The past week sure has been a great week for anti anti-harrassment hasn’t it? World Fantasy Con drops a large floater in the punch bowl and South by South West (SXSW)…apparently decided to turn their waste treatment center into a recreational facility.
World Fantasy Con, despite multiple years available for preparation, decided to default in favor of protecting itself from libel suits. Several people had things to say about this: Scalzi Luhrs. No need for me to discuss further as both are absolutely correct.
Other than (that is) the observation that in my experience, this kind of thing is usually the result of people trying to avoid an issue, idiocy, listening to the wrong legal advice (tell you lawyers what you want to do and ask how to go about doing it, rather than asking them what you can do; lawyers are intimately familiar with the dangerous uncertainties of litigation and will almost always default to a solution that avoids the potential for it. Hire attorneys to help you accomplish your goals, rather than hiring attorneys to protect you from potential harm. My test is to ask a potential attorney to imaging I am their client and that I call them up one day to say “I need to kill so-and-so”. If they answer “you can’t do that!”, I move on. If they answer “let’s figure out how to do it legally”, they get serious consideration….).
SXSW. Boy what a mess! Harassers harass them regarding a couple of panels that might treat Gamergate in a negative light (and/or might seek to advance the cause of female gamers) and SXSW decides to cancel the panels out of concern for safety. (How long will it take them to realize that this enables harassment?)
Then, when a couple of sponsors complain rather strongly (see what happens when you host a commercial con?), they decide to re-instate the panels, including one that is pro-Gamergate (“Honest! It’s ALL about ethics in game Journalism. When we harass a female gamer, its just because we want to make sure they get some good media coverage when they complain!”).
Then, when panelists start withdrawing over the false equivalency being established, they announce an (Anti) Harassment Summit – at which they plan on giving equal billing to Gamergate, probably out of some misguided sense of fair-play.
Folks online have been offering up a lot of analogies for what this represents, but I’ve not read anyone (yet) making this point: Equal Time should only be offered in circumstances where there are at least two LEGITIMATE opposing views.
It’s time we stopped accepting the baseless adage that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion”. People are certainly free to think whatever they want to inside their own heads (watch how rapidly civilization would collapse if your inner most thoughts were displayed on your forehead with a ticker display) but these days, if you express those thoughts (any thought) publicly, you really ought to be prepared for outrage, castigation and dismissal if your “opinion” incorporates hate, divisiveness, bigotry or idiocy.
Individuals who apparently like to express hateful or idiotic thought usually respond to the preceding by labeling it PC, which in final form is nothing more than the argument that their views are the equal of opposing views, infringement of free expression, attempts to stifle debate.
When the Emperor is proudly strutting down the street naked, telling the idiots who are admiring the new, non-existent clothes that they are idiots is not stifling debate, it’s speaking truth to idiots. There is no equivalency between the two sides: one opinion is truth. The other opinion is idiocy. Damaging idiocy. Wasteful idiocy. Time-consuming idiocy. Distracting idiocy. While the town elders are running around trying to organize a summit that will offer an open forum for all opinions, the Emperor – who is clearly off his nut – is doing who knows how much damage to the empire’s reputation, not to mention damage to the empire itself.
SXSW was, apparently, going to be subjected to Gamergate harassment no matter what it did. The proper course of action for the organizers ought to have been – acceptance of panels that promoted the positives of minorities in gaming (women in particular in this case), rejection of the panel(s) that represented opinions that were representative of harassment and taken whatever lumps may have been dealt out during the convention, for it is TRUTH that “Gamergate” has become synonymous with harassment, and it is TRUTH that anyone who legitimately wants to discuss ethics in game journalism needs to do so under another headline.