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RPG Hate Issue - important

Started by greyorm, September 27, 2002, 01:13:42 PM

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Quote from: Ron EdwardsWe 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).
The Center has issued me both a glowing written recommendation, and offered their use as a reference for the future. We also spoke about what to say if they were asked why I was there such a short time, and they offered that the best response, and what they will say, is, "It was a temporary position." These are good things.

As to your second question, I started thinking about how to handle the situation from a moral standpoint well before I ever sniffed the hint of an apology. I know what I'll do, given the circumstances and my personal beliefs.

It is an excellent question however, to ask yourself what you would do, and more importantly, why you are motivated to pursue that particular path.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Matt Gwinn

QuoteSay 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?
The first thing that should be done is evaluate the apology, and determine if it is an appology at all.

A true appology requires a person to one, realize that he was wrong, and two, feel truly sorry for his actions and their effect on the victim.  The "victim" part is key here.  Too often, appologies are provoked by fallout and not regret for the act happening in the first place.  An appology that is selfishly motivated to negate fallout is not an appology at all.  It is nothing more than a person's attempt to avoid the effects of their own actions.

Too often in life, people throw around the words "I'm sorry" without providing a lot of emotional or moral support for the statement.  I think, in part, this comes from parents and teachers constantly making children appologize for poor behavior, even when the child has no feelings in that regard.  It has been bred into us that an appology is a way to get yourself out of trouble (or lessen it anyway).

You really need to determine whether or not the apology is true and heartfelt or just an attempt to pull one's ass out of the fire he started.  This is why I have never understood the whole notion of forcing someone to appologize, as if that makes any difference whatsoever.  A true appology should be heartfelt and unprovoked be it by lawsuit, judicial decree or parental order.

,Matt Gwinn
Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at

Dr. Awkward

Quote from: Ron EdwardsSpecifically: there is no existing role-playing equivalent to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which is the institution that helps comics retailers from going out of business when targeted by anti-comics groups.

Well, I guess this would be as good a time as any to come out of my extended lurk mode.  :)

A couple of Escapist readers have pointed me to this thread and the previous one, and I have refrained from contributing, because everything helpful and useful has been said already.  Raven, I'd just like to add my sentiments that I hope everything works out for you in the end.

Ron, your statement about the need for an RPGLDF is excellent, and I agree completely.  I'd like your permission to use it in other forums, and even on a devoted page on the Escapist site, to give this idea more coverage.  This is something that we need.  Sure, attacks of this severity are rare, but that should only make the project easier to fund and organize, and it doesn't detract from its necessity.  Let me know what you think.

Play nice,
The Escapist - The reality of fantasy games
BeQuest - Make a difference

Ron Edwards

Bill! Hooray, it's good to see you here.

Thanks for joining in. One thing I'm really interested in looking up is precedent from the last three decades - what's the history in cases like this? What gets ruled, what doesn't get ruled, that sort of thing.

I've been honing my vision for what I'd like to organize. So far, this is what I've got:

1) Unlike the CBLDF, the "fund" would not be geared toward retailer stores, but toward individuals. I'm not sure whether there's any history at all of a gaming retailer being targeted independently of comics. If there is, then I'd reconsider this point immediately.

2) Access to the "fund" would rely on a very specific set of concerns - it wouldn't be available to someone who commits crimes and also happens to role-play; it would have to be for someone was subjected to illegal treatment due to their association with role-playing in some documented way.

3) Repairing the "image" of role-playing by issuing statements really wouldn't be the mission at all. If some chief-of-police somewhere makes an off-the-cuff comment that "that D&D stuff" might be involved in little Johnny killing little Suzy, then I don't see the point of spending money to dash around going "Oh golly, no." (Although a definite mission statement would be readily available as a document, on-line and otherwise.)

4) Rather than being for paying direct legal costs, it would focus more on fees for information-consulting, perhaps with some specific lawyers who are willing to participate, definitely on initial retainer fees (the "cost to hire" startup if you will), and also perhaps on grimmer things like bail.

Anyway, those are the thoughts. Any comments or suggestions?


Dr. Awkward

Quote from: Ron EdwardsBill! Hooray, it's good to see you here.
Thanks for the warm welcome!

Quote from: Ron EdwardsOne thing I'm really interested in looking up is precedent from the last three decades - what's the history in cases like this? What gets ruled, what doesn't get ruled, that sort of thing.
If you're asking specifically about cases that involve gamers, I don't have anything on hand.  I do have a few stories of gamers being physically abused because of their hobby (one of them, in fact, went on to be co-founder of the CAR-PGa), but as for anything making it to court, I'll have to contact Paul Cardwell and get more info for you.

Quote from: Ron Edwards1) Unlike the CBLDF, the "fund" would not be geared toward retailer stores, but toward individuals. I'm not sure whether there's any history at all of a gaming retailer being targeted independently of comics. If there is, then I'd reconsider this point immediately.
I have one recent incident on file of a store owner in San Antonio, Texas who was refused rental of a store unit once the landlord discovered what he was going to be selling there.  He was told that they did not want to have anything to do with the occult, and when he began looking for other sites to rent, his realtor told him to say "computer games" whenever the question arose in the future.

I also have a handful of anecdotes of stores that have had the same thing happen, either when scouting out a location or even when attempting to renew their lease.  I can't vouch for their validity, as all of them are internet stories, but if even half of them are true, you may want to consider giving game stores coverage.  Granted, these examples do not seem to be serious enough to warrant much legal action, but it does indicate that there could be some that would.  If there are people out there who could smash Raven's car windows over the issue, imagine what those same types of people could do (and probably have) to a game store.

Quote from: Ron Edwards2) Access to the "fund" would rely on a very specific set of concerns - it wouldn't be available to someone who commits crimes and also happens to role-play; it would have to be for someone was subjected to illegal treatment due to their association with role-playing in some documented way.
Good thinking.  That sounds like it needs to go into a mission statement of some sort.  Just to get it right out there in the open where everyone can see it.

Quote from: Ron Edwards3) Repairing the "image" of role-playing by issuing statements really wouldn't be the mission at all.
I agree – and this sort of thing is already covered by the CAR-PGa, and occasionally the gaming companies, clubs, and groups.  Granted, I'd like to see it happen more OFTEN, but that's another story.

Quote from: Ron EdwardsAnyway, those are the thoughts. Any comments or suggestions?
What do you think about "expert witnesses," people who act as experts in the gaming field to testify and educate the jury on the realities of gaming?  In Pat Pulling's book, she talks often about how she acted as one of these in several criminal trials – a rather chilling prospect, considering she never really knew what went on in a game of D&D.

An RPG Legal Defense Fund could network some "recognized" gaming experts and give them assignments based on their locale.  I don't know enough about the court system to know how this works – would you contact the lawyers and offer the service that way?

Let me know what you think.

Play nice,
The Escapist - The reality of fantasy games
BeQuest - Make a difference

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

I think the "gaming experts" idea is a good one, although I'm dubious about who gets to be one. I'd lean more toward the legal-guy-who-knows rather than, "Eddie, local gamer-about-town." I'd definitely like to have a number of expert-witness type folks available for consults, though, at least after it's nailed down just what qualifies them as experts.

The trouble is conflict of interest. If we have (say) Peter Adkison as an expert witness regarding AD&D, it's indubitable that he knows the game inside and out and sideways ... but that very biz-status that renders him an expert also disallows him as a meaningful witness in the eyes of the "other side" - "Of course he's in favor of it," they'd say.

But then the other extreme is Eddie off the street, who might just as likely be a bona fide occultist as a standup citizen as any other bloody thing. Finding a meaningful definition of "expert" for purposes of having expert witnesses would seem like an important task.

Tell us more about Paul Cardwell - who is he, what does he do, etc.


Gordon C. Landis

I have known a number of people who worked as expert witnesses, in computer security, software QA, and other scientific disciplines.  They were all independent consultants working in those fields, maybe with a career at a company first.  So . . . rather than Peter Adkison, I think you're looking at someone like John Tynes or Robin Laws as your "best" match in the expert witness area.

Hope that's useful,

Gordon (under construction)

M. J. Young

As I believe I mentioned, Paul Cardwell is the chairman of CARPGa; he also happens to be a Methodist minister, which makes it difficult for the "other side" to easily discount him. I believe he's in Canada, so getting him to trials here would be difficult--but he's an amazing resource person, one of the few I know who are familiar with role playing games as they existed before D&D was first published.

As to defining "experts", we've probably got a few; it would depend on exactly what sort of tack the attorney wanted to take, but I think we could find some.

--Paul Cardwell, as mentioned.

--Dave Arneson, I believe, is not affiliated with any major company yet has a solid knowledge of the field; he is also an elder in a conservative Evangelical church, but I don't know his credentials in any detail.

--Tracy Hickman has published a number of articles addressing role playing game issues in religious publications, and could be recognized in the field.

--Lynette Cowper of SJGames (I believe) might qualify; she's also a tremendous resource person in regard to the gaming controversy, but I don't know the details of her credentials.

--Bill Walton would probably qualify, wouldn't you, Bill?

--Rodney Barnes, current president of the Christian Gamers Guild, ordained minister, and author of Claymore, which is given away free.

--Rick Loomis, President of GAMA and of Flying Buffalo Games.

--As for me, my degrees are in theology and law and I've written extensively about games and gaming (and am anticipating publication of an article in defense of gaming in two significant Christian magazines).  I'd probably have to cut my hair, but I could do it.

The trick really is to find people who are published gaming advocates with good credentials. It can't be objected that they are gaming advocates if they are well credentialed; everyone knows that expert witnesses are selected because they support the position of the side that presents them. Expertise is established based on credentials. It permits the witness to testify about the nature of an area generally even if he doesn't know the specifics of this case--in legal jargon, it establishes his "opinions" about the subject as "relevant evidence" in the case. The jury then decides whether the evidence presented is convincing. That is, the attorney can't call a bunch of gamers to the stand to testify that they play games and have no tendency toward violence or satanism or anything like that, because they aren't presenting any evidence directly about the case--they arguably don't know anything about this situation. But Paul Cardwell could be called to the stand, established as an expert in the field, and then present that CARPGa's research has found a negative correlation between role playing on the one hand and violence on the other, and that is relevant evidence because he is established as someone whose knowledge of the field enables him to present facts, not opinions or anecdotes.

And face it, if Pat Pulling can qualify as an expert on the subject, probably half the regulars on any major RPG web site forum could.

--M. J. Young


MJ mentions Tracy Hickman...but I have to wonder at the use he, or someone of similar beliefs, would provide in a case, or at least a good selection of cases.

Let us take my situation, for example. I would definitely NOT want (to continue the example) Mr. Hickman testifying for me, as I'm reasonably certain he would end up causing more trouble than he would prevent.

I am getting a little ahead of myself, so let me explain:
Part of the problem with my situation is the fact that I play and defend RPGs, the other part of the problem is my status as a non-Christian minister.

Mr. Hickman's beliefs are such that he would be incompatible with half of the case. You see, in a dialogue between the two of us some years back concerning some statements about paganism and witchcraft contained in his essay on morality in RPGs, which I found wrong-headed and damaging to the pagan community, he outright stated that I (and anyone of similar religious persuasion) am simply damned to hell, following a dark, ultimately corrupting path and either tricked by Satan or outright worshipping him -- whether I believe myself to be or not.

He then repeated the same to a stunned (and devoutly Christian) friend who wrote to him after hearing about the response I'd recieved. My friend apparently believed Mr. Hickman was just misinformed and might be more open hearing defense coming from a good Christian. Disappointingly, he was not.

Now, I'm not bashing Mr. Hickman or his beliefs -- they are his beliefs, and as long as he's not burning crosses on someone's front lawn, pubically defaming or causing problems for anyone or any group, I have no problem with what he chooses to believe. He was also very polite in his statements, which doesn't change things much (anyone can politely insult someone).

But, the issue at hand: would I want someone of Mr. Hickman's beliefs supporting me in a case like this? By all the many Gods, NO!

Gamers are a cross-section of the population, and likely as many as are Christian are Pagan, so the chances of an expert having to testify on behalf of someone of a non-Christian faith is higher than usual, and if it comes up, it becomes a problem area for the defense.

Unfortunately, being a Pagan is often a liability in our modern culture and thus moreso in court; having someone who does not respect your beliefs on "your side" in court is as much a liability. That's my concern.

I thus suggest the list of "experts" be rounded out with those of more neutral or less extreme beliefs, or that faith itself be downplayed as an issue, though I can unfortunately see the use of having those of (what is generally perceived to be) fundamentalist Christian faith defending the game against accusations of Satanism or occultism, as it gives more emotional weight to their objections.

On the other hand, we should also have experts whose religious beliefs are not a part of the issue, only the facts they can provide, such as any of the individuals who have studied the effects of RPGs as a whole (Bill, I think, can provide a good list of what studies have been done and by whom...correct?).

I would be particularly interested in adding the researchers for the actual studies done by the Institute for Gifted Children [sic] on that list, as well as those involved at Canada's CDC [sic, again] and the American Department of Suicidology, the FBI, etc.  If the individuals involved can be contacted and would be willing. Solid secular experts would only be of benefit in the courtroom.

The whole idea that "Christians play, so it's a GOOD game" because "Christian = Good" sets up a subtle dichotomy I don't personally like, though I know the power it already holds in our society's psyche.
Certainly, an intelligent prosecutor could rip such a case apart by turning the issue wholly to the defendant's religion, if non-Christian, and painting the poor recipient of such as a horrid devil-worshipper who just happens to play RPGs as well, thus foregoing that angle.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio


Two items:

I've an update about the situation at my website. Bascially, I've recieved an apology letter and the individual is attempting to repair the damage he did, but I (as yet) do not have my job back. I'm going in on Monday to talk with my former boss and ask if they plan on doing right by me and my family, considering the situation with the individual and those he riled up has reversed itself.

Legally, I've already discovered that I can't sue my ex-employer for releasing me; whether I can or wish to make a human rights issue out of this or not remains to be seen.

Second, in case you missed it, a branch of our lovely media, in typical sensationalist fashion, has now linked D&D to the sniper shootings out on the eastern seaboard. Here is the link to the article about it: Save vs Channel 9 For Half

I point this out as the nature of this thread is to stir up movement towards the establishment of an RPG defense league. According to the author and his Court TV viewing habits, the media situation is worse than I had understood, so I take this as a kick-in-the-butt to get things moving on that front.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio

Ron Edwards

Hi Raven,

Consider the butt kicked. Some Forge members have been astoundingly helpful, and the whole thing is further along than I'd thought to be.

I'm interested in a couple of other aspects of your situation, but some of them are off-forum stuff, so I'll be in touch.