Jack Thompson, for good or worse, will not be silenced. Though many do not agree with his methods, all can agree that he is one who knows how to play the game that is mainstream media. Mr. Thompson knows that the quickest way to fire up both journos and the gaming industry as a whole is to hit it directly where it hurts. Say what you will about his methods, but the fact that the man never feels the need to censor himself nor cater to what the masses want to hear from him is indeed admirable. Much to the chagrin of many (misinformed) gamers, Jack is back. Hot on the heels of recent Utah legislature's passing of House Bill 353 (a bill that would amend and improve upon Utah's Truth in Advertising Law), Jack has become enraged at the fact that the good citizens of the United States have the audacity to voice their opinions regarding such a bill. In turn, he's made a respectable move, going straight to the man who should, in theory, be able to get a plan set in motion - President Obama.
In a heated letter that calls out violent video games as "murder simulators", Thompson has requested that Obama implement a total ban on all violent video games. Not just from children, but for all gamers, adults and children alike. While our president has quite a few more important things on his plate at the moment rather than settling an argument between Jack and his "murder simulator" supporters, this letter is quite an interesting look into Thompson's struggle to keep violent games out of the hands of the innocent children.
Hit the jump for more information, as well as the letter in its entirety.
Thompson's letter to Obama makes mention of the recent massacre in Germany and speculation that the killer "trained on Mature-rated games" for the event. He goes on to mention that his appearances on both the Today show and 60 Minutes were precursors to all the violence that would soon occur across the country and throughout the world - both events in his life where he tried his best to warn the general public of its impending video game-related doom.
Because the gaming industry is obviously crippled by the fact that vendors do not follow their own regulations regarding sale of adult materials to minors, it's obvious (in Jack's eyes) that the only real solution is to restrict sale of all violent video games to every individual, regardless of age. According to Thompson, "an industry, then, that will not keep its adult products from children, while claiming it does, must be deprived of its opportunity to sell these adult products to anyone."
He lauds pending Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke for signing into law one of the first video game laws in the nation while serving as the Governor of Washington - he believes that Locke is the perfect candidate to investigate the restriction and complete outlawing of "murder simulators" across America. Ending with a plead to Obama from "one father to another," he reiterates that it is his goal to see every "killer game" banned under the Obama administration.
Though I cannot agree with Thompson's opinions showcased in this particular letter, I can understand and respect the fact that he truly believes violent gaming is the root of so many tragedies across the globe. As much as I hate to admit it, it's very possible that the titles the individuals involved with the particular cases involved could well have been caused by gaming, though he neglects to mention the fact that many other factors have been - and always will be - in play when it comes to criminal activity. A total ban on every single violent video game? I strongly believe that every single individual, especially in this country, should have the right to purchase what he or she deems appropriate or worthy of consumption. Adults can and should be granted the legal power to choose when, where, and what they purchase or enjoy. However, the restriction of violent titles for children is a completely respectable endeavor that I can fully support Mr. Thompson in. I do have this to say, however: in the end, we all make our own choices. When we cannot think for ourselves due to the interference of government, where are we as a country? As a people? I have to wonder if Mr. Thompson took this into account when penning this particular letter.
Here's the letter in its entirety. What's your take on the situation? Could Thompson's words have a pronounced influence on the Obama administration? It's highly unlikely, but only time will tell:
Dear Mr. President:
Recently a German teenager methodically authored a massacre at his school, and like the perpetrator of a nearly identical earlier massacre in Erfurt, Germany, he trained on Mature-rated video games to both incite and train for this mass killing.
Now the head of German's national police union has called for a total ban throughout Germany of these virtual reality murder simulators that have been repeatedly linked to such senseless massacres. He is right to do so.
In early April 1999, I appeared on NBC's Today show with the parents of the three girls killed in their Paducah, Kentucky Heath High School by a fourteen-year-old video gamer who trained to kill them on Doom. When Matt Lauer asked me what I feared most from what we had learned in Paducah, I told him that we feared other boys in other American high schools would train on the same murder simulator to kill even more students. One week later, Columbine's Klebold and Harris made that awful prediction come true.
That is why I have been on CBS' 60 Minutes twice, both upon the request of the late and great Ed Bradley, to warn the nation that more Columbines are on the way.
There have been enough murders caused by violent video games that if I were to list in this letter the names of the victims, those names would more than fill the remainder of this page and all of the next.
Since 1999, I believe it is fair to say I have led the charge around the globe to keep these mature- and adult-rated games out of the hands of underage kids. I wrote the bill to do just that, passed unanimously by both houses of the Louisiana legislature, which was signed into law by Democrat Governor Blanco, only to have the video game industry blackmail that state into not defending that constitutional law in federal court.
I have more recently drafted House Bill 353, which both houses of the Utah legislature have overwhelmingly passed, and it awaits Gov. Huntsman's signing of it into law. All this bill does is amend Utah's already existing Truth in Advertising Law in telling purveyors of mature and adult entertainment that if they say to the public they do not sell their age-restricted products to children, then they must keep that promise. Otherwise, they are engaged in fraudulent, deceptive, untruthful advertising.
What has been the entertainment industry's response to this clearly constitutional and straight-forward bill? They have bombarded Gov. Huntsman with lies that completely misrepresent the bill, but even more remarkably (how is one truly surprised by a new wave of fraud from a fraudulent industry?), an organization calling itself the National Coalition against Censorship is telling Gov. Huntsman that "minors have a First Amendment right to adult entertainment." The lunacy of such a statement is precisely what the Entertainment Software Association itself actually believes, but it has only said that under cover of federal pleadings in federal court cases challenging constitutional video game bills.
Both the Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Software Rating Board are spending countless dollars doing all that they can to avoid strict compliance with their own age ratings on games. The United States Federal Trade Commission repeatedly documents the breaking of both the movie and the video game industries' promises made to the nation after Columbine. The latest lies coming out of both the ESA and the ESRB to try to intimidate first the Utah legislature and now Governor Huntsman are shocking, as they reveal an industry that has absolutely no behavior compass but that provided by greed. The video game industry makes Wall Street crooks look like a bunch of Mother Teresa clones.
Therefore, this industry's continuing mendacity, coupled with the recurring mass murders in Germany and in the United States and elsewhere linked to these games, has caused me, after ten years of leading this battle against the mental molestation of minors for money, to rethink and revise my goal. Heretofore I have taken the video game industry's word that it does not want kids to get adult products. The industry has finally caused me to shed, in the last few days, my propensity to give it the benefit of the doubt.
What they are now doing in Utah shows that what must be done in the United States is what is about to be done in Germany. If the video game industry will not do what is necessary to keep killer games out of the hands of impressionable kids, whom neuroscience proves are the most likely to copycat these virtual reality killing scenarios, then we must implement, as a society, a total ban on the consumption of these murder simulators by adults and kids alike.
An industry that uses fraud to get adult games, that are age-rated, into the hands of kids by using those age ratings as a deceptive fraud rather than as a real shield to prevent the grand theft innocence of our children, has used up all the trust and goodwill extended it since Columbine. An industry that will not do what is necessary to protect children from the harm its product causes has forfeited any "right" to conduct its business as usual. An industry that insists children have a constitutional right to purchase adult products is nothing more than a band of thuggish pirates like those operating off the Somali coast.
An industry, then, that will not keep its adult products from children, while claiming it does, must be deprived of its opportunity to sell these adult products to anyone. This is the price this industry must pay for more than a decade of deception and death.
I am not the only person who believes this must be done. There are indeed those within the video game industry itself who are appalled by the fact that the ESA, the entity that speaks for the entire industry, is so cavalier in thumbing its nose at parents and their children. They know that the video game industry is one more Virginia Tech away from commercial annihilation.
Your own soon-to-be confirmed Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, knows how dangerous these murder simulators are and how deceptive are the video game industry's marketing practices. He, as Governor of Washington, signed into law one of the nation's first video game laws on whose behalf I testified in Olympia a number of years ago. As a Republican, I am delighted that Mr. Locke will be heading Commerce, which has been so heavily involved in documenting the continuing marketing of violent entertainment to children since President Clinton asked it to do so after the heartache of Columbine.
Secretary Locke will be an excellent person to study this problem anew, and I hope, if you ask him to look at this issue, he will then recommend to you and your Administration a total nationwide ban on these killer games that I now, this very day, seek.
I conclude by asking you, one father to another, to take the bold moves necessary to get these murder simulators out of America. We have more guns than people in this country. We are training our teens to be Manchurian Candidates to use them and to author what will be more Columbines, more Virginia Techs, and more shattered communities.
Regards, Jack Thompson
PS: Your first judicial nominee, David Hamilton, upheld as constitutional Indianapolis' clearly constitutional video game law. This fact serves to show that this judge of your choosing is in tune with what has been my legal position on these matters as well. I am certain Judge Hamilton would consider as utterly absurd the position of the video game industry that minors have a constitutional right to purchase adult products.