One of the most interesting things about the GamerGate kerfluffle is that it provides real-time examples of many of the propaganda techniques used by the “Social Justice Warrior” set to shut down criticism. Having attracted my very own propaganda commenter (Hi, Twisted Inspiration!) I’ve decided that rather than attempting a useless comment back-and-forth with a propaganda-bot mind whose fundamental axioms are mutually incompatible with mine, I would point out the structure of the argument. And also get today’s blog post out of it. So thanks, TI! And also please go comment on Larry Correia’s blog. It would amuse me greatly.
First, there was the motte-and-bailey tactic. When called on the hateful rhetoric of “gamers are dead,” TI dutifully showed up to reframe; as he* would have it, I’m a semi-literate rube who has somehow mysteriously gotten this idea that the “gamers are dead, gamers are over” articles were full of bigotry towards a certain group of people who are stereotyped as straight white cisgendered males, when actually what they really meant was that “everyone is a gamer now.”
Yeeeeeeahno, I can read, and what’s more, I don’t fall for that kind of “plausible deniability” argument construction. I don’t care about the motte; of course many people play games now (although not everyone) – that doesn’t change the fact that “gamers are over” clearly designated a subset of “people who play games” as “gamers” and then attempted to marginalize that group right out of existence, using stereotypes filled with hate and bigotry. The fact that they then attempted to co-opt the term “gamers” for the socially approved group of people so that any memory of the quote-unquote cisgendered neckbearded straight white males would be expunged is supposed to mean they’re full of sparkles and hearts? Communists liked their airbrushing people into nonexistence, too, and I don’t like them, either.
I wish I could say I have no idea why someone who simultaneously claims gamer cred (appeal to personal authority, perhaps?) and then tries to eliminate “gamer” as a meaningful identifier would do something like that, but I’m afraid that’s a typical response to the “carrot and stick” routine run by social justice types. The stick is the bigotry, hate, social marginalization, and out-grouping behavior – calling people “misogynist,” etc. The carrot is the offer that if you only come over to our side and use our language and become one with the Borg collective of social justice, we’ll accept you and you’ll be popular! (Mostly it’s just “toe the line and we won’t put you on the harassment and shaming list” blackmail imo, considering how often they turn on each other for failing to check their privilege sufficiently.)
The second thing to notice is the complete dismissal of facts on the opposing side and constant reframe towards what the SJW wants to focus discussion on. Don’t discuss word choice or the articles in question, because they’re the indefensible bailey – drop back to a defensible motte like “nobody can take your identity away” that has nothing to do with the specific behavior of the “journalists” or social activists in question. Logic need not apply; the same person can, in the very same comment, claim that the identity in question never existed. So people shouldn’t get upset about having their identity maligned because their identity doesn’t actually exist and no one can take your identity away? (This would be the point at which I realize that TI doesn’t have a functioning logic circuit and therefore cannot be reasoned with, if his* prior complete disregard for facts and evidence weren’t enough. It’s hard to have a conversation with someone who insists on ignoring everything you bring up.)
The next step is to reframe the conflict in such a way that it delegitimizes the complaints of GamerGate. Frame GamerGate as a tribe – even though GG includes people who are outside the aforementioned (nonexistent!) “gamer” identity, like myself – that is manufacturing an external opponent. This requires ignoring the fact that “gamers” as a group have been the butt of a great deal of very real social shaming and marginalization for years – and ignoring the fact that the refrain of “worthless virgin basement-dwelling losers with poor hygiene, haha” never triggered anything like GamerGate in the past, so what’s different now? It also implies that the responsibility for starting the current conflict lies with GamerGate, that they made something up in order to justify an internet war and the other side is just plain bewildered over what happened.
I believe I know a few terms for that: “plausible deniability”, “provocation”, and “gaslighting” come to mind.
Next, imply that I don’t actually know what “GamerGate” is doing now while making sh-t up; “That’s Jack Thompson they are supporting now for saying something bad about Anita Sarkeesian.” Except I have been following GamerGate more closely than ever recently, and the claim that GG is “supporting” Jack Thompson is bogus. Jack Thompson criticized Anita Sarkeesian and GamerGate supporters merely acknowledged that JT agreed with them about something. Somehow that’s an endorsement of everything Jack Thompson has ever said or done? And because JT has been one of the (remember, nonexistent!) external enemies of gamers (who don’t exist!) he should be forever cast out into darkness and wailing and gnashing of teeth? So what’s the problem here: are gamers too tribal (despite not being “special”), or not tribal enough?
Notice as well how criticism becomes “saying something bad” – a very convenient smear. Who knows what he said, but it was bad! Did he call her dirty names? Hey, I’d like to say bad things about Anita Sarkeesian, but if I did, John C. Wright would be disappointed in me, so I can’t because social shaming by the patriarchy! Thankfully, YouTubers with razor wit will say much funnier bad things about Anita Sarkeesian than I could, so I don’t have to.
And this is an illustration of the biggest difference between the rabbit warren of social justice and GamerGate. In the SJW world, anything and everything that someone does is immediately credited to the group. So if GG thinks that Jack Thompson has a point about Anita Sarkeesian, that must mean he’s a part of GG! Uh, no. GamerGate is not a totalizing ideology; people can agree or disagree with each other over some fairly major issues.
GamerGate started over the GameJournoPros – an emailing list equivalent to the JournoList, that existed in order to allow certain people who were supposedly “covering” the gaming industry to have “back room discussions” about how to respond “properly” to events. Some media companies have taken the ethics charges to heart; The Escapist, for one. And here’s an example of what actual journalistic coverage of GamerGate looks like.
Sam Biddle, by the way, is set to be promoted by his media employer Gawker, according to screencaps on Twitter. Feel free to correct the record if at any point he has actually suffered an equivalent punishment for breaking the rules of civility as what the SJWs dish out regularly to their targets. A temporary suspension from employment and a televised apology with him in tears will suffice; I’m magnanimous. He doesn’t need to be fired and blacklisted.
GamerGate has nothing to do with journalistic integrity and misbehavior? Sure. Sure. If it makes you happy to believe that, I’m reliably informed that Cloudcuckoo Land has plenty of room for more residents.
I’m cynical enough that the corruption in games journalism came as absolutely no surprise. I’m not angry over that, though of course I agree that journalists should be transparent and honest about what they’re doing. If SJW journalists want to grade games on whatever the Social Justice Cause of the Week happens to be, instead of game mechanics or “fun,” or pimp their buddies’ games, that is totally fine with me. But they need to be honest about their criteria and their potential conflicts of interest.
I’m ticked off at those journalists not for being corrupt, but for being hateful bigots who say nasty things about my little brother, and then having the utter and absolute gall to pretend that’s not what they’re doing while affecting a smug attitude of moral superiority. I won’t be gaslighted by emotional abusers, sorry.