Behind the Online: Politics, Hypocrites and Tenacious Twits
Weekly Column by Dave Bonnewell
Editor's Note: This is a weekly column by Staff Writer Dave Bonnewell. The column is called "Behind the Online" and will look at different events from around the world of MMOs. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.
Few can argue against the notion that there is an abundance of politicians, activists and other such prominent figures that are as much hypocritical as they are laughable in their pursuit of self-gratifying preeminence. If, however, the rather derisive title of this editorial offends or angers anyone, then I must apologize. It is the editorial itself that is intended to arouse such nagging feelings. But hey, sometimes the truth hurts. Oftentimes, the truth even brings about great and lasting changes to society. Knowing this, I have no compunction about writing with straightforward veracity until my gaming hand deforms claw-like at the risk of damaging a few egos or causing a little angst along the way.
I'm not one to call out certain individuals for their narrow-minded, unconstitutional, self-indulgent activities. Screw it, yes I am. There are, after all, certainly those who unashamedly ask to be singled out. So, who am I to deny anyone their jubilant desires? There's Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton, of course, but their actions pale in comparison to one individual for whom the bell of hypocrisy tolls loudest and that man is John Bruce "Jack" Thompson. For the benefit of those of you unfamiliar with old Jackie-boy (yes, all three of you), he is an attorney out of Miami, Florida, who frequently appears on news networks to advocate government regulation of the games industry, often referring to games as "murder simulators" and asserting that young persons accused of violent crimes have "trained" or "rehearsed" their actions using these so called "murder simulators."
Before you read further, I urge you to please watch this video clip of a debate on violence in video games which aired on G4TV's Attack of the Show very recently. I believe you will gain a better understanding of Jack Thompson as the debate gives him ample opportunity to state his views.
It would seem that, like Puxatony Phil's expected emergence from his dark hole in the ground, Jack Thompson pulls some annual jackass move to get his name in the media; a name, by the way, which has been self-soiled more times than a diarrheic baboon. Last month marked the "resurrection", if you well, of a relentless single (and close) -minded career that simply refuses to go gently into that good night. Thompson, in keeping with his typical boorish blustering, directed some seriously hot-headed comments at Miami District Court Judge Ronald Friedman, essentially berating the judge for his refusal to block sales of Take-Two Interactive's newest video game, Bully. The absurd scene in the courtroom got so heated that four police officers were called upon to restore order Attorneys for Take-Two are requesting that Judge Friedman hold a hearing to determine whether Thompson should be held in contempt of court.
Last month also marked the one year anniversary of one of Jack Thompson's most duplicitous and malicious measures. On October 10, 2005, Jack Thompson sent an open letter titled "A Modest Video Game Proposal" to members of the press and to Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein. Mr. Lowenstein, by the way, was the focus of personal attacks by Thompson in a CBS interview in which Thompson compared Mr. Lowenstein to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, knowing full well that Mr. Lowenstein happens to be Jewish. Anyway, back to the letter. In this letter he proposed that if someone could "create, manufacture, distribute, and sell a video game in 2006" that allows players to play the scenario he has written, he would write a check for ten grand to the charity of Take-Two's chairman Paul Eibeler's choosing. Now, here's where things really get interesting. The premise is a Grand Theft Auto-style game in which the focus of brutality is not on police officers and civilians, but rather on the industry leaders responsible for marketing violent video games, such as Take-Two CEO Eibeler and his family.
Several groups took up the challenge and created games that mirror or parody the proposed video game concept, although none have fully satisfied the list of criteria Thompson laid out. Some accused Thompson of using the offer of charity as a ploy to gain attention, and that he had no intention of coughing up the ten grand. Thompson, of course, insisted the offer was real. Unbeknownst to Thompson, however, a group of dedicated modders known as Fighting Hellfish released a San Andreas mod called Defamation of Character: A Jack Thompson Murder Simulator. The mod features none other than Jack Thompson himself at one point even assassinating Doug Lowenstein Acting under hypnosis, Thompson moonlights as "Banman" and takes to the streets in his "Bannedwagon" to destroy the entire shipment of Rockstar Games' upcoming release Bully before it reaches distribution. Although the team never asked him to donate the money, Thompson refused to when he discovered that the game existed. He later claimed that his proposal was satire and said that he would not donate the $10,000. How messed up is that?
Censorship, and especially banning, are never solutions to society's woes. History has proven time and again that government restriction of the private sector and interference in the creative process does far more harm than good. No, the answer lies not in government involvement, but rather in parental involvement. Who has more interest in the well being of our nation's children: the relentless media whores with some grandiose political agenda or parents who are able to make informed, conscientious decisions using the tried and true ratings system developed by the Entertainment Software Rating Board and printed clearly on the box of most every video game sold in America and Canada today?
I'm Dave "Kawika" Bonnewell and that's the way I see it.