My mother, the car

NASDAQ attack on Grand Theft Auto

Ever since Rockstar Games introduced Grand Theft Auto 3, moral-majority folks have been complaining nonstop about the game’s ultra-graphic, over-the-top violence. But now Christopher Byron, a financial writer for the New York Post, is trying a new tactic: He’s using NASDAQ to attack the parent company. In today’s Post, Byron published a 1,200-word screed that savages Take Two Interactive, which owns Rockstar Games.

The thing is, Byron can’t actually find much wrong with the company’s financials. Sure, it’s slightly off its peak of roughly $40, but it’s still about double where it was two years ago — and keep in mind, most of that increase took place during a bear market that mauled tech stocks mercilessly. Bryon also notes that the company’s accounting practices may soon be investigated by the SEC.

Still, that isn’t enough to really alarm a serious investor. So Bryon devotes more than half the article to attacking the morals of Grand Theft Auto — and, rather remarkably, urging investors to do “your fellow man a favor” by dumping the stock. He rails floridly against the game:

You can kill a cop, steal his gun, and then use it to shoot someone else. Or you can pick up a prostitute and have sex with her in the back of your stolen car, then beat her to death - or shoot her, bludgeon her, whatever you want. …

People, this is insane. This is 10,000 times worse than the worst thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy — or than any lie the feds think Martha Stewart ever told them, or any line in any song that Bruce Springsteen ever sang that rankled a cop in the Meadowlands.

And trust me when I tell you, Mr. Mayor, what Take-Two Interactive is blowing into your face every day is a whole lot worse than second-hand cigarette smoke.

Wow. Grand Theft Auto 3’s gameplay is worse than pedophilia, breaking stock-market laws, or causing lung cancer with cigarette smoke? I’m almost in awe of this guy’s moral dudgeon.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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