ECA’s Hal Halpin: Disbarred Jack Thompson Still a Threat

Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) president Hal Halpin told The Escapist that, despite his recent disbarment, anti-game activist Jack Thompson will still be on the attack.

I did take some selfish joy in receiving Jack’s email announcing his formal disbarment, but you need to understand that Jack and I have a long and quite personal history, and in addition, I must receive a half dozen emails from him a day, so this was one that I appreciated receiving. Let’s put it that way.


It’s important that gamers, while having every right to rejoice in their karmic victory, should understand that this really doesn’t diminish his ability to be a force against us. Jack’s not going anywhere… believe me.

Halpin also touched upon the controversy triggered by former ESA boss Doug Lowenstein’s criticism of the gaming press over its coverage of Thompson:

I read Doug’s reaction statement with a lot of interest, actually. As many who have been around the industry for some time know, Doug was my mentor when he ran the ESA and I the IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association).


I believe I’ve gone on record before saying that one of the single largest mistakes we, collectively, made was ignoring Jack. I was certainly culpable in following Doug’s lead, but in doing so we left Jack as the only voice at the microphone; we empowered him, and it was strategically unsound and, in hindsight, altogether wrong.


I know that Doug stands by his decision and instead hoists the blame on the enthusiast press, but I respectfully disagree. It was the endemic media which cast the light on Jack, his misstatements and factual inaccuracies and point-by-point, systematically addressed his assertions… all the while educating their readers, and the mainstream media and public who cared to listen, on the realities of the situation.


I’ve always felt that the gaming press was the most underutilized weapon in the arsenal when it comes to battling our detractors and it was one of the first things we went about rectifying when we launched the ECA, just under two years ago.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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  1. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Moralist crusaders live off of righteous indignation, you know that feeling of shock an awe before logic and reason sets in(See J.Jackson /A. Sharpton whiny moralists with an anti logic agenda). JT could still be a threat if he manages to gain press and build a movement…but frankly his fame should fade.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  2. Shadow Darkman Anti-Thesis of Jack Thompson says:

    Nerd goggles. I never saw that in CV.



  3. JDKJ says:


    I’d imagine that Tyndale, because it publishes Christian material (whatever the heck that is) and Jack cast himself as a Christian culture warrior, was more inclined to entertain him than a more mainstream publisher would be. I suspect that Tyndale’s more a propaganda vehicle than a real publisher. And like any good business, Christian or otherwise, they were probably motivated more by the profit potential (which ain’t half-bad when the costs are near zero) than they were de-motivated by the risk of bad publicity (and some, like Thompson, seemingly believe that all publicity is good publicity). 

  4. Zerodash says:

    I find it very telling how the media that picked up on Jack’s disbarrment is talking in a manner like the man is dead.  Even with the "he’ll be back" speculation, the overall mood concerning him is that his overall relevance is done. 

    BTW, is Dennis’ headling "Jack Thompson is Still a Threat" a deliberate take on Castlevania’s "Dracula is Still a Threat", or am I just looking at it through nerd goggles?

  5. Joseph4th says:

    Thats more the type of answer I was looking for. I know somebody can be licensed to practice law in more than one state, but I wasn’t sure what the process was for applying to take the bar.  I didn’t know if it was something where you just show up, take a test, and there you go, or if as you said there was any sort of aplication screening process where they could just say, "sorry, you arn’t the type of person we want weilding a law license in our state."

  6. JDKJ says:

    And the hallmark of a vanity deal, unlike a true publishing deal, is that the author doesn’t get a single cent in the form of an advance from the publisher.  

  7. JDKJ says:

    It also explains why Jack’s book is so poorly edited and proof-read. In a non-vanity deal, the publisher usually is willing to spend the time (and money) on things like editing and proof-reading to ensure that a high-quality product goes to market (and the chances of them making their money back are thereby increased). In a vanity deal, the author has to do their own editing and proof-reading.

  8. JDKJ says:


    Jack got what’s called a "vanity publishing deal." Unlike your typical publishing deal where the publisher is willing to  take on all the costs (and the risk) of printing, distributing, advertising, etc., the book in hopes of making a profit on sales, in a vanity deal, the author has to suck up all these costs. It’s called a vanity deal because the author is so vain that they’re prepared to pay all the costs just to see their book get published.  


  9. jkdjr25 says:

    Here’s the thing though. Jack can now claim that he’s a vicitm of the corrupt entertainment industry. We know that he’s wrong but does the average American know that? He already got Tyndale, a Christian publisher, to publish his book. I called them about that when it came out to ask about why and the girl who answered couldn’t give me one. To her credit once I told her about his history she didn’t understand why Tyndale would publish it either though.

    I predict that Jack’s not going to enter politics in the sense of running for an office. No, Jack’s going to become a morals crusader the likes of which we have seen since Dr. Werthram, or the various anti-dungeons and dragons people. He’s going to be accepted by middle America because he’s trying to protect their children from an immoral and evil entertainment industry that wants to corrupt and abuse them. There’s a large segment of the population that will eat that argument up and it’s up to us and the ECA and the gaming press to combat that kind of propoganda.

    Make no mistake that in Jack’s mind he’s been made something of a martyr to his cause and that will only embolden him to greater acts of sleaze and libelous statements. He’s not going to go away and to assume that the stripping of his law lisence will silence him is just naieve.

  10. tony selby says:

    technically yes, however, before he gets accepted into any states bar they will definetely screen him, and with his history of misconduct and suing the FL State bar, i doubt that any state bar in the country would accept his application, regardless of whether or not he could pass the test (which is doubtful giving his aparent lack of grasp of legal procedings)

  11. vellocet says:

    I have to disagree with Mr. Halpin.  Jack preyed on the ignorance of the public by telling them all these things about games using his status as a lawyer to give it credence.

    Any argument a gamer would have to fight before against JT’s stupidity with anyone else would usually consist of bringing up all kinds of facts to disprove JT’s claims.  Facts that often non-gamers wouldn’t pay attention to or don’t understand.  The argument against JT now consists of three words "He was disbarred" – everyone understands that.  Argument finished.

  12. Shadow Darkman Anti-Thesis of Jack Thompson says:

    So… … … … that’s a yes?



  13. Erik says:

    Yet everything he ever tried ended in failure, thus he was never a threat.  He was like Steven Hawking threatening to kick your ass.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  14. potatojones83 says:

    Two things made him more of a threat than he should have been.

    First, nobody making the stand against him that should have (i.e. Lowenstein). JT was able to spew his bile with practicaly no opposition. Unfortunatly for him that ended up bleeding over into the court room where people did call him on that.

    Second, being a lawyer did afford him some manner of credibility. He could have (and was) spreading complete lies and false information and some people would believe because they were thinking "Hmmm, he is a lawyer, which means he has been to school, so he must be educated and therefore know what he is talking about". Now that he’s been disbarred for, among other things, lying he certainly lost much, if not all, of that credibility.

    So he was a threat even though he never should have been.

  15. Krono says:

    Well, there are some lawsuits and legislation that probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere if Jack hadn’t been able to get people’s ears.


  16. MaskedPixelante says:

    Threat? No. Minor annoyance, toothless dog, definitely.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  17. Shadow Darkman Anti-Thesis of Jack Thompson says:

    Sweet! I’ll take my turn now! FALCON KICK!!! *kicks D.L. in the balls*



  18. Vake Xeacons says:

     But no ones going to listen to him (publicly). His campaign relied on people listening to him, and no one’s going to want anything to do with him now, not even Fox. He’ll just bring bad press, and no one wants that. He’s a leper. The disbarment was a mainstream quarrentine.

    No JT’s not going to shut up anytime soon, but the only press he’s going to find is right here. And as much as this encourages him to continue, opposition in gaming press isn’t going to give him a political platform. Whatever power he had over mainstream is now gone. It’s time to turn to the real threats.

  19. BearDogg-X says:

    Halpin’s right on all counts. Just because Thompson has been disbarred doesn’t mean he’ll drink a tall glass of Shut The F*** Up. Lowenstein basically helped allow Thompson to be the main voice in this debate(a debate Thompson lost) by not taking him on, even though the mainstream media is incredibly biased.

    -Back in Black from a forced hiatus by Hurricane Gustav.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  20. Aliasalpha says:

    Didn’t he frequently compare himself to Batman too? Perhaps if he goes all Budd Dwyer, he’ll do it with a batarang, probably in his typical epic fail manner.

    I can see it now, he’s on tv, pulls out the batarang & shouts "I’m gonna do it, noone try and stop me!". He gives the batarang a mighty hurl, the cord gets tangled on his thumb and he just sits there embarassed and then after a minute or two, yells that GTA is to blame.

  21. black manta says:

    I have to disagree with Hal and agree with Zerodash on this one.  Jack’s main source of power was his standing as a lawyer.  It didn’t matter if he was a good one or not.  As soon as people hear the word, "lawyer" or "attorney," they automatically assume he’s a big shot.  It accords certain amount of respect and fear: respect because lawyers are seen, rightly or wrongly, as an authority figure, and fear because on some subconscious level, they know they could sue you at any time if they ever felt like it (kind of like how Darth Vader could Force choke his subordinates whenever he wanted to).

    And the thing was, Jack knew this.  In fact, most of his threats relied on people’s knowledge of him being a lawyer and little else.  Just like he gambled that not many people would not bother to fact check his erroneous statements about video games and take them at face value, he played on the fact that people would simply accept he was a lawyer and not look too deeply into his track record or his character.  As some have said, most people outside the video game and entertainment industry have never heard of him and have no clue who he is.  So when they got a fax or an email from him, all they knew was he’s an attorney and he’s threatening them with legal action.  And in today’s litigious society, that’s more than enough to cause the average person to shit their pants.  They didn’t know he was a kook and that his threats were all huff and bluster.  So they’d sooner capitulate and give him what he wanted rather than expend time and money in assembling a legal defense.  It was Jack’s favorite tactic, and how he got as far as he did.

    Now that will be gone, and he can no longer fall back on that.  Sure, he’ll continue to be a gadfly of some measure, but he’s been disgraced and rendered toothless.  Being disbarred will be a huge black mark on him and his reputation will precede him wherever he goes.  He could go the Fred Phelps route, but I think his ego’s too big for a cult leader and he’d quickly alienate any potential followers he might have.  He could devote himself to being a Deacon full time, but that won’t have the allure of fame that went along with being a lawyer.  I do see him as being a speaker at churches and conservative colleges, but that would be nowhere near as big as the platform he had when he was on national televsion, and in large part he’d be preaching to the choir anyway.

    And while some joke that he’d go on a killing rampage, I still think he’d commit a suicide a la Budd Dwyer.  I can easily imagine him blowing his brains out at a live televised press conference on Oct. 30 just like Dwyer did.  The earmarks are all there: both men felt they were unjustly persecuted and rather than accept their sentence, chose instead to desplay their defiance in one last, shocking act.  Jack I think would be especially prone to this since it’s been pointed out how narcissistic he already is, plus as a Christian zealot he’s got that whole persecution complex thing going.  He’s compared himself to Jesus directly or indirectly a few times, so to me, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine him figuring at this point he might as well go the whole nine yards and publicly and spectacularly martyr himself in front of everyone.

    So sorry, Hal.  While Jack can continue to talk, no one will pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth anymore.  His disbarment has irrevocably damaged what remained of his credibility and I don’t think he’s capable of mounting any kind of significant opposition.  He’s just another crackpot now be lumped-in with many other crackpots.

  22. beemoh says:

    >I’ve always felt that the gaming press was the most underutilized weapon in the arsenal when it comes to battling our detractors and it was one of the first things we went about rectifying when we launched the ECA, just under two years ago.

    I whole heartedly agree with this. While it’s not directly relevant, the complete lack of interviews with politicians in the UK games media in the leadup to, and aftermath of, the Byron review has been pretty shocking.

    Okay, certain members, Vaz, have repetedly refused to talk with gamers, but that’s no excuse for not chasing up the rest.


  23. Matriculated says:

    Jack’s too busy "destroying the Florida Bar" to be a threat to us (not that he ever was a threat; EVERY single action he’s taken against the industry has failed).

    Plus it genuinely wouldn’t surprise me if he’s in jail by the end of the the year for harrassment or practicing law without a license or something.

  24. Zerodash says:

    Jack is much less of a threat than ever before.  Permanent disbarrment is a HUGE black mark on his credibility, especially since the case OFFICIALLY proved that he is a constant liar and bully.  The man has been officially disgrased.

    In addition, most of his antics this past year have been mostly about Jack Thompson.  The man is fighting to save what little reputation he ever had in the first place.  Plus, with his conspiracy theories getting more and more insane, and his behavior not getting any better, Jack is sure to get into even more legal trouble soon.  Hell, I expect the man to get himself arrested in less than a year.

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