What Are The Grapple Rules for Shower Rape?

In recent news, a ban maintained by a Wisconsin prison on playing Dungeons & Dragons or possessing any related materials was upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Between topless succubi and harpies in the monster manual and allegations of Satanism and cult worship, this wouldn’t be the first time D&D has been the subject of controversy. However, in this case, the reason given by the ban is that it might stimulate ‘gang activity,’ and is therefore a threat to security. The Associated Press described Dungeons & Dragons as a game where “players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures, often working together as a group, with the help of complicated rules.”

According to Ilya Somin, an assistant professor of law at George Mason University, no evidence was presented that D&D “had stimulated gang activity in the past, either in this prison or elsewhere.” Otherwise, there was scarce evidence that the game had harmful effects, such as cases of ‘escapism.’ Somin notes that by this logic, The Count of Monte Cristo might well be banned because it could encourage escape attempts. Furthermore, he notes that escapists who retreat from society are less likely to become gang members. Still, Somin notes that the Court is legally correct in deferring to the standards and goals of prison administration.

Many people have already posted a link to the Penny Arcade comic, which essentially pokes fun at the ‘escapist’ angle. However, in the related blog post, Jerry Holkins aka Tycho remarks,

“It sucks when the guards are all coming down on your shit, and, like, taking your stuff, but it also sucks pretty bad to be beaten to death with a sledgehammer, which is what this guy did to get in there. Tends to dilute the sympathy.”

I have a feeling that Holkins is being coy here, if only to dial down the knee-jerk tendency for gamers to cry foul anytime CCGs, RPGs and videogames are maligned by the courts or the media. Still, one has to ask if any ‘correctional facility’ is being fair here by instituting an outright ban on what is essentially a form of recreation. Those with ‘diluted sympathy’ see the prison solely in its punitive function by arguing that inmates aren’t in prison to have fun, they’re there to be punished. However, those who recognize the rehabilitative goals of prison know that escapism is meant to be conducive to reform.

However, I think the most laughable part of this whole affair is their interpretation of the D&D play experience. At one point, the judge says: “Muraski elaborated that during D&D games, one player is denoted the “Dungeon Master.” The Dungeon Master is tasked with giving directions to other players, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang.” Ha! Anyone who has ever DMed knows that getting your players to go along with your story, never mind getting them to work together (like a gang!) is the most difficult part of the game. If the TV show Prison Break were a D&D campaign, the Fox River Eight would have never gotten anything done.

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