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Thompson Vs. Lanning on Game Violence

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the to-be-a-fly-in-the-audience dept.

Games 50

This past weekend Lorne Lanning (of Oddworld fame) and notorious anti-games lawyer Jack Thompson took the stage at the Philadelphia Convention Center to debate the issue of videogame violence. Joystiq has a blow-by-blow liveblog of the event, while Wired offers up a considered synopsis of the event. From that piece: "Lanning laid into Thompson for having a 'business plan' that cashed in on the grief of victim's families, a point he would make throughout the rest of the debate. Thompson seemed both offended and confused by the suggestion, asking how exactly he was making money off his efforts, a point Lanning never really did answer. At one point, Thompson said 'no one in their right mind would say that a videogame by itself would turn an angel into a demon,' but seemed to be splitting his message."

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50 comments

Obligatory (0, Redundant)

Ragein (901507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244419)

In soviet gaming Jack Thompson pwns j00

Re:Obligatory (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244451)

Nah because the game is guaranteed pirated so whoever sold it to you probably did it in a shady manner and Jack Thompson wouldn't know about it.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21244537)

In reality, Pong: San Andreas pwns Jack Thompson.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21244681)

In reality, Pong: San Andreas pwns [ctrlaltdel-online.com] Jack Thompson.

Stop Arguing With Him (5, Insightful)

MrJack5304 (908137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244541)

I wish people would just ignore Jack Thompson. Arguing with him (poorly in most cases) only adds fuel to his fire. He wants publicity and the more people who argue with him give him the publicity he craves. Just let this man die out of the public eye and continue on your merry way. Start worrying about him when there is a possibility of anti-gaming legislation being passed.

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (1)

HairyNevus (992803) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244641)

Too true. I bet he thinks slashdot is his biggest PR outlet with all the stories posted here. Even if they all work to undermine him.

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (3, Insightful)

Ragein (901507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244677)

Ignoring people doesn't promote healthy debate, If anything this should be discussed publicly and everyone with a stake in the issue allowed to have their say in truth this won't happen as the big media company's that give him Tv time will not care enough about proper reporting to allow the other opinions the same air time. If we ignore the issue and allow only one side to be portrayed then when this does come to the courts most non gamers will have been brainwashed with Thompsonite ideals and simply think they know all of the facts already.

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (2, Insightful)

MrJack5304 (908137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245189)

Two problems that exist when debating with JT. The first is that gamers seem unable to control themselves when they talk to him. The best they can do is spout names and overreact to extreme degrees making the world of gaming seem that much more juvenile. The second is that debating with him does nothing. Fight to have more research done, decimating his arguments. If there is no link studies will prove this fact. Ultimately the science is what will matter in the end. As they have said before, "Don't argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246885)

> Ignoring people doesn't promote healthy debate

True, but neither does Jack Thompson. Then again, the people who have to be taught to ignore him are the media wonks. But in JT, they have a "source" that will make newsy-opiniony noises on cue, and they never like giving those up.

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244967)

It's better to fight with this quack, because he is just as damaging to his own cause as he is to the gaming industry.

Now imagine it was someone charasmatic, popular, and had plans for world domination. [hillaryclinton.com]

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21253985)

Now imagine it was someone charasmatic, popular, and had plans for world domination. [hillaryclinton.com]
Fortunately for us gamers, there's this guy [ronpaul2008.com] who is pro-gaming [youtube.com] :-)

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21245063)

Many states have been quite able to pass anti-gaming legislation, but it keeps being struck down by the courts. So should we be worrying or not?

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (1)

PhetusPolice (934823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245203)

This has been suggested many times before, probably with each Jack Thompson thread. Ignoring him will not make him go away. It's better to bash on him collectively, than to all turn our ear away from him, or else someone else will bring it up. I'd rather have all bitchy soccer moms, politicians, etc, to channel their stupidity and ignorance into him, so we can squelch Jack by proving him wrong.

Too bad you can't change a zealot's mind, but the soccer moms who care enough might hear some of his losing battles, and that's what really matters.

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245629)

I wish people would just ignore Jack Thompson.

Last time the gaming community ignored Jack, he got an interview on Fox News. Someone has to speak out or he'll have a free soapbox on the Mainstream Media with no one questioning his logic.

Re:Stop Arguing With Him (1)

spir0 (319821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245685)

But if we just ignore him, then that leaves him unopposed to sucker in grieving families. When he gets no retorts, he will believe he is right and this will fuel his arguments and his fervour. If there is no opposition, then by the time it gets to the legislative stage, it will be too late.

The thing to do in response is to intelligently break down his arguments. In the same that that Frederick Wertham managed to effectively censor all comic books in the 1950's because he believed that they caused child delinquency, Jack Thompson is trying to do the same to video games now. Comic books have only recently broken free of the "Comics Code Authority" which censored every mainstream American comic book for 50 years.

While video games are rated, that isn't enough for people like Jack Thomson. he is under the mistaken belief that video games are for kids, and that all video games should be kid friendly. Well, that among other mistaken beliefs.

If we just ignore him, are you ready for half a century of watered down video games? I'm not.

Why ignore him? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246239)

Personally, I'd *glad* that he's out there. Not only because the JT articles usually give me something to laugh about, but because the man is so obviously laughable and out-to-lunch that his actions actually point game-haters as a whole. Seriously, would you want this guy championing your cause, you'd get better publicity with Peewee Herman or Steve Urkel.

While those new to JT might briefly take him seriously, the fact is that he's come a long way down the road to being a laughingstock. From supeona'ing the president, to his various rants and tirades, it becomes obvious that the guy is more than a little nutty. The courts look down on him, the bar looks down on him, and most of the industry looks down on him. Personally, I'd rather have JT continue to pull his antics - making the game haters look bad - then actually have them represented by somebody with a few more smarts.

Thompson, the anti-games lawyer? (2, Insightful)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244621)

To me he looks more like he fights a war on reality. The only thing possibly worth worrying about is that he's not been laughed off the stage yet.

hehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21244659)

Go Jack Thompson!

RrrrrrrrrrrrrRIDGE RRACER!

thompson must (not) die (2)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244673)

Some days I wish someone would just kill Jack Thompson but then I realize that some other nut would just blame it to videogame violence and use that to follow in his footprints.....

Re:thompson must (not) die (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245505)

its pretty much like assassinating terrorist leaders, there'll always be another assbag to take his place

Go for the eyes, Boo! (1)

mlund (1096699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245899)

That's why you only focus on killing the effective terrorists - the ones who are akin to the vital organs of the body. It takes a long time to get a good communications coordinator, logistics man, or operations manager up to speed. Sure, the ranting loons that claim to be "Spiritual Leaders" can be replaced at the drop of a hat - they aren't the biological "head" of the beast, so to speak - but not the folks that manage group infrastructure (who are akin to the eyes, ears, and lungs of the monster).

Will no one rid me of this troublesome lawyer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250547)

Please

Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (4, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244779)

They weren't there for intelligent discourse, they wanted their shot at telling Thompson he was a jackass. It's particularly regrettable because the people asking questions usually had good points to make, but the way they chose to make them was mocking and disrespectful.
How can we want the first amendment and claim it protects every jackass if we're going to turnaround and blast him first his ability to use it. I don't agree with the man, but someone has to be the thorn. Hate what he says, but give him his ability to say it and then come back at him a reasonably sound argument. When we act like loons we only make him look sane

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245071)

Mod Parent Up. Every time I hear about a debate with Jack Thompson I cringe. Not because I particularly dislike the man, he's completely insane in an amusing way, but because every time something like that happens a bunch of crazies who think the man is Satan incarnate are always there making the rest of us gamers look like lunatics.

It's the same problem that happens with most groups, the overly fanatical ones become the ones that everyone associates with that group and so the moderate ones are thought of as crazy because of them. As soon as gamers stop lambasting Thompson and start treating him like an intelligent human being (evidence to the contrary though there may be :P) is the day gamers stop being thought of as all crazy.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246043)

Yeah right. We need to keep lambasting him, but in a measured way - make him look like an ass, mock his message, etc. More than that, what we need is a message that isn't reactive - something like 'video games are a fun way to relieve stress and socialize'.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245263)

Blasting somebody for what they say has nothing to do with blasting somebody for their ability to say it. It seems that this debate entailed the former, while you accuse them of the latter.

Just as anyone is free to say whatever they want, the world at large is free to call them a crazy fucking moron for saying it.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246935)

So therefore anyone can say anything, they'll just be ostracised if they do. We could also take that one step further and write that ostracisation into the law. i.e. you can say what you want, but you might have to deal with some petty criminal charges.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247041)

I was going to write out a well-thought response, but it's obvious that you're an idiot so I'm just going to dismiss you.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248039)

I was going to write out a well-thought response, but it's obvious that you're an idiot so I'm just going to dismiss you.
That should be modded funny. This is exactly the attitude that's so problematic. I say something taboo, and you guys either bite my head off, or just ignore me. It may well technically be free speech, since there's no censorship involved, but it certainly undermines the largest benefit of free speech, being the free exchange of ideas.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21254065)

The first part of the statement is fine. Society is free to shun you if you speak unpopular things. That is the NATURE of existence. Your assumption that it's a logical extension to add in a law is not valid though. The ammendment is specifically there to prevent LAWS from being established against free speech.

If I say I'm not gonna buy "Weekly Word News" because it's a bunch of fake garbage being peddled by idiots, that has nothing to do with also saying "Lets just outlaw it!".

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245375)

On what planet is being blasted for saying stupid things the same as not being allowed to say them?

It's only the truly ridiculous who depend on a persecution complex -- Jack Thompson and the KKK being two examples that spring immediately to mind -- who seem to think that the 1st Amendment means that not only can they say whatever they want, we must also take what they say seriously and respectfully and not repeat what they say in a high-pitched mocking tone while pointing and laughing.

This is wrong. Nowhere in the 1st Amendment does it suggest that you should be free to say what you want without having people judge you based on your words to be an idiot and to treat you accordingly.

I'm not arguing about the strategic value of trying to look like a bigger ass than JT. I'm saying bringing in the 1st Amendment as if he was in any way denied his rights is stupid.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245673)

I'm saying for the amount of love we give that right in particular, we are the first to mock another's right to freely use it. We (like the crowd) use it as a shield to scorn others, but all in all the crowds reaction was one of mocking rather than voicing their concerns and frustrations in a calm rational way.

I say the better plan for that debate would be to ask him questions to which we know he'll give answers that contradict his case. From the sounds of it, he won this debate hands down against both Lanning and the crowd.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245783)

I'm saying for the amount of love we give that right in particular, we are the first to mock another's right to freely use it. We (like the crowd) use it as a shield to scorn others, but all in all the crowds reaction was one of mocking rather than voicing their concerns and frustrations in a calm rational way.

We're not mocking his right to use it, we're mocking the words that come out of his mouth during his use of it. Where's our first amendment right to mock idiots? This is exactly what I'm saying -- the issue of respecting someone's First Amendment Rights to speak has nothing at all to do with respecting what they say.

I say the better plan for that debate would be to ask him questions to which we know he'll give answers that contradict his case. From the sounds of it, he won this debate hands down against both Lanning and the crowd.

Maybe, maybe not. You "lose" a debate with JT just by giving him the attention. I think the best strategy is not to engage him in debate at all, because he's at his self-destructive best when given free reign to explain his unique way of thinking.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246157)

We're not mocking his right to use it, we're mocking the words that come out of his mouth during his use of it. Where's our first amendment right to mock idiots?
If this was to be considered a real debate, the audience has to keep in mind that you bring in two opposing views. When you automatically rally the troops with "He's Crazy!" while he brings a calm pointed case it will only weaken yours. By the Crowd being disrespectful we lost a lot of credibility as a community. I'm fine with you saying whatever you want to whomever you want, but, in that forum there are rules of engagement.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246219)

A fine point, just stop pretending it has anything to do with the 1st amendment, or implying hypocrisy from people who feel strongly about free speech but also mock idiots like JT.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21246287)

Agreed

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250715)

This was quite possibly the most civil discussion I've ever seen on Slashdot. Well done, gentlement.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245603)

The right to free speech does not mean that one has the right to be listened to or not be mocked. It means that the government does not have the ability to punish you or muzzle you for what you choose to say. This is the less popular, true meaning, of the right to free speech. If someone voices unpopular opinions in a public (non-government) forum, the forum's response is dictated only by their own adherence to mutual respect, and not the constitution.

Free speech does NOT mean that every opinion is valid or should be given equal weight.

I agree, however, that simply shouting someone down is not a good way of making one's own argument. Rather, I wish someone with some good public speaking skills would go point by point down Thompson's list and logically rip each one to shreds. It's not that hard, anyone capable of doing geometry proofs and googling behavioral studies could probably refute everything the man has ever said in a single afternoon.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (1)

Maul (83993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245701)

I have no problem with Jack Thompson excersizing his 1st. Ammendment Rights. He has every right to state his opinion on video games, and others have every right to provide a rebuttal to his statements. I personally think his opinions are not based upon reality.

Re:Sounds like /. was there in the crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247943)

Or on the otherhand, maybe jackasses deserve to be treated as what they are. His ultimate goal is to steal my freedom because it offends his emotional convienence. Some people might in turn demand blood and not a trade in barbs for such hypocritical insensitivity. It's a mistake to pretend that he has a legitimate viewpoint. He has the right to express it without goverment reprisal, not without public contempt. Well deserved, contempt I might add.

save it for the judge (3, Interesting)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21244879)

The only person I want arguing with Jack Thompson is a court of law.

So far, they seem to have been pretty effective at nullifying any lasting effects his demogogeury might have on state or federal legistlation.

Re:save it for the judge (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249027)

I share your sentiments, and just hope he gets to argue with his Bar Association a fair bit too.

Re:save it for the judge (1)

theshortestverse (1158229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263591)

I am currently in a graduate class studying "Moral Reform in America." For my paper I am focusing on the controversy over video game violence--and likely focusing on the "Hot Coffee" incident--which Thompson has played his part in.

I am looking for any helpful material regarding Thompson and his various opponents in this debate, and importantly, any court decisions that have been handed down involving Thompson. Any information that could be provided by you or any other reader of this thread would be greatly appreciated.

angels and demons (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245157)

> Thompson said, "no one in their right mind would say that a videogame by itself would turn an angel into a demon"

True, but that first clause about being on one's right mind is a real sticky wicket, ain't it, Jack?

In seriousness, he's been acting a lot more rational these days. Maybe the disciplinary hearing before the Florida Bar that he's facing this month has sobered him up?

Re:angels and demons (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21284703)

JT's Wikipedia article is quite possibly the most sourced article on the entire website, because so much of what is said about him is so ridiculous.

Let him speak (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245269)

And keep up with the coverage, I get many hours of enjoyment out of this guy and I don't even have to pay for it.

The guy's an ineffective joke, so what if he harasses Rockstar, they didn't stop making GTA or Manhunt (even if Manhunt possibly sucked, dunno, haven't played it yet). This guy is a comedian and he isn't even on stage, in time he will hang himself careerwise and it will be the end of an era.

So to you Jack Thompson, I say "Keep doing what you do best" you won't make a dent but you'll keep me laughing :)

how exactly he was making money off his efforts (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245271)

1. Sue over violent games
2. ...
3. Profit!

These debates with Thompson are counterproductive (3, Interesting)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21245771)

These debates with Thompson are counterproductive. I have the highest respect for Lanning and the games he makes, but the fact remains that he is a game developer. Putting him in a debate against a veteran trial lawyer, even one as crazy as Thompson, is like scheduling a scrimmage between the chess club and the varsity football team.

Re:These debates with Thompson are counterproducti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248841)

Putting him in a debate against a veteran trial lawyer, even one as crazy as Thompson, is like scheduling a scrimmage between the chess club and the varsity football team.
Maybe Thompson is just more intelligent than Lanning.

hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21253435)

Wonder if Jack ever reads all the stuff about him on slashdot? If not, maybe someone should send him a printed copy of it and ask for him to reply.
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