Colorado student's recent artwork, inspired by Michael D'Antuono's 2014 work "A Tale of Two Hoodies."
Colorado student's recent artwork, inspired by Michael D'Antuono's 2014 work "A Tale of Two Hoodies."

Our Flag Was Still There: A Response to the Ethics Argument

You may also like...

18 Responses

  1. David Griff says:

    I might be being ungenerous but I really think the ‘its not us’ argument holds no water at all. Maybe if there really were many different GGs with many different ethical goals and political beliefs, but that isn’t the case. A tiny number of specific individuals notwithstanding, there is a pattern to GG demands, to their ethics and politics, regardless of the methods the individuals or splinter groups endorse. The focus on ‘SJWs’ is misogynist, and heterosexist and racist whether they believe it to be or not.

    Some early thoughts as I was reading: Say we have person A and person B. Person A thinks ‘SJWs’ have gone too far, but is opposed to violence and harassment and instead writes articles on the internet, and posts on forums. Person B basically believes the same and expresses this through the violent intimidation of women and other marginalised people.

    It seems to me that Person B’s actions are the perverse underside of Person A’s beliefs, at the very least Person A benefits from B’s actions as long as they share an ethics, and a name. Aside from the obvious publicity, and the silencing of their critics, it is their disavowal – their ‘its not me its them’ – that is the method through which they benefit. It allows them to present their irrational acting out of misogyny, racism and homophobia as a reasonable argument because they ‘aren’t as bad as person B’. ‘Person B is irrational and violent, therefore I am not’. This isn’t just helpful for their ethical claims it also protects their consciousness from having to confront their prejudice.

    Other things can be inserted as Person A’s beliefs and the point still holds. The GG focus on objectivity, for example, functions identically.

    There is a real conflict between Person A and Person B they genuinely dislike each other, but they are part of a single system, a system that co-constructs both of their positions, and their conflict. As long as they share a label and an ethics and a politics then ‘its not us’ is nonsense.

    That is why the Person As of GG can’t fully support women harassed by ‘the third party trolls’, they are relegated to ‘showing sympathy’ and ‘not feeling bad for something I didn’t do’ because the actions of the Person Bs are the unconscious acting out of Person A’s own beliefs. They are reliant upon them acting that way so that the Person As don’t have to.

    This is also why the Person As can’t just leave and start a new movement that ‘genuinely’ works towards ethical games journalism. The ‘genuine’ ethical concerns are just an ideological support for the irrational prejudice, Person A can’t believe without Person B to act out those beliefs honestly. They are two sides of the same coin, two levels of the same ideological position. They are not identical but nor can they be separated.

    That they do not leave despite the hopeless association between A and B, that they stand aside saying ‘its not us’ is a demonstration of their complicity with these ‘third parties’.

  2. Pitchguest says:

    The fallacious argument is the need to surreptitiously blame proponents of Gamergate at all, without any evidence that this is the case. Of course people are going to call it out when claims are being made left and right that ‘Gamergate is a hate movement’ or ‘Gamergate hates women’ or ‘Gamergate are white supremacists’. Why shouldn’t they, and why is it fallacious when women or minorities pro-Gamergate speak up when they’re being smeared for something they’re not?

    Like, I don’t frequent many Gamergate boards, I browse KotakuInAction on occasion, but for the people that do, don’t you think it’s strange that none of the conduct pro-Gamergate people are being accused of; campaigns of hate, harassment and threats, to women and minorities; occurs on the hubs of Gamergate? They see that in the media and the women and quote unquote “people of colour” that support Gamergate wonder what the hell is going on, because they have experienced none of that. This narrative of Gamergate has been built and repeated enough times that, I guess, people just think it’s true. When in reality, it’s probably much more nuanced than that.

    As it happens, “it’s not us” is a perfectly valid argument. Why wouldn’t it be? If something gets posted on Kiwifarms (unrelated to KiA), then is picked up on Twitter (unrelated to KiA) and someone on KiA then simply relays the information as has been presented, does that suddenly make it a condemnation of KiA? And if users on KiA then follow up on the story, with new information come to light (like with the new information on Alison Rapp [spoilers: turns out she was doing bit more than modeling for money]), does that suddenly make it a condemnation of KiA (and on Gamergate in general)? Because, according to many gaming sites and bloggers who got the story, even though KiA had nothing to do with the exposé on Alison Rapp, they still got blamed for it all the same. Moreover, Kiwifarms had the story LOOONG before KiA even wrote about her in detail. All they knew about her then was that she worked as a product marketing manager at Nintendo. Are you telling me that on an occasion like that, saying “it’s not us” is a fallacious argument?

    Finally,

    Don’t take a single comment and apply it to an entire group. That is obtuse. It is also, I’m pretty sure, fallacious. By the way, I like how the ‘ethics’ line is kept in pretty much every criticism (or demonisation) of Gamergate. One, not everything has to be about ethics. Just because you post in a subreddit dedicated to a better ethical standard in games journalism does not mean that *everything you post, ever, in that subreddit* is related to the subject of ethics. And two, people on KiA disagree with eachother. A lot. They are not a hivemind. What you see there is one person’s opinion. Individually, it means diddly squat.

    I, for one, think this discussion is completely ridiculous. Every time people have asked for evidence – honest to goodness proof – of these so-called hate campaigns started by Gamergate supporters, or doxxing, SWATing, bomb threats, what have you, every time it’s been zero supporting evidence. Not a single one has been cited – not one – in the almost two years since the coining of Gamergate but the press still keep trotting out that old canard as if it hasn’t been discredited in the least. Absolutely shameless.

    Take this line of yours, for example.

    Here it is, from KiA – the third-party trolls argument. It’s someone out there, but it’s not us. It’s never us. Never mind that there’s a thread on KiA lambasting a woman who beefed with GamerGate some time ago, just because someone felt like posting her Twitter account again; now she’s being raked over the coals for fun. In another thread, someone’s father is not exactly being called a child molester, but discussions of his criminal record are happening, and of course, that could mean he molested her, sure. A poster snorts that a writer was “triggered” by dresses! Gasp! Actually, the original comment and the other commentary (on a Wargaming event) was pretty interesting, with nary a trigger to be seen, but that’s funny, right? Triggers, haha, so good.

    Have you ever been on Reddit before? No, scratch that. Have you ever been on the Internet before? I see, on those threads you mentioned, mockery and unnecessary drama, which is pretty much the internet in a nutshell. But is it harassment? Threats? Hate? Does it confirm the assertions of them being a misogynist, sexist, racist movement, with nothing but a handful of white male sockpuppets? I mean. Have you ever been on Gamerghazi? ShitRedditSays? ShitRedditDoes? They will hang you out to dry, insult you, lambast you, mock you and more. What you see on KiA is pickles compared to that lot.

    • Alisha Karabinus says:

      First, there’s no “surreptitious” blaming going on here – this is outright indictment of allowing one’s self or group to be aligned with hostile factions. It’s not a secret. It’s not hidden.

      Second, re: lack of evidence — there is in fact evidence in this post, in other posts, in other articles, all over the place, easily obtained. Now, whether or not that’s evidence that convinces you is another story, but I find the “no evidence” argument rather tiresome when in fact examples are constantly being used. Earlier this week, someone on Twitter offered up $250 for proof of a GamerGate support who hated women, for example — but the only “proof” that person would accept is an outright public statement along the lines of “I hate all women.” This is a ridiculously narrow benchmark, never the measure of racism, sexism, classism, etc, but this is what many of these discussions boil down to. Ideological differences are one thing. A lack of evidence is another. But if you don’t frequent many GamerGate hubs, it’s likely you will not see some of this go down. As part of my research, I study digital communities. I follow a number of movements and campaigns closely. I’ve seen a lot.

      Re: your timeline: there were posts on KiA about Alison Rapp a year ago, whereas there’s nothing nearly that old on Kiwi Farms, unless it was purged (and was that forum even around a year ago? I thought it was last summer when it started.)
      Re the quoted reply from KiA in the post: we’re not talking about a single comment, but a representative one. Comments don’t happen in a vacuum on Reddit; they get votes, responses, reactions. The longer comment above was upvoted by a number of users, had responses, no arguments, nothing. No one saying “no, this isn’t us.” You state yourself that KiA isn’t a hivemind – and I’d agree; there is often argument over approaches and points there – but there was no dissent here. So let’s not act like it’s an outlier. It’s not like we set out to make a quilt of screenshots; we wrote an analysis, and that single screenshot is only part of it.

      As for the “welp, it’s the internet” angle here — again, digital communities are part of my research focus, and I will say unequivocally that there are only a few digital communities in which I’ve observed people stringing together “facts” as a veiled form of accusation in such damaging ways as those that are part of and related to GamerGate. This is not to say that this behavior is unique to GamerGate/affiliate groups, but that it happens amongst certain groups at a much higher degree, and if you can’t see why accusing someone’s father of molesting them as a problem, then there’s probably not much we’ll agree on at all. Further, the whole notion that “the internet is x, that’s just how it is” is a tired, flimsy argument. Online interaction does not have to be that way. Anonymity does not excuse it. Nor does disliking someone. No one deserves that.

      And since it doesn’t fit anywhere else in this response, we call fallacy when a person says “I’m a woman and I’ve never seen x,” because that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – nor does it mean all people interpret all things the same way. If we’re going to argue against some anecdotes and ask for backup and logical analysis, then we have to do the same with all of them.

      • Allen Harris says:

        You shouldn’t use misleading language about my wager. I never said I would only accept an “outright public statement along the lines of ‘I hate all women'”.
        The wager relies on typical standards and retorts of GamerGate’s critics. If feminists can disregard the author of the blog post “National Castrate Men Day” as a troll, despite having a history of active advocacy in feminists circles, then I get to disregard users with a history of troll behavior. If they can disregard #KillAllCisMen as hyperbolic rather than genuine, then I can disregard Milo on the grounds that he has openly and freely admitted being a troll and provocateur.
        The whole point of the wager is to expose how hypocritical criticisms of GamerGate are which make claims such as “it’s a hate movement” or it was “founded on hating women”
        That neither you, nor any of the critics who’ve approached me so far, have made this connection shows a deep lack of self-awareness.

      • Sean says:

        “A lack of evidence is another. But if you don’t frequent many GamerGate hubs, it’s likely you will not see some of this go down. ”

        I’ve also been frequenting GamerGate hubs, including the original hub on 4chan from day 0 when the ZoePost was dropped. I’ve seen a countless number of suggestions for “ops”, but I have never seen anyone suggest we contact Anita Sarkeesian or any female game developer. Maybe you’ve seen something I missed, in which I hope you share it with me so I can cut myself off from the individuals in question.

        “Re the quoted reply from KiA in the post: we’re not talking about a single comment, but a representative one. Comments don’t happen in a vacuum on Reddit; they get votes, responses, reactions. The longer comment above was upvoted by a number of users, had responses, no arguments, nothing. ”

        True. Currently, the comment featured in the article has 7 points. Whether or not a post with 6 upvotes is representative of the attitude of a sub with 60,000 members is debatable. Keep in mind that the thread itself has 15 points, so it’s most likely that next to no response was generated because few people saw it.

        But there are a countless number of posts denouncing harassment and doxing in KiA with hundreds and thousands of upvotes. Are they more or less representative than one with 6? I can link to a denunciation of the people going after Rapp’s job with 1200+ upvotes, which technically makes it 170 times more representative than the comment in the article.

        “As for the “welp, it’s the internet” angle here — again, digital communities are part of my research focus, and I will say unequivocally that there are only a few digital communities in which I’ve observed people stringing together “facts” as a veiled form of accusation in such damaging ways as those that are part of and related to GamerGate. ”

        Tabloid publications do this as an industry. Gawker media has been doing this for years, and has published far more heinous criminal accusations against private individuals based on even less. There’s also somethingawful, neogaf, kiwifarms, the chan imageboards, and dozens of other online hazing communities that regularly mock people for things they’ve published online. Kiwifarms alone has an entire wiki dedicated to gathering embarrassing facts about minor e-celebrities.

        But if you’re research on internet communities and harassment is based off of news stories, then it’s naturally going to be skewed toward photogenic victims. In the same way stories about kidnappings are disproportionately focused on white women, while ignoring the minority victims. For instance, the biggest victim of a documented internet harassment campaign has been an autistic named Christian Weston Chandler. Trolls have made a wiki dedicated to him, documenting his life and their pranks. On it, people discuss and organize ways to contact, antagonize, and humiliate him publicly. It’s easy to do, since he’s mentally challenged and very gullible. This is all out in the open, and the media doesn’t care because he’s a chubby weirdo that collects too many Sonic figurines.

        Then there’s True Capitalist Radio, which has also been the victim of a long-running internet harassment campaign. Again, there is a wiki in which people discuss and share the various ways to torment the host. Contact info and guides are included. But the victim in this case is a middle-aged Texan male, so who cares. Every week he begs and pleads people not to shout gross obscenities on the air, or create audio splices of him having sex with his grandmother, or prank call the FBI using his voice as a soundboard. But it’s none of this is *really* what the article is talking about, because the victim has gross political opinions and he is therefore unsympathetic.

        Part of the reason why mainstream stories about cyberbullying get a mixed reaction is because they sound insincere. They’re less about the crimes, they don’t care enough to track down and identify the people responsible, and in their wake are a thousand other victims that couldn’t get the time of day. What’s especially telling is that instead of embracing anonymity as the most effective form of protection for women on the internet, they’re instead being encouraged to expose more of their lives to potential trolls.

        Cyberstalking is a real crisis being dissected across the media spectrum. Yet, regular stalking (the kind that gets people killed) is barely ever mentioned in media, no matter how many times a guy was laying under his ex-girlfriend’s front porch on Wednesday nights after class, what drives the articles are “and then he stalked her on twitter!”

        Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. I hope the info provided gives insight into the subject you’re passionate about. I can post links to this info, but I’m not sure if the moderation here allows it. I hope the 10 hours I spent on the internet every day amounts to *something* positive.

  3. Pitchguest says:

    That they do not leave despite the hopeless association between A and B, that they stand aside saying ‘its not us’ is a demonstration of their complicity with these ‘third parties’.

    As can be used for any denomination with radicals. Feminism. Occupy Wallstreet. Black Lives Matter.

    Muslims.

    How many times haven’t you heard, “it’s not us” by Muslims denouncing the actions of other Muslims while still being Muslims? By your logic, that means they are complicit. Seems legit.

  4. David Griff says:

    I’m not saying that groups of people can never have legitimate differences in which ‘its not us’ would be a valid response, just that it isn’t a valid response by GG.

    Different Muslim people, feminists, communists, even members of the US Republican Party have genuine ideological/political/philosophical differences that would make ‘its not us’ more valid. Because those different interpretations that can be based on radically different assumptions. I don’t see any such radical difference in GG, and those supposedly pretending to be GG. Different methods, yes. But the same preoccupations. Objectivity, SJWs, and yes, ethics, and therefore the same homophobia and sexism and racism.

    So: “Are you telling me that on an occasion like that, saying “it’s not us” is a fallacious argument?”

    Yes, I am. Importantly I’m not saying KiA did it. I am saying their presence, their politics, spawns it as a necessary underside. The two sides sustain each other.

    • Bills says:

      And yet you’ve completely failed to link “objectivity, SJWs, and ethics” to “homophobia, sexism, and racism.” Better luck ignoring reality next time.

      • David Griff says:

        To be honest I thought the link was too obvious to need mentioning. A focus on objectivity always favours the powerful because objectivity is at best a utopian dream and at worst an ideological lie. It can’t exist, relying on it obfuscates power relations and is therefore harmful to marginalised groups, and is therefore racist, sexist and homophobic. ‘Ethics’ is the same. It obscures the politics.

        And, well, the idea I need to explain why denigrating people fighting for social justice is homophobic, racist and sexist is bizarre.

  5. Alisha Karabinus says:

    That’s a poor comparison on many levels. There are daily conversations on KiA discussing information gained through doxxing, rumors, and accusations between people who share things through PM for the express purpose of not getting KiA banned. That isn’t rejecting the actions — that’s supporting them while being aware of system-imposed limits. Comparing that to Muslims who reject violent actions is saying that instead of rejecting violent acts, they’re just not doing them themselves, but instead sharing pictures of brutalized bodies and gossiping over results.

  6. Sean says:

    “That’s a poor comparison on many levels. There are daily conversations on KiA discussing information gained through doxxing, rumors, and accusations between people who share things through PM for the express purpose of not getting KiA banned.”

    KiA does not actually allow doxing, the things being discussed about Rapp is all publicly-available information that she opted to publicize. News outlets are now also spreading and discussing the info. Is the Washington Post now a terrorist sympathizer? What about every other video game forum discussing the same info?

    Although it’s said that there’s no fundamental difference in philosophy, but I think “doxing and harassment are wrong and won’t be tolerated” is a pretty significant difference. Like this analogy:

    “Some early thoughts as I was reading: Say we have person A and person B. Person A thinks ‘SJWs’ have gone too far, but is opposed to violence and harassment and instead writes articles on the internet, and posts on forums. Person B basically believes the same and expresses this through the violent intimidation of women and other marginalized people. ”

    This logic falls apart when substituted with any other ideology. Suppose person A is a vegan, and person B is an eco-terrorist. The latter absolutely acts counter to the goals of the former, especially when faced with a media eager to define the entire group as terrorists. Or this one:

    “Comparing that to Muslims who reject violent actions is saying that instead of rejecting violent acts, they’re just not doing them themselves, but instead sharing pictures of brutalized bodies and gossiping over results.”

    These aren’t mutually exclusive things. Muslims read and discuss current events like anyone else, especially when it comes to horrible acts that might influence how the rest of the world will treat them.

    “Second, re: lack of evidence — there is in fact evidence in this post, in other posts, in other articles, all over the place, easily obtained.”

    For my own curiosity, can you link to evidence of a GG harassment campaign? As in, some degree of coordination, not just one person making a suggestion and getting banned for it. Surely with all these campaigns there should be an instance of someone saying “Hey send threats to THIS email address” or “Here’s their twitter, start spamming gore pics”. I’ve seen plenty of GG “ops” to email advertisers and PR contacts, but none for sending Quinn or Anita threats.

    I don’t doubt some asshats have harassed people or sent threats, the difference is whether or not GG aided them, or if they acted alone. The evidence shows the latter to be the universal case.

    “Yes, I am. Importantly I’m not saying KiA did it. I am saying their presence, their politics, spawns it as a necessary underside. The two sides sustain each other.”

    I also wanted to comment on this. Right now GG’s biggest hurdle to wider acceptance is the perception that it facilitated or encouraged some kind of harassment campaign against private individuals. None of these individuals have been silenced or deterred, so the end goal you’re projecting has not been remotely fulfilled. The existence of people who have sent threats has not helped them. It’s hard to argue that the people sending threats have any motives regarding journalism, because most of the threats have come from throwaway accounts that only existed for less than 24 hours.

    Additionally, it’s hard to argue that GG caused a surge in threats, since all available data shows that less than 2% of the harassing and negative tweets received by Anita and Quinn have come from accounts affiliated with GG. Additionally, they’ve been getting a large number of threats months before GG existed, as reported on by multiple outlets. They themselves have said that nothing has changed.

  7. Jamie says:

    One minor correction, the link to “Zoe Quinn’s dox” goes to a chatroom that was run two weeks before GamerGate existed, and the discussing is about the nudes she published online when she was still working as a softcore model. People found them because she was still being advertised as a featured girl at the porn site she worked at.

    As you know, it’s not doxing if the owner themselves went out of their way to share it with the entire internet.

    And most of the people in that chat seem to be rejecting the idea of bringing them up- “JESUS NO”, “That’s where the whole ‘doxing’ shit came from”, “guys shut up about nudes for a minute”. For the record, there was one user (not pictured) who

    Other than that, the article is polarizing. On one hand KiA’s banning of doxxing and harassment is evidence of their support. In other cases, inaction is considered consent. They’re expected to disavow and condemn that type of behavior, but when they do it’s considered a cover-up.

    It’s not clear what their moderation policies are supposed to be, as the topics discussed exist on nearly every other gaming forum. I suspect they keep saying “it wasn’t me” because outlets and journalists keep blaming the wrong people.

    • Jamie says:

      Ah sorry, I made an error in this submission. That incomplete sentence should read:

      “For the record, across several days of chatlogs there was just one user (not pictured) who said they wanted to send her nudes to her followers, and he was kicked out. In all of #BurgersAndFries was the closest thing resembling a harassment campaign, a single line that got the user banned”

  8. Sean says:

    Shoot, my previous three posts haven’t gotten past moderation. I hope I didn’t break any rules, as I didn’t contain any links or personal attacks.

    But my main point was about representation. It’s arguable that the featured post (a single post with 7 upvotes) is representative of the collective belief of a subreddit with 60,000 members. But it’s less representative than a KiA post condemning attacks on Rapp’s job with 1200+ upvotes. It’s 170 times less representative.

    • Alisha Karabinus says:

      Nah, you’re fine re: rules, we just have to manually approve comments and it can take a while for us to actually get to that.

      I agree with you on that. I found the various approaches to the Alison Rapp situation on KiA particularly fascinating because it seems to me that there is some fracturing going on — so if there is to be a change, this is a good time. But regardless, the discussions are interesting, seeing who draws lines where, what’s important to which people, how factions form, how the discussions proceed. There’s been a broad spectrum of response to that situation and we certainly don’t mean to say that the spectrum doesn’t exist — that everyone is responding in the same way. Just that for many, those discussions on KiA and other places are not what gets seen or talked about. It’s the other things that dominate the discussion.

  9. Alisha Karabinus says:

    We appreciate that folks have taken the time to respond and have (for the most part) been patient. We have day jobs so we respond when time affords itself. One take away from this is that we’re not always going to agree on interpretations of events; in some ways, you can’t agree with some of the conclusions we draw, if you’re in the middle of it, because agreeing indicts you as well. But just as it’s important for us to see your responses (which is why we have comments and why we read tweets), it’s important to see how actions are being interpreted, to understand how impacts are being read. Actually talking about the larger issues may be more valuable than the back-and-forth sharing of screenshots and “proof” that can be read in multiple ways.

    So, we’ll listen. We hope you will, too. We won’t always debate point by point, because there’s only so much time in the day, but we will at least listen.

    (More later, after some of these longer remarks have time to settle.)

    • Sean says:

      Thanks for the reply, you’ve been really cool in the discussions.

      • Alisha Karabinus says:

        Thank you for coming here and engaging. It does give me a lot to think about. I worry that too often these discussions are concerned with “sides” and we’re all missing the nuance that lies in the middle, so I’m always grateful to get more to consider. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not sure yet where my thoughts are going.