A story I missed last month: After University of Alabama-Huntsville professor Amy Bishop was arrested for shooting up her faculty department, Boston Herald reporter Laurel J. Sweet blew the lid off a shocking angle of the crime: Bishop was an avid player of role-playing games.
Accused campus killer Amy Bishop was a devotee of Dungeons & Dragons -- just like Michael "Mucko" McDermott, the lone gunman behind the devastating workplace killings at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield in 2000.
Bishop, now a University of Alabama professor, and her husband James Anderson met and fell in love in a Dungeons & Dragons club while biology students at Northeastern University in the early 1980s, and were heavily into the fantasy role-playing board game, a source told the Herald.
"They even acted this crap out," the source said.
I didn't think the press was still capable of anti-D&D hysteria like this. Back in the '80s, Joe McGinness wrote a ridiculous true-crime book on some murderer who blamed D&D for his crime, Tom Hanks starred in the anti-D&D TV movie Mazes and Monsters and grieving mother Patricia Pulling began the scare group Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons, blaming the game caused her teen-age son's suicide.
But these days, D&D and role-playing games are about as controversial as Yahtzee. Millions of people played the game as kids and grew up without worshiping the occult or committing murders. The deaths of game creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in recent years were major news covered across the globe, sparking countless remembrances by people who huddled around a table with dice when we could've been experimenting with drugs and alcohol. (I was going to say drugs, sex and alcohol, but who am I kidding?) Today, millions of people play MMORPGS and other videogames that are D&D in everything but name.
Like out and proud D&D geek Stephen Colbert, I was a dungeon master in my youth (and not the cool kind who wears assless leather chaps and ties women up on torture wheels in my basement). I've managed to reach middle age without killing anybody at all, not even a single drifter or truck stop prostitute.