Not This Crap Again!

1 11 2008

Fundamentalism is wrong. In my opinion, fundamentalism can be defined largely as a total lack of imagination and humor. No matter what sort of fundamentalism you happen to encounter, the adherents of said world-view will be the most unapologetic ass-hats in history. Hard-core Randites, Scientologists, Christians, Anarchists, Eco-freaks, Muslims- the label doesn’t matter.

Case in point: Back in the depths of time, my friends and I played Dungeons & Dragons. This harmless pastime kept us usefully annoyed throughout much of High School and dramatically helped broaden our intellectual horizons. During my Junior year, some D&D players (not in my group) were wont to play the game at the local community center, which was managed by the Parks and Recreation Department.

The christian fundie-loonie community went batshiat insane. This was back when fundamentalist christians were trying to pass themselves off as the “Moral Majority” (in fact, they were neither moral nor a majority). They were incensed that kids were being permitted to play a game which the fundies considered to be promoting satanism. The religious zealots rose in a body and demanded that no one should be permitted to “practice witchcraft” (their term) on public property. They raised such a stink that the Parks Dept. decided to hold a public hearing on the subject.

For those of you too young to remember, at the peak of their power, the so-called “Moral Majority” somehow managed to get a lot of political influence far exceeding their numbers. In my opinion, this was accomplished by means of the “squeaky wheel” philosophy: They were loudmouthed pests who could and did mobilize at the drop of an unchristian thought or word. Accordingly, politicians were scared shitless of them.

There were five members of the Parks & Rec committee. They opened the meeting and opened the floor to public comments. As I recall, there were roughly twice as many people speaking in favor of allowing people to play D&D in the community center as there were against. The fundie-loonies were easy to distinguish from their opponents- they were all wearing ties and long faces with permanent sneers. The pro-D&D crowd was very eclectic- bordering on exotic. They were also much better speakers. One portly gentleman stood at the podium and waved a handful of binder paper over his head and thundered, “This is what you’re trying to prohibit: pieces of paper!” The papers were all character sheets for D&D.

The meeting ran late, since there were so many people who wanted a chance to speak. At the end, the committee members spoke. Two of the members read prepared speeches denouncing D&D. After the vote, D&D was banned from Park & Rec property by a vote of three to two.

That was more than twenty-five  years ago, but the successors of the religious fundamentalists are still out there. At Gen-Con this year, a charity auction was held to raise money for Gary Gygax’s favorite charity, the Christian Children’s Fund. When he was alive, Gary had donated money to this charity many times. The auction was a rousing success, raising $17,000. The organizers duly wrote a check to the Christian Children’s Fund for that amount.

Yesterday, the Christian Children’s Fund turned it down, because some of the proceeds were the result of sales of D&D paraphenalia.

Cue massive facepalm.

Facepalm

Facepalm

That amount of money could have fed a lot of starving kids. Hell, for that kind of money, they could have kept Sally Struthers in a feedbag for nearly a month.

This is what happens when you allow your fundamentalism to get in the way of the job at hand. The purpose of the Christian Children’s Fund is to help starving children. It is their reason for existence. But they would prefer to let children starve to death rather than accept money from D&D players. People this stupid should not be permitted to handle anything more dangerous than crayons.

Why so much hate?

There's No Hate Like Christian Hate

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: You Don’t Believe by Alan Parson’s Project

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5 responses

8 11 2008
Asylum Seeker

“One portly gentleman stood at the podium and waved a handful of binder paper over his head and thundered, “This is what you’re trying to prohibit: pieces of paper!” The papers were all character sheets for D&D.”

That guy sounds awesome! I would’ve loved to see those arguments back when they were still actively witch-hunting D&D players. Now it’s kind of a “heh heh nerd” hobby rather than an “OMG SATANISTS!!” hobby, so I never had a chance to see the heights of hysteria and hilarity.

As for the actual issue: the verdict seems to inclusive in the gaming community, as to whether the charity was at fault and is trying to dissociate itself from the issue due to technicalities, or whether Gen-Con knew that the charity’s rules made it so that they could not accept the money from the outset, and that their rendition of the affair is biased. Obviously, I hope that Gen-Con wasn’t at fault here, but I guess we’ll know eventually.

9 11 2008
mathyoo

I doubt that Gen-Con was at fault, based on the fact that Cygax was known to donate so much to that charity. The Gen-Con attendees and organizers know that they’re not (necessarily) satan worshipers, so I doubt it occurred to them that it would be a problem.

I’ve heard about a study recently that shows that giving someone concrete evidence that contradicts their beliefs just solidifies that belief, and that Parks & Rec meeting seems to be an example of that.

9 11 2008
butchrobotpope

I remember that event well, although the details are bit hazy. The fundies were trying to argue that D&D was some kind of cult/religion. I seem to recall that same portly gent saying, “If D&D is some kinda religion, I am a *pickle*!” Which I found hilarious at the time. That was my first brush with self-appointed ‘moral stewards’ and it wasn’t a good one.

Hey, did the CCF change their minds on accepting the money? They got some bad press about it.

10 11 2008
archvillain

Apparently, the CCF released a statement (after getting inundated with emails) that an “unidentified staffer” had mistakenly rejected the donation, and that the CCF did not have any such policy. This may in fact be the case, but I have long since given up on giving religious organizations the benefit of the doubt.

16 11 2008
Maria

I’m pretty glad I’m too young to remember that. It just sounds so ridiculous, to the point of being surreal–that the fundies could have made such a fuss over something as benign as a fantasy card game. Someday, hopefully within a hundred years, the American domestic politics of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries will be renowned as among the most hilariously fascinating areas of historical study.

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