Jack Thompson, a Florida lawyer who became infamous in 1988 for accusing Janet Reno of being a closeted lesbian with a drinking problem and a strong candidate for blackmail, has recently been making waves with his crusade against the video game industry. Earlier this year, he launched a wrongful death lawsuit against Take Two Interactive and Rockstar Games, makers of the Grand Theft Auto series, claiming that the video game was directly responsible for 18 year-old Devin Moore's shooting of three police officers in 2003.
Jack recently appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes trying to drum up support for his efforts. However, this publicity was apparently not satisfying enough for him, as he went on to try and create more outrage on his own. Attempting to emulate Jonathan Swift, he issued a "Modest Proposal" that offered a US$10,000 reward to anyone who would create a video game featuring Osaki Kim, a father whose son was beaten to death with a baseball bat by a 14-year-old gamer. The game would feature Kim extracting brutal revenge on the video game industry itself, including beating game company executives to death, removing their heads and urinating on their brain stems.
What Jack did not expect was that the enterprising PC gaming mod community would turn around and make this mod a reality. Jack then reneged on his promise of a US$10,000 donation to the charity of the modder's choice, saying that his original bounty had been "satire", and therefore not a legitimate promise.
This is where Penny Arcade, the popular video game-themed online comic strip, entered the story. One of the co-creators of the strip, Mike "Gabe" Krahulik, emailed Jack Thompson and informed him that he thought his proposed US$10,000 charitable donation was pretty small in light of Penny Arcade's more than half a million dollars, raised as part of their "Child's Play" charity event. Unfortunately for Gabe, his email contained his phone number as part of the signature, and Jack took advantage of this to phone him directly. The phone call included a threat of a lawsuit if Gabe emailed him again. In response, Gabe sent a check to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in the amount of US$10,000 with the note "For Jack Thompson Because Jack Thompson Won't" on the bottom.
The threats then escalated. Jack then faxed a letter to the Seattle Police Department claiming that Penny Arcade was "criminally harassing" him, and urging the arrest of "this little extortion factory".
At this point, the nerds swung into action. Penny Arcade forum members wrote, edited and sent letters and faxes to the Florida Bar Association detailing Thompson's activities and urging the review of his license to practice law. Jack Thompson has already received a reprimand by the FBA for his antics in 1998, and according to a spokesperson, the letters and faxes have been received and forwarded to the disciplinary committee.
Already, other activists against video game violence are starting to distance themselves from Jack Thompson. Earlier this month, the National Institute on Media and the Family wrote a letter to Jack, asking him to remove the link to their organization from his web site. While Mr. Thompson's fifteen minutes of fame may be waning, the issue of violence in video games remains a hot topic.
gamepolitics has been providing top-notch coverage of this asshole's recent exploits as well.