Happy Halloween everyone! Just pouring some thoughts out into the ether here.
I <generally> don’t like boycotts
I’m only speaking of myself here. So don’t think that those of you reading this who engage in boycotts are being tut-tuted by me.
Here’s my rationale:
I don’t like coercion. I don’t like the idea of using economic power to stifle someone’s speech. The answer to speech I don’t like is more speech.
When we decide to exert our economic power to punish people for speech we don’t like, I think we, as a society, start to walk down a very dark path. Imagine if business owners did this with their employees? I’m sure it happens sometimes but it’s definitely not the norm. Do we want a society where it’s socially acceptable for companies to start firing people for their opinions? I realize that this sometimes happen but it is definitely not the norm and I’m talking about simple differences of opinion on say marriage, religion, politics.
I think the best path for society is tolerance of other points of view. As long as they’re not hurting you (and I mean literally) I would recommend tolerance and not trying to materially harm people.
Punishing your enemies with lawyers (or Lawfare)
Her intent became pretty clear. Under the guise of “fighting harassment against women” she wants to start a legal fund to go after the people who are upsetting her.
I can understand that urge. I can really understand that urge. But that line of thinking takes you down a different dark path. That isn’t to say there’s never a case to go after people who are making your life miserable. But it should be an absolute, last resort.
Imagine the scenario:
Brianna Wu decides to file a libel lawsuit against some website or some individuals. And, as you can imagine, the gaming press would probably not condemn this given the recent political climate of that industry. That sets a dangerous precedence.
As someone who has gotten a lot of sustained harassment I know the temptation:
There was a forum where one of its users had sent me a box in the mail with shredded paper and a note “Elemental materials” TO MY HOME and the same forum later had had another user post google directions with my house with the caption “we should pay him a visit” [to the forum owner’s credit, that person was banned] with that very evening receiving an email death threat directed at me, my wife and my oldest son). While I did call the police (or mainly, my wife insisted I call the police) I chose not to go after the site as I thought it all very circumstantial and also: It’s generally considered shitty to sic lawyers on people.
I know some of the people from that forum read this blog so assuming they’re not totally lost causes, I would hope they can imagine why I have so much antipathy towards that group (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). Knowing some of the people involved I can imagine how freaked out they would be if they were receiving anonymous packages in the mail and death threats and had an inkling that it came from someone loosely associated with me. I suspect they would not have shown the same restraint I have.
Anyway, imagine it became socially acceptable to go after people who piss you off with lawyers. I suspect some of the people who have harassed me (and feel totally justified doing it because I am, well let’s let them speak for themselves):
…probably believe the only thing that’s saved them is that it is considered incredibly socially unacceptable to go after people for saying words with lawyers. Imagine if that taboo disappeared. Imagine if there was no PR hit for people who have the resources to legally go after people who were harassing them online. Is that what people want? I bet some people reading this right now are thinking “Well, if they’re harassing someone , yea…” See how tempting it is to try to criminalize mean words?
This is a term I just learned about and it’s possible I’m using the term wrong. I think it means sic'ing your followers on someone. I have been accused of this and I wanted to respond to this allegation.
I have my own term: Spotlighting. This is where someone is engaging in abusive or insulting behavior and you link to it.
So what’s the difference? Basically, Brigading is proactive. Spotlighting is reactive. Some have tried to say it’s the “exact same thing” which I assume they think that a mugger and someone who punches a mugger are the “exact same thing”.
Regardless though, if someone objects to spotlighting my suggestion is: Then don’t attack me / Don’t engage in objectively abusive behavior (like wishing someone would die in a fire).
What ISN’T spotlighting
However, I had an unnamed indie developer get upset today because he RT’d the Brianna Wu tweet and I wrote a . in front of the RT to start, what I had hoped, a new conversation between us on the topic Wu had started.
I wrote “I think that path would lead to a very dark place.” And he accused me siccing my followers on him. I was fairly offended at the implication that my followers are somehow inherently abusive. I have dozens of interesting conversations on Twitter a week that start with this syntax. Last night I had one with someone who is very against GG where we discussed “behavior shaping” in online game design. It was one of the best discussions I’ve had online in many months.
And…I don’t think anyone promoting the idea of creating a legal fund to sue people on the Internet is in any position to claim a moral high ground but I digress.