You might remember a few months back when I posted about how a hyped-out sadomasochism scandal sunk Runequest IV—and the life of its designer. Recently my Seattle friend Scott (aka Scalydemon) pointed out in a Dragonsfoot thread discussing whether John Norman's Gor books would make for a good fantasy rpg setting (or not) another alleged sex torture and assault case.
|Cover art from Tarnsmen of Gor
Personally I have found the Gor stuff to be profoundly silly—and harmless—geek wish fulfillment, more offensive if anything for the quasi-fascist jawing about natural order than the soft-core BDSM.
Much of the writing and lifestyle cries out for satire, like the tone-perfect and hilarious Houseplants of Gor. The setting itself with its ancient-world trappings and clearly-written REH-like undertones had some potential (I hear, I could never get past the first even as an undersexed teen).
Still, to each their own.
The facts though of this particular case are troubling (but as always people have a right to a presumption of innocence). According to the Seattle popo, the accused man allegedly picked up a 24-year old streetwalker for “sexual role playing” took her back to his creepy bondage trailer and did a number of unsavory acts to her for over eight hours. Yuck.
What's interesting to me is only in passing does the Seattle local daily pick up on what just a 15 years ago would likely have been a front and center bait fest: the fact that the defendant was self-professedly into a lifestyle based on the Gor books. It's mentioned in brief way down in the order of the inverted pyramid as a passing and related fact. I breathed a sigh of relief for one.
In the former case the defendant was ultimately cleared, yet the prosecutors and press went to town on him—and front and center in that hype was the lurid tie-on to fantasy role-playing games. Clearly the recent case is head shoulders higher on the creepometer than the one in the 90s, so its curious to me how little grist is made of the Gorean connection other than as a factual side angle.
Has society finally moved on from fantasy role-playing as a whipping boy (no pun intended)?