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Monday, June 20, 2005

What They Aren't Saying

That guy I said I wouldn't talk about? I guess 60 Minutes has edited up a short version of that interview, now focusing squarely on cranial menus and shown it around. I've been getting some questions about this. But I'm still not talking about that guy. I'm talking about this case.

So let's recap. The Playstation 2 is technology sophisticated enough to brainwash a teenage mind and train Devin Moore Thompson well enough to overcome an armed veteran police officer from within the confines of a police station. Do not pay attention to anything else.

Well, that's one scenario at least. Here is another:

Moore's father told The AP that his son was a troubled young man.

"I kept telling people about it, going to the church and telling people he was a troubled child, but people didn't pay me no mind," he said. "I raised him from a baby, but people don't listen."

Kenneth Moore said he sent his son to live with the young man's mother two years ago because he couldn't control him. He said that his son would often steal his car and that last year his mother found a gun in the house belonging to him.
-- Devin's father, Kenneth Moore

What's interesting about that story is that it doesn't mention video games. Not once. Here is a story which interviewed Devin's father, that also has nothing to do with video games:

Reporters encircled Thompson's father and a female companion as they
exited the courtroom, yelling questions as he repeated, "No comment."
Standridge said that Thompson's family is sorry for what has happened.

In an earlier interview, Thompson's father, Kenneth Moore and Fayette
County High School Principal Radford Hester told The Tuscaloosa News the
teen had many discipline problems at home and school.

Kenneth Moore describes his son as someone who loved trouble, stealing
cars and dabbling in drugs.

"He was a good kid to people in town, but as soon as you get to know him
he would change for worse," Kenneth Moore said.
-- Death Penalty News

These are from 2003, when the crime in question happened. December, 2004, is when the "Life is a video game" phrase jumped out and suddenly this was all about Grand Theft Auto. And here's the kicker ... there is some doubt that he even said that:

When Moore was arrested, it was stated he made the comment, "Everybody has got to die sometime." This was later amended in December 2004 during a motion hearing claiming the statement was, "Life’s a video game. You’ve got to die sometimes.”
-- Video Games Under Fire

And at that point that nameless guy walks in and started to get everyone riled up against the video game industry. But,

Prior to the filing of the lawsuit in February 2005, Moore’s attorney, Jim Standridge, filed for youthful offender status for Moore but was denied. Mr. Standridge had planned to use a diminished capacity defense in addition to claiming that Moore was frightened because he was a young black male being arrested in a mostly white, rural community. When Miami attorney Jack Thompson arrived in Fayette and convinced the brother of Arnold Strickland and the parents of Leslie Mealer to file the lawsuit against the video game developers and stores, the defense changed its plans. The defense now states because of Mr. Moore’s diminished mental state, he was programmed to act in a violent manner by video games. Mr. Standridge is prevented from commenting due to a current gag order.
-- Video Games Under Fire

Wait, diminished capacity? Frightened? Why aren't we hearing any of his father's statements? How is it that 60 minutes couldn't go back to 2003 and dig up any of these quotes about his troubled youth, his broken home and his criminal tendencies?

How does a trial go from being about psychological problems and media gag orders to brainwashing and interviews on 60 Minutes? In 2003, this was problem youth and a tragic event that the media wasn't supposed to be involved with. In 2005, it's a media circus about how innocent the kid really was, if only it wasn't for his game console. Why the shift in attention?

Because if you look at all the facts, there is no other way to see this but for what it is. A troubled black kid with emotional problems facing certain jail time in a predominately white area, frightened and unstable enough to decide take another's life for the hope of just getting away. Is this such an unbelievable scenario that we have to add in murder simulations and brainwashing? I don't see how anyone who has lived in the real world would need to go that extreme. This was violent, this was tragic and this was horrible. This wasn't science fiction. This was real. It might not make as good of television as Ed Bradley decrying how horrible violent media is, while repeatedly flashing the screen with images of pixel gore ... but it is true.

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