Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Shooting Offense

If someone wants to express an opinion about video games, it's wrong to threaten to kill them.

The above sentence should not be controversial. No one should have to defend it. No one should even have to say it. Common sense and basic human value should tell you that it is simply wrong to threaten to kill someone for expressing an opinion.

But, of course, that's exactly what someone did.

Whoever wrote that e-mail threatened to kill not only Anita Sarkeesian, but other bystanders as well if Sarkeesian was allowed to deliver her speech.

You would think that everyone who can operate a keyboard would roundly condemn the person who issued this threat. But, of course, the Internet being what it is, you can find crowds of people lining up to justify this.

How do you justify mass murder? Easy. It's because Sarkeesian is a feminist. It's because she's not a real gamer. It's because she cherry-picks examples and alters the facts to back up her argument. It's because games should stand on their own merit, regardless of how politically correct they are.

Even if all of those accusations were true and valid (and that conversation alone could go on for quite a while) none of those things are shooting offenses.

Some of Sarkeesian's opponents (as well as many recent opponents of womens' voices in gaming) like to play a trump card to bypass the whole "murder is wrong" issue: she's lying. There are no death threats. She's inventing the whole thing to gain attention and to back up her position.

This isn't the first time someone has threatened Sarkeesian, though, and it isn't the first time she's reported it. I'll tell you what: you fabricate half-a-dozen death threats against yourself and get law enforcement involved for every single one of them. Let's see how long you last before you get tossed in jail yourself. Sarkeesian's opponents would rather believe that she's a criminal mastermind than believe that there are idiots out there on the internet willing to e-mail her death threats. It shouldn't be hard to guess which one of those alternatives is more likely.

I've tried participating in comment threads where people are justifying the recent violent harassment that's directed against women who dared to express an opinion. Even if I suggest that maybe hacking and doxxing and threatening people is not appropriate in a civil society, I'll find myself shouted down with a variety of accusations:

You're a feminist shill.

Because, apparently, if you post something reinforcing the GamerGate party line, you're a responsible adult voicing an independent, well-considered opinion. But when I express an opinion, I'm acting as a brainwashed agent of the global feminist conspiracy.

(Incidentally, if anyone knows how I can get into the global feminist conspiracy, please put in a good word for me. I'm a decent coder and I have good writing skills.)

Here's another zinger:

That link you posted is from a feminist and/or SJW and it automatically invalidates your argument.

Yes, that accusation is almost word for word. When you post a link defending your position, it's evidence. When I post a link, it ejects me from the discussion. It's nice to be able to arbitrarily set the success/fail rules for a debate, isn't it?

(For those wondering: SJW stands for "social justice warrior". Which is supposed to be an insult, somehow.)

I'm waiting for someone to accuse me of being a white knight so that I can collect the whole set and redeem it for my cash prize.

It defies comprehension. My comprehension, at least. When I say "You shouldn't threaten to shoot a bunch of people to prevent a speech from being held", I cannot conceive why anyone's response would begin with "Yes, but..."

I don't know how to respond to these people. I don't know how to engage with whatever outer-space-alien logic they're using. I don't know how many times we all have to stay "threatening to kill and rape people is wrong" before it starts to sink in.

So I'm saying it again, here, in this blog post. It's a little personal blog that hardly anyone reads, and for all of the reasons shown above, it's not going to convince anyone on the other side of the discussion to change their tune.

But I'm going to say it anyway, because it just doesn't matter whether or not Sarkeesian's opinion about video games, or your opinion, or my opinion, is right or wrong.

If someone wants to express an opinion about video games, it's  wrong to threaten to kill them.