In the wake of a contentious relationship with officials assigned to defend his Louisiana game law, anti-game violence attorney Jack Thompson says his next stop will be in Salt Lake City. Thompson plans to testify on video game violence before the Utah House next week.
Although he has not responded to GP's e-mail request to elaborate, it seems likely that Thompson will appear before the Judiciary Interim Committee which meets on September 20th. Lame duck Rep. David Hogue (R) is on the agenda to discuss "material harmful to minors."
GP readers may recall Hogue's failed attempt to pass "games as porn" legislation earlier this year. Indeed, some of Hogue's remarks bore an uncanny resemblance to Thompson's rhetoric. Hogue said at the time, for example, that Red Lake Minnesota school shooter Jeffrey Weise "literally trained himself on Grand Theft Auto."
Hogue, described by some as a moderate Republican, made a failed bid for the State Senate this year, gaining only 23% of the primary vote; thus, he will be leaving the legislature on December 31st. Hogue thus far has not responded to phone and e-mail requests for additional information.
So, what is next week's meeting all about? A source familiar with the legislative process told GP that "interim" committees typically do prep work for bills which will be introduced in the next session. It seems likely, then, that Hogue will lobby to have his video game bill considered in 2007. Of course, he'll be starting from square one, since this year's actions don't carry over. And he'll need to find a willing legislator to sponsor the measure, since he'll be gone.
All of this makes Utah a fascinating battleground for video game legislation. There is Hogue's bill, of course. And Utah Rep. Jim Matheson (D) has a scary bill before Congress. On the other side of the coin, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is openly in support of the ESRB system.
Given Jack Thompson's recent dust-up with the Louisiana Attorney General's office, wouldn't it be interesting to watch the Utah A.G. put in the position of defending a Thompson-authored video game bill?