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Judge Clears Bully For Publishing 393

Posted by Hemos
stupid_is writes "The BBC are reporting that Judge Ronald Friedman has cleared Bully for publication in Florida. Jack Thompson is, predictably, critical of the decision, stating "You did not see the game, you don't even know what it was you saw." after Take-Two gave him the game, along with someone to play the game for him to watch before he made a decision." This is a follow-up to our story last week about Take-Two handing over copies of Bully per court order.
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Judge Clears Bully For Publishing

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  • First amendment. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig DOT hogger AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#16454069) Journal
    Why would a judge be asked to condone prior restraint, and expected to do it???
    • by Anonymous Coward
      will it be till we see a mod so that players can bully Jack Thompson, eh? :)
  • good comment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#16454081)
    "There's a lot of violence," Judge Friedman said. "A whole lot. Less than we see on television every night."

    It's nice to see that a judge is actually comparing this to the other media that we're exposed to out here in the real world.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hal2814 (725639)
      "It's nice to see that a judge is actually comparing this to the other media that we're exposed to out here in the real world."

      I'm not so sure. Such an argument seems to imply that if the violence were worse than what you'd see on TV, there would be some grounds to have this game forcibly prevented from sales. So while I do agree with the judge's statement, I find it a very dangerous thing to be including such a statement in defense of the game from a legal standpoint.
      • Re:good comment (Score:5, Informative)

        by EmperorKagato (689705) * <sakamura@gmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:55PM (#16454469) Homepage Journal
        "I'm not so sure. Such an argument seems to imply that if the violence were worse than what you'd see on TV, there would be some grounds to have this game forcibly prevented from sales. So while I do agree with the judge's statement, I find it a very dangerous thing to be including such a statement in defense of the game from a legal standpoint."

        If you remove Bully from publishing, you would also have to take every TV/MA TV/T show off the air.
        I find the judge's defense is sound: The judge basically identified that the level of violence in this game is already approved by society.

        Let's also not forget children cannot buy this game on their own nor rent it as well as parents still have the right to pre-view before purchase.
        • Re:good comment (Score:5, Informative)

          by BlueCodeWarrior (638065) <steevk@gmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:04PM (#16454629) Homepage
          Children can buy or own the game. Game ratings are a reccomendation, not enforced by law.
          • Re:good comment (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:19PM (#16454841) Homepage
            But every damn retailer follows them because otherwise people like Jack Thompson would have their balls. Movie ratings are also voluntary.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by apendrag0n3 (1001273)
            While that may be true in your state/municipality, it is NOT true in mine. City ordinances are in place that STRICTLY enforce the Movie and Game rating systems. There are HEFTY fines associated with being caught violating those ratings-based ordinances>
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by hobbesmaster (592205)
              I bet those strict ordinances wouldn't survive a court challenge.*

              *Assuming that you are living in the US.
      • Well, I suspect that this is his way of applying the "community standards of decency" (which can be used at a local level to prohibit the sale of "offensive" materials") to the game. Since everybody in his jurisdiction is exposed to far greater levels of violence on TV on a routine basis, any attempts to prohibit the game's sale due to the amount of violence contained in it will be futile.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by endemoniada (744727)
        But you have to compare it to something, otherwise you couldn't set any limits at all.

        In my opinion, having guns at home, at work, in shopping malls and now even in you classrooms (since apparently even teachers are supposed to carry guns now) is a much greater risk than videogames. Add to that the violence everyday on TV, and you get a society that's just waiting to tear itself apart in fear of itself.

        Long story short, Jack Thompson is an egotistic fuckhead who cares nothing for the children. If he did, he
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In my opinion, having guns at home, at work, in shopping malls and now even in you classrooms (since apparently even teachers are supposed to carry guns now) is a much greater risk than videogames.
          In my opinion, shared by our founding fathers, not having guns is quite a bit worse.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by endemoniada (744727)
            I hate to say it, but your founding fathers weren't really unbiased either. You took a country by force from its very natives while basically comitting mutiny against another country. Of course they needed guns.

            You don't anymore, though. Sure, you might think you need it because of crime or whatever... But consider this: would there really be so many robberies and so much crime, if it was much harder to get ahold of guns? Would kids simply open their fathers closets, take the gun and shoot their classmates
            • by bcat24 (914105)
              Taking away public access to guns might help a little, but I don't know how much. It might keep them out of the hands of stupid people and stupid bad people, but Really Bad People (TM) would find a way to get them.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Ravenscall (12240)
              Ah, but take away all the guns, and what stops the govenrment from taking away everything? Crime be damned, it is the government and it's crreping crawl towards fascism that scare me.
      • So while I do agree with the judge's statement, I find it a very dangerous thing to be including such a statement in defense of the game from a legal standpoint.

        Not so much. The judge merely established a baseline in an offhand comment. The judge never said that if the content were worse than what is seen on TV then the game could be banned. It's also easy to argue that network TV restrictions are tighter than what could be reasonably expected for games. Television decency occurs because networks ceded
      • by MrNougat (927651)

        "It's nice to see that a judge is actually comparing this to the other media that we're exposed to out here in the real world."

        I'm not so sure. Such an argument seems to imply that if the violence were worse than what you'd see on TV, there would be some grounds to have this game forcibly prevented from sales. So while I do agree with the judge's statement, I find it a very dangerous thing to be including such a statement in defense of the game from a legal standpoint.

        I know we're talking law here, so logic

    • Re:good comment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tkrotchko (124118) * on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:22PM (#16454881) Homepage
      No, it's bad.

      It's not a judge's job to put his own personal feelings into the matter.

      It's wrong on a lot of levels:

      1) The judge should have said "I don't rule on video game violence"
      2) He should have said "I am not qualified to look at a game to decide what is okay"
      3) It's not his job to look at a game at decide if it's "Okay" for the rest of the public to play.

      What's next? People can ask a judge if TV show is okay? A magazine? A book?

      Where does this power stem from to rule on the contents of video games? I've never heard of it before.

      This is beyond a slippery slope; it's a cliff. Look, I get that this Jack guy doesn't like video games and violence. Great. Fine. He should be allowed to campaign against them. Free speech works both ways. But that doesn't mean anyone has to take this guy seriously. The judge actually took this guy seriously for a week. That should bother everyone. I'm not commenting on whether Jack has a point; I'm simply questioning this judge putting himself in a position to judge.
      • Re:good comment (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:28PM (#16455005)
        Free speech works both ways. But that doesn't mean anyone has to take this guy seriously. The judge actually took this guy seriously for a week. That should bother everyone.

        Ever hear the saying "Justice is blind"?

        A judge is supposed to take EVERYBODY seriously. And because the judge took the complaint seriously and worked methodically in dismantling it, Thompson has very little room now to appeal the decision.

        I wouldn't want a judicial system where the guy on the bench could deny me justice just because he thinks I'm a nutbag before I've even argued my case. I should have to PROVE I'm a nutbag before the court can deny me its good graces.
        • by tkrotchko (124118) *
          So you're saying that if you wanted to sue CBS because you thought CSI was too graphic, you should be able to file a motion, and CSI would have to submit a TV show and the judge would look at a show and decide if it was okay?

          Go ahead try that and let me know how it works out for you...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jackbird (721605)
          I think the GP is saying they wished the judge had dismissed as a matter of law, rather than on the merits.
      • Re:good comment (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:41PM (#16455217) Homepage
        It's wrong on a lot of levels: 1) The judge should have said "I don't rule on video game violence" 2) He should have said "I am not qualified to look at a game to decide what is okay" 3) It's not his job to look at a game at decide if it's "Okay" for the rest of the public to play.
        No, you're wrong. In an ideal world, yeah, the judge should be able to say the above and everyone would say "yes indeed, it's none of our business". But that's not what would happen. If the judge declared himself unqualified to judge if the game is OK, that philosophically leaves a back door open to find a judge that thinks he IS qualified, because there are PLENTY of people out there who think it IS the government's business whether "violent" media is allowed to be distributed. His answer frames the question in a more practical way, one that addresses the stupid fucks who think that way: "If we (collectively) are willing to tolerate a greater level of violence than this on TV, calling for a ban on this game for violent content makes no sense." See, it's not as effective to say "your method of applying morality is wrong" as it is to say "your argument is wrong even by your own moral standards".
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      It's nice to see that a judge is actually comparing this to the other media that we're exposed to out here in the real world.

      True, but OTOH, he might just as well have compared it with one of the 100s of other games already on the market, that have so much more violence in it. It's actually pretty rediculous if you think of it, that a judge even has to decide on this. I mean, you cannot even kill people in this game IIRC. Games like Postal, Hitman, GTA, etc. etc. etc, they're already here, and there's much
  • Thompson said what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iainl (136759) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:30PM (#16454097)
    Don't lawyers normally get into some sort of trouble for calling Judges incompetent twats who don't know how to do their job?
    • by nuzak (959558) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:37PM (#16454233) Journal
      Jack Thompson is special. He's found that if the Florida Bar takes disciplinary action against him, he can simply sue them and they'll roll over onto their backs, whimper, and pay him twenty grand or so.

      I suspect he can be disbarred in any state where he practices pro hac vice, but I doubt other states bars will even want to hear it. And this case was in Florida anyway.
      • I suspect he can be disbarred in any state where he practices pro hac vice, but I doubt other states bars will even want to hear it. And this case was in Florida anyway.


        Let's just make a game called Pro hac Vice City so he'll be against that, too.
      • by phorm (591458)
        Did this actually happened, that he sued the bar and they paid him out? Something is seriously wrong with the legal system (more than I expected), if this is the case.
    • by Kierthos (225954)
      Yeah, it should be a contempt of court charge, at the very least.
  • I'm half-tempted to buy a bunch of them and give them out to 12-year-old kids just to piss off that obnoxious, self-righteous, arrogant, schmuck Thompson.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by ctid (449118)
      Since the game has a Teen rating in the USA and a 15 rating here in Europe, I think that buying a copy and giving it to a twelve year-old would only be helping Mr Thompson's case!

      • by SScorpio (595836)
        Yes, because a Teen rating is "suitable for ages 13+" and you know how the maturity ratings of children change so rapidly in a year. This is just like letting a 12 year old in to see a PG-13 movie.
  • So.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dr_dank (472072) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:32PM (#16454135) Homepage Journal
    ''You did not see the game,'' Mr Thompson told the judge at Friday's hearing. "You don't even know what it was you saw."

    Unless I missed something, Thompson hasn't seen the game since it's unreleased and is criticising the judge who did see it. Amazing.

    I'm starting to think that this guy is a clever guerilla marketer who brings attention and boosted sales to his clients via the media and legal system. Just look how well 2 Live Crew sold records after a protracted legal battle waged by Jack Thompson.
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info.devinmoore@com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:34PM (#16454159) Homepage Journal
    if your kid is playing the game, then that's at least X minutes he or she isn't out actually bullying kids. How about taking some measures against actual bullies, instead of just going "boys will be boys" when Jerk Junior beats up yet another kid for lunch money, or kicks yet another puppy, or lights yet another cigarette at age 9? I'd be more concerned about the kid who shows up at 9 am on a school day to buy the game...
  • by Endo13 (1000782) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:34PM (#16454167)
    Now you've got both feet stuck in your mouth. Let's see if you can fit anything else in there.
  • Free Will (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nalanthi (599605)
    Mr Thompson criticised the decision to have an employee take him through the game, arguing he could have avoided making violent choices.

    If a game in which someone can make choices to make the game less violent and has defending other kids as a key game play element actually exists how is this a bad thing. Its Art/storytelling and a slap-dash of decent morality. Free will is important. Choices between good and evil in a game allow people to explore these choices without real world impact.
    • by Doctor Memory (6336) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:54PM (#16454455)
      Thompson's criticism also presumes that the judge merely sat passively and watched. Who's to say he wasn't sitting there telling the player "Hey, that kid with the glasses! Punch him! Again! Kick him! Take his lunch money! YEAAAH!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by businessnerd (1009815)
      The problem here, and also the problem in a lot of other cases where people tyr to ban games/movies, is that those who are demonizing these games, have no idea of what they are actually about. From what I have read about "Bully", the game is about making choices, not about murdering your classmates. The player is confronted with many common schoolyard situations and has to make the choice to either take the high road, or the low road. Furthermore, if one does take the low road and decide to harm his/her
  • Mr Thompson criticised the decision to have an employee take him through the game, arguing he could have avoided making violent choices.

    So, he's arguing the game is a public nuisance because you can choose non-violent solutions?

    That guy is really an insane jackass.
  • by CUatTHEFINISH (970078) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:37PM (#16454213)
    I'm tired of hearing, "Ban this video game!" "Sue that company." "OMZFG HOT COFFEE?!?!" A video game is a video game. The ESRB does a fairly decent job in giving them good ratings. They have no control over what users can do to alter the game. It's just a simple fact of what the parents allow the children to play. If the children can understand it's just a video game, you can't auto-aim in real life, etc., then I really don't see what the problem is. Maybe I'm just giving common sense the benefit of the doubt, but I think these stories are absolutely ridiculous. Virtual Reality is meant for people to get away from their everyday lives. It's not even in the slightest meant to be a model for real life actions. I guess this topic just grinds my gears.
    • Technicality (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alchemar (720449)
      You made the point that "Virtual Reality is meant for people to get away from their everyday lives. It's not even in the slightest meant to be a model for real life actions."

      Virtual Reality is by definition a model for real life actions. Video games are meant for people to get away from their everyday lives. There are Virtual Reality simulators which are fully intened to teach people how to kill, most of them in use by the US goverment. Video games still strive for realism in some way. What makes the
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bunions (970377)
        > Yes - you can see the new hat on your character when you equip it
        > No - putting a hat on does not suddenly give you the real ability to cast fireball

        Well, crap, why the hell am I wearing this thing then?
    • by tdc_vga (787793) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:12PM (#16454733)
      I wish people would read: http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm [lectlaw.com] (or one of another billions sources or the actual case files) before always mentioning "the coffee case." I am studying to be a lawyer and 9 out of 10 people who reference a case have never read the case, the facts, or otherwise, but still are "horrified" at the results. I was speaking with a Federal Judge yesturday and he told me how people constantly come up to him and call him and activist judge for his decision in XYZ case, but when asked if they've read the case they more than 90% of the time will say no, but they heard about it on the news.

      I know this is Slashdot and no one reads that article, but please at least read the points of your post(s), because you only spread more FUD or at the very least misinformation.

      Cheers,
          TdC
  • "If you don't like it, don't play it". Keep this in mind and laugh the frivolous lawsuits out of the courtroom, please.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bombula (670389) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:43PM (#16454319)
    This Bully issue is interesting because it highlights the salient point so often missed by those who criticise violence in entertainment: context. To a thinking person, it is obvious that entertainment involving beating a schoolmate bloody with a bat is more disturbing than entertainment involving a bodybuilder blowing up aliens with a bazooka, despite the fact that - objectively at least - murder is worse than assault. The context being so much closer to home - a kid with a bat is much nearer to actual reality than a bodybuilder blowing up aliens - is where the disturbance factor comes in, and it's pretty much impossible to quantify closeness-to-home realism which makes it a challenge for the courts.
    • To a thinking person, it is obvious that entertainment involving beating a schoolmate bloody with a bat is more disturbing than entertainment involving a bodybuilder blowing up aliens with a bazooka

      Yeah? This "thinking person" takes exception to your statement that one form of fictional entertainment is "obvious"ly more disturbing than another.

      Show, don't tell. If you have empirical proof suggesting one is more disturbing, please share it. But don't belittle those of us who draw different conclusions tha
    • by phorm (591458)
      The judge compared it to TV, where yes there are bodybuilders with bazookas, but also kids being beaten, taking drugs, are killed (see CSI or many other crime shows), beaten, raped, and various other such things. For that matter, perhaps see: Real Life (tm).

      However, TV has already set a bar for which the majority public has accepted. The judge is saying that this game does not exceed or is perhaps under that current level.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cvd6262 (180823)
      This is anecdotal, but interesting.

      A few years ago my undergrad department was planning to build a new building. One of my professors recommended me for a committee that was designing the new labs. In the meeting, professors were scribbling on graph paper to show the layouts they wanted. I decided I could do better in WorldCraft, which I happened to have on my laptop. After a quick demo, they had my laptop on the LCD projector and were directing me to move equipment, furniture, lighting, etc., around until
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday October 16, 2006 @12:43PM (#16454321) Homepage
    Mr Thompson told Miami newspapers that he did not plan to continue his campaign against Bully.

    After he gets his 15 minutes of national media to rant against violent video games, he's not going to continue his campaign against this "Columbine simulator" that will undoubtly increase school violence?
  • Seriously, now he's not only telling parents they no longer are responsible for parenting, but he's even going up against a judge saying he doesn't know how to do his job!

    Someone need to slip dear ol' Jack a chillpill before his head explodes. On the other hand... If it does explode, we can continue blaming lawyers for all that's wrong in this world while having proof: The heads of lawyers are prone to spontanious explosion! Keep all children at a safe distance!
  • How about someone actually produces a Columbine Simulator? And trademarks the name, and then sues Thompson for trademark infringement?

    It could prolly be a build on fy_office....
  • Finally, judges being clueless about software played into our hands for once. He probably took those two disks home and put them in his toaster.

  • Incorrect Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ewhac (5844) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:05PM (#16454635) Homepage Journal
    If any are watching, I wish to request of the editors that the headline to this article be changed.

    Despite the fervent wishes of certain unbalanced extremists, prior restraint in publishing is not recognized in US law, except in cases of national security, and only then when circumstances are extraordinary. Right to publish is automatic. Thus, the Judge did not "clear" anything for publishing, as judges do not have that right in this country.

    A less misleading headline might be, "Judge Refuses to Block Publication of 'Bully'", or, "No Reason to Block Take-Two's 'Bully', says Judge", or,"Take-Two's 'Bully' No Threat to National Security".

    Schwab

  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:08PM (#16454675) Journal
    The glorius courts of the Motherland have done their work and examined the game in question and approved it for the new communist man. In response, the Central Committee has increased the vodka ration to two bottles a month in celebration of this great triumph! Once again the Motherland supports your right to freedom by ensuring that only the best books, magazines, movies and games are available to the mindless sheep tireless workers of the revolution.

  • ''You did not see the game,'' Mr Thompson told the judge at Friday's hearing. "You don't even know what it was you saw." Mr Thompson criticised the decision to have an employee take him through the game, arguing he could have avoided making violent choices.

    Isn't this a good thing? At least the player has a choice and not like tv/movies where you have to watch gore all the way through (unless you can make yourself to pick up the remote) . At the end of the day its parents responisbility to monitor what t
  • by icejai (214906) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:18PM (#16454827)
    Mr Thompson criticised the decision to have an employee take him through the game, arguing he could have avoided making violent choices.

    I think this is the most telling of Mr Thompson's state of mind.
    He may not have realized it, but he just defeated his entire standpoint against any videogame. What he says is completely true about games, and about life in general. Yes, kids *can* do violent things, but it's up to the individual to "avoid making violent choices" in video games and in life. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids how to deal with frustrating situations, and to be the prime example.

    Mr. Thompson is really setting a bad example to the very kids he's trying to protect. Avoiding "making violent choices" involves restraint. But him lashing out at everyone and everything, using his lawyer status as a tool to frighten others not as knowledgable in law to do what he wants done, is sending the opposite message.
  • by NC-17 (411446) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:20PM (#16454857) Homepage
    Pretty good reading, if you'd like to get a better sense at just how crazy JT really is:

    http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/jack-thompson/thompso n-verbally-attacks-judge-207578.php [kotaku.com]
    • How dare you, Judge, petulantly order the production of the game after it is released on Tuesday morning. I didn't even ask for that. You did that out of spite, and you were smiling when you did that. You really enjoyed that one, didn't you, Judge?

      lol!

      How DARE you ask for the full, release game??? HOW DARE YOU!!!! OR ELSE!!!!!!!! :-P
  • Someone please give Mr. Thompson a Fudgesicle and a hug. Thank you.
  • by CowsAnonymous (697884) on Monday October 16, 2006 @01:31PM (#16455067)
    From arstechnica [arstechnica.com]

    "After the court session concluded, Jack Thompson told Ars Technica that the proceedings were a travesty. He characterized the judge's viewing of footage as nothing more than a couple of "Take Two operatives" showing the judge everything in the game they wanted him to see. "I may be full of crap about this game, and I may be wrong, and that's fine. But there's such a thing as due process," said Thompson. "And I was denied due process in court today."

  • Since when does a company need a judge's permission to publish anything? Seems like the game's name is incredibly ironic in this sense. Has ANYTHING else happened like this before? Has a judge cleared something controversial ahead of time? I honestly can't think of any legal process that explains this.
  • That's a relief (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Monday October 16, 2006 @03:08PM (#16456811) Homepage Journal
    Good thing a judge cleared before it was published. We wouldn't want something to get published without permission from the government!

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