Gamergate and the New (Old) Rules

I realize that I’m a little late to the game with Gamergate. Because I was traveling, I had to read from my phone as the Internet exploded. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to say. I know that it’s a little odd for me to write a serious post. I hope you bear with me.

While this is a post that appears to be about Gamergate, it’s about something much bigger than that. Read on to see.

I’m a gamer. At this point, I’m a pretty old gamer. I started with an Atari 2600. I plunked quarters into Pac Man and Pole Position. I remember the robot that came with the original NES. And yet, I still prefer card and tabletop games to video games, especially DnD. You can say that I’m a well-rounded nerd. That’s why Gamergate hurts so much. It’s a failure of the community that I’ve belonged to all of my life. You might even say that my generation was the founder of the gamer community. So what have we become?


The Evolution of Gamergate

I think by now most of us understand what Gamergate is, was, and has become. Although the background around it comes from the portrayal of women in games, it sparked with a rumor about an affair between a female game designer and a video game journalist (I’m not going to use names, because they’ve had their names dragged through the Net enough, and it’s not important to my argument).

Let’s just say that it’s true. This could have been a great chance to discuss ethics in journalism within the gamer industry. I’m a former music journalist, and I know that the relationship between artist and reporter can be muddled. Free tickets, free albums, and free swag. You sometimes become friends with the artists. It’s hard to stay unbiased. It’s a big part of the reason I left. I refer you to the movie Almost Famous for a more visual example.

It could have been that, but it morphed into something very ugly. Death threats, rape(!) threats, accounts hacked and personal information spread across the Net like trash on an interstate. There was even a terrorist threat of a school massacre if a certain female journalist (again, no names), spoke. Yes, threatening violence to stop someone from speaking is terrorism. It might be a perfect example of terrorism.

A great, misogynistic beast broke loose from its chains like Donkey Kong and laid waste to the Internet. It may only be a small group, but that group has become representative of the entire community. And there I was, watching without voice as the gamer community decomposes.

What really gets me are the rape threats tossed around like they mean nothing. There is nothing more disgusting than threatening someone with rape, especially when they’ve been doxxed. Rape is the lowest common denominator; apparently death and torture aren’t intense enough threats. Worse, it’s the kind of threat made specifically toward women. It’s the trump card of misogyny, the “I’m going to hurt you and demean you in a way that shows the dominance of my gender.”

The Symptom, not the Cause

As bad as Gamergate is, it’s a symptom of a larger problem. There’s a lack of empathy within the Internet. People attack each other as if they’re only blips on a screen, Koopas to be squashed or Space Invaders to be shot down. I read one tweet that said (and I’m paraphrasing here) the way people respond to the other side of Gamergate is like in Double Dragon, where the entire town wants to fight you.

People say things on the Internet that no decent person would ever say, and certainly wouldn’t say face to face. It’s the distance between. It creates the illusion of anonymity, and that unleashes the beast.

I know all about this. As a teen, I went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night. If you’ve never been, you won’t understand. The audience–all in the dark–shout some of the foulest things you’ll ever hear at the screen. The darkness and anonymity equals freedom. I shouted things I’d never say in the light of day. But we never tried to hurt anyone, and that’s the difference.

This doesn’t even include my love for Cards Against Humanity, which should never be played in public.

Meet the New Rules…Same as the Old Rules

I think we need, as a community, review the rules of discourse. The Internet is still a brave new world, and without reeling in the vitriol, we’ll poison ourselves.

If you only remember one thing from this blog, it’s this.

1) Don’t post anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say in person: This includes certain jokes, naked pics, and sharing too much information.

2) Don’t say anything on the Internet that would get you punched in the face at a bar: This includes insults, Net Muscles, and threats of violence.

3) Before you say something on the Internet, ask yourself “what if someone said this to one of my loved ones?” If the answer is “smash their balls with a hammer,” don’t say it.

4) Don’t hack or doxx anyone, no matter how much they deserve it: That’s not going to get your point across. What it will do is bring governments down on the Net. Is that what you want?

5) Don’t feed the trolls: If someone trolls, don’t take the bait. No one wins an argument on the Net, and it makes everyone looks bad. If it gets threatening, report it, but don’t feed the troll. Remember, what you say on the Internet stays there FOREVER.


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Till We Outnumber ’em: A tale by Woody Guthrie, Retold (poorly) by Me

Two rabbits were chased though the woods by a pack of fierce bloodhounds. They ran and they ran, finally taking shelter in a hollow log. The hounds surrounded them and barked. They stuck their snouts in the log, baring their teeth, but couldn’t reach the rabbits.

The first rabbit shivered in fear. He said to the other, “What do we do?”

The second one, she stayed calm. “Don’t worry. We’ll just stay in here till we outnumber ’em.”

This machine kills fascists.

In Which Craiggers Tries to Solve the Gun Control Issue, Because He Thinks That He is Smarter Than Everyone Else

I don’t think that i am smarter than everyone else. Even I’m not that arrogant. What I am is a very smart dude who surrounds himself with people smarter than him.

So why do I say that I can solve gun control (when I know that I can’t)?  Because I am not a politician or a media whore that has to play to his base and say ridiculous, inflammatory stuff.  I am trying to see both sides.  I am trying to find a compromise, not an inflammatory treatice.

Yes, I am a liberal, but I am going to do everything in my power here to take a moderate position, something that people on both sides will hate and call me horrible things for.  So let me have my say, and then feel free to call me names in the comments section.

There are 3 parts to my plan:

  1. No new bans on guns
  2. Clamp down on illegal gun sales and trafficking
  3. Comprehensive licensing

Leave the guns alone . . . yes, all of them– This is going to piss off a lot of my liberal friends, but I think that banning certain guns is less important than making sure that the gun owners are, as they say, “responsible gun owners.”  As gun owners say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  Guns make it easier, but it is the person behind the gun that is the variable

I personally do not own a gun.  I feel no need.  Then again, I own no property (or any nice things) and I live in an apartment complex about a block from a police station in a very safe neighborhood.  I can shout “help! police!” from my window, and a cop can shout back “What do you need?”

However, there are a lot of people in rural areas that have a lot of land and no police nearby.  Where I live, the police would be here in minutes.  In rural areas, it might take hours.  The police would never be able to respond in time.  People have no choice but to arm themselves.

Allow States/Counties/etc to Make Ordinances On Specific Arms–Can you imagine someone with an AR-15 walking down the streets of Manhattan?  People in rural areas have no idea how crowded city streets are.  An auto or semiauto weapon firing in NYC would endanger dozens, if not hundreds of people.  I am not exaggerating, hang around the City sometime and you’ll see what I mean.  Your resonable weapon in the boondocks is an unintentional massacre in the City.

There was an incident last year where a gunman shot and killed his boss in Midtown Manhattan.  The police gave chase and it became a running firefight.  A dozen people were wounded by police and the gunman.  What happened was that the ricochets struck all the passerbys.  Concrete creates ricochets where soil does not.  A gun that can fire 500 rounds a minute is going to have a lot of innocent caualties.

If a city wants stricter gun control, they should have it.  This way, the rural areas can get what they want, and the urban areas can get what they want.

Law-abiding Citizens Should Not Have Their Guns Taken Away–I am never in favor of laws that take away freedoms instead of protecting them.  That said . . .

If you commit any felony or misdemeanor violent crime, you lose your gun rights–If you can’t follow the law of the land, you don’t deserve its freedoms.  We all know someone that owns a gun, and you can’t help but think that this guy is gonna kill someone someday.  Hopefully, he gets caught in time.  I believe that expanding the felony rules to violent misdemeanors like assault will help weed out the violent types that are going to use guns unlawfully.

Perhaps we can allow these people to petition a judge to get their guns back after a while, but they have to earn it (maybe community service, anger management,etc)

Expanded Focus on Arms Trafficking–The NRA is taking an extreme stance, but they are right about one thing: the problem isn’t the guns, it’s the people.  We need to cut off Arms trafficking.  I can think off three ways to do so, and nobody is going to like them:

Increased power to ATF and Border Police–You say ATF to some people, and they reach for their shotguns, but the ATF is specifically there to stop illegal gun ownership and trade.  We need to stop the illegal trafficking at the border, not after they’ve been bought.

Let’s increase funding for state and local police too.  This what worked in NYC.  More cops = less crime.

No more gun shows or internet sales–This should be a no-brainer, but people have been glossing over it.  The gun show is basically a big loophole to get guns to people illegally.  It’s called “straw buying.”  A legal person goes to a gun show, buys a bunch of guns legally, and then sells them illegally.  This is much more prevalent than you might think.  The ATF reports that it is #2 method of aquiring guns illegally, next to smuggling.

The internet has the same problem.  Our buddy that killed all those people in Aurora last year, before he went on his rampage, he bought tons of guns and ammo on the web.

I’m sorry NRA people, but if you want guns out of the hands of the bad guys, you’re gonna have to compromise.  This is only a minor inconvenience anyway, as there are gun shops in about every town.  Support your local arms salesman, it’s good for the economy.

Build the damn wall–I never, ever, in my life thought that I would say that.  I am all for immigration, I wouldn’t be here if my great-grandparents didn’t say “screw you” to the pogroms and come to America.  But the issue is that Mexico is at war with itself right now, with drug lords carving out their own baronies.  Weapons and drugs keep spilling over.  There is a staggering amount of guns coming over illegally from Mexico.

But what about the immigrants?  Shouldn’t they be entitled to the American Dream?  Absolutely.  I think we should make it as easy for them as possible.  Have official immigration centers along the border.  Lots of them.  Hire lots of people to make it easier (reduces unemployment).  Give them green cards and a shot at making it.

People should be allowed to immigrate.  Why should we deny them the opportunities that were given our ancestors?  My family went through Ellis Island.  We should have something similar for them.

It doesn’t have to be a big stone Berlin Wall, but the border should be guarded.  Now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, we have plenty of soldiers to do it, not to mention spy satellites, drones and all sorts of other stuff.  There are already civilians doing this (The “Minute Men”) and they are violent nuts jobs who are ready to kill.  Take the job out of there hands and give it to trained soldiers. Defending our borders is their job, let them do it.

Treat guns like cars.  In order to drive a car, you need to pass a permit test, and then a license test.  You need one for every type of vehicle you drive (car, motorcycle, commerical truck, etc).  Every car you drive requires insurance.

Cars kill more people than guns, yes, but guns are made specifically for killing.  they should be regulated at least as much as cars.

I propose a gun owners license for every type of gun (handgun, rifle, shotgun, semi-auto, auto, etc).  They have to prove that they know how to use and maintain their gun, as well as a written test on gun laws and responsiblities.  in addition, every gun must be registered, even rifles and shotguns.  Every gun should require insurance.

Again, this is an incovenience, but gun owners have to understand that what non-gun owners are angry about is not illegal gun owners, but stupid/angry/crazy gun owners.  Prove to us that you are not one of these gun owner, and we’re cool.

I was reading the comments on Yahoo News, and one genius said something like I know that I feel safer for me and my young children with my loaded AR-15 in the unbrella stand by the front door.

I went off on the guy.  the idea of having a loaded assault rifle within the reach of children is disgusting.  This guy thought that he was a responsible gun owner too.  No, he was a stupid one, and I hope that CPS pays a visit to his house.

I am sure that there are a lot of gun owners that think they are responsible, but they are really not.  Licensing helps keep everyone safe.

So that’s it, my little manifesto is over.  I think that this is a good, moderate compromise that everyone will come away from unhappy.  That is the essence of good politics.  In order to get what you want, you have to give a little.  We all have to slouch towards the middle.

Feel free to barrage me with comments now.  If you like what I said, or even if you hate it, you can share this too.  I don’t mind.