Meet Kevin Singer. He beat his brother-in-law to death with a sledgehammer and now he can’t play Dungeons & Dragons.
In 2004 the Waupun Prison in Wisconsin got a letter from an inmate saying that the prison should look into Singer’s D&D group. The inmate’s letter claimed that Singer was trying to attract new players and that the so-called “DM” was probably using D&D to start a gang. The prison immediately confiscated all of Singer’s gaming books and gear.
Singer sued the prison, and the case eventually found it’s way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where just a few days ago, he forever lost the right to play.
On Singer’s side were eleven other inmates who testified that no gang related activity had ever been attributed to D&D in the prison. While the court agreed factually with everything they said, ultimately their input was discounted because they were inmates. Three D&D experts (who knows what that means) testified that no gang related activity anywhere had ever been attributed to Dungeons & Dragons. Again the court agreed, but discounted their input because they were not corrections experts. One gang expert who knew nothing about D&D, said that while he was personally ignorant of the game, it sounded dangerous to him.
So… just to sum up… one gang expert who thought it might be dangerous trumps 3 gaming experts with 36 years of actual evidence to the contrary, and one inmate who writes a letter opining that D&D might be gang related beats eleven inmates with their own evidence who don’t… because the eleven are inmates and not to be trusted. Perhaps an excerpt from the court’s ruling may shed a little light:
“After all, punishment is a fundamental aspect of imprisonment, and prisons may choose to punish inmates by preventing them from participating in some of their favorite recreations.”
Of course this would have made a lot more sense if Waupun Prison had taken away Kevin Singer’s D&D because they were punishing him instead of acting like it was about gangs. Even more to the point, I don’t care if a convicted murderer ever gets to play Dungeons & Dragons again. Beat your brother-in-law to death with a sledgehammer, lose your gaming privileges, I’m standing behind that. But don’t go saying smack about my game or I’ll pop a cap in your fucking ass.