The Best Of The Dish Today

Tough Mudder London South 2014

Another note on the swift descent of ethical journalism. One concern I’ve repeatedly voiced is that at some point, corporations will simply dispense with “sponsored content” on existing publications and create newspapers and magazines for themselves. Since the Fourth Estate has already abandoned any pretense of being independent of advertizers for their content, it’s a small jump. And here comes Verizon with a new website:

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

It gets worse, doesn’t it?

Today, we revisited the plight of the Yazidis still facing the terror of ISIS; that “chickenshit” Netanyahu; and the broad definition of “sexual assault” that Ivy League higher-ups have signed onto, even if their students don’t quite agree. Plus: the campaign to shut down and even criminalize “toxic male culture”. I also re-engaged Ross Douthat on the issue of pastoral treatment of divorced and re-married Catholics.

Plus: a gorgeous video celebrating New York City and Paris.

The most popular post of the day was A Declaration Of War Against Francis; followed by Does The Self Exist? Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here.  You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 24 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here, including the new “Know Dope” shirts, which are detailed here. Below are images for the general design and the DC-specific one (also available are ones for Oregon and Alaska – the two other states voting on legalization Tuesday):



The final email for the day comes from a veteran programmer. I’m going to give her the last word on the gamergate furore:

This is regarding your post about gamergate.  I have been a very loyal reader of your blog for more than 10 years now and have been a subscriber for two.  I have always dearly admired and respected you.  I know this email is long and harshly worded in places, but please take the time to read it.  It would mean a lot to me.

Your readers were right to warn you about not writing about that debate.  At the very least, you should have researched the industry you were covering before making comments about it.  Perhaps you did by reading some extremely lazy leftist writing on the subject (of which there is unfortunately much) or because you’ve been hanging out with Breitbart, who seems to be your ideological bedfellow in this – I don’t know.

[Ed. note: Professional details written here are being left out “because my identity will be easy to determine and it may put my life and that of my family in danger (this happened to other women for much less).] Whom I know is not especially important – the industry is so small that anyone who has been there for as long as I have knows all these same people.  (Gamergate doesn’t quite see things that way and continues to weave conspiracy theories about it.)  What I mean to convey is how personal all this is to me.

I don’t actually want to bring up the ludicrous “both sides have been bullied” quote, considering that only “one side” has received credible death threats that are being investigated by the FBI. [Ed. note: that “both sides” line was clarified in a follow-up post the reader may have missed.] I don’t mean to complain, because much like all of the mature nerdy adults I know, I’m over it, but I have to ask: do you honestly believe that only nerdy white males exist, that nerdy girls don’t get bullied?  (I know I was!)  I also had to then deal with not being taken seriously as a “fellow gamer” by the “gamer culture” whose end you’re lamenting for some reason (worry not, it will continue to thrive as is).

And you compare it to gay culture, as if there has ever been any actual or remotely comparable discrimination of gamers! Recall all the gamers who were murdered when they were caught holding hands in public while arranging for DS Download Play on their DSes!

Let’s take a moment of silence for the gamers who bought the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare only to be brutally beaten the next day for talking fondly about it in school!  Let’s remember that time the arch-conservative Jack Thompson was preaching about the harm people who buy games do to society – wait wait, my bad … that was the game industry he was blaming for school shootings and the like.  Andrew, forgive me, but you are off your rocker.

On the contrary, the multi-billion industry that is video games have catered to gamers to such a degree that it’s had some regrettable side effects.  For instance, it is not uncommon for game creators to receive death threats for changing a game mechanic (in an effort to improve the experience for their audience)!  It’s been happening for some time!  Writers have been harassed to the point of quitting the games industry for including an optional homosexual romance in a popular game (Dragon Age 2). The anxiety and the terror I feel that the other shoe could drop at any minute, and that my life or that of my family could be in danger, is very real and has caused me a lot of anguish and stress.

The truth is, this is an audience that is so used to being treated with velvet gloves and getting their way, that manipulating the creators via threats is actually seen by some as a perfectly reasonable way to register a complaint. Short of the awful harassment that George Lucas must have suffered for “ruining childhoods” (not that I disagree he made some poor films), can you imagine any other creative medium with this kind of audience?

The developer who has been the real subject of gamergate for some time created a game about depression that was more an “interactive experience” (not unlike the old text adventure games of the early video games, ironically) and was not seen as a “real game” by those now in the gamergate movement.  She was harassed well before her ex-boyfriend tried to ruin her life and career on the internet by airing their dirty laundry with that callous post. Why? Because there are people who don’t want developers to make games they don’t want to play and for them, simply ignoring these developers and their games won’t do.  It’s as if Britney Spears fans went on a hateful rampage because they could not live in a world where Mary Timony was producing records, simply because Pitchfork chose to write about Mary’s releases every once in a while.

Let’s talk for a moment about Anita Sarkeesian.  I support her work in spite of disagreeing with much of it, because I believe that if video games are ever to be a respected medium, acknowledged for meaningful cultural commentary (which I believe it very much deserves), it needs to have a rich tradition of critique and criticism – whether the critique is something everyone agrees with or not. However, no reasonable discussion can take place when Sarkeesian is being harassed and threatened with sexually violent murder.  It so happens that the only video I ever found compelling of the many she has made is this one:

Analysis like yours strokes the hateful mob’s egos and reduces it entirely to what both the far left and Breitbart find intriguing: “a culture war”.  Imagine how much progress could have been made about our environment or global warming if it hadn’t become part of the culture war.  All this kind of politicizing does is force people to take sides that have no nuance, and I want no part in it.  I happen to be a woman developer (already suspect for gamergate) who happens to make quirky games that people in that movement would hate but may refuse to ignore by harassing me (something I’m extremely worried about).  Much as I have little respect for the left’s handling of this garbage, they actually stand up for my personal safety!  They denounce these jerks when they see them, even if it’s with ridiculous academic language.

From everything I’ve seen, gamergate is an angry mob bent on bullying game creators into making something other than what they want to make.  It is an angry mob bent on bullying journalists into voicing opinions other than those they have.  They bully not by name-calling, rude words, or insults, but with threats of murder, rape, and school shootings.  If your heart was in the right place, as it usually is, you should be condemning these asshole reactionaries.  For the first time in my life, you’re talking about an issue that DIRECTLY affects me and my livelihood, and you’ve taken the bullies’ side, Andrew.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  Why, why, why can’t you call them on their shit?

For the record, this was the second paragraph of my post:

The tactics of harassment, threats of violence, foul misogyny, and stalking have absolutely no legitimate place in any discourse. Having read about what has happened to several women, who have merely dared to exercise their First Amendment rights, I can only say it’s been one of those rare stories that still has the capacity to shock me. I know it isn’t fair to tarnish an entire tendency with this kind of extremism, but the fact that this tactic seemed to be the first thing that some gamergate advocates deployed should send off some red flashing lights as to the culture it is defending.

See you in the morning.

(Photo: Competitors take part in the Tough Mudder London South in Winchester, England on October 25, 2014. The world-famous Tough Mudder is a military-style endurance event over 10-12 mile obstacle course designed to test all-around strength, stamina, teamwork, and mental grit. By Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)