The Young Leader

Change only comes to those who fight for it.

Autism, GamerGate And How The Left Dropped The Ball

The following is an opinion piece penned after multiple bomb threats shut down a Miami based discussion on ethics in video game journalism, also known by the shorthand- GamerGate. The following piece does not necessarily reflect the views of Rise News.  

By Thomas Fairfield 

@BahmoFairfield

Describing the values shared by much of the GamerGate movement, and detailing those points on which they do and don’t disagree with the opposition, is a worthy but daunting process; and within a short opinion piece, perhaps an impossible one.

So many people have brought in so many axes to grind (on both sides), that arriving at a list of “core” tenets in one document would at least require peer review and survey. However, I can detail a large personal stake here.

I am a nerd. More specifically, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. It is classified as a “mild” or “high-functioning” branch of the Autism Spectrum, but at a glance it’s often mistaken for more debilitating disorders.

It led to immense bullying at school, where I was called things like “retard” and “faggot” (Bigots saw homosexuality as a disorder); among other sorts of insults. I was derided as babyish because I still loved Nintendo while others were “growing out of it”, and seen as frighteningly psychotic because I laughed at certain shows that others didn’t.

Even faculty who wanted to help me often didn’t understand me, and I got stuck in Special Education classes with the genuinely mentally-challenged or even insane; such as in third grade, where I got stuck with a child who gleefully talked about killing.

Even as an adult, I have suffered; my voice and mannerisms unnerve people who don’t understand Asperger’s, my wallet ails from the horrendous personality bias entailed in the hiring processes of many major companies, and I am humiliated by the continued inability of even caring persons to assume by default I’m a functional being.

After so much discomfort and ignorance, I figured that the political left would offer me a way out; who better to fight business corruption and add one more unprivileged minority to their liberation record? I was wrong. Almost a year ago now, leftist journalists collectively smeared nerds, and GamerGate roared to life.

While I would not become aware of this until a few months later, many others, such as Mytheos Holt and Liz Finnegan, immediately noticed familiar anti-autistic/anti-introvert misassumptions in these zealous calls ironically against perceived bigotry, and when I finally looked into GamerGate I found plenty of common ground.

Mind you- GamerGate is not simply an autistic issue, and as stated, journalists are just the latest tip of a larger prejudiced iceberg, but GamerGate’s fight is my fight, because a new intolerance has seized mainstream society; an intolerance not of inherited outward features, but of mindsets, which drives activists to mass-shame people who’ve said—or sometimes, worn-trivial things that even debatably smack of discredited old ideas.

With egalitarianism and tolerance reconfigured as the new social axiom, they have also become the new excuse to condemn the socially-inept, who can get labelled reactionaries or even potential criminals for as little as their desires to ogle beautiful fictional women, cosplay as game characters or play war-games with mock-aggressive buddies.

As has happened for literally centuries, the as-yet unproven suggestion that pleasure-centric culture makes people sinful has been dredged up once more, and this time it is aimed at those of us who by nature are introverted and prefer activities set in The Great Indoors.

Still, maybe it’s not just this time that Autism and the like were involved; I can’t help but wonder how many past victims who got labeled as “witches”, “demons” and the like might’ve just had mental conditions unrecognized as such at the time. The point is that, when it is socially-acceptable, or even desirable, to shame thoughts in the name of social harmony (and adjusted for different values, it has been at many points in throughout history), people whose thought-patterns are obviously “off”, and whose desires unique and pronounced, become tempting targets; much as they have been many times before.

For myself and many others, all of this “gamer”-bashing is just the same “Ew; you like X terrible thing?! You must be Y terrible thing!” dreck of the sort we’ve suffered at many points in our lives. That it is painted in the trendy new language of progressivism matters little, and I’ve yet to hear GamerGate’s feminist opponents remark on the irony that their supposed war against the patriarchy is in practice attacking the sorts of men who’ve suffered themselves for not living up to the macho ideal.

Yet what is different now (besides that this time it’s the Left leading the old “pleasure is sinful” charge), and for the first time, is we’re fighting back and hard. We no longer have no response when any given situation’s de-facto bullies ask “You and what army?” We now have an army, and it is GamerGate.

It is not composed solely of autistic people, and left-wing and right-wing people rub shoulders in it; their actual thoughts may differ drastically, but they all (mostly) work together because almost anyone who has been thought-shamed for any reason can now fall in and march alongside others who at least agree with them that rampant thought-shaming stinks, at a time when many in the mainstream press, including some self-proclaimed tolerance advocates, remain in favor of it on some level.

If such people are to continue this sort of knee-jerk-driven character assassinations, without allowing the characters in question a chance to represent or debate their ideals on neutral territory (not to mention stifling said representation and debate with bomb threats), they’re just proving correct GamerGate’s perception of them as a new breed of moral authoritarians, which is already becoming bad PR.

Meanwhile, GamerGate’s momentum just keeps building. While contrary to the accusations, there is no canonized GamerGate ideology that justifies the use of intimidation tactics, we don’t shy away from signal boosting vile behavior on the record, and it is having an effect.

The diversity and tolerance progressives already won are here to stay, and good for them, but for the first time in decades, it looks like autism-bashing is on its way out, and if things keep going the way they are, progressives will look back and bemoan that, even while they demonized it, GamerGate stole this tolerance victory from them.

Have an opinion about GamerGate? Would you like to write about it? Then read this

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Photo Credit: Luke Hayfield/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Fresh Faces of Feminism: Why You Should Listen To The Teen Women Of Color

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 11.09.36 AMFeminism is both simplistic and complex, which lends itself as a concept to be inaccurately conveyed or misunderstood. In truth, ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes,” as defined by Oxford Dictionaries, is an advocacy which takes into account the contexts of the time.

In this sense, the evolution of the theory of feminism, from the 19th century to Third-Wave and beyond, is seen as natural progression. In focusing on women’s suffrage, gender neutrality, reproductive rights, sexual harassment, autonomy, and equal pay, it aims to address every facet of the female struggle.

Yet modern feminism lacks awareness about race issues and the nuances of the gender spectrum. These are important issues within our society, seen as part of feminist theory due to their influence. Modern feminism treads a difficult line, one which desperately needs to consider the concept of intersectionality – the inclusion of race, gender and class in feminism discourse – when following the example of prominent feminist celebrity figures.
For Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Emma Watson, the label given to the feminism they practice is a reflection of their privileged positions: White Feminism.

White Feminism addresses the issues of only those who are straight, cis-sexual, white and middle-to-upper-class. Though not all white feminists practice White Feminism, it refuses to place emphasis on anything but issues which are reserved for those who fit this standard. It is a sheltered, inaccurate movement which has not only bred a dissatisfaction with this definition of feminism, but which has emphasized inequality between lives of women.

One example of the struggle of feminists of color can be found in the words of Sandra Cisneros in her book Chicana Feminist Thought:

“I guess my feminism and my race are the same thing to me. They’re tied in one to another, and I don’t feel an alliance or an allegiance with upper-class white women. I don’t. I can listen to them and on some level as a human being I can feel great compassion and friendships; but they have to move from their territory to mine, because I know their world. But they don’t know mine.”

From the fact that white women make more money than women of color, to the appropriation of different cultures and the objectification of the black body and black culture, our society is one which features a multitude of oppressions. The feminism of these privileged white women, then, is not cutting it.

But what is surprising is just who is now championing the need for a feminist discourse which does not casually discriminate, which calls to attention the flaws of White Feminism, which attempts to fill in the gaps of all the disparities. 16-year-old Amandla Stenberg, actress and activist mostly known for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, and 13-year-old Rowan Blanchard, star of Disney’s Girl Meets World, can both be recognized as trailblazers in noting that there is more to feminism than blanket statements about equality and the lives of the privileged middle-classes.

Two brilliant young actresses, Amandla Stenberg and Rowan Blanchard, dispel the myth of the apathetic teenage voice, as they champion the need for intersectionality and articulate oppressions faced by women of color.

From Stenberg’s school-project video on cultural appropriation ‘Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,’ to her using social platforms like Twitter and Tumblr to offer insights on police brutality, America’s relationship with the black community, essays on representation and more, comes a keen awareness in youth feminism which has a pulse on social justice. To scroll through her Instagram is to come face to face with the thoughts of someone who refuses to let her age hold her back from being vocal. An example of one of her posts:

For this 16-year-old, race issues and being aware of the nuances of social oppressions are not only a valid component of feminism, but should be integral to one’s practices.

Similarly, when 13-year-old Blanchard answered a question by a fan on intersectional feminism, posting it on her Instagram later, she joined Stenberg’s crew of progressive, young, clued-up female voices:

View this post on Instagram

Part 1. By me

A post shared by Rowan Blanchard (◕‿◕)🌹 (@rowanblanchard) on

 

So what does it mean when teenagers are showing up their adult contemporaries in recognizing the facets of social justice and the depth of intersectionality paired with the practice of feminism? It reveals a shifting of tides and the acceleration of social justice in our modern world. As Stenberg noted for Dazed:
“I think people discredit teenagers and how wise they can be. Sometimes I meet teenagers who are much wiser than many adults I’ve met, because they haven’t let any insecurities or doubts about themselves get in the way of their thoughts.”

Blanchard and Stenberg seem to understand the need to open up dialogues through the social medias which are open to them, utilizing their fame to further causes. This also suggests that within the fractured nature of our society, of race issues and power structures which have manifested themselves in shows of police brutality, appropriation of cultures in the music industry, one does well to learn about these things and speak up on them than to stay enclosed in the protective bubble fame could trap.

Stenberg and Blanchard have shown this to be true. The pair sit comfortably along the likes of 19-year-old Rookie Mag creator Tavi Gevinson, Willow Smith and Kiernan Shipka under the label ‘youth feminism,’ using the influential nature of their age to their advantage by refusing to stay silent about issues close to them and choosing to remain open to that which they can educate themselves on.

The fact is, their feminism is intersectional and so the truths they dish out are aligned to not only their age, but their intelligence. The face of feminism they portray is inspiring because it exists with little ego, and perhaps this is a trademark of youth: it posits the desire to continue to learn, to listen, and to grow. It is refreshing in its honesty, compassion, accepts the existence of flawed feminist theory, but aims to change it. It’s something many would do well to learn from.

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#VestGate: UK University Challenge Program Ignites Controversy Over What It Means To Be “Intelligent”

University Challenge, hosted by Jeremy Paxman and witness to the UK’s most intelligent of students going head to head to represent their universities, is a show which can clearly be seen to favour substance over style.

Focused on providing only the most gruelling of questions, its reputation is one of baffled English home-audiences rejoicing when answering correctly between themselves, university pride, and the classic jumper-collared-shirt combo. However, one episode, which aired last week, hosted one contestant whose choice of attire raised more than a few eyebrows.

Kamel Shah of King’s College, Cambridge, injected a certain amount of controversy into the show courtesy of his leather vest and gold chain.

Raising questions on the idea of propriety, some argued that the values of BBC 2, typically home of the straight-edged middle-class crowd, had been compromised. For many, the clothing choice was regarded as a sign of disrespect, aligned on ideas of good manners and appropriate attire which being on a show as esteemed as University Challenge supposedly demands:

However, the issue of the vest could be seen to prompt a much deeper discussion. When it comes to representations of intelligence, is there something inherently problematic in disputing the decency of someone who refused to toe the line of what many see as an out-dated ideal?

 It is no secret that questions on the University Challenge appeal to an educational standard more at home with the privately-educated than anything else; which isn’t to say that its audience must simply be privately-educated. It simply suggests that when questions are focused on, for example, literature of the 17th century, Latin translation, or minimalism in music, one wonders at the concept of common knowledge, and knowledge in itself.

An example of previous University Challenge questions:

Your starter for 10: A schoolboy play-on-words between Latin and English, what jocular translation is usually given to the phrase semper ubi sub ubi?

Three bonus questions on the opening lines of novels:

(a) Which novel, first published in serial form from 1914 to 1915, begins “Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”?

(b) “It was a dark and stormy night”’ are the first words of the 1830 novelPaul Clifford by which writer, whose other works include Eugene Aramand The Last Days of Pompeii?

(c) The novels Midnight’s Children, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy all open with which word?”

What does intelligence mean and what is it measured by? When contestants famously previously failed to recognise a musical question sampling the modern R&B sounds of Frank Ocean, one must wonder as to what extent the non-typical, but very valid, contributions of the rest of the world are unnoticed by the majority’s standards.  

It is very likely that Shah’s vest is improper, a fashion faux-paux which does not do well to read too much into. We cannot be sure that he donned the chain and the vest to question the legitimacy of educational standards. However, it is also clear that the impropriety can be interpreted as a sign of defiance. Within the elitist environment with which we both patrol the playground of the deemed intelligent and set the standard, there are remnants of inequality which would favour the symbolism of, for lack of better words, of the jumper-wearer over the vest-wearer.

#GeekAndGangsta. The hash-tag speaks for itself. It’s clear our clothes feature their own identities, can speak without saying of our cultural awareness. But as culture is so easily manipulated, the inference of what this can mean cannot be easily decided upon.

The conclusion is that Shah chose to don non-typical attire on a game show set to test intelligence and provided the ripples of an aftermath which suggest that clothing is not just clothing: the underlying current of values being tied up with appearance, and in this case intelligence, is definite.

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Cover Photo: /Twitter

Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’ Video Has A Big Race Problem

Last week’s MTV Video Music Awards will likely be remembered as a hot-bed of drama, social issues, and controversy, spurned by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West. The slightest mention of the awards show is enough to disturb the silence in any room. This is the effect of popular culture at its finest.

But, there is one music video which can be distinguished as emblematic of the whole controversy, released during the award show and drawing attention to the reflective nature of said popular culture: it is fuelled by the cues of our society and what we deem to be acceptable. Or, in this case, what can not be deemed acceptable.

The plot-line of Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’ is easy to understand: intended to complement the sorrowful lamentations of a doomed relationship, Sunday night was witness to a dark-haired Swift posing sadly as the star of a 1950s Hollywood film against a backdrop of what can only be described as the most colonial of images of Africa.

With Scott Eastwood as the object of her affection, her relentless glances at him are not enough to provide the pair with a happy ending and so, the glamour is for nought and the drive into the sunset is non-existent. So too, as many of us have picked up on, is the presence of non-white Africans.

Reductionist at best, Swift’s ‘Africa’ is stereotypically conveyed with all the patronising ignorance of someone imagining what would constitute as The Exotic Land of Africa, a colonial illustration leaving out the knowledge of it being a continent, complex, rich in many histories, and therefore difficult to package and sell so neatly. Still, it did not stop Swift’s creative team from trying.

From the depiction of rolling grasslands, wild animals in migration patterns, dry dust flying as Swift kisses her co-star in her throwback hunter outfit, the video enables the audience to see all of these things as mere accessories.

The romanticism of this history is a clumsy, heavy-handed act which calls to attention an out-dated racial hierarchy and is scarily reminiscent of colonial attitudes

They are ambiguously, stereotypically ‘African’ enough to contribute to not only the myth of Africa, more at home in a historically out-dated periodical, and ambiguously, stereotypically ‘African’ enough to warrant more attention on Swift and her lover. It would be easy to make the argument that indeed, she is the star and this is her music video. But what must be recognised is the fact that the spot-light is on a truly horrifying image: Swift’s Africa features white people, complicit in acting the role of colonial settlers under the facade of the creation of a film.

Watch The Video: 

 

The romanticism of this history is a clumsy, heavy-handed act which calls to attention an out-dated racial hierarchy and is scarily reminiscent of colonial attitudes: ‘Africa’ can be groomed to fit an image the white person deems acceptable, can be plundered for its beauty whilst the locals remain invisible, and can become the mythical image of exoticism anyone fed on racist stereotypes sees it as.

The video casts a hazy, rose-tinted glow to the white imperialist presence in the African continent, romanticising it so that Swift does achieve that old Hollywood ’50s colonialist film vibe she’s looking for

It is truly as Binyavanga Wainaina writes about in his Granta Magazine essay, “How to Write About Africa:”

“Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.”

Swift is not a stranger to the romantic, the evocative, and the unparticular. In fact, these qualities seem to be a staple of her song-writing style, and yet, within the context of the ‘Wildest Dreams’ video, these are not qualities which can be dismissed as simply indicative of her personality.

The video casts a hazy, rose-tinted glow to the white imperialist presence in the African continent, romanticising it so that Swift does achieve that old Hollywood ’50s colonialist film vibe she’s looking for: ‘Wildest Dreams’ can easily be recognised as an example of Western media providing a propagandistic image of the exotic frontier playground, sitting comfortably alongside John Huston’s The African Queen and Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa in these efforts. It is an achieved goal Swift has every reason to not be proud of.

The video is deceptively portrayed as simply detailing a complicated love-affair. As Zak Cheney-Rice concisely explained for Mic:

“It is remarkable that the insidious nature of the African colonial fantasy is so seamlessly glossed over. This matters. When a pop culture product reaches as many people as a Taylor Swift video does, the images it presents have implications beyond their immediate purview.”

Cheney-Rice has every reason to be wary of Swift’s creative products in light of her influence as one of the world’s biggest female popstars, and especially so when said creative products are as disastrously constructed as ‘Wildest Dreams’.

When it comes to influence, it is a by-product of fame which must be handled with responsibility.

It is exactly this which is lacking in this music video, and while director Joseph Kahn may be comfortable to shirk this one must recognise the importance of contentious, important historical landmarks, like the African continent having to suffer under European colonialism, being treated with more respect and awareness and less lazy nonchalance.

Ultimately, it is the fact that these attitudes surfaced so casually in our modern age omitting the truth of Africa’s history and the Black African presence, whether intentionally or not, in the place of romantic fantasy which deserves to be called to attention.

In this case, Swift’s love-story stopped short of occurring between her protagonists and began to cast back to a part of history which needs no affection. It is this which is truly distressing about ‘Wildest Dreams.’

Cover Photo Credit: GabboT/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

How Donald Trump Is An IRL Internet Troll

The following is an opinion piece that does not necessarily reflect the views of Rise News. It was originally published in Rise Miami News.  

By Fred Russell

In watching the almost continuous news coverage of Donald Trump’s recent gaffs, I started to notice a pattern developing. There was a word for how this man was acting.

I had my suspicions about what he may have been doing, but I couldn’t be sure. It all started when he made openly bigoted statements about Mexican immigrants, suggesting they were “rapists” and “criminals”.

Then, at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, he disrespected Senator John McCain by suggesting that he was not in fact a war hero, because he had been captured. At this point it was starting to become clear that Mr. Trump was saying these things purely to gain attention from anyone who would look in his direction.

This type of behavior is known among some internet users as “trolling”. At least that’s what it seemed like to me. Urban Dictionary defines the word “Internet Troll” as: “Someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.”

I woke up a few days later, flipped the television on to watch the news with some coffee. My suspicions were confirmed in such spectacular fashion, I did a spit-take and sprayed Mr. Trump directly in the face with my morning cup of joe. Donald Trump had publicly listed the cell phone number of a U.S. Senator, and encouraged millions of viewers on live television to give him a call. A video surfaced the next day on the internet of Senator Lindsey Graham destroying his cell phone by throwing it at a wall.

So there it was. Doxing. Wikipedia defines doxing as: ”Doxing (from dox, abbreviation of documents), or doxxing, is the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting personally identifiable information about an individual.”

They go on to explain: “Doxing may be carried out for various reasons, including to aid law enforcement, business analysis, extortioncoercionharassmentpublic shaming and vigilante justice.”

In this case, I would say that Donald Trump had doxxed his fellow Republican presidential candidate for the purpose of harassment. In true troll form, he had inconvenienced someone simply because it garnered attention for him.

I am sure some will suggest that if I know he just wants attention, I should probably refrain from writing about him and stop giving him what he wants. However, anyone familiar with the garden-variety internet troll knows that in any argument, there will be one person who points out the troll and makes a great suggestion. I am that guy.

Most internet message boards and social networks come with a special option, which allows users to break contact with anyone who bothers them. Hit the block button. Ignore him, America. Put this bigoted, antagonistic ass behind you. That is where asses belong.

Cover Photo Credit: Sarah Russell

Long-Read: Why GamerGate Is Really A Liberal Identity Crisis

The following is an opinion piece penned after multiple bomb threats shut down a Miami based discussion on ethics in video game journalism, also known by the shorthand- GamerGate. The following piece does not necessarily reflect the views of Rise News. This piece was original published in Rise Miami News on 8/25/2015.   

By Arad Alper

GamerGate is marking a year of existence, a year in which it has been the most notable and important cultural event around, the clearest reflection of the zeitgeist. The story of GamerGate enfolds many of the characteristics that define our time: online activism, the questionable ethics of Internet journalism, a liberal identity crisis, the civil war of the left, the opening of a new generational gap, and of course the turning of video games and gaming culture into the center of pop culture, the place to be.

A year later, it is time to stop for a moment and take a more historical perspective, to ask how we came to this point and where we are headed. And, most importantly, what’s it all about?

Politically, GamerGate is an event that takes place in the left, and its roots are in the conflict between two different leftist approaches. The left as a whole believes that humanity has to liberate itself from traditions and structures that cause injustice, to create newer and better worldviews and aspire to build a society where everyone will enjoy freedom, equality and peace. But there are two different approaches to this struggle.

The first, which I shall term the liberal approach, is an evolutionary approach. It regards the human creature as an ape that is in a gradual process of leaving the jungle, a process that transforms homo sapiens into an increasingly enlightened and sublimated being. This approach espouses giving humans the largest possible amount of freedom to express themselves, even if what they express is not enlightened or cultivated, because by exposing all our different sides we eventually learn how to sublimate them.

This approach also acknowledges that humans will forever be apes and will never reach a perfect state of liberty, equality and peace, but we can get closer and closer, and in fact the Western world has already reached a stage where even the most wretched members of society can live a good and happy life.

Therefore we should focus of achieving a happy life for ourselves, while working at the same time for ever greater social harmony.

Read More: Journalists Should Check Their Privilege About Feminism And GamerGate

The second approach, which I will term the puritan leftist approach, is revolutionary. It believes that humankind is born by nature to live in a state of perfect social harmony, and the only thing preventing it is the structure and mindset of contemporary society. Therefore, all we need to do is change the way we educate our children, instill in them the ideals of perfect social justice from birth, and in a generation or two we will have the perfect society.

We must therefore censor anything that is not enlightened, tear down any state of inequality and enforce total equality in its place, and soon enough the people will learn to think correctly and will live in a state of justice and happiness. Millions of years of evolution coded into our biology, tens of thousands of years of cognitive development coded into our language, thousands of years of civilization coded into our manners, all of this can be erased in one stroke if we only wish it – so believe the puritans.

This view is actually the continuation of the old Christian concept of the fall from paradise, as if humankind was born to dwell in heaven but fell into this imperfect world and can be happy only if it returns to its rightful place. And just like with puritanism of the religious kind, leftist puritanism has nothing to rely on – it is based on blind faith, faith that the nature of humankind is good.

Because that perfect world is always on their mind the puritans feel alienated and cannot find any happiness in our imperfect world, and regard others’ happiness negatively because it distracts the latter from striving for Utopia. While liberal leftism continuously develops and progresses, embracing the inventions of the modern world and the new experiences it opens for us and weaving them into the rich and diverse social fabric of today’s Western society, puritan leftism changed very little since the days of the Jacobin.

It’s the same rigid and narrow minded approach, that is busy with dreaming Utopian dreams that are completely divorced from reality and can therefore affect very little positive change in our world.

Nevertheless, those two approaches usually work together to fix the world, with the liberals doing the work and the puritans cheering from the sidelines. But there were moments in the past 250 years when the puritans felt like they could fight the battle on their own, and now is one of those moments.

What gave them that sense is the Internet, where they could find each other and form a large community with power and influence. It happened mainly on Tumblr, where they converged in the beginning of this decade and became known pejoratively as “Social Justice Warriors”, or SJWs.

Read More: Why GamerGate Matters To Me As A Black Developer

The reason why the rest of the Internet mocks the SJWs is that it is obvious to anyone that their actions have nothing to do with social justice. They are not trying to improve society, since they don’t believe in gradual change but in revolution. Instead, they work as one to destroy anyone whose opinions are incompatible with theirs. The SJW is characterized by the belief that only his way to achieve social justice is the right way and anyone who disagrees is against justice.

In other words, even if you are a liberal who agrees with them that we must work to achieve equality, but disagree with their revolutionary approach and believe in the evolutionary process, they will immediately brand you “racist”, “misogynist”, “homophobe” etc., and gang up on you like an online lynch mob. Sometimes you don’t even have to express disagreement: you only have to use terms that are not “politically correct” in their book, or tell an inappropriate joke, or socialize with a right-wing person, and you risk becoming a target of their bullying. The SJWs are also notorious for their disregard of facts, their neurotic reaction to anything that causes them discomfort, and most of all in the amusing disparity between the way they perceive themselves as lofty and moral people and the way anyone else regards them as nasty and reprehensible louts. As long as they were contained in Tumblr they were treated mainly as a joke, but in the past couple of years they extended their activities to other regions and are beginning to become a real nuisance.

SJWs who critique computer games do not care if the game excites and elevate the spirit or if it makes the gamers face their dark side in a way that would stimulate their minds to think about it. What they mainly care about is if the game obeys the ideals of social justice and if it educates the players that they will win only if they abide by them, and if it doesn’t (and no good art ever does) they denounce it.

One of the outlets which the SJWs employ to express themselves is online media. While old media obeys an ethical code and cares about its public image, online media is an anarchic world in which almost anything goes. In the years 2009-2013 this proved to be an advantage, because online media could undermine entrenched narratives and affect liberalization of the mind in the US, in the Arab world and in other places. But this anarchy also allows extreme views to flourish and promote their narratives without the need to address pesky things like facts or ethics, and in this way the puritan left managed to establish itself as a journalistic force. In most fields there are enough channels to counter their ideology and they remain marginal, but there is one field in which they found an uncharted territory they could take over. And so, to its detriment, the world of video games became their experimental lab.

The video game is one of the newest art forms, so new that we have yet to develop theories to analyze it properly. Its greatest uniqueness lies in its way of turning the consumer into an active participant in the story, not just a spectator. This opens up avenues to do things that are impossible in other mediums, and the possibilities this holds thrill the imagination. It is no wonder that this art form currently draws the most creative forces and rapidly expands in many directions.

In liberal thought, art has a few main functions. First, of course, it elevates our spirit, puts us in contact with the sublime. Secondly, art is a way to express what cannot be said in words, and thus it expands our consciousness and opens our mind. In that, it is also an agent of social progress, because it teaches us new things about ourselves which help us arrange society in a better way. Art must therefore not recoil from any subject, penetrate even the darkest corners of the human psyche and bring them to light, because then we can learn how to deal with them. Puritans, on the other hand, think of art as an instrument to educate the masses.

SJWs who critique computer games do not care if the game excites and elevate the spirit or if it makes the gamers face their dark side in a way that would stimulate their minds to think about it. What they mainly care about is if the game obeys the ideals of social justice and if it educates the players that they will win only if they abide by them, and if it doesn’t (and no good art ever does) they denounce it. Unfortunately, since more intelligent ways of thinking about video game art are still in gestation, the puritan outlook is the one that dominates the online media on the subject (we can take comfort in knowing that this is not a problem that is unique to video games. Every young art form passes through such a stage).

The people who dedicate their lives to playing video games are called gamers, and are full of love and passion for their hobby. They immerse themselves in the mythologies of the different games, identify with the characters, create playing and discussion groups, build entire worlds around every game.

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They want journalism that shares this devotion, but what they get instead is didactic and boring puritan criticism. Worse, they feel that this journalism is deeply corrupt, exploiting the lack of ethics in online media to operate with impunity. It’s not just that game Journalists of the SJW type are using their power to promote games that obey their values; gamers have been sensing for years that behind the scenes there is also collusion, inappropriate relations between game developers and those who write about them. Since the gaming media is the source that any other media draws from when writing about the subject, the gamers feel like this corruption creates a distorted image of their world. They demand transparency, accountability and compliance with principles of journalistic ethics, but the online media always ignored their demands. And then, in August 2014, the game critics hit the fan.

It all began with a blog post written by a game developer in which he revealed how his girlfriend, also a game developer, cheated on him with several men, among them a game critic. The juicy story had all the makings of a good scandal, and the scandal did not fail to arrive. For those who complained about the corruption in media, this was the evidence they were looking for, a story about a developer trading sex for a good review from the critic.

But, as is always the case with such stories, the legitimate demand to investigate the corruption was swamped by a lot of other things: fictional supplements to the story, disinformation, personal attacks on the adulteress, railing against all those slut women, etc. Still, it could have ended there if the media had reacted properly. The gaming journalism sites could have addressed the serious part of the arguments against them, promise to adopt better ethics, and appease their enraged readers. What happened instead is what is remembered now as “August 28th”, the day that will go down in infamy in the history of online media, the day gaming journalists showed their true colors, the day that changed everything.

For those who don’t know how the Internet works, we should make it clear that most of the bad behavior does not come from the GamerGate or SJW communities but from anonymous anti-social trolls who exploit the mayhem to let their violent nature loose.

Rather than addressing the demands, the SJWs went for their usual tactic: claiming that the attacks on the developer are not due to substantive issues but because she is a woman, and the real problem is not her but the character of her detractors. In the span of two days there was a series of articles, by different journalists in different sites, in which they depicted the gamer as a white male who hates women and minorities and feels like his world (a world of video games aimed at racists and misogynists) is being taken away from him so he lashes against the people he deems responsible for it. Suddenly it dawned upon the gamers that their media, the media that is supposed to represent their world, is actually driven by prejudice and hate towards them. This was the beginning of what became known as GamerGate.

And it was ugly, in the tradition of all online flame wars since the 4Chan civil war of 2009. The heart of GamerGate was still the demand for ethics, but its essence was the fight against the SJWs. This was the first time a large group of people stood up to the SJWs, and the latter reacted according to their nature. Individuals from both sides received nonstop harassment, murder and rape threats, and some had their private details exposed online.

A couple of events organized by GamerGate had to evacuate the premises due to bomb threats, and so was a lecture by SJW game critic Anita Sarkeesian. For those who don’t know how the Internet works, we should make it clear that most of the bad behavior does not come from the GamerGate or SJW communities but from anonymous anti-social trolls who exploit the mayhem to let their violent nature loose.

Read More: Gamedropping- How Journalism Outlets Reinforce A False Narrative Without Facts

But both said communities were responsible for creating the toxic atmosphere, and should both be condemned for it. However, even though the responsibility lay equally on both sides and both sides suffered the same, the media put the blame squarely on GamerGate. Not just the puritan online media, but even the established mainstream media that is supposedly liberal bought the narrative that GamerGate is a hate movement against women and minorities, and they bought it hook, line, and sinker. Every attack on an SJW was touted in the media as evidence to the true nature of GamerGate, while similar attack on gamergaters got no coverage at all. The GamerGate people, most of them leftists of the liberal type, watched in dismay as their heroes in the media turned against them, accusing them of views that are completely opposed to their character and beliefs, while the only media that defended them were right-wing sites. Many of them experienced severe identity crisis as a result.

But that only motivated them to soldier on, and slowly they began to turn things around. The reason that mainstream media reported with such bias against GamerGate wasn’t that it was taken over by puritans, but simply the result of a generational gap. Mainstream journalists have no clue in video games, gaming culture and Internet culture, so they just buy wholesale what they are being told by those they perceive as journalists like them. Like the rock’n’roll generation of the sixties, the gamers had to create their own media channels if they wanted to be represented. The community began to produce its own YouTube stars – intellectuals, comedians, culture critics, game critics etc. – who drive the discussion that combines the world of video games with current sociology and politics. Gradually they are getting mainstream journalists to listen, and compelling the online media to adopt ethical standards.

As an onlooker, I was neutral at first and put the blame equally on all sides. But I kept watching, and now, a year later, I feel that I can pass judgment the true nature of each side. The GamerGate community is working to rid itself of the negative elements and proved to be a culture based on fun, creativity, self exploration, the acceptance of the other, rational and critical thought, a dialogue based on listening to diverse views, and fighting the corrupt system. The SJW community, on the other hand, continues to be a piranha infested cesspool and a culture based on resentment, self-righteousness, the rejection of otherness, herd mentality, ideological thinking that discards facts, sweeping censorship, and hatred to all earthly pleasures except the pleasure of destroying anyone who disagrees with them.

They do not try to better themselves, but work effortlessly to prevent any opinion that might make them doubt themselves from entering their consciousness (one of the main characteristics of an SJW is the blocking on Twitter of anyone who attempts to debate them). All of their actions are based on the delusion that they truly speak in the name of the oppressed and that those who oppose them are really just doing so because they are white straight male who want to maintain their hegemony.

In the last year the SJWs, driven by their self-righteousness and tripping on their delusions of self-importance, expanded the range of their attacks and went after movie people, musicians, comedians, scientists and politicians.

Whenever they encounter a gamergater who doesn’t fit this stereotype (and they are of course numerous) they tend to claim that it is actually a white male in disguise, and then proceed to immediately block that gamergater whose very existence threatens their delusional bubble. Actually, there is not a shred of evidence to corroborate their claim that “there is a new generation of gamers to replace the old generation of racist, sexists and homophobes”, but what seems to be happening is a natural evolution is which the gamer community, liberal by nature, is organically developing from a white male dominated group into something more diverse “Of course, female and minority gamers mostly despise the SJWs and are offended by their anti-gamer attitude, so the latter’s contribution to the process amounts to zero or even less.”

In the last year the SJWs, driven by their self-righteousness and tripping on their delusions of self-importance, expanded the range of their attacks and went after movie people, musicians, comedians, scientists and politicians. They are beginning to reveal their true nature to the people outside the Internet, and more and more liberals wake up and realize that they are an enemy.

The SJWs are bound to fall, but the question is what damage they will do to the left before they go. The American right went through something similar in the beginning of the decade, as the puritan Tea Party challenged the conservative establishment. The latter was oblivious to the danger, helped the Tea Party advance, and ended up losing control over conservative politics. The outcome was that the Republican party alienated the majority of Americans, came to be regarded as irrational and unhinged, and lost the culture war. The SJWs are threatening to do the same to the left, but it is not too late to stop them. GamerGate marks an awakening in the left, a moment of clarity. Some people involved in the battle are already talking about “the civil war of the left” and are vowing to kick the SJWs back to the nether regions of Tumblr. Let them continue to be a pain there but nowhere else.

And it contains an opportunity for the right as well. Needless to say, not only liberals play video games, and GamerGate also has many right-wingers in its ranks. Moreover, the battle draws right-wingers who recognize in GamerGate’s claims many of their own traditional claims against the left. The difference is that they always thought that the puritan positions characterized the whole left (typical mistake: the left errs in the same way about the right), and now they realize it is only a noisy minority. This already forms a dialogue between left and right, a better understanding of the other side’s positions. Maybe this will be the thing that will reconnect the American right with the spirit of the time.

GamerGate currently contains many contradicting positions, and will eventually be unable to hold them all together and will fall apart. But while it exists it plants seeds of positivity, seeds which will fertilize society, culture and politics for years to come. Stay tuned.

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Photo Credit: David Shankbone/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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