Calling Out Call Out Culture

Todd Wohling / May 3, 2015 at 12:00 PM / Archive, Old

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If SocJus were Fight Club, the first two rules would be: It is a-okay to do absolutely anything to absolutely anyone in the name of SocJus.  Case in point:

Do you hear the misplaced sense of outraged entitlement?  Get him out of here?  The rule broken is, “She wants you gone”? She couldn’t speak if he was there?

Wu Pitches a Fit and Tosses Ralph

What could the person ejected preemptively have possibly done to deserve such a treatment? He took a picture and tweeted it.  Yep, that’s all.  Oh, and he’s The Ralph from The Ralph Retort.  He was thrown out simply to be denied a week (or more) worth of content while Wu slung giant piles of BS at an all-ally narcissism buffet.  She certainly played the role of victim well, all while trying to bully security and everyone else to throw a citizen journalist out of a convention.

To be fair, Ralph could have kept his mouth shut and surreptitiously earned his week worth of content.  I don’t begrudge him his choice, to be honest, because I don’t think I could have held a straight face for the entire duration of the panel either, so I’d have been tossed for aggressive belly laughing, which I’m sure triggers people.

The Ralph getting tossed from a Wu sermon isn’t enough to garner an entire commentary.  I lead off with it because my favorite falsely advertising sociologist, Katherine Cross, posted a scathing indictment of “call out culture” on Feministing. The heart of the commentary, and I begrudgingly admit, Cross herself, is in the right place.  However, Cross’s commentary confuses victim and harasser by invoking the name Adria Richards.

I Like Big Dongles, and I Cannot Lie

The year was 2013, and at a developer conference called Pycon, a straight white man made a joke.  The joke was about the word “dongle” and the phrase “forking one’s repo”.  According to the man who made the jokes, the “forking the repo” joke was made as a form of compliment, not as a sexual overtone.

That didn’t stop Adria Richards, however.  She decided the best thing to do would be to snap a pic of the “offending” convention goers and throw her accusation out on Twitter for all to see.

But that wasn’t enough.  She contacted the the people running the conference to complain.  For this, she was given an apology from the person who made the joke, according to his account of events.

But that wasn’t enough.  She went on to get the man who made the joke fired.  Call me crazy, but getting a person fired for making a joke at a conference is extreme.

Richards could have turned around and said something…but to hear her tell it, she had to be a hero, which in the minds of SocJus means causing a stink at a conference, having a public temper tantrum, and getting the people she doesn’t like fired.

There’s no definition of heroic for which Richards’ actions qualify.  She’s not a victim; rather, she’s a perpetrator.  She harassed a man and his employer until the man was fired.  She found an opening through which she could publicly ruin someone’s life, and thanks to the first two rules of SocJus, ruining that life is completely justified.

Surprising no one at this point, the “call out culture” Cross bemoans is people who called out Richards for her terrible behavior.  For example:

Richards, who posted pictures to Twitter of two men making lewd jokes at the PyCon tech conference in 2013, was barraged by fusillade after fusillade of vicious online harassment that ultimately drove her from her home.

The quote is so delicious in its intellectual dishonesty.  The jokes weren’t lewd, according to the people telling them (but Death of the Author, amirite?).  Richards was the one that did the public shaming by calling out the joke tellers in multiple tweets, going so far as to stick a link to the code of conduct in one of them.  When getting apologies from the conference and the joke teller weren’t enough, she got him fired.

And the people calling Bush league, entitled behavior for what it is are the ones with the problem?

Can we get every member of SocJus that’s willing to expend the effort to get some sort of training an additional course in George Carlin’s English?  When harasser and victim are getting confused, it would seem like some sort of remedial education is in order, and using Carlin as a teaching aid might help some folks out there grow some thicker skin.

The one and only piece of justice, social or otherwise, in the whole Pycon debacle is Richard’s firing, which is what should happen in the real world when a person in a professional environment proves themselves incapable of minimally acting the part.

Honey Badgers Are Triggering, Yo.

I find this specific bit of “call out culture” baffling, to be honest.  The Honey Badger Brigade got the heave ho from Calgary Expo for the totally harassing act of having a conversation in a panel. 

Now, the opinion expressed by the HBB might not have been the majority opinion, but the Badgers did not hide who they were at any point in their Calgary Expo experience, from the initial registration, through the process of being at the convention, and throughout the panel.

To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing the HBB did with respect to their presence at Calgary Expo that was below board.  That doesn’t stop fake nerd toilet The Mary Sue from celebrating the Badgers’ removal from Calgary Expo.  You’ll recall The Mary Sue celebrating changes to League of Legends conduct policy which made it better conduct for a player to be the reason their team lost in Ranked play than to be honest with the player who made your team lose in Ranked play (“get out of Ranked, scrub” isn’t harassment).

If I didn’t know better, I’d assume The Mary Sue’s article is the “call out culture” Cross is complaining about.  A group of people crowdfunded a booth at a convention and had some fun with the marketing for the crowdfunding campaign.  Oh, by the way, the Badgers are right: gaming and geek culture is just fine the way it is; further, gamers and geeks are awesome just the way they are.  The Badgers did say that in their marketing they were going incognito, as they wanted to fly under the radar of people of a “certain political persuasion”.  I wonder who those people would be?

Oh, it’s the very people who got the Badgers evicted from the Calgary Expo in the first place.  There are still unknowns to this situation.  Did the Calgary Expo do an investigation into the harassment allegations?  Were the harassment allegations even made by convention goers?  Were verbal warnings given, per expo guidelines, and were they ignored by the Badgers?  Likely, we won’t find these things out until the Badgers’ legal recourse enters the discovery phase, and everyone associated with the event gets interviewed.

Why were the Badgers evicted from Calgary Expo?  Most likely, it was because they had a poster with the GamerGate logo on it and nothing more.  Less likely, they out-argued and decimated a Victim Complex Anonymous panel at the Calgary Expo, and the Badgers eviction was retribution for contradicting the narrative.  Either way, Cross’s condemnation of “call out culture” would seem to apply, except for the first two rules of SocJus, which totally justify harassing the Badgers out of a convention and giving them a 10 year company wide ban.  Vive la progression!

Oh, but we’re by no means done yet.  Concerned that their cowardice would result in retribution by the Badgers (seriously, does anyone besides SocJus think this way?), the convention staff tried to get the Badgers arrested on the final day of Calgary Expo.

See, the Badgers spent the weekend assembling peacefully with fans at a public park across the street.  It would seem peaceful assembly of the ideologically misaligned is something else SocJus cannot abide, as Sunday afternoon, the police were summoned to the public park (can’t be stressed enough.  SocJus will try and stop you from meeting people in a public park if you won’t subjugate yourself to their world view). After a brief discussion with the officer, the Badgers and their fans were left alone.

The lone bit of justice, social or otherwise, was getting an officer on scene willing to interpret law properly, willing to determine these people were no danger to anyone, and willing to allow a peaceful group of people to assemble.  Remember kids, don’t try this at home, Calgary, or Denver.

And, of course, the upcoming lawsuit.

The Third Rule of SocJus.

I knew SocJus wouldn’t be finished at 2 rules.  The third rule of SocJus is no place is safe for the ideologically misaligned; SocJus will do absolutely anything to absolutely anyone absolutely anywhere.  The catalyst for drawing the ire of SocJus might be as simple as peacefully assembling in a public park, taking a photo and tweeting it, or having a good time at the expense of terrible tech words.

For committing any of these crimes, SocJus will try to publicly shame you, your employer, the convention your booth is in, your friends, and the public at large.  Just ask the people who gathered at the GGinDC meetup at a local bar in Washington.  First, the Chu Chu Train to crazy town tried to publicly harass and shame the venue in to not playing host to the meetup.  When public shaming failed to induce the “correct” response from the venue, someone saw fit to call in a bomb threat at the venue the meetup was happening.  

The question is who called this threat in.  While the threat is likely an act of third party trolls, I recommend subjecting SocJus to the”Butts logic” they’ve subjected GamerGate to for the last 8+ months, and lay the responsibility for this act at the feet of all the usual suspects in SocJus.  Regardless, the disruption of GGinDC in demonstration of the third rule of SocJus: Nowhere is safe to the ideologically misaligned, not even public businesses.

The question I have is whether members of SocJus act with Katherine Cross’s blessing, or in spite of her condemnation. In the perfect world, it’s the latter, but I suspect, in the name of SocJus, it’s the former, so best to dig in for a long fight.  And ignore your social media feeds.

Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.