NEWS - Friday, July 15, 2005

Thompson Blasts ESA President Over GTA

Thompson blasts ESA president over GTA mini-game Lowenstein branded a "highly paid thug" by the industry’s would-be nemesis Jack Thompson - Miami-based lawyer, long time critic of violence in videogames and regular tabloid rent-a-quote - has launched a scathing attack on Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein. In an open letter addressed to ESA members, Thompson accuses the association of failing to act quickly enough on the issue of the Hot Coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Rockstar has denied responsibility for the mod. Thompson claims that Lowenstein’s approach in dealing with the problem is "to demonise critics and to engage in ad hominem jihads intended to obscure real concerns about real industry abuses." "His extremism has painted a bullseye on your industry," Thompson writes. "Doug Lowenstein has the brush and Take-Two has provided the blood red paint." "If those of you who understand that any technology can be used for either good or for ill and that ’responsibility’ is something that adults are supposed to exercise in all walks of life, even in the entertainment industry, then get rid of this highly paid thug and replace him with someone with sense." The letter is laced throughout with personal attacks on Lowenstein, who Thompson claims has "never met a pixilated [sic] prostitute he didn’t like." He also criticizes the ESA president for refusing to debate the issues with him face to face, stating: "Doug Lowenstein travels with his own private make-up artist. Did you all know that?" "Obscuring personal and industry warts is a full time job for this man." Thompson goes on to compare Lowenstein with the leader of Nazi Germany, writing: "When Hitler invaded Russia, opening up an Eastern offensive on the eve of winter, Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill noted that ’Hitler must have been rather loosely educated, not having learned the lesson of Napoleon’s autumn advance on Moscow." "Your Doug Lowenstein is similarly ’loosely educated’ about the United States Constitution." The letter also reveals Thompson’s fervent support for Senator Hillary Clinton, who has contacted the Federal Trade Commission Clinton with a call for action on the Hot Coffee issue. In a statement addressed to the FTC, Clinton writes: "We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country." "I therefore urge you to take immediate action to determine the source of this content and the appropriateness of the M rating." Like many other critics of the game, Clinton believes that San Andreas should be slapped with an Adults Only rating. She has also announced plans to introduce a new law that will fine retailers USD 5000 if they are caught selling violent or sexually explicit games to minors. The ESA issued a statement in response which claims that any such legislation would be "Unconstitutional on its face as it amounts to government enacted restrictions on creative and artistic expression protected by the First Amendment." While the statement is keen to point out that the ESA acknowledges Clinton’s concerns it also dismisses claims that there is a causal link between videogames and violence: "Indeed, one federal court after another has dismissed as unpersuasive and flawed much of the very research Senator Clinton cites in support of her bill." The ESA declined to respond to Thompson’s comments, stating only: "We don’t comment on anything Mr. Thompson says or does."


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