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.