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TVG receives a copy of Florida's most vocal attorney, urging Bono to snub any interest towards Take-Two, unless he plans on incinerating GTA...
The rumoured interest shown in Take-Two Interactive by Elevation Partners took a further twist today, with an open letter addressed to Bono by the infamous attorney at law, Jack Thompson.
Within the letter Thompson urges a "fellow brother in Jesus Christ" not to proceed in a buyout of Take-Two and its GTA franchise, which he labels as a Mature-rated murder simulator.
Re: Your Possible Purchase of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
I write you as a fellow brother in Jesus Christ, appreciative of your bold witness to the transforming truth of the Gospel, in both your words and your deeds. You daily "fight the good fight," serving Him as salt and as light in an unbelieving world. You inspire other Christians to confront the "culture of death" that surrounds us all, and I thank you. Because of what you do, it is easier for me to do what I have been called to do.
I write to encourage you, respectfully and in a spirit of brotherly love, not to purchase Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. It is reported in the New York Post and in the San Francisco Chronicle that your Elevation Partners is engaged in talks to do just that. See http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/02/07/EDGU9GJD7D1.DTL .
Allow me to provide some of the reasons why I make this fervent suggestion:
1. I appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes twice last year on behalf of two Alabama police officers and a dispatcher killed by a teen who trained on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to kill them. We are now proceeding toward trial in our wrongful death action on their families' behalf, buoyed by three affidavits sworn to by experts who have testified before the US Congress as to this copycatting phenomenon that the American Psychological Association in August 2005 says is now irrefutably proven.
Thus, if you buy Take-Two and its Grand Theft Auto franchise, you will be buying a Mature-rated murder simulator marketed and sold to teen that has been linked by law enforcement officials to numerous, specific, provable copycat killings around the country. I have appeared on roughly 70 national television programs, including NBC's Today show eight times, recounting the causation of these copycat events. More such events are on the way. Take-Two, whoever owns it, will have to deal with those pigeons when they come home to roost in the months and years ahead. Indeed, the most recent such incident tying Take-Two to murder was found in the 18-year-old Jacob Robida who went from carving up homosexuals in a "gay bar" in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to a "sucide by cop" shoot-out in Gassville, Texas. Three lay dead. Robida was an obsessive gamer, whose games included, according to detectives in Massachusetts, the Grand Theft Auto games whose scenarios he replicated precisely.
In fact, the above-noted Chronicle editorial which encourages you not to buy Take-Two mentions the Oakland, California, gang called the "Nutcases," which used Take-Two Grand Theft Auto III as a carjacking and murder simulator. The older gang members trained the younger ones with the Take-Two game in order to both show how to carjack and to get "pumped up" to carjack. Said one perpetrator in jail: "We played the game by day and lived the game by night."
I could cite to you dozens of similar incidents that tie GTA to murder. Is this what you want to own, along with all its coming liabilities, both legal and spiritual?
2. Take-Two has, in its most recent 10-K disclosure statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, lied to the investment community about the nature of its potential liabilities. For example, here we are proceeding toward trial in Alabama, most likely in January 2007, and yet Take-Two has told the investment community in its January 31, 2006, 10-K that our Alabama wrongful death action is utterly without merit. That is a lie, and a provable lie. Take-Two, therefore, is lying to the same SEC that busted it for fraudulent accounting practices, to the tune of $8 million in 2005, for "parking violations" in misstating the number of games it had sold. The SEC is also investigating Take-Two for insider trading. Are you relying upon Take-Two's own assessment of the validity of those federal investigations?
Secondly, Take-Two has agreed to indemnify all other corporate defendants in the Alabama case for any verdict amounts against them. Did the Take-Two principals with whom your Elevation Partners is negotiating disclose that? Those co-defendants whose verdicts Take-Two has promised to reimburse include Wal-Mart and GameStop (who sold the Mature-rated games to a minor) and also Sony. Take-Two has agreed to this remarkable indemnification plan in a state-Alabama-that the Wall Street Journal reports has the highest verdicts against corporate defendants in the nation. Why are the verdicts so high? Because Alabama has a wrongful death statute, held constitutional, which grants money damages to bereaved plaintiffs not actual damages but solely punitive damages that are to be high enough to make sure that the corporate defendants will never do what they did again. Do you think a jury in Alabama, in the town in which their cops, with whom the townsfolk were on a first-name basis, are going to cut a break for the company that trained their killer how to kill them more efficiently. Alabamians are proud to say they are "the buckle of the Bible Belt." They don't like companies that facilitate the murder of cops.
Did Take-Two tell Elevation Partners about the real dangers to the very survival of Take-Two because of the Alabama suit? Did they also tell Elevation fully about the multiplicity of current fraud and also criminal investigations of Take-Two that are currently in full-swing? I am working with those investigations. You all need to talk to me to find out what a real danger is that they pose to Take-Two, despite the fraudulent assertions in the recent 10-K that they are all "without merit." That is akin to saying that AIDS poses no threat to life. Ridiculous.
The market knows that they have merit, which is precisely why Take-Two stock has plummeted.
3. Sony and Take-Two designed the GTA: Vice City game to utilize the PS2's Dual Shock controller, which sends a visceral jolt back into the hands of the player each time he kills. Thus, the entire system is a biofeedback, operant conditioning system which desensitizes the user to the act of killing. Skinner would be proud. It is right out of his playbook.
As you know, Elevation Partners has a strong relationship with Pandemic Studios, which designed Full Spectrum Command/Full Spectrum Warrior for the US Department of Defense at the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC. The primary purpose of this virtual reality simulator is to "suppress the inhibition to kill of new recruits." If you doubt that, then please contact Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, retired Army Ranger, former professor at West Point, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and identified by President Clinton as "the one man America should listen to as to why Columbine happened" through his www.killology.com. Three hundred or more days a year Grossman addresses police and military personnel about the psychological cost of killing and how virtual reality is used to get people to kill. I have addressed the American Bar Association with Col. Grossman, on the same stage, twice. He and I are brothers in Christ and brothers on this issue.
How, then, can Take-Two claim that its killing simulators do not desensitize teens to the act of killing when the video game industry, especially your partner, Pandemic, takes taxpayer dollars from the DOD to design games that do just that, biofeedback controls and all?
You recently shared the cover of Time with Microsoft's Bill Gates as two of its "Persons of the Year." Good for all three of you. I assume you think Gates a man of intellect. Here is what he said recently on 60 Minutes: "These action games transport you to a world you think is real." Exactly. That is why they are dangerous.
Brain scan studies at Harvard University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, and elsewhere prove that teens process these killing games in a different part of the brain than do adults, which is why copycatting is far more likely to occur by them. I was even portrayed in a Law and Order: SVU episode last year called "Game" in which teens were copycatting the Grand Theft Auto games in killing women by running over them with cars and then stomping them to death, as the 60 Minutes story itself showed. Thus, even Hollywood knows of the murderous power of the GTA game franchise you are negotiating to buy.
4. Take-Two is set to release in 2006 a game called Bully. This is a Columbine simulator that allows a student in a virtual school, whose slogan is "Dog Eat Dog," to bludgeon his classmates and teachers with bats to "settle scores." Every expert on bullying who is aware of the content of this game has called on Take-Two not to release, so sure are they that Bully will spawn more school violence. Is that what you want to be affiliated with?
Take-Two has lied to the public about what is actually in this game, which lie is proven by the images in screenshots which I have been provided by an industry source. I can hear Take-Two saying to you, Bono, if I were to show you these clandestine screenshots, "Who are you going to believe, Bono; us or your lying eyes?"
5. The Apostle Paul tells us in the Bible (2 Corinthians) that believers must not be "unequally yoked" to unbelievers. You, a devout Christian, cannot be yoked to these Mature-rated murder simulators fraudulently, deceptively, and aggressively marketed to children. It will serve as a refutation of your Christian twitness, which is precisely what even the secular-minded San Francisco Chronicle has identified as the incongruity of your being yoked with such an enterprise.
If you want to believe Take-Two that it does not want kids to buy these Mature-rated killing games, then why does Take-Two have its lawyers in court rooms across America alleging that children have a "First Amendment right" to buy these Mature-rated games? Hmmm? As Forrest Gump might say, "Stupid is as stupid does."
One of the plaintiffs in our 60 Minutes-reported Alabama case is Steve Strickland, an ordained Methodist minister. Bono, you need to talk to him and to me about the incredible evil that Take-Two has knowingly dumped into the lives of young people. Steve lost his brother to the virtual-to-reality mayhem caused by Take-Two. The bestselling author, Malcolm Gladwell, has explained in his book Blink why the killing video games lead boys to kill in "the blink of an eye." Jesus himself warned: "If any of you should cause one of these little ones to stumble, then it would be better for you that a millstone be tied around your neck and that you be cast into the uttermost depths of the sea."
Unless you, Bono, and your Elevation Partners plan to buy Take-Two for the purpose of incinerating the Grand Theft Auto games and the other murder simulator titles that Take-Two owns, such as Manhunt, which caused a hammer-bludgeoning death in Leicester, England and which has been banned for sale even to adults in Australia and New Zealand, then you will be tying a millstone around your own neck.
Bono, I could go on, as there is much more to tell you, but you get the idea. We need to meet. You need to hear what I know and what Take-Two will not tell you and the others at Elevation Partners about what their true liabilities are. There is a reason that Take-Two's CEO Paul Eibeler was voted by MarketWatch "The Worst American CEO in 2005." Paul Eibeler is a liar who got caught lying to the world in the "Hot Coffee" mod scandal." Take-Two buries in its aforementioned 10-K, in Section 7, that there might be more "Hot Coffee" material in other Take-Two games that are already out there. Did Take-Two tell you that?
I prepped Senator Hillary Clinton for her July 2005 news conference on the Hot Coffee matter. I convinced her that what I and others were saying about Take-Two was true. She went with it, and three days later the ESRB proved to the world that I had told her the truth. The US House of Representatives voted 355-21 to condemn and investigate Take-Two for its fraud. That FTC investigation is in full swing, and yet Take-Two tells the world in its 10-K that the multiplicity of shareholder derivative actions based on this proven fraud are baseless. Even King Canute had the sense not to order the tide not to come in. Take-Two's tide will come in, and it will drown Elevation Partners.
Bono, whom are you going to believe as you make a decision whether to buy Take-Two? Are you going to believe the liars who got caught lying, or are you going to believe a fellow believer in Christ who has been targeted for actual harm by Take-Two and its dissembling Philadelphia lawyers at Blank Rome?
Let me tell you about that, in conclusion. I received yesterday a letter from the Justice Department informing me that it has opened a criminal investigation of the efforts, involving Take-Two and its giant Philadelphia law firm, Blank Rome, to violate criminal statute 18 USC 241 in order to harass me into silence about Take-Two.
I could fill another ten pages with descriptions of the criminal activity by Take-Two and Blank Rome toward me, but I can tell you about all that if and when we meet.
I am trying to keep you, dear brother, from being run over by a careening bus. I do this to help you. A brother in Christ has now warned you. Now, do the right thing, in His powerful name I pray.
In Jesus Christ, Jack Thompson
Amidst claims of Dual Shock controllers being used "as biofeedback, operant conditioning systems" to desensitise the act of killing, it's perhaps easy to dismiss the claims of Jack Thompson. However surely the issue of children playing Mature rated titles has to be one taken up by the country and its government as a whole; educating parents that not all videogames are about collecting 100 coins anymore, rather then targeting those who create material that serves a certain demand and purpose to those mature enough to make informed decisions.
It's also worth bearing in mind that to-date no relationship between Take-Two or Elevation Partners has been officially confirmed or announced by either party, with only The New York Post's original article making the claim thus far.
TVG will no doubt have more from Jack Thompson soon...