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I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of an adequate metaphor for describing the pro-thought-crime, pro-authoritarian, anti-open-market, anti-intellectual, anti-discussion, traffickers in human misery I call the SocJus mafia. I scoured KiA, Ghazi, and Twitter all to no avail. Then I realized I already had it. The SocJus mafia does a number on anyone who doesn’t adequately push the narrative, attack gamers, and harass their opponents. Here are 10 examples of the SocJus mafia trying to destroy a person, product, or institution.
The first example of the SocJus mafia trying to destroy someone is an oldie, but a goody. Kate Cox and Kotaku attempted to destroy Brad Wardell after Alexandra Miseta sued him for sexual harassment in 2012. 12 months later, the case was dismissed with prejudice, and in exchange for a written apology from Miseta, Wardell would drop his counter suit against her. The original article is still there, and it
still has the original, sensationalist headline that insinuates Brad Wardell is a sexual harasser. There’s a bracketed addendum stating the cases have both been dismissed, and two updates. One stating Wardell commented after the article was published, and one at the top of the article stating the cases were dismissed. The rest of the article remains unchanged. Moving down to the comments section, you’ll find a majority of people condemning Wardell before the facts of the case are even known. A few people attempt defenses of Wardell, but they are quickly drowned out by the locust swarm who have presumed Wardell’s guilt. A bracketed bit of text in the title, and a 2 line, bolded Update: text block are the “make up call” for nearly ruining a man’s life? Kate Cox didn’t even have the intestinal fortitude to fix her screw up; Jason Schreier had to write the article stating the suits were dropped and Miseta provided a written apology to Wardell. Did Kotaku apologize to Wardell? Nope. The SocJus mafia showed up perfectly content to destroy someone, but they had no interest whatsoever in repairing the damage they did.
Then there’s Max Temkin, the creator of all-universe party card game Cards Against Humanity. Once again, the locusts descend in an attempt to destroy Temkin based not on a conviction, not on an indictment, not on an arrest, not on the bringing of charges, but on a tweet and a Facebook post. What should come as a surprise to no one, Patricia “Everything made by people I haven’t lived with or dated is rape” Hernandez is the perpetrator of Temkin’s virtual crucifixion once again on Kotaku. Once again, there’s an Editor’s Note saying there have been major updates to the original article, and to follow the link to see the update. The question is why the original is available at all? Steven Totillo says it’s for purposes of transparency, and that the original article’s comments went in a direction that was not intended. Call me dubious, because there’s only one way to take the title, “A Different Way To Respond To A Rape Accusation”. I react to that title the same way everyone else did. To claim ignorance that people were going to look at the title that way is to claim that the readers of the article are either naïve or ignorant. Either that, or the article was titled deliberately to induce exactly those types of feelings to convict Temkin in the court of public opinion. It’s been 5 months since the original article, and there are still no charges brought against Temkin. Apologies? Nowhere to be found. The perverse silver lining, if one is to be found here, is Kotaku’s Hernandez isn’t the sole bad actor. The Daily Beast, Jezebel, Gawker, and a Medium post from Kelly Kend all assumed Temkin’s guilt before charges, indictments, or arrests—a direct violation of Temkin’s Constitutional rights (specifically the Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment in the Bill of Rights). The SocJus mafia is perfectly content to ignore the basic human rights and dignity of a private individual, only to disappear when the click bait dries up, leaving an intellectual wasteland in their wake.
Sold! To the Click Bait “Journo” in the Front Row
If only we were finished with Ms. Hernandez. The relationships between Hernandez, Christine Love, and Anna Anthropy are well documented, so I won’t belabor the complete ethical lapse surrounding Hernandez advertising for Love’s and Anthropy’s games. I will talk about the Microsoft presentation at E3 2013, however. The 90 minute presentation was a non-stop advertisement for Xbox One features, games, and peripherals. During one 3-minute segment, the Madcatz arcade fight stick, Killer Instinct, Twitch integration, video recording, drop-in drop-out multi-player queues, among a couple of other features were demonstrated in a pre-canned KI game between one of the KI developers and a community manager. The 3-minute bit wasn’t scripted, so the KI developer improvised, while playing his game against another player, and needing to show off the gear he was just pumping up. He did what anyone who knows things about video games, specifically about arcade culture and fighting games, would do: acted as a player of a fighting game and barked at his opponent. The opponent was a woman. From the perspective of an arcade rat of many years, a former employee at an arcade, and frequent barcade patron, I saw this act as simultaneously a compliment and an act of inclusiveness. A man was treating a woman as a true equal. There were roughly a dozen actual gaming related stories that could, or should have been covered over the course of the 90 minute presentation. If one absolutely had to throw a SocJus narrative at the Microsoft presentation, one could mention that there were only two women on stage over the course of the presentation. Instead, we got this. Killer Instinct wasn’t made by someone Patricia lived with or dated, so it must be rape; moreover, Patricia didn’t even have the courage to call it out directly. In an act of colossal passive-aggressiveness, she merely stated she was uncomfortable with the “trash talk” during the KI work, all but begging for commentors and media outlets to pick up the ball and run with it. It worked, too. I’m going to leave Ms. Hernandez and Kotaku with some words paraphrased from Ms. Hernandez herself:
I don’t expect everyone to know everything all the time. But having knowledge and ethics—and being willing to admit the reality of being the single most ignorant, underhanded, click bait chasing hack in all of video games journalism—would be a start.
On November 12, 2014, Dr. Matt Taylor landed a robot on a comet. Take a minute to digest the statement, because it took me a minute for the gravity of that statement to sink in. Matt Taylor and a team of scientists, engineers, and support staff launched a payload off of Earth, matched velocity with a comet, and dropped a lander on it soft enough for the lander to send data back to Earth. Out of ~7 billion people on Earth, there are less than 1 million people with the skills necessary to design the system, fabricate the spacecraft and lander, launch the vehicle, maintain the payload, process the data, and make meaningful conclusions of the results. Even if the mission had been a total failure, Dr. Taylor and the Rosetta team should have been applauded for having the audacity to make the attempt, but the mission was a success. Like a corn field that’s just tasseled, the locusts saw a target ripe to be destroyed, and they swarmed. Chris Plante and Adrianne Duhaime-Ross penned a scathing indictment of a shirt Dr. Taylor was wearing while being interviewed. They wrote one sentence about the landing itself. One. Sentence.
Yesterday the European Space Agency landed the Philae spacecraft on a comet, a powerful step forward for humanity and science alike.
That’s it. The rest of the hit piece was a wandering, sniveling missive about how “casual misogyny” keeps women out of STEM. At least they had the courage to acknowledge the shirt was made by a woman. Particularly amusing to me is this line:
This is the climate women who dream of working at NASA or the ESA come up against, every single day.
The line above is a fabrication. Let’s look at the background of the people making the assertion that it was Dr. Taylor’s sexism/misogyny that is keeping women out of STEM fields, or as they put it “dream of working at NASA or the ESA.” Adrianne Duhaime-Ross, according to her personal website, has an undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Guelph, and a master’s in science, health and environmental reporting from NYU. Chris Plante, according to his LinkedIn profile, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from NYU.
Casual sexism, as described by one person’s shirt, does not keep women from entering STEM fields. Big, nasty math keeps women and men alike out of STEM majors in college, which in turn keeps women and men alike out of STEM career fields. I can say that with absolute certainty because I have a double major in 2 STEM fields, as well as a career of 14 years in aerospace. I shouldn’t take such glee in people who can’t even conceive, let alone complete, the coursework required to get a job with NASA or the ESA sniveling about shirts preventing women from getting jobs with the ESA or NASA, but I do. My experience with the hundreds of women in aerospace I’ve had the opportunity to be teammates with is they all had three things in common: competence, confidence, and professionalism. My experience with absolutely everyone on the outside looking in stamping their feet and complaining about sexism in tech are missing one or more of those three things, usually all three. The bottom line of all this is neither Chris Plante nor Adrianne Duhaime-Ross had the domain knowledge necessary to speak intelligently about the mission itself, so the only reason to write the article was to take the moment away from the man, i.e. to attempt to destroy him.
Less than a month after Dr. Taylor and the Rosetta team landed a robot on a comet, NASA conducted an unmanned test flight of a new crew module that will return the human race to the lunar surface, and eventually place the human race on the Martian surface. I watched most of the NASA TV coverage of the Orion EFT-1 mission. Here’s what I saw: 4 women were on console; 2 systems vignettes featured women team leads; Brandi Dean had a major role in the coverage, and she’s also the Media Contact for Orion. Orion, I thought, was the perfect opportunity to call out an example of diversity in STEM. Orion was a perfect chance for the Chris Plante, Adrianne Duhaime-Ross, and Rose Eveleth’s of the world to do something as stunningly progressive as a positive article, positive tweet, or positive anything having to do with the Orion launch as a counter-point to the Rosetta piece. Well, The Verge covered the launch, but it was covered by Elizabeth Lopatto and dealt mostly with the facts of the mission. Rose Eveleth’s twitter feed is empty with respect to Orion as of this writing; it’s been well over a week. The message is clear: when there’s someone or something to destroy, swarm; when there would be a need to be complementary or acknowledge something positive, ignore it.
But Wait, There’s MORE!
I wish I was done. I wish those were the only examples of SocJus locusts swarming over person(s), event(s), product(s), or institution(s) with the intent of destroying them—that I was hyperbolizing specifically for the purposes of pushing an agenda. Sadly, I’m not.
- Total Biscuit won the Trending Gamer Award at The Game Awards 2014, and SocJus mafia destroyed the moment TB spent a decade earning.
- The SocJus mafia tried to boycott Jennifer Dawe’s game SeedScape on Steam greenlight.
- The single worst piece of code I’ve seen in 14 years as a software designer and tester was distributed without review by IGDA to be used as a harassment engine industry blacklist block list.
- The worst case of journalistic malpractice since I’ve been alive has been torn to shreds by both The Washington Post (of all news outlets) and ABC News. That didn’t stop Amanda Marcotte for celebrating the suspension of Greek life at UVA, so all’s well that ends well so long as Greek life in America is destroyed—though, someone is going to have to tell me what my membership in an honor society like Sigma Pi Sigma has to do with anything.
- The 21st century’s equivalent of P.T. Barnum, Anita Sarkeesian, in one day ditched Utah State University for the profitability of advertising on The New York Times, called the Utah State University police, USU administrators, and FBI Cyber Terrorism Task Force incompetent, and set the table for destroying the Second Amendment to the US Constitution when she’s done destroying video games for fun and profit.
- Last, but not least, 12 strangers on the same day said we were dead or needed to die for the crime of keeping our primary hobby as a part of our identity.
The ten examples I’ve given are the tip of the iceberg. I want to leave you all with a remixed version of a quote from a piece in The Guardian that I remixed the title of this piece from:
People can make the harassment narrative up and you can’t debunk it, they’ll just replay it. This is used to undermine the will of the consumer and the creative process and go after gamers, to ruin their hobby for the crime of being enthusiasts.
Truer words were never spoken.