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Do Not Pass Go

July 20, 2003 - 10:19 p.m.

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Last Five Entries:
The Party's Over
July 11, 2004
The Next Day
My Nervous Breakdown
True Confessions: My Life as a Female Impersonator
March 15, 2004
Bite Me
February 29, 2004



I just did something really stupid that could land me, one of my friends, and perhaps a lot of other people in a prison camp in Guantanamo Bay for a long time.

The story starts last month, when I had dinner with a friend of high school of mine, whom I am calling Jake (or perhaps I should use his Muslim fake name, Muhammad Ali). Jake, if you don't recall, is whiter than I, but he converted to Islam about seven or eight years ago.

Since his conversion, Jake hangs out mostly with his Muslim buddies, primarily because that is what his wife demands. But he snuck out of the house to have dinner with me and Elwood. Over dinner, Jake informed us that he had been playing a lot of paintball over the weekend. But he can't do that anymore, because most of the guys he was playing paintball with are in prison right now, indicted on terrorism-related charges.

While you might expect all Muslims to be particularly outraged at the American government's crackdowns and racial profiling aimed against Muslims, that stereotypical assumption, like all stereotypical assumptions, doesn't apply to actual individuals. Jake is all for the draconian government policies presented as "national security." Jake is one of those guys contributing to Bush's high approval rating. About his arrested friends, Jake said he never suspected that they would be involved in terrorism, but he's seen the indictment and it looks like they were bad guys. Of course, I had to remind him that indictments can be false, people are innocent until proven guilty, and all that civil libertarian stuff, but Jake wasn't buying it.

The feds have already investigated Jake as part of their dragnet investigation of every Muslim at the school where Jake works. Jake didn't mind talking to the federal investigators- in fact, Jake reports that the investigators are nice guys, and one of them complimented Jake on his gun collection. (By the way, this is Virginia, where the right to hunt is part of the state constitution, and owning at least one gun is a patriotic duty. So investigators really wouldn't worry too much about Jake's gun collection.)

Jake doesn't believe that the investigation on him is over. He's sure that they read his e-mail. But Jake laughs it off- to him, it's no big deal. (I know that early in his marriage, Jake's wife read Jake's e-mail to make sure Jake wasn't talking to his non-Muslim friends- perhaps Jake is just used to having his e-mail read by now.) Jake also jokes about the fact that he can expect a full search every time he goes through airports (going to visit his in-laws).

During dinner, Jake lamented that he couldn't do paintball on the weekends anymore, since so many of the guys he played with are in prison now. He also longed to play roleplaying games, something he hadn't done since high school and, and a pasttime that doesn't seem to be popular among his Muslim friends.

I and many of my high school friends used to play roleplaying games, like Dungeons and Dragons. I never grew out of the habit. I have a group of friends now that get together approximately once a month to play a game called Fantasy Hero, which is similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but it has different rules.

I am going to spare you most of the geek-talk about roleplaying games. You only need to know two things about the games. One of those things is simply that they are different games with different rules.

I told Jake that he was welcome to join with my group that plays Fantasy Hero. We all played last week and had a good geek time. When Jake arrived for the game, he warned us about two things. First, he warned us that officially he was not playing with us, but at a conference at work. (Apparently, his wife still has a problem with Jake hanging out with non-Muslims.) Secondly, he told us that when we sent e-mails to him concerning the game, to just be careful about what we wrote. We all understood why. He joked that he didn't want to end up at Guantanamo Bay for years on suspicion of owning a pulse rifle.

(For you non-geeks, a pulse rifle is a fictional gun in the movie Alien.)

Yesterday, I wrote an e-mail to Jake about the Fantasy Hero game. Because he's unfamiliar with the Fantasy Hero rules, I wanted to give him some points to remember about the rules.

So here's the other thing you need to know about the rules of these roleplaying games. The geeky roleplaying terminology for medieval projectile weapons (bow and arrow, javelin, throwing knife) is that they are called collectively "missile attacks." Rules that related to using these weapons are rules relating to "missile attacks."

I felt that Jake needed to brush up on that set of rules, so my e-mail to him included a discussion of "missile attacks."

It wasn't until after I had sent the e-mail that I realized that I had just sent an e-mail to a Muslim man, whose e-mail is probably being monitored by federal investigators, and that e-mail discussed "missile attacks."

That could very well trigger a red flag for the feds.

So, if you don't hear from me for a few years, I'm at Guantanamo Bay, held without charges or access to a lawyer, being tortured to reveal what I know about "missile attacks," as I plead desperately with tears in my eyes, "But I already told you, you have to look up the die roll modifier on the chart on page 246 of the rulebook..."

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