Laying the Blame
or, "Whoo-hoo! I'm a D&D geek and I'm gonna shoot me some blackies!"
04/29/01 -- This article is suddenly incredibly topical again. On Tuesday, it was announced that many of the families of the victims of the Columbine Massacre were suing, among others, the makers of the video and computer game, "Doom." ( click here for the story ) The lawsuit claims that, had the two gunmen not been avid "Doom" players, they'd never have conceived of shooting up their high school. I was about to launch into a long tirade about the complete idiocy of this lawsuit, when I realized that Jeremy basically already had, nearly two years ago. You can read it below. --David
You may have accessed this site because you were interested in purchasing
one of Dave's terrific character sketches. If that's the case, you're a
gamer, which means I don't need to tell you the stigma often attached to
playing RPG's (Role Playing Games), particularly (and sometimes only)
Dungeons & Dragons.
I got hooked on the game when I was in the 7th
grade. I first heard of it when a friend of my Dad's came by our house one
night to try to get my Dad to play with him and his friends. This guy was
in high school, but he was a car mechanic at the dealership my dad managed, so
they were friends. Well, my dad thought it sounded interesting, but he was
busy and probably wasn't terribly thrilled with the idea of playing with a
bunch of high school kids. My younger brother and I, however, were very
interested, but were too young and too shy to ask if we could join the
group in our dad's stead.
Later that year, as luck would have it, I started
playing the bass clarinet in our school band. The only other bass
clarinetist was a portly, popular,
older kid who had a reputation for being a very good student and a wise-ass.
For some reason, he invited me over to his house one weekend to play this
game called he called simply D&D. I can't remember why he asked me, but I
immediately realized what the game was and said yes.
Well, thus began years of spending many summer days and weekend nights
sitting around a table in a basement eating lots of junk food, rolling dice,
and enthusiastically playing out countless adventures.
I didn't realize until some years later that the activity I enjoyed so much
was often labeled satanic and evil, and even blamed for the occasional
Since that realization, however, my RPG hobbying
has remained my little secret, rarely disclosed but to my closest
friends (even then do I often receive a nervous glance or a chuckle). Once in
college I decided to be more open and once let it slip to a female
classmate what my plans were for
some big upcoming weekend. I said, "Gaming with some friends." "Gaming"
makes it sound more adult, I supposed. She looked at me, perplexed, and
asked, "What game?" I told her, and she never spoke to me again. Seriously.
Now just this week, in case it was needed, I got a little reminder to never
again mention to anyone that I play D&D. Yes, the common perception is the
same as always regarding this pioneer in RPG's. I was reading a Washington
Post's story on that racist freak in the Midwest (Chicago, IL and
Bloomington, IN to be exact) who maliciously shot several "people of color"
over the weekend of July 2nd and 3rd, 1999. The reporter was describing the
guy's upbringing. He wrote, "Many neighbors knew him to be an aficionado of
Dungeons & Dragons, a Gothic computer game..." Well, that explains it all
right there, doesn't it? Of course, not only does the reporter imply a
connection, he also betrays his ignorance of what Dungeons & Dragons is (for
those of you who don't know, it's not Gothic, nor is it a computer game).
Later the same reporter wrote about the white supremacist group to which
this nut belonged. The reporter wrote that the group's leader had read The
Rise & Fall of the Third Reich as a youngster. Again, this reporter was
betraying his own ignorance. Rise & Fall is a history book. It's not
Mein Kampf or something. It's a history book written by a
reporter who covered the war from Berlin. The author is plainly very
anti-Nazi and anti-Hitler. I read it myself while I was living in West Africa and
found it to be a very excellent
and thorough history of the war (I love history). The author captured the
real inside scoop on what was happening, diplomatically and militarily, on
When I saw that article, it reminded me of when I
was reading Fatherland by Richard Harris. You may remember it. It's that
book that poses "what if" Hitler had won the war. It's set in 1964 right
before a summit between Joseph Kennedy and Hitler. A series of murders of
older Nazi bigwigs lead an SS cop to start tracking down the real story
behind what happened to the Jews, a story that in the book had never been
told because the Germans had won the war. It's a very sad thriller and the
evidence "uncovered" in the book are real Nazi documents that in all
likelihood would have been destroyed or hidden had the Nazis won.
Anyway, on the cover of my copy of the book there was a swastika and the
word "Fatherland" written in Gothic letters. One day a female,
African-American friend saw that book in my hand,approached me, and said,
"Now I thought you were smarter than that." I was confused until I realized
what had prompted the remark. I said she had the wrong idea and that it
wasn't what she thought it was. Well, even after my explanation I could
tell she still thought that book was a Nazi tome.
Hell, by the standards exhibited by the reporter and this friend of mine,
even a book entitled Hitler Was a Dumb Ass andI'm Glad He's Dead could be
considered an inflammatory Nazi guide because the word "Hitler" is in the title.
It just goes to show that in this country's efforts to be more politically
correct and "anti-intolerance" that we've become more intolerant of anything
that deviates from an appearance of pure political correctness and
tolerance. That sounds crazy, but it's true. I used to be a TV reporter
and one day I saw that a bunch of white supremacists had gotten the crap
kicked out of them by some anti-racist protestors in St. Paul, Minnesota
during a skinhead rally. Now, I understand 100 percent the desire to beat
up on neo-Nazis and KKK goons. But the story really made heroes out of the
punks who, instead of just ignoring the racist bozos, made the rally
front-page news by getting violent. After one skinhead was nearly killed,
the racists fled, leaving their attackers to whoop it up. Does that mean
it's okay to be violent, as long as the group being attacked is hated by the
majority of us?
This double standard is one of the real causes
behind many confused young people's desire to raise murder to the status of
self-expression. But instead of pointing a blaming finger at ourselves
and this gun- and revenge- worshipping culture we've created, we selfishly
find scapegoats. Dungeons & Dragons is old news; how about video games, MTV,
But you know, if we didn't have heavy metal music
and MTV and movies and video games, we'd still find people and things to
blame. Imagine that some scrawny 17-year old freak with a goatee and
yellow slicker harpoons some fat-ass honkey on a beach in Miami. Soon
the media is interviewing lawyers for the bereaved, saying that Herman
Melville was irresponsible in creating Ahab, the crazed captain bent on
avenging the loss of his leg on the fabled white whale called Moby Dick. "Oh, if
only little Donny hadn't read Moby Dick," the parents would plaintively sob
to Larry King, "he never would have succumbed to the seductive,
Melville-induced delusion that he was Ahab and that harpooning large, fat, white
objects was okay. But it's all about
money, isn't it, Melville? You don't care about the kids or who gets hurt!"
Next, Melville's friend and 19th-century contemporary Nathaniel Hawthorne is
coming under fire. Premarital sex is glorifed by The Scarlet Letter!
Yes, tattoos of big read A's are appearing on the chests of adolescent sluts
everywhere and Hester Prynn is heralded as a Murphy Brown -- criticized by Dan
Quayle, but cool to all the young, single moms everywhere who hate their
difficult lives, but think criticism of their lifestyle is more wrong.
Then, of course, there's that Othello character. "He made me kill my wife,
Your Honor," is all O.J. Simpson really needed to say! "It's Shakespeare's
If you think I'm exaggerating, didn't you notice
that a Florida jury this week decided against tobacco company's claims
that people have a choice in whether to smoke or not? That's right. If you
smoke, it's because Joe Camel made you do it. Obese 6-year olds with
weak knees and asthma can now attack the Cookie Monster for glorifying the
unmitigated downing of Malomars and Michael Jordan can be banned as a spokesman
for MCI if thousands go broke making all those damned long distance calls
on 5-cent Sundays!
And if reading this temper-tantrumy tirade makes
you so hot under the collar that you buy a TAC-9 and go postal, well then...I'd
better call my attorney. The way things are going, it WILL be my fault.