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Grand Theft Auto Led Teen to Kill 1311

Posted by Zonk
from the personal-responsibility-is-for-old-people dept.
Varg Vikernes writes "FOXNews reports on a lawsuit that claims the video game 'Grand Theft Auto' led a teenager to shoot two police officers and a dispatcher to death in 2003, mirroring violent acts depicted in the popular game. 'What has happened in Alabama is that four companies participated in the training of Devin... to kill three men,' attorney Jack Thompson told The Tuscaloosa News, which reported the suit's filing. Thompson is also filing suit against Wal-Mart, Gamestop, Take-Two and Sony." Gamespot has coverage of this story as well. Thompson has made something of a career out of lawsuits of this nature.
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Grand Theft Auto Led Teen to Kill

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  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:53AM (#11699883)
    You have a point. But your headline could be tailored to the specific situation:

    Parents allow video game to raise child

    Seriously, I mean next thing you know we're going to start blaming homosexuality on Will and Grace. Give it a break people. Or rather, get a dining table and stop eating your freaking meals in front of your TV. It's a form of entertainment, not a shrine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:56AM (#11699931)
    Faux news reports on thousands of Iraqi families bringing lawsuits against the US government for sponsoring and developing PS2 war games and using these games to induce young US recruits for a glamarous battle in Iraq and soon to be Iran (TV schedules are already penned for an october suprise!!).

  • Serious subject.... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Jimpqfly (790794) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @10:59AM (#11700002) Homepage Journal
    Strange this kind of thing never happen in EU ... (or I'm not informed). But why ?
  • Frivilous Lawsuits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phidipides (59938) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:00AM (#11700014) Homepage
    Do other countries have frivilous lawsuits of this sort, or is it primarily a US-only thing? The idea that you can get rich by suing someone, or that misfortune entitles you to not just fair compensation but riches, is one that I wish could be changed. As an example of how these suits affect me personally, I hate that my health insurance costs are so high; perhaps the costs aren't all due to malpractice suits, but they definitely make up a significant part of it.

    One thought I've had as to how these suits could be curbed is to allow judges in civil cases to set a bond, similar to what is done in criminal cases. Since lawyers currently take any case based on the fact that they get a (large) percentage of the settlement, there is no cost to sue, and a huge cost to defend. The person bringing the suit would have to put up the bond, and they would get it back when the case was settled or went to jury. If the case was later thrown out by the judge then the bond would not be returned, and might even go to the defendent to help with legal costs. In cases where obvious harm was done the judge could set the bond very low, but for trivial suits this could become a disincentive for bringing the suit in the first case.

    Does any other country do this? How do other countries prevent frivilous lawsuits?
  • by rlp (11898) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:08AM (#11700179)
    In most other countries, the loser of a law suit pays their own legal expenses AND the legal expenses of the winner. That's not the case in the US, where trial lawyers can play law suit lotto. You lose, doesn't cost anything to play again.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:12AM (#11700258) Journal
    I wish I was a judge and in on this case. I would listen, give the defense plenty of leeway - i mean make them think they won - and then slap the idiot kid so hard with the book that his great great grandfather would feel it. Then try and get the stupid lawyer disbared.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:23AM (#11700459)
    There should definitely be a "-1 Not Funny" mod. As well as a "+1 Well-Executed Troll" mod.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Golias (176380) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:27AM (#11700537)
    What's wrong with people that they think a game that allows you to beat up women, shoot cops and steal cars is fun?

    Nothing. Every healthy mind has fantasies about taboo behavior of some kind or another.

    Next question.
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:29AM (#11700562) Journal
    Quoted in extenso this reply, which contains a ***VERY GOOD*** link
    If by "The Rich" you mean
    Cheap Labor Conservatives [conceptualguerilla.com] then, yes.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by R.Caley (126968) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:29AM (#11700564)
    What the fuck is wrong with this kid, and his parents?

    Proposal: if your minor child is convicted of a crime you get hit with a proportion of the sentence dependent on the age of the child. (100% at 5 years old, 0% at 18, not sure what the interpolation function should be).

  • by geek_xyu (814278) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:30AM (#11700578)
    Remember the good ol days before grand theft auto. No body ever killed anyone and people certainly never would have stolen from someone else. Horrible game companies.. Oh yea and how did this kid get a gun? Interesting.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flithm (756019) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:30AM (#11700586) Homepage
    People are so quick to blame the parents, and in most cases I think that this is true, we need to place blame on parents... especially for smaller things.

    But in cases where such an extreme act has occurred I don't think that parental upbringing is the totality of what's going on. Sometimes parents do everything right and still end up with a serial killer.

    There's a thing called free will, plus the randomness of genetics. You can't always blame the parents. Just wait till your kid shoots someone and see how you feel about being put on trial for the murder even though you had nothing to do with it and you were a model parent.

    And just so you know, if you ever spend any time in a mental institute for children you'll know what I mean. This happens a lot, sometimes it's the parents fault, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's them having been born into a society that just doesn't support them, and other times it's just a crossed wire in their brain... maybe one that didn't short circuit in day 43 of year 15. Who knows, but the point is -- you shouldn't be so quick to judge!

    ---

    http://timesync.homeip.net
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:40AM (#11700760)
    There is nothing wrong with the lawyer. He's just doing his job, which is getting his client off the hook.

    That would be true if the article were about a criminal trial, but this is a CIVIL suit. It's all about money. So, basically, the lawyer has no ethics and thinks there's money to be made.

  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by F34nor (321515) * on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:46AM (#11700867)
    There are also first world countries where the kids play violent video games all day long and never ever go out a kill people. It called Japan. The problem here is at least three fold.

    1. Questionable Parenting.
    2. Culture of violence.
    3. Easy access to high level weapons.

    Remove any of those legs of the tripod and you can reduce this kind of thing to a manageable level. Not to say I don't feel for the argument. After playing GTA for long enough you do start to see the world in GTA. No would I go out and get an AK-47 and some body armor and start going postal on the world? No, why should I? If I had been ass raped by my red-state Nascar dad and ignored by my Meth addicted mother, only to go to school to get the shit kicked out of me by anti-intellectual assholes and had access to the ammo dump I might (not)think a little differently.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Chosen Reject (842143) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:50AM (#11700926)
    How about not being human. There are a lot of people (philosophers mainly) who discuss what exactly is it to be human. Aristotle said (and this is not a direct quote) that a chair is a chair because it has "chair-ness". I propose that to be human, or have "human-ness", killing someone in cold blood is ruled out.
  • Re:Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by azuravian (850674) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:52AM (#11700968)
    What requirement do you need to say that something is solicited towards minors. I have a 6 year old son, and I can say that nothing that he watches or reads (ditto for my 13 year old nephew) has adverts for GTA, or Mercenaries, etc.
    Now, the shows that I watch, and the magazines I read, on the other hand, do. So, I would be more inclined to say that parents are letting their children watch shows they shouldn't be or read mags they shouldn't be if they are seeing ads for GTA, etc.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Etherwalk (681268) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:53AM (#11700980)
    War movies generally had a strong sense of right and wrong attached to them, with the belief that the side you're following is doing right. It's hardly the same as Grand Theft Auto. Of course the parents are responsible, but that doesn't mean that they're the only ones that are. A company should be responsible for the content of the product that they're marketing.
  • by decipher_saint (72686) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:57AM (#11701053) Homepage
    Do you really have to ask? It's all the things we are not allowed to do. It's an action movie, it's every car chase, it's every gun fight and every mob war you've ever seen on television or in the movies.

    GTA is a role playing game, but instead of traditional iconography you freely roam mythical American landscapes and slay the dragons of every Cop show or mob movie. So if you really want to know from whence GTA gains it popularity figure out why car chases, gun fights and excessive violence is an inseperable part of worldwide pop-culture.

    It should always be stated when referring to GTA that it is also a game of free will, you can kill someone with a baseball bat if you want to, there are no real rammifications to this action other than getting "arrested" losing your money and getting your weapons taken away. So far as I have seen, the only time when it is necesarry to kill another in-game character is when the plot has morally justified their extermination to the gamer, you are not obligated nor rewarded for killing "non-guilty" NPCs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @11:57AM (#11701056)
    The difference between the US legal system, and those in other western nations, is the difference in size of awards.

    I have a cousin who does health law in Canada, and the awards granted in malpractice cases is MUCH lower than in the US. Personal injury awards are much lower as well. The result is that there is just not as much incentive to "roll the dice", because even if you win, you are unlikely to receive a multi million dollar settlement. As mentioned before, loser pays court costs helps to keep these stupid suits in check as well. Not a big deal if I am trying to sue the guy next door, as both of our costs will be about the same. However, if you try it against Coke, and you lose, you now get to pay for their 15 man legal team, and the mysterious 6 months of billing time accumulated, over the 2 month time period.

    For example, this quote came from a Canadian Law firm, and their research on the differences between awards in Canada and the US

    Regarding US awards
    while average awards for compensatory damages in such cases range from $600,000 to $1 million, the average punitive damage award for insurer bad faith is 10 times that figure, in the range of $7-10 million;

    Regarding Canadaian awards
    the highest punitive damage award sustained by a Canadian appellate court is only $1 million (and even that number is 10 times higher than the most recent award upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal)

    For instance. The recent suit against NBC, by the viewer who suffered "mental anguish" after puking while watching Fear Factor, claiming damages of 2 million. In Canada, the court might hear the case, but they would never even consider awarding 2 million dollars. They might give you the cost of the meal that you puked up, and then send you to hockey school to learn some toughness. So lawyers are reluctant to take these cases, because they don't want 10% of a happy meal, and 20 minutes of ice time. And even if by some miracle, they did award 2 million, the appelate court would never uphold the lower court decision.

    Short answer, to get rid of the frivilous lawsuits, you have to get rid of the huge awards.
  • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:11PM (#11701272) Homepage

    Exactly. I live in the Netherlands, and have been pretty close to a case where cleaners threw a sofa to the ground from a balcony, 8 stories up. There was an area they had put warnings signs around, put it was a pretty light sofa, the wind caught it, and it hit somebody who was taken to hospital. The victim was very lucky, his back and shoulder were hit but it could have been much worse. His back healed, but he has limited use of his shoulder (keeps pain, movement somewhat limited), and this will not heal. There was a civil suit, but it was eventually settled, at about 11,000 euro.

    Also, in the Netherlands, lawyers aren't allowed to work on a "no cure, no pay" basis, since that would lead to frivolous damage law suits - although this is slowly changing, experiments with allowing it are being held, I believe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:17PM (#11701364)
    The New Deal of the '30s was when personal responsibility died.

    Yeah, he should have just let all those people die, that would have been GREAT huh.

    You do realize that if FDR hadn't made so many concessions to the socialists, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party would have taken over? The New Deal took a lot of steam out of them by winning over voters who were not really radical commies, but wanted social welfare. And there were a hell of a lot of them in the 30s.
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JerkBoB (7130) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:24PM (#11701489)
    But in cases where such an extreme act has occurred I don't think that parental upbringing is the totality of what's going on. Sometimes parents do everything right and still end up with a serial killer.

    Look, until the kid is $LEGALLY_ADULT_AGE, they are their parents' responsibility. That's just how it works, and that is how it should work. During the day, the parents are responsible for getting Junior to the lockup (school), where the school takes responsibility for babysitting. Outside of lockup, the parents have responsibility for whatever their offspring do.

    Many families have the situation in which both parents work, and are therefore unavailable to direcly monitor the activities of their offspring until after they get home. This does not absolve the parents of responsibility. If they can't ensure that their child will not be antisocial while not being babysat by them or the school, they have to do something about it. Hire a babysitter or some other surrogate who will take responsibility for monitoring the child(ren).

    Most parents have the luxury of having raised children who will for the most part avoid egregiously antisocial behavior without direct supervision. Those who don't have that luxury have a responsibility to protect society from their antisocial offspring.

    I know all of that goes counter to the "but it's someone else's fault!" mentality that seems to have pervaded much of Western society, but until that mentality is enshrined in law (could be coming...), parents just have to deal with the fact that they chose to reproduce, and that it's their offspring, so they have to be responsible for what their kids do.

    I say all this as a parent, who takes his responsibilities as such very seriously.
  • by SeanDuggan (732224) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:25PM (#11701499) Homepage Journal
    I disagree. Yes, in some cases, the parents are pretty clearly not doing their proper jobs as parents. But, as any parent will tell you, you can't keep your child safe. You can't be sure they'll grow up right. The world is a terrifyingly random place and, despite your best efforts, your kid may still become a crazed killer. All you can do is do your best and hope that they wind up making the right choices based upon your example.

    On the other hand, parents who clearly have entirely beglected their child, not only those who didn't bother to feed them, but also the ones who leave the raising of the child to nannies and daycares, barely interacting with them, those people should indeed be held liable. I'm sure someone's bound to retort to me that some families, such as single parent or low income, have little choice about being gone for most of the day, but I've known families where it was just the mother and she worked 80-hour weeks. They still interacted as a family. *sigh* Sometimes it seemed even more likely with the two-income executive set... I'm not a proponent of keeping the women in the kitchen, but I am a strong believer that if you have kids younger than school age, one of the parents should take care of the children as their primary job. Heck, given taxes and the cost of daycare, it's sometimes even cheaper...

  • Simple Test (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sigh Phi (324315) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:44PM (#11701792)
    Take sample of population of GTA players. Take sample of U.S. population as whole. Take sample of Ala. population. What is the murder rate in each population?

    I remember reading an introduction to statistics many years ago that used D&D and suicide hysteria as an example. To wit: RPG players had a lower rate of suicide than the teenage population as a whole. D&D lowers the suicide rate, by that metric.

    Any guesses as to what GTA is accomplishing for the people of Alabama, the state with the sixth highest murder rate in the United States (and well above the national average: 7.4 vs 5.5 per 100,000)?
  • Tax collecter joke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SeanDuggan (732224) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @12:48PM (#11701843) Homepage Journal
    LOL!!! Thats funny. :) So is the inclusion of tax collector with murderer and copyright infringer :)
    Nice to know someone appreciates it. It amused me because there's always that line in the Bible about Jesus eating with prostitutes and tax collecters. Today, tax collecters are considered to be more annoying than immoral, so it seems odd to us. But honestly, I do suspect there are indeed lawyers out there who (perhaps even unconsciously) don't properly represent their client because they don't believe their client should get away with their crime.

    That said, ever notice how all these crime and law shows on TV never have the main characters defending someone they know is guilty? Seemingly guilty clients turn out to be innocent or obviously guilty clients confess, but we're never forced with a moral and ethical conflict, at least out of all the episodes I've seen.

  • Obl PA reference. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:04PM (#11702102)
    Parents allow video game to raise child

    here [penny-arcade.com] you go.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:04PM (#11702116)
    I love video games, been playing them since I was like 3 years old. I love violent video games. GTA: VC is one of the best games, period. It is probobly one of the most fun, best written, best produced games ever, even after beating it multiple times it retains it's fun. I also love the Unreal Tournament series, the Quake series, the Doom series, and so on. I used to play Quake Team Fortress competitively, and was rather good.

    Yet I'm not a violent person. I don't get in to fights, haven't been in one since junior high school and even then I only defended myself, I never struck or attempted to strike the other kid. I don't believe in using force to impose my will on other people.

    I also love violent movies, music with angry/violent lyrics, and I'm even so evil as to own and enjoy shooting a gun.

    So what's going on then? Why didn't I learn by example from all this entertainment? Why aren't I the violent product of what you seem to think is an overly violent society?

    Perhaps could it be your theory is totally wrong, and that people are capable of enjoying violence as entertainment, but being able to seperate it from reality?
  • Re:I'm pissed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hb253 (764272) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:52PM (#11702806)
    That's all nice, but sometimes you get a Ted Bundy no matter how well you raise your child. Parents are very important, but sometimes DNA decides to try some variations. I don't think a parent should be punished for that kind of situation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @07:43PM (#11706753)
    Because we keep the gun we receive in the army ourself (this is a milice army, everbody does it). And with ammunition. This is in case of "war" (even Switzerland is neutral), but there is _NO_ gun crime with these weapons. Everything is with the mentality.

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