State Rep. Roy Burrell (D) is standing by his man.
The sponsor of Louisiana's contested video game law refused to be drawn into the nasty fight Jack Thompson picked in recent days with Attorney General Charles Foti (D) and his deputy, Burton Guidry (see yesterday's GP coverage for details).
Thompson, the controversial anti-game attorney from Miami, helped Burrell draft Louisiana's video game legislation. That bill, HB1381, passed both houses of the state legislature unanimously. It was signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) on June 15th. The video game industry sued immediately to stop the new law from taking effect. Burrell and Thompson are seen in the photo at left, testifying about the bill before the House Criminal Justice Committee on May 10th.
Rep. Burrell, asked to comment on Thompson's startling charges that Attorney General Foti and Deputy A.G. Guidry were mishandling the defense of Louisiana's video game law against the game industry's legal challenge, opted for a conciliatory approach.
The lawmaker told GamePolitics, "I consider myself a consensus-building legislator, so I guess am not as quick to jump to conclusions, that Mr. Jack Thompson has burned any bridges with officials in Louisiana."
It's unclear whether the targets of Thompson's wrath will be as sympathetic. Deputy Attorney General Burton Guidry, who Thompson accused of thwarting his efforts to help with the case, did not respond to GP's request for comment. Nor did Terry Ryder, Executive Counsel to Louisiana Gov. Blanco. Thompson has claimed that Ryder, acting on behalf of the Governor, asked him to assist in the defense of the video game law.
For his part, Rep. Burrell seemed to be searching for a silver lining in what looks, from here at least, to be a very ugly, very public rift.
"We all are a tough bunch in Louisiana," he told GP. "Historically, we Louisianans are known ourselves to be a little testy at times, just enough to get the old blood boiling. Hopefully, the additional adrenaline and testosterone being displayed here may be just the extra 'uh' needed in the upcoming 'cockfight' over the constitutionally of this bill."
"Both the A.G.'s office and Mr. Thompson bring new and fresh legal perspectives to the defense of this issue," Burrell continued. "...It is my sincere and ultimate hope that they may focus all of their combined energies on the final successful defense of this child protection bill. Our kids and communities depend on it. As in any good fight, one must know who the real enemy is. It is normally not the one on your side."
Thompson, cc'd by Burrell, was quick to jump back into the fray, praising Burrell in an e-mail as "a profile in courage to take all the arrows from the (video game) industry. Thompson didn't specify what those "arrows" might have been.
He also resumed his attack on A.G. Foti and his office, saying, "This is like the Keystone Kops... Right now, (Foti) and his staff might as well be working for the (video game) industry. That is how bad their effort has been."
Thompson also threatened to withhold what he termed his "stable of experts" from testifying on behalf of the Louisiana law unless Gov. Blanco stepped in.
Despite the uproar caused by Thompson, Rep. Burrell remained sanguine.
"This too shall pass," he told GamePolitics.