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Weighing in on the whole Jack Thompson thing

Friday, October 21, 2005
So much has been going around on the ol' Intarweb about activist-laywer Jack Thompson, who, after exchanging phone calls and email, tried to get the guys at Penny Arcade arrested. He also (in an amazing act of satire), pledged $10,000 to charity if someone would make a violent video game since he's vehemently opposes violent video games, sex in the media (or in general, we hope), and anything else that might contribute to the moral downfall of America.

Now, I'm not going to cast judgement on Jack Thompson. He's been getting a lot of media coverage (mainly for making an ass of himself) but that's his right. The angle I'm going to focus on is that of free speech. It's been pointed out a gazillion times on the web that there are two kinds of free: free (as in beer), and free (as in speech). Free beer is unquestionably a Good Thing(tm). There are no caveats with free beer, there are no limitations, there are no angles to think about. Free speech, however, must be actively maintained and defended. As Voltaire said, "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it. "

Jack Thompson has the right to voice his opinions. Jack Thompson, as much as it pains me to say this, has the right to campaign and lobby for what he believes in. I am not a lawyer (IANAL) (though Jack is) but he probably has the right to file a lawsuit to try to change the laws to suite his morals. Unfortunately for Jack, the First Amendment more or less means the other side gets to state their opinion, too. My personal opinion is that Jack is a jackass. I can state that freely and my right to do so is protected. However, the responsibility of the consequences of my speech fall upon my shoulders. (Of course, if you give someone a bunch of free beer and they drive drunk and kill someone, I'm sure you can be sued for that, too.)

Anyway, that's my take on Jack Thompson. He's an idiot, but he has the right to say what he's saying. That's the burden we must all bear if we're to have constitutionally protected free speech.


Blogger Laura said...

The way I see it, is, the video game industry is blessed to have such an incompetant windbag making all this noise. Lord forbid someone who actually was credible and competant took up "the cause".

7:29 AM, October 23, 2005  

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