GamePolitics hasn't declared this to be "Jack Thompson Week," although it may have seemed that way at times to our readers.
Admittedly, our coverage of the controversial Miami attorney has increased as tomorrow's GTA cop killer trial approaches in Fayette County, Alabama. It is, after all, a moment that Jack Thompson has been pointing to for months in appearances on 60 Minutes, in the pages of Readers Digest, and, yes, even in the comments section of GamePolitics.
Barring unforeseen developments, GP offers a final pre-trial Thompson item for the reader's consideration. It is both remarkable and relevant, especially given the history and prominence of Japanese firms and creative types within the video game industry.
This story only began to emerge yesterday when Thompson e-mailed a press release touting tomorrow's court appearance in Alabama. Titled "Media Alert: Video Game Industry on Trial in Alabama, 11/1/05," the document began, "This Thursday, November 3, 2005, at 1 pm the Alabama fireworks ignite in the Fayette County Courthouse. This may make the OJ Simpson trials look like quilting bees."
GamePolitics covered the release at some length in yesterday's edition, although it was edited for length. According to the cc:'s on Thompson's e-mail, it was also sent to a variety of media outlets, both game-oriented and mainstream; Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute for Media and the Family; a variety of political figures, including Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and Rick Santorum; Thompson's opposing counsel in the Alabama case, and others.
While the press release contained Thompson's usual over-the-top prose, one paragraph caught the attention of GP, as well as of several readers:
"Oh, and certain regional governments in Japan have banned the sale of the Grand Theft Auto games to minors, but Japan's Sony has no problem whatsoever dumping this garbage into American kids' brains. Looks like Pearl Harbor 2 by Sony/Take-Two..."
On its face the comment seems insensitive. But did Thompson really mean it the way it sounded? GamePolitics followed up with the self-described "anti-game crusader" via a series of e-mails.
GP: Jack - Some readers are taking offense to the Pearl Harbor comments in your press release, and I have to say that it does read as a somewhat insensitive remark. Would you care to comment on that section or elaborate further on what you were trying to convey?
JT: Insensitive? What the Japanese are doing to our kids is insensitive and racist. The Japanese have for a very long time dumped pornography into this country in a fashion they would not tolerate in their own country. It is another version of Pearl Harbor.
GP: By porn, I take it you mean violent video games? Are you referring to various Japanese-made game platforms? (i.e. PS2, Nintendo, etc.) But Take-Two is an American corp., and Rockstar an English subsidiary. Most of the games I can recall you criticizing over the years have been American-published.. (GTA, 25 to Life, Bully, The Warriors, The Sims, Blitz: The League, Everquest, Doom, etc.)
JT: Sony is a Japanese company.
GP: But Sony only makes the player. I don't recall you criticizing any of their titles in a major way. If you take that approach, wouldn't TV, VCR, and DVD player manufacturers be equally complicit? Since their products play violent movies and even actual porn? And are also needed to play video games?
JT: GTA is a Sony/Take-Two game. It was made by Take-Two exclusively for Sony's Playstation 2. Sony has led the planet in the distribution of mainstream porn. I don't have time to document it for you. As for the offensiveness of the Pearl Harbor comment, it's accurate and it's needed. The Japanese have a contempt for our culture which is patent. There (sic) dumping of garbage into our culture is a slow motion version of Pearl Harbor.
Thompson followed up with a letter on the topic to Japanese Ambassador Ryoko Kato. For space reasons, GP has attached it as a comment.