[b]STOP PRESS: Just before filing this story, we emailed Mr Thompson for his comments. This is what we received as we were about to hit the Publish button.
” By the way, tell me what weeks in the next few months are best for your deposition.”
We await formal contact by the relevant US court officers, with the relevant and formal request, of course.[/b]
The latest round of litigation between US attorney Jack Thompson and Take-Two Interactive software has been loosed by Mr Thompson – and SPOnG has been caught in the cross-fire.
Thompson is attempting to challenge Take Two et al under the United States’ Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) legislation. This 800lb gorilla that was enacted to combat the Mafia, and emerging drug barons by placing the organisation, rather than specific individuals at the sharp end of litigation. Thus when the US government cannot pin a crime on an individual, it seeks to undermine them by terrorising their known associates. These statutes have been effective in making organisations as diverse as the Hells Angels and the Mafia re-assess their operational procedures.
Towards the end of a filing made in the United States District Court For the southern district of Florida in relation to the case numbered 07-20693-civ-altonaga, Thompson claims:
”34. Take-Two, either directly or through its agents, including but not limited to Blank Rome, has collaborated and conspired with third parties to commit these racketeering activites (sic, including but not limited to the Entertainment Software Association, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the Entertainment Consumer Association, Gamepolitics, Kotaku, SPOnG, Joystiq, Gamespot, ign, Game Informer, Electronic Gaming Weekly, Penny Arcade, Doug Lowenstein, and others.
“35. As a result of this collaboration, individuals have repeatedly threatened the life of Thompson, visited his residential neighborhood to hand out libellous (sic) pamphlets, filed SLAPP Bar complaints against Thompson, having been encouraged to do so by gaming web sites, sent dozens of items to Thompson’s home and office via overnight courier and mail, sent sex aid products to his wife, threatened Thompson’s son, shot at his home, sought to incarcerate Thompson, “bookstormed” his book, Out of Harm’s Way, at Amazon.com, orchestrated and knowingly incited harassing phone calls and letters, and Case 1:07-cv-20693-CMA Document 6 Entered on FLSD Docket 03/21/2007 Page 33 of 37 34 generally engaged in a knowing, purposeful, and illegal “shoot the messenger” strategy against Thompson directly and through surrogates.”
Now, this comes as quite a surprise to us as we would have expected to have been contacted directly by someone who places SPOnG so high up his list of alleged Take-Two co-conspirators in racketeering.
So, we called Mr Thompson at a number he provided in a recent email entitled, “Hooah!” (a standard US Marine Corps response) to find out exactly if and when we are supposed to appear in Florida. The phone rang, and rang, and rang – with no voicemail cutting in. Therefore we’ve emailed him with an offer for him to state his case against us and the other named ‘co-conspirators’ directly – to be published verbatim.
We also called Jim Ankner, Vice President of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Take-Two Interactive Software in the United States in order to discover if Take-Two has any records of our alleged joint conspiracy. Of course, being in cahoots with the publisher as alleged by Mr Thompson (and totally denied by us) you would have expected Jim to pick-up the hotline. We left a voicemail and hope to hear back.
However, with Take-Two’s board currently under threat
, profits lagging behind expectations, and Mr Jack Thompson accusing the company not only of racketeering but also of being “thuggish pornographers” in filings to court, maybe Mr Ankar has more pressing matters on his mind.
Whatever the outcome of the suit and counter-suits between Thompson and Take-Two, SPOnG is certainly not going to stop providing coverage. Nor are we going to be bullied by Thompson from a Florida court into retracting any of our previous coverage.