I've ranted before in this journal about my extreme distaste for video game-hating Florida lawyer Jack Thompson. For those that don't know, he believes that M-Rated games should not be sold to, or played by young kids. Okay, fair enough. I agree that I don't think that young kids should be playing games like the Grand Theft Auto series or some of your more extremely violent games such as the Manhunt series, Gears of War, etc. However, when I have kids someday, if they are into gaming it will be MY job, and Lesa's job to decide what games our kids do and don't play because we'll be the parents. Basically, I'll let my kids play M-Rated games when I think they're mature enough to handle them, regardless of their chronological age. Actual Chronological Age is no measure of maturity, as Thompson himself has proven, but more on that in a minute. I will say that I do agree with Thompson's core aim, keeping violent or inappropriate content from young kids. That's fine, but again, will be my job as a parent. Now, if you want to fine retailers for selling M-rated games to kids under 17? That's fine. I mean there are fines and penalties for selling cigarettes and alcohol to under age people, so I don't have a problem with there being a fine for underage sale of M-rated games. My feeling is that if a 13-year old kid is really mature enough to play GTA 4, then fine. His or her parents can buy the game for them. That's not the part of Thompson's views that I have a problem with. What I have a problem with is the way that the man chooses to conduct himself. You can't just blame Doom, Counter Strike or Gears of War for someone flipping out and killing people on a college campus. Bottom line, if someone is screwed up enough in the head, or dumb enough to go out and kill people because they did it in a game, or saw it in a movie, then I have news for you. They would have done it anyway and needed serious help a LONG time before they ever started playing.
I find the man's tactics absolutely reprehensible. Whenever something like the tragedy at NIU, he jumps right in there with both feet trying to make a link between the horrible events and video games. I mean, he is STILL claiming that the Virginia Tech shooter "trained" on Counter Strike before going on his rampage, despite the fact that it has been shown that he didn't actually play Counter Strike. And besides, you can't really train to shoot a gun by hitting buttons on a mouse/keyboard or a game pad. Doesn't prepare you for actually aiming, shooting, or the recoil. Doesn't work that way, at least I don't think it does, given my limited understanding of guns. I suppose I could be wrong, but I doubt that I am. Even leaving that sort of thing aside, and forgive my crassness here, but the bodies at NIU weren't even cold before Thompson was on Fox News trying to sell his book, and trying to forge a link between the shooter and gaming. Also, he's now apparently threatening to sue NIUOk, perhaps he did play CS. However, you can't hold every one of the millions of gamers that play it responsible for the actions of an extremely disturbed few. Many, MANY people play these, as Thompson calls them, "Murder simulators", and never harm a hair on another person's head. But that kind of thing won't generate the press attention he craves.
Now, this isn't just another example of me drop-kicking Thompson. There's really no need for me to do that. Years of being hated and mocked by thousands and thousands of gamers has apparently taken a toll, to the point where when Thompson sees a gamer, all he sees is the typical negative stereotype of a gamer. A stereotype that he spends much of his time helping to prop up. Now, I'll agree that there are a LOT of immature, uninformed jackasses out there that play games. They annoy me almost as much as Thompson does. However, anyone it needs to be noted that not all gamers are like that. I don't even think that MOST of them are like that. However, Thompson can't see that. What am I basing this on? Simple. I regularly read the gaming community blog Destructoid. I like it, it amuses me. However, recently, Thompson joined the community, and the guys that run the site were able to verify that it actually is the Real Jack Thompson. Now, instead of trying to get his point across in a mature and sensible way(you know, as you might expect from an adult, a father and a professional litigator), his first comment on a story on DToid made referrence to everyone on the site as e-tards. Then, one of the users of the site attempted to have a mature, and rational discussion with Thompson via email. It didn't work out that way, sadly. In response to one of the emails, where MechaMonkey pointed out the simple truth that Thompson has ruffled many feathers in his time Thompson had this to say...
Please don't lecture me about ruffling feathers. Gamers are ill-mannered and uninformed, and they prove it everyday. They couldn't care less about the people killed.
That statement made me very angry. It's an unfair generalization, and not true at all. He then went on to give MechaMonkey a hard time about wanting to set up a memorial for the NIU victims on his own college campus, saying that the only reason he was doing it was to make himself feel better. Yeah, that was it. It wasn't about respect to the victims and their families or anything like that, it was all for selfish reasons. Yeah. What else would you expect from an ill-mannered and uninformed gamer that doesn't care at all about those that were killed.
That statement at first made me extremely angry. There was no call for a statement like that. None at all. It's a disgusting and baseless lie. Yes, when I heard about both the NIU shootings and the V-Tech shootings a few months back, I said a prayer for the victims and their families. But obviously, only to make myself feel better. Not because, heaven forbid, I felt the need to call down some help and comfort for them from the Big Guy in the Sky.
Then, I sat there and thought about it for a little while, and instead of rushing and dashing off another, pointless "GRAAAH!!! THOMPSON'S A DICK!!!" post, I realized that it really is something of a sad story. I think that years of being despised and ridiculed, the possibility of being disbarred and losing his livelihood, and just the dishonest and reprehensible tactics he's used has had a very bad effect on the man. He may have had a worthwhile goal in the beginning, protecting kids, however the way he chose to go about it broke loose and turned into something else, and warped and twisted everything to the point where I don't think that even Thompson himself really remembers what he's fighting for anymore. He can't even see what his original goal was. As Nietzsche said, "And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." I think Thompson's gazed into the abyss for too long. Do I think he should be disbarred? Yes, I think he should. If he can't even respond civilly to someone who's showing him nothing but respect, but wigs out and uses the same old untrue arguments that he's parroted out again and again, then it may be time for him to hang it up. It's obvious the man can no longer be objective, and someone that can't be objective doesn't really have a place in a court of law. I don't say this with any kind of glee, either. I'm not sitting here, rubbing my hands and laughing at the prospect of him being put out of a job. Like I said, actually, I feel kind of bad for him, in a way. No, that doesn't excuse the reprehensible things he's done, and I'm sure will continue to do. Even though I know for a fact that he'll do something again that angers me, that anger will be tempered with at least a small measure of pity. Not enough to overcome my contempt for his behavior, but there it is.
Also, I would say that writing stories, or even blog entries like this one about him doesn't serve a purpose. All it does is give him the attention that he craves for whatever reason. I would also ask that Fox News and other media outlets stop giving him airtime. Fox News has already learned that slamming on gamers can backfire. No need to add to it. Besides, there really is no reason to have Jack Thompson on your broadcasts. Yes, I know how the media works. I work for the media myself, and I'm well aware of the "If it bleeds, it leads" philosophy. However, when something like this happens, there is NO reason at all to bring on someone like Jack Thompson to spout his slanted lies about games and gamers. Especially when these terrible tragedies happen moments before the newscast and no real information is known. Yes, 24-hour networks need to fill time. However, instead of filling the airtime with loathsome and frequently baseless speculation, maybe just concentrate on the events themselves without trying to put a slant on it, if you must cover it at all. Perhaps just give us the straight facts without the opinions, at least at first. At least wait until some facts are known before starting to speculate on what happened.
Just my buck fifty.