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In SXSW Republic, civility choose you

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My guest post was going to be a few weeks from now and about medical care, but this is happening:

BuzzFeed and Vox Media* threatened to pull out of the SXSW festival after the conference organizers canceled two panels, including one related to harassment in the video gaming industry.

SXSW 2016 (Motto: Safety is a top priority and so is your voice) cancelled the panels because:

…event staff had received “numerous threats of on-site violence related to [the] programming.”

How unpleasant to be sure. SXSW responded to BF & VM by emitting a dense cloud of pablum titled “Strong community management: Why we cancelled two panels for SXSW 2016.”

SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas.

However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.

Slow-motion replay:

  1. Some unknown number of people behave uncivilly in response to panels at SXSW that touch on diversity.
  2. SXSW responds by shouting “Le yipe!” and kills the panels in order to preserve its sacred safe secure big and above all civil, tent. That contains the marketplace. Selling hot, fresh ideas.
  3. At least the tent will be sacred, safe, secure ‘n civil for people like Hugh Forrest.
  4. And what’s available at the marketplace will be subject to approval by anyone who can access the internet.

Is Hugh Forrest, SXSW’s clichewrangler thug enabler interactive director a tossbeast, perhaps a secret regarder of the gamer-gaters? Don’t know. And really, don’t care. He’s an excellent example of why people who insist on civility above all else are the height of uncivil.

Civility does not now, nor will it ever mean that when less than 100% of the population agrees to behave like rational human beings, one should turn to the people who are behaving like RHBs and say “Gosh guys, we’d love to let you do your little [finger quotes] thing, but some people are getting nasty about it. Maybe next year (decade, century, after the first ice-dancing competition in hell)?”

A person who thinks that letting whoever dials in the best threat control events = civil, that person is deluded. Or a liar. Maybe both, the human mind can perform some fascinating tricks.

And on the subject of mind games, there’s Forrest’s use of the word diverse. Twice. In one sentence. I can’t help but wonder what hell he thinks diverse means, especially when laid next to his definition of civility. It appears to be whatever mixture of people and ideas the nastiest portion of the species is OK with. I suspect that to Forrest it is word that one uses because it resonates with the kind of people who will fork over lots of cash to attend SXSW.

It certainly isn’t anything he thinks worth defending.

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  • rea

    What he means by “diverse” is that they were going to have two panels–one against abuse, and one in favor of it. Hail diversity! When the anti-abuse panel drew threats, they even-handedly cancelled both panels! Diversity must be fair and balanced, after all.

    • Hogan

      And as everyone knows, the truth lies somewhere in between.

    • Pat

      I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that refusing to talk about online threats is “civil.”

      I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means.

      • tsam

        I guess it’s time to change the dictionaries to add “chickenshit” as a synonym for “civil”.

    • Sly

      It’s exactly that bad:

      “SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas. However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.”

      You know who you shouldn’t welcome into the “big tent?”

      People who want to burn down the tent.

      You should feel free to tell them that they can fuck right off.

      • jon98101

        You know who you shouldn’t welcome into the “big tent?”

        People who want to burn down the tent.

        You should feel free to tell them that they can fuck right off.

        Honestly, you send just like an anti-immigration activist.

        • Uh…whut?

          • jon98101

            That’s pretty much word-for-word the anti-immigration argument:

            We can’t let the Muslims/Latinos into Europe/America because they don’t share our values and will ruin what we have.

            Or to quote Trump, it’s a Trojan Horse.

            • Sly

              “Gandhi, like Hitler, was someone who knew how to gain popular support for what he wanted to do.”

              • jon98101

                A self-inflicted Godwin used as deflection, touche.

                • Sly

                  All Godwin’s are, by definition, “self-inflicted,” though why you choose to use that term is puzzling. Regardless, in actuality the statement I used is an anti-Godwin; pointing out the absurdity of superficial comparisons to Nazism.

                  Just like the absurdity of superficially comparing the desire to not want proven and admitted arsonists in your house is the same as the xenophobic desire to not want immigrants in your country. “Hey, you both want to exclude people from somewhere, ergo your rationales for doing so are alike!”

                  SXSW claims it wants a diverse crowd and, in pursuant to that goal, is catering to people who do not want diversity. That’s stupidly self-destructive.

                • matt w

                  Yeah, “We can’t let the Muslims/Latinos into Europe/America because they don’t share our values and will ruin what we have” actually corresponds to “We can’t let the women/people of color/SJWs into gaming because they don’t share our values and will ruin what we have,” and “self-deportation” corresponds to “we must use threats and harassment to drive them out.”

                  Whereas “Don’t bend your rules to give a platform to people who are actually engaged in threats against and harassment against other members of the community” is a little different.

                • jon98101

                  All Godwin’s are, by definition, “self-inflicted,” though why you choose to use that term is puzzling.

                  I didn’t compare you to Hitler, you did. You twisted my statement into your analogy, and in your analogy I am somehow comparing you to Hitler. Thus, self-inflicted.

                  Just like the absurdity of superficially comparing the desire to not want proven and admitted arsonists in your house is the same as the xenophobic desire to not want immigrants in your country.

                  Just like the absurdity of comparing the desire to not want proven and admitted homophobes/misogynists/etc. (insert horrible Muslim belief here) in your country is the same as the …

                  SXSW claims it wants a diverse crowd and, in pursuant to that goal, is catering to people who do not want diversity. That’s stupidly self-destructive.

                  Europe claims it wants a tolerant society and, in pursuant to that goal, is catering to people who are not tolerant.

                  These are, as I said above, word-for-word the same arguments.

            • tsam

              Point ——–>

              You

              If you’re suggesting that excluding people who treat women like garbage from a (whatever the fuck SXSW is) thing is being anti-anything, you’re equivocating like a BOSS. CNN and Fox may be interested in your services.

              • jon98101

                If you’re suggesting that excluding people who treat women like garbage from a (whatever the fuck SXSW is) thing is being anti-anything, you’re equivocating like a BOSS.

                This is exactly what the xenophobic, anti-immigrant Europeans are saying: Muslims treat women like garbage so we should exclude them.

                • Rob in CT

                  Is it your contention that people are exaggerating/lying about gamegater behavior (as anti-immigrant xenophobes do re: the supposed awfulness of immigrants)?

                  Or that the people opposed to gamergaters don’t actually care about women or diversity in general, but are merely cynically using rhetoric in order to bludgeon people they don’t like for other reasons (like anti-immigrant xenophobes pretend to give two shits about women’s rights in service of their bigotry?)?

                  Because both of those things have to be true in order for your analogy to make a lick of sense.

                • tsam

                  yes, they say MUSLIMS, which refers to 2 billion people, half of which are women.

                  Gamergate is completely comprised of misogynistic shits. They compare to the KKK or Christian Identity better than an entire religion.

                  Also: Matt W said it all above, much better than I ever could.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Meh. SXSW stopped being cool about the same time as Burning Man did — and not coincidentally, about the same time that the moneyed douchebags became ascendent at both events.

    • elm

      So because SXSW is no longer ‘cool’ we shouldn’t care about them cancelling diversity panels because of threats from gamer gaters and then mumbling something abobut civiloty?

      In fact, I think that SXSW is so big it’s no longer cool makes it a bigger story.

      • Judas Peckerwood

        That’s quite a leap there between what I actually wrote in my comment and what you inferred, don’t you think?

        • Malaclypse

          I think the fact that your comment starts with “Meh” means that it is a safe inference that you believe we shouldn’t care.

          • Judas Peckerwood

            Whatever.

            • postmodulator

              Not sure if trolling…

              • Judas Peckerwood

                Meh.

                • DrDick

                  Definitely trolling.

        • elm

          Yeah, I assumed that your opening ‘meh’ was meant to convey that we shouldn’t care about the topic. If that’s not what you intended, then I’m sorry for the inference I drew. Though, in my defence, it seems others drew the same inference as I did.

    • Malaclypse

      But it isn’t about whether they are cool. It is about whether thugs can shout down people that are not straight white men. At SXSW, apparently they can.

      Not entirely unrelatedly, the World Fantasy Convention would really like to do something about harassment, but gosh-darn it all, they just can’t wrap their heads about what it really is, you know?

      • Judas Peckerwood

        My comment was intended to point out the douche-y transformation of the SXSW culture that made this kind of cowardly stupidity possible/inevitable.

        • Lee Rudolph

          I understood it as such.

          • Judas Peckerwood

            Much appreciated.

    • Crissa

      That’s interestingly the same thing every douchebag says when they aren’t allowed to drown out their neighbors, don’t get invited back to the Esplanade, blahblahblah, because they didn’t or wouldn’t bring more to the community.

      Because there always has to be room for the newbies packed into their car with their tent and water and excitement. There has to be a safe place for them. There has to be things for them to go to, space for better events and camps get built.

      And rules to stop douchebags from killing all that.

      That’s why we have to care.

  • Murc

    As someone who actually does think civility in discourse is important and should be encouraged and protected at every opportunity, guys like this really enrage me. It is shitheads like them, hiding behind and tainting an otherwise very important concept, that end up devaluing it massively.

    • tsam

      As someone who has solid demarcation lines with civility (gamerhaters, bullies and fascists being a long way across that line), I find no reason to treat them with the least bit of civility. In fact, were I to find myself sitting across from one, spewing hateful garbage about Sarkeesian/Wu/Quinn, I promise you I would bash his teeth out or die trying.

      I start at civility and will continue with it as long as the other side does. But when someone’s entire thesis is antithetical to civility itself, I have not a single fuck to give about civility anymore.

      • randy khan

        I find that civility is a useful tool, if nothing else. When your antagonist starts going crazy and you remain sane (but firm, even forceful, to make sure you don’t get drowned out by the crazy), people notice.

        • tsam

          For sure–but when you’re starting out with an intransigent piece of shit human, like your average gamergate toad, it’s already too late for civility.

          (at least for me–maybe that’s why I’m the crazy commenter instead of a blog writer. Also poor writing skills. Also other things.)

          • Cassiodorus

            I agree, but shouting at them doesn’t help our cause, but society sees liberals views as being irrational/emotionally, even though it’s conservatives that are constantly acting like animals.

            • guthrie

              Objection! Animals aren’t any worse than humans in terms of being crazy and nasty. So putting it this way is being nasty to animals.

              • Cassiodorus

                Indeed. Ironically, the existence of conservatives may be the best argument against evolution.

            • tsam

              You guys are right about this–I can’t really dispute that. But I’m at an age now where I’m just done with the racism, bigotry, bullying and just generally simplistic, uninformed views of the world and the society that people actually LIVE IN. I have no patience for rationalizing slavery, whitewashing our past, and the arrogant, self congratulatory bullshit that Americans are so fucking fond of. I’m tired of people acting like wars are an answer to everything, and that we have some right to go bomb the shit out of other countries because a small minority of people there are horrible and dangerous. And I’m done with people acting like certain hobbies (like gaming for instance) are the sole domain of one gender.

              This is why I don’t engage on Facebook and other, similar comment sections. It’s just not worth it–I just scroll right by. But if I get stuck engaging, then I go ahead and let them have it with both barrels.

          • randy khan

            Mind you, it doesn’t always work, but I’ve even had occasional success being civil in responding to crazy, aggressive right-wing stuff spouted by people on Facebook. It’s kind of amazing when someone stops emitting insane rhetoric and says you might have a point.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              As a crazy right winger I will admit that you have a point here.

              • Norrin Radd

                What are you right wing about?

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  Just about every political issue I care about.

                  http://jpohl.blogspot.com/

                • Ronan

                  Re the link to your blog . You aren’t a fan of western NGO workers in Accra , j Otto? You’ve commented about that here before. Is the cost of living driven that much by NGO workers? What about the domestic Ghanaian wealthy ? Also one more question, has Ghana now before the main hub for NGOs based in Africa , or is it a regional hubs/ are there larger ones than Ghana ?

                • Just about every political issue I care about.

                  Given a suitable redefinition of “right wing”.

              • Otto, you aren’t crazy, just a bit daft!

        • When your antagonist starts going crazy and you remain sane (but firm, even forceful, to make sure you don’t get drowned out by the crazy), people notice.

          Yes, I’ve sometime used this to my advantage.

          Conversely, making even fully justified noise can get you marked as trouble.

          OTOH, people do notice. If you permit something outrageous to pass without vigorous and direct or even uncivil comment, it can send a message and sometimes not a good one.

          My being civil rather than tempermental on LGM probably serves me very well.

          Well, except for when fuckers slice a bagel vertically. BURN SHIT DOWN when that happens.

          • Lee Rudolph

            Well, except for when fuckers slice a bagel vertically. BURN SHIT DOWN when that happens.

            Objection. “Vertical” is defined with respect to the prevailing gravitational frame; a properly posed bagel can be sliced vertically with entire decorum.

            • It’s a vertical cut wrt the standard orientation of the bagel with respect to the prevailing “flat” gravitational direction.

          • randy khan

            Well, some things are beyond the pale.

        • Origami Isopod

          Not always. If you’ve got more privilege than the other person, you are more likely to be read as “sane” than they are, regardless of how calm or not either of you actually is.

          • Yeah. I’m with OI on this one. The very idea of a calm, reasoned, voice is (to a large extent) gendered, classed, and raced. I don’t have time to find the link but some actress just wrote a piece on feminism and finding out that the other guys she’d been working with got more money than she did. It concluded with a description of her behaving collegially and in a straightforward way with a male co-worker and having him rear back in fear and demand to know if they were “on the same side.”

            People can use anger to get what they want in a discussion, and they can (sometimes) use civility and rational argument. But what works for one kind of person doesn’t always work for another kind of person–the people you are arguing with have their own tactics and strategies and they may not be overawed or even interested in your civilly expressed views. They may not acknowledge your clever observations or your very just thoughts on topic A. Sometimes you have to lose your shit to get any attention at all.

            • randy khan

              I hear you, and of course the specific context matters. The double-bind for a lot of women and minorities can be that they don’t get heard when they’re calm and get called hysterical (or are told they’re shouting) when they get passionate.

              Also, on the Internet, there is something of an amusement factor in being calm and rational when someone is figuratively spitting nails at you and just answering with facts and logic no matter what’s thrown at you.

              • tsam

                That’s SO hard with people who fabricate their own facts and their logic skills end at observations of their own lives (often completely erroneous observations) and wondering why black people would just quit being so black and lazy and blah fucking blah. Asking them to try some empathy or accept that black people are treated as inferior citizens is a total waste of time.

                • randy khan

                  I remind myself I’m not really trying to convince the insane person, but instead am thinking about the rest of the audience, and that helps.

    • Cassiodorus

      [

      • Lee Rudolph

        ]!!!

        • Origami Isopod

          {?

          • tsam

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            • Howlin Wolfe

              And you say you have no writing skills!

              • tsam

                I can copy and paste like a BEAST tho!

    • Norrin Radd

      I call it piling on the victim. Reminds me of how the NFL treated Rihanna in the aftermath of her beating by Chris Brown. They canceled HER intro song by saying they didn’t want to be associated with DV. WTF????

      Hold the douchebags responsible for being douchebags and leave the rest of us alone.

      btw congrats on your first post Shakezula! Its long overdue!

      • Halloween Jack

        See also Janet Jackson, who seemed to bear the bulk of the blame for Justine Timberlake exposing her.

  • tsam

    Ceding ground to gamerhaters where one has the power and responsibility to do otherwise may as well put one in their ranks.

  • hylen

    This new poster is off to a good start here at LGM. Congratulations.

    And good for BuzzFeed and Vox (didn’t really think I’d typing that).

  • BruceFromOhio

    It’s a music conference. I doubt the planners were properly prepared to deal with the maximum levels of shit the gamerists can launch.

    • witlesschum

      SXSW Interactive is different from SXSW but related.

      • BruceFromOhio

        Have they hosted contentious panels before? Have they had to deal with bomb threats and vicious, anonymous personal attacks via social media aimed directly at an announced event, and the participants? has there ever been need for metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs and attendant bomb disposal teams at a SXSW or SXSW-related event?

        My expectation is, of course not. And cancelling an event that receives direct bomb threats is what the local law enforcement would advise, lacking proper preparations.

        Harpooning the announcement while claiming “you SHOULD have thrown YOURSELF on the grenade” seems like fish-barrel target practice. Of course they are going to fold, and of course it’s going to look weak.

        And therein you have a case study that easily exceeds any panel discussion – the gamerists will happily break laws to foment chaos, fear, and publicity of threats of violence in a direct blow against civility and intelligent discourse, because that’s the objective: burn it all down.

        • Hogan

          Where are you getting “bomb threats” from?

          • If you got bomb threats then you have plenty of time for “proper preparations.”

          • Lee Rudolph

            The bomb threats are coming from inside the house!

        • randy khan

          It seems like you think that the response was correct, but if so I don’t see how it is “a case study that easily exceeds any panel discussion.” SXSW isn’t doing anything to make this happen – all it’s doing is cancelling the program and saying how important civility is to it. To do what you’re suggesting would at least require SXSW to say specifically that it’s appalled by the threats, that it’s going to take specific steps to keep the issue in the spotlight, or something – anything – take an actual stand. Instead it just mumbles about civility.

          More broadly, your comment highlights an issue of the current age, which is that anonymous threats are very easy to make these days. If a mere threat is enough to make someone cancel a program, the crazies are handed a very powerful tool. In practice, I think the police do not react as you suggest by saying that any event that’s received any kind of threat should be canceled; instead, I think that sophisticated police departments evaluate threats individually to determine if they’re credible, and take appropriate steps. If SXSW had been advised to cancel because the threats were credible and told us so, I think a lot of people would feel differently about the situation.

        • MedicineMan

          You make a good point, Bruce, but even if you are 100% correct the conference organizers should have just owned up to the actual reasons rather than inventing happy-sounding nonsense. It is the nonsense that invites dismal interpretations.

        • witlesschum

          I don’t know, if you think it’s important go find out. I’d assume this is not their first rodeo.

    • Nah; at this point, SXSW has been far more than a music conference for close to 10 years.

      • sparks

        Must be why I hear/read so much less about it from musicians.

    • Lurker

      What is the liability of the conference organizer? Let is assume that they receive a credible tghreat, inform the ploice and refrain from further action. How liable are they for the damage if something happens?

      From tort law standpoint, it would seem that they were at fault if they did not do “due diligence”, whatever that means. From the 1st amendment viewpoint, it is clear that such due action cannot be too burdensome. Otherwise, the civil liability for failing to act on a threat would cause so large an economic burden that it became a heckler’s veto.

      In my opinion, the due measure would be to inform the public. For example: “We received a credible threat that someone is going to explode a bomb in this building fifteen minutes after the panel discussion starts. However, we are not going to let that hinder us from exercising our right to assemble peacefully, so we are going to go ahead with the panel anyhow. However, when attending, please consider the risk. Oh, and by the way, there seems to be a strange looking suitcase in the conference room. It doesn’t matter, though.”

  • witlesschum

    I think he thinks “diversity” is something you speak as part of a Jedi mind trick which will render your audience willing to believe that they aren’t looking for any droids at all, much less these particular droids.

    • tsam

      These aren’t the droids I’m GODDAMNIT YOU STOP THAT!

      • witlesschum

        My storm troopers are going to be all Hutts to deal with this issue. We’ll need a hell of a lot more of that white armor, (note to self: speak to the suppliers about what it’s supposed to stop, exactly?) but it’ll be great.

        Now, time to work on the accuracy problems that Old Ben Kenobi thinks it is so damn funny to make deadpan ironic jokes about.

        • I think stormtrooper armor is supposed to stop the time and expense of casting twenty or thirty extras so alike in appearance that they can plausibly pass for clones to a movie theater audience.

          • witlesschum

            I think it’s also supposed to look cool and it is pretty damned iconic. Lucas and his people got a lot of the little details like that really, really right. I think the production design really had a lot to do with how popular the movies were.

  • Emma in Sydney

    Woohoo, Shakezula, great to see you posting. I look forward to more!

    • Snuff curry

      +1

      Yes, this is awesome!

  • J. Otto Pohl

    What is SXSW Republic?

    • Hogan

      It’s one of the constituent states of the People’s Republic of Austin.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        So like the Azatlan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic?

  • Docrailgun

    It’s only Buzzfeed and Vox Media – no big loss there.

    Still, little Teddy Beale must be cackling right about now.

    • catclub

      Now, a useful result would be BF and Vox stepping up and sponsoring those panels.

      I can dream.

    • UserGoogol

      It’s worth pointing out that Vox Media isn’t just Vox.com, though. They also own The Verge, SB Nation, Polygon, Eater, Racked, Curbed, and Re/Code.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    christ, when did “disagree” become synonymous with “uncivil”?

    somewhere about the time “civil” became code for “shut the hell up if you don’t like what’s going on”, I guess

  • DrDick

    This is why I long ago adopted a policy of Fuck Civility. It has pretty much always been used to let douchebags get away with whatever they want.

    • postmodulator

      You can say the same thing about the First Amendment, though.

      • Cassiodorus

        Indeed you can, which is why I also question it’s usefulness.

        • Gareth

          How do you feel about the Third?

      • Origami Isopod

        The First Amendment doesn’t cover threats, though.

      • DrDick

        No, because the First Amendment also lets me call them douchebags in public. Civility does not. Also what Origami Isopod said.

        • postmodulator

          The liberal project assumes that we’re going to defend everyone’s right to free speech. Guy shows up at a town hall more heavily armed than the Punisher, and we hesitate to say he should be thrown out. Then we go picket Wall Street and they rub mace directly into our eyeballs.

          My analogy was more to the one-way-street nature of civility.

          • DrDick

            My analogy was more to the one-way-street nature of civility.

            Actually, that was my point. The 1A is not a one-way-street. I for one am perfectly comfortable telling open carriers to get the fuck out. I support their right to advocate for that, but not their right to do it.

  • witlesschum

    After reading the re/code link again, I realized Shakezula doesn’t explicitly say that—at least according to said link—one of the panels appears to have been organized by GamerGaters themselves, whereas the other was supposed to be a general panel about harassment in tech and presumably would have been conducted under the premise that harassment was a bad thing.

    • Yes, that’s unclear. Based on some related reading, the SavePoint discussion was put together by this group.

      From a brief look (and the fact slime didn’t drip out of my laptop when I poked around the site) I wouldn’t describe it as gamer-gatist.

      The panel would have been about the gaming community in general, including … ethics in gaming journalism.

      • farin

        Judging by the kind of people in their comments and the contents of their “Doctrine,” they’re aiming to be respectable David Brooks-style gators. But, of course, don’t blame them when they stand with crazy bigots: “We do not feel that a gamer can be held responsible for the type of people that he or she associates with and should be free from criticism based on this.”

        I’m fairly confident in my assessment that these people can go right ahead and fuck themselves.

        E: Also they are broadcasting on “Honey Badger Radio,” so.

        • witlesschum

          They seem kinda stupid.

          I mean, when you’re creating snooty doctrines in reference to something that began as an amen society to an asshole who published multipage dimwit ramblings (and personal information of many kinds) about his ex, the fuck are you doing?

      • matt w

        WARNING: If you don’t want to read about a fairly explicit piece of GamerGate harassment, skip this comment.

        Weeelll, according to this one of the panelists was to be Mercedes Carrera, whose recent retweets include “I would love to see Anita gangbanged” and Milo Yiannapuolos reacting to that. The first quote was some sort of porn thing and supposedly not a rape threat, but I would still classify that as pretty goddamn GamerGatey.

        The whole panel may not have been GamerGatey–the organizer of the group you just linked describes himself as neutral on GamerGate, and AFAICT Lynn Walsh is an actual journalist who wants to find out what GamerGate people are about–but this still seems like it would’ve been a panel where some people were like “Yay harassment” and others were, I guess, neutral.

  • Karen24

    This kind of thing explains why even though I live here in Austin I have never attended anything SWSX related. I take a great deal of pride in that.

    True Story: Last March we were in Crested Butte for spring break. Another couple was staying at the same B & B were from Park City Utah. All we talked about was how happy we were to escape our cities’ respective Entertainment Events.

  • A person who thinks that letting whoever dials in the best threat control events = civil,

    Those guys think Hobbes said it best: we have to let the strongest guy be in charge or we’ll have pandemonium. Waddayagonnado.

    But yeah, if they asked law enforcement, they’d likely be told it was more important to be safe than to hold their event.

  • Marc

    Do we actually know which of the panels received the threats? Was it both?

    • matt w

      Unless the e-mail quoted here was very poorly written, then “Level Up” (the one featuring Randi Harper) received threats:

      On the other hand, preserving the sanctity of that big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful — so that people can agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place. We have already received numerous threats of violence regarding this panel, so a civil and respectful environment seems unlikely in March in Austin. For this reason, we have also canceled other sessions at the 2016 event that focused on the Gamergate controversy.

      This is particularly mealymouthed and chickenshit–“Someone threatened us about your panel, so there would not be a civil environment around your panel, so you can’t be at our event. Bye!” It explicitly enshrines the heckler’s veto.

      (This does not mean that the other one didn’t receive threats.)

    • Crissa

      The other panel also got complaints, mostly because it had people on it associated with committing actual acts of harassment and libel against other people who would be at the event.

      …Which should speak for itself as a reason not to allow them entrance, but I guess big tents have to make special allowances for those who want to be uncivil? Or is it only uncivil when it’s pointed out? Yeah, I don’t get it.

  • Mac the Knife

    I hear all pleas for civility for civility’s sake in the tone of the record label chief in Fear of a Black Hat who advises the movie’s fictional rap group that putting out a song with violent lyrics “wouldn’t be the def, chill, fresh thing to do”.

    That character nails the type of oily dipshit who does this sort of thing.

  • Jordan

    I don’t *usually* like saying “if you do X, then the terrorists win!”

    But in this case, “if you cancel an anti-harrasment panel because of harrasment, then ya, the terrorists win”.

  • I’ve got nothing to say except: Woah! Shakezula! This is so exciting! Congratulations to the Blog for this brilliant decision! When will you go on the grand tour and drink beer with us?

    • DrDick

      Indeed. We are off to a great start here!

  • Dave W.

    Chris Kluwe had a pretty good rant on the subject (hat tip: Shakesville). Also, Arthur Chu has a good behind the scenes perspective from someone who was proposing a related panel and supporting the other anti-harassment panels.

  • libarbarian

    I don’t get it.

    Anita Sarkeessian canceled at talk in Utah due to violent threats and nobody (outside #GamerGate) condemned her for that or accused her of “kowtowing” to trolls. So why are those same people suddenly all indignant over this and throwing around accusations of “kowtowing” and “enabling” etc.?

    What gives?

    • matt w

      Anita Sarkeesian was not responsible for, or capable of, providing security for her USU talk. She cancelled the talk because the people who were responsible for providing security would not do so–the police refused to screen for firearms at the door even after an explicit threat of a mass shooting had been made, on the grounds that “she had received many of the same sorts of threats and none of the threats had materialized into anything specific.” IOW, no one has shot her yet, so no need to try to prevent it from happening this time.

      SXSW is responsible for providing security at their event and, rather than try to do so, they decided to cancel the talk. They also provided a mealymouthed justification about “civility” rather than invoking the security of participants. And they didn’t allow the panelists to make the choice of whether to speak.

      If there’s any analogy here, it’s between SXSW and the Utah State police, as organizations who were responsible for providing security and who chose not to provide security so the talk could proceed in a safe environment. And I am happy to condemn USU for that, and say that they kowtowed to the terrorists, and I’m not the only one. Sarkeesian herself called for a boycott of Utah college campuses until they ban concealed weapons at the talks.

      • Rob in CT

        Yeah, this is obvious. If you don’t get it, libarbarian, it’s because you don’t want to get it.

        • libarbarian

          No, it’s because I have a life and 3 kids and haven’t had time to spend reading articles by Arthur Chu or Chris Kluwe and thought that someone here would be willing to give me the tl;dr; version.

          • matt w

            I have noted the value you place on the time I spend explaining issues that you are too lazy to learn about for yourself, and will respond to all your future comments by telling you to go fuck yourself.

            • libarbarian

              lol.

            • libarbarian

              But seriously. You just harassed me on a thread about harassment. Good show.

              • You just harassed me on a thread about harassment.

                This is obviously not true and rather poor form on your part.

          • Rob in CT

            Actually, no. You don’t need to have researched it to see the difference between the two situations, because SXSW : Utah State police/Anita Sarkeessian : SXSW panelists is pretty obvious.

          • Jordan

            Theres nothing to read! At all. You already have all the facts. This isn’t asking for a tl;dr. This is deciding to emit a “don’t care; want to whine”.

      • libarbarian

        Makes sense, but still not sure about the ethics of proceeding under threats. Conference security is still quite limited in ability to stop a person bent on violence. If they go ahead and someone does do something (unlikely but ….) then they are going to bear ultimate responsibility. If that happens, we all know the same people telling them to ignore the threats are going to join the dog pile .

        But, apart from that, SXSW is just a feast of self-congratulatory masturbation by tech-trendies anyway. I’m glad it is hurting it’s own reputation. The sooner it dies, the better.

        • random

          If they go ahead and someone does do something (unlikely but ….) then they are going to bear ultimate responsibility

          They certainly wouldn’t bear ultimate responsibility, no. That’d be the person who staged the attack.

          If that happens, we all know the same people telling them to ignore the threats are going to join the dog pile .

          That is flat-out wrong. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever of this happening. None.

          If an MRA or Gamergate terrorist launches an attack at any event, then 100% of the blame for that attack is going to be aimed at MRA’s and at Gamergaters and not anyone else. All of the media coverage is going to be about that angle, extensive thought pieces will be out there talking about this phenomena.

          Nobody is going to dogpile the conference organizers in the aftermath of a domestic terror attack though. That’s just plain wrong.

          • libarbarian

            What world do you live in?

            I live on earth where people who ignore threats of violence are damn well held responsible when the threats turn out not to be idle.

            • Lee Rudolph

              I live on earth where people who ignore threats of violence are damn well held responsible when the threats turn out not to be idle.

              So, not the same Earth where George W. Bush was President in 2001?

              • Does that Earth still exist?

            • random

              What world do you live in?

              This one.

              You have absolutely no clue who these people are and have never read any of their writings if you think they’re going to blame anyone other than Gamergate and MRA’s for an MRA/Gamergate terror attack that kills people.

              There may be some people who blame SXSW in such a circumstance, probably not many. But it very definitely won’t be the same people blaming SXSW for caving to terror threats.

              • tsam

                I get what you’re saying, but per Matt’s comment above:

                She cancelled the talk because the people who were responsible for providing security would not do so–the police refused to screen for firearms at the door even after an explicit threat of a mass shooting had been made, on the grounds that “she had received many of the same sorts of threats and none of the threats had materialized into anything specific.” IOW, no one has shot her yet, so no need to try to prevent it from happening this time.

                Without a level of security that those specific threats would dictate is reasonable and advisable, why would the organizers do anything other than avoid the possibility of loss of life? That would be my first priority. However, I wouldn’t try to call it civility. I’d post the actual threats and what the police response was and let people put it together for themselves.

                • random

                  Without a level of security that those specific threats would dictate is reasonable and advisable, why would the organizers do anything other than avoid the possibility of loss of life?

                  The basic level of security that is reasonable and advisable for a large gathering in the absence of any credible threat is already at the level of reasonable and advisable for a credible threat as well.

                  Terror attacks typically *don’t* come with a warning beforehand. Regardless of whether there’s a threat or not, if you didn’t have security resources in place to respond to a violent incident, then you didn’t have sufficient security to be holding an event like this in the first place.

                  But this is slight OT, in this sub-thread we’re talking about the likely reactions of people who have devoted much or all of their professional time to warning about the toxic and violence-inducing MRA and Gamergate culture.

                  In the face of an explicitly MRA/Gamergate terror attack that actually kills people in broad daylight, there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that they are suddenly going to completely change their entire worldview and instead pivot to spending the bulk of their time blaming that on anyone other than Gamergate and MRA culture.

                  It’s like you’re saying that if there’s another 9/11, Pam Gellar is going to spend the bulk of her time blaming the airlines for it, rather than Islam.

  • Ahuitzotl

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocytus

    Icedancing competitions have been held in Hell perpetually (indeed, that would be one definition of hell)

  • Rob in CT
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