Let’s get a few things straight here, before we begin. The willful act of physical rape is not funny. The willful denial of rights to people is not funny.
The willful denial of the exchange free ideas is really not funny. It’s especially not funny when done in the guise of being offended.
One of the things which really disturbs me as of late, is this strange behavior I see in people, whether highly regarded or not, to find things to be offended about. They troll twitter, they look at web comics. They read political and socio-political forums and they simply look for things about which they can raise a stink. What really bothers me about this is that I am starting to see this become more and more viral in the Game Industry. It sucks, and it has to stop. The game industry has enough problems without adding to it. I expect this from certain news outlets, but not from Game Industry folks. I may be on the periphery of some of this, but…I have a feeling I might be saying things here others are thinking..
People have a right to be offended. People have every right to be upset. What people do not have a right to do, is use their offense, or anger as a lever to silence others. No matter how warranted it might seem to a majority or a minority. When you do this, you violate the very freedom that allows you to voice your frustration in the first place. Now, to those of you who might find this to be some kind of intellectual argument, let me level the following on you:
An intellectual is someone educated beyond their intelligence. –Arthur C. Clarke, 3001.
Let’s get that out of the way, because this is not an intellectual or philosophical discussion. It’s a common sense discussion. Its about informing yourself before having an opinion. To which, you need to acquaint yourself with the following from another author…
“Nobody has the right to an opinion, you have the right to an informed opinion. Anything less is like a fart in a wind tunnel” — Harlan Ellison.
I’ve never been raped. I have been discriminated against. I have, through immaturity denied the rights of others to freely exchange their ideas in public forums and formats. I am the father of a soon to be 18 year old daughter. She has dated both boys and girls. Without any judgment from me. She’s allowed to make her own personal choices. That’s how I roll. So while I cannot comment on certain points of view, or understand how someone might feel due to life shaping events…I will say this: your experiences do not negate my right as a free person to freely exchange ideas, words, thoughts or my own feelings. If you do not, or cannot accept this simple premise…you are setting yourself up to look as bad as the person who harmed you.
The problem with looking for things to be offended about, is that you willingly accept tunnel vision to the point of being a hypocrite.
It amazes me the lengths people will go to be offended/insulted. What amazes me more, is how far they will go to remain so.
I made these comments after seeing Penny Arcade being castigated for “Dickwolves” yet again, along with two separate childish arguments transpiring over twitter which had its roots in likening the Sony Portable, and new hardware in general as a rather crude word for vagina. While I personally wouldn’t use these words in a public forum, and I personally find objectification of women to be reprehensible…I am certainly not going to live my life with a roll of duct tape in a holster. This is the United States of America. It is not Iran, it is not China.
What’s been bothering me as of late is, the startling number of people who seem to be looking for offense. People making ridiculous accusations such as Penny Arcade promoting rape culture, while ignoring their work for Child’s Play, or their instrumental rally’s against Jack Thompson. People ignoring context just so they can create a stir. When you do this, you are using your offense to stifle the free exchange of ideas from others. You have accepted the tunnel vision, you have gone down a path where you wind up ultimately “godwined” from hypocrisy, because you can only scream about your own view, without acknowledging someone elses. This is not the free exchange of ideas, its a contest to see who can scream the loudest. You are not promoting understanding, because nobody can understand anyone who is frothing at the mouth.
Anthony Burgess once quipped that more people liked the film version of “A Clockwork Orange” because they were, rightfully so, afraid of language. It’s this fear that leads to someone getting their nose out of joint over a comic strip. Its this kind of attitude that prohibits people from even mentioning some topics, because of the fear of one person whipping up a virtual lynch mob. John Kane, the painter said…
The public interest is best served by the free exchange of ideas.
Note the quote, “The free exchange of ideas”. Not “The free exchange of good ideas” or “The free exchange of ideas except those that use the words dickwolves, rape, *****, vagina, penis, breasts”
How does this tie into game development? Easy: as one of the owners of Double Cluepon, I will not be cowed into stifling the right of free expression. One example? Sure. We plan no gender checks for characters/players who want to marry in Emerald Kingdom. I am literally dying to get the first complaint email when we insert that feature. I have insisted many times, that our cast of mostly female characters in the storyline of Emerald Kingdom be genuine, and not tag a long in nature. Three of the principles in this company are women, from various walks and experiences in life.
I also have to be able to look my daughter in the eyes, when she looks to me. As all parents can see their actions turn to reflect in their children…I have to consider carefully what I create. I want my daughter to be able to express herself, freely…to discuss, and have dialog. Not to be shouted down by a minority that has a volume knob that goes to 11.
I may have not ever been raped, and those women AND men who have been…they certainly have a right to feel the way they feel. Feelings just are. They cannot be faulted for how they feel, or do not feel. However, their feelings do not, and never should negate the free exchange of dialog or ideas. As one person once said, every television has an off switch. Similarly,- you have a right to not patronize or talk to people with whom you find offense. You have a right to not buy their stuff, not go to their sites, not promote what they say.
But whipping up lynch mobs to silence them? We’re supposed to be making games, and pushing envelopes. Disagree all you want, but we have enough of a mob trying to silence the game industry as it is, without internal strife. We have mouthpiece trade rags who take industry money to promote crap, we have California trying to stifle the right of game developers to sell their stuff. Jack Thompson is gone, but there are plenty of others to take his place.
A house divided cannot stand. Internal fighting on whats’ socially acceptable will not help Game Development. It will divide us further. When you look for things to be offended about, in order to lead silence campaigns…. you’re diminishing us all. You’re saying only sanctified and pure ideas according to your views are acceptable. If you cannot see what a slippery slope that is…do us a favor…get out of this industry.
Instead of acting as though your offense if the most serious thing in the world, you perhaps try to do something as breathtakingly fresh as starting a dialog to change thinking, without weasel words, without a call to arms, and without the lynch mob. A great many of the internet dramas related to one group’s offense at someones typically innocuous comment or statement boil down to one thing: a failure to listen.
Listening is a crucial part of the exchange of ideas, thoughts, feelings and points of view. If you cannot do it, or cannot stand to listen, and hear at least once, another persons perspective, then by your own actions, you choose to remain as ignorant as the person who offended you. Understanding…requires listening to all parties.
I expect some people will find fault in the words here. That’s cool. I hope you do. Because if you can point out to me where I might have taken a wrong turn, or why I might be off base, I can learn something perhaps. I may stand my ground, I may give ground. That’s how dialog, debate and free exchange works.
It matters a great deal to me, because…in my eyes, a lot of smart people are in game development…and we are better than this.