Saturday, November 7, 2009

Moral Panic: The Response

If you haven't followed this story here's the low-down.

A small newspaper, the Orangeville Citizen, published an article at the end of October that highlighted a double homicide committed 25 years ago in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada.

In the absence of a motive, Dungeons and Dragons was blamed because the person convicted apparently played the game, among other things.

I read the article and got really pissed off. I vented to my large undergraduate class and told them I was going to write a response. I noted my letter here and received some helpful input. Then off it went to the editor.

Sadly, the editor has made formatting errors including a number of words that require hypenation and weren't. Don't get me started on journalists...

The most important thing is that a voice was heard in opposition to the rhetoric. It was fun to note that someone else also wrote and bashed the article as well.

Click here for the original article.

Click here for my response.


  1. Excellent response, suitably measured by your empathy for the terrible tragedy that befell those children and the ones who knew and loved them.

    Why does Tim's name seem familiar?

  2. Nice article. It's surprising that after so many years people can even remotely make statements like that about D&D. I quess in the face of horrible tragedy people feel that they need some type of justification, and he was crazy just isn't good enough.

    I feel sorry for the victims but the reporter is an idiot, lacking any depth (or research) to his analysis. When doing even a simple Google search would have revealed all the infromation in yours and Tim's article on the first page.

    Also we're Canadians, and we shouldn't be reporting like Americans. Whats next, a massive underground Satanic conspiracy in Toronto.

  3. I'd thought about sharing the story with my Media Studies class (I'm Faculty at the U of GH in Toronto) but decided it was just bad, sloppy journalism and not worth the attention. :)

    Very good response though.

  4. Perhaps an approach towards the American media's portrayal of Marilyn Manson in the aftermath of Columbine would have furthered your argument and captured the attention and sympathies of non-gamers.

    Also, it was presumably not the Editor's fault for formatting errors. Journalism requires different formatting from academic work, and this still fails to be properly editted. However, judging by the size of this publication, it can be presumed that edits were made by copywriters, who were most likely high school interns. While it is inexcusable that it be missed, it is still a tiring and arduous job to edit, on average, the 20 articles a newspaper of this size puts out every two or three days. So mistakes will, inevitably, be made.

    Overall, good comment to an article that was bullshit to begin with. That was a prime example of lazy journalism that was attempting to create controversy/discourse in its content (see the last sentense as proof of this intent).

    Not all journalists are bad.