Oh, Jack Thompson, you obnoxiously cranky, evangelical thing, you. A little background for you, dear readers: the other day, whilst reading through the day's stories over at GamePolitics, I found myself chuckling over the fact that Jack Thompson once again doesn't understand the difference between satire and criminal harassment. As I read through the comments section, one of Dennis's comments caught my attention:
Jack did NOT send this one my way. Which is odd, because he DID send something about a gay rights debate he wants to have down in Miami (um, Jack is against , in case you were wondering). I have zero interest in that story because there is zero video game connection.
Now, that definitely caught my attention: while Dennis was well within his rights to not bother with the story for a very legitimate reason, I asked him to forward the information that Thompson had sent him about the gay rights debate. Dennis, being the nice guy that he is, was kind enough to send it along; I quickly learned that while the story itself isn't gaming-related, it certainly is interesting.
It turns out that everyone's favorite attorney was taking part in an ACLU-hosted debate regarding a proposed Florida amendment that would make gay marriages/civil unions illegal in Florida. Yes, I know, I could rant about this whole topic for a good while, but that's not what we're focusing on. We're focusing on Jack's involvement, remember? Now, I'm not actually sure how the man got picked as a panelist, but I have my theories... we'll get to those later.
The debate itself took place on Tuesday night at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, where, according to witnesses, things quickly devolved into a shouting match spurred by certain parties' religious motivations. But our favorite person on the planet totally stole the cake when it was his turn to speak. According to the Miami New Times:
And Thompson -- who began his tirade against gays by saying on behalf of Evangelicals everywhere, “we love you” -- went on to cite a recent United Nations report that detailed a drop in the number of marriages and children being born in Europe. Thompson attributed this decline to the legalization of gay marriage in "countries in the Netherlands, such as Belgium."
No, no: wait for it. It gets better.
“Mr Thompson,” interrupted one concerned audience member, smoothing down his suit and rising to his feet, “Belgium is not in the Netherlands!”
In Thompson's defense, it's an understandable mistake on his part: geography isn't a subject that they cover in law school.
While this whole story may seem inconsequential and amusing at first, it turns out that it's actually got a deeper meaning. You see, Thompson is facing some rather serious complaints with the Florida Bar and has an impending trial which could very well result with him losing his license to practice as an attorney. As a result, he's started to employ a series of stall and diversionary tactics like subpoenaing George W. Bush to appear as a witness. So, the latest of these seems to be that he wants to get as much media attention on how he's firmly set against gay rights.
While this seems nuts, there's a connection... at least in Thompson's mind. Jack's Bar-appointed reviewer is Bar Governor Steve Chaykin, whom he accuses of having a pro-gay rights agenda. As a result, Jack is stating -in a motion that he's filed- that because of his evangelical Christian beliefs, Chaykin is using the Bar to go after Thompson because of their different stances regarding the whole gay marriage debate.
According to Thompson’s designated reviewer, then, if one opposes gay adoption, then one is at odds with the “core values” of The Florida Bar. It follows, of course, that Mr. Chaykin is the one who approved, formally, The Bar’s latest demand that Thompson submit to a psych evaluation in order to resolve his disciplinary problems. What is outside Mr. Chaykin’s rendering of the “core values” of The Bar must be pathological in nature. That is The Bar’s formal position as to Thompson. Mr. Chaykin can’t have lawyers running around who are at odds with the “core values” of his Bar.
In a way, Thompson succeeded in bringing media attention to his views, but my guess is that this isn't quite how he wanted them to appear. Sure, he got some media coverage -as much as I hate to give the man any more attention, this is definitely newsworthy- but instead of coming across as a formidable force on the conservative side of the fence in what is an incredibly heated political debate, he managed to make himself look like just another close-minded zealot whose bigotry blinded him to the simple geography that most people have after completing the fifth grade.