End Of Line: BioWare Clamps Down on Personal Attacks Against its Staff

Forum user LiquidGrape made this adorable image of Stanley Woo closing a thread with his (in)famous catch phrase. It's worth noting that the thread in question being shut down by our lovely Volus is, amusingly, one entitled "OMG ***ing gays ruin teh game!!!"


During the height of the Jennifer Hepler incident, many readers of ours were quick to talk about a culture endemic among “white cis het men” who dominate certain bastions of geek culture. In the midst of attacks with sexist and homophobic overtones, it seemed strange to others that race would be “dragged into” this. The recent attacks on another BioWare staffer, Stanley Woo, reveal why that remains a salient vector of analysis, and why considering white dominance in gaming spaces is as important as considering male dominance.

An alert reader (thank you very kindly!) brought to our attention a recent spate of trolling on BioWare’s forums antagonising Stanley Woo, a QA worker and community moderator who was especially forthright in banning posts that personally attacked Jennifer Hepler. The group of people responsible for organising the hate mail, angry tweets and forum posts attacking Hepler also took to antagonising Woo. The tipster wrote in:

[They were] using stereotypes of Asians to mock him, with phrases like “Ding dong bannu” and “End of rine” becoming common.  A day or two after the Jennifer Hepler attacks occurred, there was a raid on the Bioware forums where posters made accounts specifically to mock him which displayed many of these things, to the point that Bioware had to temporarily shut down new poster registration to stop it.  For example, replacing Ls with Rs, posting as “Stanley Gook” or some variation which bypassed the censor, speaking of “grorious reader” (“glorious leader”, a phrase that I believe originated in North Korea as applied to Kim Jong-il).

(Our tipster provided the following screenshot as a sample.)

I have often said that prejudice is a continuum, we rarely have the luxury of seeing it confined to a single, neatly bounded issue or group of people. If you scratch an Islamophobe, you’ll find a misogynist, to name an example I’ve seen far too many times in my own work. Similarly, many of the people who attacked Jennifer Hepler are doubtless equally antagonistic to anyone who would defend people of colour against racist trolling/attacks. The toxicity we see here is not something that allows itself to be confined to one axis of injustice. If you are willing to dehumanise a woman because she’s a woman, you’ll do it to others as well. People of colour, people of size, people with disabilities, LGBT folks, and intersections of all the above. What, exactly, is stopping them? If they’re the kind of people who think calling someone a fat bitch who should die in a fire is funny, where is the moral or ethical boundary that will stop them from making anti-Asian attacks, exactly?

Each individual person is different, but the broad trends are there and they do seem to indicate that the same people who engage in misogyny are often the same ones who engage in homophobia are often the same ones who engage in racism. It is a linked series of problems in these communities. That’s why, I suspect, Bioware has come down hard on this type of behaviour without explicitly naming it. On March 2nd they changed their community policies:

UPDATED (MAR. 2, 2012) Important update to site rules & code of conduct :

Effective immediately there is a zero tolerance policy on any form of abuse towards staff, moderators or other Community members.

Anyone posting a personal attack on staff, moderators or other Community members will, at the sole discretion of staff or moderators, be banned from the BioWare Social Network without notice and is no longer welcomed.

We continue to value all of our customers and fans. However participation in the BSN and engaging with staff and like-minded community members is – to be abundantly clear – a privilege, and not a right. Members may continue to discuss and critique our games and products in a civil manner, but any form of discussion targeted at an individual will not be tolerated. New and existing members who cannot adhere to the code of conduct, or maintain a civil demeanor at all times, are encouraged instead to contact customer support for any game related issues they may have.

We have made additional important changes to the Site Rules and Code of Conduct, and recommend that all our users review them by clicking on the link at the top of this notice. By continuing to use this site you are accepting the Site Rules and agree to follow these rules.

Attacks on a person because of their race and/or gender are not just bar-room joshing and gentle ribbing. On some level, we all know that. The attacks on Hepler were so vicious that they prompted a public defence of her by BioWare itself, and the attacks on Woo were trending in the same direction. Each constitutes a basic violation of a social contract that ought to exist between us all. Neither assault was discourse, it was the absence of discourse; a nihilistic vacuum filled only with hatred and the utmost irreverence. Such behaviour is no longer about discussing video games: it becomes a strike against the very bonds of community that are supposed to ensure the basic mutual respect on which civilisation is premised.

This may sound overly-heady and even overwrought, but it is a very serious moral question that we all have to consider when we’re considering questions of community—and that includes the geek/gaming communities of which we are all a part. It’s why Border House has a moderation policy, and why I have long said that major news websites should do a much better job of enforcing theirs. But it’s also tied to other recent incidents that have garnered wide attention, such as Rush Limbaugh’s unprecedented and highly misogynist attack on law student and activist Sandra Fluke. Such statements are not “just words”—no one truly believes in “just words,” not even the most vituperative internet commenter. If words were “just words,” such people wouldn’t be using them. What would be the point, save expectorating syllables into the ether?

They choose the words they know will create unsafe conditions, will actually wound a person, will communicate a central and guiding idea: “you are not human.”

This is not discourse, nor is it debate. It is the irreverent mockery thereof, unto death.

BioWare did not mention prejudice specifically in its policy change (though it is mentioned in the actual Code of Conduct), but I suspect that it came down so swiftly because they saw something very ugly in this recent spate of attacks, words which go way, way beyond the almost adorable “lol u noob” sort of joshing. They saw something that was actually coarsening the working conditions of their employees, that in the case of Jennifer Hepler had actually intruded into her own home. Stewards of online communities do need to start appreciating the reality that not all speech is equal; the very power of words gives them the power to silence, erase, and even destroy. It is antithetical to community itself to allow such things to continue, and to allow the internet’s many bigots free reign without consequence– allowing them to partake without asking for basic decency in return.

Liberal moral philosopher Susan Neiman could just as easily have been speaking of this group of people when she said the following:

Their world is never graced by a shadow of reverence. There’s so much trash—sometimes masquerading as a satire of trash—that it’s hard to say what’s worse: The blunting violence that’s called action? The lackadaisical transformation of sex to commodity? The shows that invite people to degrade themselves for a few dollars or minutes of fame? All of them chip away at human dignity; all of them went further than Nietzsche’s grimmest dreams. He wrote that a noble soul has reverence for itself. You needn’t go that far to believe that a noble soul must have reverence for something.

And we can make a good start of it by having reverence for each other. Bioware’s new policy is a positive step in that direction, and I hope that more policies of this sort will help to make the gaming community a true community for all of us.

About Quinnae

Quinnae Moongazer, (or Katherine Cross, as she is known in Muggle-speak) is a pizza loving feminist sociologist, trans Latina, and amateur slug herder, working on her PhD at the CUNY Graduate Centre. When she's not studying or gaming she can be found at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Her blog can be found at quinnae.com and her writing has also appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly, Bitch Magazine, Questioning Transphobia, and Kotaku. She is a co-editor of the Border House.
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39 Responses to End Of Line: BioWare Clamps Down on Personal Attacks Against its Staff

  1. Callan says:

    BioWare could have been enforcing this all along–it was already in their terms of use. It’s terrible that they ended up having to clarify, and I’m glad they’re finally cracking down on this crap.

    • From yonder land says:

      I’m with you. Late maybe on Bioware’s part but better late then never.
      I love this article even if you take it out of the context of Bioware’s employees getting trolled for being, well y’know, themselves as they have always been.

    • Kirt Dankmyer says:

      I think there was this vain hope they wouldn’t need to enforce it. No one wants to do that with their time. They’d rather be making games.

      It’s not just sad and terrible that people act this way. It’s even more tragic that good people have to waste their time stopping them.

  2. I just don’t get these kind of hateful attacks. I grew up in a household with a father who admired Archie Bunker and I’ve never once read about something in a game I disliked, saw who was responsible, and had racially-hating vitriol-filled tired come to mind. Sure, I’ve thought thinks like “XY Company are a bunch of idiots for this”, or “why do they hate me and hate fun?” But attacking someone’s race/gender/orientation over it? There’s no excuse for this type of behavior.

    Obviously, people are passionate about their games, but really, learn to govern your passions. I’m tired of defending my gaming to people who see this type of behavior and assume ALL gamers are like this. When I come across something that pushes a button, I just avoid it, i.e. I don’t buy the game, I don’t play the game, and it’s no longer an issue for me. If other people like it, I. Don’t. Care. It doesn’t affect me or my enjoyment of my life in the slightest if Joe Schmoe in Podunk, Illinois wants the gay romance option with Kaiden in Mass Effect. Why should it? I don’t know him from Adam and I’m not watching him play the game. It doesn’t affect my game. If that’s what he enjoys in his game, more power to him.

    Part of me wonders if I am really out of touch, or if there are just a LOT of sociopaths out there playing games and being mouthy on the Internet because no one calls them on their behavior to their face.

  3. Nuts. “tired” in my second sentence is supposed to be “tirade.” It makes a LOT more sense that way.

  4. Norah says:

    I hope they really are going to clean up their forums this time, but their old rules already covered most of this stuff, they just weren’t really enforced, and enforced irregularly. It was often also not pro-active, but only if enough people clicked the ‘report post’ button.

    I’m afraid that even now, even if they enforce actively, they’ll still allow the super bigoted posts that don’t target specific people and don’t use swearwords. “[This poster] is not attacking anyone and isn’t being rude, so they’re allowed to state this opinion” as a response to people being upset about really horrible stuff other people said, was pretty frequently heard before. Then whole threads were often littered with posts like that, saying truly horrific stuff but not, apparently, crossing any lines. Which makes for pretty awful forums. I mean to say, even if they clean up the vicious personal attacks now, their forums could still be an awful place ot hang out.

    • From yonder land says:

      It’s the double edge of the right to free speech. Some forums would not allow it but could use it to effectively censor anything moderators might find unpleasant, keeping tight control over a community wherever comes with good and bad sides.

      • Doone says:

        I’d argue that’s not the double-edge of free speech. Freedom of speech is not license to harm others. It never has been. This is why death threats are punishable by law. A person’s right to say what they want doesn’t exceed anyone’s right to feel safe.

        Hopefully this clarification from Bioware means they will be more proactive, not reactive. It’s the prime reason I’ve stopped visiting that place.

      • Dave Fried says:

        It bothers me when people use terms like “freedom of speech” and “censorship” in a context where they really don’t apply. “Freedom of Speech” is a right granted in the United States which cannot be abridged by acts of the government. Legal precedent demonstrates that it is not absolute; it does not cover things such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, making threats, “fighting words”, or many forms of harassment.

        Bioware’s forums are not an official arm of the United States government – they are a privately-owned space, provided for customers and fans to discuss BioWare’s products. There is not and has never been a right to “free speech” in privately-owned spaces. Any sane business curtails behavior by patrons that could create a hostile work environment or scare off customers. And any proprietor has the right (at least in the U.S.) to refuse service on any non-discriminatory grounds.

        The important thing is not free speech, but the free exchange of ideas. Nothing in this description of BioWare’s new policy (or if you will, new enforcement regime) suggests that they are preventing people from expressing themselves in a civil way. I don’t think there’s any more danger of the dreaded “censorship” going on in BioWare’s forums there than there is right here.

        There’s no dark side to that. They’re trying to create a community, and they’ve realized that they can’t do it if they’ve got a bunch of howler monkeys flinging poop all around the place.

        • Dave Fried says:

          Gosh, that was mansplainy. I apologize.

          Please just read the last two paragraphs.

          • Sunflower says:

            I did not personally see it as mansplainy.

            This is a fantastic and relevant article and I agree with this post. I think when we talk about free speech we often lose sight of why we even have something like that. The goal is to encourage cooperative interaction to maximum effect in order to ensure that the community is presented with many options and opinions. It’s the best way to expose people to new thoughts and ideas and the ultimate end is for the improvement of the community, because a lot of harm can come from just ignorance or lack of exposure to other people’s experiences and ideas.

            How can that goal be achieved when there is a group of people who are actively suppressing the free and happy exchange of ideas? I’ve seen a few people like that just shred forums where people had been feeling safe and cooperative. These people are irrelevant because they have nothing of value to contribute, and they know it, so they resentfully want to shut others down. I am against censorship but I am all for community policies for maximum free interaction, safety, and fun.

        • Quinnae says:

          Hah, not mansplainy at all, in my opinion. :)

          Actually quite correct, and it raises a series of issues that I only lightly glanced on in the article itself. During the height of the Jennifer Hepler mess we were attacked with a lot of vitriolic comments ourselves– one of my favourite accused us of being “an Orwellian dictatorship.”

          It’s a testament to the privilege of these individuals that they really see *this* corner of the internet as a dictatorship on par with North Korea or the Norsefire regime from V for Vendetta. Censorship, in its most meaningful sense, is an exercise of power that prevents the less privileged from using the power of speech to attack the elites and/or the powerful. When a government stops a newspaper from exposing a corruption scandal, that is censorship.

          Incidentally, however, using this definition we can also see that powerful *individuals*– accorded power through a network of privileges and ideologies– have the ability to censor other individuals. To wit: women are very often censored in gaming spaces where men are constantly making violent rape jokes. The noxious nature of the atmosphere puts an unreasonable obstacle before a woman attempting to speak. Put another way, when a woman who speaks on voice chat finds herself flirted with and derided because “OMG a girl!!!” she can very well become censored too; she may play less, stop playing altogether, not feel able to talk as much, and so on. This is what I meant when I said words have the power to erase, damage, and destroy.

          Words can circumscribe who has a right to participate in a given community, and can communicate ideas of exclusion on the basis of gender/race/sexuality and so on.

          • Sunflower says:

            Thank you for this. I completely agree except I don’t think that people like that really feel oppressed deep down. I think what they want to do is actively seek out feedback that forces them to examine themselves and stamp it out. Some people pretty much dedicate their life to that and become really good at it. People don’t just become suppressive assholes through some mysterious Internet magic, they actively work toward it in many aspects, which is why the oppression and prejudice intersectionality exists. I think the idea that there is a big world out there where privilege doesn’t always give you a free pass scares some people to the point where they fight so hard to stay oblivious and that means shutting others up.

          • Laurentius says:

            I speak only for myself here but I’m a bit on the fence on this one. I mean it’s super cool if game companies are going to make communities more open, friendly and safe spaces but still if we are speaking of power, such companies as Ea/Bioware certainly are the ones having it. It’s just that I don’t trust them to use it only to make “goodie” things, especially with EA/Bioware very problematic way of handling things in the past.

          • idvo says:

            And really, no one’s actually preventing them from doing anything. There are plenty of other places online (hey, they could even make their own!) where they can be their assy selves. But being told that they can’t act like like irreverent monsters everywhere, all the time, with absolutely no consequences is something they just can’t handle. They cry oppression and censorship, which makes me think they have no idea what those terms actually mean. Instead of looking like the victims of the “PC police,” they come across as spoiled little whiners.

        • Doone says:

          @Dave

          I’m not sure what sparked your speech about US law, but I’m not speaking in the context of US Law. I”m speaking strictly to the point: no one has a right to say what they want at the expense of others. I suppose I see this more as a human right, nevermind what a law book wants teach us about ethics.

          I don’t think anyone here was implying that Bioware doesn’t have full control over their private communities. Rather the idea was that some bullies use the pretense of their freedom of speech to harm others. They say things like “its just words” or “I can say what I want” and that’s the point we were speaking to. Alot of these verbal bullies genuinely feel they have a right to speak that supercedes the listeners right to feel safe.

        • Matt says:

          I didn’t see it as mansplainy though my response here, wishing to disagree with what I consider may be a simplistic divide between public and private spaces in considering not only a bare theoretical right but a substantive ability to exercise free speech which I see leading to further problems down the road what with our communication infrastructure being owned by big telecom companies often in league with or subject to legislation made through lobbying by the major IP-farming who now form the biggest enemies of free speech in the developed West today, may be (in which case I disingenuously apologize for the fact that someone may have been offended).

    • Korva says:

      I hope they really are going to clean up their forums this time, but their old rules already covered most of this stuff, they just weren’t really enforced, and enforced irregularly.

      That sadly sums up the situation on many forums and websites. Codes of conduct exist, but are broken and such actions are proudly flaunted like a sick badge of glory all the bleeding time.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad they made this statement as well as upset it was necessary. Let’s just hope they’ll really put their weight behind it, especially in the first few immediate weeks.

      And count me among those who are FIRMLY pro-moderation like we have here.

      • Quinnae says:

        Thank you.

        Part of the reason we have such a system of moderation is because it keeps the conversations relevant and thought-provoking, rather than recursive.

        For instance, if we’d allowed the gaggles of mansplainers to comment on the Jennifer Hepler post, the discussion would’ve looked like this:

        “It was sexist.” “No it wasn’t.” “Yes it was.” “No it wasn’t” “Yes it was” “No it wasn’t.”

        People who want to argue about 101-level first principles will do so all day and night if you let them, and the silencing effect there is that it puts off people who want to have a deeper discussion about the matters at hand. Who would enter into a discussion where you simply had this recursive back and forth that accomplished nothing other than feeding some sexist’s ego as he frantically set about trying to free himself from implication?

        That’s all it is: a privileged demand for attention, and a demand on the time of everyone here. They have the whole internet in which to make all the apologist comments they like. We’re trying to cultivate a space where meaningful discussion can occur. Hence, my follow up article “Roll a Die by the Sword,” I was proud of because in over 90 comments we generated a useful and productive discussion about game design with a variety of opinions. By keeping both sexism and apologism *for* sexism out (all the people rushing to say, “we attacked Hepler because she was bad, not because she was a chick!” or rushing to blame her for the gendering of the debate) we created a space where I could write an article about design and get a massive number of comments that were all productive.

        When you allow the free reign of bigots and nihilists you’re creating a space where no one else feels welcome. What does one think is happening when you hear “don’t read the comments” said about every major news website, Youtube, and so on? Decent people who can disagree without resorting to prejudice/apologism are warded away, of course, in favour of 4channers and bigots.

        • Sunflower says:

          I play DCUO with my SO and family/friends and I decided to /ignore everyone I heard using rape talk, or being racist, homophobic, or sexist. I wanted to see if I would end up ignoring everyone or what. So far it is only a relatively few people. That may change, I don’t know. But I have a suspicion that most people are the relatively friendly, cooperative majority that keep to themselves and don’t like speaking in the regular chat. I found it interesting that two of the people on my list appear twice–meaning they came on as alts to be jerks as well as their mains. This reminds me of the study of rapists that showed that a relatively small percentage were responsible for repeat rapes in the sense that I have to wonder just how many people are really screwing everything up for the rest of us (not to say we are blameless or perfect or don’t need to examine ourselves constantly). I am sure there are massive amounts of people sending hate mail to this site, but I would be interested in knowing if they also do the same to Shakesville, etc.

          • KA101 says:

            Re: Shakesville as harasser target

            I’m pretty sure it is; after spending several years participating there, I’ve noted Ms. McEwan make repeated references both to personally being targeted and to the mods having all sorts of crap to sort through. There were some threads on the PA rape-joke debacle that went under less-strict moderation for illustration purposes, and those were an experience, to put it mildly.

            [Same KA101 here as there. Not sure who took my callsign at Gamefaqs though.]

            • Sunflower says:

              I totally believe you that Shakesville is targeted. I read some of the comments after the Penny Arcade thing and they were beyond all decency. I was theorizing about whether the same people go around posting hateful things to many places. I would be interested in knowing how many hateful people post to more than just one blog, kind of like repeat offenders. My idea is that these people go out of their way to track down people that give them feedback they don’t want to accept and try to shut it down and that they are part of a relatively small population that has a disproportionately loud voice. I don’t think it’s exclusively a good guys vs bad type thing but it would be good to know. I don’t know how we could find that out though.

            • makomk says:

              Shakesville is… an interesting one. At least one instance of Ms. McEwan and the mods having to “sort through crap” was due to the way she spectacularly mishandled being called out on eulogizing a really nasty and influential transphobe. This also rather demonstrates what can go wrong; if you were reading just the Shakesville discussion of this incident, you’d get the impression that she was just being made to feel bad by a bunch of evil meanies and that the community there gave them her full support, because any comments that went against this were systematically deleted.

              Of course, because of cis privilege pretty much all the blogs that called her out on this were much less widely read than the comments section of Shakesville, making this an effective tactic. (This is actually a common theme in the misuse of comment moderation. Major blogs and forums are in a position of power through being the main route of communication between their members, so comment deletion’s easily abused to hide arguments and viewpoints that demonstrate the site isn’t upholding its stated goals. This is something the members who are invested in those goals would probably want to know about, but even if they would object to being kept in the dark many of them never find out.)

            • Sunflower says:

              Makomk, I was specifically talking about trolls posting hateful comments designed to derail/suppress. Turning this into a discussion about her moderation policies doesn’t seem relevant unless you are trying to imply that she’s lying about the abuse she gets?

            • makomk says:

              The point is that in at least one instance the “trolls posting hateful comments designed to derail/suppress” were in fact trans people calling her out on a questionable post eulogizing someone truely hateful and an even more questionable response to it and, her supposed anti-troll moderation policy facilitated her in misrepresenting them as such. Read her response as linked to by Kinsey’s blog post.

          • Norah says:

            At least to an extent it’s probably the same people, because I sometimes see sites like these compare griefing comments and a few names or styles or addresses etc turn out to be the same person.

        • Nathan of Perth says:

          Very happy with the moderation of this site, its very important to have, particularly when derailing attempts are so prevalent.

          This is something of a stupid example but I follow sports a lot and my two favourite discussion boards (one of which is an extremely large board) for this sort of thing also happen to be some of the most moderated boards I’ve known that aren’t actually social justice websites. Even their “troll each other” sub-board still gets a strong moderating touch and goes from being unendurable to actually creative and funny much of the time. All things being relative anyway.

          And that’s without considering the heightened need to provide a safe zone in this sort of environment.

          To hell with Orwellian dictatorship, you can’t act like an online brown-shirt and then turn about and complain about being moderated, like you have a right to bully and harass.

          • Violetta says:

            Exactly.
            Comment moderation is NOT censorship. I look at being part of a forum as being like entering a bar. You have a set of behavioural standards to adhere to, and if you can’t treat others with dignity and respect then you will find yourself unceremoniously ejected from the venue. I don’t see how the internet should be any different,

    • Maria says:

      “It was often also not pro-active, but only if enough people clicked the ‘report post’ button.”

      Clicking ‘report post’ sends a message to EA customer services. The moderators have asked numerous times that people send them PMs because hitting ‘report post’ leaves them ignorant of any problems.

    • Violetta says:

      I agree, you can say the most hateful thing without resorting to curse-words and obscenity, David Irving would be a good example of that.
      I remember recently on The Mary Sue there was an MRA type trolling them who never used the words “bitch”, “whore” or “c**t”, but still managed to say awful, hateful things using “decent” language and “rational” arguments. I actually left for a while because of him, but returned recently and he seems to have been kicked out, which is good.
      There’s a difference between diversity of viewpoints and just plain ol’ hate speech.

  5. Mantheos says:

    From my experience with Stanley Woo, I think he is an ***hole, but that is the only term I will use. I respect him while talking to him on the forums even if I heavily disagree with him (*cough* DLC *cough*). Those posts are no way to treat him or any Bioware employee. I am glad they are cracking down on attacks against the developers.

    Having the developers talk to fans on the Bioware forum is a privilege, and the fact that they’re still happy to do it (even if they are doing it less now) is a good thing. I may want to rant at Mike Laidlaw for DA2, but then he won’t come to the forums as much and fan feedback will not be as big of a factor in DA3.

  6. Trodamus says:

    I am now irrationally irritated at the use of the term “mansplainer” in this comment discussion.

    That aside, speaking from the perspective of someone that’s had to run an online day care (i.e., message forum), I can say that there’s several fine lines that need to be walked between having overt codes of conduct, enforcing that conduct, and having a forum where people feel free to discuss things. Banning people is a minor event; re-stating and boldly emphasizing rules, codes of conduct and their harsh, severe and arbitrary application and punishments is like dropping a nuke and must be done so with discretion lest you starve the discussion or let breed a new wave of code mongoring or further accusations of its application.

    As it has been said before, forumites have no right to free speech but part of good housekeeping is not reminding your members of this fact.

    That said, I do think a company like bioware needs to take a harder stance on this if they’d like to affect a change in the gaming community. People who think that it’s appropriate to go to the developer’s forums not to critisize, but to be racist (et al) should learn there’s no real place for them there or anywhere. Solidarity and all that.

  7. Matt says:

    Neither assault was discourse, it was the absence of discourse; a nihilistic vacuum filled only with hatred and the utmost irreverence. Such behaviour is no longer about discussing video games: it becomes a strike against the very bonds of community that are supposed to ensure the basic mutual respect on which civilisation is premised.

    This goes straight to the heart of the matter. Thank you for this.

    • Matt says:

      Also I’d just like to share this one quote from our Supreme Court (R. v. Keegstra, [1990] 3 SCR 697) that this reminded me of:

      At the core of freedom of expression lies the need to ensure that truth and the common good are attained, whether in scientific and artistic endeavors or in the process of determining the best course to take in our political affairs. Since truth and the ideal form of political and social organization can rarely, if at all, be identified with absolute certainty, it is difficult to prohibit expression without impeding the free exchange of potentially valuable information. Nevertheless, the argument from truth does not provide convincing support for the protection of hate propaganda. Taken to its extreme, this argument would require us to permit the communication of all expression, it being impossible to know with absolute certainty which factual statements are true, or which ideas obtain the greatest good. The problem with this extreme position, however, is that the greater the degree of certainty that a statement is erroneous or mendacious, the less its value in the quest for truth. Indeed, expression can be used to the detriment of our search for truth; the state should not be the sole arbiter of truth, but neither should we overplay the view that rationality will overcome all falsehoods in the unregulated marketplace of ideas. There is very little chance that statements intended to promote hatred against an identifiable group are true, or that their vision of society will lead to a better world. To portray such statements as crucial to truth and the betterment of the political and social milieu is therefore misguided.

      • Rakaziel says:

        This leads to an interesting train of thought. How good are the chances, after tracking down their ip address, of suing them?

      • Quinnae says:

        I just wanted to point out– very very belatedly!– that I appreciate your thoughts and the addition of this fine quote from Canada’s Supreme Court. Free speech fundamentalism is a questionable concept because it relies on the same fundamental principle as free market fundamentalism– that left to themselves all free actors need to do is sufficiently blather/engage in economic activity and then truth/ideal market conditions will emerge, as if from some heroic survival-of-the-fittest contest.

        In the “marketplace of ideas” (a cliche that lays bare the connections to capitalist ideology), it is as if truth is an evolutionary adaptation that will allow whatever idea possesses this trait to overcome all trials. Nevermind the devastating failures of this brave little theory that adorn history with countless ideological ruins.

        Free speech fundamentalism is something that ignores how ideas work, and ignores how language is part of an ideological *practise* that always transcends the sum of its syllables. It’s a vital concern for anyone interested in justice.

  8. Rakaziel says:

    This was an important example of doing it right. Let’s hope Bioware gets no attack from Anonymous and hope more companies adopt it.

  9. idvo says:

    I have a lot of respect for the moderators of this site. It shows that you not only care, but that you’re willing to weed out some awful stuff to keep this place awesome. I wish more places had moderation like this one.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve typed a dissenting comment into somewhere like YouTube, only to not post it. It’s just not worth the hassle of being attacked, and that saddens me more than these people’s actual words. I got into a “discussion” on YouTube once, and it was such a draining and frustrating experience. People spewing hateful nonsense is also something that keeps me from trying to be a prominent blogger (well, besides my own procrastination habits); I’m not sure if I’d have the energy to sift out all those nuggets of crap.

    This also reminds me of something I stumbled across recently, the whole incident surrounding Cross Assault, a live-streaming fighting game tournament/reality show sponsored by Capcom, where one contestant sexually harassed his team member and then explained why it was okay for him to do so. I found out about it here (warnings for sexism and sexual harassment, and in the interviews in the links, defenses for sexism and racism): http://www.themarysue.com/sexism-in-fighting-game-culture-says-nothing-about-gamers-but-it-says-everything-about-bullies/

  10. Kasey says:

    “it seemed strange to others that race would be “dragged into” this”

    I assume you’re targeting me here. I does make me wince a little when people use “straight white male” as a epithet, yes, particularly when it seems to be an unconscious reflex, as seems to have been the case when I commented in the other thread. It’s an ugliness, even when presented in the context of a progressive cause.

    I’ll also add your example of Stanley Woo doesn’t have anything to do with my point, unless we’re again conflating “bad people” with “white people”.

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