Monday, July 18, 2005

Dear Doug: Part 2

Yes, I was kidding when I mentioned Jack Thompson and pretended to be unaware of his identity. He's a nutbag.

Seriously. Take a look at the Wikipedia entry:
[note: fixed Wikipedia link]

That is some crazy stuff. What's important to understand is that he demonstrated his incompetence and generally bizarre behavior before he ever took on the video game industry. He ran against Janet Reno for the office of Dade County State Attorney in 1988. After losing, he made a series of wild and totally unsubstantiated allegations against her that make him sound like a raving lunatic (see the Wikipedia article for details).

The other important thing to understand is that, by any scale of measurement, Thompson is a loser. He lost to Janet Reno. He's lost every lawsuit he's ever filed against the video game industry. Thirty years ago, he would have been the guy down the street who spent all his time writing letters to Congressman about who shot JFK and why UFO's must be investigated. He'd be just another crackpot. Today, though, we have a culture where we listen to everyone, no matter how illogical or unqualified they are (hmm--maybe you can put me in that group as well), so he gets a podium to spew nonsense.

I've seen him quote so many different numbers for children's access to "M" rated games that I assume he just generates them at random. However, and this was the point of Friday's column, in the absense of real data, people are encouraged to make up their own. If you don't control the debate through accurate, clear information, crackpots will control the debate for you, and they will make up numbers that you have no way of disputing.

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