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Author Topic: RPG Hate Issue - important  (Read 19030 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2002, 05:30:43 AM »

Hello,

Here is a for-instance scenario.

1) A Jewish employee of a community-help center has his life threatened, to his face, by a volunteer at that center, who also calls him a "filthy Kike." The employee also has his car window smashed the next day.

2) The center's manager fires the employee, citing "It's for the good of the center and better for your safety."

There are names for these kind of events. They include slander, defamation, assault, discrimination, and harassment. They are fully actionable.

So, I'm not interested in justifying the "families' outlooks." I'm not interested in "seeing the boss' perspective." Frankly, I'm astounded that anyone would waste a moment on trying to do so - these actions are not tolerable in our society. It doesn't matter what these people feel; feelings are not the issue.

Raven's former employer owes him money and a written, official apology. The fellow who assaulted him needs to go to jail and face charges. I think these points are rock-solid and rooted in the foundation of our society. I can't imagine any other outlook on this issue - or discussion of any other aspect of the issue - that deserves a moment of attention.

Best,
Ron

Best,
Ron
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Clay
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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2002, 06:20:53 AM »

I'm going to stick in an explicitly Christian perspective/advice, since nobody has ventured forth yet.  I don't claim to speak for all Christians, but I am a member of the largest protestant denomination in the U.S, and there's a couple of points of church doctrine that the church has made sure everyone is pretty clear on:

1. We get along with other religions. We might disagree with them, but we don't antagonise them, we don't preach against them, and we don't take action against them or their members.

2. Violence is as a means to an end is right out. It made God's top 10 list. Given the context, I don't think he was fooling around.

The said, I thnk another good course of action might be to discuss these issues with area clergy (including your own).  I suspect that even Wisconsin Synod Lutherans aren't going to be keen on this sort of thing. It's not much, but it does start to work at that power leverage.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Christoffer Lernö
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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2002, 07:43:37 AM »

Very well argued Ron. Makes me really proud to be a member of the Forge.

Clay's advice is pretty interesting in that it could be used as a means of damage control. If you get the local church to say it's ok, that might help taking the heat off the community center which might be a strategic as well as considerate thing to do (I'm thinking about the people has needs for it)
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formerly Pale Fire
[Yggdrasil (in progress) | The Evil (v1.2)]
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Wart
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« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2002, 08:34:35 AM »

Quote from: Pale Fire
Clay's advice is pretty interesting in that it could be used as a means of damage control. If you get the local church to say it's ok, that might help taking the heat off the community center which might be a strategic as well as considerate thing to do (I'm thinking about the people has needs for it)


And furthermore, getting the local churches to distance themselves from the violent action this guy has taken and the threats he's made is going to seriously undermine the basis of his argument.
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Clay
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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2002, 09:13:58 AM »

Quote from: Pale Fire
If you get the local church to say it's ok, that might help taking the heat off the community center which might be a strategic as well as considerate thing to do


I'm not advocating getting the clergy to approve of role-playing. Some denominations are going to have legitimate issues with it. Many denominations will also have a problem with Wicca.

I'm talking about appealing to their real core issues. Christ died because of God's love for us. To use His name as justification for hatred and violence violates one of the principle commandments: Thou shalt not take The Lord's name in vain.  In more modern language (from the NIV) "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."  Check Exodus 20 for the full list.

When seeking allies, it is important not to convert them to your side, but to show them how they are strengthened by your cause.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Zak Arntson
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« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2002, 10:21:24 AM »

Here's what my wife said in a chat:

Quote from: Brandy

I think it would be pertinent for the center to phrase it in a way that they were trying to protect the children.  Legally, they should be informing the parents if some act of violence was performed on their grounds.  I doubt they'd do it, at this point, but it would cover their rear ... they'd be informing parents.  Kind of a warning of potential disturbance at the center.  I can't formulate this properly in my mind.

Last year there was an alleged act of abuse on the playground at our school.  One student was doing something inappropriate with another student.  The school, to cover their butt, sent a letter home informing parents.  You see what I mean?  The center could send a letter home stating that an act of violence (harassment and destruction of property) was performed in their parking lot (it was the parking lot, right?)

That way... the community would know what this "ring-leader" had done (violent acts) without the center directly pointing fingers. They'd be covering their butt legally... and uncovering his. (the ringleader's)


I don't know how much support you're getting from the Center, but this could be a good way to get the concerned folks to rethink their prejudices. Especially if they don't know about the threats & damage.

And if some people need a real kick in the pants, there could even be some mention of, "It's hard to believe that religious intolerance, which lost us over 3,000 American lives last year, is harming members of our own community."

-Zak
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2002, 11:26:55 AM »

Hi Zak,

This center has fired Raven already. It's expressed its "defense" against the opposition in no uncertain terms - by joining it in its persecution of Raven and thereby hoping to come to no further harassment.

Providing them with some rationale that they could have used instead of doing this isn't going to solve anything. The concern is the injustice and crimes committed toward Raven by the guy in question and by the center itself, not anything about this center's fate or well-being. They are entirely off my radar screen for those purposes.

Best,
Ron
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2002, 12:51:11 PM »

Ron,
I had registered that he had lost his job, but I misread Raven's log (I can no longer go into work, due to safety concerns, thus I have no more job.), wrongly believing his loss of work voluntary.

So yes, my suggestion won't help. And yes, crimes have been committed by this individual and the center, and it's frustrating to imagine them going unpunished.

BEGIN EDIT
It may have been unclear but what my wife was saying was (contrary to what I thought): "I understand that Raven was fired. I think the center owes Raven many things, including an apology.  But what may help Raven in the short-term is if the center sent out a letter to parents.  A good way to get the center to do this is if they believe it will help cover their own butts.  But ultimately it would inform parents who were following this 'ringleader' that he had been violent toward Raven.  The part that would be most useful is the center could simply state the facts; i.e. the events that transpired without implicating or slandering anyone by stating names."
END EDIT

Raven & Ron,
Dragon magazine recently put some effort into allowing convicts to receive their subscriptions in jail. You could petition Dragon for some sort of assistance (publicity or better yet, financial). Granted, Dragon had some financial interest with prison subscribers, but being assaulted and unlawfully fired may rally their support.

-Zak
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2002, 04:08:59 PM »

A memo discussing the cons of blocking Web access to RPG sites leads to threats, violence, and loss of employment?  Absurd.  Bottom line - Ron's exactly right, the society I *think* we all live in does not allow such things to go unpunished.

I've already let Raven know privately that if he decides the general public can help him, I'll do what ever little bits I can, supportively, informationally or financially.  And I told him that he shouldn't be shy about making that request.

Ron (and the rest of the Forge) - the same is true of a general "defence of RPG" fund/organization/whatever.  I don't know enough to help in a big way, but I'll happily contribute some time and a few greenbacks to any such effort.  I think this is a good, important idea no matter what ends up happening with Raven's specific situation, so I'm interested no matter what.

Gordon
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2002, 09:01:32 AM »

I've been letting this simmer, and had to come back to it.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Raven's former employer owes him money and a written, official apology. The fellow who assaulted him needs to go to jail and face charges. I think these points are rock-solid and rooted in the foundation of our society. I can't imagine any other outlook on this issue - or discussion of any other aspect of the issue - that deserves a moment of attention.


As to the fellow who assaulted him, that's clearly a criminal and a civil matter and should be pursued. The man who spoke against him such that he was fired is also liable for slander. But the employer might be within his rights.

I don't know what state is Raven's home, or the state of the law in that state; but unless Raven has a written employment contract, he's subject to the law for "at will" employees. Now, this is tricky. If you are an at will employee, your employer can fire you at any time with minimal notice. Of course, he can't do it for any reason--he can't do it because he doesn't like your race, or your politics, or your religion, or for unionizing efforts, all of which would be actionable. But he can do it for no reason. That is, if there is clear evidence that Raven was fired because of his religious beliefs, he has a cause of action against the employer; but if the employer didn't say that was the reason, there's no cause of action there. Firing someone because their continued employment would be bad for business is not actionable (except where it is clearly done to prevent unionizing, and that is what is deemed "bad for business").

I don't think Raven's employer can be said legally to owe him anything (unless there's a contract).

We get this problem all the time in New Jersey--people who are involved in attempting to organize unions are suddenly fired without explanation, and courts respond that the employer has the right to terminate the employee without giving a reason; as long as the employer didn't say it was for one of the proscribed reasons, he can fire anyone he wants.

Now, if you're suing everyone, certainly put the employer on the list; his attorney will probably get him off the list quite quickly, but at least word will get around that firing in that kind of situation will get you legal expenses. But focus on the person whose public accusations caused the problem.

--M. J. Young
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2002, 09:07:23 AM »

Hi M.J.,

That's fair, as a cautionary point. A lot will depend on how that state views the issue, as well as on how the employer justifies the termination. That's where the Minnesota lawyers know the game and we don't, so my view of specifically "what they should do" is pretty minor.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2002, 09:22:14 AM »

Holy crap, Raven.

I'll add my voice to M.J.'s, with all the disclaimers that come with being a non-practicing attorney.  You might contact your state's Bar Association to drum up an attorney who might bring a case on your behalf.  Also check to see if you have a Legal Aid office locally and see if you can get some representation.  You absolutely have some strong points on your side, not to mention the potential harm to your family.  I'd also contact the police and the District Attorney's office.  It's important to show you've tried to notify the proper authorities.  Underline that you have a small child who is at risk.

Is there enough of a supportive community there for you to rally public outrage to your side?  Death threats and vandalism are newsworthy.  If there's a local paper, you might contact them and see if they'll run a story, preferably one that lauds the center for its contribution to the community.

If you have any other questions, I can't give legal advice, but I may be able to offer some other suggestions for places to go and legal resources to contact.  Feel free to e-mail me, and good luck.

Best,

Blake
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greyorm
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« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2002, 09:58:04 AM »

Heya all, an update, as promised.

Alas, MJ is correct. I spoke with my attorney (from Legal Aid) yesterday and discovered that Minnesota is one of those states with "at will" employment, exactly as MJ describes, so I have no recourse against the Center itself for its decision to terminate the position for the reasons given.

If the firing could be show to be due religious discrimination, then I would have a definite case, but given the situation, that would require a court case first to determine if there was religious discrimination on the employer's part.

I'm not sure if I accept that, and I'm in contact with the local ACLU about the issue, so I'll see what they have to say about it and if they can provide any assistance or there are any laws or rulings on the books which cater to this sort of situation.

However, if I cannot obtain unemployment compensation from the State, then I can take the Center to court for such, due to my firing not being related to my ability or on-the-job behavior. Also, I can still sue the private individual for slander and damages, and plan on going through with that.

I have also been told secondhand that the individual who began all this is planning to write an apology and admission that his statements were false. I've requested that, in addition, the same apology letter be distributed to everyone to whom the statements were made.

Once and if that occurs, I can't say what the next step will be.

This is an edit to the post: My lawyer and I had another chat today, and apparently I mistook what he said yesterday, or he was unclear -- doesn't really matter -- but I can't go after the Center for my unemployment compensation.

Apparently, what he meant (and which I took to be two seperate notions), is that I can contact our state's Human Rights department and have them investigate.  If anything comes out of that, THEN I can take the Center to court.

Thought I should point that out quick so as not to confuse anyone as to the state of the law. This has no bearing on the slander case, however, which I still can pursue.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #28 on: October 02, 2002, 11:23:15 AM »

Hi Raven,

It seems as if you've managed to stay upright during the whole thing, which is great. If suing the Center is not possible, then at least there's the secondary issue that you mentioned, of whether you get unemployment and so forth. We also talked about what your "record" says, in job terms; if the Center is unwilling to release a clean bill and a good recommendation, I imagine a court would wonder why not (pending of course what a real lawyer says).

It may not be appropriate to expect a public answer from you about the next issue I'll bring up, so let me ask it of everyone, as a thought-experiment. Say you were in Raven's situation, and the person who assaulted you, etc, apologized and even did the whole written thing to everyone he'd talked to. Would you continue to press charges, or would you drop them?

Again, I am not expecting Raven to answer this, and actually I'd prefer that no one did, here on the forum. But our personal answers about this, to ourselves and for ourselves, seem to me to be very significant.

Best,
Ron
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xiombarg
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« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2002, 01:03:36 PM »

While gathering links to pentially helpful people/organizations/sites, has anyone mentioned the Escapist yet?

http://www.theescapist.com

It's one of the best gaming advocacy websites I've seen.
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