I have a list of writing related topics, one for each day of this month. I thought it would make it easier to maintain the schedule. For the most part it has, but there’s been a few topics, such as the one I have scheduled tonight, where I felt like it would be forced. I felt like I’d be talking out of my ass more than usual.
Tonight I’m going to let out some of the pressure that’s been building up inside me. There have been events this month that have made me upset. I’ve commented on some of them in Facebook and Twitter, but it has been less than satisfying. I keep feeling compelled to get into arguments with people I respect a great deal.
I’m going to share my opinions. They probably won’t make me very popular.
We should stop talking about GamerGate.
GamerGate was started by a small group of people that do not represent gamers or gaming culture on the whole. This small group is all about misogyny and slut-shaming women. They are despicable, they’re ideas are despicable, and anyone that thinks that what they are doing is noble and good is no friend of mine.
But here’s the thing. They had to have known that their “movement” was going to fail. If that is true, then why did they persist?
The answer: they were trolling.
Alfred was right. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Trolls just want to see what kind of damage they can do. It costs them nothing. And when they see someone respond to their bait, they are delighted. They slap each other on the back and keep going.
And everyday, I see in social media more feeding of these trolls.
Some want to use this as part of their platform to gain greater equality and representation for the genders in gaming. I do not oppose equality and fairness. I want equality. I want men and women developers to be paid fairly. I want developers of all races and sexual orientation to be treated equally and fairly, too.
If your cause is to promote gender equality, then I support you. However, I beg you not to promote your cause on the back of GamerGate. Your cause… our cause… is not supported by feeding the trolls.
We all need to think more, and use less hyperbole when talking about sensitive subjects.
I’m referring to what John Grisham said about the penalties for viewing child pornography.
I should haven’t to say this, but from what I’ve been seeing lately, I guess I have to: I do not support child pornography, or those that consume it. I think it is despicable. I also think what John Grisham said was a bit stupid.
Now I’m going to share my unpopular opinion. I’m going to do my best to be sensitive to the subject matter. I understand that it is a difficult topic for many to read. If you are the victim of sexual assault, please know that I am deeply sorry whatever pain you have been through. I do not know and can’t even begin to comprehend what you’ve been through. If reading about this topic makes you uncomfortable, please skip on to the next bolded area.
I think that John Grisham wasn’t completely wrong about the penalty for viewing child porn. The penalty might be a little bit too steep.
There is a difference between the monster that perpetrates the creation of child porn, and the asshole that views it. Some of those assholes are monsters, too, but they might not all be monsters.
Man, this is difficult to express without sounding like I support child porn. I don’t. I’m starting to understand how John Grisham spoke so poorly on this.
He tried to use examples to illustrate his point, and they were terrible. It was something along the lines of “watching a 16 year old girl isn’t as bad as watching a 10 year old boy” or something like that. Both are disgusting, but if we’re being honest, I think we know what he’s trying to say. At least, I hope he was trying to say that a child in their late teens can pass for a young adult. Deriving sexual stimulation from watching a young adult is different than getting off on watching young children.
An argument for penalizing the consumes of this porn is that people that view child porn are creating the market for it, and support child pornographers. They’re not being held responsible for their part in making it possible to create the pornography.
I have a couple of problems with that argument. First, unless money is exchanged, I don’t see how the support is happening. You think someone is going for pornography with their ad blocker off? That they’re not downloading anonymously via torrent? If downloading something for free equates to providing support for it, then piracy is no big deal, because downloading music and videos is providing support for the artist, right?
The second problem I have with the argument is that it is not equally applied. That is, the heart of the argument is, “I want to protect children, so if we punish people viewing child porn, less child porn will be made.” If you are trying to protect children, then why stop at child porn? Stop and take a moment to look at your phone. How was your phone built? Is it an iPhone? Was child labor involved in its construction? If we apply the argument equally, then you have, by purchasing your iPhone, supported a market that exploits children.
When the iPhone 6 came out recently, millions were purchased the first day. Should all of those people be held accountable for supporting child labor?
Again, I don’t support child porn. I don’t support exploiting children for any purpose. I think John Grisham said some stupid stuff. I also think that with our loaded prisons, maybe we can consider the possibility that the way we are too harsh in how we penalize people that view child porn.
We should act responsibly when reporting and reading news.
This ties into the first two thoughts. When talking about GamerGate, know that you’re feeding the trolls. When talking about sensitive subjects, think before you speak. Don’t be like John Grisham.
But also, don’t be like Rosie O’Donnell. Even after John Grisham apologized, Rosie decided it would be awesome to suggest that the police investigate John Grisham’s hard drive.
You might say, “But Brian, Rosie wasn’t reporting the news. She was just stating her opinion, too.”
I disagree. She is the news. I am the news. You are the news. If you are talking about recent, non-fiction events on your Facebook or Twitter, you may be the only source news on that event for some people.
Consider that Fox News, MSNBC, and even CNN are being run as a business. They do market research. They cater to their audiences. The news that you’re receiving from them is tailored for their respective audiences. They are trying to make money.
I recently had to remove someone from my social media that continuously posted right-wing propaganda. When I’d call them out on it, citing other sources like snopes, she’d respond unfavorably. I tolerated it for a long time, until their posts became less and less thinly veiled racist garbage. Then I had to cut them loose.
When we behave like the person I had to remove, with a closed mind and without checking facts before boosting signals, we promote divisiveness and misinformation. We create disharmony. We polarize.
I have a bunch more I want to say about how we should be pursuing equality and fairness, but I’ve droned on and on already. I know that I’ve said some things in this post that are uncomfortable. I would be happy to discuss any of the topics I’ve included in this. I promise to try to keep an open mind.