Regarding CON and Anti-Semitism

Todd Wohling / April 6, 2015 at 12:00 PM / Archive, Old

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Zoe Quinn, co-founder of Crash Override Network, has lied to the world twice to defame me.

The First, Uninteresting Time

The first time was after I wrote a satire about winning Game of the Year for 2014.  I wanted to express my frustration at The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth getting no traction whatsoever in the games media.  At the time I started writing my commentary, I didn’t feel my usual tone of “pseudo-hyperbolic Hateorade spewing” would get my point across adequately.  Therefore, I decided to try my hand at satire.

Whenever I experiment with things like this, my editorial process is to write a draft and show it to the people I trust for pre-editor editing.  I gave the piece to a couple of my close friends who understand the basic context surrounding GG, and they thought it was hilarious.  In fact, the protagonist of my Twine “game” being a transgendered wild artichoke was an edit from one of my friends.  After I showed it to my circle and edited, I gave the piece to my editors for posting on the site.

We haven’t gotten to the lie yet.  While I was discussing how I was going to promote my “game” to the games press, I implied I was going fellate 5 editors of gaming websites to get them to cover it.  Somehow, in Zoe’s mind, that was a shot at her sex life.

Perhaps using only 5 names, or not including last names in the list was a mistake; similarly, it has become clear expending the effort to find first names of games website editors that specifically did not match any of Quinn’s alleged trysts was a mistake.  Further, since I’d heard rumor of Lifschitz and Quinn being an item, the 5 Guys references weren’t accurate anymore.  The correct comparison for Zoe Quinn’s personal life, if one needs to be made, would be WWE’s now defunct Elimination Chamber PPV.

I didn’t respond to the defamation at the time for a couple of reasons.  First, the leadership at TR asked us not to.  Second, I knew what I’d wrote, and I knew I’d gone out of my way to not take a shot at Quinn’s personal life.  If she’d summoned the courage to ask me about it, I’d have been happy to explain it to her in detail. I’m also aware of the financial benefits of not going to the source and just writing whatever is going to play well to the home audience.

Full Disclosure: I was absolutely mocking Quinn for misidentifying her Choose Your Own Adventure book as a game; I was absolutely mocking her for how badly her CYOA book was written, and how insulting it was to me being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, yet having to function in the real world.  I was also absolutely mocking SocJus propagandist games media for not covering stories based on the merit of the games they cover. However, I was not, and went out of my way to not, mock Quinn’s personal life.  I don’t have any interest in Quinn’s personal life beyond her fundamental dishonesty where it’s salient to the gaming industry.

The Second, Curious Time

The second time Zoe Quinn lied to defame me was last week. Rep Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) wrote an editorial for The Hill in March lamenting online harassment.  In this editorial, she gives incorrect statistics about who gets harassed, criticizes reporting policies, and calls for federal law enforcement to “intensify their efforts to investigate and prosecute the federal laws that criminalize the worst of this behavior”.

I’d written a commentary where I characterized the CON as dangerous.  To do so, I used 2 cases: Andrew Todd and Total Biscuit.  I specifically wanted to use TB for the following reasons:

  1. TB has received online harassment for the better part of a decade.
  2. TB condemned Quinn for her alleged fake DMCA claim against Mundane Matt.
  3. Lifschitz said point blank CON was pre-vetting people.

It’s that third point that’s of particular interest to me.  Here’s the quote again from The Guardian that I’d quoted in my criticism of CON:

We will be assisting people in being able to take care of themselves while putting active priority on very particular cases of relentless and dangerous harassment that we have pre-vetted, while continuing to alert and assist new targets. We’re remaining as adaptable as the situations we encounter.

I wanted to make sure I was reading that quote right—CON has pre-vetted people and they are reaching out to people to alert them if CON perceives them to be a target. So I tried to get clarification, which you can see in the following screen cap.


I identified myself as a pro-GG writer and specifically asked for clarification on the vetting process and CON’s funding.  Believe it or not, I wanted to be wrong about the CON.  The hope, albeit a foolish one, was I would receive the clarification I was looking for, and I could write a totally different commentary: how I’d misjudged CON based on who was running it.

Except I didn’t get a response; I still haven’t received a response, and it’s been over 2 months.

According to Lifschitz on January 19, CON is prioritizing and pre-vetting cases as well as alerting new targets, which implies CON is reaching out to people, but in last week’s Ghazi thread, Quinn said CON isn’t reaching out to people:

Crash Override does not go out of its way to offer anything to anyone. We have said this repeatedly but it never seems to catch on – people who want our assistance have to contact us so we don’t overstep boundaries, or add to the feeling of anyone’s situation being out of control.

Color me confused, because the 2 statements above appear to be mutually exclusive.  Maybe Lifschitz misspoke and “pre-vetted” was supposed to be another word. At the bottom of the email I sent CON I appealed to them to clarify the few points I’d asked about so I could write an accurate commentary about the network.  Since I received no response, I wrote a commentary based on my initial reaction: CON is an ideological weapon and cash grab headed by fundamentally dishonest people.

I did make a mistake in all this—I saw Congresswoman Clark posing with Quinn and Lifschitz and I reacted.  To be fair, I should have known better than to have reacted, but if new online harassment legislation needs to be written, I want the legislation to be good legislation, not a terrible piece of SocJus ideologue fop written by fundamentally dishonest people.

So I wrote a tweet stating Congresswoman Clark didn’t know she was working with fundamentally dishonest people.  In the tweet I added a link to the commentary, which includes imagery I felt captured CONs status as a cash grab and ideological weapon perfectly: 30 pieces of silver.  I can’t say for absolute certain, but knowing the way my mind works, I Google image searched for “30 pieces of silver” and grabbed the first image I could get to the proper resolution and quality for posting on the site.  I did the same thing for this piece: “Angry nun with a ruler”.

Suddenly, 2 months after I’d written the commentary declaring the CON an ideological weapon and cash grab, I, and the website I write for are Anti-Semites.  The timing seems very curious to me.  Where was the outrage in January? Just add that question to the growing list of matters of public interest about the leaders of the CON that will never get answered.

There’s the full detail of what I wrote, what I was thinking while writing it, and why.  I leave it to the readers to make their own judgement about my motivations.


Updated: Minor Copy Corrections


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.