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TruTV's Forensic Files: Playing D&D makes you a suspect and a liar
Posted by WJWalton on Mon 28 of Dec., 2009 07:56 PST
The following video is a clip from the TruTV series Forensic Files, from an episode titled "Holy Terror" that aired on August 14th, 2009:

(I've been trying to find more facts on the suspects and the bombing incidents in general, but I haven't had any luck. If anyone can help out, please contact me.)

To recap (because these videos have a tendency to get pulled without notice): A church bombing incident in eastern Illinois leads investigators to two teens, 18 year old Jimmy Morris and 16 year old Phil Ryan, as possible suspects. When the teens were initially questioned, they had no alibi and denied the charges. But in later questioning, each teen began to implicate each other, as a sort of prank against the investigators. When a second bombing incident occurred, their ruse was revealed.

The show starts out with the old canard of making D&D look sinister and dangerous, and linking it to real-life violence without giving any specific examples:
Narrator: Investigators also learned that the boys were heavily involved in the game Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy oriented game played by more than twenty million people worldwide. It allows participants to assume imaginary, often violent, identities.

ATF Special Agent Kevin Rollins: There had been, across the country, instances where the roleplaying within the game of Dungeons & Dragons, had turned violent in real life.

Then, it attempts to connect the boys' prank to D&D, as if lying to Federal agents during a criminal investigation has something to do with playing the game.

Since the investigators have such a clouded concept of RPGs and D&D (and the difference between causation and correlation, for that matter), it's hard to trust their assessment of the boys' prank. Teens often play pranks, as we all know, and there's no clear way of knowing if they were doing it to waste the investigators' time, because they were upset at being wrongfully accused, playing some sort of role, or any combination of the three.

But then, blaming that weird game that all of those nerds play has always made for some sensational storytelling, so why not go with what works?

(Thanks to the Quilt City OGREs for the link, and Bob Mueller for more information on the episode and the case.)

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