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February 01, 2011

Alienated from the Arcade

Well, it's moved to a point where I can't ignore it anymore. I'm talking about the flap over at the popular webcomic. I don't need to recap the mess, I'm not going to link over to them (they hardly need the whisper of traffic I'd be redirecting), and I'm not going to recap other arguments about it.

I read the comic when it appeared, thought it a tasteless commentary about a humorous disparity between MMO written content and the behavior of players. And then I moved on.

I do tend to believe that humor should have no boundaries, though reasonable cautions to be sensitive to certain audiences with psychological triggers seem appropriate. Had it been me, I would have received initial complaints, apologized privately for the lack of such warnings (owing to my ignorance; I hadn't seen such warnings before this mess), updated my site to put such warnings in place, and never said another word, wiser for the experience.

It became a problem for me when they took it beyond the comedy and made it a policy to alienate others while appealing to the basest elements of their readers, who have responded in numbers under the purview of the Greater Internet F***wad Theory. (Indeed, if they find this commentary, no doubt my site will crumble under the weight. No biggie.) To those readers out writing the worst kinds of comments on blogs all over: try breathing through your nose for a little while and stop and reflect whether anything whatsoever has been taken away from you, while you're off on your idiot tirades and making your cruel, crude attacks.

Anyway, I was a huge fan. Heck, our second game had a code in it that unlocked the whole game based on the name of their site and comic.

Well, they achieved one of their goals, anyway. I'm alienated now, in a way I never would have been had it just been the comic. Time to move on from that particular source of humor, there's no shortage of others. I can't consume the content without feeling, well, a bit dirty, in a moral sense.

I'll miss it a bit, I'm sure, but probably less than I would have expected. I'll throw out the couple of shirts I've bought; I just don't want to be associated with that.

Thanks for the laughs.

Posted by Brett Douville at February 1, 2011 09:40 AM


There are people (especially online) that actively go out of their way to be offended. This seems like one of those times. The word "rape", by itself, is not offensive. So did "dickwolf" offend you? Does the phrase "raped by dickwolves" offend you? Is it a Bad Word? Readers know what kind of comic PA is. It can be raunchy, but it's a pretty honest and brazen commentary on the gaming community. It wasn't a problem when the comic referred to Disney characters as "raped", so why now?

Mike's responses to the comic are just as absurd as the complaints. Besides, they pulled the shirt in order to /not/ alienate people from PAX; what more do you want?

Posted by: ThinkAboutIt at February 1, 2011 05:56 PM

Clearly, you should stick to making games.

Posted by: Zach at February 1, 2011 05:56 PM


The comic isn't the issue, as had been explained dozens upon dozens of times. I would investigate what actually happened instead of assuming it's solely about the comic, which at this point is actually the least important part of the entire debacle.

Posted by: ThinkHarder at February 1, 2011 06:11 PM

@Zach: Clearly, when I talk about not mouth-breathing all the time, I'm talking about you.

@ThinkAboutIt: I'm not going to repeat what Deirdra Kiai has to say about it; I think she's spot on about the exclusive language that they've used. They pulled the shirt, and intend nonetheless to use it.

Again, and this is for both of you, what does this serve? I'm not taking anything from you. Go enjoy your comic. It's just not for me anymore.

Posted by: Brett Douville at February 1, 2011 06:14 PM

Thanks. This is exactly how I feel—the initial indifference, the surprise at their needless escalation, their breezy transgression of Wheaton's Law, and the vaguely dirty feeling from reading comics I'd otherwise enjoy that drives me away in the end.

Thanks for the succinct words.

Posted by: Eggs at February 1, 2011 06:16 PM

ThnkAboutIt, it would help if Gabe didn't tell people he was planning to wear his Dickwolves shirt himself. His approach to this has basically been "we want everyone to feel safe, hut the Dickwolves are still okay and everyone should be okay wearing their shirts." PAX East is going to end up with a vocal minority of Dickwolf Priders who see Gabe as their leader (and will probably have even more offensive homemade shirts, due to the Internet F***wad Theory).

I was indifferent by the original comment. Gabe's reaction to this since Friday, on the other hand, makes me want to be done with PA.

Posted by: Steven at February 1, 2011 06:22 PM

Deirdra Kiai's blog basically said if I wear a dickwolf shirt, I'm a rapist.

Look, I don't know you at all. I don't care who you are, either. But you found it important enough to publicly blog about the issue, and you refuse to explain how you're alienated?

If you don't want people engaging in discourse to your babblings...start writing in a notebook you can keep under your mattress.

Posted by: ThinkAboutIt at February 1, 2011 06:22 PM

Thanks for speaking out Brett. I feel very similarly to you about this and am glad to hear there are others within my own company who share my views.

It's disappointing when people whose work you've enjoyed turn out to be jerks who disregard the feelings of others.

Posted by: Matt Killmon at February 1, 2011 06:33 PM

I'm putting my name in as Anonymous because in this comment I'm going to be recounting a story from my life I'd rather not have to field questions about. Having said that..

I completely agree that the people out there who are swarming the blogs with nasty comments are so far across the line there's no saving face. The group of people who objected to the original comic have had impossibly difficult experiences they need to cope with, and I feel for them.

However, I would like to point out that they (and by they, I mean Melissa McEwan) freaked out over the original comic claiming it was portraying something that it wasn't, and the entire situation spun out from that.

But even if you recognize that there are two solid factors that launched this entire situation (ie: the comic followed with McEwan's misinterpretation of the comic), if you have been following it along the in-between hours of the big events you'd notice that the situation could has been resolved numerous times.

McEwan's blog is so fastidiously moderated it borders on a pseudo-totalitarianist state. While, obviously, it makes sense to remove comments that are vitriolic and hurtful, they also make a point to either delete or change any and all comments that disagree with them. They actively discourage rational discourse on anything that they don't intrinsically agree with, so much to the point that they had to toss in a throwaway line claiming that nobody has ever been banned for having a different opinion -- a flat out lie.

Anybody who attempted to point out that the original comic wasn't about rape, to calmly and politely explain how and why it wasn't were met with this same response. A poster there using the handle Brett attempted over and over again to get their point across, and amongst other things their comments were edited, removed, and constantly assaulted with accusations of "mansplaining" it away -- up until it was revealed that Brett was, in fact, a woman.

Fast forward to today, where anybody still making arguments to defend PA, much like Mike himself attempted to do; these people tend to point out that PA makes jokes about everything taboo (Mike himself pointing out a laundry list of topics) are met with accusations of using the same tired arguments.

There is a reason people make the same, tired arguments. Because generally they are salient points being willfully ignored by the opposite side.

In my eyes it is completely fine that you have decided to stop following their comic. You have watched this entire situation unfold, and made a choice based on that. Nobody can fault you for that. The above flood of words was just an attempt to make sure you were properly informed, that this entire situation could have been avoided and/or resolved from the start had McEwan's camp allowed it to be.

As to your point about what you would have done had it been you: "..updated my site to put such warnings in place, .." I feel this is a completely ridiculous notion.

Another tired argument the pro-comic camp has been using is that of "People who go to the comic know what to expect from them", and I can't stress how accurate that is enough. The mere reputation of Penny Arcade should be enough of a warning without them needing to splash "Trigger Warning" all over their website. And now we get to my story.

When I was a child between the ages of 5 and 7 I was growing up in a very, very small town. As it happened, there was another kid, somewhere in his teens and his gang of friends who decided that I would be their new target for harassment.

This quickly escalated from run-of-the-mill bullying, IE: getting beaten to a bloody pulp on a weekly basis to more extreme forms of torture. On one occasion they dug a hole, lined the bottom of it with nails driven through boards, and then threw me into it. At the age of 6 I had nails driven into the backs of my feet -- it is decades later, and I still cannot walk flat footed.

At the age of 7 the torture plateaued when they decided it would be fun to tie a large rock to my leg and throw me off a wharf into the Atlantic Ocean. Drowning, as it turns out, hurts. It's like having your entire body set on fire, and the best you can think about is how you have all this water around you and you can't seem to put the fire out. At the age of 7 I had, for all intents and purposes, been murdered.

Had my father not been able to pull me free and had his military training not provided him with the means to clear my lungs and kickstart my heart I would have been drowned and that would have been the end of me.

(As a sidenote: the fellow who did all of this to me, and his friends, never smartened up. Almost all of them are serving 10-25 years.)

While I have lived through quite a different set of experiences as compared to those who reacted to the comic, I would argue that they come quite close to the levels of trauma, albeit a different kind of stress.

The point is that I would *never* expect PA to change what they do on my account. They have done comics that have imagery that makes me flinch and feel nauseous, but I move past it. I would never cry outrage at something they created, which I subjected myself to WILLINGLY, as if they had somehow set out to maliciously target me.

And had this entire situation been allowed to resolve itself in the comments section of McEwan's blog by those same rational, polite individuals who were attacked and censored by those wrongly affronted individuals there would never have been that second reactionary comic made, nor any of the following situation.

As I said: It's totally fine you have decided to move away from reading PA because of this whole thing. This whole thing, to put it bluntly, is a shitshow.

But it feels like you made the above post with only half of the information, in that you (nor anybody else, really) seems to want to talk about the fact that things could have been resolved from the start, except the other side refused to let it, and one could argue actively facilitated it's continuing growth.

Am I saying PA is totally in the clear here? No. Not at all. But the other side are not the wounded victims everybody is treating them as. Ending this situation as easy as ignoring PA.

Instead they are hanging on his every word, watching his twitter, watching the site, even bandying about accusations of malicious choice in music during Mike's livestream today (I was there for it; his iTunes was on shuffle).

Posted by: Anonymous at February 1, 2011 06:38 PM


Posted by: Ex at February 1, 2011 06:52 PM

"PAX East is going to end up with a vocal minority of Dickwolf Priders who see Gabe as their leader (and will probably have even more offensive homemade shirts, due to the Internet F***wad Theory)."

Exactly. Male dominated conventions are always pretty risky in terms of sexual harassment, I'm not going to pay PA for the privilege of finding out whether this one is ruined.

Mike continues to ignore the the pro-rape trolls that are actively celebrating & RTing him, but is getting upset and responding to the trolls challenging him saying he's a rape apologist. What's the difference between one troll identifying as a fan and one identifying as a feminist? That's right - he knows that his "team rape" trolls will happily threaten and harass people into being silent, which is why few female game devs are saying anything publicly.

Why would any woman feel comfortable at an event put on by PA after this?

Posted by: Female Game Dev at February 1, 2011 06:53 PM

What the hell are you talking about, Female Game Dev? Of course he isn't going to run around policing the comments sections of the myriad of blogs covering this, but when these assholes pop up on twitter he has specifically called them out and told them to shove off.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 1, 2011 06:55 PM

@Female Game Dev

"Why would any woman feel comfortable at an event put on by PA after this?"

Because no one is actually pro-rape. They wear the shirts, and act the way they do because people are attacking the franchise they love for an offcolor joke.

As a women I am more than comfortable to go to PAX because no matter what people who attend are still going to be friendly and fun, no matter how you want to generalize the audience.

Posted by: A different Female Game Dev at February 1, 2011 07:54 PM

Anon of the long comment, you're missing several vital bits of important information.

Melissa McEwan did not write the original post about the comic. A guest poster wrote to say that the use of rape as a punchline wasn't funny. That was the first public response to the comic (that I have seen, and no one has pointed to another one yet).

You describe the commenters at Shakesville as "rational, polite individuals who were attacked and censored by those wrongly affronted individuals." Please realize that the rational polite comments that appeared on the post were the ones that made it through moderation. I don't doubt that scores of impolite comments were also left on the post. (To see what happens at Shakesville without modding, see the Fat Princess thread.) Furthermore, by calling those who object "wrongly affronted," you're denying anyone the right to have different tastes than you. I don't believe the original comic was meant to hurt anyone (and indeed, the original objection post on Shakesville notes that the viewer is meant to laugh at the joke). However, the poster noted that such a casual mention of rape and its inclusion in this comic is not funny because rape itself isn't funny, and "jokes" about rape contribute to a culture in which rape is normalized. (This has been scientifically proven as well - I'll find the studies if you want.)

Shakesville, the website where the post was published, is what is called a "safe space." The moderators don't allow marginalizing or harmful language. The guidelines for commenting are posted on the site. Most who comment with dissenting opinions are not following those guidelines. The creators and maintainers of Shakesville have every right to run their site the way they wish to, and whether they ban people for disagreeing with them (spoiler alert: they don't) or simply remove all comments that don't follow the commenting policy is completely up to them.

The poster commented that the joke about rape wasn't funny. "Brett," among others, tried to explain that the joke wasn't about that and after all it was funny, thus denying the poster's opinion about the comic and derailing from the topic - that specific comic - by bringing up other comics and "jokes." Again, the commenting rules on Shakesville don't allow anyone to deny another person's experience or to derail from the topic at hand.

You describe the commenters at Shakesville as "rational, polite individuals who were attacked and censored by those wrongly affronted individuals." Please realize that the rational, polite comments that appeared on the post were the ones that made it through moderation. I don't doubt that scores of impolite comments were also left on the post. (To see what happens at Shakesville without modding, see the Fat Princess thread.) Furthermore, by calling those who object "wrongly affronted," you're denying anyone the right to have different tastes than you. I don't believe the original comic was meant to hurt anyone (and indeed, the original objection post on Shakesville notes that the viewer is meant to laugh at the joke). However, the poster noted that such a casual mention of rape and its inclusion in this comic is not funny because rape itself isn't funny, and "jokes" about rape contribute to a culture in which rape is normalized. (This has been scientifically proven as well - I'll find the studies if you want.)

It was not the responsibility of the creators and maintainers of Shakesville to allow others to deny the experience of the PA fan who objected to the comic. Nor did anyone affiliated with Shakesville have responsibility for the second comic, which minimized the objections to the strip (and really pissed off several people who otherwise might never have known about the issue), or the t-shirt which PA created and sold in their store despite knowing that many people objected to the comic and the concept.

Shorter chickwithmonkey: Shakesville isn't obligated to let anyone say anything, and blaming the blog for the entire situation is ridiculous.

Posted by: chickwithmonkey at February 1, 2011 08:02 PM

The joke wasn't about rape, it was not a rape joke. If you came away from reading that and thought it was about rape then you are didn't get it. Sort of like the people who thought Jonathan Swift's work was actually about eating children.

The entire situation is silly and based on a flawed argument. Rape wasn't the punchline it was used a a plot device to convey that the life of that individual is hell.

Those ranting also failed to care about physical violence and slavery, it was only rape that was the trigger. By their own flawed logic I guess they are pro-slaver and pro-violence for failing to protest that. "It is ok to own slaves and beat them, but no rape guys!". I wish the entire issue would just die.

Posted by: Matt at February 1, 2011 09:25 PM

If people are genuinely worried about this being an issue at PAX, East or Prime, they've never attended either. The crowds at PAX are polite, excited, and of the best I've worked with. As has been mentioned by Gabe, if Dickwolves are a rape culture thing, maybe some readers should have noticed a long time ago that FF IS A CHARACTER WHO IS A RAPIST. The guys and ladies in FF shirts are just as polite as everybody else.

Posted by: A female Enforcer at February 1, 2011 10:06 PM

I'll try to get to everyone succinctly, and then I'm doing other things for the evening.

@ThinkAboutIt As I think I made clear in the original post, what I was alienated by was a response by the comic's creators which directed an avalanche of hateful speech and crude remarks to people who really have had enough shit dumped in their laps by life. I think you may have missed some subtleties in Kiai's argument if you think she called you a rapist. But you'll also have to forgive me if I don't care to shake your hand while you're wearing that T-shirt.

As for my scribblings, writing for public consumption improves my writing, keeps me intellectually honest, and makes me edit. Don't feel you have to read if you don't feel welcome.

@Matt Kilmon Thanks for the support.

Posted by: Brett Douville at February 1, 2011 10:17 PM

@Anonymous I'm sorry for your horrible experience. I've met many women who have had terrible sexual assaults; this takes a very long time to get over, and attacking them for their sensitivities is unjust and cruel. I never saw McEwan's posts, haven't followed any of it -- I learned everything up until the last day or so from the webcomic's site itself. Thank you, however, for your point of view of the events as they unfolded.

It may have been completely ridiculous for PA to put warnings on their site; I was speaking to what *I* would have done. At the least, a private response saying "We intended humor through extreme circumstances; clearly you had a personal response. We simply can't do the humor we do and worry about who we'll offend; art has to push boundaries. We hope you'll continue to enjoy some of the comics, and that you'll be wary that on a daily basis we offend someone. If you choose not to read, we understand and wish you well."

Instead, it became a very public assault on a subset of their readers. That I really didn't care for.

@tldr Uh, thanks for your meaningful contribution.

@Female Game Dev. I'd like to think that no-one over there is pro-rape; I've really mostly followed this from the webcomic creators' side until today. I do think those fans tend to respond unthinkingly, crassly, and cruelly when they think someone is threatening the guys who make them laugh every day. I think it's a mob mentality that they've learned over the years from attacking other targets (Jack Thompson, the Strawberry Shortcake people, whatever).

Posted by: Brett Douville at February 1, 2011 10:57 PM

@A different Female Game Dev: Have a nice time at the conference. I agree that "pro-rape" is inflammatory and not helpful.

Re: @chickwithmonkey and others; I'm not the Brett on that other forum, which I have just learned about this evening reading these comments (but haven't visited). Thanks for your clarity about what to expect from Shakesville.

@Matt The original comic, as I mentioned in my post, is not why I'm no longer interested in reading or being a part of that comic's readership. The public excoriation of people who were offended, the exclusion is what bothered me. That's what alienated me, not the original comic. I'd rather not wait around for an attack on me directly; I'm just going to opt out now.

OK, I think that's everyone. Time to fold that laundry that's waiting.

Posted by: Brett Douville at February 1, 2011 11:09 PM

Nope, another came in while I was writing these. This has to be the last, it's getting late, and I'm getting old.

@A female enforcer -- I had a FF2000 shirt, I thought it was amusing. But let's make a distinction here: a machine juicer ramming home into a piece of citrus is the humor equivalent of those American Pie movies. But again, it's not about the comic itself; it's the public counterattack, directing streams of hate towards people who really don't need it.

Posted by: Brett Douville at February 1, 2011 11:19 PM

Sorry, I picked up the "pro-rape" label from the general tone of the teamrape twitter - I don't think anyone is actually pro-rape, except actual rapists. And a lot of people on Xbox Live if my Halo experiences count.

I still don't feel comfortable paying money to Gabe/Mike ever again. I don't like the inherent maliciousness behind teaching these uptight minorities a lesson by purposely wearing shirts that make them know that they're unwelcome. That goes against the spirit of the event IMO. I experience a lot of sexism in the games industry, and I try to keep a sense of humor about it but after over 10 years of experiencing it daily and seeing something like this I'm starting to think it's never going to change.

Anon - I never mentioned blog posts. RT means "retweet", it's a twitter term.

FWIW, I never thought Fruit Fucker was a rapist unless you equate women with fruit, which I guess I could see, if it was a really cool fruit or something. My problem is and has 100% been with their reaction and mixed messages regarding PAX, which the game industry is heavily involved in.

Posted by: Female Game Dev at February 2, 2011 04:40 AM

I have thankfully never been victimised, but rape and any attempt to mock or further marginalise rape victims (or deny them justice) makes me very, very angry.

That being said, I found the comic funny.

As others in this thread have noted, rape was briefly mentioned, coupled with a ridiculous dick joke, to show what a bastard the "hero" was. This is typical Penny Arcade, and I did not see it as an attack on real rape victims, any more than the (frequent) scenes of murder in their comics are attacks on murder victims or people whose loved ones have been killed.

And, like others who laughed at the comic, I do not appreciate being called a rape apologist. I don't like being told I'm a bad person, that I'm insensitive, that I am perpetuating rape culture, just for laughing at a what boils down to juvenile dick joke combined with a video game quest joke. THAT is why so many people are getting defensive. Well, that and the Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory.

Incidentally, while I do read PA, it's not my favourite web comic, I don't own any of their merch, and I've never been to PAX. And yeah, Gabe's a bit of an arsehole. But this "you're with us or against us" attitude among progressives, this idea that only their interpretation of events matters, this condemnation of everyone with a different perspective or sense of humour... really bugs me.

Posted by: H at February 2, 2011 05:25 AM

Matt @ 9:25pm - Rape was used in the joke. One person saw the joke, noted that rape wasn't the point of the joke (as I said above and you'll see if you bother to read the original post objecting to the comic), and said that because rape was used in the joke, it wasn't funny to that person. A lot of other rape survivors agreed. You don't have the right to tell anyone else what to think is funny.

Many of "those ranting," including Shakesville, have in fact done a hell of a lot to protest slavery and violence. Bringing up those topics is a derailing tactic and doesn't help this conversation.

H @ 5:25am - Nobody is calling anyone anything for laughing at the comic. Again, the original objection was "the joke isn't funny and here's why." Nobody said, "If you think this joke is funny you're a horrible person." When people started to react to the objection by minimizing the valid opinion of the person who didn't like the joke, that's when the rape apology started. It's not whether you like the comic or not, its how you react to people who don't like the comic. The general tone of those who like the comic is that everyone who doesn't is ridiculous and therefor their objections are invalid. Usually this includes dismissing the real pain of rape survivors, and that's where the rape apology comes in.

Posted by: chickwithmonkey at February 2, 2011 09:39 AM


Hmm... but I don't see all that many people (anonymous trolls excluded) who are actually dismissing the real pain of rape survivors or saying that rape jokes are ok. Most people are instead pointing out that the joke in question was NOT a rape joke, but rather a joke about something else that happened to incorporate the word rape.

The ridiculousness comes in when you try to imagine ANYONE, especially someone who regularly reads a comic that's known for being offensive and containing such material, being triggered by the fleeting mental image of a wolf with phalluses for limbs raping a cartoon man to sleep. I think you'd see a similar reaction if someone were to complain about the cartoon violence in the comic. Nothing wrong with just not liking it, of course, but some of the reasons given (i.e. the hypothetical triggered person) seem downright silly, at least to anyone outside the insular progressive subculture.

Posted by: H at February 2, 2011 12:04 PM

H, you don't think telling someone who says 'jokes that use rape as a throw away line bother me and perpetuate a culture in which women and men who are raped are supposed to be funny in contexts that are out of their control' is not...dismissing the real pain of rape survivors or saying rape jokes aren't ok?

Look at what TeamRape and the other internet trolls are using as their means of silencing those who have a difference in opinion on this and you tell me that there's not a direct correlation between the diminishment of rape as a horrific act and the use of it as a tool in conflict.

That's rape apologia. I'm sorry you find it silly that people have differences of opinion and ask that they be treated with respect and dignity in a discourse about those differences of opinion. I don't think it's silly.

I think when your side of the argument produces people who are using images of battered and assaulted and perhaps dead women as part of their argument, who tell women to get raped or killed, and generally act as if they are the very dregs of society because someone -disagrees with their humor-...that maybe it's time for you to look at the situation from another angle.

Maybe the angle of 'this does not exist in a vacuum'.

Posted by: Magnolia at February 2, 2011 01:48 PM

@Magnolia: "I think when your side of the argument produces people who are using images of battered and assaulted and perhaps dead women as part of their argument, who tell women to get raped or killed, and generally act as if they are the very dregs of society because someone -disagrees with their humor-...that maybe it's time for you to look at the situation from another angle."

This comment is EXACTLY the kind of self-righteous, morally bankrupt BS that has made this ridiculous non-controversy last as long as it has. Shame on you.

You've appointed yourself a member of the Most Offended Party, and now anyone who disagrees with you is part of "The Other Side," which means you're free to lump EVERYONE who disagrees with you together and start pointing fingers. "If you're against me, you're for battered or dead women." Shame on you.

And you try to have it both ways, claiming all you're doing is "disagreeing with someone's humor" so what's with the big overreaction? at the same time you imply that anyone who disagrees with you ABOUT A COMIC STRIP thinks and behaves the same way, and is absolutely fine with images of battered and assaulted women. Shame on you.

@Brett: I hate to sound like a condescending jerk, but I've got to say I'm surprised and disappointed. I think it's extremely disingenuous to make it sound as if the PA guys just went on the attack against people who didn't deserve it.

You say that your main objection isn't to the original strip, and you also agree that "pro-rape" is inflammatory. So where's the disconnect, exactly? Do you not realize that every single public statement about this -- including your own blog post -- puts the PA guys in a position where they're expected to defend themselves? And defend themselves against increasingly shrill and ridiculous accusations?

It's the equivalent of the "When did you stop beating your wife?" question on the witness stand: it's an accusation designed as a question to put the other people on the defensive. And the guys gave it exactly the respect it deserved, which is zero.

Posted by: Chuck Jordan at February 2, 2011 05:57 PM

That's bullshit Chuck. That humor -does not exist in a vacuum-

The reason these people think that what they are doing is ok is because of a culture they exist in which? MAKES IT OK. And in which a public figure encourages that behavior and ENGAGES IN IT makes it ok

And if you don't see the complicity in -that-, the not stepping up as a human being and saying 'Dude that's fucked up and I'm sorry if you don't like the strip but that response does not deserve that sort of reaction' then yes..it is part of your side..because no one has fucking decried it.

Also? How come our disagreeing over the humor of a comic comes to that point? Where did it become acceptable for people to say 'hey...we don't like that and we are saying so' to become harassed and harangued and told to be ashamed of themselves because they refuse to allow the responsibility of harboring psychopaths who ask for people's credentials in being raped and sending horrible pictures of battered and abused women while telling people that -they- need to be raped to be shirked off of people who -buy teeshirts- to basically fuel their part in that side of the rhetoric?

Shame on me? Shame on you dude.

Shame on you for not seeing that the simple reaction to this situation of Gabe and Tycho of going 'hey you know what? sorry that this offended you' or even -NOT RESPONDING AT ALL- would have been less offensive and less incendiary than this fucking continuous egging on.

Morally -bankrupt!?- Morally -bankrupt!?- You're telling me that the fact that -rape survivors- are asking for a little consideration is beyond the pale and that the people who started this situation and escalated it time and time again without out any public recrimination for those followers of theirs who go to despicable lengths to continue to attack -rape survivors- are being persecuted is completely acceptable

and you want to lecture me on morals!?

Where is my over reaction here Dude? When you know they sold -teeshirts- about the whole thing or when they knew that people were being assaulted on their cause and did nothing to stop it?

Yeah I'm totally over reacting. Because I'm the one who thinks that my not getting a joke is the fucking problem.

Posted by: Magnolia at February 2, 2011 07:13 PM

@Magnolia: You can keep saying the same thing over and over again, and it's not any less offensive than it was the first few times. You keep on insisting that anyone who disagrees with you thinks the same way, like some kind of bullshit bizarro McCarthyism. As if all of us are obligated to publicly acknowledge "rape is bad" or else we're somehow complicit in the actions of people who would harass rape survivors on the internet?

I don't have anything to do with those people, and anybody who accuses me of being complicit with them can go to hell. I'm not obliged to publicly decry their behavior as abhorrent any more than I feel the need to point out that the sky is blue.

You act as if only you are one of the chosen few privy to the awareness that rape is a horrible thing. Guess what: anyone worth listening to understands that. That's exactly why this is such an issue. Because being accused of being a rape apologist is one of the worst accusations you can make about a person, and you're throwing it around casually.

I won't speak for the PA guys, but I know that if somebody came out of nowhere accusing me of making light of rape, or being a "rape apologist" or part of "rape culture," then I'd give that accusation the respect it deserves, which is none. For that matter, I'm not going to explain to you how I'm not a murderer or a pedophile, either. Does that mean I'm complicit in those?

You point out an example of the PA guys making fun of rape survivors. Hint: making those stupid T-shirts is not one. It was a bad idea, and it was in poor taste, but it was making fun of the people who would make such horrible, baseless allegations against them. And keep at it, over and over again, because I guess it's easier to go off in self-righteous indignation than it is to stop for one second and try to figure out what it is they're saying, exactly.

The guys made their posts today and that should be the end of it. I'm still just absolutely disgusted by the reaction to this. I've never even been a particularly big fan of the strip, but I've always respected their efforts to build a community. They've shared their personalities through the blog posts and strips, encouraged girls and women to get into gaming, built the PAX show, built up a charity. And the second someone makes a baseless allegation against them, all that flies out the window. Because it's so much easier to be outraged on the internet than it is to think a moment about where they're coming from and to give them the benefit of the doubt. Good lesson to learn about loyalty in the game industry.

Posted by: Chuck Jordan at February 3, 2011 02:56 PM

Chuck: you write "As if all of us are obligated to publicly acknowledge "rape is bad" or else we're somehow complicit in the actions of people who would harass rape survivors on the internet?"

Yes. Exactly. The way you're phrasing that sentence makes it sound like you're offended at being asked to acknowledge that rape is bad. Why is it problematic for you to do that?

Here's a different way of looking at it. "Rape" is a really powerful word. It's not possible to use it in a neutral way -- either using it will help rape survivors, or it will help rapists. If rape is something that can be joked about casually, that doesn't help the survivors.

Posted by: Paige at February 4, 2011 02:58 AM

OK, it's time to close comments on this issue now. This blog is primarily a place for me to discuss with readers my thoughts about games and what I learn about them from other media, with the occasional fatherhood anecdote tossed in. It's not a forum for discussions about rape and "rape culture"¹. I don't think the comments space of any blog is really a great place for that; if there are people who are commenting here and live nearby and want to discuss it calmly somewhere at a coffee shop, bearing in mind that we'll need to keep our voices down to be courteous to others, shoot me an email, its my first name @ this domain. Some of the arguments being made here are so hyperbolic² as to contribute no reasonable starting point for debate.

I could tell looking at the numbers of comments and views of this page that I had been linked from somewhere, and sure enough, I had. Anyone is welcome (nay, encouraged!) to come back and discuss about my thinking on games and film and what I read and all that, but it's really just not an appropriate forum for the rest. I probably should have simply made my statement and closed comments on it originally (explaining why I did so), and that's a useful lesson for the future. I guess I expected to reach my usual target audience; I suspect that this has reached a much wider audience than usually reads me. Certainly, it has reached more than usually comment.

Again, if you want to direct email to me, go ahead, my first name at my full name dot com. But this is a blog primarily about the structure, development, and possibilities of games and I'd like to maintain that focus. So come on back, I'm watching 8½ this weekend, terrific movie (if a little challenging), would love to hear anyone's thoughts on it.

¹I quote this not to give offense but because I'm not sufficiently versed in the private language of those commenting on either side to know what it means to them. Yes, I have read Wikipedia on the subject; but there's a huge amount of intellectual freight in that particular pairing of words that I simply don't have time to unpack right now.
²I mean, how often do I have to acknowledge that rape is bad? Do we need to set up some sort of central authority, or is it just any time someone asks? How frequently do I have to renew? What other things do I have to acknowledge and where do we draw the line? Just how many times would I say it before it ceased to have any meaning at all to say it? For what issues do we set aside the First Amendment, and how do we make the decisions to do so? Please understand, these are not mocking questions in the least -- I am not aiming at parody. These are genuine philosophical questions, not at all flippant, despite their casual phrasing. I use casual language to communicate, because as a former philosophy student I think academic language is more obscuring than helpful.
In matters like these, I often fall back on the motto of my alma mater, which I invoke infrequently: Leges sine moribus vanae. Laws without morals are in vain.

Posted by: Brett Douville at February 4, 2011 07:22 AM