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Author Topic: RPG Hate Issue - important  (Read 7193 times)
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« on: September 27, 2002, 09:13:42 AM »

Well folks, don't think it can't happen to you.

I just lost my job over the issues being discussed here.
Not because my boss wanted me gone, not because we have any personal issues about how to run the lab, but because it is literally not safe for me to work there anymore.

Yesterday, my life was threatened.
This morning the back window of my car was smashed in.
(yes, police reports have been filed about both incidents)

A volunteer at the Center apparently found (or stole from private employee files) the memo discussing RPGs, religion and filtering criteria. He then whipped a posse of parents into frothing fear and hate of the "Satanist" in their midst who is "corrupting the minds of their children" and damning my boss for his "immoral" and "unethical" act of hiring me.

Currently a petition is heard to be circulating demanding my removal for the above reasons, and possibly the removal of my boss for hiring me as well as my coworkers (who all had a say in hiring me). There is also a letter which indicates litigation is going to be brought against me for unspecified reasons.

Anyone who wants to read the even more awful details of all this can surf over to the "Updates" section of my website and be stunned at the behavior of folks who call themselves "Christian."

(And I hope my Christian friends and others of similar religious persuasion on the Forge realize I am not and do not intend to slam them or their beliefs...just the hypocrites)

PS -- Moderators, sorry if this post is off-topic...I figured with the RPG elements of the issue and the nature of the thread, it wouldn't be. Feel free to move it if necessary.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Wart
Member

Posts: 56


« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2002, 10:12:58 AM »

Quote from: greyorm
Well folks, don't think it can't happen to you.


(Tale of Bad snipped.)

Crikey. I'm both shocked and disheartened to hear about that.

It sounds like it's time to fight back. Sure, you might not want to keep working there with people like that, but it's worth letting these people know that they can't get away with this - if only to stop them doing it again to someone else.

The CAR-PGA (I think you've already been given an address...) provide support for just this sort of thing.

Personally, I'm not a legal expert, but you could quite probably sue whoever's behind the petition for defamation of character or libel.
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Jeremy Cole
Member

Posts: 133


« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2002, 10:45:31 AM »

My goodness.  

I just wanted to offer my sympathies, and complete bewilderment.

I really think there may be no way to advocate gaming to people who are so motivated by base level fear motivations.  People get very scared regarding their children, and some people's upbringing and nature may preclude logical discussion or understanding of many issues, especially where ethics are dogmatic over relativist.

Misinformation and mob mentality can carry things a long way.  I think any words of encouragement may fall pale, as it would be a truly massive task to attempt any education or action against that sort of mentality.

Jeremy
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what is this looming thing
not money, not flesh, nor happiness
but this which makes me sing

augie march
Wart
Member

Posts: 56


« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2002, 10:59:54 AM »

Clarification: I agree with Jeremy's above post, when he says that as far as some people are concerned, nothing will convince them that gaming (or your religion, as from your blog it appears that this is the area where the problems are arising) is harmless.

When I said "take action", I meant take action to stop this bigot (and when it boils down to it that's what this person seems to be) poisoning other people with his attitude.

W.
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Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2002, 11:25:38 AM »

This is very distressing, epsecially as I fear I'm utterly powerless to help.

And I'm not going to advise anyone on whether or not to fight back, when I'm not personally on the front lines with them.

But if you do... this matter goes far beyond role playing game advocacy. Perhaps the support organization you should be talking to is the ACLU.

Letters-to-the-editor of support in your local newspaper can be very helpful in such situations, unless the newspaper itself is hopelessly biased. A reporter willing to be fair can be even more so. You should make contact with them, because you can be sure the witch hunters already have. You have some influence, albeit small, to influence whether the headline comes out "Satanist Exposed at Community Center" or "Homegrown Terrorists Threaten Community Center Administrator."

Associating the threats and vandalism with terrorism (which in fact they are, by any definition) can be particularly effective in the current times.

And if you don't... well, the state I live in purged a lot of this crap out of its system in 1692. (I was a little concerned when my wife and I moved to my present town, a much smaller town than any I'd lived in before. Neighbors were asking what seemed to be slightly pointed lifestyle questions. To my relief, it turned out they were asking because one of the families on the street is a gay couple and all our new neighbors wanted to make sure we weren't going to be bigots about it.) Care for a change of scenery? The weather's much nicer too. :-) (Be prepared for some serious sticker shock in the real estate market, though.)

One of my sisters lives in Minnesota, in an area I always thought was pretty rural but it's a lot closer to Minneapolis than you must be. Her husband owns Dreamhaven Books which sells SF, graphic novels, and alternative fiction. (Not RPGs, but plenty of other stuff with scary demon graphics on the covers.) They organize SF and fantasy conventions, hold public book signings with Neil Gaiman and other writers, and he even published the original XXXenophile (X-rated SF) comic book series. They've never had any trouble of this kind. I guess the question you have to consider is, do the terrorists represent the secret sentiment of the rest of your community, or are they the ones out of place?

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2002, 12:02:42 PM »

Thanks for the support, all.  We are taking steps to deal with this, because I'm not letting someone terrorize my family and publically slander me like this and get away with it.

But whether this is community sentiment or not remains to be seen.  I don't believe it is.  I've never had any problems with anyone else around here, and everyone else I work with is shocked and dismayed at the actions and the attitudes of this group.

I'll look into the newspaper angle, possibly talk to some reporters.  Because, honestly, these folks just ruined the Center's computer program and self-guided adult education program...they don't have another lab tech capable of administration and doing all the network wizardry they required for it, or working the hours they need.

I don't know if they'll be able to find another one, I was the only qualified applicant when I was hired, though I really hope they can.

The tech they have left can only work part time, and while he can easily get the skills, he's easily smart enough, he doesn't have the associated experience, and he doesn't have the skills for the time being.

So, these folks went and shot themselves in the foot, along lots more people not involved in their crusade. It's...disgusting...it's selfish and narrow-minded.  Ugh...ok, I'll stop.

As well, whether this is simply a religion issue or also involves D&D remains to be seen, since the folks making the accusations are claim to have evidence of some kind about my attempts to "convert their children" or whatever. What that evidence actually is, they aren't saying, which could mean they don't have any.

The only possible thing in question that was lying around to be grabbed up was some RPG notes along with the selfsame in regards to the censorship issue; so, for the moment, I'm going to assume they're taking the absurd track and equating it all with "Satanism" and D&D is their tactic alongside religion.

And Walt, next time I stop in at Dreamhaven, I'll have to say "Hi" to your brother-in-law.  Small world (I don't frequent the store, but I have been in there a couple times when we're in the Cities visiting relatives.  They have a great selection of stuff).

We're a few hours out from there, in the land of rednecks and beer-guzzling, where disproven hysteria like this just hangs on in small pockets.
Even so, a number of the folks at the office were completely blown-away, and stated they didn't know D&D was such a controversial issue.

And heck, the local bookstore used to carry "Dragon" and an assortment of RPG products, and still carry all the TSR novels and etc, even though the owners were of the likeable "old prudish biddy" type, very much like my grandma, so...
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2002, 12:46:29 PM »

Quote from: greyorm

As well, whether this is simply a religion issue or also involves D&D remains to be seen, since the folks making the accusations are claim to have evidence of some kind about my attempts to "convert their children" or whatever. What that evidence actually is, they aren't saying, which could mean they don't have any.

The only possible thing in question that was lying around to be grabbed up was some RPG notes along with the selfsame in regards to the censorship issue; so, for the moment, I'm going to assume they're taking the absurd track and equating it all with "Satanism" and D&D is their tactic alongside religion.


What kind of notes did you have? I could see a scenario written up in railroady enough terms looking like a plan to "convert" someone. For example, if it said stuff like:

"Next the party should go to the dungeon. There they will find and slay the dark elves"

I could see people getting confused by the syntax, and thinking that it described a Satanic ritual.

Stupid, but I could see the mistake being made.

Were there any scenario notes at all?

Mike
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-Get your indie game fix online.
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2002, 01:29:47 PM »

No, Mike, nothing like that.  Nothing that might be taken the wrong way, well, by rational folk, anyway.  After all, the logic we're dealing with here is simply that I'm a "Satanist" because I'm not Christian. Add to this that I'm Wiccan (ie: A witch! Look at the nose! -- They put this on me!) and that's all this individual needed to declare a righteous crusade against the unholy infidel.

And further consider the psychology of the sort of individual that threatens someone's life (in front of a three year old, no less) and vandalizes their property.  We aren't talking about some regular Joe who is merely misguided or misinformed here, someone who just "got the wrong idea" from something.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2002, 01:59:56 PM »

Quote from: greyorm

And further consider the psychology of the sort of individual that threatens someone's life (in front of a three year old, no less) and vandalizes their property.  We aren't talking about some regular Joe who is merely misguided or misinformed here, someone who just "got the wrong idea" from something.


Right, but I'm assuming that you'd be safe from prosecution from such an individual anyhow. The question is how is this individual getting anyone else on his side? What "evidence", no matter how unreasonable, is he using to convince people? Or is the whole group subject to such lapses in reason?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2002, 08:05:35 PM »

Hello,

I moved all these posts to their own thread, in this forum, because I'd like all of the Forge members to participate in this discussion.

Specifically: 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. The CBLDF accepts donations from comics publishers which go into a kitty to help with legal costs - which is how the retailers are vulnerable; the attacking groups know that they can't sustain a real court battle.

This situation is different in venue, but it is exactly the same issue in terms of legal issues. And is there a TSR fund set aside to help those who are victimized due to their TSR-based hobby? Of course not.

I suggest that Raven is being thrown to the wolves in response to actions that are reminiscent of the Klan. I suggest that his employers are "looking good" by sending the "deviant" packing, in the vain hope that they will no longer be a target (a false hope) for the whoevers. What Raven needs is representation.

Well, I'm not a lawyer. But I do know this: that we, the folks at the Forge, know lawyers. We also represent a far more well-connected, societally-savvy cross-section of gamers than can be found in most places.

So put your heads together!

Who knows the right people?
Who is the right legal counsel, even for consultation?
Who can provide the right information? (not bullshit speculation, please)
Who can provide names for people who can provide that information?
Who can provide whatever small monetary support, if necessary?

Think about it. This is what the Forge is for. Look around you; we are the only body of role-players who can do this.

Resisting discrimination is not a matter of reasonably explaining just where the power-mongering terror-monkeys are "going wrong." It's a matter of acquiring political power of your own. And we have access to that power, dammit. Most of us are post-thirties white men - absolutely nothing stops us from using that power, in the form of connections, contacts, support, and information.

It's time we did so.

My task, this following week, is learning how to set up a legal defense fund such as the CBLDF. It's also to hit every lawyer I know with the relevant questions.

All other suggestions - and most especially help! - are vastly appreciated.

Best,
Ron
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greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2002, 08:59:29 PM »

Mike,

The individual who started this is well known at the Center by the families who use it, and liked by many (though not all); but he's also lost a number of close friends over this issue, who can see through all this with objective reason. Unfortunately, he's also villanized anyone who won't side with him as being morally bankrupt and thus "the enemy."

I'm certain that his supporters have no idea about the other things which have occurred (the threats and vandalism, et al) or he'd likely be short a few more supporters, because I have a feeling that a number of them would take a second look and say, "Whoa!  Wait a minute here...something isn't right."

Regardless, what this guy has going for him is mob hysteria, plain and simple.

Couple paranoia with ignorance and parental fear, add that we're dealing with people who've been taught and heartily believe "D&D is evil and the work of the devil" and "witches want to brainwash your kids via Harry Potter, Pokemon and <insert your flavor of the week here>," and who also believe quite sincerely in the actual existance of demons and the unshakable truth of their own convictions, put someone they trust as the main initiator and facilitator, and you have something that takes on a life of its own.

Further factor in that many of the families we're talking about here are at the Center specifically because of mental illness or substance abuse issues, and most of them are not well educated, and I think you can see how this all quickly gels into a modern-day witch-hunt. (Heck, even without either of the above factors)

Remember, not everyone who pointed out witches during the Salem witch-trials was short on judgement or rationality, but hysteria has a way of seeping into the cracks and coloring everything...and look at Nazi Germany, the whole country went Nazi-crazy and was swept with anti-Semitic fervor; normally sane, rational, decent human beings rode a tide of patriotic fantaticism and it took a horrid, bloody war to finally put a stop to it.

By their own judgement, they ARE acting rationally. They're responding to a threat, protecting themselves and their children from someone awful. And of course, if that someone awful tries to defend themself, it's all just smoke and lies.
At least that's the way they see it.

But if you step outside the situation and view it rationally, you can see all this.  Embroiled in the midst of such, it's difficult to do so, and like the majority, they have no reason to doubt or re-examine what they already believe to be true.

Just the words "D&D" and "witch" cause ingrained automatic responses to trigger. It doesn't matter the context, it doesn't matter what else is included besides those words, those associations are the point of focus. And with the associations being what they are, anything or anyone that attempts to alter those associations is misled or lying because they're attempting to protect or defend something bad.

So, it isn't because these folks are suffering from lapses in judgement, it isn't because they're incapable of rational examination, it's just simple human psychology -- they're working from an entirely different set of assumptions than I or you are, and to them, those assumptions aren't assumptions at all, they're valid facts.

D&D is a game full of Satanic influence.
Real Satanists are out to lure their kids into "witchcraft."
Anyone involved in either are possessed or guided by actual demons.

Such "facts" are blatantly false to us, but we don't believe in Satan (or, well, some of us...not to marginalize anyone), real actual demons, or Satanic conspiracies.

Is D&D full of Satanic influence?
No.  Of course not.  But wait...it has magic, pagan gods and unholy things. To some people, that IS Satanic influence.  You see, it's like dealing with an entirely different culture.

For these folks to admit it doesn't would require them to entirely reject their world-view and rewrite it -- which, unfortunately, is far more difficult than it sounds -- simply, it would cause a crisis of faith.  And in such situations, most will go with what they believe to be true already, instead of undertaking the difficult altering of their perceptions and beliefs -- the brain simply doesn't like rewiring itself unless absolutely necessary, in response to stresses that can't be ignored.

Well, whew.
I hope that helps answer why the situation isn't simply as black and white as we would all wish it could be.  If it were, the contents of the memo that is believed to have started all this would have been enough to forestall the situation, since it referenced facts from various sites and organizations about studies done on D&D, its effects and so forth.

As I said, assuming this started it, and assuming this memo was passed around to the involved families of the Center, or if it is just the word of this one volunteer that these individuals are going on.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2002, 09:16:16 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I suggest that Raven is being thrown to the wolves in response to actions that are reminiscent of the Klan. I suggest that his employers are "looking good" by sending the "deviant" packing, in the vain hope that they will no longer be a target (a false hope) for the whoevers.

This is part of it, yes.  My boss is desperately trying to make sure the Center stays open for the families who need it, since they function solely on grants, trouble means groups will withdraw funding, not wishing to be part of any controversies.

And, in fact, I doubt the ones causing problems will use the Center again -- or at least not until the administration's heads are on pikes, so to speak.  My boss and everyone else there is well aware of this.

And the other part is, as I said, it simply isn't safe for me to be there with what's happened in regards to the threats and the vandalism, especially considering the instability of some of the folks who use the Center.

So, I'm fully aware that I am the sacrificial lamb in this case.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that at this point, but I'm not going to try to make any excuses about it.

I, obviously, don't want to say much publically about what actions are being undertaken...call it paranoia, call it playing one's hand close to the chest. As I said, my family and I are taking steps, and I can hopefully let you all know a little more later this week.

But Ron's correct.  Something does need to be set-up, and I imagine we are more than the right group to do it.  We have the people, the knowledge, the contacts and (most importantly) the motivation.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2002, 11:47:44 PM »

Hey Raven,

  I wish you and your family the best.  I also want to say that I admire the self-control and clear headedness with which you are confronting this situation.  If I were in your shoes I think that I would have lost my cool.

Here is a short list of resources you may want to examine if you are considering legal action.

Trial Lawyers for Public Justice  
  http://www.tlpj.org

Wiccan Education and Anti-Defamation Groups
  http://www.religioustolerance.org/witchcr2.htm

Tolerance.Org  (particularly the listing of human rights groups by state)
  http://www.tolerance.org

Southern Poverty Law Center
  http://www.splcenter.org


Any meager support I can give is yours.

 -Chris
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Wart
Member

Posts: 56


« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2002, 04:37:36 AM »

And some useful gaming-related organisations:

CAR-PGA: www.theescapist.com

GAMA: http://www.gama.org/

I think one of them (I can't remember if it's GAMA or CAR-PGA) have volunteers willing to come along and help out in situations where gamers are being persecuted in this way.
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M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


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« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2002, 07:55:56 PM »

I have (CARPGa chairman) Paul Cardwell's e-mail address, and can get in touch with him, if you give me contact information (e-mail or private message is good) for him to reach you, if you think they may be able to help. Although I've worked with him on other projects, I don't actually know that much about what they do.

I'd sue the guy for slander, and include lost wages in your damage claim. You might get the center to sue him, also, as he has put their funding at risk, so they might be able to show significant monetary damages as well. For slander to stick, given that you are not a public figure, you only need to prove that he said something about you which was false to which you personally object. The fact that you lost your job over the matter adds a lot of clout to your personal objection, so the only thing you'd really have to prove was that he said something false about you (which would include his claim that your role playing game involvement is satanism).

I have a Juris Doctore, but do not currently practice law, and this should not be construed as legal advice in the technical sense of that term.

--M. J. Young
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