Tuesday, August 08, 2006

At What Point Will They Blame Dungeons & Dragons?


I'm a little late on this one. David Markland over at Blogging.la alerted me to it on Friday, and I'm just now getting my head out of my ass long enough to throw out a completely ill thought out opinion.

Last week, Brandon Menard was arrested for the stabbing deaths of his mother, father and 16-year-old sister in their Northridge home. He called the police claiming that he found the bodies. Less than a day later he was arrested as the prime suspect.

At this point it hasn't been released as to why they think he did it. I hope it's the physical evidence and not something he said online.

However, Steve Huff did some digging, to the point where it looks like the Times and other papers may have used his research for their stories. Anyway, there are some pretty interesting things said on his MySpace and LiveJournal blogs and short stories that he's written.

Things like him saying he's going to kill his family, hates his parents, and so on. Personally, I don't think that's at all damning. The kid was 20 years old. Everyone has hated their family at that age. It's part of being an adolescent. And god forbid you're an adolescent writer.

From the way it sounds, he was a pretty screwed up kid struggling to figure out what to do in a situation that he saw, rightly or not, as untenable. In other words, normal. Whether he took the next step and actually did the deed is something else, entirely.

As Steve says in one of his comments
IÂ’ve said often that if someone I loved were hurt or went missing, IÂ’d dread cops coming into my house and seeing this big collection of true crime and horror and suspense novels, as that would raise red flags for some people.

But he continues on to make the point that it's the physical evidence that will really stand up in court.

Regardless, I think that his writings will bear some weight in his trial, provided that it gets to that. It's still iffy, from what we've heard out here in the real world, that he's the killer. It will be interesting to see why they brought him in.

So, even if he did it or not, there will be those who will look at this and see the villain as a series of online forums rather than a possibly sociopathic kid who slaughtered his family. Writing about death and killing was the sin. Reading comic books and watching gory horror movies brought him to his evil deeds. It's this kind of thinking that vilifies video games, alcohol, pornography, rather than the personal act of violence itself.

Wait for a bit, and I guarantee that this will get lumped into the same category as Columbine, with the typical knee-jerk cries for greater government oversight of children on-line. Every time something like this happens the fingers are pointed at things that people feel that they can control, rather than looking at the society, family dynamic, mental problems, what have you, that those things are, at worst, a symptom of and usually have no bearing to begin with.

Reminds me of an episode of the X-Files with Peter Boyle playing a psychic. When the killer confronts him and says, "Why do I do these things? Why am I driven to kill these people?" His response is, "Don't you get it, son? It's because you're a homicidal maniac."

Sometimes, killers are just nuts and that's all there is to it.

1 comment:

The Unsomnambulist said...

Actually, somewhere in the comments of Steve's site someone found that Menard was taking medication for psychiatric issues. According to the commenter, this same medication is meant to treat delusions and dementia.

As for blaming D&D, its always been my belief that people with homicidal tendencies are drawn to the game. For some, it becomes a great outlet and escape. But I don't think it MAKES or ENCOURAGES anyone to act out their fantasies any more than other forms of entertainment.

With this kid, maybe there were warning signs we didn't even know about. But it sounds like his writing was an outlet that may have kept from doing anything up til now. But his writings are similar to a lot I used to write about.