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Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Down Penny Arcade

You know this Jack Thompson guy sures likes to threaten people who disagree with him. At this point he's pretty bent about Penny Arcade's response to his "modest proposal" for a violent videogame. To the point of calling on the Seattle police department to shut down Penny Arcade.

If it wasn't so laughably inept, this kind of over-the-top flinging of unjustified-lawsuit-poop could interest folks like this or this who tend to see the flinging of lawsuit-poop as counterproductive to that little First Amendment thing most sane citizens still cherish.

Sidebar on Free Speech Protections and Limits

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

I'm not giving legal advice here but I think you underestimate the protections of the First Amendment here. Almost certainly Mr. Thompson is a public figure which is very significant for how a libel or slander case or even a privacy tort would be examined.

He would have to show malice on the part of the speaker. In addition, the bit you quoted above is certainly someone's opinion - it's hard to see how that can be described as a factual statement. It's hard to prove someone's opinion isn't true.

In any event - not picking on you, just thought I'd help clarify some of the misperceptions around liability for speech. Despite the PATRIOT ACt and whatnot freedom of speech in America is still pretty robust.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: Sidebar on Free Speech Protections and Limits

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

true that.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: Sidebar on Free Speech Protections and Limits

Townie's picture

You know what I love? When somebody makes a vague threat because they think you're afraid of them. "I'm a lawyer, I'll sue you!" Um, for what? And you can spend all your big money suing people, doesn't mean you'll really get anything out of it. Vague threats are great because they're the equivalent of some guy holding up an empty gun and shouting, "BANG!" I so enjoy when somebody says they're going to shut down somebody's site or whatnot. "Maybe I should report you to somebody..." Like who?

- Ben

Re: Sidebar on Free Speech Protections and Limits

Uncle Ghastly's picture

All I can say is I wish I had a dollar for every Cease and Desist order I've ever gotten, and yet my comic remains fully intact. Funny that.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

He can disclose the identity of this guy using the old subpoena strategy.

But pay attention to what Xerexes pointed at the end of the news. EFF has a joint effort with Harvart University to provide legal assistance against cyber bullying. It's called chillingeffects.org

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

People keep saying your comic was uncalled for or unclassy. I don't get it. The only thing different you did was you didn't donate $10,000.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

oh, heh. No-one. I thought it was xerexes, but nope it was just you. Feel free to keep dissing away.

Also, is your e-mail actually true? Or did you just make it up?

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Wow, that guy is his own worst enemy. Nothing anyone makes up can be worse then what he's actually like.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

What do you do when they end up really proving to be the better men?

Try to sick the cops onto them of course :P

Re: Sidebar on Free Speech Protections and Limits

"But the legal costs alone for getting something like that dismissed still tend to be enough to put most people out to pasture."

This practice is known as 'Chilling Effect, and many have agreed it's the most hurting thing to a healthy practice of the law, because it tends to privilege those already in a position where the perspective of facing a legal battle won't be a burden.

To be straight, I don't know what kinds of differences the legal system in the US and in Brazil have, but here when it comes to media crimes, the legal system would only consider a legitimate claim if the plaintiff indeed holds a position where his public honour and image were damaged and the perpetrator has any credibility as an opinion leader.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

I don't think ignoring this guy merely because your scared of him is a good thing to do (although if people do wish to be quiet about him because they are scared of a lawsuit, I don't have a problem with them making that decision). Everything everyone has said (that I've read anyway) is protected and not libelous. As long as people are careful about what they say, they should feel free to continue to do what they've been doing. By keeping quiet because you're scared, you're giving in to him. And with how crazy and out there this guy is, I don't think giving in to him is a good thing.

Besides which it's entertaining :P

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Aw, man. I wanted people to diss me

Okay- U R teh ghey

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

You know, I think people need to be a bit careful shitting on this guy. Internet anonymity and feeling like you're part of the gang is pretty seductive, I know. But if Mr. McLawsuit here feels he can make a case of libel from all of this, he will.

While I have no doubt Peny Arcade Inc. has the money to throw at a lawyer to deal with a lawsuit, I'm willing to bet most everyone else doesn't. Tossing shit at this guy just gives him more ammo. I doubt anyone will be willing to ignore him because it gives people some great "Underdog takes on the big evil lawyer" PR, but I think it'd be for the better if folks did.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

how crazy and out there this guy is

Congrats, you just gave him the ammo to sue you. Do you have evidence that he is crazy? If not, you are issuing a defamation, thus you can be sued.

I admit, it's unlikely you would be sued for it. It's hard for him to prove that you are "John" and drag you into court.

Re: Sidebar on Free Speech Protections and Limits

Oh, I know that it's difficult to persecute defamation in the U.S. But the legal costs alone for getting something like that dismissed still tend to be enough to put most people out to pasture.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

So, was Jack Thompson always this crazy, or was he simply driven mad by the months and months of online abuse. I could see how that could have got to him... he doesn't seem to take criticism very well.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

The only part you played was the part of hilarity, Ryan!

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Ryan Estrada's picture

This story just keeps getting better and better. And so do my chances of unfounded legal retribution.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Ryan Estrada's picture

I dunno, I will admit that my part in the ordeal with him was uncalled for, but I'll play the Jack Thompson defense and say it was just "satire".

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Ryan Estrada's picture

Aw, man. I wanted people to diss me.

Yeah, the e-mails were certainly true.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Black_Kitty's picture

It's probably the most appropriate response to the situation. I mean, it's much easier to deal with someone who imagines you dead, talks about you being into beastiality or rave angrily about your intelligence level. But what do you do when the person not only responds with reason but generousity and kindness? And what do you do if with each threat you make, they respond with MORE reason and kindness? Perhaps not necessarily directed at you but to a good cause like what the PA guys did. What do you do when they end up really proving to be the better men?

It's probably more effective in the long run than any comic about him getting mauled or whatnot.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

I think a lot of folks just find it hard to resist. One might say that Mr. Thompson is "really asking for it." Alternately, you could say that he is excellent at baiting people.

I thought the way PA has handled this guy so far has been very interesting. It almost seems kind of... restrained... compared to their usual satire. I mean in the on-topic comic, Thompson doesn't get murdered or attacked by a dog or accused of beastiality or anything. In fact, he doesn't even appear in the comic directly at all. I think Gabe and Tycho are being very, very careful with what they say about this guy and how they say it. It might be because they're being careful not to give him any legal ammo, or it might be simply because they take the "threat" of this guy so seriously and don't want to dick around. But they've been almost unusually reasonable about everything surrounding this man so far. You certainly can't really say that about the rest of the gamer community in general.

Re: Jack Thompson Tries to Enlist Seattle Police Dept to Shut Do

Ryan Estrada's picture

They do???? who???

All I meant by "uncalled for" is that I initiated the communication solely for the purpose of the comic. I have no stake in the matter, other than wanting to do a commentary.

Other sites were responding either to Jack Thompson's e-mails (he e-mailed VGCats to complain that he'd been teased in one of their comics, and PA merely voiced their opinion and he went loco on them)

Who was dissin' my comic besides me?