Cartoon: Token White Male Character


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If you don’t pay attention to online discussions of diversity in media, well then: Good for you. You’re getting outraged less often. Your blood pressure is lower. You’re not involved in endless debates about if Rey is more a Mary Sue than Luke was a Gary Stu. You may even be blessedly unaware of what “Mary Sue” even means.

The only downside is, this comic strip might not make sense to you.

But, briefly: In the last several years, online groups of (mostly) male, (mostly) white fans in various parts of nerd culture – gamergate, sad/rabid puppies, comicsgate, and possibly some others – have been really really angry at the increase in female and non-white characters in nerd media.

And they always say the same thing. “I have nothing against Black/gay/female/trans/etc characters! I just want them to be in the story for a reason, instead of having diversity shoved down my throat!”

And then, if it’s a fantasy genre like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (please don’t spoil me!), comes the inevitable claim that it’s unrealistic to have non-white characters in a European based fantasy culture, that it’s unrealistic to have female characters who can stand up to men in combat, that it’s unrealistic to have openly queer characters, etc etc etc..

Sometimes it’s not as unrealistic as they think. But also: Why should we care? If we can enjoy fantasy worlds with spells and dragons and flying heroes and all sorts of unrealistic creatures, then why can’t we also have diverse characters, if that’s what the author wants?

* * *

This one took weirdly long to write and draw. I mean, partly it was because the first time I penciled it, I then lost the entire file to a computer glitch. (And yes, I do backups in the cloud while I work to prevent this from happening. But this time the backup didn’t work.)

But, when I started on it again, I found it took me a long time to draw anything. Eventually, I decided it needed some rewriting, and I think that helped. (Very often, when I’m having trouble drawing a comic, it’s because some subconscious part of my mind is unhappy with the script).

My big storytelling concern, drawing this, was the gargoyle. I needed to have it be just a setting element, and not a character, for the first three panels; but still noticed enough so that when the gargoyle moves in panel 4, readers will be going “oh the gargoyle is a living creature!” rather than “where did that thing come from all of a sudden?”

It’s largely because of the need for the gargoyle to be a consistent and recognizable element that all four panels are shown from the same angle. But having all four panels at the same angle made it feel very “Doonesbury” to me as I was drawing it. (The gag is fairly Doonesbury-esque too).


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same corner of a rooftop in some “high fantasy” sort of setting. The rooftop is rough-hewn but fancy, with three small gargoyles, like snakes with animal heads, and one larger gargoyle, which looks somewhat dragon-ish.

There are two people on the rooftop: A human male, who is white. He wears no shirt and a red cloak. Next to him is an elf woman, who has facial tattoos, large pointy ears, wide eyes, and is wearing a flowing purple gown.

PANEL 1

The human is looking down at something that’s visible from the roof, stroking his chin thoughtfully, with a serious expression. The elf is positioned as if she was just looking in the same direction, but then looked out the corner of her eyes at him instead. She’s raised one hand in a “just a second” gesture.

HUMAN: If we break into Lord Vezox’s warbase at nightfall-

ELF: Just a moment. What’s the story purpose of your being a white male?

PANEL 2

The human and elf have turned so they’re directly facing each other. The human is a bit surprised looking; the elf looks a bit angry and is “talking with her hands.”

HUMAN: Er… What?

ELF: If there’s no reason your character needs to be a white male, then you’re just a token!

PANEL 3

The human is looking annoyed, crossing his arms. The elf is angrily yelling, holding up a hand in a “stop that” gesture.

HUMAN: But what about white male representation? What about-

ELF: Don’t bring in that SJW garbage! It’s just not realistic to have a white man in this setting!

PANEL 4

The large gargoyle has turned its head to speak to the human. The human is surprised looking. The Elf looks pleased.

GARGOYLE: And if we aren’t strictly realistic, fans won’t accept the story!

ELF: Yeah!

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc, Media, Media criticism, Race, racism and related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

119 Responses to Cartoon: Token White Male Character

  1. 1
    lurker23 says:

    “Why should we care? If we can enjoy fantasy worlds with spells and dragons and flying heroes and all sorts of unrealistic creatures, then why can’t we also have diverse characters, if that’s what the author wants?

    alot of people are not angry because of what the author wants, i think? if someone wants to write a story they should write what they want to write, if it has alot of white people or just a little bit of white people. but maybe i think some people are okay with “if that’s what the author wants?” if there are alot of not-white people but they are not okay with it when there are alot of white people, so i think maybe it is not really true always to say this is “if that’s what the author wants?” if people just cared about what the author wants then i think people would never really talk about who was in anything or complain because the race was not right, because it would just be what the author wanted, and that is not what happens.

  2. 2
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    In the last several years, online groups of (mostly) male, (mostly) white fans in various parts of nerd culture – gamergate, sad/rabid puppies, comicsgate, and possibly some others – have been really really angry at the increase in female and non-white characters in nerd media.

    This is very much the/a progressive narrative about these conflicts, but this is not what the other side of the conflict considers themselves to be angry about and they think that you are strongly biased to pattern match their actions to your narrative, instead of judging it objectively.

    They consider your narrative to be slander, strawmanning, etc; as well as being unfalsifiable.

    And then, if it’s a fantasy genre like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (please don’t spoil me!), comes the inevitable claim that it’s unrealistic to have non-white characters in a European based fantasy culture, that it’s unrealistic to have female characters who can stand up to men in combat, that it’s unrealistic to have openly queer characters, etc etc etc..

    Yet I’ve seen no anti-SJ person, including those that I know are gamergaters and who have very strong opinions about GoT, complain about Brienne & Arya being women, Tyrion being a person of disability, Grey Worm & Missandei being black and ending up in ‘white’ Westeros, Loras Tyrell being gay, etc.

    Of course, all of these characters are actually fairly well written and offer decent verisimilitude. For example, Brienne is butch in mind and body, not lithe and feminine. Arya, who is fairly weak, uses a rapier & knife, not a long sword.

    If we can enjoy fantasy worlds with spells and dragons and flying heroes and all sorts of unrealistic creatures, then why can’t we also have diverse characters, if that’s what the author wants?

    There is a big difference between unrealistic things that are realistic within the rules of the fantasy world and those that are not. If the fantasy world has normal physics and normal humans, aside from when magic is used, then in the absence of magic, characters should be bound to normal physics, even if that means that women are not as capable at strength-based combat, just like they are in the real world.

    What I see a lot is that criticisms of a lack of realism are dismissed as being due to discrimination, which seems an unfair accusation to me.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, please. I had an argument with a guy who identified with one of these movements, and was angry that Ms Marvel was about a “Moose Limb” (his exact term). How is that not racist?

    I’ve had arguments with comicsgaters who argued that this – by Erica Henderson, who they were criticizing because her Squirrel Girl wasn’t drawn in pinup style – was unprofessional “shit” (their word), and this (which actually is subprofessional shit, from the comicsgate-produced “Iron Sight”) is better.

    Your tastes are your tastes, and that’s fine.

    But different tastes can’t change that one of these artists can handle anatomy, and environments, and perspective, and fashion, and expressions, and the other can’t.

    Claiming that Henderson is a “diversity hire” – that is, she was hired solely because she’s a woman, not because she has a great deal of talent and was a great match for that project – is sexist.

    For that matter, claiming that a bunch of female Marvel staffers were hired to be male editors’ “girlfriends,” and calling another one a “cum dumpster,” is unquestionably misogynistic. That was said by the guy who wrote “Iron Sights,” by the way.

    And you know what? If you point out that that SAME misogynist has sometimes said something nice about a female character, or creator, at some point, that doesn’t magically make him non-misogynist. “Misogynist” doesn’t require hating absolutely all female characters and/or all female creators at all times. (And a similar point can be made for racism, homophobia, etc.).

  4. 4
    desipis says:

    Ampersand:

    I had an argument with a guy who identified with one of these movements, and was angry that Ms Marvel was about a “Moose Limb” (his exact term). How is that not racist?

    Here’s a left wing person calling for acid attacks on politicians she opposes. Does this cherry-picked example from the extremities broadly represent the cause of the larger group? Does yours?

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    Fantasy is fantasy, write what you want. The question becomes how do you make a story that readers relate to; what needs to approximate reality and what does not?

    For example; how close is your story supposed to approximate what is/was reality in a given place and time? If you plug a strong female leader, perhaps even one who leads in combat, in a culture where that kind of thing never actually happened, do you depict the other characters as reacting to this as they historically would have or do you have them act like 21st century characters do (or as you would LIKE them to do) where in other situations not involving this character you stick to the idiom of the culture you have based the story on? Do you present any rationale or background for this?

    A woman who is supposed to be a human without divine or extra-human characteristics who is stronger than any man? A man who is supposed to be a human without divine or extra-human characteristics who gives birth? If that’s the story you want to tell, fine. Write what you want. But expect that there will be people who will not relate to the story. If they don’t, don’t blame the audience. Ask yourself what you are trying to do when you write the story? Are you trying to hold the audiences’ attention and entertain and make a few bucks in the process? Are you trying to use it to illustrate a social/political point that you want people to think about and accept? Both are equally valid (and not necessarily mutually exclusive) aims. But in this day of blogs and social media the speed and volume of the feedback is much greater than writers have ever faced before. If that’s a problem for you then either reconsider what you write or do something else for a living or avocation. A story has to be a story. If it’s just a lecture telling people what you believe they should think I doubt that it’s going to go very far.

    It could be worse; as far as I know nobody is facing what anti-slavery press faced in some sections of the American South and West 160 years ago where it could get your press tossed in river and you either tarred and feathered, or just shot.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    It seems to me as well that part of the issue is that odd changes are being made to established characters. For example; changing the sex of the character of Thor to female. That makes zero sense to me. Thor has always been presented as the Norse God of Thunder and the comic has constantly made reference to Norse mythology. There are goddesses in Norse mythology, but Thor wasn’t one of them. Making him a her seemed to me to be a clumsy and forced attempt to change the entire basis of the character and create a particular social message.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    RonF, the Marvel character was conceived from the start as a power that could be passed from person to person. Marvel later retconned that a little, but I don’t think returning to Jack Kirby’s original conception of how Thor’s power works can fairly called an “odd change.”

    At various times, Thor has been an alien and a frog. The alien was done the exact same way as Jane becoming Thor – the hammer decided, for a time, that he was more worthy of being Thor.

    It’s always been the case that someone else takes on the mantle of being [any popular superhero] for a while. It’s been done with Captain America, Captain Marvel (again and again), Ms Marvel (ditto), Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, Robin, Wonder Woman, Superman, and many others. That’s just the ordinary way mainstream superheroes have worked for decades.

    I’m curious: Have you read the Thor plotline you’re criticizing? Because although there are bits I don’t love, overall it’s a well written mainstream comic, and sold well, for Thor.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, fair point about cherry-picking. But the #comicsgate example is one of the most prominent CGers there is, without whom the CG movement would be extremely tiny, so I don’t think that’s a cherry-picked example. The leader of rabid puppies is a far-right white supremacist, and as the leader, I don’t think he could be called a cherry-picked example.

    Note: If anyone is inclined to defend V*x D*y, take it to another forum, please; defenses of VD posted to “Alas” might be deleted without warning.

  9. 9
    desipis says:

    You are still equating groups with different perspectives and motivations. The rapid puppies aren’t the sad puppies. Beale might be representative of the former as he started the group, however he’s not representative of the later. Gamergate is something else entirely. I’m not as familiar with comicsgate, but I get the impression its a different group again.

    You’re putting together a collection of groups you don’t like and trying to smear them all with the worst example you can find. The equivalent would be to put forward Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a representative of all muslims simply because he’s the leader of all ISIS.

  10. 10
    Chris says:

    Gamergate literally began as a smearjob of a woman who was falsely accused of exchanging sexual favors for positive reviews.

    But sure, it’s unfair to call the movement as a whole sexist. Tell me another.

  11. 11
    desipis says:

    Gamergate literally began as a smearjob of a woman who was falsely accused of exchanging sexual favors for positive reviews.

    Gamergate began when a victim dared to publicise allegations of abuse and the (gaming) media went all in on defending the alleged abuser, who just happened to have plenty of connections with those in the media.

  12. 12
    J. Squid says:

    Gamergate began when a victim dared to publicise allegations of abuse and the (gaming) media went all in on defending the alleged abuser, who just happened to have plenty of connections with those in the media.

    I have been told repeatedly that it’s all about ethics in gaming journalism. You guys need to agree about what it is and how it started or I may begin to think it’s all about the woman hate.

  13. 13
    Kate says:

    You are still equating groups with different perspectives and motivations. The rapid puppies aren’t the sad puppies. Beale might be representative of the former as he started the group, however he’s not representative of the later. Gamergate is something else entirely. I’m not as familiar with comicsgate, but I get the impression its a different group again.

    While they have somewhat different perspectives, the sad puppies, rabid puppies, gamergate and comicsgate all share similar motivations in objecting to what they consider to be over representation of women, POC, and other marginalized people; progressive story lines and/or progressive criticism in their various corners of geek culture.

    The equivalent would be to put forward Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a representative of all muslims simply because he’s the leader of all ISIS.

    No, that isn’t the equivalent. The equivalent would be citing something that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said as an example of extremist Islam as represented by groups like ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and Al qaeda, which would be totally legit.

  14. 14
    desipis says:

    J Squid.

    I have been told repeatedly that it’s all about ethics in gaming journalism.

    Defending abusers and demonising victims is an issue of ethics, is it not?

    Kate:

    over representation of women, POC, and other marginalized people;

    You’ve still got this wrong. At least with gamergate it’s not about “over representation”. They are generally fine with current (or even greater) levels of representation. It’s the ham-fisted, politically driven or tokenistic representation that is being objected to. And it’s objected to because it’s (perceived to be) ham-fisted, politically driven or tokenistic, not because the characters are racial or sexual minorities.

    Take a look at the criticism of the final season (or 2) of Game of Thrones. It’s become patently obvious that the writers see the characters as little more than a means to progress the plot towards a predetermined conclusion. The richness of the characters is gone and they are replaced with shallow cardboard replacements. It made the whole show feel cheap despite the enormous production quality.

    Similar objections can be made when writers treat characters as little more than a tool to make a political statement or achieve ‘diversity’. The best example I can think of is the “girl power” moment in Avengers Endgame. It was a moment that made absolutely no sense in broader scene. As a result it resulted in a jarring suspension of disbelief and was entirely cringeworthy. All because the writers treated the characters as a tool to make a political statement.

  15. 15
    Kate says:

    This Wikipedia article pretty much comports with my memory of GamerGate.

    Quinn, Sarkeesian and Wu were harassed, subject to death threats, doxed and driven out of their homes. It was silencing women who had the audacity to make games and comment on games the way they wanted to. This wasn’t about criticism or debate. It was about silencing.

  16. 16
    J. Squid says:

    They are generally fine with current (or even greater) levels of representation. It’s the ham-fisted, politically driven or tokenistic representation that is being objected to.

    Well, that’s certainly an interpretation of their position. Although it’s not really representative of their actions, it is definitely an interpretation of what they were about. It does, however, ignore the extreme misogyny of their words and deeds.

  17. 17
    desipis says:

    This Wikipedia article pretty much comports with my memory of GamerGate.

    That’s very biased article. This post provides a much clearer view of the key issues that underpin the rationale during the early period of the movement:

    Eron Gjoni publishes blog post documenting his alleged abusive relationship with Zoe Quinn, alleges that Quinn slept with video games journalist Nathan Grayson.

    Three large online forums (Neogaf, 4chan and /r/Gaming) ban all discussion of the controversy, which at the time was just normal internet drama.

    The day after Adam Baldwin starts GamerGate, a series of articles come out across several different video game websites (including Kotaku). These articles, often called the “Gamers Are Dead” or “Gamers Are Over” articles, claimed that the gaming community was racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. and that the “gamer” identity needed to die. These articles were based on a Tumblr post by a man named Dan Golding.

    The GamerGate hashtag, which was coined the day before, quickly blew up with hundreds of thousands (and eventually over a million) of tweets. Gamers from all over the internet were fighting back against what they perceived to be an attack on their culture, on their identity and on their intellect.

    Those last two points are probably the best summary of the movement. The media and progressive activists kicked off a coordinated hate campaign against an entire subculture consisting of millions people. That subculture chose to fight back. Endless culture war and hatred on both sides ensues.

    Although it’s not really representative of their actions, it is definitely an interpretation of what they were about. It does, however, ignore the extreme misogyny of their words and deeds.

    What actions? Are you cherry picking the actions of a small subset and using it to smear the larger group? Don’t be a bigot.

  18. 18
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I’m not at all familiar with ComicsGate, so I can’t speak to that. My point was more in general that the other side is being considered synonymous with a single evil agenda, while poor behavior from your own side is ignored.

    Rabid and sad puppies are different. Larry Correia, Brad R. Torgersen, etc, are not Vox Day.

    J. Squid,

    I have been told repeatedly that it’s all about ethics in gaming journalism. You guys need to agree about what it is and how it started or I may begin to think it’s all about the woman hate.

    What desipis said is actually consistent with “ethics in gaming journalism.”

    GamerGate is a lot like Watergate in that the investigation caused ‘damage control’ that itself became the (far) greater scandal.

    After the Gjoni allegation, the gaming media immediately stood by Quinn, clearly without any investigation or such. Most also removed discussions about it on their forums. So this looked very much like they were favoring their friend, rather than doing their job (investigating and reporting). However, even then it was peculiar how widespread this support was, as she couldn’t have known all these people.

    Then on 28 August 2014, ten game and tech websites all published similar articles, in the ‘gamers are dead’ vein. So collusion was then quite clear, because these articles must have been written at the same time and couldn’t have been in response to each other. Then on September 17, the existence of GameJournoPros was exposed. So many people saw this as proof of collusion & pushed narratives by game and tech media.

    Ultimately, it became self-sustained as nearly all mainstream media kept acting with prejudice. So people took to the GamerGate side relatively easily, as there is substantial evidence that the sanctioned narrative is wrong. With no journalists writing about the explicit support for doxxing & harassment by many prominent GamerGate critics, the clearly false to most likely false claims of being harassed, the abusive behavior by Quinn in multiple instances, the white nationalist & pedophile beliefs of someone who wrote for various feminists websites, etc, etc; it’s relatively easy to convince people that gaming media are a corrupt clique who accept a lot from their ingroup and who hate and are unfair to their outgroup.

  19. 19
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    I’m not at all familiar with ComicsGate, so I can’t speak to that. My point was more in general that the other side is being considered synonymous with a single evil agenda, while poor behavior from your own side is ignored.

    Rabid and sad puppies are different. Larry Correia, Brad R. Torgersen, etc, are not V*x D*y.

    J. Squid,

    I have been told repeatedly that it’s all about ethics in gaming journalism. You guys need to agree about what it is and how it started or I may begin to think it’s all about the woman hate.

    What desipis said is actually consistent with “ethics in gaming journalism.”

    GamerGate is a lot like Watergate in that the investigation caused ‘damage control’ that itself became the (far) greater scandal.

    After the Gjoni allegation, the gaming media immediately stood by Quinn, clearly without any investigation or such. Most also removed discussions about it on their forums. So this looked very much like they were favoring their friend, rather than doing their job (investigating and reporting). However, even then it was peculiar how widespread this support was, as she couldn’t have known all these people.

    Then on 28 August 2014, ten game and tech websites all published similar articles, in the ‘gamers are dead’ vein. So collusion was then quite clear, because these articles must have been written at the same time and couldn’t have been in response to each other. Then on September 17, the existence of GameJournoPros was exposed. So many people saw this as proof of collusion & pushed narratives by game and tech media.

    Ultimately, it became self-sustained as nearly all mainstream media kept acting with prejudice. So people took to the GamerGate side relatively easily, as there is substantial evidence that the sanctioned narrative is wrong. With no journalists writing about the explicit support for doxxing & harassment by many prominent GamerGate critics, the clearly false to most likely false claims of being harassed, the abusive behavior by Quinn in multiple instances, the white nationalist & pedophile beliefs of someone who wrote for various feminists websites, etc, etc; it’s relatively easy to convince people that gaming media are a corrupt clique who accept a lot from their ingroup and who hate and are unfair to their outgroup.

  20. 20
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    Quinn, Sarkeesian and Wu were harassed, subject to death threats, doxed and driven out of their homes.

    In the case of Wu, the death threats were investigated by the FBI and shown to be from third party trolls (from SA and 8chan), not from GamerGaters. Furthermore, Wu lied about how long she was away from home (actually 1 night), making videos at later dates where she claimed to be on the run, but which were actually filmed in her home office.

    In general, Wu is fairly sloppy with her lies, most notably when she forgot log out of her account to harass herself, but not before someone made a screen shot. Brianna then deleted that post and made it again with a sockpuppet account.

    Also note that one of Wu’s death threats came from Chloe Sagal (6th sentence from the bottom), a GamerGate critic. Another fact that doesn’t fit the ‘GamerGaters are harrassers, while GamerGate critics are mere victims’ narrative.

    The way it works is that whatever GamerGate critics say is taken as gospel by most of the media (and thus Wikipedia), while GamerGaters get assumed to be at fault, for anything bad. What GamerGaters were and are asking for is no more and no less than that journalists act as journalists, who investigate the facts.

  21. 21
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’ve played Witcher 3, Skyrim and DA inquisitions, so I’m not really a true gamer. Is the intrusion of SJ really that bad in games these days? I mean, I saw a little of it in DA, but it wasn’t over-the-top, and that game had much bigger problems anyways. I can imagine that some SJ journalists who write on games may have had some critiques of Witcher 3, but how does that harm anyon?. Just enjoy that masterpiece of a game and cruise reddit threads to find other people who play games who share your tastes.

    It could be that I’m totally ignorant of what’s going on in gaming these days, but the whole thing seems overblown by pretty much everyone involved on both sides.

  22. 22
    desipis says:

    I can imagine that some SJ journalists who write on games may have had some critiques of Witcher 3, but how does that harm anyon?

    The first thing comes to mind is when Valve decided to essentially ban entire genres of gamesin response to political pressure, but the backlash caused them to change their minds.

    This sort of thing has a long history when it comes to gaming communities. Moral crusaders coming in and trying to forcibly shape the culture to suit their political ideals. Gaming communities had to develop a level of vigilance to defend itself. The fact that social justice politics hasn’t had a huge impact on games is precisely because of the way the communities have reacted. The social justice push of the last decade is derided because it’s largely the same thing packaged up in progressive politics.

    The problem isn’t critique itself; it’s when the critique comes along with shaming, intimidation and coercion that’s aimed at controlling and restricting what others do in their own free time. Which is so often does. The underlying language academics have popularised as a medium for critique is constructed in a way that maximises emotional response, and result in authoritarian and oppressive conclusions.

  23. 23
    Kate says:

    LoL – if everything you and Desipsi say about Quinn @17 and Wu @19:

    1.) Doxing, hacking and death threats are wrong, even if the targets are bad people.
    2.) Lying about where you are living when you’ve been doxed and received death threats is self-protection, not nefarious.
    3.) Still doesn’t explain why the flying monkeys went after Sarkeesian.

    Desipis @ 21

    Moral crusaders coming in and trying to forcibly shape the culture to suit their political ideals. Gaming communities had to develop a level of vigilance to defend itself. The fact that social justice politics hasn’t had a huge impact on games is precisely because of the way the communities have reacted. The social justice push of the last decade is derided because it’s largely the same thing packaged up in progressive politics.

    This is the whole point. Video games aren’t the private territory of libertarian white men. Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian weren’t outsiders. They’d been gamers since they were kids. The people criticizing are are doing so because they are part of the culture, but that culture is hurting them.

  24. 24
    J. Squid says:

    Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian weren’t outsiders.

    This can’t be noted often enough. They didn’t “…come in and try to forcibly shape the culture…” They were longtime members of that culture. And they were attacked by the misogyny of so many of their fellow citizens of gamer culture. You know, one of the things they were criticizing. They wound up being attacked by exactly the thing that they said was wrong in the gaming culture they were part of.

  25. 25
    desipis says:

    Kate:

    1.) Doxing, hacking and death threats are wrong, even if the targets are bad people.

    Gamergate has generally not done these things and opposed those who do.

    2.) Lying about where you are living when you’ve been doxed and received death threats is self-protection, not nefarious.

    Sure, but using (and possibly exaggerating) death threats from unknown sources to smear your political opponents is disingenuous.

    3.) Still doesn’t explain why the flying monkeys went after Sarkeesian.

    Sarkeesian made critical comments of large sections of gaming culture and gaming communities and received critical comments back. Is that what you mean by “went after”?

    Video games aren’t the private territory of libertarian white men. Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian weren’t outsiders.

    Neither are they are colony for the social justice types to rule over and dictate how things are done. It doesn’t matter whether they were outsiders or not. They allied with outsiders who were attacking the culture and community, and trying to make it subservient to a totalitarian ideology.

  26. 26
    Kate says:

    Sarkeesian made critical comments of large sections of gaming culture and gaming communities and received critical comments back. Is that what you mean by “went after”?

    No, I was thinking of the credible death threat which drove her from her home, and the threatened mass shooting, which let her to cancel a talk at Utah State University.

    There were also legal, but objectionable things, like hurling misogynist slurs and making a video game where people can punch her in the face.

  27. 27
    Ampersand says:

    In addition: One week’s worth of harassment that Anita Sarkeesian received. And this went on for years. (It’s still going on, although I hope it’s reduced by now). “Content warning for misogyny, gendered insults, victim blaming, incitement to suicide, sexual violence, rape and death threats.”

  28. 28
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, quoting Jeffrey:

    I can imagine that some SJ journalists who write on games may have had some critiques of Witcher 3, but how does that harm anyone?

    The first thing comes to mind is when Valve decided to essentially ban entire genres of games in response to political pressure, but the backlash caused them to change their minds

    According to your own link, the pressure came from Morality in Media, a right-wing anti-porn group. (They changed their name a few years ago to “National Center on Sexual Exploitation,” but they’re still the same right-wing Christian group, and they didn’t even go through a legal name-change, they just changed what they call themselves in public). They’re derived from the old anti-feminist Moral Majority, and a big part of their funding, at least in the mid-2000s, came from Congressional earmarks written by Republicans.

    Blaming that on SJ is pretty ridiculous.

    (As an aside, this seems pretty similar to comics in a way that’s not at all SJ or anti-SJ related. When one distributor becomes too important, it’s bad news for the art form, because it gives just one organization a big veto button on what can make it to large segments of the market.)

  29. 29
    desipis says:

    Ampersand:

    In addition: One week’s worth of harassment that Anita Sarkeesian received. And this went on for years. (It’s still going on, although I hope it’s reduced by now). “Content warning for misogyny, gendered insults, victim blaming, incitement to suicide, sexual violence, rape and death threats.”

    Kate:

    No, I was thinking of the credible death threat which drove her from her home, and the threatened mass shooting, which let her to cancel a talk at Utah State University.

    The harassment and death threats are a total red herring when discussing gamergate. Gamergate doesn’t advocate for harassment or death threats. Not to mention that Quinn, Sarkeesian, and Wu are all considered ancient history.

    Video games aren’t the private territory of libertarian white men.

    The idea that gamergate is explicitly or implicitly about claiming gaming as the domain of men or the domain of white people is an example of the blatant and hateful lies told to demonise people with legitimate concerns. See #notyourshield. The fact you would repeat it show you are either a malicious liar, or have been lied to and manipulated.

  30. 30
    desipis says:

    Blaming that on SJ is pretty ridiculous.

    Sure, but it is an example of the threats the gaming communities face.

    Here is an example involving SJ. A feminist writes an article criticising a gamer, and the gamer gets banned from YouTube as a result. It’s only after the community protests the ban, that the gamer gets his YouTube channel back.

  31. 31
    desipis says:

    And here’s a timely video from feminist and gaming commentator, Liara K, talking about the harm Sarkeesian’s videos did to the way games portray and market to women.

  32. Desipis:

    Gamergate doesn’t advocate for harassment or death threats.

    You’ve said this, or something similar to this, a couple of times during this discussion, but, as far as I can tell, you have not provided any links which show that whomever (and it might be more than one person) might presume to speak on behalf of Gamergate has actually said this. Nor have you provided, again as far as I can tell, any links which show Gamergaters in any substantive way publicly disavowing any of the behavior that you say Gamergate does not advocate.

    So, honest question, since Gamergate is not something I ever paid a great deal of attention to, could put some of those links up here. I’d be very curious to read them.

  33. 33
    desipis says:

    RJN: Do you realise you’re asking me for evidence of a negative? Ordinarily it’s on the party making the positive claim (i.e. gamergate is about harassment) that has the burden of evidence.

    But for the sake of making the point, here’s the relevant part of the mission statement from the kotakuinaction subreddit, one of the most well-known gamergate forums (emphasis mine):

    KotakuInAction is a community that condemns willful censorship, exclusion, harassment, and abuse.

    Now what evidence do others have to the contrary, that gamergate as a whole encourages harassment and abuse?

  34. Desipis:

    Thanks for that link. I will, for the sake of argument, take your word for it that KotakuInAction sufficiently represents those who might call themselves Gamergaters that its mission statement has, or should have, the kind of significance you claim for it.

    You did not, however, respond to the second part of my comment:

    Nor have you provided, again as far as I can tell, any links which show Gamergaters in any substantive way publicly disavowing any of the behavior that you say Gamergate does not advocate.

    You seem quite passionately convinced that the people who did engage in harassment, death threats, etc. do not represent Gamergate, but why should I take your word for it? And I mean that as an honest, not a snarky question. It would seem to me that if Gamergaters were sufficiently disturbed by those behaviors which were done, more or less (as I understand it), in their name, or at least in the name of the issue they cared about, then the Gamergaters themselves would have taken pains to distance themselves from those behaviors.

    If they did, it would help me understand this discussion to know about it. If they didn’t, then I will ask again, Why should I take your word that Gamergaters did not at least tacitly embrace the harassment and death threats, etc?

  35. 35
    Ampersand says:

    [Content warning, crude but vicious misogyny with sexual imagery.]

    There are indeed links of gamergaters publicly disavowing abuse. Gamergaters had this thing where they’d talk about feminist critics as hateful monsters determined to crush gaming and gamers forever, while at the same time hundreds of anonymous accounts were engaging in gross abuse, coordinated on 8chan, while gamergaters publicly maintain that of course they’re very against abuse and that all this abuse attacking the people they’re spreading hate against is just a wacky coincidence and anyway probably the abuse was made up by the victims.

    So, for instance, GamerGaters wrote stuff like this on the #BurgersAndFries IRC channel, which was an important gamergate hub at one time. (“Burgersandfries” and “5guys” are references to the misogynistic smears that Zoe Quinn had sex with people in exchange for good reviews of her games.)

    Aug 23 01.51.50 fuck zoe quinn

    Aug 23 01.52.08 she’s not interested in equality she’s interested in stuffing her flappy cunt with flaacid boy penises

    Aug 23 01.52.38 To be honest, I wouldn’t credit her with depression quest since she only provided 75 lines for it, Cameralady
    Aug 23 01.52.54 that’s less than the lines of cum she’s swallowed

    Aug 23 01.53.26 let’s al capone her

    Aug 18 17.25.56 gee, i wonder why he would take that position…
    Aug 18 17.26.08 I bet she fucked him, he got STD and that’s why he got cancer in the first place

    You can read the context here. Notice that no one ever says “cut that misogynistic shit out”; this isn’t unusual, it’s the normal, hateful way gamergaters talk among themselves. It’s also very similar to what the anon abusers were saying (see the link in my previous comment, to a single week of abusive comments sent to Sarkeesian). But it’s all a big coincidence!

    (“Cameralady,” by the way, also sexually harassed gamergate critics and then basically said “it’s okay because I’m a lesbian”.)

    In the case of people who don’t themselves participate in abuse, there’s still this victim-blaming and over-the-top hatred and refusal to admit the obvious connection between hundreds of gamergaters spreading seething hatred against Sarkeesian and hundreds of anon accounts just-so-happening to attack Sarkeesian and others with the same complaints, and same tone, as gamergaters use among themselves.

    * * *

    Incidentally, I don’t believe that Zoe Quinn is an abuser, in the sense that we usually use the word.

    * * *

    I agree that this is all old news. I only brought it up as one example of an ongoing trend; comicsgate is the current example.

  36. 36
    Mandolin says:

    It’s really hard to deal with it when things you believe in are being used by others in order to hurt, threaten, and/or be violent to others.

    It’s really hard when someone is specifically using that belief in a way that opposes what that belief should mean — like someone who uses anti-racist SJW language (and probably at least some degree of sincere sentiment) in order to harass other women of color.

    There are always assholes on the fringe, and they will always be a force for destruction. It’s not unusual for any group of people to attract some.

    If your movement is regularly producing people who are being violent and/or threatening, though, you need to interrogate the way in which your movement/community/whatever may be feeding into that, and see if there are ways in which you can adjust to protect others without turning away from your core values. (Assuming we are talking about a community that does not want violence to be part of it. Some communities do want violence–people from the KKK aren’t going to be credible saying their organization is categorically opposed to racial threats and violence.)

    I suspect the next question will be to me, asking whether I’ve ever done this–pushed back on people who are trying to affiliate themselves with me. I certainly have. Sometimes people are close to you, or doing work that has its virtues, and it hurts to carve them out.

    I suspect the next next question will be asking about terrorists who use Islam as their banner — I think some differences are: 1) There has already been a long and intense history of Muslims denouncing terrorism, 2) Islam is a sufficiently large category that it’s not directly analogous to Gamergate which was focused on a time, place, and specific idea, 3) Because of racism/colonialism/war/whatever, Islam happens to coexist with a lot of other things, many of which are known to cause negative social effects. During the Irish Troubles, it might have seemed mathematically possible to suggest that being redheaded caused terrorism (yes, I know this is a stereotype, I’m hoping you’ll go with me anyway), but it wouldn’t have been accurate since both redheadedness and terrorism were actually both consequences of “we are in a specific country that is undergoing political turmoil and also happens to have a larger-than-average population with an unusual physical feature.” (I think the idea that redheadness causes terrorism is facially ludicrous now, but there were certainly many times when it was considered a signal of compromised character.)

    Anyway, if you are consistently associated with violent people, I think you are morally obligated to ask yourself, 1) Why? 2) What can I do about the why? 3) What would the consequences be of doing that thing?

    Maybe you can conclude that the “why” is a third factor, and there’s nothing you can do about it; maybe you conclude that the consequences of making a change would be more unethical than the current situation. But morally, you have to ask.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    Sure, but it is an example of the threats the gaming communities face.

    Here is an example involving SJ. A feminist writes an article criticising a gamer, and the gamer gets banned from YouTube as a result. It’s only after the community protests the ban, that the gamer gets his YouTube channel back.

    desipis, that second article is an incredibly bizarre one for you to cite given that you have been insisting that misogyny and racism aren’t significant problems in gamer culture, and that social justice warriors are lying when they say they are.

    This is from your link:

    Along with that, Shirrako has another video on his channel titled, “Annoying Feminist Fed To Pigs” in which a suffragette is shot in the face and then deposited in a pig pen to be eaten. Then, the protagonist kicks a pig.

    Other Red Dead Redemption 2 videos that Shirrako has posted include “Deporting a Mexican,” “Beating Up Chinese Man,” “Man Married Sheep & Slept With It (Strange Discovery),” and “Pedophile Locks Up Kid.”

    You can argue that he shouldn’t have been banned for these videos, and I may even agree with you. But if he’s supposed to be a representative of gamer culture under “threat,” I don’t see how you think it makes gamer culture look good, nor why we should be concerned about the threats when this one amounts to “a racist with girl issues got his account temporarily suspended in what YouTube claims was an accident, then got it restored.” Orwell weeps.

    It’s also worth noting that the critic you cited did not argue that the channel should be banned by YouTube–he merely asked questions about what the videos indicated about gaming culture in general. Is it your position that such criticism is out of bounds? If so, why, and what exactly did that critic say that you object to?

    Not to mention that Quinn, Sarkeesian, and Wu are all considered ancient history.

    Ok, sure. But…so is GamerGate. And given that GamerGate literally rose as a reaction to these women, and that it’s a very recent movement, it isn’t reasonable for you to expect people to talk about GamerGate without talking about its treatment of these women.

    “Gamergate literally began as a smearjob of a woman who was falsely accused of exchanging sexual favors for positive reviews.”

    Gamergate began when a victim dared to publicise allegations of abuse and the (gaming) media went all in on defending the alleged abuser, who just happened to have plenty of connections with those in the media.

    Note that these two claims are not mutually exclusive, and that even if your claim is true, it is not a denial of my claim.

  38. 38
    Ampersand says:

    Sure, but it is an example of the threats the gaming communities face.

    You were literally answering the question “I can imagine that some SJ journalists who write on games may have had some critiques of Witcher 3, but how does that harm anyone?” So you just didn’t answer the question at all. And as Chris pointed out, your new example, if we took it seriously, seems to indicate that you think that the act of criticism is itself “totalitarian.”

    Now, to me, publishing criticism seems far less anti-free-speech than an organized campaign, aimed at advertisers on news websites, to punish publications that publish articles gamergate disagrees with.

    It what meaningful way is it “totalitarian” for someone to criticize a game or game culture, but not “totalitarian” to used organized boycotts to attempt to shut down criticism?

  39. 39
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    …the Gamergaters themselves would have taken pains to distance themselves from those behaviors. If they did, it would help me understand this discussion to know about it.

    See <a href="https://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/11/the-anita-sarkeesian-hater-that-everyone-hates/"here for a story about gamergate identifying one of the harassers involved. If that’s not enough, what else do you expect people associated with the movement to do, and do you expect people in other movements to exert a similar effort in distancing themselves from the bad behaviours of people in their group? (see e.g. Antifa and left wing media ).

    Ampersand,

    None of the quoted material is evidence of harassment (or death threats). It might be crud and insulting language, but it wasn’t directed at Quinn, and so isn’t harassment.

    So you just didn’t answer the question at all.

    Having your YouTube channel banned is a form of harm, so I think it is a directly relevant point.

    It what meaningful way is it “totalitarian”

    It’s a totalitarian ideology because it insists on dictating terms on every aspect of life. Gaming, moves, music, art, clothing, economics, employment, language, education, health, sex. It’s an ideology that demand subservience in absolutely everything.

    Chris:

    Orwell weeps.

    So basically, if you don’t appreciate someone else’s humour or art or opinion you’re totally fine with their livelihood and their community being destroyed?

    If so, why, and what exactly did that critic say that you object to?

    It’s not specifically that critic, but rather the concern is the broader culture of censorship and hostility that connect such criticism to authoritarian and censorious action.

    it isn’t reasonable for you to expect people to talk about GamerGate without talking about its treatment of these women.

    Sure, but there’s a massive difference between talking about the harassment as part of a broader context and claiming that the harassment is the main purpose or entire context.

  40. Desipis:

    I will read the link when I get a chance, but as far as this goes:

    [D]o you expect people in other movements to exert a similar effort in distancing themselves from the bad behaviours of people in their group? (see e.g. Antifa and left wing media ).

    The answer is yes, though it is almost certainly true that you and I will disagree about what constitutes such “bad behavior.”

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    Having your YouTube channel banned is a form of harm, so I think it is a directly relevant point.

    Having your YouTube channel temporarily banned is a mild inconvenience.

    It’s a totalitarian ideology because it insists on dictating terms on every aspect of life. Gaming, moves, music, art, clothing, economics, employment, language, education, health, sex. It’s an ideology that demand subservience in absolutely everything.

    This is too vague to be meaningful. The only thing I can think of that “dictating terms” might mean in this context is a group concluding that certain behaviors and statements are bigoted, and then expressing criticism of that. If you don’t agree that those things are bigoted, the correct remedy is to state your case, not argue that such things should never be criticized or that private companies should never react to such criticism.

    Chris:

    “Orwell weeps.”

    So basically, if you don’t appreciate someone else’s humour or art or opinion you’re totally fine with their livelihood and their community being destroyed?

    That’s not even what happened here, as the part I wrote directly before the part you quoted makes clear:

    You can argue that he shouldn’t have been banned for these videos, and I may even agree with you. But if he’s supposed to be a representative of gamer culture under “threat,” I don’t see how you think it makes gamer culture look good, nor why we should be concerned about the threats when this one amounts to “a racist with girl issues got his account temporarily suspended in what YouTube claims was an accident, then got it restored.” Orwell weeps.

    A temporary ban did not and could not “destroy” this guy’s “livelihood and community.”

    That being said, I would be “totally fine” with YouTube deciding it does not want to be a platform for people to use racism and sexism to build a livelihood and community. YouTube has zero obligation to give people that. Why do you believe they have such an obligation?

    “If so, why, and what exactly did that critic say that you object to?”

    It’s not specifically that critic, but rather the concern is the broader culture of censorship and hostility that connect such criticism to authoritarian and censorious action.

    In this case, there’s no evidence the two even were connected. And YouTube banning someone is neither “authoritarian” nor “censorious.”

    But you’re dodging the point entirely. You have claimed that GamerGate is not about racism or misogyny, but about protecting gamers from “threats” like criticism and “censorship.” To support that case, you provided an example of a gamer whose videos were openly racist and mysoginistic. Do you recognize that that weakens your case, to the point of making a rational observer doubt that you are even arguing in good faith?

    Sure, but there’s a massive difference between talking about the harassment as part of a broader context and claiming that the harassment is the main purpose or entire context.

    Fine goalposts you have there. Funny how they keep moving.

  42. 42
    desipis says:

    Chris, it’s clear you don’t understand the culture or the humour of these communities (it’s not “racism” or “sexism”) and are all to willing to cheer on their destruction, and you’ll do it while hypocritically claiming to stand for “tolerance” and against “hate”.

  43. 43
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    The answer is yes, though it is almost certainly true that you and I will disagree about what constitutes such “bad behavior.”

    This would be a good conversation to have. What do you think about Antifa assaults on reporters, even very unsympathetic ones like Andy Ngo? Is pepper spray to the face of a non-violent political opponent sometimes good? Is it good strategy, or does it actually aid the opposition?

  44. Jeffrey, Forgive my ignorance, but you’ll have to provide me a link if there’s a specific instance you want me to respond to. Otherwise I’ll just google Ngo when I get a chance.

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    desipis:

    Chris, it’s clear you don’t understand the culture or the humour of these communities (it’s not “racism” or “sexism”) and are all to willing to cheer on their destruction, and you’ll do it while hypocritically claiming to stand for “tolerance” and against “hate”.

    This, again, is what you are talking about:

    Along with that, Shirrako has another video on his channel titled, “Annoying Feminist Fed To Pigs” in which a suffragette is shot in the face and then deposited in a pig pen to be eaten. Then, the protagonist kicks a pig.

    Other Red Dead Redemption 2 videos that Shirrako has posted include “Deporting a Mexican,” “Beating Up Chinese Man,”

    These are, I will grant you, jokes. They are also racist and sexist jokes, literally by definition; while I can’t say I’m an expert in this type of humor, I know enough to know that the jokes do not make any fucking sense except as racist and sexist humor.

    It is completely dishonest of you to pretend otherwise, especially as you haven’t even attempted to explain why these jokes are not racist or sexist. You haven’t done that because you know you cannot do that.

    It is equally dishonest of you to pretend that my notion of “tolerance” requires tolerating bigotry and believing that it should not be criticized and not “destroyed” by platforms which don’t wish to host it. I really thought you were smarter than this based on your posting history here, but clearly you have recently become radicalized by some of the dumbest aspects of far-right YouTuber culture imaginable. A damn shame.

  46. 46
    desipis says:

    These are, I will grant you, jokes. .. bigotry

    They are jokes, NOT bigotry.

    platforms which don’t wish to host it.

    Having a handful of massive multinational corporations have such control over what ideas people can express and talk about online isn’t an issue of “platforms which don’t wish to host it”. The left seems intent on cheering on a dystopian future of corporate control, simply because their views are being pandered to at the moment.

  47. 47
    J. Squid says:

    Chris, it’s clear you don’t understand the culture or the humour of these communities (it’s not “racism” or “sexism”)…

    The humor cited is comprised of racism or sexism. It’s not making fun of racism or sexism or stereotypes thereof. The joke isn’t funny if you don’t share the same bigotries. And there are totally jokes that make fun of racism and sexism that are very funny if you don’t share that racism and sexism. That’s the line Amy Schumer played with, pretty successfully, for a long time by making the joke about the stereotypes of those bigotries. The humor of gamer culture cited here is the humor of xenophobia, misogyny and racism, not the humor of making fun of those bigotries.

    I deleted an earlier comment in which I said that perhaps you were telling us that the racism and sexism isn’t the point, just a bedrock norm. And that comment also noted how that isn’t, in any way, better.

    I now realize that I wasn’t being insulting, I was just being more perceptive than I thought I could be.

    And with that, I’m out of this thread and on to despair for human culture.

  48. 48
    desipis says:

    The joke isn’t funny if you don’t share the same bigotries.

    You’ve got that completely backwards. Part of the humour comes from the juxtaposition of the surface level fiction of bigotry against the underlying reality of not being a bigot.

  49. 49
    Chris says:

    They are jokes, NOT bigotry.

    This phrasing implies the two are mutually exclusive. Is that the suggestion you really meant? Is your position that jokes cannot be bigoted?

    Having a handful of massive multinational corporations have such control over what ideas people can express and talk about online

    Your framing remains entirely dishonest. They do not control what ideas people can express and talk about online. They control what can be expressed on their own platforms. Are you unaware that websites still exist? Facebook and Twitter banning Alex Jones did not magically make InfoWars disappear.

    It is easier for someone to get their messages out there to the public than it has ever been in human history. That remains true even for the most vile of bigots. Complaining because other people won’t let you do that on their websites—and pretending that the rest of the Internet doesn’t exist—is hysterical, snowflakey behavior.

    You’ve got that completely backwards. Part of the humour comes from the juxtaposition of the surface level fiction of bigotry against the underlying reality of not being a bigot.

    In the context of this specific YouTuber, please explain how you have concluded this “underlying reality.” Thank you.

  50. 51
    desipis says:

    Chris:

    In the context of this specific YouTuber, please explain how you have concluded this “underlying reality.” Thank you.

    “I know you’re probably expecting some political answer but the truth is it was simply a funny moment from one of my streams which I’ve decided to upload as a separate video,” Shirrako said. “Not sure if it was intentional by Rockstar Games but the NPC is made to be rather annoying, when you try to shop for clothing in the game, your dialogue with the shop keeper keeps being interrupted by her shouting, so I simply wanted to shop in peace, I’m sure that as a gamer you’re familiar with these annoying NPC situations.”

    And then explaining the subsequent context after being banned:

    YouTube closed by channel because I killed a female NPC in #RDR2
    They said It promoted violence.

    You spend the entire games murdering men and no one cares, punch a woman and you get banned, are you out of your mind

    If making a video of him killing a woman in a video game makes someone a bigot, does making a video of killing a man in a video game also make someone a bigot?

  51. 52
    Kate says:

    The place where I, personally, would draw the line if it were MY platform is, is the depicted behavior essentially a war crime (or the equivalent)? If the NPC was an innocent non-combatant being slaughtered for LoLs, male or female, I think that’s kind of sick. I don’t think that should be normalized. Play the game as you wish. Post it on your own website or some cesspool like 4chan. It’s not like you’re without options. As Chris said, so well,

    It is easier for someone to get their messages out there to the public than it has ever been in human history. That remains true even for the most vile of bigots. Complaining because other people won’t let you do that on their websites—and pretending that the rest of the Internet doesn’t exist—is hysterical, snowflakey behavior.

  52. 53
    Kate says:

    Having a handful of massive multinational corporations have such control over what ideas people can express and talk about online isn’t an issue of “platforms which don’t wish to host it”.

    I’m actually with you on this, to a certain degree. We still have the freedom now, but the loss of net neutrality under Trump means that it may not be the case forever. But, then you go directly off the rails:

    The left seems intent on cheering on a dystopian future of corporate control,

    Everyone who advocates breaking up large media empires is on the left.

    simply because their views are being pandered to at the moment.

    FFS, Feminists can’t even get Facebook to stop banning people for sharing information about breast cancer and breast feeding. Get out of your bubble. No one but the big media conglomerates are happy with the present set-up, and it’s only going to get worse under conservative rule.

  53. 54
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RJN, the link you’re requesting from me was posted by desipis, I should have included it or mentioned it. Here it is:

    https://quillette.com/2019/05/29/its-not-your-imagination-the-journalists-writing-about-antifa-are-often-their-cheerleaders/

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think much of Ngo as a writer or journalist, but seeing him get attacked physically makes my blood boil. What the hell kind of culture tolerates pepper-spraying a man just standing there with a camera, and how exactly does it help anyone’s cause? It only gives Ngo the story he was looking for.

  54. 55
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    The idea that videos depicting war-crimes in video games should be banned is just weird to me. Tons of games either encourage, or provide the option for players to play villains, or at least morally complicated characters. I mentioned skyrim earlier. That game features several “quests” that asks the player to do truly awful tasks in order to get great rewards. We’re talking beating an old man to death in a cage, or lying to a friendly npc to get him or her pinned to a sacrificial alter where they are killed, or even convincing a priest to enter a cave where a canabilistic cult will kill and eat him.

  55. 56
    Kate says:

    The idea that videos depicting war-crimes in video games should be banned is just weird to me.

    I never said they should be banned. I said:

    The place where I, personally, would draw the line if it were MY platform

    I don’t like them, and I wouldn’t want them on my blog or personal platform. It is called freedom of association. That right is every bit as fundamental as freedom of speech.

  56. 57
    desipis says:

    Kate:

    Everyone who advocates breaking up large media empires is on the left.

    There are a lot of people in gamergate who would like big companies such as facebook and google/youtube broken up. Does this mean you’ve accepted that gamergate is part of the left?

    I don’t like them, and I wouldn’t want them on my blog or personal platform.

    There’s a big difference between a personal space like a blog, and an entire platform that is an integral part of the lives of billions of people. It’s fine for the former to be restricted by the whims of the owner, while the later should be as open and free as the public square.

  57. 58
    Kate says:

    There are a lot of people in gamergate who would like big companies such as facebook and google/youtube broken up. Does this mean you’ve accepted that gamergate is part of the left?

    I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I meant that all the politicians who advocate breaking up large media empires on the left. I acknowledge that there are a lot of Trump-supporting libertarians who would like that in theory, but either prioritize other issues (eg. lowering their taxes, locking up Mexicans, making abortion illegal) or are too stupid to realize that voting for Republicans won’t get them any closer to the goal of breaking up those empires.

    while the later should be as open and free as the public square.

    All those public squares where it is perfectly acceptable to broadcast R-rated sex and violence?

  58. 59
    Chris says:

    “I know you’re probably expecting some political answer but the truth is it was simply a funny moment from one of my streams which I’ve decided to upload as a separate video,” Shirrako said. “Not sure if it was intentional by Rockstar Games but the NPC is made to be rather annoying, when you try to shop for clothing in the game, your dialogue with the shop keeper keeps being interrupted by her shouting, so I simply wanted to shop in peace, I’m sure that as a gamer you’re familiar with these annoying NPC situations.”

    And then explaining the subsequent context after being banned:

    YouTube closed by channel because I killed a female NPC in #RDR2
    They said It promoted violence.

    You spend the entire games murdering men and no one cares, punch a woman and you get banned, are you out of your mind”

    Absolutely none of this supports your assertion that the humor comes from the “juxtaposition of the surface level fiction of bigotry against the underlying reality of not being a bigot.“

    For that to be the case, the target of the jokes in these videos would have to be bigots themselves—not the people they’re killing and “deporting.” Do you have any evidence that that is the case?

    If making a video of him killing a woman in a video game makes someone a bigot, does making a video of killing a man in a video game also make someone a bigot?

    If that video shows someone taking special joy in killing a man specifically because they are a man—in the same way the videos you brought up to prove how unfair everyone is to GamerGaters show someone taking special joy in doing harm to women and minorities because they are women and minorities—then yes.

  59. 60
    Chris says:

    Kate:

    All those public squares where it is perfectly acceptable to broadcast R-rated sex and violence?

    This. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone complain about being “censored” for saying something on Twitter that would get them kicked out of any town hall meeting in America, I’d have enough to fund all of their ramen and Gatorade budgets for the rest of their lives.

  60. Jeffrey:

    This is what you asked me:

    What do you think about Antifa assaults on reporters, even very unsympathetic ones like Andy Ngo? Is pepper spray to the face of a non-violent political opponent sometimes good? Is it good strategy, or does it actually aid the opposition?

    On the one hand, I think the answer is simple: I think that attacks like the one in the video are wrong, full stop.

    However, I think asking the question that way is too easy.

    The fact is that, regardless of how non-violent right-wing extremists may be in their behavior—no matter how nicely they have learned to “clean up,” so to speak—what they ultimately advocate is violence. The only way they will ever achieve for themselves the kind of society they envision, after all, is through some form of violence against those whom they see as standing in their way. There is, in other words, no way to escape Popper’s Paradox.

    That, to me, is the real, more important question posed by the “intolerant” tactics of Antifa and the like. Incidents like the one captured on the video in the link desipis provided should probably be prosecuted as a crime. Stopping at that level, however, avoids the far more difficult question—and I think it is a question we are wrestling with in the US right now.

  61. 62
    Michael says:

    @Richard- I agree, the only way that they will achieve the society they want is through violence. But the same could be said of the Communists of the 1940s and the 195os. (Remember, these were the people that made excuses for Stalin and Mao.) And liberals have usually argued that repression against them was wrong. (And both of them sought help from Russia.)
    The classical liberal argument against repression is that it makes people more reluctant to voice NECESSARY ideas- even if you don’t agree with the person being repressed, you’re going to avoid saying anything that could remotely be taken as supporting his ideas because you don’t want to be repressed.

  62. 63
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    That we’re even bothering to debate whether the “annoying feminist fed to pigs” video is funny, is the real problem here. As a fan of pluralism, I’m okay with people finding that video funny, and I can see how it could be without resorting to bigotry, even if it’s not all that funny to me. I can imagine the exact same video, but substitute the feminist for a fire-breathing homophobic southern baptist preacher being lassoed and dragged from his church, and I’d probably find it funnier, in much the same way that I find the violence in Django Unchained funnier still (well some of it, anyway. there was absolutely nothing funny about the mandingo scene, as well as others). I realize some people won’t find violence funny, not even Tarantino’s violence, and that’s okay, I just wish they wouldn’t be “woke-scolds” about it, and take a more charitable view of those that do find it funny.

    To those who can’t imagine why “annoying feminist fed to pigs” is funny, I’ll appeal to South Park, and the ill fated charachter who is Kenny. During certain seasons, Kenny would die every episode, and the deaths got more ridiculous and the violence he endured more extreme. It was like a game of mouse trap, only instead of a basket falling on a mouse, the viewer is treated to Kenny being subjected to violence. Or sometimes, as a twist, Kenny’s death would just happen is a sudden shocking and unforeseeable way. I laughed hard as a kid. Sometimes I still laugh if my wife and I rewatch old episodes with dinner. I laughed even though I’m not in favor of impoverished children being killed.
    What’s funny isn’t Kenny’s suffering, the humor works only because the context is a crudely drawn cartoon the features 4th graders, and the violence is wildly out-of-place and jarring, but not sickening in the way it would be if the characters were drawn to look more like real boys. Another example again comes from Tarantino, in the movie Pulp Fiction. Everyone who’s seen that movie remembers when Travolta’s character suddenly, but accidentally blows a man’s head off in the back of a moving car, creating a terrible mess that needs remedied. It’s crucial that this ill-fated charachter is never developed or even given a significant line, he’s just there as a prop. This plot-line is my favorite in the movie by far, and it’s because of the way Tarantino forces me to confront the fact that I’m laughing because a man got his head blown off.

    Not everyone will find Tarantino funny, and that’s okay. At the same time, most people won’t find “annoying feminist fed to alligator on Red Dead Redemption” funny. Some people will find these things funny, and just as liking Pulp Fiction doesn’t make me Okay with blowing off the heads of young men in cars, kids who laugh at an “annoying feminist” meeting a gruesome end aren’t necessarily bigotted (I know what you’re thinking. “look at the youtube comments, those kids are biggots. Yes, many of them are bigots. Youtube comments are not the world, and if “Django” was free to view on youtube, the comments would be every bit as bigoted, likely worse. This by itself wouldn’t indicate that people who enjoy Django are bigots)

    I’ve never seen or played Red Dead Redemption, but I was struck with the degrees of freedom I witnessed in the videos linked in the liked Vice article. I doubt I have a computer that could handle a game like that, but those videos make me want to play it, as I imagine many hilarious moments emerge due to the chaotic nature of such an open and free virtual world, and that’s going to include some very dark moments for people who feel like exploring certain paths. And that’s fun and interesting, and I can see how gamers might fear the intrusion of any ideology, be it the religious right or the SJW left into the corporate cultures of game developers. I’m not saying the ideology is currently hampering game development, I mean, I just watched a suffragette lassoed and dragged through a town. What I am saying is this: to whatever degree activists and game journalists organize to push for changes to games themselves, gamers are justified in organizing an equally vocal opposition to keep games open and interesting. There’s an assymetry here that needs exploring, and that’s how the SJ activists in favor of moving gaming culture in a certain direction want to control what I can experience, while gamers who oppose them don’t necessarily (although some do. “get this minority charachter out of my game” is the right-wing version of this)

    As to the accusations from both sides of doxxing, and threats, and in same cases fake threats, I take the standard “don’t do that” position. That said, I think it’s often the case that fair criticism from both sides is labelled harassment, and this is especially the case when the fair criticism is coming from a critic with higher status with more influence. Fair criticism doesn’t include homophobic or misogynistic attacks, it also doesn’t include “you’re a bigot for disagreeing with me because I’m anti-bigot.”

  63. 64
    J. Squid says:

    I’m not saying it’s not funny, Jeffrey, I’m saying that the humor relies on the listener being bigoted in the same way as the joke. The context supports that assertion. It isn’t absurdist dark humor the way Kenny’s deaths are, it’s the straight bigotry and hate that are the basis & core of the joke. It’s like jokes about the victims of genocide – those only being funny if you support the beliefs leading to the genocide.

  64. Michael:

    What you point out is part of the paradox, though, isn’t it? The intolerance can come from, or be direct at, the left or the right and the paradox doesn’t essentially change. Moreover, while what you say about the classical liberal argument might be true—ie, that you lose something very important if people become afraid to speak because they might be misconstrued as supporting intolerance—I wonder if there isn’t a limit to that as well. Speech alone, after all, will not (has not, does not) prevent the intolerant from gaining political (and other) power and influence, and once they have that power they are almost certainly not going to reciprocate with the kind of tolerance towards you that you showed towards them.

    As a member of one of the groups that white supremacists would be perfectly happy to wipe off the face of the earth, I have a lot of sympathy for the position that says we should not let them gain even the most modest foothold in legitimate public discourse, whatever it takes (though we are way past that point right now, anyway). At the same time, though, I am very aware—especially as a writer and academic—of the dangerous and slippery slope that position puts us on. I’m not convinced that doing nothing and trying to stake out some kind of middle ground is either wise or strategic—especially since the middle these days seems to keep shifting—but I have not thought through what I think we might do instead.

    It’s a thorny problem without an easy answer. The problem is that the white supremacists, etc. have an answer of which they are absolutely certain.

  65. 66
    Mandolin says:

    I mean, I guess these things are also funny in a “hee hee I’m doing something other people think is naughty!” way, but I figure most of us grow out of that after Jr. High.

  66. 67
    Mandolin says:

    But also, if your humor is always about sufragettes and victims of genocide, and never about, say — yourself and your friends — then I somehow suspect it’s not just about “being naughty.”

  67. 68
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    It’s absolutely juvenile humor. It’s also absurdist in today’s political climate. Dragging a suffragette through town is sort of like dragging Jesus through town. It’s the defibition of “edgy.” The more feminists make headway at shifting cultural norms, the more we will see edgy shitlords making fun of feminists. This just seems obvious to me, especially with teenage gamers who are hard-wired to challenge othadoxy.

  68. 69
    desipis says:

    Chris:

    Absolutely none of this supports your assertion that the humor comes from the “juxtaposition of the surface level fiction of bigotry against the underlying reality of not being a bigot.“

    If that video shows someone taking special joy in killing a man specifically because they are a man—in the same way the videos you brought up to prove how unfair everyone is to GamerGaters show someone taking special joy in doing harm to women and minorities because they are women and minorities

    No, I missed the mark. However, it is evidence that the humour wasn’t about being a bigot. The video wasn’t about killing a woman because she’s a woman. That’s a false assumption you’ve made. The video wasn’t about killing a feminist because she’s a feminist. That’s a false assumption you’ve made.

    It was about killing a loud and obnoxious character because they were loud and obnoxious. The juxtaposition being that the player would never do that or advocate for that in real life.

  69. 70
    Chris says:

    FFS, desipis, the title is literally “Annoying Feminist Dragged Through the Streets.” And you’ve yet to explain the “Deporting a Mexican” video.

    The juxtaposition being that the player would never do that or advocate for that in real life.

    An unfalsifiable statement.

    I refer you once again to Popehat’s Rule of Goats. All of these excuses for why this guy is saying bigoted things ignores the fact that, at the end of the day, he is still saying bigoted things.

    Part of the reason social justice types criticize gamer culture is that it is full of these types of “jokes,” which you may see as harmless, but make the gaming world feel extremely unwelcome to many women and minorities. As you put forward this guy as an arbiter of gamers under threat, you’re basically making this case for me. I still see no reason why I should sympathize with gamers like this rather than the gamers who are saying this shit needs to stop.

  70. 71
    Chris says:

    Jeffrey, that is an accurate explanation of this kind of behavior, but it isn’t really a defense of it.

    I’ve had students draw swastikas on classwork assignments about The Diary of Anne Frank. I’ve had kids do the Nazi salute. I don’t think they did any of that because they’re white supremacists—for one thing, they’re mostly Hispanic—but that didn’t change the fact that what they did was wrong. My response was to explain that what they did was socially unacceptable, and that even if they were just trying to be funny, their words can cause real harm. I don’t see why we should not do the same with adults who engage in the same type of humor. And if that means some assholes might get their YouTube accounts banned, tough. They can cry into their Cheeto bags about it.

  71. 72
    desipis says:

    Chris,

    FFS, desipis, the title is literally “Annoying Feminist Dragged Through the Streets.” And you’ve yet to explain the “Deporting a Mexican” video.

    Are you really that daft that I need to explain every example of dark comedy? I don’t think so. Use your imagination.

    An unfalsifiable statement.

    We’re never going to be able to prove what’s going on in other peoples heads. We can give people the benefit of the doubt, or we can be utterly paranoid and leap to the conclusion that people are monster at the slightest hint of the possibility.

    Your paranoia and intolerance of dark comedy is making you the bigot.

    but make the gaming world feel extremely unwelcome to many women and minorities.

    There are people who fit into the category of “women and minorities” who are fully supportive of this sort of humour. What gives you or the people making such arguments the right to speak on behalf of an entire gender or entire races?

  72. 73
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Chris, don’t do the “gamers can cry into cheeto bags” thing, you’re clearly smarter than that. It reminds me of the way anti-feminist describe feminists as “cat-ladies.” I love the fuck out of my cats, and I’m a fairly stereotypical masculine guy who is critical of modern feminism, and the only gamer I know personally serves in the Navy, is in incredible shape and doesn’t eat Cheetos ever, and he’s way more woke than I am.

    I do see where you’re coming from, but I think you’re being overly puritanical, and likely selectively puritanical. When a twitter account with a hammer and sickle publishes a tweet about rich people and guillotines, I know only right wing snow-flakes will get upset and call for bans. I don’t actually think edgy humor involving guillotines, or videos depicting the dragging of lassoed suffragettes is effective in most cases, but sometimes this sort of humor does serve a purpose, and I’m not inclined to see either “joke” censored by Google. I’d rather see a culture that moves toward taking less offense, and also a culture that embraces smart and civil dialogue with an intent to engage and possibly learn from the best ideas the opposition has to offer.

    I do think it’s worthwhile to teach people the harm in making nazi salutes as a joke, though. It’s not something I’d do, ever, and I don’t think I’d openly associate with someone who does. I just realize that my willingness to associate with others is an entirely different animal to Google’s willingness to associate with others. I’m also fairly convinced that demands for Google to censor content are almost always politically self-serving, and thus ripe for abuse. I’m not saying all videos should be allowed on youtube (as an example, I’m pretty much entirely ok with the banning of Alex Jones from the platform), but I am saying censorship should be reserved for the most extreme cases, not kids being edgy while live-streaming their video games.

  73. Jeffrey,

    Why is a video about doing violence to feminists—especially in a culture where violence against women is fairly widespread—merely “kids being edgy” (though I will point out that Chris was talking about adults, not kids), while giving the Nazi salute as a joke is something worth being addressed? I’m less interested here in the question of whether or not someone’s YouTube account got banned, which is about agreeing or disagreeing with a corporation’s policy/decision than in why you think one deserves some kind of correction while the other does not.

  74. 75
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Oh, I think there is a misunderstanding. I think the “annoying feminist fed to pigs” video does deserve some correction, just not censorship from youtube, and not accusations of bigotry.

    If I knew the guy, I’d point out why I thought it wasn’t as funny as the other violent humor I cited. Suffragettes are from a different time when women faced a different sort of oppression and don’t look like the “annoying feminists” who would criticize the games he likes to play. It’s well understood that punching down is less funny than punching up. It’s also not hard to see how people could see this sort of humor as blatantly misogynistic if they wanted to, hence the misogynistic comments left all over these videos. I’d try to teach him how his video could be harmful, knowing he might not care, but I’d at least give it a shot.

    OK, RJN, I don’t mean to get too personal, but you often get criticized for asking probing questions without actual volunteering your own thoughts when you yourself are questioned, so I have to ask, have you considered my earlier question about antifa, pepper-spray, and journalists looking to film them? You don’t have to answer since it’s your blog, but I think it’s a way more interesting topic than gamergate, especially since most of the controversial antifa activities happen in meatspace where we have stronger moral intuitions about right and wrong.

  75. 76
    J. Squid says:

    Yeah, I was thinking it’s funny in the way seeing a guy take a sportsball or sportsbat to the nuts is funny. Which is to say, not much once your older than 8. And so isn’t really funny. Bigoted jokes can be funny. One of my faves from my childhood is totally anti Semitic but it’s always hit me as exceptionally hilarious for a variety of reasons. You won’t find me spouting it at strangers, though, because I know that it can both be really hurtful and not everybody thinks it’s funny.

    The YouTube joke, alas, isn’t close to funny enough to overcome its bigotry for your standard audience in the US. Honestly, it’s not funny at all if you don’t think violence directed at a group is funny on its own.

  76. Jeffrey,

    I answered you upthread, but I’m on my phone so I can’t easily link back.

  77. 78
    desipis says:

    I think the “annoying feminist fed to pigs” video does deserve some correction

    The idea that people’s sensor of humour and self expression needs “correction” is a disturbing idea indeed. It’s perfectly fine for people to not find it funny, as they are unable to mentally separate the humour from some harsh reality. But it’s also fine that others can mentally separate the two and do find it funny. I can’t think of anything more blatantly oppressive than trying to suppress a person’s or a community’s sense of humour.

    standard audience in the US

    Who gets to define what a “standard audience” is? Why do we need a definition of such? Surely one of the great things about the internet is the ability of people to self organise around individual interests and not have some homogeneous bland mono-culture broadcast to everyone.

  78. 79
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    RJN, I have no idea how.i missed your response to my question, but I did. My bad.

    Desipis, you seem to be arguing that humor can never be harmful and is above critique. That can’t be true. Surely some jokes are shitty, right? This can be true even if some people will uncharitably assign unkind motives to those who tell jokes that hurt people, when no harm was intended. Would you post a video where your video game character drags a lassoed suffragette through town? I know I wouldn’t, even if I could make food money by monetizing those kind of videos.

  79. 80
    desipis says:

    Jeffrey,

    you seem to be arguing that humour … is above critique

    I never said anything about critique. This is about moral indignation and censorship.

    you seem to be arguing that humor can never be harmful

    Humour can be harmful in the same way peanuts can be harmful or hammers can be harmful. Can peanuts cause harm to people who are allergic to them? Sure. However, we don’t ban peanuts or demonise people who eat them simply because they are harmful to some people. Can hammers cause harm to people when they are misused as weapons? Sure, however we don’t ban hammers or demonise people who use them for their intended purpose. It’s not the possibility of harm, but rather the assigning of moral responsibility that is in question.

    Would you post a video where your video game character drags a lassoed suffragette through town? I know I wouldn’t, even if I could make food money by monetizing those kind of videos.

    I might if I was in the habit of posting videos and the video was potentially entertaining to the audience. If you’re put off by that video I highly recommend you never look into the communities around games like Crusader Kings or Rimworld.

  80. 81
    Görkem says:

    Ugh, desipis, don’t remind me. I really love Crusader Kings 2 but the community is abysmal.

  81. 82
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Desipis, I worked with a guy who once approached me smiling, so he could show me an explicitly racist meme on his cell phone. He thought it was funny, and that I would also think it funny, since I was one of the only other white guys at this workplace. The meme was just a picture of a white kid riding on top of a crawling black kid, like one would ride a horse. I can’t remember the exact text, but the joke was about the natural superiority of white people. I told the guy to put it away and never show me anything like that again. I also judged him as a racist on the spot. If most people act like me such that racist memes are socially unnacceptable, this would be a form of “correction.”

    I’m not saying I want to censor him (though I later became his boss, and had I seen him spreading that shit around, I’d stop him from doing it at work) I’m saying I’m willing to pass judgement. In the same way, I’m willing to judge the kid (man?) who made the RDR videos, not necessarily as a misogynist, but definitely as a person who shows little concern for hurting others. I’d compare his situation to two teens playing football in a public park, where one teen, in a brave attempt to make a diving catch, dives right into a three year old picking dandelions. I wouldn’t judge this teen the same way I’d judge a teen who went up and shoved the toddler to the same effect, he doesn’t have the intention to harm, but he shows a reckless disregard for harming others. In a situation like that, I often feel bad for both parties, but only if the reckless person has learned to be less reckless.

    I realize there is a failure mode here, and that’s how claims of “I’ve been harmed,” can be used as cudgels to control people’s expression, as well as controlling the types of content you and I get to enjoy. I see this happen all the time, specifically whenever I here anyone claim that certain expression are a denial of their “right to exist” which is almost always unfair hyperbole. Or when people purposely misunderstand an opposing argument in order to knock down an evil strawman (this is Sam Harris’s life, now). For me, it’s ultimately a judgement call where I have to apply something like a reasonableness standard. Would a reasonable person think that a joke/argument/essay/speech is dehumanizing? Would a reasonable person think that there was intent to dehumanize? What assumptions must one hold to come to different conclusions on these questions, and how reasonable are those assumptions? Its this last question that’s really important to me, and where I think SJ activism sometimes goes off the rails- even here in these very comment sections. I’m thinking of a time in particular when you were treated very uncharitably for asking a benign question, followed by this blog’s equivalent of a pile-on. I don’t think a “reasonableness” standard is a perfect solution to judging these sorts of conflicts, but I don’t know a better way.

    I do have one exception with regard to reckless expression, and that’s when one is making actual truth claims or is in the honest process of truth seeking. If I’m at a party with friends, I’m not going to just casually start talking about racial disparities in crime rates. That’s reckless and could reasonably be interpreted as racism if I just decide to bring that up as a topic to discuss. That said, I don’t have a problem with that topic being brought up when racist police practices are being discussed, as it’s a pretty important component of a complete picture, and that complete picture is a good in and of itself that trumps the possible harm such a discussion may cause. We simply can’t hold honest inquiry hostage to people’s feelings.

  82. 83
    desipis says:

    Jeffery,

    I’m saying I’m willing to pass judgement

    Which is a problem. For a society that claims to be tolerant and free, we’re all to eager to pass judgement.

    though I later became his boss

    I’ve found leadership to be much less about judging people, and more about seeing potential and giving them the benefit of the doubt. My successes in mentoring involve those judged by others to be failures. If I hadn’t looked past the things other used to pass judgement, those people would have continued to struggle and suffer an unnecessary feeling of inadequacy. My own career has certainly benefited from those who have done the same for me.

    The same applies for dispute resolution. I often encounter people griping about others, particular those in management, or those in other departments. Listening to people, not judging them, but rather focusing on their positive contributions is what helps build trust and relationships. Resolving disputes is often as simple as sharing what I’ve learned about the other people through taking that approach, and then encouraging those involve to do the same. That creates an environment that is both more productive and more enjoyable. Of course it’s not easy to avoid judging others and give them your trust, nor is it something I’ve managed to do consistently.

    It’s this non-judgemental approach that has enabled me to build strong working relationships with people from other races and with the women who aren’t all that common in my industry. In fact my best mentoring successes have involved those struggling precisely because they were cultural and racial outsiders.

    And it’s why I see this ideological push to judge people as so frustratingly destructive.

  83. 84
    Chris says:

    Desipis, your earlier argument was that the humor in videos like the ones in question come from the juxtaposition between their apparent bigotry and the non-bigoted nature of the person making the joke. Now you are arguing that there is no way to tell whether the person making the joke is bigoted or not, but we should just assume they’re not—despite the apparent bigotry of the jokes. How does that work? And do you see how you keep moving the goalposts in this conversation?

    I can’t think of anything more blatantly oppressive than trying to suppress a person’s or a community’s sense of humour.

    Yikes. I can think of a LOT of things more blatantly oppressive than telling people their jokes aren’t funny, and a private corporation choosing not to be a platform for offensive humor. The fact that you can’t indicates you’ve never thought seriously about oppression or what actual oppressed peoples have gone through.

  84. 85
    Kate says:

    Yikes. I can think of a LOT of things more blatantly oppressive than telling people their jokes aren’t funny…

    Thanks Chris!

  85. 86
    Chris says:

    Chris, don’t do the “gamers can cry into cheeto bags” thing, you’re clearly smarter than that. It reminds me of the way anti-feminist describe feminists as “cat-ladies.” I love the fuck out of my cats, and I’m a fairly stereotypical masculine guy who is critical of modern feminism, and the only gamer I know personally serves in the Navy, is in incredible shape and doesn’t eat Cheetos ever, and he’s way more woke than I am.

    Then he’s nothing like the gamers I’m describing. You know, the type who say they can’t imagine any oppression worse than a gamer having their shitty jokes criticized and taken off of YouTube.

    I do see where you’re coming from, but I think you’re being overly puritanical, and likely selectively puritanical. When a twitter account with a hammer and sickle publishes a tweet about rich people and guillotines, I know only right wing snow-flakes will get upset and call for bans. I don’t actually think edgy humor involving guillotines, or videos depicting the dragging of lassoed suffragettes is effective in most cases, but sometimes this sort of humor does serve a purpose, and I’m not inclined to see either “joke” censored by Google. I’d rather see a culture that moves toward taking less offense, and also a culture that embraces smart and civil dialogue with an intent to engage and possibly learn from the best ideas the opposition has to offer.

    I don’t like those jokes either. But the difference, to me, is that the rich are rarely killed for being rich in real life, whereas women who are perceived as uppity are killed all the time.

    I do think it’s worthwhile to teach people the harm in making nazi salutes as a joke, though. It’s not something I’d do, ever, and I don’t think I’d openly associate with someone who does. I just realize that my willingness to associate with others is an entirely different animal to Google’s willingness to associate with others. I’m also fairly convinced that demands for Google to censor content are almost always politically self-serving, and thus ripe for abuse. I’m not saying all videos should be allowed on youtube (as an example, I’m pretty much entirely ok with the banning of Alex Jones from the platform), but I am saying censorship should be reserved for the most extreme cases, not kids being edgy while live-streaming their video games.

    I agree with you in the abstract, and having no interest in watching the videos by this particular gamer, I can’t say whether I’d ban them. But again, I’m not so much defending the ban as I am defending the proposition that the videos, by description alone, clearly hurt desipis’ case that gamer culture has no problem with bigotry, as well as the proposition that a temporary ban by YouTube is a mild inconvenience, not “oppression.”

  86. 87
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    I think that Žižek makes several interesting points in this video.

    For example, tolerance isn’t necessarily acceptance, but can actually be the opposite, where people require all interactions to be according to extremely generic norms or even their own, making the commons very intolerant to actual diversity. Or ‘tolerance’ results in patronizing behavior: ‘you can’t deal with this because you are X.’ An example is that liberals dumb themselves down when talking to black people.

    I recently read a comment noting that for all the talk of the benefits of diversity, the ‘woke’ crowd tends to heavily self-segregate. Places like NY, SF and London have great diversity of cultures, but it’s largely a collection of parallel societies, not a single society where people with different cultures truly mix.

    Actually mixing requires more than detached tolerance. It requires the negotiation of a shared culture, which in turn requires confronting the differences. The problem with political correctness is that human needs are fundamentally not politically correct. People have food preferences that are not the most environmentally friendly. They are attracted to people who make their own lives better, not the ugly, disabled, etc. Similarly, cultural peculiarities are usually not politically correct, even if just for their self-segregating nature. Cultural diversity results in all kinds of inequality of outcomes. You won’t find many Asians in a synagogue.

    In my opinion, SJ is a lot like orthodox Christianity in that the social norms demand an impossible purity. The typical result is great hypocrisy, where people often break the rules when the enforcers of the social norms are not around; or seek to manipulate the social norms in their favor.

    Offensive humor seems to be part of a completely different kind of negotiation model, as well as a coping mechanism. For example, it can be used to tell the other: ‘what you do hurts me, but I accept it, as long as you return the favor by accepting that I hurt you sometimes.’ Or it can be used to tell the other that they are crossing a line of what’s acceptable. It can allow people to vent their frustrations and hurts, in a moderate way. It can create a camaraderie and sense of obligation, where people recognize each other’s weaknesses, but don’t allow people to shirk their responsibilities by exaggerating their weaknesses. Not that there aren’t many downsides to this model as well, but…

    Žižek notes correctly that this kind of model is common among the lower class, although he doesn’t note (or realize) that it is also common among adolescents. Reasons for this may be that:
    – they can’t self-segregate as much as the well-educated and adults, so actually have to resolve conflicts resulting from diversity
    – they tend to lack the ‘gift of the gab,’ which allows them to win debates
    – the consequences of failed cooperation can be very severe

    Gaming has a lot of adolescents, who bring adolescent culture to the games. Yet due to context collapse, adolescents are increasingly being treated like adults. The question is whether this is healthy. Puberty surely exists for a reason. If we suppress this, do we get healthy humans? Or do we get people full of anxiety and depression, who never got to push back against social norms to figure out their own needs, independent of social pressures?

  87. 88
    desipis says:

    Chris:

    Desipis, your earlier argument was that the humor in videos like the ones in question come from the juxtaposition between their apparent bigotry and the non-bigoted nature of the person making the joke. Now you are arguing that there is no way to tell whether the person making the joke is bigoted or not, but we should just assume they’re not—despite the apparent bigotry of the jokes. How does that work? And do you see how you keep moving the goalposts in this conversation?

    I’m not moving the goalposts. They are two separate goalposts. There’s one set of goalposts for finding something humorous (low harm) where you are a member of the community (higher confidence in knowledge about the individual). Then there’s a second set of goalposts for banning someone from a major social media platform (high harm) where you an outsider (limited information about the individual).

    I can’t think of anything more blatantly oppressive than trying to suppress a person’s or a community’s sense of humour.

    Yikes

    That statement was made with a fair amount of hyperbole to emphasise the point that banning someone for their humour is not a trivial thing. Perhaps I could have made that clearer?

  88. 89
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Nice link, LOL. As usual, Zizek adds a whole new layer of nuance to a discussion. He’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite public intellectuals to listen to at work.

  89. 90
    Chris says:

    I’m not moving the goalposts. They are two separate goalposts. There’s one set of goalposts for finding something humorous (low harm) where you are a member of the community (higher confidence in knowledge about the individual). Then there’s a second set of goalposts for banning someone from a major social media platform (high harm) where you an outsider (limited information about the individual).

    But you seem to be arguing that if I did have higher knowledge about the individual, I would be able to tell that he wasn’t really bigoted. And when I asked for further knowledge that would support your contention that the humor comes from the juxtoposition of the seemingly bigoted nature of the jokes with the obviously-not-in-any-way-bigoted nature of the individual making them, you folded. The only evidence you’ve provided that factors into my judgment of whether or not this individual is bigoted is the bigoted jokes themselves.

    Thus your argument, in essence, seems to be that we should never conclude anyone is bigoted even after seeing evidence that they are. And that is neither reasonable nor fair.

  90. 91
    desipis says:

    Chris,

    The only evidence you’ve provided that factors into my judgment of whether or not this individual is bigoted is the bigoted jokes themselves.

    I provided evidence that one of the videos you assumed was bigoted wasn’t. A cherry-picked handful of other videos that have titles that could be interpreted as bigoted out of a pool of nearly 10,000 videos doesn’t really tell us much about the channel or person as a whole.

    Thus your argument, in essence, seems to be that we should never conclude anyone is bigoted even after seeing evidence that they are.

    No, my argument is that cherry-picking evidence and making the worst assumptions is neither reasonable nor fair. If you want to judge someone you need to put in the effort to both look at all forms of evidence about that person, and give them the benefit of the doubt where there are significant uncertainties. If you don’t put that effort in you’re not judging the person, you’re judging your assumptions. Or worse, you’re letting yourself be manipulated by someone else into judging the false or misleading picture they’ve constructed.

  91. 92
    J. Squid says:

    … your contention that the humor comes from the juxtoposition of the seemingly bigoted nature of the jokes with the obviously-not-in-any-way-bigoted nature of the individual making them…

    And here is the problem. The joke fails if it isn’t made clear that the individual making the joke isn’t bigoted in that way. In this case, it isn’t made clear that the individual making the bigoted joke isn’t bigoted and so it fails. It’s failure makes it not funny. The alternative to setting up the joke teller as not bigoted in the same way as the joke is to tell it only to an audience with familiarity with the joke teller. A public forum is not that audience.

    The majority of good anti-bigoted jokes do not rely on this special circumstance. A good anti-bigoted joke gets the point across in the joke itself by juxtaposition within the joke. It doesn’t require deeper knowledge of the history and opinions of the joke teller. And that is incredibly fucking hard to do.

  92. 93
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    J. Squid,

    A public forum is not that audience.

    Many forums, like this one, are not actually public commons. They are semi-public, self-segregated communities, where certain norms are enforced by authoritarian leadership. A typical rule for such a community is that the burden is on new members to learn & accept the social norms, rather than that the forum must hide what they say from outsiders, lest it offends them. Ultimately, there is no obligation or need for others to visit this forum, just like you are not obligated to visit a gallery with nude paintings. This makes it fundamentally unlike a true commons, like the public streets, universities, etc.

    The lack of gatekeeping means that outsiders who are offended by the norms of the community, may enter it by accident. This is especially true online, where people are a Google search away from Stormfront, TERF forums, etc.

    There are two ways to look at this. You have the ‘resilience’ perspective, where the person who is offended is expected to conclude that the space is not for them after exposure to it; but also the ‘vulnerable’ perspective, where the exposure is considered so harmful that it must be prevented.

    Of course, this is a spectrum, not a binary. Lots more people believe that others must be shielded from accidental exposure to nudity than to cat pictures, even if they are tolerant of people who hate cats. However, people can also disagree strongly on what is considered harmful. For example, in the Social Justice community, it is not uncommon for (negative) stereotyping of women to be considered very harmful, but to respond to complaints about (negative) stereotyping of men with ‘resilience’ language, like #maletears.

    In Social Justice, there is a narrative of how certain exposures are extremely harmful, but this narrative is not shared by everyone. So this puts social justice in a similar position as (conservative) Christians, who also tend to have a narrative about how certain exposures are very harmful (like nudity, gay behavior and atheism), that conflicts with the narratives of others.

    One solution is to seek the eradication of behavior that is based on other narratives and that our favored narrative considers very harmful, which Jews have plenty of experience with, including in very radical ways. However, that solution depends on the ability for one side to dominate the other. Historically, there are many cases where neither side fully dominated. This resulted in many mutually destructive conflicts, where the strong ‘vulnerability’ narratives created an obligation to cause and accept immense suffering to supposedly save souls by making one’s own narrative dominant.

    Furthermore, we can observe that many people strongly believe(d) in ‘vulnerability’ narratives that we consider absurd. For example, “white genocide” is probably laughed at by most readers of this comment. Yet, as we ourselves are human just like those who believe in narratives that we consider absurd, should we not be humble about the likelihood that our own narratives are correct?

    The alternative is then liberalism: demanding relatively high resilience from people, allowing the coexistence of conflicting narratives.

    One of my core complaints of SJ is that there is often a false pretension of liberalism. For example, speaking highly of multiculturalism and diversity, while actually wanting to eliminate very many (sub)cultures and forms of diversity. A common mechanism is inconsistent definitions of terms, also known as (strategic) equivocation, as well as declaring that core aspects of other cultures are fundamentally intolerant, while not accepting very similar accusations, with fairly similar evidence, of one’s own culture.

    The result is that I see SJ as a force that wants to dominate, on the whole & is not actually very accepting.

    The alternative to setting up the joke teller as not bigoted in the same way as the joke is to tell it only to an audience with familiarity with the joke teller.

    Another alternative is for the person who hears the joke and who is unsure about the context, to become familiar with the joke teller. I often see people go out of their way to not be fair to their outgroup, interpreting statements and behaviors in the most hostile way, even if applying more context makes this interpretation very unfair.

    The Covington Boys story was a very good example of this.

  93. 94
    desipis says:

    The joke fails if it isn’t made clear that the individual making the joke isn’t bigoted in that way.

    Only if your prior is you are more likely to encounter into a bigoted person making such statements than you are to encounter a non-bigot making a joke.

    People who enjoy a lot of dark humour will be far more likely to encounter non-bigots making jokes and hence will not see such things as an indication the person is bigoted. They will continue with their presumption that the person isn’t bigoted and see the humour in the joke.

    People who are hyper-vigilant about bigotry may see things differently and feel offended. They see the statements as indicating a likelihood of bigotry that concerns them. They may start with the (rather unreasonable) presumption that people are bigoted unless proven otherwise. It’s OK that they feel offended, but we don’t need to restrict what others do because of it.

    A public forum is not that audience.

    I’m not arguing that everyone should find the video funny. It’s that the people who do should be free to watch it and the people that don’t should be free to not watch it.

  94. 95
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    This argument is taking place on social media with regard to Steven Crowder’s Youtube channel. and Vox Media journalist, Carlos Maza’s objections to the nature of the content on Crowder’s channel. I’m having a hard time following the controversy, but it looks like youtube is responding by demonetizing Crowder, which leaves both sides dissatisfied, but adds new nuance to the discussion here. When, if ever, should youtube feel obligated to monetize or not monetize channels or individual videos.

    I’m a person who cares more about the “freedom to hear” than “freedom of speech” (even though the later comes as a result of the former) so as long as people who want to get to can watch Crowder’s content, I don’t think I have any problems with the demonitization of his channel.

    Here’s a link for context:
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2019/06/05/vox-carlos-maza-speaks-after-steven-crowder-youtube-attacks/1351529001/

  95. 96
    Chris says:

    desipis:

    I provided evidence that one of the videos you assumed was bigoted wasn’t.

    No, you didn’t. You provided mealy-mouthed excuses that danced around the bigoted nature of the videos.

    A cherry-picked handful of other videos that have titles that could be interpreted as bigoted

    See above, re: mealy-mouthed. “Deporting a Mexican” is a racist title, full-stop. The content of that video would have to be very specific indeed in order to make it not racist. I’ve asked you to provide evidence that the content of such videos is not racist, and again, you’ve given me nothing. Because the video is as racist as its title suggests.

    I’ll stand by the most reasonable interpretation, which is that the video is racist, until you provide such evidence.

    No, my argument is that cherry-picking evidence and making the worst assumptions is neither reasonable nor fair. If you want to judge someone you need to put in the effort to both look at all forms of evidence about that person, and give them the benefit of the doubt where there are significant uncertainties

    No. When someone chooses to put a video titled “Deporting a Mexican” out into the public, that person cannot then claim it’s “unreasonable” to conclude they are a racist. That is just trolling, and at this point I am less offended by the racist content than I am by your insistence that I am supposed to be naive enough to take that type of obvious trolling seriously.

    Shirrako chose to put forth an image of himself to the world that is racist and sexist. He gets to live with the consequences of other people judging him based on that public image. It is not my job to do any further research into him or his views or get to know the “real him.”

    J. Squid:

    The majority of good anti-bigoted jokes do not rely on this special circumstance. A good anti-bigoted joke gets the point across in the joke itself by juxtaposition within the joke. It doesn’t require deeper knowledge of the history and opinions of the joke teller. And that is incredibly fucking hard to do.

    Exactly. Stephen Colbert did this all the time. It was always clear that the target of his jokes about race was racists themselves; he said racist things to point out how absurd and nonsensical they were, and to mock those who held these irrational beliefs. If there were evidence that Shirrako was doing that, desipis would have provided it by now.

  96. 97
    Chris says:

    Jeffrey Gandee:

    I’m a person who cares more about the “freedom to hear” than “freedom of speech” (even though the later comes as a result of the former) so as long as people who want to get to can watch Crowder’s content, I don’t think I have any problems with the demonitization of his channel.<

    Can Crowder not find some way to upload the videos of him making homophobic and racist comments about Carlos Maza on his own website? YouTube certainly makes uploading videos and distributing them to the public easier, but by no means is it impossible to do so without it. People who really want to watch Crowder’s content will always be able to do so as long as the government doesn’t censor the Internet in their locations.

  97. 98
    desipis says:

    Chris, it’s pretty clear you’re committed to making snap judgements of people based on small bits of information. I’m going to stop wasting my time trying to convince you not to take such a toxic approach.

  98. 99
    desipis says:

    Jeffery, the Joe Rogan’s show with David Pakman gets into a good discussion on that issue. I think Pakman’s on point when he argues Youtube is just doing whatever protects their bottom line, in this case appeasing advertisers while doing their best to drive conservatives off their platform.

    I also think there’s a question about the legitimacy of the motivations in this or the previous adpocolypse, in whether it’s being driven by big media in an attempt to undermine their more independent competitors than about the surface level social issues.

    I don’t think I have any problems with the demonitization of his channel.

    I’m no fan of Crowder, however the way a larger media company just seriously damaged some of their competitors by starting a moral crusade seems like a concerning issue. It feels to some extent like the companies paying for ads on social media are being extorted to stop paying ads on social media by being threatened with having nasty things written about them in larger media publications. The results of this extortion is then putting pressure on social media companies to limit who can get advertising revenue to the larger media companies themselves.

  99. 100
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, you never answered my question. (You quoted an out-of-context fragment of my question and responded to it, but ignored my actual question).

    By your rather loose standards of “totalitarian,” criticizing a game is an example of totalitarianism. (Which seemingly is a judgement based on little information that you’re comfortable making.)

    It what meaningful way is it “totalitarian” for someone to criticize a game or game culture, but not “totalitarian” to used organized boycotts to attempt to shut down criticism?

    I don’t think either one is “totalitarian” – but clearly, the group actively attempting to shut down criticism of themselves by going after advertisers is much closer to being totalitarian than the person writing criticism.

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