One year ago today, Jack Thompson was disbarred from practicing law. For those who have anything to do with video games or just enjoy playing them, that was a victorious day. Thankfully, we haven’t heard much from him since. He gives gaming and Christianity a bad name.
But now there’s some current news about him. He just issued a news release saying his ban from practicing law is invalid and he will begin to practice again on October 1, 2009. As usual, he’s stretching (and inventing) “facts” that aren’t valid. (And if you read his letter at the link, know that his claims aren’t all factual, either.)
Jack Thompson might’ve made a few good points, like that kids shouldn’t be able to buy M-rated video games, but he went way beyond what was reasonable. If you aren’t familiar with him, let me give a few “career highlights”. I’m getting these from this article: 10 Great Moments in Jack Thompson’s (Failed) Career. But be forewarned that the article has some explicit language in it, so view only if you don’t mind that. Hence I’m making a summary (because I know some of the regulars here don’t want to read that).
At the start of his career, Jack Thompson tried to become the state prosecuting attorney in Florida. He went up against Janet Reno, who was the current attorney. He passed her a note that said, “I, Janet Reno, am a:”, followed by 3 boxes: heterosexual/bisexual/homosexual. That sounds like something you’d do in junior high, when you really have no idea of what is proper and/or tactful. She walked over to him, dissed him, but put her hand on his shoulder while telling him he was stupid. And as you’ll see with Jack Thompson, this is only the start — he does not know when to stop. He filed a police report claiming that her touching him on the shoulder constituted battery. That’s basically admitting that he needed police help against a 50-year-old woman. Jack’s career only went downhill from there.
In 1990, Thompson attacked the rap industry, and he claimed he was Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, in his fight against the evils of rap music. But this isn’t just verbal nonsense — he wore a Bat-watch and mailed out copies of his driver’s license with pictures of Batman edited in. Note that at this time he is a certified, legal lawyer in Florida. (Somehow he would stay certified for another 18 years!)
Doom screenshot -- does this look like a military-style murder simulator?
In 1997 he filed a lawsuit against the makers of Doom, MechWarrior, several other games, most of Hollywood, and porn websites, claiming their influence caused kids to become evil. Fortunately the case was dismissed before it even started. He claimed Doom was an extremely accurate military-style murder simulator. If you’ve played Doom, you know better.
Every time there was a school shooting, like at Columbine and Virginia Tech, Jack Thompson was there, claiming video games were the cause. And even when there was no proof found, Thompson never backed away from his allegations. He can’t be bothered to let facts interfere with his statements. I remember when Virginia Tech happened, that Thompson was on TV that day blaming video games before anyone even knew who the killer was or why he did it, and then it was found that he didn’t even play video games. (I wrote more on that here.)
Years later, Jack Thompson offered $10,000 to charity on behalf of anyone who made a game representing the murder of Paul Eibeler, who was the boss of Take Two (which makes the Grand Theft Auto games). When someone took him up on that, he backed away, saying it was just satire. So he offers money to charity, then takes it away. Doesn’t sound like a funny joke, does it? But wait, there’s more! A website called Penny Arcade donated the money on his behalf to the Child’s Play charity for sick children. What is Jack’s response? He called the police. Why? Because two men had donated their own money to charity.
In 2008, the Florida Bar Association finally had enough of Jack Thompson, and they ordered him to attend a disbarment trial. He had to prove that he hadn’t been using the legal system as his own personal soapbox. They also ruled that any further legal proceedings filed by Jack had to be cosigned by another member of the Florida Bar, which means he can’t use the legal system unless supervised by a responsible adult. To this, he immediately filed an appeal without a signature.
Normal disbarment was for 5 years, but for Jack, they made it “enhanced disbarment”, citing 27 violations of professional misconduct. That meant he couldn’t practice law for 10 years. His response to this was to walk out of the proceedings, and he accused the judge of not having the authority to hear this case. Realize that this case was from the Florida Supreme Court, and he said they don’t have legal authority over him. This sounds like somebody who has lost touch of reality. But, as I mentioned before, these crazy situations with Jack Thompson keep going and going and going. He also accused the judge of being mentally unbalanced, and he started using phrases like “killing three thousand people“. Given that this happened after 9/11, one shouldn’t use such phrases, particularly around law enforcement officials. This childish act resulted in U.S. Marshals being dispatched to his home. His behavior also resulted in a permanent disbarment from practicing law.
In his appeal to the judge who disbarred him, he said, “She is just making this stuff up as she goes” and “Maybe Dava Tunis is mentally impaired” and he called her a “raving wild woman … who had become unhinged”. He also wrote a letter after the visit by the Marshals, saying “the purpose of that visit was to intimidate and harass me”. And now the FBI won’t even talk to him anymore, after so many fraudulent claims. Thompson wrote about that: “The FBI has done nothing and refuses to talk to me. … With all respect, either the FBI takes this seriously — the computer hacking, the criminal use of lunacy proceedings, the whole nine yards… or I and others will do what we need to do.” I really don’t think it’s wise to threaten the FBI…
Jack Thompson’s written objection to his disbarment trial references the Holocaust and lynching of blacks, in comparison to how he’s being treated. He manages to compare himself to John the Baptist and Jesus. And he said the people who run The Florida Bar are fascists. He told the judge she was a liar. He says he’s being persecuted because he’s a Christian, and while such things do occasionally happen, in this case it’s because Jack Thompson promotes fraudulent lawsuits and participates in unprofessional behavior (including name-calling and threatening people). He said they hate him without reason.
I could go on, but if you want to read more, there’s many more examples on the Internet of how he’s done stupid things and threatened people.