“Because, uh, but, uh, I wrote a book.”

By John Walker on February 16th, 2008 at 7:43 pm.

Baiting Jack Thompson is too easy. It’s the games writing equivalent of following Britney Spears around with a camera 24/7. We generally avoid it on this site.

Still, what the hell, eh? Like the aforementioned pop princess, his grip on reality could be perceived to be publically coming undone. It clearly isn’t, because he’s a lawyer, and he’s obviously in full control of all his faculties, and a lawyer. Have a look at this.

The shooting has thrown everyone – even more than any terrible killing in a high school – because Steven Kazmierczak doesn’t fit into any of the easy stereotypes for those who might usually perform such a crime. From the scraps of information we have, it seems he had recently stopped taking psych meds, and taking into account his actions, would indicate paranoid schizophrenia. Obviously this is speculation. But intriguingly, it’s speculation based on facts, rather than randomly attributing a cause de jour in order to propogate someone’s personal agenda.

The opening question (once we get past the entertaining moment of the anchor accidentally sharing everyone’s wishes):

“What does it tell you about this guy, the suspect, that he’s twenty-seven years old – he’d already graduated – not an 18 year-old, a 17, 18, 19 year-old student currently enrolled?”

Thompson’s reply:

“Well, we find from brain scan studies out of Harvard that if you get started, for example, playing violent video games you can, er, more likely copycat the behaviours in the games.”

The rest of his speech is the usual nonsense and undemonstrable claims about a connection between previous high school shootings and video games, but it’s this first sentence that merits the most attention.

Thompson’s a lawyer, so I’m not going to say he’s lying. But I will say what he says makes no sense in any possible way. Even if there were these “brain scan studies”, how exactly would a functional MRI demonstrate the likelihood of a “copycat” shooting? Is there an animated picture of a little pixel gunman firing a weapon on the scans? It’s gibberish. It’s the sort of woo-woo nonsense you expect to hear from someone trying to explain how their crystals prevent cats from being afraid of ghosts. “Harvard you say?! Gosh, that sounds scientific!” It’s embarrassing.

The most frustrating thing about this man’s escapades is it obfuscates what might be a very serious subject. What if violent videogames could have a negative correlative effect on young people? This is something we would surely like to know, and see studied rationally. People like Thompson (who encourages far greater feelings of violence in me than any “training simulator” like, er, Counter-Strike: Half-Life ever has) stifle this discussion through their sensationalist bullshit.

To conclude, I’d like to transcribe his last sentence.

“One of the things personally disturbing for me dist, including the fact that we have a community now of survivors and victims’ families all across the country like at Perduco who go through the trauma of these type events with the families who are, uh, most immediately hit in this way most recently because they themselves have endured these type situations is the, um… err, the… uh, fact that, you’ve got, um, uhhh, uh, I wrote a, I’m sorry I lost my train of thought, because, uh, but, uh, I wrote a book called Out Of Harm’s Way for a Chicago publisher in which, the, the only chapter they deleted was a fictionalised of, of one of these incidents in which I I said that a kid should walk onto a stage in an audatorium and open fire with a shotgun and they dist they deleted it because it was too disturbing.”

“Campus shooting expert” indeed.

[Via Kotaku]

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51 Comments »

  1. Seniath says:

    It’s depressing that the first thing I think of when I see a stoty about one of these shootings is “how long till J.T gets wind of this..”

    Seriously, though, how has he not been disbarred yet?

  2. John Walker says:

    Also, why haven’t Valve sued him off the face of the planet?

  3. Dave says:

    I’ll say it then: Jack Thompson is a lying liar who lies. I bet he has to wear asbestos pants.

  4. THX-1138 says:

    I can’t watch the video, youtube says “this video is no longer available”.

    Any other link?

  5. John Walker says:

    THX – I’ve Alt-F5 refreshed, and the video still seems available.

  6. Pidesco says:

    It sounds like Thompson is finally cracking.

  7. alphaxion says:

    I cobbled this together at some silly time in the morning the last time he tried to link gaming to a school shooting.

    http://www.blabberize.com/creation/playBlabber/3434

  8. Cigol says:

    Is he a true believer or is he simply trying to make money & notoriety out of it all? It’s the thing I don’t understand about these people – they go on TV, look utterly stupid, and speak complete gibberish with a fervour that suggests they believe every word of what they are saying but do they really?

  9. Hobbes says:

    Is right for us to mock the mentally afflicted? And Thompson would appear to fall somewhere near that category, at the very least.

  10. Ixis says:

    I’m seriously so tired of this asshole. Can’t we all just ignore him? He’s an old man, he’ll probably die by the end of the week. Completely not worth our time.

  11. Garth says:

    ” trained on the game Counter-Strike Half Life to be more efficient at killing.”
    Yeah, when he starts bunny-hopping after a full buyround, nobody without full vest is safe.

  12. Pace says:

    This guy may actually be bad for the “games make people killers” argument, if he’s the foremost figure it makes the whole argument look silly.

    (and damn this internet for letting Fox News out of the US. I cringe whenever I see it.)

  13. MedO says:

    “Well, we find from brain scan studies out of Harvard that if you get started, for example, playing violent video games you can, er, more likely copycat the behaviours in the games.”

    Er, I don’t need brain scan studies to show that. If you don’t play a game, you cannot copycat anything from it. So if you do play the game, you’re certainly more likely to do it. Did I miss something?

  14. Rook says:

    Valve should really remove cs_schoolshooting from the map cycle. Or at least remove the bug where the terrorists win if they commit suicide.

  15. josh g. says:

    I have absolutely no expectation that Jack Thompson will cease being a complete buffoon. If I see his face talking, I’m sure the words will be nonsense.

    What I still don’t understand is, why in the *frigging world* is he still being dredged out from the murky depths of stupidity and pushed onto TV as an “expert”?

    When he is finally disbarred (and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time), will that stop TV news producers from giving him airtime? I’m starting to doubt it.

  16. kenmcfa says:

    Hmm, JT says: “His attire is suggestive of a couple of the games in which the “hero” wears this type attire”

    Any idea what he’s going one about? Please don’t tell me the gunman ran in wearing big glasses and a bright orange HEV suit.

    Edit: I found this quote online: “He was wearing a black beanie, black jeans”. Sound like any videogame “hero” to you? Sounds more like an SS trooper to me. Quick, ban WW2!

  17. Andy Simpson says:

    What I think is funny is just looking at the statistics.

    Before Valve (inexplicably) pulled the stats from the Steam site, you’d see that on average there are about 100,000 people playing some variant of CS at any one time.

    Given the murder rate, you’d expect that if CS players were representative of the general population, one or two of those 100,000 would be murderers.

    Anyways, the VT killer played CS once, in high school. It’s not even true that he played it a lot in college. Ah well. Hopefully he’ll defame CS enough to give Valve a good excuse to lawyer him into the ground.

  18. Smee says:

    Josh G, the reason for why Thompson was quoted as an expert was becuase it was Fox News, and they have a history of putting on people with a motive and simply describing them as a non-partisan expert. Intelligent Design supporters as Education Specalists, or people who deny Global Warming as Science Experts, that sort of thing.

    It’s not becuase it’s Jack Thompson and he’s special, it’s just that it’s Fox News and they lie and twist the truth on a day to day basis.

    Kenmcfa, witnesses at the scene said the shooter wore all black. That I can recall, none of the characters is CS wear all black, and as you say, Gordon certainly doesn’t either. Besides, even if any of them did, I’m not sure that would correlate with the shooter’s outfit, as the way society in general views all-black clothing would arguably have a greater effect on his choice of attire for that day.

    How about we just stick with “misinformed about his subject area”? As John says in the above article, “Counter-Strike: Half Life” isn’t a game I’m familiar with (although it does sound pretty awesome).

  19. Seniath says:

    After the whole Mass Effect sex scene debacle, I think we really should just ignore Fox whenever they mention video games, in any context. They really don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess, we (by we I mean us Brits et al who don’t live in the US) are lucky, insofar as it’s not really a source of news for us, just something to laugh at on the internets. That people in America are actually informed by this trash is a scary thought.

  20. Servitor says:

    Yep. Classic Fox News.

  21. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Fox News and Jack Thompson – the worst combination evar!

  22. Seniath says:

    Mr Wonderstuff: I think a worse combination would be adding “evidence” to that mix. I think the very fabric of space and time would collapse if that ever came to pass.

  23. MindBrain says:

    How come Jack Thompson doesn’t mention that the guy was on psychotropic drugs, just like all the other school shooters?

  24. Optimaximal says:

    In Fox News defense, you could tell the anchor wasn’t impressed by the bullshit Thompson was spewing… That guy is so dellusional and blatantly in it for the ‘get rich off peoples suffering’ game that he’s about as reliable as the Wikipedia.

    Funnily enough, if he was in this country, the BBC couldn’t show any interviews because a) he speaks nothing but defamation and slander & b) he does nothing but plug his services and books he’s written, which isn’t allowed on the Beeb.

    I know that leaves ITN, but they’re in the same boat as Sky News – Fox for the 51st State :)

  25. Zuffox says:

    I don’t get why the videogame press – every bloody one of them – use the time to billboard an asshat like Thompson; better yet use the silence treatment, at least at the somewhat “non-casual” (non-softcore? … whatevs) gamer sites such as this one.

    Let The Daily Show have a go at him; no use preaching to the choir.

  26. Seniath says:

    Zuffox: Kotaku tried, I believe, but failed miserably. Probably had something to do with Crecente being on JTs mailing list.

  27. Jonathan says:

    He’s a lawyer that’s Latin for liar

    But I think the important thing in this video is that it’s Fox news. Essentialy Sunday Sport for your eyes. But having him speak on a national station somehow makes it sound vaguely credible. I think someone tuning in without prior knowledge would agree with him. It’s just not OK.

    Zuffox; Non-softcore? Don’t be dirty.

  28. Sucram says:

    I fully support Jack Thompson and will be donating $2400 to Mrs. Clinton immediately.

  29. Knife Bandit Ant says:

    “I think we really should just ignore Fox in any context. ” corrected.

  30. MeestaNob! says:

    I’d love to see this dingbat on the Daily Show, good suggestion!

    I thought this guy had been disbarred?

    BTW, whenever he singles out specific games titles, surely he is opening himself up to litigation by those games’ developers? I hope so, I’d love Valve to have more money for Development of Awesome Stuff.

    PS
    I play Counter Strike and I’ve never felt the need to kill or even maim a little. When ever this man spouts drivel and outright lies where others can see and hear him this changes. He’s a destructive influence on freedom, he’s a disgrace.

  31. Garth says:

    What, like 6 million people play WoW? Yet I’ve never heard of a single murderer yelling “lolz” while he DoT’d everyone around him.

  32. lalahsghost says:

    I will have to say that we have targeted the area in the brain that is associated with aggression in PET scans (more accurate than MRIs), and aggressive behavior/activities in games do create more activity in that area, but less than 40% of “Normal people” have lingering effects of aggression (shown by pet scans) when not doing something violent.

    Brain scan science is still very iffy, and more and more data is showing that people can live normal lives even if they participate in violent game playing. Jack Thompson is like any other quasi-informed butt-munch wanting to prove a point.

  33. Fedora.Pirate says:

    I’m surprised no one commented on the opening lines:
    JT: I wish I weren’t here
    Anchor: Yeah, us too.

    I know over all we should laugh at this but that part there I just found hilarious. I realise it’s probably not what the anchor meant but I liked it never-the-less.

  34. Nimic says:

    He’s a bloody liar.

    Sue me.

  35. dzy says:

    And people wonder why I resemble a misanthrope more often than not…
    That TV cap was actually an amazing slice of human behavior and a clinical study in (failed) bluffing.
    Thanks you RPS. I giggled throughout.

  36. SenatorPalpatine says:

    I don’t have urges to kill people or anything, but that guy talking seems more likely to provoke violence then video games.

  37. Optimaximal says:

    Wait a sec… he’s an expert in school shootings?

    Does that mean he’s actually the guy masterminding them and he’s using subtle mind-control/the promise of caek to entrap metally ill people into doing his bidding?

  38. Mike says:

    Jack Thompson’s first line and the interviewer’s response is quite comical. But in general, I find the JT thing a bit boring.

  39. John Walker says:

    I’ve found that going on murder sprees has made be behave more violently in computer games. I’m beginning to wonder just how safe murder sprees really are.

  40. Zuffox says:

    Jonathan: It’s actually a reference to a term used in an earlier article which was linked to at RPS.

    And I found the term pretty corny too …

    Seniath: The usual jabs and “oh dear, he’s at it again” don’t grind my guts that much, but counterarguing him sentence by sentence, “picking his arguments apart piece by piece” is so futile and useless, to say the least.

    As for internet debates in general, the best thing to do is usually ignore the lamers in them – or report them to the admin. At least as far as the ones beyond any hope of mental ailment goes.

  41. Matt says:

    You’ve mis-transcribed the place name (“Perduco”) in his closing comment. He’s talking about the Heath High School shooting in Paducah, Kentucky.

  42. Snarky says:

    The guy is nuts, despite his lawyership. Ever notice how he takes his religious beliefs above his duty to the law? If you’re a lawyer (or a law-related occupation in general) you shouldn’t have a personal agenda, since your duty is to the law! If religion or revolution is what a person wants, then being a lawyer is not an occupation that makes sense to have. It’s somewhat like some of those crusading mommy-celebrities who rant about everything they hate and then say that “As a mother… blah blah” even though much of what they foam at the mouth about is completely unrelated and moot in relation to children (go shield your kids eyes and bodies and watch them grow up to be ill-adjusted and inept because they grew up in a bubble instead of ranting at us, ffs. It hurts less real people in the process…), though at least they have less power to change laws in the end. Don’t get me wrong though, ol’ Jack is actually relatively powerless when it comes to changing laws: the very system that lets him practice law in his home state is holding him under review, pending loss of his license when I last checked!

    And it’s not like lawyers don’t make exceptions and lies every damn day when it comes to supporting their clients… but that’s besides the point: he’s nuts, he likes attention… and believe it or not, not many in the general public or leadership over here in the US of A actually listen seriously to what he says (save perhaps Fox News, Hillary and Lieberman on occasion, but they honestly don’t count). Ignore the bastard and he’ll likely lose the will to be an attention whore… if he still has a grain of sanity left. If not, still ignore him… or if you’re the wordy type, deftly derail his arguments whereever you see fit… just not in personal e-mails or private conversation to him (insult-o-rama, plus the public can’t see your debate). Just demonstrate that you’re exactly the opposite of what he try to depict gamers to be and even more people will ignore him.

  43. Phil says:

    If Jack Thompson didn’t exist someone would have to invent him – How else can a multi-billion dollar industry retain any shred of it’s teen demograhic appealing infamy without grey haired, dead eyed idiots laying into it on Fox?

  44. dhex says:

    for fun, do a google search for “jack thompson and janet reno.”

  45. EMPty=IRL= says:

    Video link is dead… :-( Nevermind me….

  46. fearian says:

    SUPER COOL NEWS!

    Jack Thompson, the REAL JACKO, has joined the Destructoid.com community. I find this hilarious.

    Heres my favorite quote:

    I know facts are inconvient things for e-tards, but there they are, and here I am, right, oh so right, yet again.

    We need to get you sociopathics kiddies off these murder simulators and back to doing your homework.

  47. NegativeZero says:

    The only way that they could actually come up with believable correlation with brain studies is if they were to hook someone up to a scanner, hand them a shotgun and tell them to go slaughter some people. If their brain activity matches what gamers demonstrate, then that would be positive correlation.

    But that sort of research would be a tad unethical.

  48. MeestaNob! says:

    Jesus Christ, after reading Whacky Jack’s entry in the wikipedia I’m stunned at what a psychotic nuisance he really is.

    He and his supporters (both of them) are pathetic.

    Continues reading: My god he’s a head case. Who hasnt he sued??

  49. C0nt1nu1ty says:

    This isnt exactly Thompson bashing but just some food for thought:

    Valve says there are approx 100,000 people on a CS variant at any time, consider all the other games there monitoring (half life etc) via steam and that would come to…oh at a random guess a couple of million unique users over the current life of steam

    There have been say between 5 and 10 high school (teenagers the apparent core demographic of games) shootings over the past 10 years, lets say there have been roughly 100 people killed

    now take a random sample of the US population of equivalent size and look at the gun homicide stats, I’d make a good bet that the games demographic is considerably less violent than the random sample, why has no-one used this argument?

    Also why doesnt this happen in say… Canada? They have more guns than people (i’m pretty sure they actually do) and over the same time period there have been…..well i wont say no shootings but considerably less, maybe one or two but i reckon not.

    So lets assume these ideas are true, then surely its an issue with American culture as a whole, not the games. And who would you say was one of the most prevalent companies in American culture at the moment? Why none other than News Corp, owners of 20th century fox and its subsidiary Fox news.

    So Fox, Mr Thompson: you are the reason people shoot each other in the US
    stick that in your pipe and smoke it

  50. Andrew says:

    Aw, you were doing so well up until the Fox News Killed My Children bit.

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