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A letter to Take-Two regarding possible protest tomorrow - Andrew Rhodes

Aug. 24th, 2006

11:03 am - A letter to Take-Two regarding possible protest tomorrow

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Andrew Rhodes
Wilmington, NC 28401

Take Two Interactive Software, Inc
Attn: PR Relations, Rockstar Games

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Andrew Rhodes and I am a 38 year old parent of 1 10 year old child.
I have for the last 25+ years been an enthusiast and player of video games, both computer and console. It has been a part of my life as much as any other form of media has been, whether that media be in the form of books, television, music, movies, magazines, newspaper, or even word of mouth. Video games have also been a part of my son's life, just as other forms of media as I mentioned for myself above. I and my son have experienced a variety of genres within each of those mediums. We both have our likes and dislikes.

And as my son's own parent, I know him very well. Better than nearly every other individual on this planet knows him. As his specific parent, I, as informed as I can be, make decisions that I feel are in the best interest of my own son. I try never to dictate to others what is or is not appropriate for someone else or their children. I offer opinions, as is my right, and suggest other resources for individuals to research to make informed decisions for themselves or their own children. I never condemn nor condone any material as regards what is or is not appropriate for someone else or their child. That is not my right or my job.

Over the past year, as you are aware, there have been many individuals, organizations, and even government officials who have spoken out against your company and its choices of games to develop. Many are mere opinions, which is quite acceptable in a free country such as America. Opinions, positive or negative, have always been welcome, whether they contain details that are true in whole, part, or not at all. After all, opinions lead to debate. And debate, can lead to knowledge, even if some opinions are not wholly truthful.

But, there have also been individuals, organizations, and even government officials who have attempted, using lies and deceit, to dictate their own personal and/or religious beliefs upon others through policy and/or legislation. Many have spoken out against such policy and legislation in the name of the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. The counter-argument has been that video games are not protected as Speech. This argument may continue back and forth for some time.
However, there is another right being violated by the creation of such policies and legislation. That right being the Parental Right to make decisions for one's OWN children. They have covered up the desire to violate parent's raights through lies and misuse of incomplete or misleading studies. They have exploited the tragedies of other individuals to garner sympathy through misrepresentation. They have even attempted to interfere in some legal cases to manipulate those cases to server their agendas. And even when the attempt to manipulate those cases fails, they continue to claim otherwise.

But I am not one of the gullible. I do not blindly follow the pack I do not give in to insults or abuse. I do not change my position simply because someone makes false claims or even false generalizations about myself, my son, or those I have something in common with. It is that type of bullying and abuse which should be condemned, not a fictional video game, book, movies, or other form of media.

So why write all this to you? Why single you out? It has come to my attention that on Friday, 25Aug2006, a protest has been planned to take place in front of your Manhattan Corporate office. As I understand it, individuals/organizations (as yet identities are unconfirmed are planning to protest your office regarding the yet-to-be-released video game Bully. While it is the right of anyone to have and speak an opinion on any subject, it is not the right of any individual or organization to deprive other individuals either their Freedom of Speech Rights nor their Parental Rights as it applies to making appropriateness decisions for their OWN children.

I, as an intelligent individual, know that rating systems are recommendations, not judgments, on the material being rated, irregardless of method of the rating system. I also am aware that retailers who have policies that adhere to those rating systems are also not passing judgments on the material being sold, but rather attempting to leave the decision of appropriateness in the hands of the parents, allowing the specific parents to make their OWN decisions of appropriateness for their OWN children. But, the policies and legislation being sought by other individuals, organizations, and government officials, attempt to take that Parental Right of make decisions away from the parent and place it in the hands of other individuals (such as judges and juries) or organizations. One such example is the recent claim of an individual to demand, through the courts, that they be granted a copy of the game Bully so that THEY could determine whether said game was or was not appropriate for OTHER PEOPLE'S children. Success or failure of that demand is actually irrelevant as intent was clear. This same individual attempted to have their beliefs dictated through legislation in a variety of states. They have also attempted to demand that certain games be banned altogether in a variety of states by attempting to circumvent Freedom of Speech by way of "public nuisance" laws. Once again, clear evidence of an attempt to dictate to others what is or is not appropriate for other individuals and their children.

So why state what you already know? Because I want it made VERY clear that I am a well informed individual. I also want it clear that if I could, I would be there Friday as well. But not joining the protestors. I would be there in counter protest against them. Not merely in support of Take-Two/Rockstar, but rather, in support of both Freedom of Speech and my Parental Right as a parent to make decisions for myself and MY OWN child. I do not require other individuals, organizations, or the government to revoke my rights to make decisions for my child. Just because my decisions do not conform to their personal or religious beliefs does NOT mean I am making bad decisions. Many individuals raise their children with beliefs, both personal and religious, that I find repugnant. But that does not mean they should have their parental rights overridden by policy or legislation. Whether I believe that the material they expose their children to is appropriate or not, it is not MY right to dictate that belief upon others.

Whether the protest were at your company or any other, rest assured, my defense of Freedom of Speech and the protection of Parental Rights would be the same. I have a variety of positive and negative viewpoints regarding Take-Two and its subsidiaries, but none that would require me to force my beliefs upon you or others. If there were any message I would direct to you, it would be to continue with expanding the imaginations of others, whether that is viewed in a positive or negative light by others.

I have sent a copy of this letter to the New York Times because, just as the protestors may want, and get, attention, letting people know their stance, I think it important that I try to let other people know that there IS another side to this story.

I understand that the same individual who claimed there would be a protest on Friday, also indicated that they were also contacting the city's District Attorney. In what regards is not clear, but in case it had to do with this protest, I would have sent a copy of this email also to him. However, I do not have their email address. The city's website has as webform for contacting the may, but limits the amount of information entered. And the governor of the state also has a webform instead of an email address. I, therefore, cannot get a copy of this email showing my support for Freedom of Speech and the protection of Parental Rights to the city DA.

In all honesty, I doubt that the New York Times will consider my comments worth reporting as only the sensationalism of the protest will matter in the eyes of the media. But, nevertheless, I will attempt to make my voice heard. One can only hope. Even if I am not a citizen of New York, or viewed as "morally adequate" let alone "morally superior" in the eyes of some, my stance of Protection of Parental Rights and allowing parents to make their OWN decisions doesn't require me to be anyone of note, simply because I am not supporting the idea of dictating my personal or religious beliefs upon others.

I wish you good luck with your endeavors and hope that events tomorrow and in the future are peaceful for all involved.


Andrew Rhodes


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