After the ESRB gave in to pressure and changed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas's rating to "AO" I warned that now Jack Thompson and his censorship partners know the ESRB would cave if they rattle their sabers loudly enough. Now Thompson is on the move again, targeting Capcom's Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 stylistic shooter Killer 7 (currently rated "M"). Thompson demands that the ESRB change the game's rating to "AO" due to "full-blown sex sequences" (insert your own "full-blown" joke here) found in the game.
"There is no question in my mind that a videogame containing 'full-blown sex sequences' cannot be rated anything other than 'AO' rather than 'M,'" Thompson writes in the e-mail. "The [IGN.com review] says that this game's 'M' actually means something, and [it] says it twice for emphasis."
Thompson conveniently ignores the fact that the "sex sequence" is between two fully clothed characters (a man in a wheelchair and a woman who straddles him) and there is no nudity or depiction of intercourse present. This scene sounds like it deserves the "M" rating, not "AO". Thompson's latest demand also states that if the ESRB doesn't change the rating, he will move to have the organization dismantled. Good luck with that, Mr. Thompson, seeing as how the ESRB is not a government entity but a corporate extension of the video game industry. It's as if I said "I don't like K-Mart, so I want them shut down immediately," without my actually having connections or power within K-Mart. Empty words, empty threats, and nothing more.
In a related story, while Jack Thompson calls for the dismantling of the ESRB, someone out there is calling for the dismantling of Jack Thompson. The lawyer has notified the FBI, his Congressional supporters, and the media via press releases that he has received several death threats in response to his position on gaming censorship. Considering the way that he responds to gaming fans, he probably receives a lot of them. Personally, I believe that these threats are the work of immature gamers pumped up on rage and attitude who believe that by issuing threats via e-mail they are doing something about the censorship issue. It probably also makes them feel like big important people.
Death threats are never an appropriate response to an opposing point of view such as this. Gamers who send these kinds of threats are not helping the anti-censorship cause and only serve to provide those who would censor games with more ammo to use in the court of public opinion and the political arena. Jack Thompson is just as entitled to his beliefs against video games as gaming fans are entitled to their own pro-game beliefs. Freedom of speech swings both ways (insert your own "swings both ways" joke here). Attack the ideas, not the man.
Something else that struck me about this issue is that Thompson has also complained that the video game media has not covered the threats against his life sufficiently enough for him. Why should it? I hesitated if I should even mention it here because whatever goes on in Thompson's personal life is really none of my business or interest. If it's not related to video games, I see no need for the gaming media to report it. An angry person sending threats isn't about video games, it's about Jack Thompson, and even if the gaming media does mention Thompson quite a lot these days, it's due to his stringent censorship views and not what happens to him during his off-hours in dealing with a malcontent out there somewhere. I don't blame him for taking these threats seriously, but the gaming media is not in the business of reporting on every aspect of Jack Thompson's day. If Master Chief or Ganon start sending Jack Thompson threats, then we'll talk.