Campus Police Chief Says Former Faculty Member A Threat To Public Safety Because Of A Game He Made 10 Years Ago

from the hysterically-yours,-Chief-Grohowski dept

Whatever the facts are behind the supposed feud between former Adams State University (CO) faculty member Danny Ledonne and the school, this one — which leads off an “open letter” from ASU Police Chief Paul Grohowski to “campus staff, students and faculty” — isn’t relevant. At all. (h/t to Techdirt reader wereisjessicahyde)

I want to take this opportunity to bring an issue of concern and public safety to the attention of our campus community; specifically the recent issuance of a trespass warning to Mr. Daniele “Danny” Ledonne. I also want to bring some clarity and factual basis to the recent disinformation spread on several social media sites by Ledonne.

Fact: Mr. Ledonne created a post-Columbine video game that recreates the horror of the Columbine HS shooting massacre.

Ledonne is the person behind the infamous game Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, which allowed players to reenact the Columbine High School shooting using the mechanics of mid-90s Japanese role-playing games. Ledonne also produced a documentary about the controversy surrounding the game’s release. A decade-old game that deglamorized the mystique surrounding the perpetrators of a particularly horrific act should bear no reflection on that person’s “threat level.”

Chief Grohowski tried to head off the discussion of Ledonne’s employment-related disagreements with the school by preying on fear and ignorance. Ledonne’s rebuttal points out ASU was familiar with his past creative works when it hired him. He also points out Grohowski is doing little more than exposing his own fear and ignorance by leading off his letter with this particular fact.

It is obvious that Mr. Grohowski has never played the game or watched the documentary, or any of the many academic publications that have examined my work.

ASU was fully aware of this when I was hired and have given me strong evaluations for four years. No mention was ever made and no concern was ever brought to my attention in this regard. In addition, ASU Theatre produced “Bang, Bang, You’re Dead” by William Mastrosimone in February of 2012 – a play that examines the very same topic as my videogame. Could anyone involved in this production be construed as a “threat to campus safety” for the same reasons? What about someone who published a book, wrote an article, or produced a film about a school shooting? What if a faculty member wrote a violent short story or maybe just an erotic novel under a pseudonym? Would that person be the next potential “threat to campus safety” by the same reasoning? This is a grave threat to freedom of expression and to academic freedom.

Ledonne’s blog post offers a point-by-point rebuttal of every claim made by Grohowski, who claims Ledonne has been harassing members of the school president’s family on Facebook. Ledonne disputes this, claiming he has been subject to unprovoked contact and legal threats by one of the family members.

Grohowski has banned Ledonne from the ASU campus, despite there being no formal or criminal complaints against him. Because Columbine.

In this post-Columbine, hypersensitive world of mass shootings and violence on college campus’ nationwide, it is my duty to balance the free speech and individual rights against the public safety of the many. As your Chief of Police it is my duty to assure the sense of safety, security and comfort to all who attend and work here at Adams State University. Although, Mr. Ledonne’s behavior has not yet breached the realm of violation of our laws, my recommendation to ban him from campus is sound, rational and errs on the side of public safety.

Well, at least he got the “hypersensitive” thing right. Grohowski apparently believes that if you make a game about a mass shooting, you may be headed down the road to participating in one. As Ledonne pointed out above, the chief’s actions single out a single form of creative expression as being somehow more inherently indicative of the creator’s mental proclivities than books, films, etc. about the same subject matter.

Again, what information we do have is pretty much limited to two conflicting narratives. But only one of them contains a completely irrelevant “fact” — one that’s being used to justify banning a person from a university’s campus for “public safety” reasons. This isn’t conscientious policing. This is simply a case of a particularly myopic law enforcement official attempting to climb on a moral panic bandwagon that has long since blown town.

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Comments on “Campus Police Chief Says Former Faculty Member A Threat To Public Safety Because Of A Game He Made 10 Years Ago”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

About Par

A lot of Cops do stupid stuff. That being said, Campus Cops usually do stupider stuff. Perhaps it is the proximity to a younger audience. It is easier to try to force ignorant policies on younger people as they are less world-wise. Plus the fact that Campus Cops have more power than a city or county cop. Go figure. The more power ignorance has, the more it is used to nefarious purposes, or just generally doing annoying, stupid things to the Sheeple they can harass because of said power. It is just overreach and mission creep.
When Guns, Badges, power and morons get together, it is usually one hell of a party.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Legality?

You might want to look up the shenanigans involved in the ConcernedStudent 1950 at the University of Missouri. Students protesting there, with help from some faculty members, took over some public land in a park and then prevented student journalists from approaching, saying the media was barred.

This is just par for the course from what I can see in the good ol’ US of A, land of the free.

AJ says:

Reading the letter it appears that the game was only a part of the reason that he was considered a threat to public safety. If the guy was acting irrational or dangerous, harassing people on social media, and being disruptive on campus as the letter states… combine all that with the game and I could understand why they were concerned with him. I wonder if there is more to this.

AJ says:

Re: Re:

Also; “President McClure” Sent out an email advising;
“This behavior includes direct and indirect threats against individuals and the campus as a whole. Sadly, in this day and age when mass violence on campuses and elsewhere is becoming an all too frequent occurrence we must act with the greatest degree of caution to safeguard this entire community.”

If this guy is threatening the students or faculty, he needs to be banned.

It goes on to say;

“While some may say that Mr. Ledonne doesn’t “mean his threats,” this does not relieve him of the responsibility for his actions.”

In this case, I’m going to have to agree. This guy obviously has a history and regardless of if he doesn’t “mean his threats”, the school really should be taking action.

http://watchingadams.org/news/president-mcclure-emails-students-student-responds/

seedeevee (profile) says:

Re: Re: I don't understand your type of sarcasm

You went to that “Watching Adams” webpage – why didn’t you keep on reading? Lazy?

“If anyone made a direct threat to the campus or individuals on campus, then I hardly think that a persona non grata status would keep them away. Persona non grata is weak in regards to preventing violence towards the school. If Danny has made direct threats of violence like you claim, why is he not in jail? If you were truly interested in protecting our safety, you would use all of the legal tools available to prevent it. If Danny had made a direct threat against anyone, then he would have been arrested. Why is there no legal case against him? Why have you not been able to procure evidence of these “threats” that he has made? Furthermore, I am not sure how one can “imply” a threat. Tell us all exactly what threats were made and why a hastily implemented institutional policy was used to address it. “

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re: I don't understand your type of sarcasm

“You went to that “Watching Adams” webpage – why didn’t you keep on reading? Lazy?”

Calling me lazy isn’t nice. I read the entire thing. Just because the school didn’t opt to have him arrested, doesn’t mean they can’t still consider him a threat and ban him. Perhaps they are regretting not having him arrested now… IDK.. but If he did in fact threaten them, then I can see the school’s point.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I don't understand your type of sarcasm

If anyone ever threatened anyone, anyone else can usually see the point. It’s a bit of a given.

So you are backing up the claims of a threat with evidence, or…?

Since Ledonne isn’t breaching confidentiality as the university has done (selectively), we won’t find out the “story” of the single putative threat on Facebook to someone who was pestering Ledonne. But the university had previously found no threat in the communication. This rather appears to be an abuse by the president, former president, and the campus cops.

And if he was making credible threats and they chose not to press charges, then they are equally idiotic and wrong in that regard.

Regardless: Bringing up this video game and film are irrelevant and stupid, as are a number of other claims listed which have nothing to do with anything, as far as one can tell, except it seems they are trying to construct a “motive” as well as disparage Ledonne’s character.

It’s like if someone from the Union of Concerned Scientists got irritated with someone bothering them and maybe said something someone wanted to construe as a threat. To make that threat “credible”, the police point out that this scientist has done nuclear weapons research showing just how bad the effects of such weapons are, used and unused. So, he must be a dangerous individual who is going to go all Nagasaki on someone.

Never mind that, you know, video games!

Heaven forbid the cops ever talk about these spree killings, because boy are they screwed next time someone calls excessive force on them, right?

Call me Al says:

Campus Cops

I’m always really shocked by the fact US Universities have their own police forces. Adams State University’s Wikipedia page tells me they have around 3.5k undergraduates. Do they really commit enough crime to warrant a police force? Is it just because of the drastic levels of underage drinking going on at the campus due to the silly legal drinking age? How is the campus police force possible large enough to warrant giving someone the title “Chief”?

seedeevee (profile) says:

Just being proactive

ASU Police Department revises mission
Posted on 05/04/2015

“Under the direction of new Chief of ASU Police, Paul Grohowski, the department has revised its mission statement:

“The mission of the men and women of the Adams State University Police Department is to mentor and guide the choices of tomorrow’s leaders by establishing community partnerships with our campus staff and students by providing proactive police and customer-related services aimed at crime reduction and the protection of life and property. “”

He’s just proactively adjusting the Constitution. Ya know, cop stuff.

Daniel (profile) says:

Um...

Is this guy seriously that ignorant and arrogant that he doesn’t think anyone that would actually carry out a shooting? Let alone a massive shooting to that degree. They would just ignore a no-trespassing / restraining order?

Should we go arrest every Grand Theft Auto player out there? I mean they’ve all stolen cars and shot people in the game, and god knows what else.

This just furthers my disrespect for the US’s education system. It’s simply full of incompetence and tenure prevents removing it. They’re also one of the few places s you pay to be treated like crap, or pay for a class that has a professor that simply just refers you to someone else, like a student aide or online video course.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.
When all you have his a shovel, you just keep digging.

As in all things there are 3 sides to every story, but this is truly transparent.

If he is indeed any sort of threat, involving the actual legal system is required. If instead this is a case of massive butthurt, as their actions appear to suggest, setting themselves up for a lawsuit seems to be the best course of action.

Once upon a time there was a student who brought a “bomb” to school, and in their haste to cover up rampant fear they invented a story… the problem was they never responded to the alleged threat in the fashion dictated by the seriousness of the claims. If you have a bomb threat, you evacuate to protect the most lives. If you instead want to cover up distasteful actions, you slap something designed to illicit fearful responses on top of it and hope no one looks closer.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Listen and believe.” Sorry, PC Principals, video games are as much a “cause” of school shootings as they are of rape (and YouTube videos are to blame for terrorism).

A company aptly named Sick World Software made a game called Schoolyard Slaughter for Atari and Amiga in 1992. A whopping zero school shootings were attributed to this game.

Oh, and for the Dirters who keep calling for Snyder’s scalping over the “offensive” Redskins name, a game called Custer’s Revenge was released in 1982 wherein General Custer pretty much rapes an Indian woman. Feminist troll Andrea Dworkin said (with zilch in terms of stats to back her up) that the game was responsible for a rape epidemic on Native American reservations. Except, 1) a game cartridge doesn’t rape anyone; 2) the game was clearly marked ADULTS ONLY, and 3) none of what she said ever happened, and if there were any rapes on reservations, this game was never mentioned in the cases.

I quickly grow tired of people who blame art for the actions of individuals. Seems there’s a severe drought of culpability these days. Don’t blame “my kid” for Columbine or Newtown; blame Marilyn Manson, or action movies, or law-abiding gun owners, or video games — anything but “my kid” or YOUR BAD PARENTING. The Milk-and-Twinkies defense is strong in the Force lately.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“General Custer pretty much rapes an Indian woman.”

Not “pretty much”, the raping is the point of the game.

What I find interesting about Custer’s Revenge (beyond the fact that people still talk about an ancient, low budget, objectively terrible game) is that all of the public denouncing of the game in the day resulted in sales of the game being about double that of the other similar titles in the company’s catalog. (CR sold about 80,000 copies. Their next best selling title was about 40,000).

Danny Ledonne (user link) says:

ASU Police Chief Paul Grohowski Resigns

ASU Police Chief Paul Grohowski Resigns

An email sent to all faculty and staff today confirmed that Adams State University (ASU) Police Chief Paul Grohowski resigned. Grohowski began serving with ASU PD in the spring of 2015. ASU has named Interim Chief Derouin-Greene to serve in this position. Grohowski’s resignation had long been anticipated by many in the Alamosa community as his house was for sale and many sources confirmed that Grohowski felt the Alamosa area was not a good fit.

In addition to several illegal drug seizures and arrests as well as a fleet upgrade, Grohowski was notable at ASU for serving former faculty member Danny Ledonne a No Trespass Order and later writing an open letter explaining why Ledonne was banned from campus, repeatedly invoking high profile school shootings such as Columbine and Sandy Hook in his explanation to the campus – verbally and in writing. In campus meetings on this topic, Grohowski never denied the existence of a “police watch list” naming Ledonne, as repeatedly claimed by ASU President Beverlee McClure. No such police watch list exists.

At this time, speculation still circulates as to whether Grohowski was designated as the “fall guy” for the lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of Ledonne, later resulting in a settlement for $100,000 to Ledonne and having the campus ban lifted. Watching Adams will continue to follow this story.

https://watchingadams.org/

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