Posts Tagged ‘jack thompson’


January 18th, 2013 No comments

Every once in a while, a tragedy happens.

It is tragic, to see lives snuffed out. It is tragic to see people lose hope, go past that line, and do horrible, unspeakable things. It scares us all. It concerns us all. We should never forget that there are awful things in this world, and we should do what we can to combat the evils of violence and the tragedies that scar us. Everyone, it can be agreed, wants this sort of thing to stop.

The question then becomes how.

Do we need cops in schools? Do we need fewer guns? Do we need psychological evaluations? Do we need to crack down on violent video games?

Of course violent video games are the answer.

This is an entirely predictable and altogether terrible way of dealing with the massacre at Sandy Hook. It’s predictable because this is what the media, anti-video game pundits, and legislators have done, time after time after time. Literally. The 109th, 110th, and the 113th Congresses have proposed the same bill. We know that as soon as the guns come out, and the blood is spilled, and the tears are shed, that it will take about a month for everyone calm down, and point their fingers at the consoles. Jack Thompson and Senator Leland Yee have been the subject of some of my posts in the past, but they’re not the only ones going on this crusade against video games.

Which brings us to the terrible part of their crusade: It’s ultimately useless. Not only has it failed a constitutionality test every time the bill’s been brought up, but it’s not the source of the problem. Pesky First Amendment rights aside, prohibiting the sale or rental of video games to minors isn’t going to teach children a damn thing, and I’m tired of pretending like it will. What it will do is frustrate me, and gamers like me, who don’t really need to be told what to watch, or what to play, or what to think. It is unnecessary and wasteful legislation, particularly in light of the tragedy. Could you lawmakers kindly focus your efforts on either gun control or mental health initiatives, instead of trying to penalize and judge a subset of people who are just as moved by this tragedy as you are?

In the end, I am happy that President Obama is calling for more research into the link between video games, violent imagery, and violence in our society, but I ultimately think that the research will be ignored. People are eager to find a scapegoat, and no amount of guarantees of free speech or already existing data are going to convince people that violent video games are not the culprit. No force on the planet can convince people that proper parenting means being a God damned parent, and being with your children, instead of just letting them babysit themselves in front of a screen. This kind of tunnel vision is already at work: Lanza had an elaborate set up for Call of Duty and Starcraft, and loved electronics. That must make him a killer.

Him, me, and about 80% of my generation.

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May 6th, 2009 4 comments

I have a pretty upbeat view of people. I think that generally, everyone wants what’s best for as many possible individuals as they can make it, though they will prioritize people differently. For example, some people will put other people before themselves, and some will put their own goals and feelings above those not their own. That being said, some people believe, quite erroneously, that their views should not only be held in higher esteem than the views of other people, but that their views are so much more important that they are either the only views that exist, or other points of opinion can be trampled over without consideration. The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.

Which brings me to Jack Thompson. I believe at his core, Jack is not waging a crusade against video games for the wrong reasons. I think he genuinely feels that he has to protect his family, and other families, from what he perceives as a societal ill, and any person who wants to make their community better should be lauded for it. However, Jack isn’t actually doing that, and I’m not sure that he knows it.

We put a lot of time, effort, and money into our hobby, as I elaborated in my first post. Sometimes, that persistence is rewarded and sometimes it’s laughed at, but it is always noticed. Persistence often is. However, when people realize that an endeavor has failed, they generally either try something new or give up. Jack isn’t doing this either.

What Jack is doing can be summed up by the quote popularly attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” He has brought suit after suit, case after case, against the video game industry with no results for his clients. His efforts are well documented, and not only in the scope of gaming blogs and websites devoted to our culture, but in radio shows and newspapers across the country. Jack has not stopped his crusade, but merely changed the theatre of war. When he was permanently disbarred for inappropriate conduct, he did what most lawyers eventually do, and moved to politics.

He has attempted, first in Utah and now in Louisiana, to author legislation that would make the sale of games rated M or higher illegal to minors, and carry a fine. The problem with this particular approach is that many studies and legal briefs have considered such a fine illegal under the First Amendment, and they take the stance that games are protected by free speech much in the same way that movies and television shows are, a stance with Thompson ignores. He has continually and repeatedly suggested that video games serve but one purpose; not to entertain, not to delight, not to challenge, but to train us as killers and psychopaths, to make us into immoral monsters who think of nothing but rape and murder.

Forgive me Jack, but I’ve never beaten up a prostitute after I’ve had sex with her so I could get my money back. I’ve never dreamed of becoming a plumber, or going on a shooting rampage because I thought it would be fun. I’ve never stolen a car, nor a tank, nor have I ever systematically and methodically tried to wipe joy out people’s lives.

So I guess that’s one up you have on me. Good for you.

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