John Stossel Tackles Videogame Violence and Jack Thompson in a Show About 'Popular Nonsense'

June 10, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

In the latest episode of Stossel, Libertarian host John Stossel tackles what he views as "Popular Nonsense" including Hollywood's use of global warming as themes in movies, income inequality, and video game violence causing real-world violence. At around the 31:14 mark in this YouTube video of the show Stossel talks about violent video games and is joined by disbarred Florida attorney and long-time anti-video game critic Jack Thompson.

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Jack Thompson Talks GTA and Aaron Alexis on the Pat Campbell Podcast

September 20, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

Tulsa, Oklahoma Talk Radio Station KFAQ AM 1170 gives former Florida Attorney and familiar anti-game crusader Jack Thompson a chance to talk about his favorite subject: Grand Theft Auto.

On Pat Campbell's podcast, Thompson discusses at length the effects of the Grand Theft Auto series, the Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis' obsessive gaming habits, and the possible culpability of corporations that make violent video games.

You can find the show here. It's about 30 minutes long.

Jack Thompson to ECA: 'Maybe Now You'll Get It!'

December 17, 2012 -

Disbarred Florida Attorney and anti-game crusader Jack Thompson seems to have come out of hiding to talk about the as-of-yet unestablished link between video media and the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday. In an attempt to connect with the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), Thompson decided to leave a voice mail message for ECA President Hal Halpin. The roughly 35 second-long message from Thompson is equivalent to an "I-told-you-so" to Halpin, gamers, and the non-profit.

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David Kushner on His New Book, 'Jacked: The Outlaw story of Grand Theft Auto'

April 17, 2012 -

CNET has an interesting interview with games journalist David Kushner who talks about his latest book, Jacked: The Outlaw story of Grand Theft Auto. The book takes a deeper look at the Grand Theft Auto phenomenon, and delves into related topics such as the game's development, the ESRB, Hot Coffee and Jack Thompson, amongst other topics.

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Virginia Tech Found Negligent in Response to 2007 Massacre

March 14, 2012 -

Today, a jury has found Virginia Tech negligent in its response to the first shootings in the massacre committed at the school in 2007.

On April 16, 2007, at about 7:15 AM, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed two students in the Ambler Johnston Hall dorms.  About two hours later, Cho entered Norris Hall and opened fire on the students and faculty within.  He killed 30 and wounded 17 more before killing himself.

The university informed the students about the first shootings via email at 9:26 AM.

GTA V Announcement Timed with Thompson’s Three-Year Disbarment Anniversary

October 25, 2011 -

A friend of mine (a developer who will remain nameless) said that the Grand Theft Auto V announcement was oddly timed. I didn't understand what he meant at first until our readers and Twitter began mentioning that today's date coincides with the official start date of former Florida attorney Jack Thompson's disbarment date. On September 25, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court’s disbarment order for Thompson was signed. It went into effect 30 days later, on October 25, 2008.

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Jack Thompson Threatens Valve over School Shooting Mod

March 17, 2011 -

We have to write a story about Jack Thompson today. The anti-video game firebrand and former Florida attorney fired off a letter to Valve Software threatening to do something (we're not sure what he is threatening to do because he hasn't indicated the consequences in his letter to Valve's CEO) if the company doesn't do something about the Half-Life 2 mod, "School Shooter: North American Tour 2012."

Before we get into what Valve can actually do about a mod it has nothing to do with, here is Thompson's letter:

Lorne Lanning and Spencer Halpin Headline New Media Film Festival

March 16, 2011 -

Lorne Lanning (Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey), and Spencer Halpin (director of the documentary MORAL KOMBAT) will be joining founder/director Susan Johnston for the second Annual New Media Film Festival, to be held May 20-21. Showcasing the best in new media and featuring award nominated and winning filmmakers, the New Media Film Festival is dedicated to the creation, development, and distribution of new media content in all forms and across all platforms.

Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat is a documentary that offers both those for and against video games a chance to speak their minds. The documentary explores whether violent games should be banned or be protected as free speech under the First Amendment. Lorne Lanning is the creator of the Xbox launch title Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey and co-founder of the video game development company Oddworld Inhabitants.

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Coming Soon: Jack Thompson the Author, Theologian

January 18, 2011 -

Jack Thompson is changing careers. No longer allowed to practice law in Florida, Thompson has enrolled in the Reformed Theological Seminary, and is working on a book with University of Miami School of Education professor Eugene Provenzo called "Activism 101."

According to the web site for the seminary school, "Reformed Theological Seminary serves the church by preparing its leaders through a program of graduate theological education based upon the authority of the inerrant Word of God and committed to the historic Reformed Faith. We invite you to browse through our seminary web site to learn more about the programs available at our various Seminary campuses in Jackson MS, Orlando FL, Charlotte NC, Washington DC, Atlanta GA and our Virtual Campus."

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Unlikely Pair Come Out Against RI Adult Game Bill

March 12, 2010 -

While Rhode Island Bill S.2156 drew backing from the Parents Television Council, an unlikely pair has come out against the Bill, which proposes fines and possible jail time for retailers that sell “M” or “AO” rated games to underage patrons.

You might expect that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is against the Ocean State legislation. The organization offered us this statement from Rich Taylor, ESA Senior Vice President of Communications & Industry Affairs:

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ECA Forums: Feed or Ignore the Troll?

January 18, 2010 -

For those out there that might long for the days of Jack Thompson and find themselves wondering exactly what the disbarred attorney is up to day-to-day, seek help.

In addition to seeking help, you may also want to cast your vote in a poll currently running on the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) forums, which is asking for votes on the matter of starting a sub-forum dedicated to Thompson’s communiqués.

The current vote stands at 18 in favor of the addition, and 4 against.

As I understand it, if enacted, Thompson’s missives would be posted in his dedicated section by a forum moderator. Whether Jack himself would be able to post or engage users directly is still open for debate.

Voting is restricted to ECA Forum members, but anyone can sign-up for access.

Disclosure: GamePolitics is a publication of the ECA.

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One Mouse Click Later, Thompson FB Group Removed

October 1, 2009 -

Tuesday afternoon, Jack Thompson sent me his press release announcing that he was suing Facebook “for posting “Jack Thompson Groups” that call for his death and physical harm.”

Thompson sent three faxes to Facebook’s CEO demanding the immediate removal of the offending groups but after five weeks had received no response and the groups remained where they were.

I asked Thompson if he had tried simply clicking on the Report Group link (found at the bottom of every Facebook group) or emailing abuse@facebook.com.  According to the Facebook Safety page, complaints submitted via these methods will be addressed within 24 hours and those who email will receive a response within 72 hours detailing what actions, if any, were taken.

He responded by calling me a “total moron.”

So, I browsed Facebook and found about 80 Jack Thompson groups.  Most were of the “I Hate Jack Thompson” or “Jack Thompson is a Douche” variety but I did find three that condoned violence towards the man.  I picked a group called “I will pay $50 to anyone who punches Jack Thompson in the face” and clicked the Report Group link.  Unsurprisingly, the group was removed less than a day later. (Old link to the now deleted group)

Incidentally, this particular group turned out to be the first of four cited in Thompson’s complaint. 

So, you’re welcome, Thompson. 

Glad I could help.
 
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Senior Correspondent Andrew Eisen...

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Jack’s Back: Sues Facebook, Declares Himself a Winner

October 1, 2009 -

Jack Thompson has been making waves this week, riding a lawsuit against Facebook back into the mainstream media.

Thompson’s multi-million dollar lawsuit against Facebook is based on the disbarred lawyer’s findings, “nearly five weeks ago,” of “Jack Thompson Groups” spread across the social networking site, which he claims advocate violence and harassment against him. Thompson stated that, at the time, three different letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not result in the removal of these groups, which, in light of the company’s quick removal of “Should Barack Obama Be Killed” polls, only served to further incense Thompson.

Bloomberg and the Huffington Post are among the mainstream media outlets to pick up Jack’s suit, which he announced in an email on Tuesday, September 29. In the dispatch he labeled videogame “news sites,” including GamePolitics specifically, as “terror sites.”

An email from Thompson sent this morning, under the headline “Instant Confirmation from Around the Globe that Jack Thompson’s Suit against Facebook Is a Winner,” trumpets coverage of the case on both “reputable” news and videogame websites as proof  of “not only why the lawsuit had to be brought but why it will succeed.”

GP: Frankly, Thompson crowing victory as a result of the widespread coverage he received is among the reasons we didn’t report on the story as it developed. Is he still relevant to the gaming industry? It’s this editor’s opinion that he is not, at least when dealing in generalities. For now, as a way to move forward with this subject, GP will simply qualify coverage of any Jack story on a case-by-case basis. What do the GP readers think?

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Thompson on the Warpath Against Florida Bar President-Elect

September 30, 2009 -

No matter how much we try to avoid Jack, he just keeps doing things that make you raise your eyebrows, scratch your head and say "What?"

In an apparent case of pot vs. kettle, Jack Thompson has filed a complaint against Orlando City Attorney Maryanne Downs for making a disparaging remark about a judge on her personal blog, according to an item in the Orlando Sentinel. Downs also happens to be president-elect of the Florida Bar, the body that disbarred Thompson from practicing law last year.

According to the Sentinel:

According to Thompson, Downs linked to a column written by Orlando Sentinel talk-about-town columnist Scott Maxwell that was critical of Gov. Charlie Crist's judicial appointment of Michael Rudisill. On her blog, Downs described the column as "a thoughtful (and cogently written) story about another political hack being appointed to the bench by Governor Crist, possible because of the changes to our judicial nominating system back in 2001.”

Thompson has been known to blast anyone that remotely disagrees with him, including judges. His complaint against Downs was sent to the Florida Bar on Sept. 23.

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One Year Ago Today

September 25, 2009 -

He made us laugh. He made us cry. He made us angry. He made us scratch our heads.

Whatever you think of him, Jack Thompson certainly had an impact on the videogame industry and definitely helped to rally gamers together, even if, by and large, they rallied to oppose him.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Thompson’s disbarment. While being disbarred has not resulted in Thompson disappearing, it has taken away something from the vociferous one. Maybe it just made him easier to ignore or dismiss.

Earlier this week we received an email from Thompson stating that he was returning to practice law. Frankly we didn’t know whether to run it or not, but today seems as good a day as any to post it. We did ask a few members of the legal community to eyeball his stance, and while we won’t get into specifics, the response was that Thompson doesn’t really have a leg to stand on.

Thompson’s full email is after the jump.

Happy Anniversary.

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Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. Regulation of Games

July 29, 2009 -

So far, every single law seeking to restrict the sale of violent video games has been struck down by the federal courts; it would seem that such legislation is a losing proposition.  So how else might the government try to regulate our favorite pastime?  Writing for Joystiq, lawyer and gamer Mark Methenitis offers two possible scenarios which censorcrats might seek to employ.

The first is to impose content restrictions - not on the type of violence that can be shown but on the type of stories that can be told or the types of characters presented. The idea here would be to ensure that games are politically correct so as not to offend anyone and prevent flaps over perceived racism in games like Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead 2, or Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.  Of course, this still boils down to regulating speech so it’s not likely to be any more successful in the courts than restricting violent content has been.

The second is an idea presented by Jack Thompson during his debate with Methenitis at SGC09 earlier this month. Thompson speculated that the Obama administration might address America’s obesity issues by regulating our play time. But how? The government can’t just march into your home and turn off your Xbox. While there is no indication that Obama is planning any such thing, Methenitis explains how such a scenario might work:

When the government wants you to stop doing something, they tax it. Alcohol is taxed. Tobacco is taxed. Certain kinds of less-fuel efficient cars are taxed. In short, the theory is "fewer people buy things at a higher cost." And it's something that can be levied against both retail sales and digital downloads.

Taxing games is not a new idea but with the economy the way it is, now seems like the absolute worst time to try it.  Still, you never know. Methenitis:

It's always difficult to predict what the government may or may not do, or how the courts may or may not rule. The system, however, relies on the vigilance of the public to ensure that our rights are not infringed....

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...

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Video: Jack Thompson Q&A at SGC09

July 17, 2009 -

In addition to his debate with Mark Methenitis at the recent SGC09, disbarred attorney Jack Thompson engaged in an open forum Q&A session with attendees.

Thompson, who was paid $2,000 to appear, was on his good behavior for the event. That said, the questions from the audience were largely softballs.

The video offered by SGC09 is an edited version of the session.

 

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Screw Attack Posts Methenitis - Thompson Debate Video

July 16, 2009 -

If you didn't make it to SGC09 a couple of weeks back, Screw Attack has posted video of the debate between gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis and disbarred attorney Jack Thompson.

We've embedded the full Monty, but there is also a 16-minute, edited version.

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Game Violence Episode of Penn & Teller B.S. on YouTube

July 13, 2009 -

The video game violence episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! which originally aired last week is currently posted on YouTube in three parts.

Given the title of the series, need I say that the videos may be NSFW?

UPDATE: The videos have been removed from YouTube.

 

 

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Mark Methenitis Comments on Jack Thompson Debate

July 10, 2009 -

Over at Law of the Game, gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis writes about his recent debate with Jack Thompson at SGC09.

Mark also notes that video of the debate will be available at the ScrewAttack site next week. Along that line, ScrewAttack Program Director Craig Skistimas told GamePolitics earlier this week that video of Thompson's open forum Q&A session will be available as well. Here's what Mark had to say about the debate:

For those who didn't make it out to SGC, the event was outstanding, and the entire ScrewAttack crew deserves any and all praises you may have seen on their forums about the event. I also really appreciate Jack for making the trip out to the convention and participating in the debate.

In the meantime, Mark points to a clip of the debate's final seven minutes as well as some on-camera, post-debate comments he made to Late Night JengaJam.

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Tivo Alert: Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Tackles Video Game Violence

July 9, 2009 -

Tonight's Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is the much-anticipated episode on video game violence.

The program airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on Showtime. From the P&T:BS! website:

In episode 703, the duo debunks the theory of politicians and other alarmists that playing video games leads to teen violence by handing over a real semiautomatic weapon to a nine-year-old video game player to see if he becomes a human killing machine.

The promo video at left features a guy who is apparently an anti-game violence campaigner named Chris Cooney. I'll 'fess up that - in nearly five years of editing GamePolitics - I can't remember hearing of the guy, so I'm curious to see what he's all about. This is also the episode in which disbarred attorney Jack Thompson makes an appearance.

If you miss tonight's show, the program will be repeated several times over the next few days.

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U.S. District Court Judge Gives Jack Thompson 30 Days to Explain Why He Shouldn't Also Be Disbarred From Federal Court

July 7, 2009 -

Jack Thompson may have wowed the gamer crowd at SGC09 over the weekend, but Chief Judge Federico Moreno of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida appears to be decidedly less smitten with the disbarred attorney's act.

In a court order issued on June 26th, Moreno directed Thompson to explain why his October, 2008 disbarment by the Florida Bar should not also extend to Thompson's ability to argue before the federal bench.

"Wait," you're saying to yourself, "I thought Jack Thompson was already disbarred?"

That's correct. But Thompson has maintained for some time that the disbarment order of the Florida Supreme Court applies only to the state court system. Thompson has even taken to including verbiage to that effect in the headings of his e-mails, like the one below:

John B. Thompson, Juris Doctor
Once and Future Attorney
(address removed by GP)
Only Admitted to Practice in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Not Admitted in Florida

Despite Thompson's claim, Judge Moreno's order seems to indicate that Thompson's ability to function as a lawyer in federal court is, at best, on life support.

For his part, Thompson reacted with typical bluster to the Judge's order. For example, a July 2nd e-mail to Judge Moreno (cc'd to GamePolitics) demands copies of any communications concerning Thompson between the Southern District Court and the Florida Bar. In the e-mail Thompson seems to mock Judge Moreno and makes reference to being placed on a "terrorists watch list":

I make this request/demand because of your prior improper placement of me on a terrorists watch list in retaliation for my sending you a letter about judicial misconduct on your watch. Even the Deputy US Marshals thought that was absurd.  They laugh now every time I show up at the courthouse asking, “Are you still a dangerous terrorist, Mr. Thompson?”  Funny stuff.

Now you have entered a show cause order demanding that I explain why you should not disbar me from the federal court, and in doing so you have told me to spend at least $30,000 to make my case in producing documents all of which the Florida Supreme Court has and [can] give you free of charge...

 

If I get sent to Gitmo as a “terrorist,” then please send the stuff there.  I’ll be facing Tallahassee in prayer several times a day as required.

If you are curious as to the "terrorist watch list" reference, as GamePolitics reported last year, Judge Moreno dispatched a pair of U.S. Marshals to meet with Thompson afer the embattled attorney wrote to the judge, complaining:

We find yesterday that enemy combatants at Guantanamo are to get more due process from federal judges than what I am to have. I guess my "mistake" was not killing 3000 people to make my point...

Shortly thereafter Thompson complained that he was stopped from entering the courthouse in Miami by security personnel and was only permitted to enter the building with an escort.

Thompson, whose petition to review his disbarment was denied by the United States Supreme Court earlier this year, has a separate case relating to the disbarment ongoing in the Southern District.

DOCUMENT DUMP: GamePolitics has obtained a copy of Judge Moreno's one-page order via public records request. Grab a copy here.

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Jack Thompson Puts Best Foot Forward at SGC09 Debate

July 6, 2009 -

By all accounts, the Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis was a froth-free success. Thompson, who can be a charmer when he cares to, appears to have impressed the SGC09 audience with a respectful demeanor and self-effacing humor.

Of course, expo attendees sampled but a small slice of the disbarred attorney's act. Naturally, he didn't compare any of them to Saddam Hussein and didn't report them to various law enforcement agencies. Tactfully, Thompson also avoided dredging up any of the various negative generalizations he has made about gamers over the years, such as our personal favorite, "Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer."

We are still hoping to see full-length video of the debate and a subsequent Q&A session, but have been tracking some of the early reactions by attendees. Destructoid's Jim Sterling live-blogged the debate:

After seeing JT's unvetted Q&A earlier, I don't think this'll be the trainwreck people are expecting. Thompson was level-headed and well-behaved earlier...

JT... calls GamePolitics his favorite videogame site. [GP: LOL]

"We are getting to the point where we will understand that adult-rated games are just as harmful as seeing two naked people have intercourse"... "I'm the pro liberty, pro personal choice guy here..."

[JT said] that he got disbarred because he went on 60 Minutes but he'd do it all again.

The normally cynical Sterling, who appears to have sipped liberally from Thompson's Kool Aid, was even more complimentary toward the disbarred attorney in his coverage of the SGC09 Q&A session:

I think Jack Thompson did an amazing job yesterday. I don't agree with all his views, and I certainly disagree with the way he's put them across over the years. I think everyone who watched him yesterday will agree, however, that if he continues the rest of his crusade in the polite and intelligent manner with which he carried himself at SGC, he really wouldn't be such a bad guy to have around.

Overly Positive offers its impressions of the debate:

It seems the audience left the presentation and Q&A with at least a small amount of respect for Jack Thompson, not just for making his points in a rational manner, but for showing up at all. It seems that even if this is to some cynics a desperate grab for relevance, that Thompson honestly believes that presenting his side of the video games violence debate is worthwhile.

SCG09 attendee Sean Hinz also live-blogged the debate.

GP: I caught Thompson's debate performance at VGXPO 07. He is, as described by various SGC09 attendees, an engaging speaker. If he behaved that way all of the time he would almost certainly still have his law license and might still be an effective advocate for his cause.

UPDATE: More in the vein of the Miami Jack we remember here at GP, Thompson e-mailed his reaction to our coverage:

Dennis, pay attention, you might learn something:
 
1.  The comment about GP being my favorite game site was a joke, and everyone knew it.  That's why the laughter.  Not a lot of folks there care for you or GP.  
 
2.  I got about a 60-second standing ovation after the Q & A.  Did you talk to Craig, who is the head of ScrewAttack, about his impression of me? [GP: we did send Craig an e-mail inquiry this morning; no response so far]
 
3.  I don't need advice from you about how to be effective. I'm the guy making a difference not you, and it bugs the Hell out of you.

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Jack Thompson Debate Back On at SGC09

July 1, 2009 -

The on-again, off-again July 4th debate between disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson and gamer/attorney Mark Methenitis is apparently back on.

The debate, planned for this weekend's SGC09 in Dallas, went off the rails rather suddenly yesterday morning when Thompson complained to event host Screw Attack (and cc'd GamePolitics) that:

  • he objected to a one- or two-line introduction ("I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences.  Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...")
  • he objected to a user-created parody video posted (and since removed) on the Screw Attack site; Thompson may have believed the video, "Questions Not to Ask Jack Thompson" at SGC," was official Screw Attack content

After posting a story detailing Thompson's assertion that he was canceling his appearance, GamePolitics rather unexpectedly found itself in the middle of a day-long flurry of e-mails between Screw Attack personnel and Thompson. Event organizers were clearly seeking to assuage Thompson's concerns and salvage the debate. By late Tuesday afternoon, it appeared that Thompson, who is apparently under contract and being paid $2,000 for his appearance, was softening his position after receiving assurances from Screw Attack Program Director Craig Skistimas.

As recently as this morning, however, Thompson demanded that a post by a Screw Attack user be removed. While it was not taken down, the author, who was also behind the parody video that Thompson found offensive, e-mailed the disbarred attorney a lengthy apology; that seemed to satisfy Thompson.

Next, Thompson e-mailed Skistimas a "proposed text" to be used as his introduction at the debate. The 12-sentence intro mentioned his 2008 lifetime disbarment very briefly, referring to it as "illegal" and blaming the loss of his law license on "lawyers for Take-Two, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games."

GP asked Skistimas whether the introduction would actually be used at SGC09. Skistimas told us, "I have yet to review his intro but Jack and I will work together to find an intro that fits both his needs and the time format of the debate at SGC."

A conference call between Thompson and the Screw Attack team planned for noon today was canceled when the parties decided in late morning that the debate was back on and Thompson was satisified.

Skistimas also said that the site would release a video tomorrow to reinforce the fact that Thompson will appear at SGC09.

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Jack Thompson Says He Won't Appear for July 4th Debate at SGC 09

June 30, 2009 -

It appears that a much-anticipated Independence Day debate between Jack Thompson and gamer/lawyer Mark Methenitis is off. (GP: however, see updates below)

Back in April Mark Methenitis announced that he would debate Thompson on July 4th at the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention in Dallas. In fact, Methenitis posted a reminder about the debate just yesterday on his excellent Law of the Game blog.

But an angry e-mail received a short time ago from Thompson indicates that he will not appear. The disbarred attorney was apparently upset by an event organizer's request for a two-line bio as well as a parody video (screen shot at left) posted on the Screw Attack website by a user. Here's a just-received e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis:

Mark, the goofs at ScrewAttack have managed to sabotage my debate with you this Saturday... Don't blame me.  I wanted to do  the debate. I would have used the $2000 to help me in bringing down The Florida Bar...

Here's a second e-mail from Thompson to a number of individuals at ScrewAttack:

Yesterday, I get an email... that I either I submit a "1 or 2 sentence" introduction of myself, or I won't be introduced.  I have spoken and debated on more than 200 college campuses, and I have never been introduced with 1 or 2 sentences.  Nobody can be introduced in that fashion...
 
Finally, I went to your site this morning and I have viewed [a since removed] idiotic [video] clip...  It is a gross misrepresentation... you know full well that the reason I wanted to do this event... [is] to debate the issues of violence in video games... 
 
Finally, how many references to me as a "butt" did you think you had to put into your adolescent video?  You even take a swipe at Christians in the video...
 
All you have managed to do, as related above, is make the event an impossibility.  I expected the event to feature some hostiility [sic]. What I did not expect was that the people putting it on would ratchet it up and in doing so create a security problem...

GamePolitics has a request in to Screw Attack for more information and to see whether, from their perspective, the debate and a planned open forum with Thompson are salvageable. Methenitis is hoping that the event will go forward but referred us to Screw Attack for specifics.

GP: If the SGC 09 debate is canceled, it will not the first time that a proposed debate involving Thompson and the video game crowd has ended in bitterness. See our coverage of similar events proposed for PAX 07 and GDC 08. Thompson did, however, complete a debate with game designer Lorne Lanning at VGXPO 07 in Philadelphia.

That said, it's rather difficult to believe that the debate would be lost over the length of an introduction. As for the Screw Attack user-created video, let's just call it ill-advised and unfunny.

UPDATE: Thompson has confirmed to GamePolitics that he is under contract to appear. An e-mail from Thompson to Methenitis, cc'd to GP, indicates that the debate may yet be salvageable.

UPDATE 2: Thompson has forwarded a copy of a conciliatory e-mail from Screw Attack which describes the video in question as user-created content; it has apparently been removed. Thompson, however, continues to make demands of the event organizers:

This thing will start to get back on track if the person in charge... makes a very prominent and public statement at ScrewAttack.com and to the media (yes, that even includes GamePolitics, which is run as if it were Strauss Zelnick's house organ) [GP: LOL] stating that ScrewAttack disavows that video, that ScrewAttack KNOWS that the reason Jack Thompson is taking a day out of his life and away from his family is that he cares about the ISSUES in this debate, and that anybody, ANYBODY, who says or does anything out of line at this event will be escorted from the event immediately...

UPDATE 3: Stop the presses! The debate is not canceled, at least not yet. Thompson and the Screw Attack crew have scheduled a conference call for tomorrow to - hopefully - sort out their issues.

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Louisiana Bill Targeting Sexually Explicit Games Dies in Committee

June 19, 2009 -

Louisiana Senate Bill 152 began life as a clone of Jack Thompson's failed Utah legislation and died quietly this week in the Commerce Committee of the Louisiana House, according to The Old River Road, a blog which tracks Louisiana politics. Although we haven't yet seen a post about SB 152 at TORR, blogger Charlie Buras dropped us a line via Twitter last night to say the bill expired in committee.

Between birth and death SB 152 was completely reworked by its sponsor, Sen. A.G. Crowe (R). As for Thompson, he was nowhere to be seen in the process. The truth in advertising legal theory advocated by the disbarred Miami attorney quietly morphed into proposed civil sanctions against those who would distribute sexually explicit material to minors. The need for such legislation is not entirely clear, since such conduct is already an offense under Louisiana criminal law.

Although Crowe's Senate colleagues passed the bill overwhelmingly, House members seemed less impressed. At a hearing earlier this week the bill was diverted to the Commerce Committee.

UPDATE: The Times-Picayune has more details, including word that the Commerce Committee voted 12-2 to kill the bill. The estimated $1.6 million cost to administer the bill didn't help any. (GP: thanks to longtime reader BearDogg-X for the link!).

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Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets Sexually-Explicit Content

June 11, 2009 -

By a 35-0 vote yesteday, the Louisiana Senate passed SB 152, a bill which would make a pattern of distributing sexually explicit material to children a deceptive trade practice under state law.

GamePolitics readers may recall that in its original form, SB 152 was drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson as a back-door means of enforcing ESRB content ratings. The original SB 152 mirrored Thompson's Utah bill, which was vetoed by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) in March. However, bill sponsor Sen. A.G. Crowe (R, at left) subsequently gutted Thompson's focus on age ratings from the bill, amending it instead to its new focus on the distribution of sexually explicit material to minors. It should be noted that distributing such material to minors is already an offense under Louisiana's criminal statutes.

Unlike the Utah bill, SB 152 doesn't make reference to video games, advertising, age ratings or any specific product, for that matter. However, Sen. Crowe did mention video games as an example during yesterday's session:

This body has over the years passed numerous laws to protect our children... And with the growth of...  the market of materials that would be considered by most of us here objectionable as it relates to obscenity such as that is found... in video games either rented or purchased, could fall again into the hands of some of our children. So it is a step in the direction of moving, passing legislation that would allow for, again, protecting our children from this type of thing...

Oddly enough, SB 152 specifically excludes the Internet from its provisions. These days the online world would seem the most likely source for a child to stumble upon sexually explicit material. 

The nature of sexually-explicit conduct defined in the bill would seem to exclude any ESRB-rated video game published to date. It seems clear that a game meeting the standard defined in the bill would have already been rated Adults Only (AO) by the ESRB. Curiously, the bill does not relate its provision for sexually-explicit conduct to the legal definition of obscenity. Should the bill eventually be signed into law, this could prove to be a fatal flaw from a constitutional sense.

Now that it has been passed by the Senate, the next stop for SB 152 is the Louisiana House of Representatives.

GamePolitics readers can watch yesterday's debate on SB 152 by clicking here. Scroll down to "Chamber" for June 10th. The SB 152 segment begins at 4:01:39.

UPDATE: A knowledgeable video game industry source criticized SB 152 in comments to GamePolitics:

The bill as passed by the Senate is clearly unconstitutional. It would penalize the sale of sexually oriented material to minors, but does not require that the material be legally obscene for minors, referred to in Louisiana as 'harmful to minors,' or 'obscene,' as U.S. Supreme Court precedents mandate. This was the same flaw that doomed the Illinois 'sexually explicit video games' law.
 
While it might seem that mainstream retailers have little to fear from the amended bill, as they don't carry pornography, the fact that a single depiction in an otherwise unobjectionable video game, DVD, or other material could open a retailer to liability is of grave concern.

18 comments

Boston Mayor to Partner with ESRB on Ratings Awareness Campaign

May 27, 2009 -

He has been one of the video game industry's most aggressive critics in the past, but GamePolitics has learned that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (D) will partner with the ESRB on a public service ad campaign designed to raise parental awareness of the video game rating system.

The campaign, unveiled in Boston by Menino and ESRB President Patricia Vance, will feature T.V. and radio ads as well as outdoor print ads. Of the media blitz, Menino said:

Parents want control of the media that comes into their homes, and the entertainment that their children enjoy. That’s why it’s so imperative that we educate parents about useful and informative tools like the ESRB ratings and rating summaries, so they’ll be empowered to make informed choices about which games they deem appropriate.  I’m proud to be educating parents in our city about the tools at their disposal.

With today's news, Menino joins a number of high-profile elected officials around the country who have partnered with the ESRB on game ratings awareness campaigns over the past several years. Given Menino's track record as a video game industry critic, the turnabout is especially significant.

In 2006 Menino led a campaign to have Grand Theft Auto ads removed from public transit. In 2007 his office flirted with video game legislation authored by Jack Thompson. The Boston Mayor's video game bill was eventually submitted to the legislature in 2008, but died in committee.

Menino, who earlier this year touted Boston as a game industry-friendly city in an effort to attract jobs, is running for an unpredecented fifth term as mayor.

Jack Thompson Threatens Entire Utah Legislature with Prosecution

May 26, 2009 -

It has been more than a month since Gov. Jon Huntsman vetoed Jack Thompson's video game bill, but the disbarred attorney continues to wage an e-mail war with various Utah government officials. In his latest and most bizarre salvo, Thompson has threatened to have the entire Utah legislature - all 104 House and Senate members - prosecuted by the F.B.I. for violating his civil rights.

GamePolitics readers will recall that in April State Senate President Michael Waddoups asked Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (another favorite target of Thompson's vitriol) to look into prosecuting Thompson for alleged spam. The Senate President was offended by an Easter morning e-mail from Thompson which included a screenshot of a pair of strippers giving GTA IV protagonist Nico Bellic a lap dance. Last week Thompson wrote to the F.B.I.'s Salt Lake City Field Office seeking the prosecution of Waddoups for supposedly infringing on his right to petition the government.

An e-mail circulated by Thompson on Sunday indicates that a second legislator, Rep. Curtis Oda, apparently took objection to the anti-game activist's messages (we haven't seen Oda's e-mail to Thompson). Thompson responded with his threat to prosecute the Utah legislature:

If I get one more threat of criminal prosecution for sending you all proof, as I have, that pornographic video games are being sold to children in Utah because of the willful refusal of your Attorney General to enforce your state's pornography laws, then I will add ALL of you to the sworn criminal complaint now in the hands of the FBI in Salt Lake City.  You will be identified as co-conspirators to violate 18 USC 241 and 242...

Maybe the real problem here is that Utah, as a recent study proves, leads the nation in consumption of on-line porn.  Maybe some among you are into this stuff, and you feel threatened...

I'm not going to put up with it.  I've taken down some of the largest pornographers in the world.  Taking down your legislature will be a piece of cake by comparison.

GP: This year's near-success marked Thompson's third attempt at game legislation in the Utah legislature. However, following the disbarred attorney's spectacular display of bridge burning following Gov. Huntsman's veto, we don't advise holding your breath waiting for a fourth Thompson appearance in the Beehive State.

193 comments

In Louisiana, Jack Thompson Bill Gutted By Sponsor, Deferred

May 21, 2009 -

SB 152, the Louisiana Senate bill drafted by Jack Thompson, underwent a rather odd hearing yesterday before the Senate's Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committe.

The bill, similar to one vetoed recently by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, would have made the sale of an age-restricted item to a minor a deceptive trade practice with potential civil penalties for the seller. As with his failed Utah legislation, Thompson's Louisiana bill was a roundabout way of legislating the ESRB rating system. Although SB 152 did not mention video games specifically, they were clearly the intended target.

However, at yesterday's hearing, bill sponsor Sen. A.G. Crowe (R, at left) proposed amendments which essentially gutted the measure. Crowe told the committee that he "conferred with industry, with staff and with constitutional attornies" on the changes.

Crowe's amendments, which appeared to perplex his Senate colleagues, turned the focus of the bill from age-rated consumer items to pornography. Crowe noted that the original intent of the measure was to protect children from violent video games, but said that concerns over constitutional issues led him to focus on pornography instead.

The sale of pornography to minors is already illegal, however, leading Sen. Danny Martiny (R) to grill Crowe at length about the bill:

Why? What are we fixing? What we're doing here... is we're taking something that's already criminal and making it a deceptive trade practice...

 

It's not very clear at all where you're going with this...

Ultimately, Crowe voluntarily deferred the measure; the amendments changing its focus to pornography were not added. SB 152 remains listed with the Louisiana Senate but is not assigned to a committee. For now, at least, it appears sidetracked.

As for Thompson, he did not testify at the hearing, nor was his name mentioned. GamePolitics asked him to comment about SB 152 but the disbarred attorney declined.

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Sora-ChanSo it's just a matter of having better emulation software. If it can be done with a 3DS game, with all the memory and what not it takes up, it can be done with a GBA title through emulation.07/29/2014 - 7:30pm
Sora-ChanOther VC titles for the NES and Gameboy had the same setup where you couldn't access the homescreen without quitting out of the game til a later update when those games were released for the public outside of the founder program.07/29/2014 - 7:28pm
Sora-Chanthe 3DS can, and does, run GBA games, as seen by the founder gifts, which included a number of GBA titles. As for running GBA games and still having access to the home screen, I beleive it's more of the game emulation software needs to be updated.07/29/2014 - 7:27pm
Matthew Wilsonthe 3ds already swaps os's with the original ds. plus I dont think people expect miverse interaction when playing a gba game.07/29/2014 - 6:06pm
MaskedPixelanteBut that's not the issue, the 3DS is perfectly capable of emulating GBA games. The problem is that it doesn't have enough available system resources to run it alongside the 3DS OS, and thus it doesn't have access to stuff like Miiverse and save states.07/29/2014 - 5:45pm
Matthew WilsonI am well aware that it requires more power, but if a GBA emulator could run well on a original psp, than it should work on a 3ds.07/29/2014 - 5:36pm
ZenThe reason the SNES could run Gameboy, or the Gamecube could run GBA was because their adapters included all of the necessary hardware to do it in the respective add-ons. The systems were just conduits for control inputs and video/sound/power.07/29/2014 - 4:51pm
ZenMatthew: Emulation takes more power than people realize to run a game properly. You can make something run on less, but Nintendo...as slow as they are at releasing them..makes them run as close to 100% as possible. Each game has its own emulator for it.07/29/2014 - 4:47pm
Matthew Wilsonkind of hard to believe since the 3ds is atleast as powerful as the gamecube hardware wise.07/29/2014 - 4:27pm
MaskedPixelanteYes, the 3DS has enough power to run 16-bit emulators, but not at the same time it's running the 3DS systems themselves. You could run the games, but you wouldn't get save states or Miiverse.07/29/2014 - 4:04pm
InfophileRunning GBA on 3DS shouldn't be hard. The DS had flashcarts sold for it that added just enough power to emulate GBA and SNES games, so the 3DS should have more than enough natively.07/29/2014 - 3:37pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's a bunch of people whining about boycotting/pirating Trails in the Sky FC because XSEED didn't license the Japanese dub track, which consists of about 10 lines per character.07/29/2014 - 11:27am
Sleaker@MP - devolver Digital issued a twitter statement saying they would replace the NISA pledge.07/29/2014 - 10:57am
E. Zachary KnightIs that a discussion about RIAA member music labels?07/29/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://steamcommunity.com/app/251150/discussions/0/43099722329318860/ In this thread: Idiots who don't understand how licensing works.07/29/2014 - 9:20am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/28/gaymerx-in-dire-straits-after-nis-america-allegedly-backs-out-of/ NISA backs out of GaymerX support, but it seems like the only people crying foul are GaymerX.07/29/2014 - 6:30am
Papa MidnightIt's not bad so far, but I am honestly not sure what to make of it (or where it's going for that matter)07/28/2014 - 9:44pm
Matthew Wilsonis it any good?07/28/2014 - 9:36pm
Papa Midnight"Love Child" on HBO -- anyone else watching this?07/28/2014 - 9:27pm
MaskedPixelanteNah, I'm fine purple monkey dishwasher.07/28/2014 - 4:05pm
 

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