The details of the murder are disturbing to say the least. Two teenage boys beat and then shot in the face a man after the man refused to let the boys borrow his car. In response to this, Mr. Thompson is quoted as saying, "Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you’re a hit man or a video gamer."
In fact, a quick search on the NY Times and LA Times websites for the phrase "shot in face" reveals that incidents of being shot in the face have occured and the articles made no mention of gamers or hit men (although one LA Times article did involve a contract killing). Going further, it seems that Mr. Thompson is accusing Dick Cheney of being either a hit man or a gamer. Well, he may have something there.
Unfortunately, this isn't a joking matter. Mr. Thompson is being taken seriously. The reason? He's preaching to the choir. Or, shall I say, he preached to the choir. Last month, Mr. Thompson testified before the Louisiana Legislature in support of a bill banning the sale of violent games to minors under the age of 18. House Bill 1381, drafted with the help of Mr. Thompson, passed the house 102-0 and cleared a Senate committee on Tuesday, May 30.
In this election year, politicians don't want to be seen as soft on violent games and Mr. Thompson, perpetually opportunistic, didn't miss his chance to glom on. And, neither have many politicians outside of Louisiana. In fact, ever since the Hot Coffee mod and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman's response, there has been a rash of violent video game bills in state legislatures. Of course, the ones that have passed have been shot down as unconstitutional, meaning this thinly veiled legislation is a waste of taxpayers money.
The conservative Washington Times yesterday published an Op-Ed piece (Read) detailing the mostly Democratic legislation and their efforts to be seen as strong on "moral" or "family values". You know something is wrong when a WaTimes editorial is sensible.
The Democrats are doing themselves no good by taking up this issue. First, it's easy to see through. Second, they're losing young voters. Third, Democrats currently have the high ground on keeping government out of people's lives (a conservative value that conservatives have really messed up lately...spying, Terry Schiavo, gay marriage, etc.) and to support violent game legislation is offensive to parents who don't want the government to decide what is and isn't appropriate. Finally, nobody wants the government to be the arbiters of taste, and these bills, drafted as poorly as they are, are exactly that.
Well, this post got away from me. It started with Jack Thompson and his suggestion to raid a murder suspect's home and it ended in a tirade of how the Democrats are coming down on the wrong side of the violent games issue.
To wrap it up nice and tight, here is a quote from Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association (the people who rate games) and a good spokesman for gamers.
"Violent crime involving kids predates video games. Common sense tells us that video games do not create killers and that tragedies like this have to do with far more complex issues, from deep-seated psychological problems to a society in which violence and guns permeate the culture, from TV news to child and spousal abuse to war.”