- Jack Thompson (attorney)
caption=Jack Thompson in a debate at
California University of Pennsylvania
birth_name=John Bruce Thompson
birth_date=Birth date and age|1951|7|25
John Bruce "Jack" Thompson (born July 25, 1951) is an American
activistand former attorney, based in Coral Gables, Florida. Thompson, a self-proclaimed Christian conservative,Provenzo, Eugene F., Jr. and Jack Thompson. " [http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1019/p09s01-coop.html A political odd couple's advice on finding common ground] ." "Christian Science Monitor", 2004-10-19.] is known for his public advocacy of conservative Christian moral standards. He is also known for his role as an anti-video-game activist. [cite web |url=http://voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech/2007/04/va_tech_dr_phil_jack_thompson.html |title=Va. Tech: Dr. Phil & Jack Thompson Blame Video Games |accessdate=2008-08-28 |last=Musgrove |first=Mike |coauthors= |date=2007-04-17 |work= |publisher= Washington Post] [citeweb|url=http://money.cnn.com/blogs/browser/2006/06/louisiana-braces-forvideo-game-threat.html|title=Louisiana braces for...video game threat |accessdate=2008-08-28 |last= |first=FOURTUNE Technology Staff|coauthors= |date=2006-06-09 |work= |publisher= CNN] [cite web |url=http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-6126245-7.html |title=Florida judge won't ban "Bully" video game|accessdate=2008-08-27|last=McCullagh|first=Declan|coauthors=|date=2006-10-16|work=|publisher= CNET]
After a foray into politics, Thompson concentrated his legal efforts against perceived
obscenity, particularly in rap musicand broadcasts by radio personality Howard Stern. More recently, he has focused on violenceas well, particularly in the content of computer and video gamesand their alleged effects on children.Kushner, David. "Gaming's Worst Bully." "Rolling Stone Magazine", November 16, 2006.] He is a vocal advocate of banning stylized violence in video games, a role for which he became known in 1997, while representing the parents of the three students killed in the Heath High School shooting.
His involvement with music, gaming, and the media (and especially use of legal threats) have raised questions about First Amendment rights.Fact|date=September 2008 On September 25, 2008, Thompson was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court for inappropriate conduct, effective October 25, 2008. ["Jack Thompson Disbarred." Kotaku, September 25, 2008 [http://kotaku.com/5054772/jack-thompson-disbarred] ] Ostrovsky, Daniel. " [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1170928966137 Fla. Bar Seeks Sanctions Against Morality Watchdog Jack Thompson] ." "New York Law Journal", February 8, 2006.]
Thompson grew up in Cleveland,
Ohio, and attended Denison University. He received media attention when he hosted his own political talk show on the college radio station.Haring, Bruce. "The 'Private Sting' of Jack Thompson." "Billboard", 1990-08-11] He went to law schoolat Vanderbilt University, where he met his wife, Patricia.Philips, Chuck. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/60081339.html?FMT=ABS The 'Batman' Who Took On Rap Obscenity] ." "Los Angeles Times", 1990-06-18] In 1976 they moved to Florida, where Thompson, working as a lawyer and then a fund-raiser for a Christian ministry, began attending the Key Biscayne Presbyterian Churchand became a born-again Christian. Thompson admits to having a "colorful disciplinary history" as an attorney.Linn, Mike. "'Grand Theft Auto' comes under fire." "Knight Ridder Tribune Business News", 2005-11-22.]
Campaign against Janet Reno
Thompson first met
Janet Renoin November 1975, when he applied for a job as an assistant State's Attorneyin Dade County, but was not hired.Thompson, Jack "Out of Harm’s Way". Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005. ISBN 1-4143-0442-0.] In 1988, he ran for prosecutor against then incumbent Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno. At the time, Thompson was involved in a feud with WIODRadio host Neil Rogersand Reno had declined his request to prosecute Rogers.Evans, Christine. "Challenger attacks Reno as too liberal." "The Miami Herald", 1B, November 6, 1988.] Thompson was instrumental in persuading the FCC to fine WIOD $10,000 for airing such parody songs as "Boys Like Sex in the Morning" on Rogers' show.Haring, Bruce. "The 'Private Sting' of Jack Thompson." "Billboard", 1990-08-11] Thompson also sued the station for violating a December 1987 agreement to end on-air harassment against him. Thompson had complained to the station after Rogers solicited homosexuals to join Thompson on his vacation; Rogers aired Thompson’s address and phone number. For the next eight months Thompson recorded all of Rogers' broadcasts and documented 40,000 mentionings of his name. He claimed one of the terms of his agreement with the station was that it would pay him $5,000 each time his name was mentioned, totaling $200 million in the suit.Blodgett, Nancy. "Say 'Jack' 40,000 Times." "ABA Journal", October 1, 1988.]
Thompson gave Reno a letter at a campaign event requesting that she check a box to indicate whether she was homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Thompson said that Reno then put her hand on his shoulder and responded, "I'm only interested in virile men. That’s why I'm not attracted to you."Vick, Karl and David Dahl. "Stigma of a middle-aged, single woman." "St. Petersburg Times",
1993-02-17.] ["The Virtue Vigilante", "Nightline", ABC News, 13 December 2006. Jack Thompson: "I came up with this clever plan ["laughs"] of handing her this questionnaire asking her, you know, 'Are you a heterosexual, or are you bisexual, or are you homosexual?' and so forth." Dave Weir: "She put her arm on your shoulder and said, uh, 'I'm only attracted to virile men, which is why I'm not attracted to you'?" Jack Thompson: "Mhm." Dave Weir: "And then you filed battery charges against her." Jack Thompson: "Well, she—she grabbed a hold of me and—and shook me. She didn't hurt me; but I was annoyed—I was angry—that she dealt with it in that fashion. And that was—that was a mistake; I shouldn't have done that. I should have—but I'm glad—I—I think it was reasonable to ask her the questions."] He filed a police report accusing her of battery for touching him. In response, Reno asked Florida governor Bob Martinezto appoint a special prosecutor to investigate."Opponent accuses Reno of battery." "The Miami Herald", 2D, September 9, 1988.] The special prosecutor rejected the charge, concluding that it was "a political ploy." Reno was ultimately re-elected with 69% of the vote. Thompson repeated allegations that Reno was a lesbian when she was nominated as U.S. Attorney General, leading one of her supporters, lieutenant governor Buddy MacKay, to dismiss him as a "kook."
In 1990, after his election loss, Thompson began a campaign against the efforts of
Switchboard of Miami, a social services group of which Reno was a board member. Thompson charged that the group placed "homosexual-education tapes" in public schools. Switchboard responded by getting the Florida Supreme Courtto order that he submit to a psychiatric examination. Thompson did so and passed, and since then has stated on more than one occasion that he is "the only officially certified sane lawyer in the entire state of Florida."Timmerman, Kenneth R. "Reno Redux in Florida." "Insight", October 5, 2001.]
Thompson came to national prominence in the controversy over
2 Live Crew's " As Nasty As They Wanna Be" album. ( Luke Skyywalker Records, the company of 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell, had previously released a record supporting Reno in her race against Thompson.)Harrington, Richard. "On the Beat; In Md., the Sound and the Fury." "The Washington Post", 1990-01-31.] On January 1, 1990, he wrote to Martinez and Reno asking them to investigate whether the album violated Florida obscenity laws. Although the state prosecutor declined to proceed with an investigation, Thompson pushed local officials in various parts of the state to block sales of the album, along with N.W.A’s " Straight Outta Compton".Philips, Chuck. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/60010849.html?FMT=ABS 2 Live Crew's 'Nasty Lyrics' a Bum Rap?] " "Los Angeles Times", March 7, 1990.] In sending documents to opponents, Thompson would frequently attach a photocopy of his driver's license, with a photo of Batmanpasted over his own, just to make sure they knew who they were dealing with. Thompson said, "I have sent my opponents pictures of Batman to remind them I'm playing the role of Batman. Just like Bruce Wayne helped the police in the movie, I have had to assist the sheriff of Broward County." He also wore a Batman wristwatch.Parker, Laura. "Sheriff's Crackdown on Rap Puts Unlikely County in Spotlight." "The Washington Post", 1990-06-17.] Thompson compared Campbell to the Joker.Kohn, Marek. "Very nasty indeed; Brutal and sexually explicit, the raps of 2 Live Crew have outraged US fundamentalists, but their ghetto origins have confused the liberal conscience." "The Independent", 1990-09-16.] Thompson also said, "I understand as well as anybody that the First Amendmentis a cornerstone of a free society—but there is a responsibility to people who can be harmed by words and thoughts, one of which is the message from Campbell that women can be sexually abused."
Thompson also took issue with another 2 Live Crew song, "
Banned in the USA". Thompson sent a letter to Jon Landau, manager of Bruce Springsteen, whose song " Born in the USA" was to be sampled by the group. Thompson suggested that Landau "protect "Born in the U.S.A." from its apparent theft by a bunch of clowns who traffic toxic waste to kids," or else Thompson would "be telling the nation about Mr. Springsteen's tacit approval" of the song, which, according to Campbell, "expresses anger about the failure of the First Amendment to protect 2 Live Crew from prosecution."Harrington, Richard. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/72601883.html?FMT=ABS Banned in the U.S.A.' Released as Rap Group Faces 'Nasty' Charges] ." "The Washington Post", July 4, 1990.] Thompson also said, "the 'social commentary' on this album is akin to a sociopath's discharging his AK-47into a crowded schoolyard, with the machine gun bursts interrupted by Pee Wee Herman's views on politics."Harrington, Richard. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/72606729.html?FMT=ABS The Crew: Courage or Crime?] " "The Washington Post", August 1, 1990.]
The members of 2 Live Crew responded to these efforts by suing the Broward County sheriff in federal district court. The sheriff had previously told local retailers that selling the album could result in a prosecution for obscenity violations. While they were granted an injunction because law enforcement actions were an unconstitutional
prior restrainton free speech, the court ruled that the album was in fact obscene. However, an appellate court reversed the obscenity ruling, because simply playing the tape was insufficient evidence of the constitutional requirement that it had no artistic value."Luke Records Inc. v. Navarro", 960 F.2d 134 (11th Cir. 1992).]
As the debate continued, Thompson wrote, "An industry that says a line cannot be drawn will be drawn and quartered."Thompson, Jack. "Clean Up Record Lyrics—Or Else." "Billboard", October 6, 1990.] He said of his campaign, "I won't stop till I get the head of a record company or record chain in jail. Only then will they stop trafficking in obscenity."Cox, Meg. "Music Industry Composes Counterpoint as Demands to Censor Lyrics Increase." "The Wall Street Journal",
1990-10-19.] Bob Guccione Jr., founder of "Spin" magazine, responded by calling Thompson "a sort of latter-day Don Quixote, as equally at odds with his times as that mythical character was," and argued that his campaign was achieving "two things...: pissing everybody off and compounding his own celebrity."Guccione, Bob Jr. "Nothing Should Be Legally Obscene." "Billboard", December 8, 1990.] Thompson responded by noting, "Law enforcement and I put 2 Live Crew's career back into the toilet where it began."Thompson, Jack. "Morals Are Slipping." "Billboard", 1991-01-12.]
Thompson wrote another letter in 1991, this time to the Minnesota attorney general
Hubert H. Humphrey III, complaining about the N.W.A album " Efil4zaggin". Humphrey warned locally-based Musiclandthat sales of the album might violate state law against distribution of sexually explicit material harmful to minors. Humphrey also referred the matter to the Minneapolis city attorney, who concluded that some of the songs might fit the legal definition if issued as singles, but that sales of the album as a whole were not prosecutable.Harrington, Richard. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/74733170.html?FMT=ABS Brewer’s Ads Rapped] ." "Washington Post", September 4, 1991.] Thompson also initiated a similar campaign in Boston.Reibman, Greg. "Anti-obscenity lawyer looks to get rap group N.W.A banned in Boston." "Boston Herald", August 9, 1991.] Later, Thompson would criticize the Republican Party for inviting N.W.A member and party donor Eric "Eazy-E" Wright to an exclusive function.Philips, Chuck. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/61145221.html?FMT=ABS Rodney King Gets Rap Offer] ." "Los Angeles Times", 1991-03-20.]
In 1992, Thompson was hired by the
Freedom Alliance, a self-described patriot group founded by Oliver North, described as "far-right" by the Washington Post. By this time, Thompson was looking to have Time Warner, then being criticized for promoting the Ice-Tsong "Cop Killer", prosecuted for federal and state crimes such as sedition, incitement to riot, and "advocating overthrow of government" by distributing material that, in Thompson's view, advocated the killing of police officers.Harrington, Richard. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/74035960.html?FMT=ABS Time Warner in the Line of Fire] ." "Washington Post", July 8, 1992.] Time Warner eventually released Ice-T and his band from their contract, and voluntarily suspended distribution of the album on which "Cop Killer" was featured.
Thompson’s push to label various musical performances obscene was not entirely limited to rap. In addition to taking on 2 Live Crew, Thompson campaigned against sales of the racy music video for Madonna's "
Justify My Love".Philips, Chuck. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/60990399.html?FMT=ABS Anger Over Madonna Single] ." "Los Angeles Times", January 4, 1991.] Then in 1996, he took on MTVbroadcasts for "objectification of women" by writing to the station's corporate parent, Viacom, demanding a stop to what he called "corporate pollution."Sandler, Adam. "CLEAN UP MY MTV?" "Daily Variety", 1996-12-24.] He also went after MTV's advertisers and urged the U.S. Armyto pull recruiting commercials, citing the Army’s recruitment of women and problems with sexual harassment scandals.Sandler, Adam. "Activist demands MTV pull Army ads." "Daily Variety", 1997-02-19.]
Video games and juveniles
More recently, Thompson has heavily criticized a number of video games and campaigned against their producers and distributors. His basic argument is that violent video games have repeatedly been used by teenagers as "murder simulators" to rehearse violent plans. He has pointed to alleged connections between such games and a number of school massacres. According to Thompson, "In every school shooting, we find that kids who pull the trigger are video gamers.""Excerpt from '20/20' on the Debate Whether Violent Video Games Desensitize Children." "World News Now", ABC,
2000-03-23.] Also, he claims that scientific studies show teenagers process the game environment differently from adults, leading to increased violence and copycatbehavior.Thompson, Jack. "Violent video games feed unhealthy ideas to young kids." "Tacoma News Tribune", January 8, 2006.] [The idea of a causal link between video games and violence has been challenged. For example, cite web|title=Jack Thompson Watch: Sics Feds on Kotaku, Versus Paul Levinson|url=http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/04/jack_thompson_w.html|publisher=WIRED|author= Chris Kohler|date=2007-04-24|accessdate=2007-06-24] According to Thompson, "If some wacked-out adult wants to spend his time playing "", one has to wonder why he doesn't get a life, but when it comes to kids, it has a demonstrable impact on their behavior and the development of the frontal lobes of their brain."Drew, James. " [http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041121/NEWS08/411210370/0/NEWS Ohio sniper case may put video games on trial] ." "Toledo Blade", 2004-11-21.] Thompson has described the proliferation of games by Sony, a Japanese company, as "Pearl Harbor 2."Lasker, John. " [http://www.daytoncitypaper.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=2399 MURDER SIMULATORS? Railing against video game violence isn't just for Jack Thompson anymore] ." "Dayton City Paper", January 4, 2006.] According to Thompson, "Many parents think that stores won’t sell an M-rated game to someone under 17. We know that's not true, and, in fact, kids roughly 50 percent of that time, all the studies show, are able to walk into any store and get any game regardless of the rating, no questions asked."Cooper, Anderson. "Anderson Cooper 360". CNN, October 8, 2005.]
Thompson has rejected arguments that such video games are protected by
freedom of expression, saying, "Murder simulators are not constitutionally protected speech. They’re not even speech. They’re dangerous physical appliances that teach a kid how to kill efficiently and to love it," as well as simply calling video games "mental masturbation". In addition, he has attributed part of the impetus for violent games to the military, saying that it was looking "for a way to disconnect in the soldier's mind the physical act of pulling the trigger from the awful reality that a life may end."Thompson, Jack. "Bloodlust video games put kids in the crosshairs." "Denver Post", 1999-05-30.] Thompson further claims that some of these games are based on military training and simulationtechnologies, such as those being developed at the Institute for Creative Technologies, which, he suggests, were created by the Department of Defense to help overcome soldiers' inhibition to kill.Worthy, Kym. "Why violent video games may be worse than other media violence." "Michigan Chronicle", October 5, 2005.] He also claims that the PlayStation 2's DualShockcontroller "gives you a pleasurable buzz back into your hands with each kill. This is operant conditioning, behavior modificationright out of B. F. Skinner's laboratory." Thompson, Jack. " [http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060524&Category=OPINION0106&ArtNo=605250314&SectionCat=OPINION03&Template=printart Jack Thompson: Proposal is needed to prevent a Louisiana 'Columbine'] ." "Shreveport Times", 2006-05-24.]
Thompson filed a lawsuit on behalf of the parents of three children killed in the
Heath High School shootingin 1997. Investigations showed that the perpetrator, 14-year-old Michael Carneal, had regularly played various computer games (including "Doom", "Quake", " Castle Wolfenstein", " Redneck Rampage", " Nightmare Creatures", " MechWarrior", and "Resident Evil") and accessed some pornographic websites. Carneal had also owned a videotape of "The Basketball Diaries", which includes a high school student dreaming about shooting his teacher and some classmates. The suit sought $33 million in damages, alleging that the producers of the games, the movie, and the operators of the Internet sites were negligent in distributing this material to a minor because it would desensitize him and make him more prone to violence. Additional claims included product liabilityfor making "defective" products (the defects alleged were violent features and lack of warnings) and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Actfor distributing this material to minors." James v. Meow Media", 90 F. Supp. 2d 798 (W.D. Ky. 2000).] Said Thompson, "We intend to hurt Hollywood. We intend to hurt the video game industry. We intend to hurt the sex porn sites."Prichard, James. "Parents of slain students sue entertainment industry companies." "The Associated Press State & Local Wire", 1999-04-12.]
The suit was filed in federal district court and was dismissed for failing to present a legally recognizable claim. The court concluded that Carneal's actions were not reasonably foreseeable by the defendants and that in any case, his actions superseded those of the defendants, so that the latter could not be the
proximate causeof the harm. In addition, the judge determined that "thoughts, ideas and images" in the defendants' materials did not constitute "products" that could be considered defective. The ruling was upheld on appeal."James v. Meow Media", 300 F.3d 683 (6th Cir. 2002)]
=Thompson vs. "Grand Theft Auto"=
In February 2003, Thompson asked permission to file an "
amicus curiae" (or "friend of the court") brief in the Ohio case of Dustin Lynch, 16, who was charged with aggravated murder in the slaying of JoLynn Mishne; Lynch was "obsessed" with " Grand Theft Auto III".Hudak, Stephen. "Should video game share blame? Father of slain Medina girl says manufacturer is accomplice." " Cleveland Plain Dealer", 2003-02-21.] When Judge John Lohn ruled that Lynch would be tried as an adult, Thompson passed a message from Mishne's father to the judge, asserting that "the attorneys had better tell the jury about the violent video game that trained this kid [and] showed him how to kill our daughter, JoLynn. If they don't, I will.”Hudak, Stephen. 'State gets; OK to try teenager as adult 16-year-old accused of killing Medina girl." "Cleveland Plain Dealer", 2003-05-13.] In a motion sent to the prosecutor, the boy's court-appointed lawyer, and to reporters, Thompson asked to be recognized as the boy's lawyer in the case. However, Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said Thompson would be faced with deeply conflicting interests if he were to represent Dustin Lynch because he also advised Mishne's parents.Hudak, Stephen. "Lawyer's motive in teen murder trial debated." "Cleveland Plain Dealer", June 7, 2003.] Claiming that delays had weakened his case, Jack Thompson asked Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier to disqualify himself from presiding over the case because the judge had not ruled on Thompson's request for two months.Hudak, Stephen. "Lawyer wants in, wants judge out in murder case of Medina teen." "Cleveland Plain Dealer", 2003-08-19.] Lynch himself eventually rejected Thompson's offer, withdrawing his insanity plea. Lynch's mother, Jerrilyn Thomas, who previously demanded that Judge Christopher Collier appoint Thompson to defend her son, said she changed her mind after visiting with her boy in jail, saying, "It has nothing to do with video games or Paxil, and my son's no murderer."Hudak, Stephen. "Teen can stand trial in girl's murder; Father of slain Medina High pupil upset that video game critic won’t be in court." "Cleveland Plain Dealer", 2003-09-16.]
Thompson returned to file a lawsuit in Tennessee state court in October 2003 on behalf of the victims of two teenage stepbrothers who had pled guilty to reckless homicide, endangerment, and assault."Hamel, et al. v. Sony Computer Ent., et al", No. 28,613-III (Cocke County Cir. Court of Tenn. 2003).] Since the boys told investigators they were inspired by "Grand Theft Auto III", Thompson sought $246 million in damages from the publisher,
Take-Two Interactive, along with PlayStation 2maker Sony Computer Entertainment Americaand retailer Wal-Mart. The suit charged that the defendants knew or should have known that the game would cause copycat violence.Yi, Matthew. " [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/10/23/BUG0N2H5M41.DTL Gamemaker sued over highway shootings] ." "San Francisco Chronicle", 2003-10-23.] On October 22, 2003, the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Two days later, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal, and the case was closed."Hamel, et al. v. Sony Computer Ent., et al", No. 2:03cv00375 (E.D. Tenn. October 24, 2003).]
Thompson was involved in another similar suit in
Alabamain 2005 on behalf of the families of police personnel killed by Devin Moore, a teenager who was reportedly a compulsive "Grand Theft Auto" player. However, his participation in the case ran into a dispute over his pro hac viceadmission to practice law in that state. The opposing attorneys sought removal of this privilege by arguing that his conduct was unethical and claiming he had threatened and harassed them in letters and emails.DeWitt, Robert. " [http://tuscaloosanews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051108/NEWS/511080361/1007 Attorney in Fayette case bows out] ." "Tuscaloosa News", November 8, 2005.] The judge added that Thompson had violated his gag order during Moore’s criminal trial. Thompson tried to withdraw from the case, but his request was denied by the judge, who went ahead and revoked Thompson's temporary admission to the state bar. For his part, Thompson said he thought the judge was trying to protect Moore's criminal conviction at any cost.DeWitt, Robert. "Judge denies attorney's request to withdraw from Devin Moore case." "Tuscaloosa News", 2005-11-19.] He also complained about the judge's ethics, saying a local attorney who claimed to have influence on the judge had assured him the case would be dismissed unless the attorney was on Thompson's team,DeWitt, Robert. "Judge stands by Fayette decision." "Tuscaloosa News", 2005-11-22.] and also claimed that Rockstar Entertainment and Take Two Interactive posted slanderous comments about him on their website.Station 7 WVU. Birmingham, Alabama. "Noon News", November 3, 2005.]
In the aftermath of this lawsuit, Thompson lobbied
Alabama attorney general Troy Kingto file a civil suit and call on retailers not to sell "cop-killing games."Linn, Mike. "'Grand Theft Auto' comes under fire." "Montgomery Advertiser", 2006-03-13.] After the slaying of another police officer in Gassville, Arkansasby Jacob D. Robida, an 18-year-old fugitive, Thompson again raised the possibility of a connection to "Grand Theft Auto", but investigators found no evidence that video games were involved.Rotermund, Maggie. " [http://www.baxterbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060208/NEWS01/602080339/1002 Investigators: Video games not linked to shooting] ." "The Baxter Bulletin", February 8, 2006.]
Thompson once reported that he had videotaped a Miami
Best Buyselling a copy of "" to his son who was 10 at the time. In a letter to Best Buy, he wrote, "Prosecutions and public relations consequences should fall on your Minneapolis headquarters like snowflakes."Morris, Chris. " [http://money.cnn.com/2003/01/29/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/ Crackpot or crusader?] " "CNN/Money", 2003-01-31.] He eventually sued the company in Florida, arguing that it had violated a law against sale of sexual materials deemed harmful to minors. In January 2005, Best Buy agreed that it would enforce an existing policy to check the identification of anyone who appeared to be 17 or under and tried to purchase games rated "M" (for mature audiences).cite web|url=http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1105364082606|title=Video Game Industry Explodes With Legal, Regulatory Issues|accessdate=|last=Baldas|first=Tresa|date= 2005-01-11|work= The National Law Journal|publisher= Law.com] No law in effect at the time prohibited selling "M" rated video games to juveniles.
In September 2006, Thompson filed a suit in
Albuquerque, New Mexicoagainst Sony, Take-Two, Rockstar Games, and Cody Posey, for the wrongful death of three members of Posey's family. The 69-page complaint filed by Thompson and Albuquerque attorney Steven Sandersargued that "obsessively" playing "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" made violence "pleasurable and attractive," disconnected violence from consequences, and caused Posey to "act out, copycat, replicate and emulate the violence" when he shot and killed his father, stepmother, and stepsister, and then buried them under a manure pile at a ranch owned by former ABC Newsreporter Sam Donaldsonin July, 2004. Thompson and Sanders filed the lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members of Posey's father. According to Thompson, "Posey essentially practiced how to kill on this game. If it wasn't for "Grand Theft Auto", three people might not now be dead."Gutierrez Krueger, Joline. " [http://www.abqtrib.com/news/2006/sep/25/video-game-maker-blamed-04-killing/ Video-game maker blamed in '04 killing] ." "The Albuquerque Tribune", 2006-09-25.] The lawsuit claims that Thompson was told by a sheriff's deputy that the game and a Sony PlayStation 2 were found at the ranch. The suit also claims that the game taught Posey "how to point and shoot a gun in a fashion making him an extraordinarily effective killer without teaching him any of the constraints or responsibilities needed to inhibit such a killing capacity.""Lawsuit blames 'Grand Theft Auto' video game for teen shooting family at N.M. ranch." "The Associated Press State & Local Wire", 2006-09-26.] Gary Mitchell, Posey's criminal defense attorney, said Thompson contacted him "numerous times" before the trial, urging Mitchell to highlight the game in Posey's defense, but Mitchell said he "just didn't find it had any merit whatsoever."Romo, Rene. " [http://www.abqjournal.com/paperboy/text//news/state/496235nm09-26-06.htm Relatives of Posey's Victims Say Video Game Helped Turn Teenager Into a Killer] ." "Albuquerque Journal", 2006-09-26.]
On March 14, 2007 Take-Two filed a lawsuit to prevent Thompson from preventing the sale of "
Grand Theft Auto IV" and " Manhunt 2" to minors, claiming that Thompson's effort to block sales of its games through lawsuits violates the company's First Amendment rights.Ganapati, Priya. " [http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/newsanalysis/techgames/10345024.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA Take-Two Goes After Chief Critic] ." "TheStreet.com", 2007-03-16.] Responding, Thompson said, "I have been praying, literally, that Take-Two and its lawyers would do something so stupid, so arrogant, so dumb, even dumber than what they have to date done, that such a misstep would enable me to destroy Take-Two."Kesten, Lou. " [http://www.businessweek.com/ap/tech/D8O0N5580.htm 'God of War II' takes over PlayStation 2] ." "BusinessWeek", 2007-03-21.] On April 19, 2007, Thompson and Take-Two settled their suit, with Thompson agreeing not to restrict sales through any court worldwide of Take-Two's games, threaten to sue the company, or accuse Take-Two of any wrongdoing based on the sale of any of its games. One analyst said that the settlement was likely to mute his public pronouncements and lawsuits against the company.Ganapati, Priya. " [http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/newsanalysis/techgames/10351639.html Take-Two Settles With Critic] ." "TheStreet.com", 2007-09-19.] However, upon the game's 2008 release, Thompson called the game "the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio," and asked Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlentyto "pursue and file criminal charges against [Minnesota-based retailers] Target and Best Buy."Ojeda-Zapata, Julio. " [http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_9086726 'GTA IV' releases mayhem — and parental anxiety] ." " St. Paul Pioneer Press" 2008-04-28.] He also sent a letter to Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick's attorney, addressed to Zelnick's mother, in which Thompson accused her son of "doing everything he possibly can to sell as many copies of GTA: IV to teen boys in the United States, a country in which your son claims you raised him to be a 'a Boy Scout'. ... More like the Hitler Youth, I would say."Hawke, Jack. " [http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=559596 Grand Theft Auto IV cracks $500m mark] ." " Ninemsn" 2008-05-08.] On May 1, 2008 Thompson appeared on the CNN Headline Newsprogram "Glenn Beck", asserting that the game's sexual content made its sale to minors illegal, and that he was working with law enforcement to have criminal prosecutions brought. "Glenn Beck". " CNN Headline News", 2008-05-01.] Thompson also filed a complaint with the Chicago Transit Authorityabout poster ads for the game at Chicago, Illinoisbus stops.Dawkins, Tao. " [http://www.pal-item.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080504/NEWS01/805040335/1008 Local gamers celebrate premiere] ." " Palladium-Item" 2008-05-04.]
Campaign against "Bully"
Beginning in 2005, Thompson supported a campaign to discourage Take-Two’s subsidiary,
Rockstar Games, from releasing a game called "Bully", in which, according to Thompson, "what you are in effect doing is rehearsing your physical revenge and violence against those whom you have been victimized by. And then you, like Klebold and Harris in Columbine, become the ultimate bully."Dobbs, Lou. "Lou Dobbs Tonight". CNN, 2005-08-24.] According to Thompson, the game "shows you how to — by bullying — take over your school. You punch people; you hit them with sling shots; you dunk their heads in dirty toilets. There's white-on-black crime in the game. You bludgeon teachers and classmates with bats. It's absolutely nuts."Sledge, Kaffie. " [http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/14462838.htm Violent video games not reality] ." "Columbus Ledger-Enquirer", 2006-04-30.] Thompson sued Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, GameStop, and Toys 'R' Us, seeking an order to bar the game’s release.Hoag, Christina. "Activist bullies video game sellers". "Knight Ridder Tribune Business News", 2005-08-18.] He also participated in a protest at Rockstar's office that also included students from Peaceaholics, a Washington, D.C. mentoring organization. Moult, Julie. "Slam at Vid Jerks." "New York Post", August 3, 2005.] Thompson said he hoped that the pressure would get retailers to refuse to carry the game.Pinzur, Matthew I. " [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/14084718.htm Secretive new video game might inspire school bullies] ." "Miami Herald", 2006-03-13.] In March 2006, a Florida school board he had lobbied passed a resolution criticizing the game, but only urged retailers not to sell the game to minors.Pinzur, Matthew I. " [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/14105904.htm Video game targeted by Miami-Dade School Board] ." "Miami Herald", 2006-03-15.]
Thompson also criticized
Bill Gatesand Microsoftfor contracting with Rockstar Games to release the game on the Xbox. The Xbox version has since been canceled for undisclosed reasons, but a version was released on the Xbox 360. In August 2006, Thompson requested a congressional subpoena for an early copy, threatening to file suit in Miami if he did not gain help from U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns. Once the game is out, according to Thompson, "the horse will be out of the barn and it will be too late to do anything about it." Thompson argued that it violated Florida's public nuisancelaws, which prohibit activities that can injure the health of the community.Jones, K.C. [http://www.techweb.com/wire/ebiz/191902549 Lawyer Fighting To Ban 'Columbine Simulator'] , "TechWeb Technology News", 2006-08-14]
Rockstar Games co-founder
Terry Donavanresponded, saying "I would prefer it if we could simply make great games and not have to deal with misunderstanding and misperception of what we do."Kesten, Lou. "The week in video-game news", "The Associated Press", August 16, 2006] After receiving no response from Rockstar regarding an advance copy, Thompson filed the public nuisance complaint against Wal-Mart, Take-Two Interactive, and GameStop, demanding that he be allowed to preview the game before its October 17 release date. Take-Two offered to bring in a copy and let both the judge and Thompson view the game in the judge's chambers on October 12, 2006.Slagle, Matt. " [http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2006Oct12/0,4670,BullyLawsuit,00.html Judge to Weigh in on 'Bully' Video Game] ." "Associated Press", 2006-10-12.] The judge ultimately saw no reason to restrict sales and dismissed the complaint the next day.Slagle, Matt. " [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/13/AR2006101301095.html New Game Renews Criticism of Violence] ." "Associated Press", 2006-10-13.]
Thompson was critical of the judge's decision, telling the judge "You did not see the game... You don't even know what it was you saw," as well as accusing the Take-Two employee who demonstrated the game of avoiding the most violent parts.Carey, Bridget. " [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/technology/15756118.htm Judge doesn't object to video game 'Bully'] ." "Miami Herald",
2006-10-14.] Blank Romesubsequently filed a motion to have Thompson's behavior declared "contempt for the court". Judge Friedman then recused himself from ruling, and instead filed a complaint against Thompson with the Florida Bar, calling Thompson's behavior "inappropriate by a member of the bar, unprofessional and contemptible".Tilley, Steve. " [http://www.calgarysun.com/cgi-bin/publish.cgi?p=160396&x=articles&s=hype Bullying Justice] ." "Calgary Sun", November 1, 2006.]
Thompson later drew attention to the game's main character, a 15-year old male, being able to
kissother boys. Thompson wrote to ESRB president Patricia Vance, "We just found gay sexual content in "Bully" as Jimmy Hopkins makes out with another male student. Good luck with your Teen rating now." The ESRB indicated that they knew the content was in the game when they rated the game. " [http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2006-11-03-news-bytes_x.htm Game roundup: Wait for 'Burning Crusade'; 'Mansfield' a 96-hour keeper] ." "USA Today", 2006-11-03.]
In October 2006, Thompson sent a letter to
Midway Games, demanding they cease and desistselling the latest game in the "Mortal Kombat" series, "", claiming that the game was illegally profiting on his likeness, because gamers could use the option to make a character who looked like Jack Thompson. Midway has not ceased distribution of the game.
In December 2007, Thompson filed suit against
Omaha, NebraskaPolice Chief Thomas Warren, asking him to produce information on all "violent entertainment material" belonging to Robert Hawkins, who killed nine people, including himself, in a shooting at the Westroads Mallearlier that month. According to Omaha police, such information is not a matter of public record, as it is part of an ongoing criminal investigation." [http://www.ketv.com/news/14942590/detail.html Lawyer Sues OPD Chief For Hawkins' Video-Game Records] ." "KETV-TV", 2007-12-28.]
Activism and lobbying
In addition to filing lawsuits, Thompson has pushed for measures against similar games in a variety of public settings. He wrote a joint article in the "
Christian Science Monitor" with Eugene F. Provenzo, a University of Miami professor who studies the effects of video games on children. Originally brought together to provide opposing viewpoints on " 60 Minutes" in the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, they said they had become friends and were collaborating on a book. They described themselves as having "a shared belief that first-person shooter video games are bad for our children, teaching them to act aggressively and providing them with efficient killing skills and romanticized and trivialized scenarios for killing in the real world".
Thompson has supported legislation in a number of states that would ban sales of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors. In response to First Amendment concerns, he argued that the games were a "public safety hazard."Snyder, David. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/805019011.html?FMT=ABS Md. House Panel Hesitant on Video Game Restrictions] ". "Washington Post", March 9, 2005.] However, he rejected as "completely unconstitutional"
Hillary Clinton's proposed legislation to ban sales to minors of games rated "M" for Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Thompson contended that the government could not enforce a private-sector standard but had to depend on a "Miller" obscenity test. He charged that Clinton was simply positioning herself politically, with the support of the gaming industry, by proposing a bill which he felt she knew would be unconstitutional.Thompson, Jack. "What kind of game is Hillary Clinton playing?" "Fort Worth Star-Telegram", 2005-12-11.]
In July 2005, Thompson sent a letter to several politicians urging them to investigate "
The Sims 2", alleging that the game contained nudity accessible by entering special codes. Thompson called the nudity inappropriate for a game rated "T" for Teen, a rating which indicates suitability for anyone 13 and older. Manufacturer Electronic Artsdismissed the allegations, with vice president Jeff Brown explaining that game characters have "no anatomical detail" under their clothes, effectively resembling Barbiedolls. Although the game does display blurred-out patches over body regions when characters are naked, such as when taking a shower, Brown said that was for "humorous effect" and denied there was anything improper about the game.Wingfield, Nick. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/wsj/access/872507961.html?FMT=ABS Guess What's Hiding in Your Videogame] ." "The Wall Street Journal", 2005-07-26.] Nevertheless, a command that could be entered into the in-game consolein order to disable the blur effect was removed from the game in an expansion. No official reason was given for the change.
Louisiana, Thompson helped draft a 2006 bill sponsored by state representative Roy Burrellto ban the sale of violent video games to buyers under 18 (HB1381). In an effort to avoid constitutional problems, it avoided trying to define "violent" and instead adopted a variation of the "Miller" obscenity test: sales to minors would be illegal based on community standards if the game appealed to "the minor's morbid interest in violence", was patently offensive based on adult standards of suitability for minors, and lacked serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors. The bill was passed unanimously by the state House and approved by the Senate Judiciary A Committee, despite industry opposition and predictions that it too would be unconstitutional.Hasten, Mike. " [http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060531/NEWS01/305310004/1002/NEWS Video game sales ban advances to La. Senate] ". "Shreveport Times", May 5, 2006.] " The Shreveport Times" editorialized that Thompson's support of the bill "should immediately set off alarms" and described Thompson as someone who "thrives on chasing cultural ambulances". " [http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060516/OPINION03/605160311/1007 Video game ban misses target] ." "Shreveport Times", May 16, 2006.] In defense of the bill, Thompson said that it was needed for public safety, and that it was a "miracle" that a Columbine-type event hadn't happened yet in Louisiana.Thompson, John Bruce. " [http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/2998381.html La. needs video game sales restrictions] ". "WBRZ News 2", June 8, 2006.] However, the ESA filed suit under " Entertainment Software Association v. Foti", and U.S. District Judge James Brady issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking the law from taking effect until full judicial review can be done. " [http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060825/APA/608250712 La. Ban of Some Video Games Blocked] ." "Wilmington Star", August 25, 2006.] The law was permanently enjoined in late November 2006, and the state was ordered to pay the defense's attorney fees. Judge Brady was "dumbfounded" that state legislators and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blancowasted taxpayer money by trying to enact the law." [http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=6374154 State has to pay legal fees over defunct video law] ." "KATC3", April 16, 2007.]
At one point, Thompson was asked by the
National Institute on Media and the Familyto stop invoking the organization's name in his campaigns. NIMF president David Walsh felt Thompson cast the organization in a bad light whenever he brought up their name. "Your commentary has included extreme hyperbole and your tactics have included personally attacking individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect," Walsh said in an open letter to Thompson.Tilley, Steve. "Spielberg Grabs the Controller." "Toronto Sun", 2005-10-23.]
Thompson has additionally worked to influence police investigations concerning violent acts which he views as being connected to violence in video games media. On June 2, 2006, Thompson suggested that
West Feliciana Parish, Louisianapolice detectives, investigating the murder of 55-year-old Michael Gore by 17-year-old Kurt Edward Neher, should look into the video games played by Neher. According to Sheriff J. Austin Daniel, an autopsy showed Gore was beaten to death as well as shot in the face. Concerning this, Thompson stated that "nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer."cite web|last=Minton|first=James|date=2006-06-03|url= http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/police/2924321.html|title=Video games seized from teen’s home|publisher=The Advocate| accessdate=2006-06-03]
Other public commentary
Thompson predicted that the perpetrator of the
Beltway sniper attackswould be "a teenaged boy, who plays video games" and speculated incorrectly that he "may indeed ride a bicycle to and from his shooting locations, his gun broken down and placed in a backpack while he pedals."Milloy, Courtland. "The Need to Put a Face on This Killer". "Washington Post", 2002-10-23.] Saying that the shooter, Lee Boyd Malvo, had "trained" on "Halo", Thompson later claimed credit for this on "The Today Show": "I predicted that the beltway sniper would be a teen-aged boy that trained on a game switched to sniper mode. And three months later, NBCreported that that's exactly what Malvo did. And Muhammed had him train on the game to suppress his inhibition to kill.""Attorney Jack Thompson and Michael Miller, PC magazine, discuss war video games and their impact." "Today", 2003-04-17.] Gibson, John. "Interview with Jack Thompson". "The Big Story with John Gibson", 2003-10-22.] John Muhammad was a Gulf Warveteran and earned an expert marksmanship badge in the U.S. Army. " [http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/10/28/sproject.sniper.muhammad.profile/index.html Muhammad a Gulf War vet, Islam convert] ." "CNN.com", 2002-12-30.]
Thompson has also criticized a Christian video game based on the "
Left Behind" series. In "", players participate in "battles raging in the streets of New York," according to the game's fact sheet. They engage in "physical and spiritual warfare: using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world." Thompson claims that the makers of the game are sacrificing their values.Rhodes, Hillary. " [http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2006/04/11/entertainment/local/e673d55fe621a9fe8625714d000c5898.txt Christian Game: Good Word or Bad Idea?] " "Sioux City Journal", 2006-04-11.] He said, "Because of the Christian context, somehow it's OK? It's not OK. The context is irrelevant. It's a mass-killing game."Chmielewski, Dawn C. " [http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-godgames10may10,1,2202969.story?coll=la-headlines-business&track=crosspromo Converting Video Games Into Instruments of God] .”"Los Angeles Times", 2006-05-10.] "Left Behind" author Tim LaHayedisagrees, saying "Rather than forbid young people from viewing their favorite pastime, I prefer to give them something that's positive." The dispute over the game has caused Thompson to sever ties with Tyndale House, which publishes both the "Left Behind" books and Thompson's book, "Out of Harm's Way". Thompson has not seen the game, which he says has "personally broken my heart," but claims, "I don't have to meet Abraham Lincolnto know that he was the 16th president of the United States."Levy, Piet. "'Left Behind' Video Game Draws Criticism for Apocalyptic Violence." "Religion News Service", June 8, 2006.]
In April 2007, only hours after the Virginia Tech shooting (and before
Seung-Hui Chowas actually identified), Thompson predicted that the shooter had trained on the game " Counter-Strike".Benedetti, Winda. " [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18220228/ Were video games to blame for massacre?] " "MSNBC.com", 2007-04-20] According to Thompson, the game "drills you and gives you scenarios on how to kill them [and] gets you to kill them with your heart rate lower." He says that Seung-Hui "was in a hyper-realitysituation in virtual reality." Though Seung-Hui had last been known to have played "Counter-Strike" in high school, four years prior to the shooting, Thompson asserts that "you don't drop it when you go to college, typically." Thompson disputed Seung-Hui's roommate's claim that Seung-Hui only used his computer to write fiction, on the grounds that "Cho was able to go room to room calmly, efficiently, coolly killing people.""Hardball", MSNBC, 2007-04-19] Prior to being identified, Thompson attributed the "flat effectsic on [Seung-Hui's] face" and the efficiency of his attack to video game rehearsals of the shooting.MSNBC, 2007-04-16, 7:27 PM.] However, a search warrant released, listing the items found in Cho's dorm room, did not contain any video games, and a " Washington Post" story cited by Thompson later removed a paragraph stating that Seung-Hui enjoyed violent video games in high school. Thompson continued to maintain that "this is not rocket science. When a kid who has never killed anyone in his life goes on a rampage and looks like the Terminator, he's a video gamer." Thompson also sent a letter to Bill Gates, saying, "Mr. Gates, your company is potentially legally liable (for) the harm done at Virginia Tech. Your game, a killing simulator, according to the news that used to be in the Post, trained him to enjoy killing and how to kill." However, Microsoft did not create "Counter-Strike" - they only published the Xboxversion of the game. The official Virginia state panel commissioned to investigate the shooting determined that Seung-Hui "played video games like Sonic the Hedgehog," and that "none of the video games [he had played] were war games or had violent themes."Virginia Tech Incident Review Panel. [http://www.governor.virginia.gov/TempContent/techPanelReport-docs/8%20CHAPTER%20IV%20LIFE%20AND%20MENTAL%20HEALTH%20HISTORY%20OF%20CHOpdf.pdf Chapter IV: Mental Health History of Seung Hui Cho] .]
On February 15, 2008, Jack Thompson claimed that the actions of
Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people at Northern Illinois Universitybefore committing suicide, were influenced by the game "Counter-Strike". ["FOX News Channel", 2008-02-15.] In a subsequent news release, Thompson claimed that "We have a nation of Manchurian Candidatevideo gamers out there who are ready, willing, and able to massacre, and some of them will."Benedetti, Windi. " [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23204875/ Playing the Blame Game] ". "MSNBC.com", 2008-02-18.] Thompson also threatened the university with a lawsuit if the school did not provide copies of "all documents that reveal [Kazmierczak's] play of violent videogames."" [http://www.myfoxkc.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=5810588&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.1.1 Attorney Threatens NIU With Lawsuit Over Gunman’s Gaming History] ". "MyFoxNational Reports", 2008-02-18.]
Relationship with industry and gamers
Thompson's "high-profile crusades" have made him an enemy of video game aficionados. On occasion, Thompson has sparred directly with the gaming industry and its fans. In 2005, he wrote an open letter to
Entertainment Software Associationpresident Doug Lowenstein, making what he described as a "a modest video game proposal" (an allusion to the title of Jonathan Swift's satirical essay, " A Modest Proposal") to the video game industry: Thompson said he would donate $10,000 to a charity designated by Take-Two CEO Paul Eibelerif any video game company would create a game including the scenario he described in the letter. The scenario called for the main character, whose son was killed by a boy who played violent video games, to murder a number of industry executives (including one modeled on Eibeler) and go on a killing spree at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Video game fans promptly began working to take Thompson up on his offer, resulting in the game " I'm O.K - A Murder Simulator", among others. Afterwards, he claimed that his proposal was satire, and to date he has not made his proposed donation.
Jerry Holkinsand Mike Krahulik, the creators of gaming webcomic"Penny Arcade" and of the children's charity Child's Play, stepped in to make the donation instead, writing in the memo field of their check, "For Jack Thompson, Because Jack Thompson Won't." Afterwards, Thompson tried to get Seattle police and the FBI to investigate Holkins and Krahulik for orchestrating "criminal harassment" of him through articles on their site.Kohler, Chris. " [http://www.wired.com/news/games/0,2101,69404,00.html Jack Thompson Versus Gamers] ." " Wired News", 2005-11-04.] cite web|url= http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/games/story/0,,1596608,00.html|title=Gaming news|accessdate=|last=Gillett|first=Nick|date= 2005-10-22|publisher= The Guardian] Other webcomics have regularly incorporated references to Thompson, alluding to this incident as well as others.For examples, see " Ctrl+Alt+Del" by Tim Buckley, " [http://www.ctrlaltdel-online.com/comic.php?d=20050808 Bathing Suit Area] " ( 2005-08-08) and " [http://www.ctrlaltdel-online.com/comic.php?d=20051012 An Open Letter to Jack Thompson] " ( 2005-10-12); " GU Comics" by Woody Hearn, [http://www.gucomics.com/archives/view.php?cdate=20050816 August 16] and [http://www.gucomics.com/archives/view.php?cdate=20051018 October 18, 2005] ; " VG Cats" by Scott Ramsoomair, " [http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=158 Coco Beans in Warm Water] "; "Bunny" by Lem, " [http://www.frozenreality.co.uk/comic/bunny/index.php?id=406 different reasons, same fun] " ( 2005-10-17); " Punks and Nerds" by Josh Mirman, [http://www.punksandnerds.com/d/20051021.html October 21, 2005] ; " PvP" by Scott Kurtz, [http://www.pvponline.com/images/news/letter.gifparody of complaint] on [http://www.pvponline.com/newspro/archives/arc9-2005.html October 21st, 2005 news post] ; " Shortpacked!" by David Willis, [http://shortpacked.com/d/20051024.html October 24, 2005] .]
In 2006, two
Michigangamers began a project dubbed "Flowers for Jack", soliciting donations to deliver a massive floral arrangement to Thompson’s office. The flowers were delivered in February along with a letter aimed at opening a dialogue between Thompson and the video gaming community. Thompson rejected this overture and forwarded the flowers to some of his industry foes, with such comments as "Discard them along with the decency you discarded long ago. I really don't care. Grind them up and smoke them if you like."Tilley, Steve. "New Windows Will Be Open to Halo 2." "Toronto Sun", 2006-02-12.]
Gamers have responded to Thompson's attempt to link the Virginia Tech massacre to the game "Counter-Strike". Video game Web sites and young gamers on Internet message boards "teemed with anger" at what "
San Francisco Chronicle" reporter Peter Hartlaubcalled "his serial misstatements," in some cases linking to YouTubevideos of Thompson and dissecting his claims point by point.Hartlaub, Peter. " [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/24/DDG4PPCNHL1.DTL Another tragedy, another platform for video game fearmonger] ". "San Francisco Chronicle", 2007-04-24] Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, said, "It's so sad. These massacre chasers—they're worse than ambulance chasers—they're waiting for these things to happen so they can jump on their soapbox." In response, Thompson referred to Della Rocca as an "idiot" and a "jackass [...] paid not to connect the dots [connecting shootings to video games] ," and compared himself to people who warned that the government should be more concerned about terrorism before the September 11, 2001 attacks.MSNBC, 2007-04-21, 8:42 AM.] According to Della Rocca, Thompson then challenged him to a series of gaming debates, claiming that they could each make more than $3,000 per event. When Della Rocca suggested that neither he nor Thompson accept any money for the events, Thompson refused.
Thompson and Howard Stern
In 2004, Thompson helped get
Howard Stern's show taken off a radio station in Orlando, Floridaby filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. Thompson objected to Stern’s use of obscenities on the air. He argued that "Either broadcasters will accept the light harness of decency that has been the law for decades and start cleaning up their acts, or the public's deepening outrage will foster a more fearsome governmental response."Thompson, Jack. "Why I Complain About Indecency." "Broadcasting & Cable", 2004-04-26.] Thompson claimed to have received death threats from listeners of Stern's show, noting that "you'd expect that considering the IQof people who listen to Howard Stern. Apparently they fail to realize that I might have caller ID."Mayo, Michael. "Puritanical Intolerance is Scarier Than Stern Himself." "South Florida Sun-Sentinel", 2004-04-18.]
During his opposition to Howard Stern, Thompson was asked in an interview with a reporter if, by his standards, he would blame
Christianityfor the murders committed by Michael Hernandez, a fourteen year old who murdered one of his classmates in 2004, because Hernandez wrote a diary in which he constantly spoke about praying to God. Thompson replied, "The Bible doesn't promote killing innocent people, "Grand Theft Auto" does. Islamdoes." Thompson then expanded his comments in the same interview by saying, "Islam promotes the killing of innocent people. The Quran requires the infidel, whether Jew or Christian, to be killed. ... That's a core essence of the religion. ... Muhammadwas a pirate who killed infidels and who advocated the killing of infidels - not a nice guy. Osama bin Ladenis in keeping with his fine tradition."
He later spoke in defense of Stern during the latter’s legal dispute with
CBSover promoting Sirius on-air before his switch to satellite radio. Thompson contended that the technology added by CBS to edit out profanity also could have worked to edit out Stern's references to Sirius.Arango, Tim. " [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/nypost/access/996225561.html?FMT=ABS Decency crusader backs up Howard] ." "New York Post", March 2, 2006.] According to Thompson, "The reason why CBS chose not to edit Stern is that Stern's Arbitron ratings remained high and were arguably even enhanced by people tuning in to hear daily about Stern's running feud with CBS and his move to Sirius. In other words, CBS actually used Stern's discussion of his move to Sirius to make more money for CBS."Rosenthal, Phil. "The Chicago Tribune Phil Rosenthal Media column." "Knight Ridder Tribune Business News", March 3, 2006.]
Leslie Moonvesresponded, saying "You know what? You can’t let people like that tell you what to put on the air or what not to put on the air. That would only open the door when suddenly next week, he says, 'Take David Letterman off the air or take "" off the air.' Or you know what? " Everybody Loves Raymond" was about, you know, sex last week or about a 70-year-old man—you know, we dealt with Peter Boylehaving sex with Doris Roberts. 'Take that off the air.' That's something we can’t let happen."Brown, Tina. "Leslie Moonves discusses his work at Viacom and CBS." "Topic A with Tina Brown" CNBC, 2004-11-21.]
Florida Bar Association
Actions against the Bar
In 1992, Thompson asked a Florida judge to declare the
Florida Bar Associationunconstitutional. He said that the bar was engaged in a vendetta against him because of his religious beliefs, which he said conflicted with what he called the bar's pro-gay, humanist, liberal agenda. He also said that the "wedding of all three functions of government into the Florida Bar, the 'official arm' of the Florida Supreme Court, is violative of the bedrock constitutional requirement of the separation powers and the 'checks and balances' which the separation guarantees."Miami Review. "Suit Attacks Constitutionality of Bar." "The Recorder", 1992-06-11.] Thompson accepted a $20,000 out-of-court settlement. "In Brief: Lawyer Accepts $20,000 Bar Settlement." "Miami Herald", February 5, 1993.]
On January 7, 2002, Thompson sent the Supreme Court of Florida a letter regarding the Florida Bar's actions. The letter was filed with the court on January 10, 2002 and was treated as a petition for a
writ of mandamusagainst the Florida Bar."Thompson v. The Florida Bar", No. SC02-82 (Fla. 2002).] Before any action was taken on the petition, Thompson sent the court another letter on January 28, 2002 voluntarily dismissing the case. The letter was filed with the court on January 30, 2002, and the Florida Supreme Court issued an order of dismissal on February 28, 2002."Thompson v. The Florida Bar", 816 So.2d 130 (Fla. 2002) (decided without opinion).]
In January 2006, Thompson asked the Justice Department to investigate the Florida Bar's actions. "The Florida Bar and its agents have engaged in a documented pattern of this illegal activity, which may sink to the level of criminal racketeering activity, in a knowing and illegal effort to chill my federal First Amendment rights," Thompson wrote in a letter to
Alex Acosta, interim U.S. attorneyfor the Southern District of Florida.Jones, Carl. " [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1144933474083 Anti-porn crusader sues over Bar probe] ." "Broward Daily Business Review", 2006-04-13.]
In April 2006, Thompson filed another suit against the Florida Bar, this time in the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that the Bar harassed him by investigating what he called baseless complaints made by disgruntled opponents in previous disputes. His five-count complaint asked for more than $1 million in damages. The lawsuit alleged that the Bar was pursuing baseless ethics complaints brought against Thompson by Tew Cardenasattorneys Lawrence Kelloggand Alberto Cardenas of Miami, and by two lawyers from the Philadelphiaoffice of Blank Rome, in violation of Thompson's constitutional rights. According to the lawsuit, the Bar looked at Thompson for violations of a bar rule that prohibits attorneys from making disparaging remarks about judges, other attorneys, or court personnel. Thompson also filed a motion with the court to order the mediation of his dispute with the Bar. Thompson commented, "I enjoy doing what I do and I think I've got a First Amendment right to annoy people and participate in the public square in the cultural war." Thompson also said he is optimistic his federal lawsuit will be successful. "I'm 100 percent certain that it will effect change, otherwise I would not have filed it."
On April 25, 2006, the Florida Bar filed a motion to dismiss Thompson's complaint. The Bar argued that Thompson's complaint should be dismissed for a number of reasons, including the fact that the complaint failed to state a claim on which he could be granted relief. The Bar also argued that it was absolutely immune from liability for actions arising out of its disciplinary functions, that the Eleventh Amendment barred Thompson's recovery of damages, and that the court should dismiss the case pursuant to the
abstention doctrineof " Younger v. Harris". On May 4, 2006, Thompson filed a motion asking Judge Frederico Moreno to recuse himself from the case, as Judge Moreno was a member of the Florida Bar. Citing an "abundance of caution," Judge Moreno recused himself on May 9, 2006 and referred the case to Chief Judge William Zloch for further action. Thompson did not, however, respond to the Bar's motion to dismiss the case. Finally, on May 17, 2006, Thompson filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with the court, and the case was dismissed without prejudice."Thompson v. The Florida Bar", No. CV-06-20945 (S.D. Fla. May 17, 2006).]
In October 2007, Chief U.S. District Judge
Federico Morenosealed court documents submitted by Thompson in the Florida Bar case that depicted "gay sex acts." Thompson's submission prompted U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordanon to order Thompson to show cause why his actions should not be filed as a grievance with the court's Ad Hoc Committee on Attorney Admissions, Peer Review and Attorney Grievance, but the order was dismissed after Thompson promised not to file any more pornography. Thompson then sent letters to acting U.S. Attorney General Peter Keislerand U.S. Senators Patrick Leahyand Arlen Specterdemanding that Jordan be removed from his position for failing to prosecute Florida attorney Norm Kent, who Thompson claimed had "collaborated" with the Bar for 20 years to discipline him.Roberts, Alana. " [http://www.law.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/View&c=LawArticle&cid=1192784613675&t=LawArticle Judge Defends Sealing of Electronically Filed Porn Images] ". "Daily Business Review", 2007-10-22.]
In February 2008, The
Florida Supreme Courtordered Thompson to show cause as to why it should not reject future court filings from him unless they are signed by another Florida Bar member. The Florida Supreme Court described his filings as "repetitive, frivolous and insult [ing to] the integrity of the court," particularly one in which Thompson, claiming concern about "the court's inability to comprehend his arguments," filed a motion including images of " swastikas, kangaroos in court, a reproduced dollar bill, cartoon squirrels, Paul Simon, Paul Newman, Ray Charles, a handprint with the word 'slap' written under it, Bar Governor Benedict P. Kuehne, a baby, Ed Bradley, Jack Nicholson, Justice Clarence Thomas, Julius Caesar, monkeys, [and] a house of cards." Thompson claimed that the order "wildly infringes" on his constitutional rights and was "a brazen attempt" to repeal the First Amendment right to petition the government to redress grievances. In response, he sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, referring to the show-cause order as a criminal act done in retaliation for his seeking relief with the court.Roberts, Alana. " [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1203602190910 Anti-Porn Crusader May Face Sanctions for 'Meritless Filings.'] " "Daily Business Review", 2008-02-22.] [ [http://www.slate.com/id/2185966/ The weirdest legal pleading ever. - By Bonnie Goldstein - Slate Magazine ] ]
On March 20, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court imposed sanctions on Thompson, requiring that any of his future filings in the court be signed by a member of The Florida Bar other than himself. The court noted that Thompson had responded to the show cause order with multiple "rambling, argumentative, and contemptuous" responses that characterized the show cause order as "bizarre" and "idiotic." [ [http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2008/sc07-80.pdf "The Florida Bar v. Thompson", No. SC07-80 (Fla. March 20, 2008)] ]
In February 2007, the Florida Bar filed
disbarmentproceedings against Thompson over allegations of professional misconduct. The action was the result of separate grievances filed by people claiming that Thompson made defamatory, false statements and attempted to humiliate, embarrass, harass or intimidate them.Jones, K.C. " [http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=197003885 Grand Theft Auto Critic Faces Misconduct Charges] ." "InformationWeek", 2007-02-06.] According to the complaint, Thompson accused Cardenas of "distribution of pornography to children," claimed that the Alabama judge presiding over the Devin Moorecase "breaks the rules, even the Alabama State Bar Rules, because he thinks that the rules don't apply to him," and sent a letter to Blank Rome's managing partner, saying, "Your law firm has actively and knowingly facilitated by various means the criminal distribution of sexual material to minors." Thompson claims that the complaints violate state religious protections because his advocacy is motivated by his Christian faith. [Ostrovsky, Daniel. " [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1170928966137 Fla. Bar Seeks Sanctions Against Morality Watchdog Jack Thompson.] " "Daily Business Review", 2007-02-09.]
In May 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis, after reviewing 2,400 pages of transcripts and 1,700 pages of exhibits, recommended that Thompson be found guilty of 27 of the 31 violations of which he had been accused, including making false statements to tribunals, disparaging and humiliating litigants and other lawyers, and improperly practicing law outside of Florida. Thompson filed a motion with the Florida Supreme Court the day after the report was issued to strike Tunis' recommendations as vague for lack of detail. Previously, Thompson had attempted to have Tunis thrown off his case, and filed a complaint against her with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, which is responsible for investigating judges. [Roberts, Alana. " [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202421556225 Sanctions Hearing Set for Lawyer Found to Have Humiliated Litigants, Other Attorneys.] " "Daily Business Review",
On June 4, 2008, prosecutor Sheila Tuma recommended 'enhanced
disbarment' for Thompson, saying that Thompson demonstrated continued misconduct, a pattern of misconduct and persistently failed to admit any wrongdoing. Enhanced disbarment lengthens the period before an attorney may reapply for admission to the bar from five years to ten. After being prevented from making a speech to begin the disciplinary hearing, Thompson distributed his written objections to lawyers, a court reporter, and a newspaper reporter, departed the courtroom, and called the proceedings against him a "star chamber" and " kangaroo court." [Roberts, Alana and Shields, Billy. " [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202421944039 Enhanced Disbarment Recommended due to Lawyer's Pattern of Conduct.] " "Daily Business Review", 2008-06-05.]
On July 10, 2008 Judge Dava Tunis recommended permanent
disbarmentand a $43,675.35 fine for Thompson to the Florida Supreme Court. [ [http://kotaku.com/5023506/inside-the-169+page-thompson-report-judge-recommends-43k-fine-also Inside The 169-Page Thompson Report: Judge Recommends $43k Fine Also ] ] [cite web|url=http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/07/09/we-have-judge039s-report-recommending-permanent-disbarment-jack-thompson|title=We Have the Judge's Report Recommending PERMANENT DISBARMENT for Jack Thompson|author=McCauley, Dennis|publisher= GamePolitics|date=2008-07-09|accessdate=2008-09-25] The court approved the recommendation and fine on September 25, 2008. Thompson has 30 days to clear all his affairs before his disbarment becomes effective.cite web|url=http://kotaku.com/5054772/jack-thompson-disbarred|title=Jack Thompson Disbarred|author=Fahey, Mike|publisher= Kotaku|date=2008-09-25|accessdate=2008-09-25] He has since filed for an emergency stay of the Florida State Supreme Court's decision with the U.S. District Court. In an e-mail to media outlets, Thompson responded to the court's decision by stating, "The timing of this disbarment transparently reveals its motivation: This past Friday Thompson filed a federal civil rights action against The Bar, the Supreme Court, and all seven of its Justices. This rush to disbarment is in retribution for the filing of that federal suit. With enemies this foolish, Thompson needs only the loyal friends he has." He closed the email - in which he included the court ruling - with, "...this should be fun, starting now." [cite web|url=http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/09/25/disbarred|title=DISBARRED!|author=McCauley, Dennis|publisher= GamePolitics|date=2008-09-25|accessdate=2008-09-25] [cite web|url=http://www.thesupersoldiers.com/2008/09/jack-thompson-disbarred/|title=Jack Thompson Disbarred.|author=Bellinger, Hassan|publisher=The Super Soldiers|date=2008-09-25|accessdate=2008-09-25] [cite web|url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080925-jack-thompson-loses-boss-battle-with-florida-bar.html|title=Jack Thompson loses boss battle with Florida Bar|author=Kuchera, Ben|publisher= Ars Technica|date=2008-09-25|accessdate=2008-09-25]
In 1992, a complaint from Thompson led Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith to withhold a $25,000 grant to the Miami Film Festival; Thompson claimed that the festival was using state money to show pornographic films.Cosford, Bill. "Film Fest Vs Porno-Police: It's Your Choice." "Miami Herald",
1992-03-19.] In response, Thompson was named an "Art Censor of the Year" by the ACLU."Arts Censors of the Year." "Miami Herald", October 2, 1992.] The next month, Thompson faced disbarment over allegations that he lied while making accusations against prominent Dade County lawyer Stuart Z Grossman.Wallace, Richard. "Anti-porn Crusader May Be Facing Disbarment." "Miami Herald", 1992-04-17.] Thompson ultimately admitted violating bar rules of professional conduct, including charges that he contacted people represented by an attorney without first contacting their attorneys, and agreed to pay $3,000"The Florida Bar v. Thompson", 605 So. 2d 1268 (Fla. 1992) (decided without opinion).] in fines and receive a public reprimand."Lawyer Faces Fines, Reprimand to Resolve Case." "Miami Herald", August 4, 1992.]
In 1999, Thompson represented the parents of Bryce Kilduff, an 11-year old boy who committed suicide by hanging himself. Police believed that the death was an accident, and that Kilduff was imitating Kenny, a character from the
Comedy Centralseries " South Park", which Bryce, according to his parents, had never watched. Thompson called for Comedy Central to stop marketing the show and toys based on the series to children. "You see, the whole show—thrust of the show is it's—it's cool for kids to act like the characters in "South Park".” "Antoinette Kilduff and Her Lawyer, John Thompson, Discuss Her Son Imitating the Cartoon Character Kenny From Popular Comedy Central’s "South Park" and Hanging Himself." "Today", NBC, 1999-10-11.]
Although his efforts dealing with video games have focused on juveniles, Thompson got involved in a case involving an adult on one occasion in 2004. This was an
aggravated murdercase against 29-year-old Charles McCoy, Jr., the defendant in a series of highway shootings the previous year around Columbus, Ohio. When McCoy was captured, a game console and a copy of "The Getaway" were in his motel room. Although not representing McCoy and over the objections of McCoy's lawyers, Thompson succeeded in getting the court to unseal a search warrantfor McCoy's residence. This showed, among other things, the discovery of additional games "State of Emergency", " Max Payne", and " Dead to Rights". However, he was not allowed to present the evidence to McCoy, whose defense team was relying on an insanity defensebased on paranoid schizophrenia. In Thompson's estimation, McCoy was the "functional equivalent of a 15-year-old," and "the only thing insane about this case is the (insanity) defense." "Nancy Grace for April 21, 2005, CNNHN." "Nancy Grace", CNN, 2005-04-21.]
On February 21, 2007, Thompson filed a complaint with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission against Judge
Larry Seidlin, accusing Seidlin of "violating nearly every judicial canon" in conducting a hearing on the disposition of the body of Anna Nicole Smith.McMahon, Paula. " [http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-cseidlin23feb23,0,3083996.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines Anna Nicole Smith's mother says she plans to appeal] ." "South Florida Sun-Sentinel", 2007-02-23.] On June 28, 2007, Thompson filed a complaint with the State Attorney's Office, asking for an investigation and possible prosecution regarding accusations that Seidlin inappropriately accepted expensive gifts.Alanez, Tonya. " [http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-flbseidlin0630nbjun30,0,469401.story?coll=sfla-news-broward Attorney's Office seeks investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin] ." "South Florida Sun-Sentinel", 2007-06-30.]
In March 2008 Thompson called for the
New YorkState Supreme Court’s Appellate Division to immediately suspend the law license of former state governor Eliot Spitzer, who had resigned from the position amidst reports he was a client of a prostitution ring. Thompson said that the Disciplinary Committee for the Appellate Division's First Department should stop Spitzer from practicing law until the matter was resolved, noting that Spitzer did not claim innocence in his initial public apology." [http://www.silive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/news-24/12052685705790.xml&storylist=simetro Lawyer wants Spitzer suspended from NY bar] ." "Staten Island Live", 2008-03-11.]
James v. Meow Media"
Strickland v. Sony"
Jack Thompson and the Jacob Robida murders
*"Grand Theft Auto"
Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat" - Thompson is interviewed in the documentary
*"Out of Harm's Way". Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005. ISBN 1-4143-0442-0.
* [http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/All/07D079003898F95585256A830051348B?OpenDocument The Florida Bar's Member page of John Bruce Thompson]
* [http://www.g4tv.com/attackoftheshow/blog/AOTB/post/629272/Jack_Thompson_vs_Adam_Sessler.html Jack Thompson versus Adam Sessler on] G4's "
Attack of the Show!"
* [http://infiniteregress.tv/2007/06/how-i-went-face-to-screen-with-jack.html Jack Thompson vs Paul Levinson] on
*imdb name|id=2350887|name=Jack Thompson
NAME=Thompson, John Bruce
DATE OF BIRTH=
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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