Disbarred lawyer Jack Thompson has written an open letter to Take-Two Interactive Chairman Strauss Zelnick in which he claims the company’s tumbling share price is the direct result of God’s righteous anger.
Thompson lost his license to practice law in September 2008, thanks to his outrageous behavior in the courtroom, his refusal to recognize his actions as inappropriate and his complete lack of willingness to restrain himself in the future. But to the shock of absolutely no one, the end of Thompson’s legal career had little impact on his obsession with videogames, and in particular with Strauss Zelnick and company at Take-Two, publisher of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, Bully, Manhunt and others, games which Thompson claims are being marketed to young children despite their mature content and the fact that they’ve been rated M (Mature) by the ESRB.
In his strangely civil letter, Thompson claims that God is “not amused” by Zelnick’s antics and attributes the company’s decline in value to nothing more or less than divine retribution, not just because of the games Take-Two publishes but also because of the shabby fashion in which Zelnick has treated Thompson over the years. He is also, as usual, unable to resist mentioning his 2005 appearance on 60 Minutes. The letter, in its entirety:
I hope this missive finds you and your family well. As you will recall, when we met in New York for a couple of hours on May 15, 2007, I mentioned to you that unless Take-Two cleaned up its corporate act (stopped marketing and selling its Mature-rated games to minors), there would be a wicked price to pay.
Since then Take-Two’s stock has gone from $26 to $7+ per share. I think God has put the world together in such a way that your company’s wrongdoing has made this fiscal reckoning unavoidable. Scripture says so.
At this time of new beginnings in the calendar year, I would strongly urge you, once again, to take the simple steps necessary to stop the marketing and sale of your company’s Mature games to kids. As you know, you sell them directly to kids with no age verification at Take-Two’s Rockstar site. You refuse to tell retail vendors that if you catch them selling your Mature games to kids then you will withhold product. All of this was both do-able and smart, but you have refused, despite my urgings.
I have been your company’s and its shareholders’ best friend in all this since I appeared on 60 Minutes in the spring of 2005, but you chose to characterize me as your company’s enemy, pledging to destroy me, and now the piper is being paid. God is not amused.
The harm you and your agents have done to me is predictable, as Jesus told his disciples: “The world hates you because it first hated me.” I’ll be fine, as God promises that “All things work to the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” I am called, are you? Jesus says, “I knock on the door, and anyone who answers, I will come in.” Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, calls you even now.
Please repent of your company’s sins. God will reward both it and you. Shalom, Jack Thompson.
The almost-pleasant tone of the email is belied by comments made by Thompson in an email sent to GamePolitics on December 26, in which he called Zelnick an “incompetent, reckless goofball” and said he was gearing up to lead a shareholder revolt against the current management team. “TTWO is today trading at about $7 per share. Zelnick blew it. Thompson today bought a bunch of Take-Two stock at the $7 figure,” Thompson wrote. “The reason Thompson has done this is to lead the effort by Take-Two shareholders to dump Zelnick. It is long overdue, and there are already rumblings that Zelnick’s tenure at Take-Two has been a disaster, as anyone still holding stock that could have been sold at $26 and is now worth $7 and falling, can attest.”
Thompson failed to mention how much Take-Two stock he purchased, but the amount is likely trivial. He has in fact been a Take-Two shareholder for three years, although he only invested a token amount in the company in late 2005 so he could rightfully attend the annual Take-Two shareholders meeting.
It’s hardly worth pointing out that Take-Two’s woes are far from unique in the current global economic crisis, and while questions about Zelnick’s business acumen in his steadfast refusal to play ball with EA may be relevant, Thompson’s rantings quite clearly are not. His letter, and his threats about a shareholder revolt, are noteworthy only because they cap off the year in which Thompson was finally brought to heel by the legal profession. We will no doubt continue to hear from him in the future, but as the book closes on 2008, so too does it close on our Jack.