626 – Prep Work • 09

The Friday Blog

(Thanks to Ron for the heads up on this sordid tale!)

When Amy Bishop was a younger woman she “accidentally” fired a handgun into a wall, then went downstairs and “accidentally” fired it again, shooting and killing her brother. She then ran to a nearby car dealership and, brandishing the handgun, ordered the dealer to give her a car. The incident was ruled… an accident.

Later, a professor who was about to give Amy a negative review received two pipe bombs in the mail. He escaped, but Amy and her husband were the prime suspects in the attempted murder. The police found nothing incriminating at the Bishop home, though mention was made of a book Amy was reading about a woman who had murdered her brother and pledged her life to becoming a “great scientist” to repay her debt to the world.

Soon afterward, Amy became a research neurobiologist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Amy was disliked by her neighbors, seeming to be an angry and antisocial person. She constantly called the police to report neighborhood kids playing in the streets and nearby woods, (the police told her nothing could be done because no laws were being broken) threatened to become physically violent with adult neighbors, and even got the ice-cream- truck banned because her children were lactose intolerant and she felt it was unfair for them to see “regular” kids enjoying themselves. She punched a woman in the face at the local IHOP because the woman had taken the last child seat.

Despite her aspirations, Amy was at best a middling scientist, and was denied tenure by the University. (This means fired.) Now Alabama-Huntsville is not exactly a high-juice, big-name school, and being denied tenure there did not bode well for the rest of Amy’s career. She was terrified she would end up like Douglas Prasher, a research molecular chemist who’s funding evaporated, and who then sat by and watched his former lab partners win a Nobel Prize based on his data. (Prasher now drives a customer courtesy van for a Toyota dealership.)

On the twelfth Amy received her official notification of her denial of tenure. It was a Friday, and the email was apparently not a particularly soft let-down. Amy got her gun, drove to work,  and shot six of her colleagues, (including the head of the tenure committee) three of them fatally.

Why did this happen? What could make a solid, stable citizen like Amy Bishop just “flip out” and go from a smiling, cookies and milk mom to bitter, pro-NRA postal worker without warning? Someone knows. The Boston Herald knows.

It was because Amy Bishop plays (or possibly used to play) D&D. And that just ain’t Christian.

But this isn’t about people who believe in the magic man with the levitating gold chair who grants wishes to kids who clap their hands. Nor is it about those same people who believe that a woman (who was clearly created as an idiot) took the word of a talking snake over that of an all-powerful, all encompassing deity, and thus condemned all of humanity to earthly death and the possibility of eternity in hell — and who think that D&Ders are out of touch with reality for playing a game that the players know isn’t real. Possibly it’s about the police at the arrest who confiscated her rulebooks, as if to prevent them from causing further deaths. While that’s grand, what it’s really about is that the entire notion of this being a Dungeons & Dragons related death is demonstrably, and obviously, false.

How can I be so sure, you ask? How can I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Amy Bishop’s crack did not come courtesy of Wizard’s of the Coast? Simple. If she was some Dungeons & Dragons obsessed, reality-impaired nutjob, she would never have left those three survivors. Amy stopped shooting when she ran out of bullets. Someone who thought she was her character wouldn’t even have had a gun, she’d have had an axe, or a sword, or at least a dagger that never runs out of ammo.

Ah, but Kevin, I hear you say. What if she also played GURPS Cyberpunk, Hunter: the Vigil, or Deadlands. What if she enjoyed an occasional evening of Shadowrun or Aftermath? Seriously? Are you kidding me? You think someone acting out an Aftermath fantasy wouldn’t have brought a reload?

But who knows. Maybe by believing only in the things I can touch, see, or at least indirectly observe I am the crazy person. Maybe my sense of reality is cracked because I don’t believe in god or fairies or angels or githyanki… and I’m all too willing to talk about it. Maybe that makes me dangerous.

My name is Kevin. I play D&D. Don’t fuck with me. My books’ll get you.

35 Responses to 626 – Prep Work • 09

  1. The…heck? So a new anti-D&D crusade is beginning? And…apparently it’s focused on D&D only, not on, say…World of Darkness (which is closer to the modern world than anything), or d20 Modern (almost the same, but in d20 flavor), or even Shadowrun, or heck, LARP! It *has* to be D&D, because it’s the most popular. Much like those who hit on metalheads try to deviate people from Metallica, knowing that the band is right now more of an icon than a popular band.

    So…how did you got all that mountain of evidence supporting that Ms. Bishop had already some anger issues going on? For all I know, unless she was one of those bad DMs, that could have been her therapy; her method of anger management. I’m pretty sure that some anger management therapy could help her.

    Kudos if the doctor looks anything like Jack Nicholson 😉

    On other terms…Kev, you give me permission to squee like a girl for knowing Bunker’s an ex-paladin? Please? Pretty pretty please!? Also, should it be a regular squee, or a “OMG I met the guy from Twilight” kind of squee?

    • I culled the information from a bunch of different articles, each one on a different facet of Amy’s issues. In the end I was thinking, “Man, I know this person.” Seriously. I know a guy just like this. (And the creepy thing is that of everyone I know, he’s always seemed the most likely to all my friends to run off on a shooting spree.)

      Squee away, Oscar. It was kind of a major revelation.

      • Tends to happen. Usually, people will state “but s/he didn’t show that kind of conduct!!”. Then you realize it was because said anger had no vent, and the person was like a pressure cooking pot; at any moment, save for an emergency valve, the pot will explode into a lot of pieces. What’s odd is that D&D, along with other tabletop games, might have served as those escape valves, and using that as a method to encourage anger management…

        Wait, skip that. The results show that there exists an inverse proportional relationship between the fulfillment of a game and it’s eventual enjoyment and the amount of pent-up anger of the DM running said game. Just on a player it’s already bad; on a DM, it’s asking for “rocks fall, everyone dies”. Hopefully not in real life, tho.

        Now, as promised and allowed by Kev:
        *takes away clothing and runs from one side of an imaginary corridor to another while wildly flailing arms in joy*

        …excuses for the spam…

  2. *headesk* *headesk* *headesk*
    Don’t tell me morons like these reporters are allowed to breed?

    It’s interesting to note that some commentators on the Herald piece obviously thought D&D was a video game.

    • Well, if you consider Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale, Eye of the Beholder, Ruins of Myth Drannor, Dungeons & Dragons Tactics and others that I might be forgetting, you can make a good impression that D&D is a video game series. Oh, and Eberron Unlimited; let’s not forget the frickin’ MMO.

      But the fact that it’s based on a tabletop game isn’t open for discussion. It’s a fact.

      Which means…do you get the same trouble if you play MUDs, ol’ dungeon crawlers like Elder Scrolls, Wizardry, Might & Magic, the revivals of that genre (Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire, Class of Heroes, Orcs & Elves), or MMOs?

      Wait…they have already added into the crusade MMOs. I mean, WoWarcraft is getting the bad rep of being an anarcopathic (as in “a-narco-pathy”, not apathy or anarchy) game that may cause death if played over 72 hours or more. Which is…silly, since you can get the same thing from working + NoDoz. Or…well, standing like an idiot along with your family on Black Friday since Thursday evening (and that being your initiative; if it’s someone else’s fault, then it’s their fault and not yours, unless you agree *shudder*).

      I have the strictest belief that some videogames may produce psychiatric disorders. The fact that those are…well, aberrations such as Wheel of Fortune or…Barbie games…isn’t well studied. Why not study just how those games are even allowed to exist within a gaming console (and not a cellphone or computer or the like) is beyond me. But whomever has the guts to buy that…must have something. Unless it’s a party game. And even then, better get…I dunno, Mario Party. Or Guitar Hero. Or Rock Band, even. Those are nicer and more entertaining party games, and that way, used game bins would have valuable and worthwhile gems (such as, say, Suikoden II, or other valuable RPGs which are Teen rated)

      • I never bought into the notion that any game could “cause” mental instability. I totally think that a person who is already unstable might fixate on a game and want to spend time there, but I have to wonder about the harm that game might supposedly provide vs. the possible therapeutic effects.

        As for videogames specifically, again I have a hard time making the leap from fake violence to real violence. I have no trouble accepting that a person who is likely to commit real violence might be attracted by the ersatz variety, but the idea that a person who would never commit violence on his own would become more prone to it for having shot up a bunch of space mutants seems implausible. I really think that the more time you spend in virtual worlds, the more clear that line between reality and imagination becomes. Now I can see why that specifically might be troubling to religious institutions, since a person sensitized to imaginary constructs is more likely to cast a dubious eye towards the whole of religion, and perhaps that is what it’s all about.

        Gary Gygax, inventor of resistance training to thought control.

      • Ah well, the article specifically mentioned “books” having been seized, not a gaming console or PC. That should’ve been an indicator that this piece of hysterical pseudo-reporting wasn’t about video games. Not this time. 🙄

  3. That was an idiotic drivvely piece of reporting. Everyone knows there were no girls playing D&D in 1980. If there were, they’d be too nerdy to even know how to load a gun.

  4. Wonder how many murderers also read the Boston Herald in their spare time, or met up with other murderers at a news-stand? THAT would be a story to print!
    Good find on the comedic article Kevin my dnd group actually broke up early to check it out 🙂

    • Maybe. What do you suppose the name of the adventure was?

      “Revenge of the Slightly Below-Average Researcher!”

      “Death on Tenure-Denied Hill”

      “Blood of the Alabama Huntsville Jarl”

  5. D&D doesn’t make me want to kill … but I decided to start a cult after playing Call of Cthulu. There are so many people on Earth ready to believe anything you tell them as long as you do it with the right tone of voice that I am sure I can get my share of devoted squiggly-knife-wielding zealots in no time.

  6. Nothing stopping you from joining Draad’s cult Kev. Except maybe your lack of belief in a divine power, even Cthulhu, may His name be praised. That article was at best a waste of time for the person who wrote it. It had no real information about what happened or who was involved and mostly just pointed out that D&D is sometimes brought up when people kill each other. As for that lady you blogged about, yeah, I can see whereas it came from nowhere. I know that if one of my neighbors was known to have shot her brother, sent her teacher pipe bombs and punched someone at IHOP I’d be damn surprised when she went on a shooting rampage. “She always seemed so normal, I hit people for no good reaon all the time and I’d never shoot up my office! You know, unless they tried to fire me.” I’d actually like to see some crazy bitch deck my wife at IHOP. The poor woman wouldn’t make it back to her table in one piece. Crazy or not.

  7. The only thing I’m surprised at is that WotC hasn’t started suing these fools and those like them for libel; aren’t they big enough to do that kind of thing yet?

    • They are, but really, why would you? The negative publicity over the lawsuit would dwarf anyone’s notice of the Boston Herald’s article. The much better route is to just not mention it and wait till it goes away.

      • I don’t think that the costs would balance out the win in this case, no. What I do think is that they need to somehow, somewhere create a chilling effect against libel of their products and company like this because it’s embarrassing and damaging to the bottom line. Lawsuits against small newspapers without enough money to pay off when they lose isn’t the right way, but what is?

  8. The number one reading choice for serial killers? The bible. By a country mile. So, there you have it, reading the bible turns you into a psychotic killer. Serial killer Albert Fish put it like this: “What I did must have been right or an angel would have stopped me, just as an angel stopped Abraham in the Bible.”

      • Like Walmart, I think that coincidence is more because the Bible has a much better readership than the Boston Herald. D&D is still much more than them, and thus between the two in coincidental murders. The best response to something as pathetic as the Herald really is to simply ignore them.

        I’m a different Eric in case you didn’t notice the avatar.

  9. LOLZ my comp died, taking lots o stuff with it, so I’ll probly get a crappy new icon when I post this. Hey Kev, how do I register in your forum to set my own avatar? Dethklok has a new album out since September and my life is now complete. Lesse here, crazy lady bitch professor kills the tenure board? Bet there’s like a hundred students out there going “Are you surprised? I’m not surpised. I figured she’d do that.” My question:
    HOW MANY MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE DEEP SOUTH IS IT GONNA TAKE TILL A WOULD-BE VICTIM PULLS OUT THEIR STANDARD ISSUE SIDEARM AND SHOOTS THE KILLER?????? Seriously, I expect this kind of thing in non gun-toting states but I can’t understand why this goes down in the deep south. I just can’t understand why the save-the-day scenario the NRA is always talking about never happens. My guess is most mass shootings are like the movie They Live. But yeah. It’s D&D. Certainly not a policy that keeps violent psychos armed and on the street while imprisoning druggies till their violent psychos.

  10. “…and the Friday Blog asks if D&D makes you want to kill.”
    Absolutely, I’d probably only kill half as much if it weren’t for D&D. Two-thirds, tops.