Following a lively debate last night, the Utah State Senate passed HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin.
But photos taken during the Senate debate suggest that the influence of disbarred anti-game activist Jack Thompson stretched all the way from Miami to Salt Lake City, perhaps impacting the outcome of the HB 353 vote. As GamePolitics has previously reported, the bill was originally conceived by Thompson.
One of those who rose in support of HB 353 last night was Sen. Chris Buttars (R). A strong supporter of conservative causes, Buttars has been in political hot water in recent times over controversial remarks concerning African-Americans and gays.
Speaking during the debate, Buttars recounted the story of Devin Moore, the 18-year-old Grand Theft Auto gamer who killed two police officers and a dispatcher during a 2003 rampage in an Alabama police station. Jack Thompson later filed a $600 million wrongful death suit against Rockstar, Take-Two, Sony, Wal-Mart and GameStop in the case. Thompson, however, was later thrown off the case by an Alabama judge.
Buttars also commented on the developing teenage brain - another recurring theme of Thompson's. In fact, while following the live webcast of the debate, GP issued several tweets noting the apparent Thompson influence:
Sen. Buttars up now. He is Gayle Ruzicka's ally. He is telling the Devin Moore story (GTA player who killed 3 police in Alabama).
Clearly a Jack Thompson influence here. JT sued Rockstar, Sony, GameStop, Wal-Mart over the case until judge threw him off the case in 2005
Buttars now offering brain physiology lesson, also courtesy of the man from Miami.
This morning we received an e-mail from Salt Lake Tribune columnist Glen Warchol who forwarded a pair of pictures he took during the debate last night. The photos confirm the Thompson connection. In one, Buttars is seen reading from a book while addressing the Senate. In another, Jack Thompson's 2005 book Out of Harm's Way is shown resting on Buttars's desk on the Senate floor. The audio of Buttars' comments includes this verbatim quote of NIMF head Dr. David Walsh, found on page 182 of Thompson's book:
The impulse control center of the brain, the part of the brain that enables us to think ahead, consider consequences and manage urges, that's the part of the brain right behind our forehead called the prefrontal cortex. That's under construction during the teenage years. In fact, the wiring of that is not completed until the early twenties.
After reading the passage, Buttars told his Senate colleagues:
You got a problem here. You got an epidemic here... We need to pass this bill.
GamePolitics asked Thompson to comment:
I had never heard of Buttars until you wrote about him. I have never talked with him, never communicated with him. I'm delighted he read from my book. Most in the legislature, I assume have read it. I asked nobody to read from my book, and I would never do such a thing. But it's a fabulous book, as you know.
DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab an mp3 of Buttars channeling Thompson during last night's Utah Senate debate (3:29, 3mb).