It's come to my attention that I haven't yet made a public statement specifically about #GamerGate
. But as it's come up in a few threads, at this point, I think it's about time that I made my position on this matter absolutely clear.
"GamerGate" is a lie from beginning to end. It has exactly three parts to it: it has its core, which is and has been from the very first day about allowing and preserving a "gamer culture" which is actively hostile to women (among others), and preserving it by means of threats, harassment, and violence towards anyone who ever suggests that it should be otherwise.
It has its bullshit layer, which is that it is about ethics in journalism. If it were about ethics in journalism, then you would see people talking about actual ethical questions in journalism, and you would have seen it from the beginning. But from its first days, its only ties to this notion were the use of bizarre (and provably false) accusations from Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend to accuse game journalists of being in a cabal to destroy the "gamer culture" of its core layer, and one listserv thread (as covered on http://goo.gl/3B0wcc
) where professional journalists did, indeed, have a serious discussion about journalistic ethics: about whether the newsworthiness of this blog post outweighed the potential harm to its subjects. But rather than portray this as journalists doing what ethical journalists do, Milo Yiannopoulos instead portrayed this as a conspiracy by journalists to support the Secret Feminist Cabal. That is, his article itself was bollocks from beginning to end, as has been the entire argument.
And it has its fellow-travelers, people who either actually believe the bullshit layer or do so vocally and disingenuously in order to confuse others and add a shroud of legitimacy.
How do I know that this is true, and that there is not a legitimate discourse mixed in with the violence and so on? That I am not unfairly tarring all of GamerGate's proponents with the same brush?
It's really simple. I have not once seen a proponent of GamerGate actually distance themselves from the hatred and violence, or excoriate it, or say that it is fundamentally wrong and that they do not agree with either its means or its ends.
What I have seen is lots of people coming up with ways in which they, too, are being harassed, and so claiming a false equivalency. I got to watch an excellent example of this on one of my own threads earlier today; there, one of its proponents argued that the movement being called a bunch of scum (as it had been by someone else) is a form of harassment, and perfect evidence of how “there are trolls on both sides.” Yet he elides the difference between that and people being chased out of their homes, people waking up every day to death threats, to real and meaningful impact on people's lives. This is not a serious argument: it is an attempt to lie and to confuse the issue.
The other argument I have kept hearing is “I never distance myself from acts I have never associated myself with.” That is, people claim that they are under no obligation to distance themselves from the acts of the rest of GamerGate, even while they hoist its banner. Sorry: when a movement is known, first and foremost, for its violence, then to associate yourself with it does
associate you with its acts. You cannot say “I support al-Qaeda. They’re really about the US military presence in Saudi Arabia,” or “Hey, the KKK has done a lot of great community service work,” and not thereby associate yourself with everything those organizations are really known for. Sorry; you lie down with pigs, you’ll get covered in mud. You keep doing that, and people will have every reason to assume that you like it.
The fact is that there is no meaningful way to "recapture" the GamerGate tag for anything honest, both because it was never tied to that in the first place, and because it has become far too polluted to do so. If someone actually feels like having a conversation about ethics in journalism, they should by all means do so -- depending on what they say, I may even support them in this. But they should not do so in the company of villains, because that simply obscures any real discussion they might want to have with filth.
This is not behavior worthy of human beings. It is vile, it is violent, and if there is anything legitimate at all inside GamerGate, it needs to get its ass out
of there right now and clearly separate itself from the bloodthirsty mob. Because right now, anyone who walks around with that label is painting themselves as being open supporters of it, and anyone who supports that is someone that I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire.