Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Pat Pulling!

Image appropriated from The Escapist
Suicide isn't funny and it's tragic when a mother outlives her child. This post isn't meant to belittle Patricia Pulling; however, the notion that role-playing games are part of a vast Satanic conspiracy is ludicrous and Pulling's birthday affords your humble host the opportunity to reminisce upon her effect on society and on our hobby.

Birthday Girl *
Pulling's son – Irving ”Bink” Pulling – killed himself in 1982 at the age of 16. Evidently, Bink was a troubled young man; Pulling's attorney said that Bink's “severe emotional distress” was known to school officials.  When tragedy strikes, an attempt to rationalize events is only human.  Pulling felt 'guilty' that she did not realize Bink's predicament (but somehow expected school officials to know) and Bink used Pulling's own gun to kill himself.  Pulling wanted (perhaps psychologically needed) a reason for Bink's death, so she attributed it to D&D.  Bink played D&D at his high school and Pulling maintained that he killed himself because of a “curse.”

Lawsuits that Pulling filed against the school's principal and TSR were dismissed, but Pulling forged ahead with her crusade.  She established BADD (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) to disseminate information about the dangers of role-playing games and the insidious pathway to Satanism they provided.  She ”educated” law enforcement organizations and even served as an expert witness in court cases.  This is distressing in that much of Pulling's information was inaccurate or misleading.  The dubious nature of Pulling's assertions was explored in detail by Michael Stackpole in his The Pulling Report.

Eventually, Pulling's influence waned.  Nowadays, D&D and other role-playing games are generally perceived as an innocuous – yet dorky – cultural phenomenon.  Still, the specter of human ignorance occasionally rears its ugly head and when someone who has played Dungeons & Dragons goes off the deep end, D&D is imagined to be a causative factor rather than an incidental one.

The Escapist hosts a BADD published booklet aptly named Dungeons and Dragons.  Whether or not it's a misprint, my favorite part is a quote on page 4, “I can almost see the orcas chasing after me...”

In 1988, Pulling claimed that 8% of the residents of Richmond, Virginia were Satanists.  From that time to when your humble host moved to Richmond, the Satanic population must have declined precipitously; either that or the devil-worshipers around here are remarkably low key.

Had she not passed away in 1997, Pulling would be sixty-four years old today.

*  For the record, I obtained Pulling's picture from some Italian blog.

nota bene:  No Satanists were harmed during the writing of this post.


  1. Wow, I had no idea the she was local. I am so pleased that local education systems were smart enough to ban D&D. That probably explains why the local Satanic population has dropped so much. On a personal note it is a shame that she passed away. I would love to meet her and kick her in the nuts for all the crap I had to put up with from aunts telling my parents how bad D&D and games were for me as a kid.

  2. Great post. Reasoned and accurate without flying saliva.

    On my last trip to Richmond, I would have pegged the satanists at about 14%, but it was at the old Floodzone before it got the finger. And an Urge Overkill concert. Maybe that is not the best sample.