Archive for the 'Politics' Category

05
Jun
08

NEWS: J.T. might be out of the legal game for a decade

Gamers and first-amendment activists everywhere should chalk this one up as a victory.

According to GamesIndustry.biz (and others), the Florida Bar has recommended that Jack Thompson, noted video game attack-dog be disbarred for 10 years for less than ethical practices during law suits against video game production/development companies and retailers.

Unfortunately, it seems that we aren’t through with this vendetta-obsessed distorter of the truth (read: LIAR). According to Game Politics, JT circulated an email which he claimed persons involved in the case acted illegally.

Under the subject line of SWEET! (GP: I kid you not), an e-mail circulated by Thompson this morning cites today’s Daily Business Review coverage of his case and reads, in part:

Because of the [DBR] article, which contains my entire Objections filing, I am now getting phone calls from highly respected people who are proving to me the criminal conduct of The Florida Bar… We are meeting with law enforcement officials about that. 
 
This is all wonderful.  Light is now being shone in some very dark places, and the Daily Business Review has assisted in that wonderfully.
 
I am now going to win this fight, by the grace of God and because of the First Amendment, most particularly the right to freedom of the press.  Certain Florida Bar officials need to hire criminal defense lawyers today.  The investigations are already underway.  And if you think I’m kidding, then you don’t know Jack.

Le sigh. This guy doesn’t know when to quit. Of course, if news outlets would stop legitimizing him by bringing him on to talk his nonsense, maybe we could get somewhere.

I would feel sorry for Jack if he weren’t so damn arrogant. The man is now going after the judge who ruled in his case and after Florida Supreme Court Justices on an alleged technicality with regard their state loyalty oaths. If that’s not a way to permanently destroy your legal career, I don’t know what is.

Even if he does somehow manage to have the trial judge removed, wouldn’t that just result in a mistrial? If so, don’t you think any future judge would be even more likely to find the man guilty?

He’s already recognized as a charlatan in the gaming community, and soon the rest of the world will see firsthand what we’ve been saying all along. Well, they would if the major news outlets would pick up the story. A search for Jack Thompson on CNN.com yielded no results on this story. FoxNews has also neglected to pick up Jack’s story, which is strange considering they’ve had him on the network a few times. Law.com was the only non-gaming outlet to pick up the story in a Google News search for Jack Thompson.

On a mostly unrelated note: Huzzah!

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19
Nov
07

Yes, yes, yes…

I don’t think I need to say anything.

12
Nov
07

Breaking News: More senseless killing in Iraq.

Imagine this:

You’re in traffic, driving home from work one day when you hear sirens behind you. You glance in your review mirror and you see flashing lights coming up fast. The police officer who’s been directing traffic at the intersection where you’re stopped holds up his hands to stop everyone and allow the police cars through, unhindered. You wait patiently as you watch as the police cars go zipping by. After they’ve moved past, you start to move your car closer to the curb when you hear three loud noises – CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! You feel a sting and the warmth of your blood spreading across your chest. You see others running up to you, trying to help you. Then your vision goes black.

What would you think about as you sat there bleeding to death? Would you think of your family? Pray to some god to save you?

I know you probably don’t come here to read about the situation in Iraq. Foreign policy isn’t really my forté; I tend to leave that to others. But this story, via the New York Times, made me angry enough that I wanted to say something about it here. From the story, if you’re too lazy to go read the thing:

An Iraqi taxi driver was shot and killed on Saturday by a guard with DynCorp International, a private security company hired to protect American diplomats…

Three witnesses said the taxi had posed no threat to the convoy, and one of them, an Iraqi Army sergeant who inspected the car afterward, said it contained no weapons or explosive devices.

“They just killed a man and drove away,” Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in his office on Sunday afternoon.

…witnesses to Saturday’s shooting said they saw no reason for the guards to open fire on the car, a white Hyundai with a taxi sign on the roof, driven by Mohamad Khalil Khudair, 40.

The convoy came barreling down the exit ramp from the bridge around midday, [Sgt. Ahmad] Hussein said. “We saw them coming, so we ordered the traffic to stop,” he said.

The crowded traffic on the ramp came to a stop, but as Mr. Khudair tried to pull closer to the side of the road, a gun in the rear truck of the convoy fired several shots into his car, Sergeant Hussein said. At least one bullet went through the windshield and struck Mr. Khudair on the right side of his chest, the sergeant said.

I’d like to start out by saying that I cannot even fathom what being a security detail in Iraq is like. It has to be tough constantly worrying that just about anyone could be ready to kill you. However, it’s the job of the men and women who work for these private security forces to work calmly and rationally in high-pressure, high-stress situations. It simply baffles me that they would open fire on a vehicle that they had already passed for no apparent reason. Remember that one of the witnesses is an Iraqi police officer. They had stopped the traffic at the intersection to let the convoy pass. The car was nowhere near the convoy at this point. Then, for no apparent reason to any of the witnesses, they shot at the vehicle.

The guy who speaks for DynCorp International in the story says that the guards reported they shot at the vehicle, but were unaware that anyone was injured.

Why were they shooting at the vehicle in the first place?

This may not be a good comparison, but if a police officer or marine or security detail in the United States opened fire on a vehicle, they’d better have a damn good reason to do so. There are very limited, specific situations when police officer in the U.S. can fire at a suspect. There’s an internal investigation just about every time a police officer discharges his/her firearm to make sure he or she acted within reason. It’s a big deal for a police officer to fire their weapon at someone.

It goes to show that Iraq still has a long way to go before it’s stable.

I wonder what Mohamad Khalil Khudair thought about.

05
Nov
07

Clive Thompson is a very smart man

If you didn’t already know, Clive Thompson writes video game reviews and commentary for Wired, and his work is always an interesting read. His latest article is about how the social structure of Halo 3 multiplayer mimics that of economically polarized developing nation. Specifically, there are two groups – those who have the time to spend honing their Halo skills (read: school-age children and adults that are too busy playing teh Haloz to have a job), and those of us with jobs, families, etc. Thompson falls into the later group. Consequently, he’s not very good at Halo.

This is turn has led him to adopt the tactics of a suicide bomber. That is, when he realizes that he is about to be killed by a superior player he runs at them and sticks them with a grenade right before he’s killed.

I know I’m the underdog; I know I’m probably going to get killed anyway. I am never going to advance up the Halo 3 rankings, because in the political economy of Halo, I’m poor.

Specifically, I’m poor in time. The best players have dozens of free hours a week to hone their talents, and I don’t have that luxury. This changes the relative meaning of death for the two of us. For me, dying will not penalize me in the way it penalizes them, because I have almost no chance of improving my state. I might as well take people down with me.

 

Mr. Thompson isn’t trying to equate what is happening in Iraq or anywhere else where suicide bombings regularly occur with the inconsequential happenings in the virtual world. Feeling like you’ve nothing to lose in a virtual world is inconsequential to a certain extent. Rather, he suggests that it’s very small example of the kinds of helpless feelings that drive people to blow themselves up.

I mean, it’s hard to imagine the kind of hopelessness it would take for me to strap a bomb to my chest.

19
Jun
07

A short treatise on the banning of violent video games in the UK.

Breaking: Manhunt 2 Banned In UK

From the article:

Today, the British Board of Film Classification, the UK’s independent regulator of film, video and gaming, announced that it has rejected both the PS2 and Wii version of Manhunt 2. Manhunt 2 was developed by Rockstar Games and is the sequel to Manhunt, a game that was banned in several different countries and linked to the murder of a 14 year-old boy. With this announced ruling, Manhunt 2 cannot legally be sold anywhere in the United Kingdom. This is the first game to be rejected since Carmageddon in 1997. We just got off the phone with BBFC’s Sue Clark, who said, “We took a lot of time in examining Manhunt 2. Banning is not something we take lightly.” She added that the regulatory board examines video games closer than its counterparts aboard.

No matter what you think about the Manhunt games, or Rockstar as a company, you have to admit that censorship of any kind of flies in the face of that most important (in my opinion, and that of the author’s of the Constitution) facet of a free society: freedom of expression.

Yes, Manhunt 2 and its predecessor are violent, gory and wholly inappropriate for children. I’m not suggesting that we make these games readily available to children. In fact, I wouldn’t be opposed to putting particularly offensive games in a special store or section of a store accessible only with a valid ID, like other materials that a lot of people find objectionable. And yes, some kids will get at them, just like you found your parents’ porn collection when you were a kid. If you don’t want the risk of your kids finding and playing these types of games, don’t keep them in the house, and make sure their friends’ parents don’t keep them in the house. But, you can’t protect children from every little thing every moment of every day, short of keeping them locked up inside.

I’m not suggesting that we legalize all kinds of offensive media. I’m not suggesting that child or animal pornography are appropriate for anyone. There are obvious victims in those types of media: children and animals don’t have the capacity to understand what’s going on or to truly say “no.” There are all kinds of media (movies, music, video games, etc.) that depict events that are obviously direct violation of the laws already established. Those media should be distributed with a great deal of discretion, but not banned outright.

But I challenge you to find a real victim in the Manhunt games, when the player is an able-minded adult. Yes, murder is essentially the object of these games. Yes, the killings are over-the-top executions. It’s not my cup of tea, either. But I don’t have to play the game or watch anyone else play the game if I don’t want to, and neither do you. Remember, it’s not any of your business what the adults next door do behind closed doors, whether it’s BDSM or playing violent video games, so long as it isn’t impinging upon your rights or the rights of others. If you’re offended purely by the fact that material that offends you is available, then you should probably turn the sensitivity knob down a couple of notches. Or move to China.

As a legal adult in a (presumably) free society you should be able to choose what media you wish to consume without governmental interference. Banning media, no matter how inappropriate (with the above exceptions), violates the right to free expression. The government is now deciding what is appropriate for you to view, that you’re too ignorant to be able to decide for yourself. I feel that’s a level of control that a government should never have over its people.

The regulatory body even points out that it’s not just about protecting the children, which, by the way, isn’t a valid argument anyway. Video games aren’t just for kids, folks, and they haven’t been for a while now. I despise the idea that any government would insult their adult (allowed to fight in wars, buy porn, and get pissed whenever they want so long as they don’t drive home) constituents by implying they aren’t intelligent enough to make a judgment call about what media to consume. If you’re a citizen of any government that allows this (which, I guess is just about all of them), and you’re not insulted by the fact that your government is treating you like a child, well, I guess there’s no hope for you.




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