Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Posted by Alan Childress
I posted, yesterday, this fairly innocuous link to Michael Froomkin's own brief post on the pending bar discipline matters involving Jack Thompson in Florida. I passed along the question, should he be disbarred? (A fair question, I would say, since such proceedings, findings, and recommendations are pending.) I added my own view, which I stand by, that Thompson does himself a disservice in his public pleadings against the bar. Mr. Thompson took issue with the post, and commented here.
Anyway, here is the "pleading" he sent to the Florida Supreme Court (and he openly disseminated further) last Thursday. It includes all sorts of cut-out pictures and obscure movie and music references, including the Here's Johnny money shot to the right (that is his illustration not mine), either in self-reference or as an image of how others perceive him. And much of it makes no sense to me [all as if he is blogging, now that I think about it]. He quotes Paul Simon to the effect that when Mr. Thompson looks back to all the crap he learned in high school it's a wonder he can think at all. He refers to the Florida bar organization as "goose-stepping brigades" -- quoting an old case, to be sure, about integrated bars, but doing so next to a big picture of a swastika (actually two). He suggests he is prosecuted for being "an uppity Christian." He asks for, "for the first time, a fair review of this regulatory abortion," and then adds "picture withheld." Gross.
Mr. Thompson's comment posted on this site is that:
Oh, and for the confused Prof. Froomkin: I'm not a "video game opponent." I opposed the sale of Mature-rated video games to anyone under 17 when their parents aren't around. That's a view shared by 90% of the American people. We're the only country in the world that rates games for adults and then sells them to kids.
Professor, you need a reality check and to stop attending ACLU meetings. Jack Thompson
My reply is fairly simple (besides the obvious facts that he misquoted me leaving out the word 'extreme,' that I am not Froomkin, and that the assertion that I attend ACLU meetings [or is that Froomkin?] is just made out of the blue without any basis--though I would not think it improper had I done so): I think all of this supports my stated view that his public 'defense' is ineffective and a disservice. It also suggests the kind of non-factual and wild "lawyering" which led to some of the bar complaints in the first place. So I specifically reply:
To Mr. Thompson:
Thank you for posting a comment. I believe that if you always presented your stance about gaming that way, as in your first paragraph, there would be a tidal wave of people who would agree with you and support you. I have a 15 year old son, and I believe you do too so I understand your concern -- and thus of course I worry about the effect of violent (or as I said it "extreme") video games on kids. Protecting kids is a cause worth caring about and taking on, and needed a champion.
But the fact, apparent to almost everyone, is that this positive cause is being led by someone who is himself beyond extreme in his manner and presentation, and does not seem to follow normal social and legal norms to accomplish his goals. It comes across as if the worthwhile goal is subservient to more personal and less noble goals that are antithetical to the stated public goals. You often attack those who might agree with you, as if the attack and drama is far more important than the agreement and the promotion of a unified front against the perceived opposition. It appears as though the real opposition is not Sony, or Grand Theft Auto, but rather everyone else in the world but you. If you think about it, this makes it all too easy for your video litigation opponents to paint you as the rabid poster child against their sales, and misdirect focus from the cause you promote. I wonder why you would support them in that way, and make their lives and P.R. so much easier than if you took on their stances responsibly and cogently. I suspect you think that they hate you, but I am sure they love you. You have allowed yourself to be the perfect strawman focus so that they never really have to address the merits of their own right or wrong. They could not buy better press than you.
Even your manner of promoting your more personal goals, like staying licensed as a lawyer, seems ill conceived and begging for failure. It comes across as if you would rather lose your license in a big splash, and be able to say for years that you got screwed, than keep the license. So be it, because anyone can see that is where you are heading, and if you want to lose your law license, fine.
This site has recommended to many readers that anyone in serious trouble with a state bar hire separate counsel and be cooperative with the bar. You did not do that, to my knowledge. Last week you sent the Florida Supreme Court Justices a missive in which you not only questioned their ability to rationally determine your fate, but you specifically referred to the Florida bar organization in such a way that any reader would know you mean "Nazis." You mean real Nazis, with two swastikas, not just some allegorical fascists. (You also hint that this is all an anti-Christian attack, as if the Florida Supreme Court or its bar has religious issues with you.) That is not a strategy that I would predict would lead to success. Especially since some of the issues you are being alleged to have had problems with, leading to bar discipline, are lack of decorum and respect, and failure to follow specific procedural instructions by judges. In sum, you seem to be confirming their bar allegations by the way in which you are replying to them. (New rule: you cannot send cut-out pics of Jack Nicholson being crazy, swastikas, the Target logo, and increasingly larger fonts to the Florida Supreme Court -- and then act all offended that they are judging you.)
I could take some comfort in your statement, posted on Froomkin's site, that "PS: I'm not on meds. The Bar finds I'm perfectly sane. That's why they're concerned...." But if you really want to keep your law license, take my advice and withdraw your letters to the Court, apologize to the Court, hire counsel, and actually follow her or his advice. If you are unable or unwilling to do that, please do not cry foul on this site when the inevitable result of your current scorched-Earth strategy leads to, well, all the Earth around you that you care about being scorched. What counsel gives you is credibility and perspective. Whether or not the merits of your points against the video industry and even the bar process are correct, it is clear that you need to find a new source of credibility and perspective.
Whether it is too late, or undeserved, is for others to say. But since you posted on this site and seemed to think I am following some script from the ACLU, I will say that you need an intervention, not only for your own self, but for the cause that you say that you care about and which many people would support if you would let a different person lead it.