Space Invaders

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A noticeable pattern has emerged involving ideological attack on niche pursuits, especially of a nerdy or geeky type, that are seen as having a more masculine nature or more male involvement. 

Men’s rights redditors began discussing this around 2011, when the movement saw an influx of skeptics migrating in from atheist forums in the wake of Elevatorgate. This was soon followed by Donglegate, and the early underpinnings of Gamergate, as redditors discussed questions like  “Why should male gamers change their behavior to suit the sensibilities of feminist gamers?” a thread that so upset reddit feminists it got quoted in seedy spokesblog We Hunted the Mammoth, then known as Manboobz. 

By the time Gamergate was in full swing in 2014, the early events of Comicsgate had begun, and the sci-fi and fantasy authors who eventually began a protest known as Sad Puppies were noticing the social justice domination of the World Science Fiction Society’s Hugo Awards. As these events unfolded, so did Metalgate, Horrorgate, and the OScon incident, along with a plethora of feminist articles about how to install social justice into makerspaces. 

Several of these areas of interest have historical moral panics in common, with those related to Metalgate, Comicsgate and Gamergate being strikingly similar examples. These two centered on professional censorship advocates Fredrick Wertham (comics, 1954,) Tipper Gore and the PMRC (Music, 1985,) and Jack Thompson (video games, 2000) who made careers out of stoking fears that these entertainment media would corrupt young minds. 

All three used completely unverified claims and faulty logic to fuel their controversies, establishing the idea that the industries in question needed watchdogging to prevent them from inducing violent, self-destructive or criminal behavior in their teenage consumers. During the past decade, feminist ideologues began using that existing method and the mandate it established for oversight and control as an opening for their own purposes, though it has been less effective in heavy metal than in the other two, likely because of its countercultural nature. 

This more recent, “progressive” pattern has involved an attempt to appropriate nerd and geek cultures as a vehicle for social engineering, with heavy emphasis on demonizing and dehumanizing masculinity, presenting male-majority spaces as harmful and hateful towards women, with feminism presented as a cure for the “ills” of the interest in question. In each case, identitarians have used victim politics as a weapon with apparent intent to garner “outsider identity sympathy” from nerds and geeks who, due to their own experiences, don’t want to see themselves as bullies and have compassion for those who claim to be victims of it. 

In most cases, the targets have seen through that trick and resisted. Their main grievances have all been similar: While nerd and geek cultures are sympathetic to bullying victims, they’re not predisposed toward the use of victim politics to excuse unethical business practices, or to justify policing their spaces and politically exploiting their interests. 

Dissent against the “social justice invasion” has been met in each instance with the same tactics. Not arguments, but slurs. Not discussion, but silencing. Not good faith disagreement, but lies and smears. 

Anyone involved on the “wrong side” has been character-assassinated by the establishment media of our fields of interest, and in some cases even mainstream publications. Minority and female dissenters have been dismissed by labeling us sock puppets, bots or traitors to our respective victim identity demographics, with ideologues who claim to speak on our behalf essentially running over us. 

Allegations of bigotry, sexism, ignorance, exclusivity, and harassment have been levelled at dissenters, with just as little evidence or logic behind those as in the previous moral panics generated by Wertham, Gore and Thompson. Heavy-handed censorship campaigns have been initiated against us in every discussion forum into which these controversies have spilled—including reddit and even 4chan—using those allegations as an excuse. 

Social engineers within each niche interest have begun gatekeeping access to participation in its industry and related culture, also using those allegations as an excuse and by portraying its dissenting constituents as a threat. This is not done by providing evidence that we are dangerous, but by treating difference of opinion as a form of attack, and by claiming that they “feel unsafe” in environments that do not exclude anyone who openly rejects victim politics. 

Space Invaders timeline

Elevatorgate: In a 2011 video uploaded to YouTube, feminist Rebecca Watson described an interaction at a convention, wherein a man in a hotel elevator late at night told her she was “interesting” and invited her to join him in his room for coffee. In this video, she instructed the men in her community, “Guys? Don’t do that.”1 

Prolific atheist author Richard Dawkins criticized Watson’s complaint, suggesting the elevator invitation was a trivial incident.

In a second video, addressing the criticism, she described this man, who had politely taken her no for an answer, as having “cornered” her in a way that made her feel endangered. She also suggested that if men can’t acquire sex without harassing women, they should try having sex with watermelons with holes cut in them2 . More backlash ensued.

Atheism Plus: As a consequence of Elevatorgate, blogger Jen McCreight proposed the best thing to do would be to make Movement Atheism about atheism plus support for social justice causes, such as feminism and anti-racism3 . Dawkins pushed back, essentially arguing that intersectional analysis and broad blaming/generalizations of groups should not be forced on atheists4 . Conflict ensued, and remains largely unresolved, with Movement Atheism split into two camps—one embracing intersectional feminist dogma and the other purporting to prioritize evolutionary and biological sciences.

Donglegate: At a tech conference in March of 2013, a “tech evangelist” employed by SendGrid, Adria Richards, overheard two men in the audience at a presentation making risqué jokes, including one about “big dongles” (dongles are a storage device for computers). She snapped a photo of the men and tweeted her outrage over the inappropriate joke. Both men were reprimanded by conference organizers, and one of them was fired from his job due to the public nature of Richards’ complaint5 . 

This sparked a huge backlash, particularly in light of similarly off color jokes Richards was discovered to have posted publicly on her Twitter account just days prior. An angry internet bombarded SendGrid with complaints, and traffic to their website increased to the point that it went down in a possible distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

The negative publicity Richards brought to her own company led to her being fired as well6 . 

Sad Puppies: Noting an increasing progressive bias in literary science fiction’s “people’s choice awards”, the Hugos, author Larry Correia decided to harness the democratic process of award selection in 2014 to promote popular authors he felt were being overlooked7 . 

In 2015 his “Sad Puppies” campaign is taken over by Brad Torgensen and its nominations dominate the Hugos8 . In response to the upset of the previous year, the “no award” option was invoked by the award organizers to ensure no Hugos were given in any categories where Sad Puppy nominees would have won. This led to celebrated female Editor Toni Weisskopf failing to get a Hugo, despite decades of dedication to the genre. 

The establishment media ignore the Sad Puppies’ stated reasons for their campaign and almost universally smeared them as racists, sexists and anti-diversity.  

Gamergate: In August 2014 a scandal erupted in the gaming community. Several members of the gaming industry press were accused of providing positive coverage of a female game developer in return for sexual favours. Mainstream articles began to appear, portraying concerned consumers with a misogynist, “slut-shaming” narrative and firmly siding with the woman at the center of the controversy. All conversation on this scandal was deleted or banned on several internet forums, including 4chan, which had, up until that point, only censored illegal content. This unprecedented move only fuelled the controversy. What began as a sex scandal that might have quickly faded had now become a broader discussion on censorship, payola (whether financial, in-kind or sexual), conflict of interest, and corrupt journalistic practices.

On August 28th 2014 more than a dozen major industry publications published articles on the common theme of ‘gamers are dead’, proposing that developers should no longer feel they have to cater to the tastes of their consumer base, which is primarily comprised of straight, white, male misogynists, bullies, harassers, slut-shamers, homophobes, transphobes and racists9 . 

This event was the main propellant that set off the Gamergate hashtag on Twitter10 . Soon after, a leaked log from a private listserve called “GameJournosPro” revealed that journalists from several competing publications had coordinated the “gamers are dead” campaign11 . Gamers everywhere began to call for ethics in industry journalism. The issue escalated to establishment media, who took the side of games journalists, smearing gamers as racist, sexist, anti-diversity, harassing and potentially dangerous. 

Female and minority gamers rose to the challenge, coining the hashtag #NotYourShield in an unsuccessful attempt to prove to mainstream journalists that minorities weren’t tokens to be trotted out to defend an agenda of community infiltration and insider collusion12 . 

Gamergate went on strong for almost two years, and continues most prominently in the online forum Kotaku_in_Action on reddit13 . Media still occasionally refer to the dread spectre of Gamergate and the consumers that dared defy them to ‘just play vidya’.

Alison Tieman Vs Calgary Expo: Legend has it, to hex a theater’s production, merely state the name of “the Scottish play”, Macbeth, on opening night. To strip yourself of any individuality and be mistreated by a corporation, the media, and the Canadian court system, just associate yourself with ethical games journalism and respectful disagreement. 

Precisely this happened to independent comic creator Alison Tieman and other members of a group known as the Honey Badger Brigade (HBB), when they attended the 2015 Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo under their company name “Honeybadgerbrigade”. Their attendance included a booth in the exhibit hall with an elaborate custom installation, information about HBB, artwork, comics, and an affectionate nod to the Gamergate movement in the form of a small banner and a few posters. 

On the first evening of the expo, Tieman attended a panel titled “Woman into Comics”. When the panelists brought up the topic of men’s rights activists, she asked if she could speak on the topic. Tieman, with permission, spoke politely and briefly about why she doesn’t like feminism and how she feels it does a disservice to both men and women. 

First thing the next morning, without warning, the expo’s chief of operations approached the HBB exhibit booth and ordered them to tear down their installation, pack up their things and leave. If they did not comply within twenty minutes, he told them, he’d have the police remove them. The reason? Tieman had allegedly harassed the panelists the night before.14 

Tieman eventually sued Calgary Expo and website “The Mary Sue”, who broke the story, for (among other torts) breach of contract and injurious falsehood. A three year long tooth-and-nail legal battle followed, wherein the defendants led no physical evidence, and one even admitted they’d have terminated the contract even had they found no wrongdoing on Tieman’s part, yet still managed to be found not liable for their actions by the judge.15

Metalgate: On December 14, 2014, music blog Spin published an article, “The 20 best metal albums of 2014” wherein the claim was made that “Metal is still dogged by the issues that arise from its deep-seated conservative values.” The article further asserted that, through an increasing awareness of racism, politics, and feminism, those “on the right side of history have gained solid ground.”16

That same day, an article, “#metalgate”, written by Cory Van Der Pol, criticizing this attempt to push social justice agendas into the genre was published on “Death Metal Underground”.17 

The next day, popular counterculture vlogger, “Sargon Of Akkad” promoted #metalgate in a 20 minute video which gained more than 40,000 views in the first 48 hours.18 Vlogger “MundaneMatt” also uploaded a video describing the history of how #metalgate came to be.19 Though Metalgate was short lived, it proved that the same tactics of politicization, and belligerence towards one’s own consumers, wasn’t just a Sad Puppies or Gamergate phenomenon, but a new rising trend meriting attention.

Count Dankula and “M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi”: In April of 2016, Scottish comedian Mark Meechan (known online as Count Dankula) uploaded a prank video to Youtube of his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, performing a nazi salute and responding to phrases such as “sieg Heil” and “gas the Jews”.20 At the time, his channel had eight subscribers, and he made the video for the sole purpose of annoying his girlfriend, but the video went viral.

For a joke that could have been lifted from a Monty Python skit, Meechan was arrested and charged under the Communications Act21 . Despite two disclaimers, one at the beginning of the video and the other near the end, that the video was a joke, that Meechan is not a racist, and that Meechan considered nazis “the least cute thing” he could think of, the prosecution attempted to convict him of a hate speech offence, a charge that carries a hefty prison sentence. While the joke itself required the premise that nazis are evil in order to be funny, the prosecutor argued that Meechan was himself a sincere anti-semite proselytizing nazism.

In the end, Meechan was convicted on the lesser charge of being “grossly offensive” and fined£800.

Comicsgate: In response to increasing politicization and progressive virtue signalling at the expense of storytelling within comics, fans and creators responded via a consumer/creator revolt. Though the issue is ongoing to this day, the spark of Comicsgate originated in October of 2016 when Marvel Comics canceled the series “Mockingbird”.22 The final issue featured a woman with an “ask me about my feminist agenda” t-shirt on the cover. Chelsea Cain, a main writer for the comic, acknowledged its cancelation in a now deleted tweet, stating “…we need to make sure @marvel makes room for more titles by woman about women kicking ass.”23 

After significant backlash, Cain decided to leave Twitter because of the “ordinary daily abuse that I decided I didn’t want to live with anymore”.24 Buzzfeed published an article about the situation, titled “This Woman Writer Was Trolled So Badly, She Left Twitter”.25

In 2017, Marvel editor Heather Antos posted a photo of herself enjoying milkshakes with her female coworkers to Twitter.26 The tweet reignited the conversation over the politicization of comics, as well as some mild criticism of “informal” affirmative action at large publishers. Antos claimed she received these tweets “for being a woman, in comics. Who posted a selfie of her friends getting milkshakes.”27 

Other events include the cancellation of the title “Jawbreakers” in May of 2018. “Jawbreakers”, created by Comicsgate supporter Richard C. Myer, was due to be published with Antarctic Press, who severed their contract, allegedly due to pressure from influential opponents of Comicsgate within the comic industry.28

Evergreen State College: The name ‘Evergreen State College’ calls to mind vertically shot cell phone videos of noisy, incoherent protestors, “woke” finger-snapping, and the repurposing of chants from past political movements. It has become an iconic example of the dangerous outcome of extreme progressivism at the institutional level. However, the protests would not have unfolded the way they did were it not for one man—Professor Bret Weinstein. 

Between September of 2016 up until the outburst of demonstrations in May of 2017, tensions and hostility were on the rise among and between Evergreen students and faculty. This included the disruption of three faculty events, and the detaining of two students by police due to escalating online conversations.29

Against this backdrop of increasing tensions, on March 15, Weinstein criticized a proposal by an Evergreen services director, Rashida Love, to reverse the college’s traditional “Day of Absence”. Emulating its namesake play, Evergreen’s Day of Absence had previously involved people of color leaving campus for the day to engage in group discussions and activities relevant to their experience as people of color.30 Love’s request was to this year ask white students leave the campus for the day. 31

Weinstein’s email response to this suggestion argued, “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under approved rolls, . . . and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and act of oppression in and of itself.”32 

While Weinstein’s email didn’t cause much immediate stir, once the protests began in earnest the fourth week of May, the apparent insensitivity and racism in that email galvanized angry students. On May 23, he found himself confronted and cornered by a mob of student protestors demanding he both apologize and recognize the insensitivity and illegitimacy of his position. Students also met with Evergreen president, George Bridges, to discuss how to deal with Weinstein.33 

On May 24, students took over and barricaded the library, trapping faculty inside and forcing them to listen to and address their list of demands34. They held President Bridges hostage, assigning students to prevent him from leaving and even to escort him to the restroom. Bands of students, armed with baseball bats and other weapons, roamed the campus, intimidating and assaulting the noncompliant.

Though notable events, including a massacre threat and the subsequent decision to hold graduation off campus35, did not persist much beyond May of 2017, it wasn’t until the following September that Evergreen would announce that Weinstein and his wife, fellow Evergreen biology professor Heather Heying, had resigned in return for a half million dollar settlement.36

The debacle receive viral nationwide coverage, leading to a decline in enrolment over the ensuing two years.

A forensic dissection of the Evergreen State College “intersectional meltdown”, complete with insider and FOIA-acquired information, can be found on Evergreen alumnus Benjamin A Boyce’s channel through his “#ExposéEvergreen” playlist.37

References

  1. Rebecca, W. (2011). About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk
  2. Rebecca, W. (2011). Update! Plus dating advice. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1sm8z7i0I
  3. Jen (2012). Atheism +. Retrieved from https://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/atheism/
  4. Ophelia, B. (2014). Joint statement by Ophelia Benson and Richard Dawkins. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20140729004234/http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/07/joint-statement-by-ophelia-benson-and-richard-dawkins/
  5. Jim, F. (2013). A Difficult Situation. Retrieved from https://archive.fo/ndHqL
  6. Hannah, W. (2013). Donglegate vs Vaginagate. Retrieved from https://www.avoiceformen.com/misandry/donglegate-vs-vaginagate/
  7. Larry, C. (2013). How to get correia nominated for a hugo. Retrieved from http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/01/08/how-to-get-correia-nominated-for-a-hugo/
  8. Theodore, B. (2015). Rebid Puppies 2015. Retrieved from http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/02/rabid-puppies-2015.html
  9. GamerGate ‘Gamers are dead’ article list. (n.d.) In GamerGate Wiki. Retrieved from https://ggwiki.deepfreeze.it/index.php?title=Gamers_Are_Dead
  10. #GamerGate. (n.d.). In Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/hashtag/gamergate
  11. Milo, Y. (2014). The List: Every Journalist In The Gamejournopros Group Revealed. Retrieved from https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2014/09/21/gamejournopros-we-reveal-every-journalist-on-the-list/
  12. #NotYourShield. (n.d.). In Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/hashtag/notyourshield?src=hash
  13. KotakuInAction (n.d.). In Reddit. Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/
  14. Harry, K. (2015). Legal Draft Calgary Expo Expulsion Honey Badger Brigade July 14th, 2015. Retrieved from https://honeybadgerbrigade.com/2015/07/14/legal-draft-calgary-expo-expulsion-honey-badger-brigade-july-14th-2015/
  15. Alison, T. (2018). Go Home Comics Girl!! My Battle with Calgary Expo & The Mary Sue. Retrieved from https://bleedingfool.com/blogs/go-home-comics-girl-my-battle-with-calgary-expo-the-mary-sue/
  16. Spin (2014). The 20 best metal albums of 2014. Retrieved from https://www.spin.com/2014/12/20-best-metal-albums-2014/
  17. Cory, P. (2014) #Metalgate. Retrieved from http://www.deathmetal.org/article/metalgate/
  18. Carl, B. (2014 December 14). The problem with heavy metal is metal heads [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UU-yewGHQbNFpDrGM0diZOLA&v=vou_0RW5T5g
  19. Matt, J. (2014, December 13). WTF is #MetalGate? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oZCZicsuHc
  20. Mark, M. [Count Dankula] (2016, April 16). M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi [Video FIle]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYslEzHbpus
  21. Judiciary of Scotland (2018). PF v Mark Meechan. Retrieved from http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/8/1962/PF-v-Mark-Meechan
  22. Alexander, L. (2016). Marvels MOCKINGBIRD is Cancelled with issues 8’s Release Today. Retrieved from  https://www.comicsbeat.com/marvels-mockingbird-is-cancelled-with-issue-8s-release-today/
  23. Chelsea, C.(2016) Tweet [screenshot]. Retrieved from https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1372243-comicsgate
  24. Chelsea, C. (2016). 140 characters, plus a few thousdand more, on the twitter hubbub. Retrieved from https://chelseacain.com/blog/140-characters-plus-few-thousand-more-twitter-hubbub
  25. Rachael, K. (2016). This Woman Writer Was Trolled So Badley, She Left Twitter. Reetrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/krishrach/a-women-writer-was-harassed-off-twitter-for-a-feminist-comic
  26. Heather, A. (2017). Tweet [Screenshot]. Retrieved from https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1281027-makeminemilkshake
  27. Heather, A. (2017). Tweet. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/HeatherAntos/status/891675701694353409
  28. Justine, C. (2018). Antarctic Press Cancels Jawbreaker in Wake of Controversy, Retailer Boycott. Retrieved from https://www.cbr.com/antarctic-jawbreakers-canceled/
  29. Lisa, P. (2017). A school year of events that led to chaos at The Evergreen State College. Retrieved from https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/education/article175061841.html
  30. Evergreen State College (n.d.) In Evergreen.edu. Day of Absence & Day of Presence. Retrieved from http://evergreen.edu/multicultural/day-of-absence-day-of-presence.
  31. Rashida, L. (2017, March 14). Invitation and schedules for Day of Absence/Day of Presence 2017 [Email]. Retrieved from https://app.leg.wa.gov/committeeschedules/Home/Document/170557
  32. Bret, W. (2017, March 15). Re: Invitation and schedules for Day of Absence/Day of Presence 2017 [Email]. Retrieved from https://app.leg.wa.gov/committeeschedules/Home/Document/170557
  33. [Gamewashed] (2017, May 27). Unedited – Bret Weinstein Tries To Reason With Angry Student Mob As They Call For His Resignation [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTnDpoQLNaY
  34. Lisa, P. (2017). Students allege racism, protest administrators at The Evergreen State College. Retrieved from https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/education/article152491379.html
  35. Lisa, P. (2017), Evergreen evacuates campus due to ‘direct threat,’ will remain closed. Retrieved from https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/education/article153810709.html  
  36. Abby, S. (2017). Evergreen settles with Weinstein, professor at the center of campus protests. Retrieved from https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article173710596.html 
  37. Banjamin A Boyce. (n.d.). #ExposéEvergreen [Youtube Playlist]. Retrieved from  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRdayXEOwuMG1jaAtJE0KbpyY_Kh-JTUl
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