Monday, January 5, 2015

Mandy on the Anatomy of A Harassment Campaign

So Mandy wrote a thing about recent events--if you do tumblr and retumbl things, the original post is here. There's a handy diagram at the end if it's TooLong;Didn'tRead for you.

If you're all Oh Screw This Drama I Wanna Read About Elves. Here's some monsters and stuff, don't say I never gave you nothin'.

With that out of the way, here's Mandy...




I’m A Chainmail Bikini Feminist And I’m Fucking Sick Of Being Harassedby Mandy Morbid
(Got this response a few hours after the post went up)

So in the Dungeons & Dragons/tabletop gaming community right now there’s a lot of people and groups of people who talk about about harassment of women on-line. How it’s terrible, and what should be done to stop it and who’s doing it. 
Right now I am being harassed. And I’ve been harassed about being a gamer for years at this point. And the people in games who talk about how to stop harassment aren’t doing anything. This is because it’s much easier to talk about harassment from anonymous strangers than from people you know. A group of trolls is attacking me and my game group and they are connected to important members of the RPG community.
Here’s the most recent example, from a few days ago:
My boyfriend Zak called out someone for being sexist—largely because me and the other women in my gaming group agreed they were and told Zak so. 
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(link here)
How silly of me, it’s been a few years I should have remembered that women who choose adult entertainment for their occupations have absolutely no agency or opinions apart from our work do we?
I am apparently paid to agree with my boyfriend because I have no mind of my own of course.
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Sounds like this person got their information about day-to-day workings of the industry from a radical fundamentalist anti-porn website.
This kind of thing is no surprise when you see:
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So, my boyfriend who has never hired me to do anything, “exploits” me how exactly? The main people making money off my porn movies right now are me and Kimberly Kane (director)—winner of a 2011 Feminist Porn Award—and a giant porn company called Vivid Entertainment. In fact Kimberly Kane hires Zak to perform in the films she directs, not the other way around.
Now I don’t know the people writing on this forum and have never talked to them. All I know about this person “moths” is they started harassing me on this forum in this same thread in August of 2010, along with lots of other people…
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Then they got ahold of my Amazon wishlist, complaining that I wanted electrical cords and a tattoo kit…
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Go that? I’m fat and a 5 and Connie is a “stay at home scratcher” because we wanted to tattoo my pre-existing conditions on Zak’s arm…
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But this is run-of-the-mill on Something Awful—a forum where you run into things like the following all the time (trigger warning, racism, censored by me)
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So, yeah, Something Awful is—unsurpringly—awful. But the internet is full of chan-style troll forums, right? Why care about this one?
Because as I keep reading through the thread referring to me, I see I know someone involved: “Rulebook Heavily” aka minor RPG-scene jerk Andri Erlingsson who shows up on the next page to join in the harassment. And then I notice someone a few pages earlier attacking Zak—“Kemper Boyd” aka Jussi Marttila. And I know someone who could’ve done something about it and chose not to—the forum moderator, another RPG scenester named Paul Ettin.
So now I can actually report harassment by real, identifiable people to a real person. Paul (and fellow Something Awful alum Winson Paine) take this harassment complaint oh so seriously…
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These aren’t loose cannons taking advantage of a lax moderator to wreck Ettin’s forum—they’re his friends
What does Andri “Rulebook Heavily” have to say for himself? And why do we know he’s full of shit? 
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So, straight up there’s Andri butting into a (friendly) conversation I’m having to harass me—then lying about it. And being backed up by troll friends from—you guessed it—Something Awful.
And what does the larger RPG community—which has been so up in arms about harassment of women—say about this?
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Hi Tracy.
Because harassment isn’t real when it happens to porn actresses.
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Let’s talk about this deadnaming accusation then. I have nothing to hide, trolls. Let’s dissect this shit, so I can move on to my real point about how all of this works, where this comes from and how it’s been allowed to go on so long. And how come the people who supposedly care so much about sexism in gaming have never ever stood up for me and my girls.
Also “claming they’re fake” Andri-Troll? Let’s see you post some evidence of that. 
I can however provide evidence about what happened and why these trolls are trying to use a real serious issue to bolster their pathetic personal grudges. 
Here is where the deadnaming supposedly took place—it’s was edited as soon as someone pointed out to me that the person using multiple online names was trans—I did not know this beforehand and there are quite a lot of different pseudonyms being used by this one individual. (Because chan-style trolls do that sort of thing.) 
It’s the part about Mikan aka tablehop aka something else now. Who is Mikan? Surprise surprise—a troll from the same Something Awful subforum that’s attacked us on and off for 4 years. Mikan hates anything connected to tabletop gaming’s Old School Renaissance or “OSR”—that is, Mikan hates people, like me, who play old versions of Dungeons and Dragons and (like my boyfriend) have the temerity to blog about it.
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These are the kinds of brilliant contributions to game theory you can read in the complete log of Mikan’s trolling here. (Note: some of that is Mikan, and some of it is stuff Mikan posted just to make fun of it.)
So, as you go through what’s below, remember: this is a troll who paid money to join a troll forum and hang out with people who call random porn stars fat, rate their appearances on a scale of 1-10 and allege they are drug-bound mannequins with no opinions of their own all because they play the wrong kind of Dungeons and Dragons.
Let’s be clear here: I do not know or have ever spoken to this person. All these various names were used and still IN use when I posted my blog. I made no assumptions about nor did I refer to gender in my post. The names were not private—Both the supposed “dead name” and the new name were in use online. This was changed just hours after it was pointed out that I had posted about the ongoing harassment I was getting. 
So what really happened?
Trolling—courtesy of Mikan’s friend and fellow forum member Tom Hatfield.
Zak has explained before:
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(for the rest of that person’s testimony see this and this.)
Mikan apparently claimed (through an intermediary) that she’d contacted me before I wrote my blog post. But that makes no sense—we don’t talk and never have. And, as Kirin (author of Old School Hack and curator of Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor tumblr) and Gareth (of Adamant Entertainent) explain here…
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So, yeah, this is the situation. We play D&D with transfolk, we support them in the community, we have never said or done any different. And, of course, what do I gain from outing someone? Nothing. I want to discredit her trolling (which the rest of Something Awful will pick up whether she is around or not), not her gender expression (which is local to her). What do Mikan and Mikan’s troll friends have to gain by clinging to a debunked lie? Sympathy and attention—because the only attention these “game designers” have ever gotten is from harassing us.
I’ve never hung on on troll forums and talked shit about people who play different editions of games than I do. I happen to be an adult performer who plays D&D, we also made a webshow about it. That’s it.
If I have a history of anything but defending myself when people attack me and my gaming group I want to see it.
The accusations about me and my gaming group have been thoroughly refuted at this point. We’re past that yet the harassment won’t stop. They just will not leave me or my group alone.
 And what do the alleged activists in the RPG scene do about this harassment?
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That exchange there happened while I was hospitalized due to my stomach and intestines being paralyzed. Poor me.
Oh yeah, ignoring anti-porn misogyny sure helps you make gaming more inclusive doesn’t it?  These people, who often call themselves advocates of inclusion. have personal (and petty) problems with my gaming group which I’ll remind you is mostly comprised of LGBT women, women with disabilities, and women of colour. 
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Connie, Satine Phoenix and Kimberly Kane—half-elf rogue, elf rogue, half-elf barbarian.
So why don’t gaming gadflies and big indie designers like Fred Hicks (at Evil Hat), GeekyLyndsay, David A Hill Jr (Machine Age Productions), Ryan Macklin (Paizo), Bruce Baugh (Onyx Path), Elizabeth Sampat, Wundergeek, Christopher Allen and Shannon Appelcline (who employ Something Awful members Ettin and Kai Tave at RPG.net) and Tracy Hurley care that these attacks and the people inflicting them originated in a troll forum?
Because long ago we irritated them by playing a different game than them and refusing to let them lecture us about how we’re wrong and because we wear chainmail bikinis on Halloween and aren’t ashamed. Because, for example, Wundergeek and David Hill have real problems with tentacle hentai—and I made a live action tentacle porn because I wanted to. So who cares if I get harassed? I’m the wrong kind of feminist.
And whenever I’ve tried to reach out to them, like when I was in the hospital and I asked a mutual acquaintance to help me address some of this built up hate with GeekyLyndsay, nothing comes of it. I reached out to an intermediary because I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. They’ve done nothing.
So when Tom Hatfield (“wordmercenary" on the Something Awful and twitter) wrote his article full of totally disproved accusations about us, they just sent it along and spread it around, because for them it’s a small leap from “Had a different opinion about sexy art, or what kinds of games to play, or made us feel bad” to “is guilty of hate crimes”. They piled on it and shared it and now that everyone knows it was a lie straight out of this misogynistic troll factory of a message board, they still refuse to apologize or admit they did something wrong.
If, unlike them, you’re interested in where it all actually got started, you can watch the major memes of the witch-hunt form over the course of 40 pages in the Something Awful forum right here, in response to the news of Zak working on the 5th edition of D&D. Few if any of the forum members ask each other for evidence, of course, and they trust each other completely as they begin to spin sickening violent fantasies:
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"Let’s find out where a disabled porn star lives and attack her caretaker.” 
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Here you can watch more known personalities—see Paul Ettin’s fellow RPGnet moderator Kai Tave join in the harassment as well as Alex Norris aka “Lemon Kurdistan”—one of the first people to take the harassment to twitter in the day following the announcement. As the days go on in thread, you can see members also attack Dungeon World designer Sage LaTorra and D&D lead designer Mike Mearls for not believing them.
They searched for months to find anything anything over the line any of us ever said or did so they could send it to Wizards Of The Coast (the company that publishes D&D) or even to post on-line and couldn’t find anything incriminating. Just a lot of arguments about games and art that they were sore about not winning instantly—and a lot of random bad things that happened to them that they try to (and can’t) connect to us having vocally disagreed with them. Anon sent you a mean email? Must be those porn people. Your dog ran away? The porn people “incited” it to. As if no-one would ever have a problem with UK-porn law style kinkshaming like “harem anime is pathetic and disgusting. Fetish anime ditto. Hentai ditto.” or straight up idiocy like “OSR people smell their own farts” unless we told them to have a problem with it.
And, on top of that, we’ve repeatedly told anyone reading us not to harass anyone. Somebody “found” Zak asking his friends to help stop someone on Twitter naively spreading Tom Hatfield’s post (“tweet at him, send him links”)—that’s about the extent of our horrible conspiracy.
Meanwhile we’ve got mountains of evidence of trolling and sexist attacks against us going back years and they don’t care. Some of them still disingenuously pretend Tom’s article’s true (and refuse to discuss it or give any evidence):
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…”extremely established journalist” who never sourced anything and couldn’t get the article published by any real news source. A Something Awful troll with friends and a blog, in other words.
Of course, most of this is phrased as attacks on Zak and “his” opinions. When you attack Zak’s positions as if he’s the only one who holds them, you intentionally pretend we don’t exist, aren’t intelligent, and don’t back him up 100% or that we’ve “internalized the patriarchy”. Pretending our opinions are a result of Zak pulling the strings is one of the most sexist thing I can imagine and the holier-than-thou RPG community has been comforting itself by doing it since we showed up. 
I want to stress this: You have a problem with that man, you have a problem with me. You have a problem with all the girls I’ve played D&D with. When you ignore his questions and concerns, you ignore ours.
Which is nothing new: You always have ignored what I have to say, what Connie has to say. You ignore any woman gamer who doesn’t buy into your white knight bullshit excuses for harassment. Most of the time when Zak is attacked by white knights he’s QUOTING me saying something pro-sex feminist. Or Connie or KK or Karolyn or Laney, or Stoya or Molly Crabapple, or Charlotte or Scrap (trans) or Contessa’s Stacy Dellorfano (who’s super fucking clever and should be listened to) etc etc etc. 
If there’s these little ” ” symbols that’s a direct quote. Those symbols exist for a reason. So I am speaking for myself. Which is exactly what these trolls hate—-and do their best to discredit and ignore. It’s disgusting and disingenous. What Zak’s doing that’s being labeled so often as sexist is REPORTING what I and my friends actually say. But nobody wants to get in a fight with an lgbt feminist in a wheelchair about these ideas, so they take the extremely sexist step of assigning my words to him.
It’s a dodge to pretend that Zak’s using a “but my friends are black” type argument when he isn’t. That’s a pretty nasty way to twist what me and my game group’s other women are saying. We are women speaking from experience as much as any other woman. 
So what happens when women who have opinions and beliefs like mine go online and try to engage directly? I’ve posted about this before but it looks like I’m just going to have to repeat myself until the end of time. We get White Knighted. Here’s a bunch of people doing it, with moderator Paul Ettin helping. 
These guys think Frank Frazetta art keeps women from interacting with the rest of the hobby online? No—it’s the behavior of real-life men, like this shit on the forums that keeps women away from gaming. 
This sexism is unsurprising considering RPGnet still runs ads like this on its front page and claims it couldn’t possibly change ad servers:
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This is nothing new—long before all this, if you read through the comments here you can see another anti-sex White Knight (the Greg the post is addressed to) who later became a Men’s Right’s Activist….yeah ‘cause they’re not sexist at all right?
None of the people in the hipster gaming scene helped out with Greg. They also didn’t help when we were kicking the conservatives out of the old school community (which worked very well, thanks) after we were attacked on the blogs for doing I Hit It With My Axe. None of them showed up to defend us from sexist harassment on the forums when the show went live and the internet exploded with accusations that we were being paid to pretend to play D&D. We were being called Fake Geek Girls before Fake Geek Girls was a thing and where were they? And where are they now?
They only care about their own.
And let’s address this “marketing strategy” bullshit. Zak is an artist. He has work in the MOMA and the Whitney. I dare you call up his gallery and ask how much a painting of his sells for. Go on, I’m waiting. Our livelihood, it doesn’t come from gaming. This is our hobby. We play to enjoy ourselves and when we make a webshow or Zak makes a gaming product it’s because we want to share our hobby and our fun with other people. There’s no marketing strategy here. Perhaps you were confused by statements like “if you’re going to attacks us it only benefits us so you should probably stop”. Or “If there’s gonna be controversy, may as well take advantage of it” but Zak and his game publisher aren’t the ones on forums making people constantly talk shit about me or my friends.
And because these people are upset by the fact that women won’t fall in line they will overlook any fact you put in front of them. This is our “original sin” as far as they’re concerned:image
Oh, really? Zak discovered your forum because a podcast was “snickering”. Actually Zak came and had a talk with your forum because the people on the podcast were being sexist, condescending fucks and he came to ask for an apology—which he got.
This kind of “support” from the indie rpg community almost made me want to stop doing I Hit It With My Axe altogether. They could not have pushed the women of DIY D&D away harder. We were playing our game because we wanted to, not because we didn’t know any better.
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Bradley’s explanation is completely accurate and fair—but when it’s time to attack someone, these indie gamers never go back and check anything.
So, what are you going to do—keep complaining that you got in a fight about dice once and we were mean to you, or stand up and apologize for enabling these harassers over and over and over?
These Something Awful trolls are harassers.
Paul Ettin is a harasser.
Andri Erlingsson is a harasser.
Jussi Marttila is a harasser.
Alex Norris is a harasser.
Kai Tave is a harasser.
Tom Hatfield is a harasser.
Everyone who forwarded the attacks on us is enabling and supporting their harassment. And you need to go beyond ”Well we don’t support harassment of anybody” and stand up and admit you were wrong and you’ve been ignoring it and these are the people who have been doing it.
If you mean what you say about inclusivity in gaming and not supporting harassment or trolling then accept and respect the fact that we want to be left alone to play our game and be ourselves. We don’t deserve to be subjected to years of ongoing misogynistic attacks and bizarre speculation because of our gender, occupation, or choice of fucking game or because you can’t relate. And it adds insult to injury to continue to deny my experience of these attacks just because we happen to be different.
Maybe you’ve made some mistakes.
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EDIT:
Here’s the reaction so far…
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So a woman didn’t actually write the thing she wrote about being harassed —her boyfriend wrote it for her? Classic sexism guys, classic.


TL;DR? Here:




34 comments:

  1. Getting harassed online is a pain, and it can hurt. But it's about the context of the community it happens in. If I get harassed on some random site I post a comment on then I generally don't care because I have no investment on the site and don't care about its community values or disapproval. If you're hanging around on sites where people pull this shit and don't get slapped down en mass then I can only suggest that there's no reason to stay. Maybe that means admitting that the people who didn't do any harassing but also didn't do any slapping down aren't the kind of people you thought they were. Generally, this is where the emotional pain of these situations comes from - it's no big deal that a dick is acting like a dick (what else would they do?), but there's betrayal when ones you thought were the non-dicks sit by and watch.

    We all know there's no point in arguing with the trolls, but it's very easy to get sucked into posting in the hope that eventually someone else will prove that your investment in them was not wasted. Each posted counterpoint is, I think, really a "come on, guys, you're not going to let him talk to me like that, are you?" and each time the tumbleweeds roll past in response hurts more than the crap that some moron excreted over their keyboard.

    So, basically, admit that this is a battle that you can't "win" since the opponent has no sensory apparatus, and that these sites and people are not places you need in your life and just fuck 'em.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What they're doing isn't Trolling; it's harassment.

      "Trolls" win when they get a laugh out of someone's reaction to their prodding. The entire community loses when harassment like this is allowed to continue unchallenged, regardless of whether you have some investment in the site or not.

      This isn't about winning a battle, where after a short fight, we win equality and good treatment for everyone forever. It's about standing up for yourself and your friends, especially when other people won't.

      Delete
    2. Well, two things: firstly if one feel it's genuine harassment and no one on the board is doing anything about it, then call the cops because that's illegal in civilized countries (as are slander and libel). Secondly, this is why people set up their own boards which they can moderate to their own standards. In the long run you win by demonstrating that a board that doesn't tolerate this kind of crap is a better place to hang out and yak about elves. As long as you're not a mod, and the actual mods don't care that you are being shat on, then it's pointless continuing trying to engage in that place. Everything gets sucked into the maw of the "controversy" and eventually those not directly involved become alienated and hostile and any chance of actually enjoying chatting about elves is dead and gone.

      Delete
  2. It really truly sucks that you guys still are dealing with this kind of mindless paranoid hatred. It is so painfully clear that you guys are in the right. I just don't understand how these harassers even function.

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  3. It really saddens me to read that this is still going on. These people have nothing creative or intelligent to offer but still expect to be listened to as they spew out their hate filled invective. I love reading about your group's adventures and hope that you continue. I don't post comments very often but I always read your posts. You bring me happiness and I hope that some finds it's way to you.

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  4. BRANDON and SAVAGE CHEERLEADER--

    Mandy and I really, really, really, really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really,really, really, really, appreciate your support, but if you want to have an argument about that stuff, do it elsewhere.

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    Replies
    1. Will do brother! Keep it savage guys!

      Delete
    2. Wasn't trying to start any arguments. Was just trying to cleanse my head of all this evil stuff that just keeps affecting all the hobbies I love. Sorry you guys are in the middle of some of it. Keep playing good games and making good stuff, and good folks will continue to appreciate it.

      Delete
  5. You, Mandy and the rest of your awesome fucking D&D group have nothing but sympathy from me- not to mention admiration at the cool shit you get up to.

    I've gone to Something Awful's gaming forum exactly once, and it's not an experience I want to ever repeat. Most of my stuff deals with sex and politics or whatever in weird ways, so the one time I went over I saw this huge thread dedicated to how vile and morally reprehensible and misogynistic my Otherverse America campaign world was. Never went back after that, but I'm sure they're having fun ripping apart my more recent stuff.

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  6. LOL--the current reaction is these people _pretending they didn't retweet the FailForward article_ or pretending they can't read Mandy's post
    https://plus.google.com/+DavidHillJr/posts/NiyYtmUaSJw

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    Replies
    1. To be fair, the infographic is pretty hard to follow, and he posted it independently of the rest of the post or any other context, so a lot of the people commenting likely honestly don't know what the hell is going on. If I hadn't just read the post and seen the tweets, and had that presented to me without explanation, I wouldn't know what it was saying either.

      Delete
    2. It doesn't matter in what context he or they posted it: he posted it and that, self-evidently makes them shitty people.

      All the people who kick puppies don't know each other--but they are still all people who kick puppies.

      Delete
    3. I'm talking about Ms. Morbid's infographic in the link you put in the comment I replied to (specifically this one ), not Hatfield's "article." I'm just saying it's hardly fair to blame everyone who commented there for not understanding what's going on, since the picture is kind of hard to figure out without reading this blog post that it goes with.

      I have no intention of defending (or attacking) David Hill or anyone else until I know what the hell is going on - and since companies I do business with and people I know are implicated, I am damned well going to find out. I'm just saying that the chart at the end of the post (that Mr. Hill linked to) doesn't make a very good tl;dr - which is why Hill linked to it, no doubt.

      Delete
    4. It's easy to blame them since they've all known since august that they spread Hatfield's article.

      Also, David linked to a version _without the title on it_ I suppose to make it harder to read.

      Delete
    5. All of them? I suppose it's possible, but for that many people to publicly feign ignorance for no reason (as opposed to just keeping silent) stretches credibility. That Hill linked to an altered version is damning of him, though.

      I'll be honest, I came into this knowing about Tom Hatfield (and knowing that he's an asshole) for years, but until two days ago I'd never even heard your name or hers and didn't know about this specific thing he'd done. What I do know and care about is the tabletop gaming community's propensity to alienate and harass women, and I'll condemn anyone who does it. My sister, girlfriend, and best friend's wife all play and I know for a fact they have a rough time outside our home group; I can only imagine how much worse it must be for a public personality.

      Delete
    6. Think about: they Retweet Hatfield's libel.

      I go "That's libel, here's proof, you all should apologize"

      What's a more natural thing for the guilty, angry person to do?

      "This isa crazy person talkinf crazy conspiracies! I didn't do anything to you I don't know what you're talking about"

      or

      "I forwarded that article because it was true"

      ?

      The first one--because the second one would immediately bring calls for evidence, which have all already been hashed out as not existing.

      Someone who'd be disingenuous enough to forward an article falsely attacking someone they didn't like just because they didn't like them is disingenuous enough to play dumb when it's brought up.

      Damning evidence of David Hill is easy to come by:

      http://40.media.tumblr.com/563fe07d6551f657fb18326153df0311/tumblr_nivos2abPJ1rjame3o1_1280.jpg

      Delete
    7. I think we were talking at cross-purposes slightly, but I get you now. Yes, it makes sense. I found Hatfield's article and read it, and... he's very long on accusations and very short on evidence, which doesn't look good for him or his supporters. (The things he linked to wasn't nearly as damning as he talked them up to be - counting on his readers being too lazy to follow links, as people often are.)

      The reason I'm so interested is because I'm an investor in the local game shop, and have some say in how they stock - and one of the proprietors is a woman, who wouldn't appreciate giving money to a bunch of sexists either. Paizo is of particular interest, since Pathfinder is by far the biggest RPG seller in the local market (though I have a difficult time believing too badly of the company as a whole in this regard - after all, the iconic character for the shaman class in the ACG is a transgendered dwarf). So thank you for your time, and I'm going to dig up what I can to independently verify all this (after all, I'd be a fool to just take a blog post from someone I don't know at face value even if it is very convincing).

      Anyway, happy gaming. :)

      Delete
    8. You would indeed be a fool to take me (or anyone) at face value.

      I have links proving every single part of Hatfield's article wrong here:
      http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2014/08/how-dungeons-and-dragons-is-totally-not.html

      If you have any questions I have more links. None of this BS holds water.

      I appreciate your thoroughness and will respond to any questions on this.

      Delete
  7. Well FWIW I've never even heard of most of these jokers apart from their roles in creating, or courting, BS controversies. Small people. In every way.
    The Make Me A Sammich blogger is the only one who actually disappoints me though because she has written intelligent stuff in the past. I get defending your friends ... but take some comfort in knowing that their audience is a pretty small echo chamber of tardines.

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  8. So, if I understand this correctly, this intense vitriol was initially provoked by a disdain for the iteration of a role playing game which your group uses? That's the nominal casus belli?

    It then escalated into a series of attacks on you, your gaming group, and your social circle for some combination of being: 1) predominately female, and 2) connected to porn in some fashion. Communication from these individuals now manifests as slurs, abuse, and (most charmingly) threats to rape some of the principals associated with you. So, from a question of taste, it has now revealed itself to be a a concern about identity and morality (with the authors of rape and murder threats the self-appointed arbiters of good conduct).

    Unless there's information which I've overlooked – something apart from the ginned-up outrage over your consulting work, an incident other than the friendly-fire outing discussed in the post – this is demonstrably abuse of the worst sort. Your group has apparently drawn fire for being unusual (in composition, certainly, and to some degree in choice of system to play). Sadly, you and your players appear to be suffering this grief merely for openly enjoying your hobby.

    I'd agree with Brandon that these are not Social Justice Warriors in any meaningful way: they're bigots and bullies. They presume to dictate (styles of gaming, manners of living) not because they intend to improve the world in any way I can discern, but because they wish to shape it into something familiar to them.

    The wretches who initiated and maintained this campaign of invective and threats dishonor both the table-top gaming community, and more broadly, sentient life. My sincere sympathies that you and your group are suffering through this.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sad to hear you get shit :<
    I think I remember watching an episode or two a while back (on Penny Arcade?... maybe I'm making that up but it was around one of the times I went on a d&d podcast bender :D) when Sasha Grey was featured (think I only watched cuz I'm a fanboi ><)

    Unfortunately I didn't get hooked, though I always intend to go through my "to watch" backlog :3 (think PA ruined me by being super hilarious 100% of the time) but I really loved to see people genuinely enjoying each others company and running an awesome game.

    Can only hope the love you send out into the world (porn is love too, right :D) lightens the burden of dealing with arseholes.

    Unfortunately that view of social justice and feminism is pretty much the only thing I see. The positive alternatives seem impossibly naive to the toxicity around them, or are hated with extreme gusto by those they share a label with. (sex negs and bigots seem to dominate, makes me sad they call themselves lefty :<)

    I might be super vanilla myself, but I respect the hell out of you guys for being yourselves in all your weird, magnificent glory <3

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  10. Zak/Mandy,

    Hi. Is there enough here for the basis of a libel claim against the people making false claims, alternately getting legal/police involvement regarding threats (e.g. #GR&M tag), or is this merely a bunch of nobodies talking trash against you? Seems like this is more than talking trash.

    Who cares what you guys and the rest of your group does for a living? Between this blog and I Hit It With My Axe it is obvious that all of you are into having fun gaming. That's good enough to be welcome at any table I have ever GMed or played at.

    A couple months back a gaming buddy that I hadn't seen in many years and I got together and ended up talking about the blog and IHIWMA. Both of us had the same initial impressions. At first we thought "how gimmicky" and "cute", but then we dug in and discovered that the whole crew was made up of real gamers. All of you transcended into awesomeness.

    (Vornheim rocks, A Red and Pleasant Land rocks)

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  11. Stuart, I don't think the main point against them in the Something Awful crowd's eyes is that they play old school D&D, it's that Zak and co have sex, and they sometimes talk about it. The fact they play old school D&D rather than a newer school story game doesn't help, but its the sex that pisses the SA crowd off more.

    That crowd is really, really anti-sex for some odd reason. I got nothing but "oh, you can't do anything concerning sexuality in D&D, think of the children." So I asked them what game I should do sexuality in, and I get responses of World of Darkness and a bunch of indy games I've never heard of.

    So the fact Zak has sex on a pretty regular basis and plays retro D&D is like a perfect storm of internet rage to these people.

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  12. Chris,

    I completely agree that this is a question of lifestyle and morality, whatever the nominal trigger for the abuse. Reading Ms. Morbid's posts makes it quite clear that the vast majority of the grief hurled at her, Mr. Smith, and their associates is focused on who they are and how they conduct their intimate lives, rather than on what transpires at their gaming table. You're quite right. This appears to be a group of people infuriated that Mr. Smith and his friends are living their lives in a way that does not conform to whatever expectations (for gender roles, sexual and personal relationships, or occupations) that the Something Awful commentators understand as normative.

    If I understand the history of this debacle correctly, though, the catalyst appeared to be the version of D&D the group was playing. It's just ever more apparent how secondary a concern that truly is for the people hurling abuse like so many monkeys with feces to hand.

    On a secondary (and certainly not original) note, the choice of edition is perhaps suggestive of an approach to sexual mores more generally. In the early iterations of Dungeons & Dragons, sex was a prominent subtext, as the cover of Eldritch Wizardry or many of the interior illustrations in the Monster Manual (I'm looking at you, page 18) make abundantly clear. It would be easy to overstate the case, but the earliest editions of the game seem to have sex, and sexual transgression, “baked in” to the text in a way which the later, more polished versions of the rule books assuredly do not. I do not believe that all or even most of the people who prefer later iterations of the game are joyless prudes – but being comfortable with the presentation and implied play styles of the Old School systems is perhaps suggestive of a more open-minded approach to gaming (and, if we can extrapolate recklessly, life).

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  13. What do you want your readers to do?

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    Replies
    1. In order of importance from most to least important:

      1. Personally, for their own good, know these specific folks are not trustworthy when they say shit. Just be aware there are people who are willing to hurl fake accusations at people who disagree with them.

      2. Tell people.

      3. Within their individual ability to do so, hold the companies who support the harassers to account.

      Delete
  14. All this because they don't approve of the edition of D&D you're playing?

    I don't even... how do they justify... what the fuck???

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  15. Why do I suspect that all this dumbfuckery has less to do with the edition Zak plays than it does with who he plays it with? I mean, that is one shmexy gaming group!

    And of course Mandy and the ladies are drones. I summoned some for my gaming group, too, so I know.

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  16. Out of curiosity, what did Ryan Macklin and/or Paizo do? He's named once in a list of other people for general "not caring," but I don't see him in any of the tweets or links in the post.

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    Replies
    1. Macklin endorsed the failforward article.

      Delete
    2. I'm sorry, failforward? To my knowledge that's corporate-speak for learning from your mistakes (there's even a consulting firm named that), so I'm lost.

      It probably doesn't help that I can't read the SomethingAwful forums because I won't pay for a forum account. It would likely explain a lot of this.

      At any rate, what a bunch of jackasses.

      Delete
    3. Macklin endorsed the libel article written by the Something Awful goon Tom Hatfield.

      Delete