Hold onto your hats, boys and girls, because we’re going deep in the trenches today. Considered by some as the most villainous of figures in the world of electronic entertainment, the infamous Attorney Jack Thompson agrees to go under the hot, sticky glare of the Popzara spotlight for the very first time in an exclusive interview that’s sure to enlighten and entertain all.
From the recent controversy surrounding the Manhunt 2 videogame to reflections on the eternal question of art itself, fasten your seatbelts and grab hold tightly – it’s going to be a wild ride!
First of all Mr. Thompson, I’d really like to thank you for agreeing to have a conversation with us. Given the rather large shadow you typically cast over several media outlets (particularly of the online variety), I think our readers will enjoy the opportunity to hear from you directly, as their previous experience may have been, shall we say, slightly colored? Would you say that’s a fair assessment?
No, thanks to you for approaching me and giving me this opportunity. As my “casting a large shadow,” forgive me for thinking of it more as a burst of light. I am a Christian, and I am familiar, therefore, with the techniques, recounted in Scripture, of how those who seek to hide their sins in the dark impute improper motives to children of the light. I am not surprised, of course, by any of this, as Jesus said, “The world hates you because it first hated me.”
I am a fallen, sinful creature, therefore, simply trying to do the best with what gifts God may have given me. It is a miracle, literally, that I ever became a lawyer (read by book Out of Harm’s Way, Tyndale House, 2005) to see why, so I have tried to use that opportunity to stop the distribution of harmful adult entertainment materials to children. That is what I have done a lot of since 1987, when I secured the first FCC decency fines for the airing of adult material to kids.
Cast a dark shadow? I consider the nature and volume of my enemies as an endorsement of the propriety of what I have done. I have “fought the good fight.” I have felt God’s pleasure while doing so. In 1992, the ACLU called me its “Censor of the Year.” I wear that false designation as a badge [of] honor, considering what wing nuts it came from. A dark shadow? I have tried to show the world God’s light in a very dark, and darkening entertainment world in which our children are immersed and engulfed.
Here at Popzara, we’ve made conscious efforts to avoid the typical anti-Thompson tirades many other websites, particularly gaming outlets, make every time your name pops online. While there haven’t been many, some of the more moderate publications have made attempts to foster a larger dialog with you on a number of somewhat controversial subjects. Do you think this disparity has more to do with a lack of objective journalists, or perhaps a catering to specific demographics?
Well, that’s a good question. It is answered in part by the above first response. Further, I am not naïve. People tend to demonize their opponents in order better to try to marginalize them. I am sure I have been guilty of that at times, and I apologize. However, what has been done to me, and continues to be done to me, with web sites calling for my death, Penny Arcade’s fabricating completely the “Modest Proposal” lies and then inciting people to literally going through my residential neighborhood, door-to-door, telling my neighbors that I was trying to strip America of the Constitution, people sending sex aids products to my wife (who is recovering from ovarian cancer), and inundating me with boxes and boxes of unsolicited commercial products, all of that shows me I am on the right track. The hatred of these folks shows I’ve touched a nerve.
When Take-Two, for example, posts on its web site that I am a bisexual pedophile, then that pretty much informs everyone, including my detractors, that the leader of the effort to distribute and sell mature and adult materials to kids is devoid of any decency, any fairness, any right to claim that they and their lemmings are defenders of freedom. They are defenders of nihilism.
More on your point, I was interviewed for thirty minutes yesterday by a major newspaper in the UK about the Manhunt 2 victory, as I choose to call it. They know over there that I was in the middle of this effort. Industry lapdog “news sites” like GamePolitics won’t acknowledge that because now Dennis McCauley of GamePolitics has totally sold out. He is part of ECA, an industry entity. The real UK journalist told me that he was surprised by the fairness and accuracy of my answers to his questions. He was particularly struck by my telling him that the ONLY issue for me in all of this was the video game industry’s marketing and sale of mature games to kids. Period. He was actually able to hear me say that because he was not, like the nerds at Kotaku, filtering out of their hearing my simple statement that all we need in the US is a UK system that attaches some sort of sanction to selling an adult-themed game to kids. It works there. It would work here. This journalist was not being paid to censor out my views, so he heard them.
I also told him that I am no fan of government doing anything. I said that when he asked me “Why don’t you seek an industry solution to this problem of mature games still being distributed to kids?” I told him I did, that six months ago I proposed to the ESA a solely-industry-based approach whereby developers would inform retailers that they must stop selling mature games to anyone under 17 or product would be withheld, much as Sony and Nintendo refuse to allow AO games on their platforms.
It would work, it would avoid government regulation totally, and nobody heard of the proposal because, again, censorial sites like Kotaku, GamePolitics, Penny Arcade, Joystiq, ign.com, gamespot.com, and others refused to report “Jack Thompson proposes end to attempts to have government regulate video games.” That story would have proven I am reasonable, which the likes of Dennis McCauley do not want because to demonize Jack Thompson is to demonize all opponents of the sale of adult-themed video games to children. These people don’t report the truth, because the truth is not in them.
The ESRB recently suggested an “AO” rating for the upcoming Take2 game “Manhunt2”, calling into question whether or not the game will ever reach shelves considering both the Nintendo and Sony policy against releasing content with such a distinction. Your thoughts?
I expect Take-Two to redo the game, which will take time. It will not be Manhunt 2. It should be called Sellout 1. Why that title? Because if Take-Two really had the courage of its convictions on these issues (it does not), then it would refuse to reconfigure the game and sue the dickens out of everyone for “censoring” its “fine art,” as Strauss Zelnick calls it. Strauss, by the way, probably thinks, given the “fine art” content of Manhunt 2 that Jeffrey Dahmer was his generation’s Picasso. That statement by Zelnick is the single most absurd thing to come out of anyone’s mouth who has anything to do with video games in the history of this industry.
I look forward to telling you all about my face-to-face meeting with Zelnick in New York last month at which I warned him this Manhunt 2 disaster was going to happen. He laughed at me. He’s not laughing now. But the world is laughing at him for the “fine art” statement. Neil Cavuto nailed him with it on Fox News the other day in studio, and the BBC lampooned Zelnick for it.
All that aside, the AO rating by the ESRB of Manhunt 2 and the outright banning of it in the UK is the single best thing to happen to the video game industry ever on the issue of the public’s perception of whether the industry can be trusted to police itself. The jury is still out on that (trust me) but what an incredibly powerful argument the side that does not want the government to get involved here in the US now has, because that side can say: “Look, we nailed Take-Two, finally, for breaking the rules, and you can trust us to do it again to anybody who breaks the rules.” There are still other rules being broken, but at least now the ESRB and its head, Patty Vance, are not so clearly the industry lapdogs that they have previously appeared to be.
I gave a speech to an ABA Convention six years ago in San Francisco. It was to 1000 lawyers, and it was about my video game lawsuit in Paducah that had just been featured on 60 Minutes the Sunday after Columbine. That suit failed, but it paved the way for our Alabama GTA wrongful death case that is set for trial in January. It was featured on 60 Minutes six years later, just before Ed Bradley, who did both stories, died. A great, wonderful man.
Anyway, I concluded my ABA speech with the statement that Ancient Greece, which gave us the concept of the republic and the concept of democracy, had a practice of “ostracizing” public enemies and driving them out of Athens if they proved themselves harmful to the citizenry. I noted that this marketing of adult crap to kids by the video game industry was going to stop when the industry itself, just like Ancient Greece, understood that it had to ostracize from its inner circle the scofflaws who ignored the ratings system and in doing so painted a bull’s-eye of government regulation on back of the entire industry.
The decision of the industry ESRB to nail Take-Two for a decade of scofflaw conduct and in doing so send a message to parents that it just might be serious about the industry’s obligations (again, the jury is still out), was an acting upon what the Greeks rightly did and had to do to protect their civilization. I predicted it. I called for it. It has now happened.
Folks, I’ve thought this through. I am not some wild hare making this stuff up as I go. I have a plan, and the other side does not have a plan. This is a consequential fight. The video game battles are part of a larger war. Some call it the culture war. It brought us Columbine. Peggy Noonan, the great speech writer for President Reagan, wrote this on the pages of the Wall Street Journal just days after Columbine, when it was known then that Klebold and Harris trained on Doom and acted out The Basketball Diaries:
“With Columbine a line was crossed. It was a line at which American parents learned that what their children are swimming in, what we know as popular culture, is actually raw sewage that is harmful to their health and perilous to others’ safety.”
I am in many ways the worst person to be involved in, and some would say, leading this fight. To paraphrase and reapply CS Lewis, the greatest apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century, I would admit “To suggest that I went looking for this role is to suggest that a mouse goes looking for a cat.” I did not choose this role, this path that has brought me hatred, bar complaints, and lawsuits, and threats on my family. It chose me.
Eric Liddell, when he stands on the Scottish heath with his sister in Chariots of Fire, she asks him, “Eric, why do you run?” “Because, Jenny, I feel God’s pleasure when I run.”
Ladies and gentlemen, journalists and gamers, Americans and Brits, friends and foes alike, I feel God’s pleasure in what I do. I have felt it every step of the way. This is what God has given me, flaws and all to do. I regret not the path he has given me, because the pits my enemies have dug for me, they have fallen into. The demise of Manhunt 2 is a proof that God exists, and that I have been right, now for seven years about the excesses of the video game industry. I am overjoyed because of Him. He has made my paths straight.
Let’s go back to that comment Take2’s chairman Strauss Zelnick made referring to Manhunt 2 as fine-art, which as you mentioned was lampooned on several media outlets, particularly videogame-themed websites and blogs. I’ve often found it to be the cast that there are several factions of the gaming community, often at odds with one another, over the classification of gaming itself as an art-form. I know your name is often linked with the more controversial side of the gaming industry, but I think the world is curious to your thoughts outside the world of Grand Theft Autos and Manhunts.
Can a videogame be considered art?
Well, Strauss called it, to be fair to him “a fine piece of art.” The BBC morphed that into “fine art.” But the two are pretty close in meaning. I would suspect that Strauss would like to take that one back. By the way, I call him by his first name because we did meet face to face about Manhunt 2 and other things, and that is what I was asked to call him. I am sure he would have liked to have called me “Jackass,” but he didn’t. That’s a little self-deprecating humor folks. I don’t take myself as seriously as I am alleged to do.
Anyway, back to “art.” Surely video games can contain and can be art. A number of games are breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the writing is compelling. Anything than may grab the mind or the emotions or the soul or all three can be art.
But here’s the rub: just because a game may be “technologically brilliant,” as Ed Bradley correctly called Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the March 5, 2006 program on which I appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes, that does not automatically mean it is “art.” I will grant that art, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, but there is a distressing mindset among many gamers that if they call something art and I and others do not, then the matter is settled: it’s art.
Grand Theft Auto games, as well as Manhunt and Manhunt 2 (given what we and the review boards in the US and UK know) are, I would argue, clearly not “art” in any sense. Manhunt 2 was made by people who clearly have artful and artists’ skills, but to suggest that the identity of the work of someone makes all that they do necessarily fall into the category or classification of their calling is patently false.
Let’s put it another way, quite a different way. The ancient Greeks thought and wrote a great deal about the nature of things. One of the ancient Greek philosophers, I forget which one because when you’re trying to fight an entire industry to hold onto your law license you get distracted a bit) said that ” Art is that which points to what is good, beautiful, or true.” Go Google that phrase. You’ll find it.
What is the Greek point here? It is that for something to be art it must at least tangentially tie in some fashion to one of those three paradigms. Art can point to or illuminate or conjure up some aspect of goodness. It can do that without being beautiful or true. Something that is art can be beautiful without necessarily pointing to what is good or true. Take the Impressionists’ paintings as maybe one example. The images of Monet, for example, are not in any sense good and surely not true, as the whole thrust of that type of painting is that what you are seeing in the painting is not really what you would actually see. But are these paintings beautiful? Yes, they can take your breath away and you can explain: Oh, how gorgeous.
Now think of Van Gogh’s works, some of which fall into the Impressionists’ camp. And guys, I’m not an art major. I’m just trying to make a fair point here, so if I’m off in some of the nomenclature, etc., cut me some slack. Look at his Starry Night:
Does it point to something good? I don’t see it. Does it point to what is beautiful? Maybe, maybe not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t call this painting particularly beautiful. But does it point to what is true? I believe it does, because it captures, magically, the fell of a starry night.
Now, is GTA “art?” No, not in my opinion. Does it celebrate what is good? No. Does it celebrate what is beautiful? Hacking prostitutes to death? No, that’s not lovely. How about what is true? I don’t see truth in this series of games. The only truth that it conjures up is that a bunch of wiseguys in kilts in Edinborough, sipping single malt Glenlivet, think that they can make a bunch of money stereotyping American minorities. Earning money is good, but doing so by pixelating lies and hate and random violence is not good.
Are these artists clever? Yes they are. Sam Houser is very clever. But when Sam House, the guy who created all this crap for Rockstar tells the New York Times’ industry lapdog Seth Schiesel in an interview about a year ago that Grand Theft Auto games are one day going to be considered great “culture,” then it is time to haul out all the mechanisms of satire to put this talented idiot in his place.
So, to sum up, we can debate about what is art, and everyone is entitled to his opinion. But nobody is entitled to take the position that “art” is art because so and so says it is. “Art” must have a definition, and then we can examine whether something falls within that definition. But let’s not be mindless folks who suggest that words don’t have meaning and that we can call anything anything and thereby fairly define it.
Finally, put yet another way: If Manhunt 2 is “art,” then Jack the Ripper was his generation’s Rembrandt. Jeffrey Dahmer was his generation’s Picasso. Charles Manson was his generation’s Michelangelo. Please. Art points to something useful. It illuminates. What does Manhunt 2 illuminate, other than the fact that Take-Two’s “art” people have no values and that Strauss Zelnick is the functional equivalent, in the video game industry, of Joseph Goebbels. He utters the “big lie” to push his agenda.
You mentioned a few of the more popular online gaming outlets in your last answer, labeling them censorial sites. Here at Popzara we’ve made no secret our distaste for a number of particular videogame industry themed websites and gaming blogs, often citing their reckless and unproductive behavior with regards to subject matter they’ve historically dropped the ball on. On the subject of Jack Thompson, a few of these sites seem to have taken a personal vendetta against you that makes me a little uncomfortable, journalistically speaking.
Do you feel that a web-blog such as Kotaku that resorts to open name-calling and a vested interest in you personally can still be considered objective and accurate on issues of a higher complexity? Or should that type of defense be expected from such a media source with such a narrow focus on one specific medium? I’m sure you’re more than familiar with how their readers feel about you, but on the other hand you have said some pretty incendiary things in the public eye.
Of course I’ve said incendiary things. I’m an activist. I have a view and I have an agenda. Nobody would deny that, certainly not I. But what galls and is utterly laughable is the pretense that the people who run these sites are in any sense journalists. Take Brian Crecente, who used to work for the Rocky Mountain News, which is actually peopled with real journalists.
Crecent has done story after story about me and never talked to me once. A basic concept of journalism is that you talk to both sides, give both sides, and then do your damned story. Nobody in his right mind, for example, doesn’t see that CNN has its view of the world as contrasted with Fox News’ view. CNN is to the left of Fox. Everybody knows that. How much the two are disparate is debatable.
I’ve been on both cable news networks more than ten times. Both networks, despite their agendas, understand the concept of “fairness” and that to report on a story you have to have both sides, sometimes on the air at the same time, slugging it out. The first national tv show I ever did was CNN’s Crossfire. I was on with Bruce Rogow, a great ACLU lawyer, who stated his view and I stated mine about the 2 Live Crew case. The audience got to decide who was wrong. I recently was part of a “package” story for Fox which dealt with Manhunt 2, and did Fox just have me in the piece? No, they had the other side as well. That’s real journalism. We report, you decide, as Fox says.
Does Crecente to do this type of reporting? Of course not. He is an industry stooge. But the worst example of all this is GamePolitics and its owner Dennis McCauley. McCauley is now an operative for Hal Halpin’s ECA, so the curtain behind which this Wizard of Odd, Mr. McCauley, has been rent asunder. McCauley has pretended, mightily, to be a journalist. He is not. He does put out a lot of information, some of it correct, about what is going on in the gaming world and industry. I commend him for that. He does a better job than most.
But McCauley filed a Bar complaint against me over a year ago, claiming that my tactics were “unethical.” He’s entitled to his opinion, and he can even file a baseless Bar complaint. It was baseless, because The Florida Bar, whose hierarchy absolutely loathes me (we can talk about that more) looked at his ridiculous Bar complaint and threw it into the wastebasket.
When McCauley filed it, I told him that he had a journalist obligation (has that now become an oxymoron in video game circles?) to disclose to his readers that he had filed the complaint. Why? Because it’s called full disclosure. It gives all a heads-up that you, a reputed “news” site, have a vested interest in harming someone about whom you are “fairly” reporting. Any real journalist knows you can’t report on a story and at the same time make yourself a player in the story.
But if you do that, you have to disclose that you are a player in the events. To this day, McCauley has refused to tell his “news” readers that he filed that complaint and that it was thrown out. That is not journalism. That is lying.
McCauley even went so far as to link his site to my Tyndale House book offering at Amazon.com to assure that it would be “bookstormed.” The number of obscene postings at my book offering there were so voluminous because of what McCauley did that Amazon had to delete many of them. McCauley is simply a tool of this industry, then, and its too bad, because the guy has talent and has a sense of what is news. What he lacks is any sense of fairness when it comes to Jack Thompson.
Staying on topic, I’ve read about the lawsuit you filed against Kotaku parent company Gawker Media and its eventual dismissal by the court. Concerning that specifically, I believe the context behind that particular action was regarding some rather inflammatory comments left on the user-generated message board’s of Kotaku’s website. Did you feel that their refusal to remove these remarks was indicative of their approval for their content, allowing their user’s to voice an editorial opinion they themselves may have deemed libelous? In the case of specific threats against anyone (including yourself), should a website be held legally responsible for incendiary remarks?
They weren’t inflammatory comments. They were calls for me to be killed. The cause of action was not dismissed because of a lack of merit, but simply because the trial court, Judge Huck, felt that that issue was not significantly close to the other issues in the federal case into which I amended them. I may file a separate action, particularly if Kotaku does this again.
Is a web site responsible for posting death threats and leaving them up there after the target alerts the site to them? Of course that site is, especially when Kotaku has “user rules” that clearly state that no one can do that and get away with it. That nails Kotaku when they violate their own rules. There is not a jury in the world that would find Kotaku not responsible for what they did to me.
You’re no fan of GamePolitics or Dennis McCauley, that’s for sure. You’ve labeled him a sell-out, and through his connections with the ECA (Entertainment Consumers Association) an “industry lapdog”.
Special interest groups in politics are nothing new, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the increasingly influential world of videogames should find advocates among themselves. Is your suggestion that McCauley (and by association the Games Politics website) serves another purpose other than protecting the legal rights of those involved in the industry? You mentioned a particularly seditious action that website took against you recently. Care to elaborate?
See above, but in addition, note this, please: These sites are welcome to be as energetic in pursuit of their industry goals as I have been to thwart the sale of adult and mature games to kids. But what they can’t do, fairly, is pretend not to be advocates for their views. McCauley gets money from the very industry that he is supposedly “fairly” reporting about. Look at his ads. Look at his now formal ECA affiliation. I get money, by the way, from nobody, nor have I ever accepted any in my twenty years of fighting the entertainment industry’s marketing and sale of adult entertainment to children. I’m clean. These sites are not. They need to stop the charade that they are.
Finally, I should like to note that I very much appreciate this opportunity to say some things to folks with whom I haven’t otherwise communicated. If I were the person described at Wikipedia and at GamePolitics and Kotaku and Spong, etc., I would have killed myself a very long time ago. I am not insane. I am not a Nazi. I am not the thought police. I am a Christian and a father and a lawyer who seems to have been given a task to simply, as best I can, with all my many flaws, that adult entertainment can be harmful to minors and that the industry should not sell to minors, with no parent in site, games that are rated as only appropriate for someone 17 or over.
That is my only issue. And the industry knows I am so right that upon the instant that I appeared on March 5, 2005, on CBS’ 60 Minutes, that industry set out to destroy me with death threats, Bar complaints, lawsuits, and now the incredible character assassination that I am mentally ill and must be suspended from the practice of law.
I consider all this a compliment that I may have made some small difference in elevating to more prominence the debate about whether mature games ought to be sold to kids and whether harm is being done. I honestly do not believe that the Manhunt 2 cataclysm for Take-Two would have happened if I had not done, over the last eight years, starting with my prediction of Columbine on NBC’s Today Show a week before it happened, what I have done.
I am not perfect. I am angry and I can be mean. But I have sat in rooms with families whose loved ones are in the ground because of these games. That changes you. It focuses you. It breaks your heart.
When “art” can both train and incite someone to kill, then, ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem. I am not the industry’s biggest problem. Lying rich boys like Strauss Zelnick are this industry’s big, big problem. Finally, the game reviewers in the UK and the US have found that out. I’ve been happy to help. Am I crazy? Everyone reports. You decide.
Specifically, are there people working specifically in the videogame industry you feel are doing a good job? That pool extends to not only those working in production, design, and promotion, but to the growing field of gaming journalism as well.
Surely, there are “good” people working in all fields, even some lawyers, present company excluded of course.
Backing things up a bit, the videogame industry seems to have reacted internally in regards to the whole Manhunt 2 scandal, from the ESRB’s classifying the title with an “AO” rating, to the major console manufacturers restating their policy of not allowing such media on their platforms. Do you think this was a good example of the industry policing itself, perhaps not for moral reasons, but to circumvent any media backlash that typically follows a Take2/Rockstar release?
It is very difficult, in some instances, to correctly guess at motives. All I know is that this industry decision to isolate Manhunt 2 and ostracize Take-Two for its very long history of thumbing its nose at corporate and artistic responsibility is long, long overdue. Let’s not forget what happened in the UK – the review board decided the game was so outrageous and so potentially dangerous that it categorized as contraband – unsalable even to adults.
Take-Two still doesn’t “get it.” Strauss Zelnick, as pointed out elsewhere, rails against this collective opinion of the industry and calls it “a fine piece of art.” He is a fine piece of corporate recklessness, and the industry finally had enough of it.
A quick follow-up to that last question, this one regarding your concerns with the Wendy’s fast food chain and their support of the Nintendo Wii console, which at one time was going to host a decidedly violent Manhunt 2 experience. Although Nintendo has rectified this concern by following its own policy of restricting “AO” rated entertainment, would you have pursued Wendy’s parent company for their affiliation with the company had the original content of the game been released?
Pursued Wendy’s? No, I gave Wendy’s a heads-up (it’s one of my favorite fast food chains, as my girth suggests), and I like the company. I was doing them a favor. Now that Nintendo itself has pulled the plug on Manhunt 2‘s access to their platform, it looks to me like I was right. Wendy’s, you’re welcome. Now easy on the salt on the fries, please.
A point of interest I’ve always been curious about, and that’s the excessive amount of coverage each and every one of your actions seems to gather within the gaming press. What’s always struck me as odd is how each of the various media outlets seems particularly bent on your admonishment, rallying behind calls for your suppression while at the same time continuing to publish and give them exposure.
Earlier you likened attempts to demonize you personally were attempts to demonize all opponents of those who objected to the sale of violent media to children. I know you consider yourself an activist, but I’m curious if you feel your designation of a cultural pariah is accurate, and more to the point, a welcome one?
Look, I understand how this works, having been going after the entertainment industry, with some success, for 20 years now. I don’t need to recount my successes and failures. The fictionalized version of my life is available at Wikipedia for those who enjoy fiction. My real bio in these regards is in my Tyndale House book, Out of Harm’s Way.
I am, on a macro level, gratified that I am so vilified. It was said by Bill Buckley that you can a person by the depravity of his enemies. If that is true, then I’m doing so good work, considering the Doug Lowensteins and the Patricia Vances and the Strauss Zelnicks and the Paul Eibelers of the world treat me as if I were the anti-Christ.
Shakespeare had a thought on it as well: “Methinks thou doth protest too much.” So much bile and so much cyberink has been spilled by these people and their fellow travelers at my expense that they are basically admitting that I am making a difference (by God’s grace, not by my meager skills) and their protests that I am a lunatic and a no-account and a joke, to use some of their favorite pejoratives, because if I were all those things, I would be ignored by them.
They’re frightened of me. They are frightened by the fact that I have been on more than 100 television programs about the marketing of adult entertainment to kids, the Today show eight times, 60 Minutes twice, a profile last year on Nightline, on and on. Am I a genius. No. I’m an idiot, to hear the naysayers comment on me. I am simply a flawed sinner, a Christian, who despite his meager abilities and his mean streak has made himself available, vulnerable, to God’s promptings. Am I always right? Of course not. But I am not afraid to try to do something. We live in a generation of do-nothing people. That is one of the scourges of video games-young, talented people wasting the very essence of life-time-by immersing themselves in a pixilated world when there is a real world to change.
You all don’t have to agree with me, but give me this: I am active. I have a vision. I am acting upon it. And I have made powerful enemies. I don’t mind that. I am exhilarated by it, and I intend to keep going until He calls me home.
If we can change topics for a moment, I’d like to ask you about a certain practice that’s become all too common in this supposed ‘culture war’, and by that I’m referring to name calling and directed insults. Although I’ve already cited web blog Kotaku and their sometimes curious use of this tactic, in all fairness you’ve been particularly guilty of this as well. Even acknowledged earlier in this very interview you’ve acknowledged your own demonizing of your opponents and have apologized. Although I’d like to follow this question up in a moment, I’m curious about that apology and all that it entails.
Well, I have apologized to the extent that I really am sorry. I’m not sorry for about 99% of what I have done and said. Jesus Christ called the religious establishment, the Pharisees, whited sepulchers, hypocrites, vipers, liars-really lovely stuff, no?
If the shoe fits, then it should be worn. I don’t apologize for speaking the truth. I have tried, as best I can, as the Apostle Paul says, “to live in peace with others to the extent that you can.” Paul thus acknowledges that that is not always possible. Peace is not the ultimate virtue. Truth is a much higher virtue. Jesus was a very divisive figure. He rent asunder families. I am no Jesus, just a follower. I do not apologize for being divisive. Truth must be separated from falsehood.
And I am angry. Jesus said: “If any of you should cause one of these little ones to stumble, then it would be better for you that a millstone be tied around your neck and that you be cast into the sea.”
I have sat in jail cells with kids who have killed people, incited and trained to do so by unspeakably violent mature entertainment fraudulently marketed and sold to them. If no one is angry about that, then I am. I have an obligation to the victims still alive, the families of these departed. The people who have profited from this deserve worse than my angry words, and when they meet the One who created us all, they will wish they had listened. It is loving to warn them now. I don’t apologize for any of that.
With regards to the use of personal insults and verbal attacks, I’ve never been fond of them in both arguments and discussions where morality and personal liberties are concerned. Yet as I mentioned above, we’ve seen this tactic used time and time again to justify and even further specific agendas from all sides of this ongoing culture battle.
Could there ever be an opportunity where all opposing sides would agree to dispense with and discredit those who would lower the level of discourse to defamation and attacks and agree on terms of civility and reasonably sophisticated debate?
Well, of course. I find it instructive, however, that I am the one who keeps asking to addressing E3 (when it existed), who was willing to go to PAX 2007, despite the risk to my personal safety, and so forth. The people on the other side are the ones who like to take their potshots and then hide. These blogs like GamePolitics, where Dennis McCauley lets people hide behind anonymity, like big tough guys, casting their stones and then whining when I respond with what I think is the truth, with my name attached, kind of tells anyone who is willing to listen and hear who the mean-spirited anonymous cowards are.
My name is attached to what I say and do, and these other folks, most of them, threaten to kill me, my wife, and kid and do so anonymously, via the Internet or phone calls, and then claim what a mean guy I am. Kind of funny, don’t you think?
Look, I went on 60 Minutes and blew the whistle on Take-Two. I have had nothing but a jihad from these jackals ever since. The video game industry’s jihadists, the ones who claim the First Amendment protects the marketing and sale of adult entertainment to kids, are the ones who decided to make it personal because they literally can’t defend their products in a fair fight. If somebody on the other side wants to stop the war on Jack Thompson and his family, I’ll be delighted. Then we can stick solely with the issues. Until then, I take attacks on me and my safety and my career very personally, at least to the point of making the case that these people are not fighting fair.
When it is all said and done, though, I am delighted to do battle with these people. I’m winning, and they aren’t, and it drives them crazy. I ask you, who would you rather be after the Manhunt 2 debacle? Take-Two or Jack Thompson?
Well Mr. Thompson, I think this would be as good a place as any to wrap things up. Something tells me the world hasn’t heard the last of Attorney Jack Thompson, but before we go I’ll leave you the final word. Is there anything you’d like to say to close things out?
First off, I appreciate this opportunity. Secondly, whether this is the last the world has heard of me is up to God, not up to me and certainly not up to the various sociopaths who defend the marketing of mature-rated murder simulators to kids.
Finally, I would note, with some gratification, that when kids call me and start off by screaming at me about how I “want to ban all video games,” and I get them to calm down and tell them what my actions and views really are, and they say “Whoa, I agree with you on that,” then that is very gratifying and reminds me that it is worth it to “fight the good fight.”
My only issue really has been whether adult products should be sold to kids with no parents in sight at the point of sale. That’s it. No rational person can disagree with my position on that. That is why the industry jerks, like Take-Two, have tried to caricature my position on these things. They know I am right, so they stigmatize an idea and its carrier whom they know they cannot ultimately defeat.
I push on; they push on. I am a Christian. I believe the Word of God as to how this all ends. I am content, knowing that He lives.
In the interest of fairness, while interviewing Attorney Jack Thompson several statements were made toward GamePolitics.com political editor Dennis McCauley. Attempts to contact Mr. McCauley were initially successful, and from this an interview regarding Mr. Thompson’s allegations towards GamePolitics.com was agreed upon and sent to Mr. McCauley. Upon receiving our questions, Mr. McCauley declined to continue with the interview.