade pretty much accused him of reneging, and donated $10,000 to a charity for him.

This made him cranky.

ut McCauley filed a Bar complaint against me over a year ago, claiming that my tactics were "unethical." He's entitled to his opinion, and he can even file a baseless Bar complaint. It was baseless, because The Florida Bar, whose hierarchy absolutely loathes me (we can talk about that more) looked at his ridiculous Bar complaint and threw it into the wastebasket.

Really seems himself as a martyr, doesn't he?

@AM

I'm aware of the details of the incident. It just caught me off guard that he says "nuh-uh, they made it up" in this interview.

"Industry lapdog “news sites” like GamePolitics won’t acknowledge that because now Dennis McCauley of GamePolitics has totally sold out. He is part of ECA, an industry entity."

I'm surprised you didn't comment on this... The ECA is a CONSUMER advocacy group, not an industry group. The twit would have realized this had he actually bothered to look up what the acronym stands for...

The irony of it is that the ECA represents the very people that JT completely overlooks in everything he does, the (adult) gamers!

I remember what was written on the check the most:
Because Jack won't


And then Jack tried to get them on extortion or something, right?

I think you made the correct choice in choosing not to go 1 on 1 with Jack Thompson in the forum of his choosing. I believe Jack Thompson fails to understand something crucial about this site, it's run by a gamer, FOR gamers. That there would be a considerable amount of "pro gamer/game industry" tilt would seem to follow logically. He seems stuck on the fact that while you DO publish a considerable amount of his exploits, you do not place them in a positive light.
He's also using a very interesting debate tactic known as "assign your opponent an argument." You, and the game industry as a whole, have a fairly large and complex theoretical point, that the ESRB is indeed a somewhat flawed entity but to go in attempt to legislate changes to it would create far more problems than it solves. Changes must instead be made to the ESRB itself, or better yet, to the retail industry itself, to prevent the sale of these games to minors. Parental education also takes the forefront on our side, since parents lack of education about the industry contributes to more minor sales than any other single problem. Jack has, instead of providing counterpoints to this in favor of legislating video games, has instead provided counterpoints to the non sequitor argument "we want to sell video games to children". I think we can all agree that's far easier to do, and also serves to assign a terrible point to the game industry.

Surely, there are "good" people working in all fields, even some lawyers, present company excluded of course.

What's he saying here? I think he's tripping over his own words.

Is he saying he's not a holy crusader for Jesus?

A point of interest I've always been curious about, and that's the excessive amount of coverage each and every one of your actions seems to gather within the gaming press. What's always struck me as odd is how each of the various media outlets seems particularly bent on your admonishment, rallying behind calls for your suppression while at the same time continuing to publish and give them exposure.

Mostly, we think he's crazy and wanna see what he's gonna say or do next while making no sense and being so sensationalist.

I mean that @#$%'s fascinating.

It's something he figured out long ago, people love a show, and Thompson gives a show, he enjoys being the bad guy. What's dangerous about him is not him, it's the fact that other people are stupid enough to believe him without checking the fine details.

Based on that second-to-last quote (in the post), Jack's hardly demonstrating the spirit of Christ. I don't think "Be mean" was one of those two most important commandments that Jesus mentioned. I will never understand where this man's head is at, his ass not withstanding.

Now, this is the Jack Thompson I like to see: the one who speaks calmly, makes his points and intentions clear, and can get through an entire interview withut using an insult commonly heard on kindergarten playgrounds.

If he just used this persona when dealing with the gaming community at large, he would be much less villified. I've known all along, from reading and watching Thompson's statements, that he's got something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde complex (this Jack, for example, is very different from the Jack that debated/yelled at Adam Sessler on G4), and I've never understood why he chooses to let that get the bestof him - he certainly seems controlled enough to keep himself in check when he wants to (or needs to). Letting himself explode does a great disservice to both himself (for obvious reasons) and to the gaming community (which can't argue its point effectively while dodging infantile insults) - so why do it?

And Dennis, what of Thomson's allegations against you?

@ Matt

I'm not going to start another rant like my last one, but from everything I've seen, I'm not sure Mr. Thompson actually believes in God. If he legitimately believed in the full teachings of the bible, New Testament and Old, his public behavior would be far different than it actually is.

@EOTD

I think it's more of something he can turn on and off. He loves the attention the outrageous moves bring him.

I find it interesting that he chose such an ubscure site to interview with. I have never heard of this site before today and I doubt many people in the world have either.

@EOTD

I can kinda see where you're coming from, but I can never support someone who wants to outright ban something just to "protect the kids/innocent". I for one would more than welcome a system imposed by the game industry itself to keep adult oriented games away from kids, but each and every piece of legislation, and each and every crusader, that I've seen come through want direct involvement from all levels of government to create ledislation that would be tantamount to censorship.

Jack himself has tried to use the courts to effectively ban games in the name of "protecting the children", which directly contradicts what he said in the interview.

I regreat giving popzart's website a hit, I don't want to be counted as one of their readers. Could they have been more biased? The didn't ask any hard hit questions to Jack. They gave him all nice easy lobs to let him spew his rant/preaching.

Dennis, you proved that you are afar bigger man than he.

"JT: People tend to demonize their opponents in order better to try to marginalize them. I am sure I have been guilty of that at times, and I apologize."

Bullshit Jack. Your apologies hold as much water as a cheese grater.

@Timmay!

I don't support Thompson or his views at all, but I do like it when his views are presented in a coherent fashion, which makes it a lot easier to debate them.

@E. Zachary Knight/Oldmankeebler

Thompson and popZart are a perfect match: Thompson wanted a site who he hadn't yet antagoized, and popZart wants more exposure. That almost certainly explains their allowing him to go on for three long paragraphs explaining with Biblical allusions how he doesn't cast a "dark shadow" (and didn't correct him and point out that they only said "shadow").

And did anyone else notice, that in any interview or debate Jack is in, he projects his voice and tries to be louder than anyone else?

"'Surely, there are “good” people working in all fields, even some lawyers, present company excluded of course.'

What’s he saying here? I think he’s tripping over his own words.

Is he saying he’s not a holy crusader for Jesus?"

@Gil

I think that was another stab at self-deprecating humor. He does lay that stuff on a bit thick.

why did GP delete my comment ???
w/e Tommy should be banned from the media, i goddamn hate his conservative movements

Oh ... my ... goodness, this PopZart site is TERRIBLE. Check out this graf from a "culture" story about a Barack Obama-as-Christ sculpture created by an art student. Is this racist? Or just dim-witted?

"You know there’s something about this Wunderkind Barack phenomenon that seems to speak to a trend I’ve noticed lately. These ethnically mixed Blacks that seem to have the Midas Touch in the culture. Barack Obama brings to mind other people, such as Black Samoan Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson from movie & pro wrestling fame, not to mention Cablinasian golf emperor Tiger Woods. They seem to have this ‘Golden Boy’ type of power that transports them to the very top of their fields in short time. The meteoric rise to stardom, replete with the natural charisma and the ability to inspire, have the ability to transfix and awe. When I see Obama on the campaign trail I concurrently see The Rock and imagine Obama saying “Barack’s laying the smack-down” raising an eyebrow."

I think Omaba just found his running mate! Barack and The Rock '08 FTW.

JT: That [UK] story would have proven I am reasonable, which the likes of Dennis McCauley do not want because to demonize Jack Thompson is to demonize all opponents of the sale of adult-themed video games to children. These people don’t report the truth, because the truth is not in them.

Oh and let me guess YOU DO? Don't forget you're the guy that said during the V-tech shootings that the killer played Counter-strike while the roommate said he never saw him play video games, and yet you kept pressing on a issue that did not exist.

"Time is limited and so is space."

uh, what?

@Keith - As per comments policy, I don't leave up anything remotely suggestive of violence against others. I know you were joking. Others won't see it that way.

@EOTD

Sorry, my mistake.

EOTD - I'll have more to say in the continuation.

Dais: quite simply, I don't have an unlimited amount of time to write articles, nor does GP have unlimited space - well, I guess it does, technically, but I don't want to devote an untoward amount of it to his stuff. He gets plenty of ink as it is.

Why does he keep pressing a Christian agenda? Surely separation of church and state and all that?

Anyway, GP is the only way I find out about JT's latest activities. Please, for the love of God, stop giving him press. He doesn't need it. He has nothing of note worthy of repeating. No one cares. Once you stop giving him that little ounce of press, he will die.

I personally cant stand thompson at all and any time anything happens at all he uses it to his advantage so i say good riddance

Cant wait to read part 2 though dennis and see what jacky boy complains about now

@las

The assumption that ceasing talking about Thompson will shut him up is dead wrong. All it will do is turn him into the proverbial elephant in the room. Not to mention the fact that if Dennis does start ignoring stories involving Thompson, he'll be doing exactly what Thompson has accused him of: abandoning his journalistic duty. Face it: GamePolitics reports on major news items that invlolve both a) games and b) politics, and it's not Dennis' fault that Thompson has a hand in a large amount of those stories.

To be honest I'm kinda sick of hearing about him. Unless he is actively involved in a court case, I just don't care.
 
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