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Jack Thompson vs. NIMF

Filed under: Video Game Politics
Posted by Allison on October 17, 2005 4:12 PM
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Jack Thompson, the Miami-based attorney who has made a life out of suing anyone and anything associated with violent video games, has been sent a letter from Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), asking that Thompson stop using the NIMF's name in any way that might create the impression the NIMF supports Thompson. They have also asked Mr. Thompson to remove the NIMF link from his site, StopKill.com.

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According to a copy of the letter obtained by GamePolitics.com, Dr. Walsh and members of the NIMF board fear the use of the NIMF name as uttered continuously and without permission by Thompson, has created, "a negative influence as we try to educate the public." Walsh continues by writing, "Your commentary has included extreme hyperbole and your tactics have included personally attacking individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect."

While it's fun to make fun of Jack Thompson here, and, in particular, the self-defense letter he sent to Senator Joe Lieberman where he appeals to Lieberman as a fellow man of faith, then brags about making enemies, wishes "Satan's worst" upon Take-Two, and calls Take-Two's Sam Houser a "sociopath", it's more important to focus on the NIMF's initial comments, and the fact they were cc'd to Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum; the governor and attorney general of Minnesota, Bill Gates, the CEO's of Target and Best Buy, Pat Vance of the ESRB, Doug Lowenstein of the ESA, as well as several other Minnesota political figures.

While I applaud the NIMF for stepping away from Thompson, we shouldn't forget that they, too, have made some questionable comments and used tactics which are less than honest. The NIMF's 2004 Video Game Report Card included the incendiary claim, "We know that the industry wants to expand its customer base and that it is in their economic interest to hook babies on games." How is that not hyperbole? Yes, it does pale in comparison to many of Thompson's claims, but it does still fall into the "pot calling the kettle black" category.

It is Thompson's belief that Walsh has taken this opportunity to publicly humiliate him in an effort to please Target and Best Buy, as both companies are being sued by Thompson for the not yet released Take-Two game Bully which both stores plan to carry. Thompson claims Best Buy and Target fund the NIMF. Without doing any research, it would be my guess that Best Buy and Target do donate money to the non-profit NIMF, as most video game retailers do, but the claim that the NIMF suddenly decided to distance themselves from someone who has had an ongoing lawsuit against these and other retailers for years makes no sense. However, something did happen.

The NIMF has allowed Jack Thompson to use their name for years. They have appeared with Jack Thompson on various "news" programs, including 60 Minutes. They have been fully aware of Thompson's comments and tactics for years, and they, still, never severed ties with him. Why now? My guess is because we're going to start seeing some serious video game politicking as we build up to the '06 mid-term elections. The politicians have done enough research to know they don't want to be associated with Jack Thompson, which is what happens when Lieberman and Clinton stand up with the NIMF to present their cases or ask for their inquiries. My own personal guess is this public separation has come at the request of people like Clinton and Lieberman. These are two extraordinarily moderate Democrats who truly don't like to rock the boat, and forcing people to cut ties with radicals before they'll work with them is just their style.

Of course, all of this is speculation. Perhaps the NIMF is simply changing its ways. After all, they have a nice mission statement, stating their goal is to educate parents, while making clear they're against censorship. I'm for both of those stances, as I think most are. Now it's time for the NIMF to live up to them. They have taken one right step by kicking Thompson to the curb. We'll wait for their 2005 Video Game Report Card, due out in November, to see how they're holding up.









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