“It’s a meme.”
“It’s just a joke.”
“Boys will be boys.”
“She was asking for it.”
“If she didn’t want that to happen, she shouldn’t have dressed like that.”
These are all quotes that have been used to try and deflect accountability from something that someone has said or done. The first two, we hear on Serenity Valley basically every wipe. Almost every time someone says this sort of thing to me, I sort of lose my shit about it, because of how it enables and attempts to normalize these behaviors. Today, we have another profound example of why we take such a hard line to hateful speech in all the myriad forms it can take, whether racism, sexism, religious intolerance, or any of the other forms of hateful, exclusionary language that people adopt in these games as “just a joke.” This morning, a gunman charged into a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, opening fire on the congregation. As of this writing, 8 people have been reported as killed, with dozens of other people injured. As he charged in, it was reported that he was screaming, “All Jews must die.” I cannot count on just two hands the number of times I’ve seen someone with that quote in their profile, with that sentiment written on signs in-game, or have just said it in voice or text chat. Every time, they follow up with one of those quotes from the top of the page.
Let me be overwhelmingly clear:
If anything you say or do has to be followed by a comment intended to brush off accountability for what you’ve said or done, you should not be saying or doing it.
Just that simple. If you have to follow something with “It’s a meme,” or “It’s just a joke,” it’s not something you need to be saying anywhere in polite society. To you, sure, maybe you’re just trying to be funny or edgy or whatever fucked up justification you have for what you’re saying. To the people who are regularly victimized by groups that are actively, actually sharing those sentiments, it makes them uncomfortable and undermines their ability to feel safe and welcome while playing video games with us. To those sick fucks who harbor these feelings, every time they see this kind of thing posted and not punished and adamantly smashed as being unwelcome and unacceptable, it pushes just a little bit closer to action. In those minds, in those situations, every time it is allowed to stand as “just a joke,” it reinforces to them that these ideas, these thoughts, and eventually, these behaviors are acceptable.
Hate speech is never, ever acceptable. Ever. Not here. Not in real life. Not in your super secret meme groups that are just gateways into the really fucked up hate groups that are flourishing under our current administration.
Whether the mass-shooting this morning, or the nut-bag mailing out bombs in Florida, or the polo-shirt wearing psychopaths carrying tiki torches, these people all started out harboring these ideas in secret until they found people around them that would normalize and make acceptable this behavior. If you talk this kind of filth on the server, you will be banned, I will send every scrap of information we have about you to your local law enforcement’s hate crimes task force, as well as federal authorities, since these messages are being communicated across state lines. I will persecute you. I will make sure that you are called out, shamed, ridiculed, and if at all possible, charged for helping make shit like this happen. So far, we have supplied information leading to four hate-crime convictions, and two more cases are currently awaiting court dates.
Today, here, now, I call on every single member of Serenity Valley Gaming to take a stand, in our community, in your lives, in your world and stop letting this filth be “just a joke.” When you see or hear hate, call it out. You don’t have to preach, you don’t have to punch Nazis in the face. Just point it out to the people, and let them know that this is not acceptable. We live in this world. We deserve better. YOU deserve better. Don’t just let people blow these dog whistles around you. The bodies are starting to pile up in real life.