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Jack Thompson's Violent Game Bill Signed Into Law 368

Posted by Zonk
from the happy-day-for-media-savvy-lawyers dept.
simoniker writes "Louisiana Democratic Representative Roy Burrell's HB1381 bill, covering violent videogames, has been signed into law by Governor Kathleen Blanco. The law takes effect immediately, the latest in a very long line of video game-related bills specific to one U.S. State. The measure proposed by HB 1381, which was drafted with the help of controversial Florida attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson, allows a judge to rule on whether or not a videogame meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. A person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year. Needless to say, the ESA will likely be mounting a legal challenge to this bill in the very near future."
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Jack Thompson's Violent Game Bill Signed Into Law

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  • Dear Mr. Thompson (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Discopete (316823) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:38PM (#15550868) Homepage
    "The reason is that this industry, through the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), its developers' lobbyist, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), and the retailers' lobbyist, IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) are involved in ongoing fraudulent conduct in marketing video games that contain adult material to children."

    1:) Prove it
    2:) If you can't do you as an attorney know what Libel is?
    3:) IIRC Libel can be grounds for revocation of your BAR registration.
  • How does he do it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by edmicman (830206) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:38PM (#15550869) Homepage Journal
    In a statement released by Jack Thompson when the Louisiana Senate passed the bill, the lawyer commented: "The corrupted and corrupting video game industry will, of course, challenge this law once it is signed by Governor Blanco. The reason is that this industry, through the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), its developers' lobbyist, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), and the retailers' lobbyist, IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) are involved in ongoing fraudulent conduct in marketing video games that contain adult material to children."
    Good grief! How in the world does this guy maintain any kind of professional credibility?!? What kind of backwards state government would even give JT an audience? "The reason is that this industry...are involved in ongoing fraudulent conduct in marketing video games that contain adult material to children." What??? There's nothing more important going on in the world today??

    I think I want to drive to Louisiana and kick this guy in the nuts.
  • On the Other hand (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:41PM (#15550899)
    Why can't we get a bill that fines Jack Thompson whenever he tries to buy a game.
  • by SpecTheIntro (951219) <spectheintroNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:52PM (#15550972)

    The bill's intent is to keep adult-oriented (this criteria to be determined by a judge) games from getting into minor's hands, and fines any store responsible for selling said games to minors. This is not necessarily a bad thing; one of the biggest weaknesses of the ESRB is its lack of real power: it lacks any and all punitive ability. It can assign ratings all it wants, but when it comes down to it, individual store policy determines who can buy any given game. Clearly this has been ineffective in keeping inappropriate games from the hands of minors. We can argue all day long that: "this is the responsibility of the parents, zomg the government is evil, how dare they try to say that killing hookers is bad, zomg," but really the gaming industry lacks any coherent self-regulation and this needs to change.

    Unfortunately, this bill is one step in the right direction (fining retailers who sell GTA3 to ten year olds) and three steps in the wrong (absolutely no specification as to what can be considered "inappropriate," granting sole discretion to the judge, and calling for any "inappropriate game" to be pulled from circulation.) The last wrong is the one that concerns me the most: since when does content "not suitable for minors" suddenly translate into "not suitable for sale?" That seems to me a gross overextension of what the bill should be trying to do, which is to keep minors from playing excessively violent or sexual games. It's no secret that idiots like Jack Thompson believe the world would be a better place without video games, period, but it shocks me that any legislature would buy into this. There are plenty of types of media (rape-pornography, for instance) that the courts currently do not have the ability to demand be removed from circulation. I'm supposed to believe that ANY game could be more harmful to society than the simulation of rape? That doesn't make any sense at all.

  • Re:Dear Mr. Thompson (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:01PM (#15551035)
    Looks like he is already keen to take on the bar association: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Thompson_(attorn ey)#The_Florida_Bar [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:06PM (#15551068)
    Confessions of a Welfare Queen [reason.com]. Goes into the insanity behind the National Flood Insurance Program...
  • who's fault? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rolyatknarf (973068) * on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:06PM (#15551073)
    If I buy an "inappropriate" game in my home state of Missouri and give it to my minor aged (15 tears old) nephew in Louisiana as a gift who goes to jail?
  • by SpecTheIntro (951219) <spectheintroNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:12PM (#15551117)
    The problem in this case is that 1.) the pre-established criteria are not based on any scientific evidence, and 2.) the defendent being held accountable for the sale of the video game will be the sales clerk, not the retailer. Can you imagine being sentenced to a year in prison for selling a kid a video game? To put that in perspective, three years is a typical sentence for manslaughter. And to make matters worse, why in the world would you give a judge the right to remove a product entirely from circulation? Unless it's ruled as obscene, (and thanks to the porn industry, I can't think of any game that would satisfy the legal definition of the word), there's no legal precedent to allow that sort of power. The bill's a mess.
  • by saider (177166) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:18PM (#15551165)
    The problem isn't Floridians. We know how to get through a hurricane. It is all the immigrants who come down and don't know how, and won't listen until they go through one. And then they bitch and moan when their services are not there the next day.

    Hurricanes are a piece of cake to deal with. I'd rather deal with them then earthquakes or tornados.

  • Re:Dear Mr. Thompson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:30PM (#15551302)
    1. That was a quote by el-Jacko, not by the legislature.
    2. Claiming that someone is engaging in fraud is not lobbying; that is a very specific legal term which Jack should understand and only use in its legal context. When used in a fashion that cannot be proven, against a person, business, or industry intentionally to harm their reputation, it could be construed as slander.
    3. Committing libel against an industry to further your own agenda impacts both honest and integrity. You cannot claim that the industry is committing fraud when there is no evidence that they have done so.
  • My 2 cents. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dread Pirate Skippy (963698) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:37PM (#15551374)
    Not that it probably makes too much of a difference, but bear with me for just a minute here. I used to work at EB Games (before the gamestop merger, can't say whether or not this is still true). I can't say anything on walmart's policy, but when I was at EB there was a pretty simple policy in place... You don't sell an M rated game to a minor, or you're gone. I know that came from at least as high up as my district manager, who implied that it came from at least as high up as the regional manager, though I can't vouch for other parts of the counrty. Not only was this policy in place, but it was in place about a year before the hot coffee mod.

    As much as some folks are right, and we Americans really do need to find someone to blame all the time, while I was at EB I saw some pretty shockingly irresponsible parenting. People would come in wanting to buy GTA: San Andreas for their 13 year old. We would ask whenever someone who looked like a parent was buying it whether they knew what the content was like, if they were buying it for a child, etc. Sursprisingly, only about 4 in 10 parents decided that beating police officers to death with a purple dildo was inappropriate for their 13 year old. Then there were the parents that would come in with little kids, one or two or a handful, sometimes so young they had to reach up to get to the controllers on our display systems, talk to them for a minute at the front of the store, and then walk away and leave the kid there to play. We told the parents they couldn't leave their kids alone in the store when we could, but we were busy, and you can't spend every waking moment looking at the door. I escorted probably 10-15 kids a month to the mall concierge, where their parents were paged. Mostly they were just shopping for clothes or something and thought it'd be a better idea to leave their kid alone with strangers in a mall than risk him being bored, but there were times when they didn't even stay in the mall. I'd be walking out at the end of my shift and see a kid sitting at the concierge's desk from 2-4 hours past. I've given trying to comprehend the thought process of some of these parents and resigned myself to the fact that there probably isn't one.
  • Re:Redundant? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kouroth (911586) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:38PM (#15551393)
    I'd like this to be true. More often than not the people who would work this out instead turn to make it law. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that people seem to think their values are the 'true' ones for everyone. A lot like the smoking laws all over the place now. A few people didn't like it, so they built an empire of smoking haters and got laws in place everywhere. It more than likely won't stop with Louisiana. They will continue their 'holy crusade' to eradicate the 'evil' in games.
  • by Plugh (27537) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:02PM (#15553120) Homepage
    Jack Thompson was interviewed a few weeks ago on Free Talk Live [freetalklive.com], which is hosted by a self-described "Free-Marketeer", ie, an anarchocapitalist. The co-hosts are also basically free-market Libertarians.

    Mr. Thompson comes across as a deluded, selfimportant, lawerish, jack-ass of an individual. Granted, the host was intentionally pushing his buttons ("I think it should be legal for convenience stores to sell beer to 10-year olds! Parents will boycott the place and it'll go out of business... let the market sort it out!") but surly Mr. Thompson knew this was going to be an interview with someone whose views were diametrically opposed to his own. Surely he could have at least engaged in a real, 2-way debate?

    Thompson got so irked by the free-market ideas, he wouldn't even discuss the concept. He hung up on the interview! What an infantile, childish little busybody! These are the kind of asses that make this kind of law to "protect the children!"

    Here's the clip:
    http://freetalklive.com/files/thompson.mp3 [freetalklive.com]

  • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Saturday June 17, 2006 @03:28PM (#15555667) Homepage Journal
    I think you missed the point I was making. I understand liberal democracy and agree with it. It is not the government's job to force some people's values on other people. It's the government's job to keep people from forcing their values on each other. It's the government's job to make sure people are safe and free. It does this by enforcing rights and responsibilities on people. But the reason why it enforces rights and responsibilities is because that *is* what's best for the country. You can't just will some good state of affairs into being; you have to attempt to achieve it through some action, and there's a probability of going awry with every action. The point of enforcing rights and responsibilities is to guarantee that overall, better things tend to come about than they otherwise would if you didn't hold people to their duty.

    But what I was trying to get across in my original post was that morality _ISN'T_ just some set of common values. That's like saying that reality is just a set of common beliefs. In some lesser sense you could use the words to mean "common values" or "common beliefs", e.g. "the morality/reality of such-and-such culture is ________", in an anthropological, descriptive sense. But the same way that it doesn't make sense to say that what actually is real changes from culture to culture, or that the world may be round here in California but flat in some backwards luddite society in Nebraska, it makes no sense that what is actually moral changes from culture to culture either. What people believe and what people value changes, and those beliefs and values reflect what people THINK is real or moral, but they mustn't be mistaken for what is actually real or actually moral. That's why the most moral thing to do is to live according to your values and let others live according to theirs, and avoid stepping on each other's toes, so to speak. That way everybody gets what they value as best as possible.

    Ethics is the study of what is right and what is wrong; the study of morality. Political science just is applied ethics. And actual government is, of course, applied political science. So morality is the goverment's job. But since morality is not just common values, forcing some particular set of common values on people is not the government's job. Back to the original topic: this anti-game legislation is not the government enforcing morality. It's the government enforcing value. It's not the government looking out for people's freedom and safety, protecting them from one another and allowing them to pursue what they value; it's the government helping one group against others, and telling them what they should value. That's not moral. That's not the government's job.

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