Friday, March 11, 2005

Worst... Spy... Ever...

Apparently, the Israeli Defense Force feels that believing in all-powerful, magical being who talks to people in the form of a burning bush is okay, but playing D&D is bad (thanks to Ed for the link).

The IDF automatically gives a low security clearance to those who play D&D (and other, similar roleplaying games, presumably), based on D&D players being "detached from reality," having "weak personalities," and "a tendency to be influenced by external factors which could cloud their judgment." IDF soldiers who admit to playing D&D are actually sent to a military psychologist as if playing D&D makes one automatically mentally ill!

Bad idea, Israelis. If you don't let geeks have security clearances, you're never gonna develop any good high-tech gadgets or weapons. A lot of the engineers and scientists who work on sensitive programs in the US are avid roleplayers and removing them from sensitive work en masse would probably cripple a lot of cutting-edge military technology programs. I have personally known a number of geeks who were engineers in the Air Force. I know that there are geeks working on both the Air Force's new F-22 "Raptor" Air Superiority Fighter and also the Joint Strike Fighter. Cutting roleplaying geeks out of the mix is going to reduce your overall available brainpower a great deal, and given how small a country you are (smaller than New Hampshire), you don't have so much brainpower available that you can afford to waste it.

It also occurs to me that, of all the security breaches I had to become familiar with when I had clearance, exactly none of them were committed by roleplayers. Most were committed by seemingly upright, pillar-of-the-community types who never engaged in any fringe activities, and certainly not D&D. In fact, roleplayers tend to have an exaggerated idea of honor and patriotism compared to others, and in many ways are much less likely to commit espionage than the general public. I, myself, am not that great at following rules. But one thing I would never even consider, no matter how much money was offered to me, is giving enemies of the US classified information.*

Now, I'm not going to say that there aren't roleplayers who have "weak personalities," "a tendency to be influenced by external factors which could cloud their judgment," or who are "detached from reality." I have had the misfortune to deal with many, many roleplayers who possess one or more of these traits. But, during my life, I have encountered many, many more people who have never even heard of D&D who fit these descriptions just as well as any roleplayer.

I mean, George W. Bush, to pick an example at random, as an evangelical Christian, supports Israel simply because Jews have to control all of the holy land before the Rapture can happen and Jesus can return. Yes, that's right, Israel. While you're saying that someone who pretends to be a wizard for a few hours on saturday night isn't trustworthy to know sensitive information, your main ally in the world is a guy who likes you because he needs you to do something so he can then be magically lifted up into the sky while you burn and suffer plagues and torments.

Heck, presumably you let Jews into the IDF, right? Well, you know, Judaism tells us that there once walked upon this very Earth a talking donkey. And that someone waved his hand and made the sun stand still in the sky. And that the giant offspring of angels and women once walked free. And on and on...

Talk about being "influenced by external factors!" As if religion isn't one of the greatest "external factors" ever and has controlled many more people than a roleplaying game ever has. And "detached from reality?" C'mon. Talking donkey, man. Talking freakin' donkey.


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