NOTE: There are already a number of comprehensive timelines and other compendiums of Gamergate-related activity which can be found elsewhere, and so I am not going to review or discuss all of that at great length here, as it would detract unnecessarily from the central focuses of this piece.
[CONTENTS]: This post reviews articles from the following sites:
- WHtM > (Pro-SJW/Anti-Gamergate/Anti-MRA)
- AVfM > (Pro-Gamergate/Anti-SJW/Anti-Feminist)
And, YouTuber “Thunderf00t”
*The content discussed is related primarily to the second and third sites, and though neither necessarily represents the majority or greater will of either side (which I identify as Gamergaters and SJWs), they and their many readers are involved in the current Gamergate debate, and several others engaged in the debate are similar to them, both in opinions, and in regard to the issues analyzed within this piece.
*In essence, the subjects evaluated and considered in this post serve simply as real world examples of greater abstract concepts. Much of what is examined below could, and does, apply to many currently involved in the Gamergate debate who are not affiliated in any way with the sources referenced here.
*Some of the link titles from the above sources were condensed or abbreviated for formatting purposes, but the full titles can still be seen on the articles referenced now.
[PURPOSES]: This piece has three or so chief focuses that relate to a greater overall point, divided into four sections (with some subsections) for the sake of structural order:
“Section I” is a review and brief analysis of an article from Gawker, published on October 10, 2014, which I feel is a fair representation of most of the Anti-Gamergate bias in the media as a whole, and of what biased reporting and/or commentary, in general, look like.
“Section II” contains comparisons of reactions to threats and the responses to threats from proponents of Gamergate, SJWs (or those against Gamergate), and a few others. One incident has happened since the Gamergate kerfuffle first began, and the other predates it.
- The first half of this section focuses on posts from AVoiceforMen.com and WeHuntedtheMammoth.com, and the second half, divided into two subjections (A/B), presents, merely for reader consideration, other articles from different outlets which relate to the overall theme, and to the two events discussed in the first half.
“Section III” is a meta-analysis of some people, events and concepts related to Gamergate and, to an extent, the larger debate beyond and surrounding Gamergate and the not-so-new “Culture War.”
“Section IV” is a summary of the primary idea or purpose/points of the post.
Section I (Gawking at Gamers):The chief call of Gamergaters today is that journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information, and their published articles should reflect those standards. Since the beginning of what is now known as Gamergate, however, it has been seen repeatedly (and noted) that these simple notions are not the journalistic principles being adhered to by many news outlets currently.
Articles by authors, who may not have necessarily thoroughly researched the events surrounding Gamergate or the proponents of Gamergate, are being written and used to shape biased narratives against and for things by distorting facts for the sake of the operators' own personal agendas, and/or the agendas of those lobbying for their support. This is what is commonly known as constructing a false narrative.
When the intention is to forge a biased narrative for the purpose of doing something or someone harm, be it harm to a message or cause, or to an individual or group, this can mean twisting or misrepresenting details to fit a particular mold in order to create a certain story that will mislead readers against whatever the writers feel is an opposing cause, endeavor, person or collective.
A fair example of this, though there are many others which could be cited, is an article on Gawker.com from October 10, 2014, entitled “What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks.”
This piece is structured as a Q&A session, presumably aimed at someone who is totally unaware of the issue. A subtle idea being implied throughout is that no normal person should really care to be aware of this topic at all, which is an interesting point of disdain given that Gawker’s sister site, Kotaku, is aimed at gamers.
The questions rhetorically posed by the author to himself run something like this:
1) What is #Gamergate?
2) How did Intel get itself involved?
3) Surely the gaming community is not entirely made up of misogynists and angry idiots?
The spin is definitely against Gamergate and anyone opposed to the SJW-type crowd, and it uses quotes from other Gaming-related articles and Gawker media site, Kotaku, to reinforce its narrative and points.
In this piece, writer Jay Hathaway attempted to, as the title suggests, and as I referenced above, explain Gamergate to the blissfully uninitiated. One would think, for the sakes of fairness and honesty, that the obvious approach in writing such an article would be to present the subject with the utmost neutrality, but instead, he telegraphs his bias right from the very beginning:
“Even regarded generously, Gamergate isn't much more than a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics.”
Journalistic ethics, is that a thing over at Gawker now? To be honest, I am not personally an aficionado on the history of the company. So, to briefly study up on the matter, let’s dig for a moment and see what can be found regarding Gawker and journalistic ethics.
Oh, here’s something:
“The ‘Hateful Eight’ legal saga dates back to January, when Tarantino sued Gawker over posting a story on its Defamer site titled ‘Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script’ with a link to a third-party website hosting the 146-page script.”
Before another Gawker site was closed down, the question was being asked if their regular menu of unsubstantiated gossip would lead someone to commit suicide:
“When Will We Have Our First Valleywag Suicide?”
Well, so much for journalistic ethics. The Gamergate crowd, young as many of them are, can be forgiven for having to be reminded that ethically-sound and commonplace standards for integrity in journalism are notable, not for the abundance of journalists who adhere to a set of fair and honest reporting principles, but for the rarity of them.
Two more cheap shots in the Gawker article are as follows:
“But its most fervent proponents are so desperate to maintain the illusion that they represent an oppressed majority (as if that makes any sense).”
“Gamergaters demand to be seen simultaneously as a 70-million-strong market force, too big for the industry to ignore, and as a persecuted minority.”
I am not certain where he acquired this 70-million figure from, but here is a source which claims that it is closer to 1.2-billion total gamers worldwide, with 700-million of them being online (and that was in 2013):
“State of Online Gaming Report”
But, let’s not quibble over or dwell on the quoting of a number that appears to be over a billion off the mark. The more important point here is that, yes, it does make sense; being persecuted and being in the, or a, minority or majority are orthogonal concepts (unless one is referring to a tug-of-war match).
Both game development companies, as well as the media entities that surround them, are controlled by only a few major players, especially in the United States. Those major players would be a minority (by definition) too, but they still hold a lot of power, and that is a large part of the problem (I will discuss this more thoroughly in a future post).
As this Gawker article illustrates, when a single company controls, as they do, eight or more publishing titles, and each of those “employ” different bloggers who can write on a wide range of topics, it is not an arduous task to orchestrate a groundswell of apparent public opinion when none, or little, truly exists (that is, if one actually goes to the public for their opinions).
“Eventually, (slightly) cooler heads prevailed, and the trolls who would soon form #Gamergate shifted their goal from destroying Zoë Quinn to something ostensibly about journalistic ethics.”
No one is arguing that there are no trolls; trolls are an unfortunate fact of life on the internet. However, it is quite a leap to state outright that Gamergate is composed only of trolls, isn’t it? There are more than enough trolls to go around on both sides of the issue (of any issue, in fact).
There are studies out there now, actually, comparing trolls to psychopaths, and no study is needed for anyone that has dealt with a few trolls to know that they do not engage in typical human behavior.
Put many internet trolls in a crowded bar, and they are likely to be the ones sitting alone over in a corner, staring bitterly at their fellow (more socially competent) patrons. This is why the internet is fertile ground for such behavior. Anonymity and the disconnect created by digital interaction liberate the socially clumsy of the penalties for the frailties and inadequacies that they suffer in the real world.
A few minutes of research online, however, unveils the reality that many arguing on behalf of Gamergate (or gamers, if one prefers) are far from being trolls, socially inept, or even hateful, and that includes several of the most prominent voices currently speaking out.
If anything, the case can be made that it is the gaming media itself, in this instance, which is doing most of the “trolling.” Coordinating their messages among sister publications, checking with advertisers at every turn to make sure that no one amongst their ranks is offended, libeling and flaming people, quoting one person out-of-context and claiming that their statements are not consistent with what another person in another context, supposedly from the same “group,” has said. Hello Pot, meet Kettle.
“Is #Gamergate all white men? No: Some women and people of color have expressed varying degrees of support for some components of the movement's aims."
There are generally women and “people of color” on both sides of essentially all issues. This question and the answer after it are derisive attempts at dismissive belittlement. Each of the lessening qualifiers in the sentences above exist solely to depreciate and undermine the voices, perspectives, arguments and existences of those (in this case, women and people of color) not presently siding with SJWs and/or the majority of the gaming media’s current agenda and narrative.
And, the paragraph that follows simply digs the hole deeper by implying that Gamergate users, and only Gamergate users, create fake accounts to sway public opinion. Does he supply any evidence of that? Not that I can find. He seems to believe that his readers should merely take his word at face value.
“Doesn't Intel see that it's throwing in its lot with some pretty gross misogyny and ignorance? Well—after Gaters hailed Intel's decision as a victory for their letter-writing campaign, ‘Operation Disrespectful Nod,’ the company appeared to realize it had been duped by gamers—and fake gamers—into supporting a misogynist movement.”
Surely, as a journalist (am I presuming too much?), Hathaway must know that the bigger the company, the less they like controversy. It is not a matter of taking sides; it is a matter of not being on the sides, in the middle, or anywhere near controversy.
Publications that value big advertisers prefer to cut such things off at the root, before they can flourish and spiral out of control (which could potentially negatively impact the publication’s endorsements), as opposed to calling out the National Guard to spray the unruly crowd with water cannons.
Yes, there were trolls, and yes, there were inappropriate things being done by individuals, but the bullies here are looking a lot more like the gaming media at the moment than the gamers themselves, and Gawker’s article is no exception to the recently continuous reinforcement of this reality.
“Many #Gamergate participants truly believe that they are fighting an important fight against corruption in game journalism. But to an outside observer, it's bizarre that they identify the greatest threat as the small, independent, crowdfunded developers, and not the huge profitable game companies that advertise on game sites.”
Except, that is not what is happening, is it? The criticism is being leveled at the gaming media more so than gaming companies, small or large. Of course having more small and medium-sized game developer companies would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?
It’s sort of a catch-22. When the media needs advertisers, who has the money to place big ads? Big companies, that’s who. But, gaming magazines would be fairly boring if they primarily only covered the top 20 games every week, wouldn’t they?
Nobody is suggesting that less popular games from smaller companies shouldn’t receive coverage; the question (or issue) is, rather, how those games get selected, and if some writer had simply said: “Hey, my girlfriend/friend wrote a simple character-based game about depression that some of you might be interested in!” perhaps there would not have been such an outcry.
What about the ethics of all of the other game writers or journalists involved? Had this thing not surfaced when it did, would we have still seen more and more mentions of “Depression Quest”?
There are dozens, if not, by now, hundreds or thousands of other examples of this nature out there on the web, and while there are countless pieces like the above which fit the mold of “anything but impartial” aimed at discrediting and tearing down Gamergaters, or proponents of Gamergate, it would only be fair to note that the Anti-Gamergate folks, or the SJW crowd if one prefers, are not the only folks engaging in this brand of nepotism.
People who have come into the fold on both sides now, that are often involved in any discussion of issues related to sex or Feminism and Anti-Feminism online, have a history of heavily scrutinizing their opponents, while not being nearly as critical of those on their own side, or events affecting their side.
That leads me to the following: a review of reactions from various outlets to the recent USU threats aimed at Anita Sarkeesian, and an older incident (still from 2014) related to AVoiceforMen.com, wherein the original host of their first international men’s rights conference received threats.
And, just to be clear, Anita Sarkeesian is typically considered an SJW, and is against Gamergate, and AVoiceforMen.com is an MRA website, and tends to be on the side of Gamergaters. Both the former and the latter, as most reading this likely already know, are involved in the current Gamergate discourse.
Section II (Favoring One’s Own):To paraphrase Karl Marx: a spectre is haunting online debate – the spectre of ideological nepotism. It is a malignancy which defies fairness and reason, it is exclusive to no ideology, and it has plagued several, if not all or most, online debates since individuals first began to use the internet as a forum for discussion, or as a platform/medium for sociopolitical advocacy.
Ideological nepotism is, in practice, an “us versus them” mentality, or individual and collective mindset, and this sort of favoritism has and can been seen on both sides of the aisle. It existed before the current “Culture War” known as Gamergate first arose, and still persists today.
Gamergaters and SJWs often mirror one another in regard to common behaviors and biases in varying degrees. This problem appears, in most cases, to be relatively independent of ideological principles in the broader sense, particularly in terms of applications of fairness and rhetorical attacks, and it stems from several individuals, collectively, falling into the more harmful traps of group-think or herd behavior insularity.
Though (again) the upcoming items discussed, and those involved, do not necessarily represent the majority or greater will of either side (i.e., Gamergaters and SJWs), and though there are individuals on both sides who are genuinely doing their best to go about things in the right way, the authors of the following content are involved in the Gamergate discussion, as are their readers, and most probably, as are those associated with their readers who engage in these types of debates online.
These are many of the same folks who always engage in these sorts of discussions, and as has been the case numerous times in the past, before Gamergate and since the “battle” first began, they are engaging in some of the same counterproductive and biased scrutiny and attacks that they always do when it comes to online discourse related to sex issues and Feminism or social justice (or even most issues).
What follows, I believe, are fundamental problems with the current debate that many might not be taking into full consideration at the moment, and the only way to undo such problems is to identify and bring them to light so that, perhaps, people will reevaluate their current paths and positions. With any luck, the outcome will be that some will make a few adjustments, if any of this applies to them, for the better.
To begin, we will take a look at some articles from WeHuntedtheMammoth.com, AVoiceforMen.com, and a few others, on the threats against both Anita Sarkeesian and AVfM from 2014:
“Anita Sarkeesian Cancels Talk at Utah State after Receiving Threat of Another ‘Montreal Massacre.’”
The above is just an update to some earlier posts by David Futrelle (of WeHuntedtheMammoth.com), who is generally Pro-SJW, Pro-Feminist, Anti-MRA, and against proponents of Gamergate. This one contains the full text of the threats sent to Utah State University, coupled with some Tweets from Sarkeesian. Most notably, it displays a recent statement by Anita Sarkeesian on Gamergate and the status of those who support it:
“At this point supporting #gamergate is implicitly supporting the harassment of women in the gaming industry.”
Just as a brief aside, and if it has not been pointed out anywhere else (though I am sure it has), the law is the law. If a state has open carry or concealed carry gun laws, then people are allowed to engage in those activities, and there is very little that can or could be done about that without causing a large stir, which the University would probably have preferred to simply not deal with at all (though they received publicity nonetheless).
Admittedly, this is a bit of a red herring, given that if someone is intent on committing mass murder, the details of a state's gun laws are unimportant. Nevertheless, there are those out there, such as the NRA, for instance, who might argue that, if the audience was in a state where citizens were allowed to carry guns, those attending would be safer because anyone opening fire would be fired back at fairly quickly.
Now, while it is true that in a state which severely limited gun ownership the police or other agencies at such a presentation could have searched everyone on entrance to the event, it is not crystal clear that this would have absolutely made the assembly a great deal safer. Weapons might have still slipped through security, and an unopposed gunman could have killed a lot more people (as has been seen repeatedly in shootings in the past).
Anyway, the more significant thing to note about the above piece is David Futrelle’s reaction to the threats sent to Anita Sarkeesian. He made virtually no effort to consider that they might not have been serious or to scrutinize Sarkeesian or the authenticity of the threats as some Gamergaters would or have, and has acted since as though such skepticism is, in and of itself, abhorrent.
In fact, he even went so far, in his post, as to imply (or state) that the threats surely came, without question, from an MRA, an Anti-Feminist, or some proponent of Gamergate. This reaction and his reporting serve in supplementary senses to reinforce the greater recent narrative and notion in the media that all, or at least most or many, Gamergaters are violent misogynists.
The readiness to blame and lack of scrutiny related to the claims, both by Futrelle and his numerous readers and commentators (which can be seen below the article), contrast starkly with his reaction, and the general reactions of his readers, to an older event which predates Gamergate.
Many now entangled and engaged in the Gamergate debate might remember that earlier in 2014, AVoiceforMen.com held a men’s rights conference, and were forced to change venue at one point due to some violent threats which were allegedly sent to the venue initially planned to host their meeting:
“Threats of Violence and Death against Doubletree Hilton in Detroit over Men’s Conference”
At that time, AVfM, or rather, the venue intended to host their first conference, had received threats from a Feminist (they claimed and speculated). Despite those threats, AVfM was still committed to having their Detroit event at the Doubletree hotel (a Hilton company, by the way).
A letter was produced (I accept that it is real) from the hotel demanding that AVfM pay for seven off-duty Detroit police officers, who were to stand guard 24 hours a day at the event.
There was no indication in the above article that they were not planning to go ahead at the Doubletree, but a plea for more people to buy tickets for the event to help pay for it all was made.
Subsequently, we now know, the event was moved to a less expensive location, the attendance was moderate, and there were only a few security personnel on the scene.
The following came shortly after the threats were received for the Detroit conference:
“To All the Feminists Who Aren’t like That”
This was Paul Elam, leader of AVoiceforMen.com (which now sides with proponents of Gamergate), reaching out to Feminists who “are not like that” and asking them to give $25 or more to help pay for the additional security that AVfM would need due to the threats that they, at least by extension, had received. Donations never rose above $300 (and one of those was from an MRA).
They did, however, manage to raise over $30,000 by way of this fundraiser.
David Futrelle, unlike when it came to the more recent threats aimed at Anita Sarkeesian on October 14, 2014, was quick to scrutinize and question the authenticity of the threats sent to AVfM, and did not hesitate to attack their actions and question their honesty:
“Is a Voice for Men Using Phony Death Threats as an Excuse to Smear Feminists and Raise a Quick $25k?”
The above article reviews the events: in June of 2014, AVoiceforMen planned a conference in Detroit. They claimed, but never directly substantiated, that threats were being sent to the Doubletree hotel where the event was to occur (the hotel was also contacted independently and refused to provide any details). The idea was that AVfM would be required to put up additional funds in order to have the event there.
The piece from WeHuntedtheMammoth.com implies that this seems to be a well-worn tradition with AVfM events, and just another excuse to pass the collection plate around once again (similar to how people often characterize the fundraising efforts of Anita Sarkeesian).
The later outcome of the fundraiser and threats was that the event was held at another location, they raised a considerable amount of money, and there didn’t seem to be all that much in the way of a security presence, although there was the equivalent of paid bouncers to keep out “undesirables” (meaning, anyone who might have liked to enact violence against attendees or otherwise disrupt the proceedings).
Just as we do not presently know if the Sarkeesian-aimed threat would have actually been carried out (but at least we were able to see the text of that in its entirety), we do not know if the threat against AVfM would have actually been carried out had their event been held at its original location. Likewise, we still have no idea, in either case, who specifically sent the threats, or what their “affiliation” was or is.
During the time preceding the above, when AVfM was collecting funds, Futrelle wrote another article on the issue wherein he scrutinized them and called into question their honesty (in this case, he was more negatively critical):
“AVfM's Threatener-in-Chief Paul Elam Demands That Feminists Pay Security Costs for His Group's Conference”
This is the earliest article on the AVfM Detroit conference troubles discussing the threats from some mysterious (and presumably Feminist) sources. This piece points out that no facsimile was produced, and there was no indication that any of these communications had been turned over to the police (again, a critical note similar to what people bring up in relation to Anita Sarkeesian and how she handles threats).
In other words, Futrelle’s skepticism, or willingness to question authenticity and honesty, vacillates from intense to virtually none depending on who is receiving the threats. When it is someone that he favors, his willingness to be skeptical nearly dissipates, but when it is someone that he dislikes, he flips the switch and becomes Socrates: searching for the truth, inspecting the particulars, and questioning everything.
However, he is not the only one who engages in this sort of (presumably) ideological nepotism (which is exactly what this sort of bias in skepticism is indicative of). AVoiceforMen, as well as countless others, many of which are now involved in the Gamergate debate and occasionally read AVfM and/or Futrelle’s site, are also guilty of this type of interesting and conceptually parallel vacillation (from hyper-skeptical to almost blindly faithful and willing to believe depending on who is being examined or discussed).
Take, for example, the contrast between how AVfM and many of its readers reacted to the threats sent to the Hilton hotel (shown above), and how they have reacted to the more recent threats sent to Utah State University over Anita Sarkeesian’s schedule talk:
“Investigation into Sarkeesian Death Threats Reveals No Risk to USU Students or Staff”
This is a highly incredulous article from AVfM related to the threat sent to USU. Their gimmick within it is to interpret statements of the authorities in fanciful ways. As I pointed out above, the fact that the university did not decide to restrict guns at the event has nothing (which can be evidenced) to do with their (the school’s) opinions on Gamergate, Sarkeesian, or anything else related. It is simply a reflection of Utah law. The following quote from officials touches on this point:
“The speaker, Anita Sarkeesian, canceled the presentation. She was concerned about the fact that state law prevented the university from keeping people with a legal concealed firearm permit from entering the event. University police were prepared and had a plan in place to provide extra security measures at the presentation.”
They imply that they might have had the choice to search people on entry to the meeting, et cetera, but they were obviously never provided the opportunity to do so because Sarkeesian canceled the event. Furthermore, a subsequent press release from the same day as the AVfM article (but not quoted therein) made it clear that the university does not dispute the legitimacy of the threat, but simply concluded that, since similar threats had been received in the past and not acted upon, this one would likely not be either.
Although the University’s press releases did not disclose specifics, they made it clear that they were taking precautions and had a plan in place for attempting to ensure the safety of attendees.
The intent of the AVfM article, though, was to leave dangling the suggestion that the threat-mail might have come from either Sarkeesian herself, a supporter of hers, or some unrelated Feminist.
The piece ends by mentioning, fairly randomly, that Thunderf00t had his account suspended due to her actions (an assertion which, as far as I can tell, is mostly unsupported or based on cynical conjecture). In any event, that seems rather irrelevant to the purposes of the rest of their post.
Their next article on the threats sent to Utah State University, similarly to the first, was highly accusatory and suspicious in ways that mirror how David Futrelle scrutinized the threats allegedly sent to the host of AVfM’s own conference (and their organization by extension):
“Anonymous Feminist Provides Anita Sarkeesian with a Potential New Source of Revenue”
This piece is written by “Andy Bob” (who appears to be a comments contributor to Spearhead, which is apparently a white supremacist publication). A couple of quotes worthy of mention are as follows:
“You see, like many actual MHRAs, I have come to regard all claims made by, and on behalf of, this woman with a cynically weary eye.”
“This time, my cynicism is driven by the fact that this particular ‘threat’ is such a transparent fraud that only a complete cretin could possibly fall for it.”
The above lines are not necessarily wrong, but they narrow the scope of his applications of skepticism in a way that he seems to be unaware of due to his own biases. All claims made by anyone should always be viewed with a cynical eye (weary is a rhetorical qualifier), whether they are a friend or a foe.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that this email was written by a feminist posing as an MHRA.”
Here, he merely reinforces what many who are reading his piece are already likely to suspect due to their biases or preconceived notions, and it is also an unsubstantiated claim (a naked assertion) posed as a demonstrated discovery (which it most certainly was not then and still isn't).
Considering, however, that recent (and even extended) history has shown repeatedly that these sorts of threats only ever benefit the side that they are sent to (including AVfM when they were threatened), only the most foolish and ignorant person, at this point, would send threats to anyone popular amongst their adversaries.
Sending a threat to one’s opposition today, when said opposition has any significant measure of notoriety on the internet, or even elsewhere, is absolutely nothing less than willingly aiding their interests and freely handing them self-serving ammunition, and that reality of outcomes has been undeniably proven time and time again over the last few years (but especially in the past two or three).
Thus, this does lend credence to the idea (which even I mentioned in my first Gamergate-related post) that people on either side are sending their own side threats in order to either benefit them, or to hurt the opposing side in terms of public opinion (or for both reasons). Or, again, it could simply be unaffiliated, third party actors (trolls) who merely seek to rile everyone up and watch the sparks fly (because the outcomes are so predictable).
But, an observable or presumable pattern does not validate an assertion as true by default, and something only speculated about (or not evidenced and certified as true) is still merely an idea based solely in conjecture.
Regardless, the more significant thing to note about the above is that AVfM writer Andy Bob’s scrutiny of these threats is nearly identical to how David Futrelle questioned the threats sent to AVoiceforMen’s conference host earlier in 2014, at least on a basic level, and yet neither side, when their own side is attacked, is so willing to apply the same skepticism to their allies. This is a direct and clear representation of the current (and ongoing) problem permeating the Gamergate debate today (i.e., selective skepticism).
And, just for the sake of clarity: the issue specifically being addressed here is not whether skepticism of threats and/or scrutiny of those who receive them is positive or negative, but rather, how evenly and fairly said skepticism and willingness to scrutinize are being applied.
Bob prefaced the next quote from the menace-mail with the words “the feminist author” just to make it clear that “there can be no doubt” that this was a false flag operation. Yet again, he was speculating and stating that as if his naked assertion had already been confirmed as a fact. If one were to reverse such a scenario and say that an MRA had sent the threats that led to AVfM raising tens of thousands of dollars for their conference, he and others like him would most probably cry speculation without evidence (or foul).
The best quote from the article, though, states the following:
“The character created as the author of the email is an artful pastiche of those mythical MHRAs, Elliot Rodger and Marc Lépine, neither of whom had any connection with known MHR organizations, despite fraudulent feminist claims to the contrary. They were personality-disordered psychopaths—who certainly loathed women yet mysteriously managed to include a significant number of men among their victims—but they were definitely not MHRAs.”
Lépine specifically mentioned, as is publicly documented, Feminists in his pre-killing spree letter, and he killed fourteen women and no men, deliberately allowing fifty men to go free before the murders began. He did injure four men and six other women, but the men, in his case, were in the greater minority of victims.
Obviously, Bob did no, or little, research whatsoever before writing his post. At the end, in fact, he even admits that he might be wrong about blaming the letter on a Feminist, and that it might be just as likely that it could’ve come from an MRA as from some associate of Anita Sarkeesian.
In other words, after filling the readers’ heads with all of the false flag and “one of them did it to frame us” talk, as many SJWs/Feminists suggested when AVfM was threatened, he conceded that it could have actually been one of them (but by the time the reader, already inundated with one-sided bias, gets to that point in his article, they are highly unlikely to be willing to accept such a concept as a plausible truth).
Section II – Subsection A (Anita Rises and Other Items Worthy of Note):NyTimes.com: “Feminist Critics of Video Games Facing Threats in ‘GamerGate’ Campaign”
This is the latest coup by Sarkeesian, wherein she turns threats against her (whether real or not) into ever greater publicity for herself. The media, quite plainly, is overwhelmingly left-wing and overwhelmingly sympathetic to Feminism and a host of other “-isms” that go hand-in-hand, and while the Gamergaters duke it out on gaming media, Sarkeesian is now hitting the mainstream with the New York Times, NPR, and other television appearances.
Someone on Reddit, incidentally, is constructing a catalog of all of the mainstream publications that are presently coming out against Gamergate, or already have, and it’s a fairly long list.
Aside from that, there is no new information in their article, but toward the end they say this:
“Gaming — or at least who plays video games — is quickly changing, though. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 48 percent of game players in the United States are women, a figure that has grown as new opportunities to play games through mobile devices, social networks and other avenues have proliferated. Game developers, however, continue to be mostly male: In a survey conducted earlier this year by the International Game Developers Association, a nonprofit association for game developers, only 21 percent of respondents said they were female.”
The reactions of the commentators in all of the above are interesting too. The more one reviews each piece from both sides, the more it becomes apparent how alike everyone truly is. If one were to erase or trade their jargon and labels between them, or out altogether, it would often be difficult to tell them apart.
When one side is threatened, the other side is certain that it is all (or mostly) just phony nonsense and/or lies (the writers and many of the readers who comment), but when their side is threatened, it is disgusting and appalling and anyone who questions the honesty of those who receive the threats, or the seriousness and authenticity of the threats themselves, is a monstrous or repugnant bigot.
Both sides do this, and have done it for quite some time.
Think of how people reacted when Anita raised nearly $160,000 for her video game series because of all the threats that she’d allegedly received. Think of how people would react if Anita raised $30,000 due to her event from October 15th being canceled, and then responded like this when asked about where the money went (click here). The internet's Anti-Feminist forces would be even more ablaze over Sarkeesian than they already are.
Even Thunderf00t (unsurprisingly) has jumped on attacking the threats as being “not real”:
“Anita Sarkeesian’s ‘MASSACRE’ Threats, Real, or FAKE?”
Thunderf00t, in this video, repeatedly states that all of the claims of threats are false and should just be ignored and that the only thing anyone has against Anita is that her arguments are stupid. The threats cannot be real, because if they were real, they should have been acted on by now. This argument is actually erroneous, but it is, in fact, similar to the point that the Utah school made.
Every threat has the potential to be real, independent of anything that has happened previously. Even if one were certain that all of the threats were coming from the same source and could prove it, that would not necessarily lessen the significance or seriousness of said threats. Many murderers brood over their plans for some time before acting, and there are several incidents all throughout history which show this.
At any rate, the point of all of the above is not that AVfM, Thunderf00t, or the commentators represent all of Gamergate, or that David Futrelle represents all of the opposition, but that such people are often reverse mirrors of one another, both in how they scrutinize their adversaries, and in how they fail to scrutinize their allies (ideological or personal). This reality extends beyond these sources.
There are countless people and collectives out there like them, on both sides, and many of those people either read their works or are presently engaged and deeply-entrenched in the new “Culture War” that is Gamergate. That cannot be overlooked. The issues outlined here are fundamentally tied to the rational success of any and all debates, whether they are carried out on the internet or in the “real” offline world.
Section II – Subsection B (Comparing Some Alternative Reactions to These Incidents):1) Other outlets reacting to the threats received by AVfM earlier in 2014:
MetroTimes.com: “A Voice for Men Raises $29k to Pay for Additional Security following Threats”
This newspaper article posted on June 4, 2014 announced a march to be conducted outside of the Doubletree hotel on June 7, 2014 in protest of the AVfM meeting which was to occur later in the month on June 26. There was no mention of violence or anything else of that nature in the piece (though they’d be pretty stupid to openly threaten violence in such a post anyway). Still, planning a protest is an interesting response or decision given that AVfM and the Doubletree were allegedly receiving what were essentially terrorist threats at the time.
MsMagazine.com: “Protest Saturday: Misogynistic MRA Conference in Detroit”
This article chronicles the whole Detroit issue from the point-of-view of the day before the Anti-AVfM march, which was, again, to occur on June 7 around the Doubletree hotel.
It approaches the subject from a know-nothing-already perspective, explaining terminology such as MRA and PUA to the uninitiated (similar to the Gawker article above), and presents examples of “hate speech” from MRA sources, including Paul Elam at AVfM (some of the items referenced were subsequently removed from the AVfM website, apparently).
The only thing worthy of note in this particular piece is that it appears that someone who posted on Facebook intending to go to this march was careless enough to give out her name. Additional information about her was then posted on the AVfM website in the comments section, and later deleted, but not before a few less-than-subtle threats were issued.
MotorCityMuckraker.com: “Controversial Men's Rights Conference Canceled at DoubleTree in Downtown Detroit”
This article, written June 11, 2014, covers the protest that apparently did occur on the 7th of June at the Doubletree in Detroit. By the time of this article on the 11th, the Doubletree was claiming that the event was no longer taking place there, but did not specify why. Signs for the protest read “Smash the Patriarchy - Fuck the System,” “Hate is not welcomed in Detroit,” or simply “Boycott the Doubletree.”
2) Other outlets reacting to the threats received by Anita Sarkeesian on October 14, 2014:
ReturnofKings.com: “Did Anita Sarkeesian Fake Death Threats against Herself?”
The ReturnofKings site goes to great lengths to “prove” that some of Sarkeesian's threats are forged, even pushing as far as to argue that the fact that all of the words were spelled correctly is a sign of fraudulence. Apparently, the author believes that, if she wanted to fake death threats from an MRA or Anti-Feminist, she should have filled them with spelling and grammar errors. Most of its points are relatively insubstantial and baseless speculation.
This article does, nonetheless, say one thing at the end that I hope more people will take up:
“Personally, I believe no human being deserves to suffer from physical violence or the threat of it. If someone has made a genuine threat against Anita or any public figure, they deserve to suffer the full punishment of the law. That is why I am calling on Twitter to release the IP address those tweets were made from and work with law enforcement to arrest whoever is responsible for them.”
It would seem to be the simplest notion in the world for everyone to call for this. Even making false threats of intent to commit acts of violence, aimed at specific individuals, should be considered a serious crime in all states or places. A few successful prosecutions on these grounds would bring such behavior to a halt, or at least lessen it to a great extent, which is right where it belongs.
The claim is made in several of these articles that the threats are only used for publicity, but rarely is a great and extended effort made, by multiple (and influential) groups, to track down the originators of them. How does anyone know the truth of this? The police would not normally disclose such information.
Claims on both sides that threats are fake, or that they are not being pursued, or if real, that they do not constitute a real danger, are almost always pure speculation (based on assumptions). People also, like in the case of the threats sent to Sarkeesian, for instance, distort the purposes of the phrase “not real” to mean “entirely fraudulent” when it is often more intended to imply that those in authority believe that there is generally no imminent danger based on what they know, and/or that it is unlikely that the known threats will be carried out as described.
Time.com: “What Is #GamerGate and Why Are Women Being Threatened about Video Games?”
The above is another summary article chronicling the whole Gamergate ordeal. The main thing that is noteworthy about this is that it is Time. It is possible that Anita Sarkeesian will soon be on every magazine cover and television screen, and many Gamergaters will still be saying that she is stupid, silly, a charlatan, and/or irrelevant, and that what she says in unimportant.
The question in this is: who made her and what she has to say seem important?
Had there never been any significant commentary on her videos, it is possible that she would probably still be mostly unknown, and ironically, many commentators online, and gamers, are the ones who have made her as famous as she is today, and there is likely no way for anyone to truly undo or reverse her progress now.
Sltrib.com: “Anita Sarkeesian Explains Why She Canceled USU Lecture”
There is little new here except a claim that seems unambiguous that the FBI is actually investigating this threat (the one sent to Utah State University, in case anyone’s already forgotten). If that is true, whoever crafted it must surely be getting a bit nervous at this point considering the immense attention that their deed has received.
Law enforcement agencies read the papers. Thousands of crimes go unreported (by the news media) every day, and correspondingly receive little attention from police, but “high profile” crimes get more attention, and tracing IP addresses and other packet data through proxy servers is not completely impossible for someone who has the right connections (and it'd obviously be fairly easy for the FBI).
Would Anita Sarkeesian or one of her close associates even think to disguise their email servers if they had forged the threat? Perhaps. Would they do it carefully enough? Who knows; how good has she been at “covering her tracks” thus far? Would someone who is already quite famous risk all of that by being fingered by the FBI as the author of some of her own death threats?
That seems a little far-fetched to me.
Section III (Larger Summary/Overview of Some Final, Related Thoughts):1) There are really multiple issues at play here.
a. The personalities involved.
b. The social issues.
c. The industry issues.
d. The strategy-related issues for people who get into these things.
e. The legal issues when it comes to harassment.
f. And, finally, the “meta” issue of how groups of people keep getting into these divides and how (for some of us) we might find a way to avoid their ruts and counterproductive or even insular mentalities.
2) Thinking further back, what started most of these progressions were fairly minor events.
a. Sarkeesian making some videos which a few individuals didn’t care for.
b. Before that, the accusation that she had conned a bunch of people into donating money to her. This sounded a lot like jealousy from the many people whose similar projects had gotten little attention, and the videos probably were due some criticism.
c. Some exaggerations were made, and so on.
d. But, how important was any of that before higher profile people started paying attention to it?
e. Was Sarkeesian the beneficiary of a large amount of luck, or did she parlay an ever-expanding list of contacts into more and more attention for herself?
f. Did she surf the waves of publicity with near perfection? It would seem so.
g. And, as this happened, or as she did so, the hatred grew.
3) Zoe Quinn took a similar approach in this play, but her part seems to have become a subordinate role, or even an afterthought, to Sarkeesian and her work.
a. On the other hand, Quinn provided a needed boost to the plot by causing the introduction of the Gamergate tag, and the subsequent narrative that Anti-SJWs were going after not just a Feminist, or Feminists, but the unethical gaming media (and now other types of media).
b. Was Quinn ever really the “villain” here, or was it the five or more media guys who supposedly slept with her?
c. Who was taking advantage of whom, or was there any advantage being taken by anybody?
d. Could this all be just an avalanche started by the snowball of one “jilted nerd”?
4) We know the gaming media is corrupt. In fact, we know that nearly all media is corrupt.
a. Perhaps getting the word out on that to people who haven’t already figured it out is a good thing that can come of all of this, regardless of what becomes of Gamergate itself.
b. In every specialty media, there are incestuous relationships (meaning unhealthily or unethically close, not the other kind that implies intimate familial relations).
c. There are specialty media areas in gaming, golf, oil and gas, production, entertainment, politics and more.
d. In every case, those being covered and those doing the coverage spend a lot of time together. Why does this take anyone by surprise?
e. Andrea Mitchell of NBC news is married to the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve who is twice her age. She a liberal journalist, and he, a former Ayn Rand acolyte.
f. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of such relationships in Washington alone.
g. Do we think that they sleep in separate bedrooms in the name of journalistic (or other) integrity?
5) Who are the winners and the losers here?
a. Anita Sarkeesian has to be the biggest winner (at least thus far), going from essentially nothing to super-stardom on a quart of gas.
b. It seems as though, at every turn, there is either a friend or foe to propel her even further along, and in the majority of cases, it’s the supposed foes who do the most in that regard (or someone associated with her, or third party, unaffiliated trolls, potentially).
c. Have the people who send these sorts of threats, if they are genuine with their hatred, figured out that they should be kicking themselves yet?
d. The Gamergaters have neither won nor lost anything as far as what is measurable is concerned.
e. Have most games themselves, yet, perceptibly changed as a result of any of this? It doesn’t appear so.
f. There is the possibility that a greater amount of game development dollars will be pumped into producing “female-friendly” content, but it seems more likely that those will just be added dollars, with people pursuing their own independent projects, and not shifted dollars as some fear. It is not a zero-sum game, after all (pun intended!).
g. The game-producing companies, have they lost anything? Difficult to think of how if they have.
h. People are all worked up about games, games and games, and the discussion surrounding gaming has been driven to an unnecessarily extreme and excessive point.
i. This seems to slowly be turning into one of those situations where folks believe that no publicity is bad (at least as far as some parties involved are concerned).
j. The gaming media? It’s likely that they are hurt, but they were probably hurting already. Just one more cultural artifact fallen victim to the disintermediation of the internet.
Section IV (Summary of the Overall Message):As I stated at the beginning of Section II, a spectre is haunting online debate – the spectre of ideological nepotism. It is a menace which defies fairness and reason, it looks to be exclusive to no ideology, and it has afflicted several debates online, if not most or all of them, since individuals first began to use the internet as a forum for discussion, or as a platform or medium for advocacy.
The “us versus them” mentality is pervasive in the current Gamergate discourse. Many of those discussed in the above examples, although not necessarily representative of the majority or greater will of either side (Gamergaters/Anti-SJWs or SJWs/Anti-Gamergaters), are heavily involved in the current “Culture War.” They have dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of readers and viewers who are in this, just as they have been in these sorts of debates (on sex issues, Feminism, and so forth) for many years.
Right or wrong, there are Gamergaters and SJWs mirroring one another in regard to behaviors and projected biases all the time now. There are unequal applications of skepticism and biased rhetorical attacks abound, and all of it stems from several individuals, en masse, falling into the more harmful traps of collectivism.
Hypocrisy, if that is what one would prefer to label this sort of thing, does not invalidate points, of course, but it is interesting how comparable the reactions of those, or some, on each side are to similar incidents, despite how different and antithetical they purport to be.
And, these problems are not confined merely to AVfM or David Futrelle. All of the above extends beyond them, in several ways, to numerous other individuals and collectives currently embroiled in the Gamergate debacle, which appears to show no signs of stopping or slowing down any time soon.
Unless someone points these sorts of issues out, because they typically occur over extensive spans of time and endure the passing of several events, many may never notice that they have fallen into these snares. Nonetheless, they are a great portion of the underlying problem in most online discourse, and are, along with general incivility, hostility and unwillingness to compromise, a significant part of why a great deal of internet debates never come to any reasonable, substantial or meaningful conclusions.
It is the onus of all, whether they are the majority, the greater will, the minority, or the fringe, to be fair, honest and just when reporting on, or scrutinizing, both their allies and their enemies, and it is on everyone to avoid and attempt to resist falling prey to confirmation bias, selection bias, counterproductive apophenia, and ideological nepotism. None of these things correspond, or can mutually function, with truthfulness and intellectual honesty.
Without such elements, and without a greater view of the bigger picture for those involved (a glimpse of the world outside of blinders), the Gamergate discourse will become stilted and stale, and it will ultimately be relegated to just another talking point for both Anti-Feminists and Feminists alike.
The phrase “Gamergate” will become merely another example for the former and those like them, on a long list of many, of how corrupt SJWs and/or Feminists can be, and another example for the latter, and those like them, of how misogynistic and violent MRAs, Anti-Feminists or the “status quo” in gaming can be. I suspect that no one desires that type of outcome, or at least, I would hope that most Gamergaters do not seek such results.
Do not fall into these traps; gain a little bit of perspective, and think beyond the information and events in immediate view. This “Culture War” can be won fairly, civilly and honestly by whichever side is truly right and just, but the way to achieve victory is not to become everything that one despises and reviles, or to allow allies to get away with what one condemns and rebukes the opposition for doing.
Be the change that you want to see, and encourage all others around you to do so as well.
Author: Krista [@Femitheist]
NOTE II: For the sake of clarity, I want to mention that the purpose of this post is in no way to imply that all Gamergaters are MRAs, or that MRAs represent them as a majority, or that those against Gamergate are all SJWs, and so forth. However, many on each side of the aisle, from what I have seen, agreed, and agree with, the contentions of the sources reviewed above regarding the incidents discussed.
NOTE III: My desire with this is that people will identify the trends displayed and subsequently be more mindful of applying the same scrutiny to themselves and their friends that they do to their adversaries, even though that might sometimes be difficult or even time-consuming. I do not want people who have sincerely honest and good intentions to become what they execrate or feel is unjust, which can easily occur when it comes to things such as the Gamergate debate on the internet. I still have hopes, at least for the time being, that the current “Culture War” can come to a clear and agreeable close at some point in the future.
NOTE IV: Furthermore, and as a final point for the substance of this piece, I do not presume to speak for anyone other than myself with this; I can only do my best in contributing what I believe might assist or help others in some way when I have identified an ongoing and seemingly prevalent problem, or set of problems.
NOTE V: This is part two of three posts that I am going to write related to this topic. Feel free to leave your thoughts on all of these issues in the comments below. And, as my comments policy states, any replies containing threats against specific individuals, or the personal information of individuals who do not already publicize the information online themselves, will be removed.
PART 1 OF 3: “Gamergate and the Golden Age of Hysteria”
PART 3 OF 3: “Gamergate: Not Another False Narrative”