Prisoner Sues to Play D&D in Jail — No, Seriously



?There’s absolutely nothing I could say to make the truth sound any more bizarre than it already is. TR readers Frito and Dan sent this to me, and I think it pretty much speaks for itself. From Chron:

MADISON, Wisconsin — A man serving life in prison for first-degree
intentional homicide lost his legal battle Monday to play Dungeons
& Dragons behind bars.

Kevin T. Singer filed a federal lawsuit against officials at
Wisconsin’s Waupun prison, arguing that a policy banning all Dungeons
& Dragons material violated his free speech and due process rights.

Prison officials instigated the Dungeons & Dragons ban among
concerns that playing the game promoted gang-related activity and was a
threat to security. Singer challenged the ban but the 7th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals on Monday upheld it as a reasonable policy.

Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry
out their adventures, often working together as a group, with the help
of complicated rules.

Singer, 33, has been a devoted player of the fantasy role-playing
game since he was a child, according to the court ruling. After the ban
went into effect, prison officials confiscated dozens of Dungeons &
Dragons books and magazines in his cell as well as a 96-page manuscript
he had written detailing a potential scenario for the game that players
could act out.

Prison officials enacted the ban in 2004 after an inmate sent an
anonymous letter expressing concern about Singer and three other
inmates forming a “gang” focused around playing the game.

Singer was told by prison officials that he could not keep the
materials because Dungeons & Dragons “promotes fantasy role
playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors,
and possible gambling,” according to the ruling. The prison later
developed a more comprehensive policy against all types of fantasy
games, the court said.

Singer was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 after being found
guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of his
sister’s boyfriend. The man was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer.

Dungeons & Dragons promotes “gang-related activity”? That is the stupidest fucking shit I’ve ever heard. How about you ban Singer from playing D&D in prison because, oh, I don’t know, the dude MURDERED SOMEONE WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER. I’m all for prison libraries and education and things that help criminals better themselves, but D&D does not fall into this category. It’s entertainment, and I think if you kill someone, you give up your rights to play Xbox for a certain amount of time as well.

Fuck, I know dozens of people who would love to have their room and board taken care of and be able to play D&D all day — they’re going to see this and start murdering people, just hoping to get this sweet-ass deal. And the sad thing is since a lot of them live on ramen, the prison food will probably be an improvement as well.

About Author

Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.