Penny Arcade Leak Describes Diversity Hub For PAX

By John Walker on December 18th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Some interesting, possibly very positive news has leaked our way from Penny Arcade. We received some documents showing their plans to create something called the Roll For Diversity Hub & Lounge for forthcoming PAXes. A place where people can get information and support about all manner of topics, issues relating to “women, LGBTQ, people of color, disabled people, and mental health issues in gaming”. It’s obviously a move in response to the extremely strong criticism PAX events have received in the past, and an attempt to make it clear that they wish the event to be more tolerant and inclusive. Great stuff.

Obviously we welcome this news, while being aware that this is a leak, not something Penny Arcade has announced. (Although they have confirmed these documents are theirs.) A deliberate effort to both promote and educate about diversity within gaming is a splendid thing. The space will be used both to offer information and support, and also for developers to promote games that relate to the topics. However, very smartly, they don’t get to do that unless they have a paid stall outside the hub too. This way it stops it from becoming purely a free advertising opportunity, and puts the emphasis on dialogue. It also means that such games aren’t ghettoised into one area.

I love that rather than making claims of enforcing stricter somethings, or putting up bigger signs, this is a proactive response to a serious issue, with a deliberate aim to provide education to those who seek it. That’s superb.

What’s less than superb is then calling that area a “safe space”, and in doing so, directly implying that the rest of your convention be designated an “unsafe space”. Let’s be fair – right now this is an internal document, and not a declared policy. But it’s a semantic matter that’s pretty damned important. Penny Arcade needs to be thinking of PAX in its entirety as a “safe space”, rather than one cordoned off area. If that’s their thinking, then things are still pretty bad. It needs to be considering this hub as literally that – the hub of the convention, from which its principles radiate. PAX has one hell of a reputation for being the province of the self-described “norm”, and reversing that begins in a vocabulary that conflicts with it. Let’s hope that terminology is soon dropped in favour of something slightly more astute.

Having decided to avoid PAX events in future, due to our distaste for how they’re run, this is clearly extremely welcome news. It looks like a very positive step forward for an event that last year in Australia scheduled a talk on how, “Any titillation gets called out as sexist or misogynistic, and involve any antagonist race aside from Anglo-Saxon and you’re called a racist. It’s gone too far and when will it all end?” Where we’ve too often seen hollow apologies being tripped over by the next bigoted remark, this is a genuine attempt to do things right. In fact, it’s a model all other gaming events would do well to copy. It’s certainly a good day when PAX looks like it’s leading the way for recognising and promoting diversity within gaming.

Edit: It’s been brought up in the comments that the term “safe zone” is one used by college campuses and the like to describe initiatives like this. It’s not a term any of us at RPS have come across before, and I’d continue to argue remains an extremely poor choice of terminology, with its implicit suggestion that outside that zone is unsafe. However, it does appear that PA were using a known term that describes what they’re attempting to do. (Those attempting to hang us on this point might perhaps want to read the words around it and think harder.)

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334 Comments »

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  1. Dave says:

    “People of color”, where to start?

    • SandmanXC says:

      As a proud Transparent, I resent your comment.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        Damn Transparents, always the underdog.
        I’ve been a Translucent since puberty but nobody cares!

        • Dave says:

          As usual the opaque community comes last….

          • The Godzilla Hunter says:

            Try being a person of non-visible-light if you want to know what being invisible means.

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            jrodman says:

            You’re just using the language of the marginalized.

            Radio and Infrared are beautiful forms of EMR. Light’s just one option.

          • Flopper says:

            As a dick wolf I’m going to file a complaint for lack of representation. This is bullshit!

          • magogjack says:

            You people got your own T-shirts, what do you want next? Key-chains? Dick Wolves just can’t be happy, you throw them a bone and they want another. Disgraceful.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      Probably here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person_of_color

      As I understand it, it’s the preferred/generally accepted term in the US. Obviously carries certain problematic connotations, but arguably less than “non-white” or “minority”.

      • commentingaccount says:

        FWIW, I’ve known/know people who are not white in the U.S. who have issues with the phrase, and people who are not white who don’t. So…. “fuck it” is my opinion. Not my fight, not my issue.

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          jrodman says:

          The name isn’t your issue, or the related things. I certainly cheer you on if you don’t decide that you have to use the term of the day. I boo you on if you say racism isn’t your problem.

      • jonahcutter says:

        We cycle through our preferred/generally acceptable terms on a fairly regular basis. Give us a bit and we’ll move on to another, eventually.

        “Person of color” actually seems a bit long in the tooth. I feel like that was more common in the early 00’s or even late 90’s.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        That would be truly awful. Because to me the term “people of colour” seems to suggest that it’s the “deviation” from the “norm” (as in; there are “people” and “coloured people”) and that “Eurasian” people are somehow the “default” and “people of non-colour”, which is just so absolutely ridiculously outrageous that you wonder how people were ever this stupid; there is no default, not to mention “white people” are clearly pink. Therefore if anyone uses the term “white people” I will henceforth take that to mean “people who’ve turned really pale” and contact emergency services accordingly because that’s clearly an indication there’s something wrong with said person. Or perhaps we could use it as a synonym for ghosts. Seriously though, for this reason, I now:
        1. Reject the existence of race. Race doesn’t exist. We’re all one species; humans aren’t (bred like) dogs so there are no races. It’s simple really.
        2. Related to 1. Completely reject the existence of race, except to explain to other people that it doesn’t exist and as a concept is merely the product of centuries of cultural and religious delusion and indoctrination (that on the whole this was largely an accident born of ignorance only serves to make it that much more heinous that it is still perpetuated to this day).
        3. If I must communicate where a person is from, I communicate where a person is from. Even as someone who dislikes our need to label anything, everything and everyone, I find “Brazilian-French” or “French-Brazilian” much preferable to “racial designations”.
        4. Consider the term “ethnic” and “ethnicity” to have become tainted. We could take the words back to be used to refer to any ethnicity, but as currently it’s always used to denote “non-European people” it’s adopted the same inherent bias as the term “people of colour”.
        5. People or person works perfectly without “racial” adjectives.

        Join in this epic quest to clear up misunderstandings and to wrench this awkward, embarrassing and broken part of language from the cold dead hands of the undead colonial officers to take it into the fabled linguistic fountain of youth!

    • RuySan says:

      “People of colour” sounds awful indeed, but I don’t know how it’s perceived in the US. But I’m almost sure that using “ethnic minorities” would be preferable.

      • Premium User Badge

        Hidden_7 says:

        “Person of colour” is the accepted term in the US, and I’ve mostly seen it in context of self-indentifying / social justice issues. It’s about the safest possible language you can use in a US based context.

        I see how it can be confusing though, since “coloured person” would be in incredibly poor taste. Terms and the connotations associated with them are tricky.

        • Koozer says:

          To me, calling some a ‘person of color’ is as bad calling people ‘blacks,’ or ‘queer,’ all of which seem to be perfectly acceptable in America.

          • Premium User Badge

            Hidden_7 says:

            Fair enough, but people self identify as people of colour or queer. The LGBT community often refers to itself as the queer community, for example. As with most of these things, context is important. E.g. it’s a generally accepted term (I believe, please correct me if I’m wrong) in the UK to refer to people of east and south east asian extraction as “oriental” whereas that’s considered fairly offensive, or at the very least antiquated and out of touch in North America.

            Point being, within the context of where this document was produced, “person of colour” was very likely chosen with specific and intentional regard toward using the “correct” term, that is the one that the people whom it was referencing would use themselves, the one least likely to cause any offense.

          • Rincewind says:

            “People of color” is a generally accepted term among the activist community as a way around the problems raised by “ethnicities,” “minorities,” and “non-whites.” The word ethnicities carries with it a lot of historical baggage, so that one went out. Minorities isn’t a particularly good term because it defines people by the national demographic trends, even though in the particular area you’re looking at, that group may in fact be the majority. Non-whites is clearly right out, since it defines people by what they aren’t. Therefore, people of color is a generic term (distinct from “colored”), that a person of color can use to describe themselves without having to go into the whole shebang about what particular race or mix of races they are. It’s also a good shortcut term to use when discussing general issues of race in America.

            As for “black,” well, that’s a term that’s gone through quite a lot of back and forth over the years, but it seems to have settled in as the default term here in America, though “African-American” continues to be the official term of art.

            Also, as for “queer,” that is a term that has been actively reclaimed by GLBTetc activists, making it their own, as a way of taking the sting out of the term.

          • tasteful says:

            the problem with “african-american” in the US is that it implies that, like asian americans and such, black people just up and decided to move here. they did not.

            african immigrants are for some purposes not considered black – i.e. african immigrant culture in the u.s. is not part of black culture

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            jrodman says:

            I suppose, but similarly my ancestors are jewish and moved here to the US under duress, but that was long enough ago that it has little to do with me. I’m not jewish, and feel no connection with new jewish immigrants or current jewish communities.

            In other words, I think the idea of ‘black’ has a lot more to do with history SINCE the mass introduction via the slave trade, although yes I agree that history was influenced by the slavetrade arrival.

          • jorygriffis says:

            Here in the US, especially in the context of conversations about social justice and equality, “people of color” is a totally acceptable term, at least as far as I know.

            Many ethnic studies scholars (again, at least in the US) prefer the word “black” to the more specific/more politicized “African-American”, both for the reasons outlined by tasteful and others above, and because not all black Americans are African-American (Haitian immigrants, for example.) It is of course up to the individual whether or not they feel comfortable with either identification.

            “Blacks” on the other hand is pretty much explicitly a racist way of generalizing black people, and I’ve really only heard dickheads use it.

          • Flopper says:

            You know it’s perfectly acceptable for a white person to call a black person black…? Unless you’re a socially awkward white person who likes to make up non-issues to debate.

      • Lemming says:

        See, I thought that as well but think about it: Doesn’t it sound worse to call someone a minority? When they well, probably aren’t?

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          jrodman says:

          Also consider that in the United States we are pretty much all minorities now.

          But our numbers are distinct from the scenario of being “not default” and therefore sometimes ignored, left out, or treated bizarrely.

          • Lemming says:

            I just think the term ‘minority’ psychologically promotes an ‘us and them’ attitude. Or worse still, a ‘normal vs not-normal’ attitude. ‘People of color’ is at least descriptive without being offensive. I’m sure some would say they are offended by that, but I don’t think it’s right to be offended by it, as it’s merely a reference to pigmentation, rather than a hierarchical division. That said, it’s still not ideal. ‘Possible targets of racial abuse/bigotry’ would’ve been a lot cleaner. Pretty sure I’ve used up my reserve of quote marks for the day on this post.

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            jrodman says:

            I’m not sure how i feel about ‘minorities’ as a term without context. It’s got a bunch of loaded context though similar to what you describe holding “the minorities” at arms length as if they’re an unreasonable rabble. So I agree with the result, though i’m not certain if it comes from psychology of the word or more the context of the time of when it was popular.

          • tormos says:

            not to mention that when people say “minorities” they mean specific ethnic/social groups rather than, say, “men”, or “gamers”, or “people who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012″ despite the fact that all three groups are minorities. So it essentially works as a code word for specific groups without saying “the blacks”

      • Diatribe says:

        I am offended by any and all mentions of diversity or ethnicity that do not conform to the one different word I choose to use to describe each and every different group. Failure to use the precise word I use shows that you are more racist, sexist, ethnocentric, and a worse person that me in general.

        Engaging smug mode.

    • laiwm says:

      I’m not gonna pretend to be an authority, but I follow a lot of people on twitter who are active in calling out & fighting racism who self-identify as “people of colour”. Maybe it’s more of an American thing, but I think it’s a generally agreed-upon term. It’s not a perfect term, but it acknowledges that the difference in opportunities between white people and non-white people in the US, UK and other countries is greater than the differences between the various ethnic minority groups.

    • schlusenbach says:

      I vote for ‘people of RGB’ (or to include the transparent folks: ‘people of RGBA’).

    • Snids says:

      I too, have just heard that phrase for the first time.
      I too, am willing to deliberately misunderstand it for a cheap joke.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      You start by adding a u.

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    melnificent says:

    After the transphobia from the Penny Arcade creators they could pay for surgery for 100 Trans* people and I’d still avoid PAX.

    Lets not forget they only rename things when they are explicitly called out on their behaviour. There was a workshop/panel that had the worst description about equality and gender representation in games. Until there was a large social media backlash it was even defended.

    Oh and dickwolves stuff, making rape jokes. I really don’t want to go into the list, but it seems to grow worse every time I hear things

    Even when they do apologise it’s to still try and twist their behaviour into a positive light. They never admit they were flat out wrong about something, just that they made a wrong choice

    • fake_squirrel_gamer says:

      I made an account so I could reply. You’ve stopped me from being a lurker.

      The one thing that’s struck me about the guys from penny arcade is that they seem pretty genuine about admitting their mistakes. They also seem pretty genuine about making changes when they offend someone.

      This doesn’t really make them good people, but it’s refreshing. I suppose we shouldn’t applaud them for doing something that everyone should do anyway. I am just cheered by their willingness to do better.

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        melnificent says:

        http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/967761811_miT38-L.jpg

        That’s pretty much the opposite of an apology. In fact it’s actively trying to upset those people they offended with the dickwolves comic, ie sexual assault victims.

        Outing an employee to excuse behaviour is the other non-apology they have done. Which is illegal in the UK, but it would appear that US laws work differently.

        Also the tweets from whichever of them it was that started the whole transgender debacle, was equally bad. They don’t apologise, they twist things instead.

        ps. About time you stopped lurking.

        • Reapy says:

          !DDD into ASE is good, but often you want SSE instead, or even SER or ERS to be effective.

          On the forum of this game, that sentence makes sense. Here, it makes no sense. I don’t expect to, even on a posting for this game here, anyone to understand this. Why would I expect a specific gender studies definition of the common usage terms man and woman to be understood outside of a forum that isn’t focused on the difference between gender identity and anatomy?

          • tasteful says:

            reapy, if you take your really dumb post to its logical conclusion i think you might see how dumb you are

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            Matt_W says:

            It ain’t that Krahulik gets these things wrong. No one expects these guys, who are essentially comedians, to not step on toes every once in awhile. It’s his reaction when he gets called out: dig in and lash out. And as much as he might think of himself as the little guy, he’s not. He’s punching down. And PA are a big enough enterprise that their tone becomes normalized in the gaming community.

          • Sian says:

            “!DDD into ASE is good, but often you want SSE instead, or even SER or ERS to be effective.”

            Er… What?

          • Reapy says:

            Notations are from wizard wars. In general context it makes no sense. On the wizard wars forums, everyone will et what it means. When I use the word woman and man in general context, to most people it doesn’t mean gender identity, but has the same context as calling someone male or female. I was not aware of this difference until the issue blew up had to research to understand the non PA side of the conversation. I don’t think a lot of people are, it is a specific way of redefining common use words. I would not expect everyone to be aware of the context they are used in outside the community in which they are coined.

            For the I’m dumb post, there is not enough information in your insulting comment for me to draw any conclusion or enlightenment, so I must disregard it unfortunately. I’m sure there is something to be learned from the angry emotion you felt at reading my comment that I could evaluate in the future if you choose to extrapolate.

            And yes I agree that PA is so big now that they have to alter the way they got big in the first place, which was talking to their readers like human beings rather than through a PR machine. One of the big things the internet allowed is unfiltered dialog and all its ugliness, and PA was one of the places to just get a raw opinion coming out. I am sure it is hard to change yourself or how you’ve done things simply because all of a sudden a lot more people are listening.

            Again, not that I really can keep up with their writing there, it is extremely hard for me to follow what they write for some reason, but I’m sure something will be lost as they will have to learn to hold their personality back more and more until you get to the point where they speak with the voice of a community rep.

          • tasteful says:

            your analogy is terrible and dumb because game-specific jargon is only useful when interfacing with that game but in an interaction between, for example, two white people, using racist language is still bad because it perpetuates racism.

            the “redefinition” of gender language you refer to is only a redefinition to the extent that it’s associated with what has been called the linguistic turn but for all intents and purposes the thing that has changed is the assumption that gender and sex are cohesive and binary.

            so no this is not some ostrich-hole you get to debate-team yourself into unless you want to be called dumb and its immensely clear from the terrible way you build sentences that you do not want to be called dumb.

          • Asurmen says:

            *Whoosh* That’s the aound of Reapy’s point going over your head, at least from the state of your repliea tasteful.

        • gekitsu says:

          wait. with the outing an employee thing, you are referring to sophie/sam prell, right?

          in that case, you got things wrong.

          krahulik ridiculed the notion of a kotaku reviewer. it was about an edutainment game on female masturbation not containing options for women without a vagina. naturally, the internet went kaboom and vented just anger in krahuliks direction.

          krahulik responded as he always does: he mouthed off and used his uncanny ability to say just the thing to a person that will make them go mental. (anyone here remember when he told harlan ellison that he enjoyed his star wars stuff?) naturally, that does little to defuse stuff.

          sophie prell contacted him in private and wrote to him about the issues raised in a level-headed way. to which krahulik responded as he always does: he pretty much said “oops, my bad.”

          he made stuff public AFTER asking sophie prell if its okay to do so, to which she gave her approval. thats something both he wrote and sophie wrote on her blog.

          now, critique can most certainly be leveled at krahulik still using his mouth like he probably had to do in high school. as others have mentioned, he is not in that down position any more.
          critique can also be leveled at kotakus tone-deaf shoehorning of gender identity matters in what was clearly a game concerned with the imbalance of “technical” education.
          but i dont think there is anything to critique in his writing that blog post after he asked for, and got an ok.

    • SomeDuder says:

      So what. They draw a funny comic and the dickwolf thing is just overemotional people overreacting, since it’s cool to hate on succesfull stuff.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        It’s ‘cool to hate on’ everything.

      • The Ultimate Clone of The Ultimate Warrior says:

        I can’t believe some people are just dismissing this as a non-issue. Okay, it doesn’t affect you. Well done for living in a vacuum. It wasn’t the dickwolves that pissed me off. It was the blatant arrogance that really ticked me off. They could of at least acknowledged that it was offensive. Instead they made fucking merchandise of it and blogged about how much they didn’t like trans people. I know Trans people don’t feel safe going to Pax anymore. Yes, they don’t *have* to go. But the fact that Penny Arcade could get away with that kind of behavior is a giant message saying that kind of intolerance is perfectly acceptable within the gaming community.

        I know a good friend of mine had to deal with abuse at MCM because some bigot felt insecure about his own sexuality and started trying to torment my friend because she felt she identified more with the female gender. How would you like it if someone made consistent remarks about an aspect of yourself and then instead of being punished. Starts making t-shits and mugs along with blogging about it. Unfortunately, not everyone can be cold and unfeeling and words can hurt. Especially when it becomes increasingly hard to ignore remarks made when people start outright celebrating what they’ve said.

        • sPOONz says:

          “Well done for living in a vacuum”

          I love this sentence!

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Are people still seriously bitching and moaning about the dick wolves? That shit was such a non-fucking-issue it’s not even funny. If you can get offended by an imaginary, non-existent creature, you have bigger things you should be worried about.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Fun fact: You do not get to decide what is offensive, you do not get to decide what is an issue/non-issue. If something offends people, it is offensive. That is the definition.

        • Reapy says:

          I take offense to this.

          ;)

          • Dave says:

            Well played

          • nitehawk says:

            Your post as perfectly captured the hypocracy of Fox news. People being offended that others are offended when they are being offensive.

        • Solidstate89 says:

          True. But I do get to laugh at the utterly ridiculous and nonsensical things people get all pissy about.

        • magos says:

          Surely the offended have an obligation to society to mediate their offence at times? I mean, I find the three-vowel sequence in your name almost unbearable, but I’m able to recognise that I’m in a minority.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I’m pretty sure you’re in the majority there. The irony is not lost on me.

          • Ich Will says:

            What exactly do you mean by “mediate offence”. Lets make the assumption that peoples offence is genuine. I know there are people who put on offence but there are also people who are as offended as they are stating. People who are faking should be called out as soon as it is apparent that they are faking but we can’t assume that all people claiming to be offended by something are faking.

            So assuming that someone has seen something and has become, through natural biochemical processes, negatively affected by what they have seen – say if a person in a wheelchair has seen a press release by an e-sports organisation that there will be no wheelchair access to an event that person wished to attend. Now we have a situation where not only has this decision affected what that person can do – they cannot attend the event – but also we can assume that this person will be upset that they were not taken into consideration, frustrated that their life is more difficult than other peoples lives and this is just one more shitty thing they have to deal with etc etc – in a word, offended. Now exactly how should this person “mediate” their offence. Should they be “allowed” to write on twitter/forums/blogs about their issue? Should they be allowed to openly state that they are offended? And if you wish them to restrict their complaining somehow, are you asking them to keep it to specialist disability forums, so regular people don’t have to read their problems? Are you asking them to not complain so much – they are allowed to complain once and then should get over it. Perhaps it’s that they should only complain when it’s something really important – like if their disability prevents them from accessing water?

            I’m really curious, please elaborate and do justify yourself too – explain exactly why and how this mediation will help, who this will help etc.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I agree with both points. However I think the distinction does need to be drawn. It is tiresome hearing people complain about every little thing they don’t like. Wheelchair access to an event seems like a reasonable complaint to have. Getting all wound up about a bad web comic that can just as easily be ignored seems much more trivial, yet its turned into this grand crusade against an entire gaming convention because………i’m really not sure, because a couple of guys said the wrong things?
            Taking offence to something has little effect when someone is getting offended at everything.

          • Ich Will says:

            The web comic thing – isn’t this just trolls trolling each other. The reactions of the PA guys is trolling plain and simple – trolling on a grand and very public scale – launching T-shirts, bringing it up time and time again. In return the people who constantly nibble back at them are trolling too. I feel like we should move on from all of that, but take one single little thing from it, one morsel of goodness from the whole debacle – If someone tells you they identify with or actually are a gender that they don’t appear to be on the surface, perhaps we can just be a little bit understanding of that and respect their wishes rather than telling them that they are wrong or different etc.

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            jrodman says:

            For me, making the decision not to tell someone they’re being dumb or whatever for calling themselves female when they looked male to me took about 2 seconds.

            I thought of him as a he, and in my mind he was a he. “He” said that really “he” identified as female and was transsexual. Maybe it helped that he was doing me a favor at the time or that I’d gone through self questioning as a gay person, but my first second was “that doesn’t make any sense”, my second second was “how can you know something like that anyway?” And then by the third second, luckily before I opened my mouth, I’d moved on to “well he probably knows more about this than I do.” It took a while longer to drop the mental “he”.

        • Icedcool says:

          Just because someone find something offensive doesn’t mean it is.

          And just because someone finds it offensive doesn’t make it anyone else’s problem, but their own.

          • Rincewind says:

            “And just because someone finds it offensive doesn’t make it anyone else’s problem, but their own.”

            This is a really unhelpful attitude. So if a white man calls a black man a “filthy n-word,” then it’s the black man’s problem?

            When Don Imus said that a woman’s basketball team was filled with “nappy-headed hos,” should the proper response have been for people to just shrug and say “Well, I know that it was offensive, but I guess that’s my problem for being offended”?

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            That is exactly what it does mean.

            If somebody is offended – sincerely offended – by something, then that thing is offensive. Does this always mean that the person who caused offense is at fault? Probably not. I’m sure there are super-specific, carefully constructed examples out there of situations where that’s not the case.
            But generally you are responsible for what comes out of your mouth. Do you have to treat other human beings fairly and kindly? Absolutely not, we’re all free to act as we please. You can brush off your own behaviour and the consequences it causes as “somebody else’s problem” and nobody really has the right or the power to stop you.

            But it is your problem. You are the problem. And even if you’re free to do it and get away with it, even if there will never be any consequences for you or the people you care about in any form, doesn’t mean it’s right.

            Idealism? Sure. Laugh, brush it off, promptly forget it and go back to doing whatever you want. I don’t actually care. If I go through my entire life without actually changing a single mind or making a single thing better I’ll still die happy.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Sticks and stones though.
            Some people on one hand will call for tolerance to all whilst in the next breath starting a witchhunt because somebody spoke a poorly thought out sentence, instantly demonising them as a racist/sexist/misogynist whatever .
            I don’t see a lot of tolerance from some of these social justice warriors towards things and people THEY don’t like, they call for everyone to be treated with respect whilst showing very little themselves.

          • Ich Will says:

            @Smokey – there are things we should demonise in society though – crime, ripping off the vulnerable and making another humans life less tolerable are all things that we should be intolerant of, I think.

            I mean, look at the success that social pressure has had with drink driving over the last 20 years, surely you don’t think we should be tolerant of those who drink and drive?

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            No of course I don’t. That was not my point though. That’s why there are laws and police procedure in place to stop most things like drink driving etc, people getting caught are given a punishment. Do you think these people should then be treated as lesser humans because they did something wrong? Or should the applicable punishment be enough?

            However I do have a problem with the current wave of social justice nonsense going on. A vocal minority seems to have appointed themselves as in charge of what can and can’t be said. Of what is offensive and what isn’t. What is OK to say and what isn’t. If anybody should cross their imaginary line then it seems a zero tolerance policy is put into action, that person is then fair game to be insulted by whoever pleases because they are now placed into one of the various -isms and they don’t deserve to be treated in the same way as other human beings.
            If somebody is being repeatedly racist, sexits, transphobic etc then that is a different story. But it seems at this point people are not allowed to say or do anything wrong or they will be branded for life.

            This works in many spheres, I am not only talking about this particular one. Even down to the instance of the CoD developer who received threats because of balance changes in the game. The people in that sphere deemed it ok to harass that man on twitter because of a singular action he made. It is no different to people claiming to be standing up for trans-gendered or gay people. Just because they are standing up for a just cause does not mean they are inherently right. Yet some people seem to want to wield the power of judge, jury and executioner as soon as they don’t like something.

          • Ich Will says:

            I totally get what you’re saying, I just really wanted to make the point that social justice most certainly does have a place in the world. 20 years ago, my father was pulled over by a policeman. The policeman was drunk, my father was drunk. They shared a whiskey or three before parting ways. Drink driving was a crime back then too. It was not criminal law that brought about the huge reduction in drink driving, it was the people who decided “We don’t want this in our society, we won’t tolerate this”.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            “social justice warrior” in itself is an attempt to demonize others. If you aren’t doing that, you really shouldn’t be using that term.

          • alw says:

            So if someone were to punch you in the face because they thought you were being a twat, that’d be your fault, right?

          • Ich Will says:

            If you punch people in the face because they did something you don’t like, you are the twat and your behaviour is the one that you will be constantly told is wrong, you will be the one who’s behaviour is demonised, you will be the one who will end up with no friends and you are the one who will be barraged with disapproval for behaviour that should not be acceptable in society.

            Does that answer your question?

          • alw says:

            Your reply makes sense, but I was asking the guy who said:

            “Just because someone find something offensive doesn’t mean it is.

            And just because someone finds it offensive doesn’t make it anyone else’s problem, but their own.”

            I suspect you and they are not coming at it from the same angle :)

          • Ich Will says:

            Ooops, sorry! :D

        • Deano2099 says:

          And you don’t have the right not to be offended.

        • Lemming says:

          True. And with that, people should feel free to ignore that offense.

        • F33bs says:

          I’m sure ultra-conservative religious people are offended when they see an atheist billboard, does that mean anyone should give a shit in the land of free speech? Of course not. Being offended is not the end-all be-all, and as adults in a civilized country we should come to terms with the fact that others have different opinions than us. It doesn’t mean they are terrible people. It just means they are different. Tolerance! Making a joke about rape is not the same as condoning rape, just as making jokes about murder is not the same as condoning Nazism. It’s ‘offensive’ to me when people equate the two in order to politically shame people they personally don’t like. Penny Arcade is a regular victim of this, not by other gamers, but by pitiable bloggers like Walker who use it for click-bait. THAT is offensive.

          • Dave says:

            “click bait” oh get over yourself.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            I’m sure ultra-conservative religious people are offended when they see an atheist billboard

            as adults in a civilized country we should come to terms with the fact that others have different opinions than us

            atheist billboard

            Surely there’s enough blame to spread around here. If everyone is supposed to “come to terms with the fact that others have different opinions than us”, then perhaps the atheists should stop posting billboards trying to convince other people to become atheists, hmm?

            (And no, I’m not religious. But I’ll admit, I do find it distasteful that atheists believe in the absence of a deity just as much as religious people believe in the presence of one, yet the atheists claim to be non-religious and backed by science. Science that has just as few ways to prove the absence of deities as it does to prove the presence of them.)

          • Diatribe says:

            Wisq, I find your ignorance of basic scientific principles offensive. E.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

            Because I am so generous, I will accept an apology for your offensive acts in spewing ignorance. Please do not do it again.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Athiest billboards are not primarily an attempt to proselytize. Maybe some athiests feel that spreading the message god not existing is important. I don’t, and I think most athiests don’t. Primarily these billboards are an attempt to normalize public perception of atheism. They are mostly attempting to send a message that atheism is reasonable, normal, valid, reasonable, and perfectly legitimate.

            This message is necessary, because in at least U.S. society, atheism is currently demonized. If you don’t believe me then look at the well-documented statistics on electability. For example would people feel willing to vote for: a black man, a woman, a gay man, a lesbian, an atheist, etc. Around 20% of US citizens would be willing to vote for an atheist for public office. In other words 80% of the nation feels that atheism RULES SOMEONE OUT of being a valid choice for public office.

            That’s a very markedly lower rating at this point than homosexuals, members of any race, gender, religion, etc. We might make a lot of noise on the TV about gays and Islam and such, but they’re far more accepted by the public than atheists.

            It’s possible that trans* people may rate even lower, I haven’t seen any numbers for them.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Diatribe, I have nothing to apologise for and thus I will not apologise. Religion is not about proving the existence (or nonexistence) of deities, it’s about believing in them (or in some non-personified force or forces) and in living one’s life according to those beliefs.

            What I generally hear coming from atheists is either direct mockery / denial / parody of mainstream religions (e.g. the FSM; a billboard saying “You KNOW it’s a Myth; This Season, Celebrate Reason!”; etc.), or a general statement that “god does not exist” (or the lesser “god probably does not exist”). The problem here is that the very definition of “god” puts it beyond the realm of provability either way. Even if someone came down from the sky and demonstrated godly powers right in front of us, we have no way to know if they’re a “god” or just a powerful alien. Or maybe we’re all just simulations in a quantum computer and we’ve literally “met our maker”. Are they “god”? Without omniscience ourselves, we cannot know.

            Scientifically, yes, there is no proof for a “god”, but that’s because the entire notion is beyond the realm of scientific provability. I’m not saying that we should admit one exists because of that. I’m just saying that people need to stop trying to conflate and/or reconcile religious beliefs with science. But that goes for both sides — both need to stop trying to claim that their beliefs are backed by science, because neither is. The only viewpoint that is truly backed by science is “the existence of god(s) is intrinsically unknowable” and/or “the term ‘god’ is too vague, broad, and unprovable to mean anything”.

            As for billboards that just say “it’s okay to be an atheist” — yes, absolutely, if things are bad enough over there that you need those, then sure. But openly mocking, denying, and parodying other religions is a form of intolerance all its own, and declaring “there is no god” is just as much a religion as declaring there is one.

          • Distec says:

            “There is no god” is no more a religious statement than “there are no pixies or unicorns”.

            I don’t know how you can equate the affirmation and denial of deities when you just wrote a few paragraphs admitting that they are borne from entirely different logic. One (atheism) is fundamentally derived from an absence of evidence or reason to believe in gods, whereas the other flouts such conventions. To accuse atheism of being an act of faith is disingenuous. I appreciate that such arguments are made in an effort to be “balanced” and equally distribute criticism, but I don’t think it’s warranted here.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            My only objection is to the blanket statement “there is no god”, as stated by atheists, based on science, when the whole notion is beyond the realm of provability.

            I’m not trying to be “balanced” here, I’m not trying to “teach the controversy” or any such bullshit. I agree wholeheartedly with atheism’s focus on science over religion. Science are the hard and fast rules we live our lives by, and any religious claims that directly contradict science can ultimately be dismissed and ignored. It’s absolutely likely that all of today’s religions are just stories invented by ignorant ancestors who used them to explain and comfort each other in a world they didn’t understand. And I agree that it’s better for people to understand and be rational than to try to explain everything away with “God Works in Mysterious Ways™”.

            So long as we accept that the world works in scientific ways, the actual question of “is there a god?” is as irrelevant to science as the question of “was the universe created yesterday?” The answer to both is “it’s unlikely, but it doesn’t change anything, so who cares?” Because as long as it was created in a 100% scientifically consistent state, we can still use science to peer back billions of years into the past to its presumed origin, and we learn way more from doing that than we’ll ever learn from religion.

            But that’s also my point. The non/existence of god(s) is irrelevant to science, but it’s also unprovable by science. Thus, stating “there is no god” is as much a belief statement as “there is a god”, even if one is much more likely than the other*. By all means, encourage people to choose science over “god” when given a choice between the two. But don’t make claims that can’t possibly be backed by science and pretend that’s not a religion.

            * which one is more likely depends on whether you believe in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis or not, and whether you would call the simulation creators/maintainers “god(s)” of the simulation

          • Diatribe says:

            @Wisq

            I’m sure you are similarly agnostic towards the existence of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, invisible CIA mind control rays, a 9/11 conspiracy, invisible pink unicorns, talking dogs, little green men from mars, and innumerable other things that cannot be disproved.

            Just because something cannot be disproved, does not mean you must be agnostic towards its existence. If you had read my link, you would see that the general scientific consensus is that if you posit something exists (especially if it conflicts with Occam’s Razor) then the onus is on you to provide evidence for it, rather than for others to provide evidence against it.

        • Premium User Badge

          dahauns says:

          Ah, but here is where it gets tricky.
          Something being offensive and something being an issue are distinct qualifiers and should always be looked at as such. There is NO right not to be offended. Being offended is – by itself – always subjective, and to be frank, again, by itself – indeed the persons’ problem because of that.
          I’m sorry if that sounds cynical, but in my experience the emphasis on Offensiveness all too often shrouds the issues themselves (which should be what is discussed) and becomes counterproductive.

        • RanDomino says:

          We should get away from this idea of things being “offensive” since that’s not really the issue. When we accept the term “offensive” we accept the characterization that what’s being offended is our sensibilities, as in those who are pointing out the problems with rape and trans- jokes are just a bunch of pearls-clutching bored middle-class dilettantes. Instead, let’s keep the focus on the real problems with these jokes, such as how they can be triggering to people who have had traumatic experiences, and how by trivializing things like rape and anti-trans attitudes they contribute to the acceptance of rape culture and anti-trans discrimination and violence.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Absolutely. The real problem is that it’s normalized, it’s perfectly ‘okay’ to attack people, to use them and their problems and fears as the subject of mockery. But if you really intended your comment to be in reply to mine, you should realise that I wasn’t trying to make the point that what’s “offensive” is what’s important. Just pointing out how wrong it is to claim you can decide what is or is not offensive for others.

            I hope you realise that I didn’t single-handedly organise this entire debate here. I contradicted somebody, called them out, when they tried to take the rights of other people into their own hands.

            I agree with you completely, you are 100% unconditionally correct.

      • laiwm says:

        Aye, please show us how to turn off our offence glands, so we can all be unfeeling, emotionally invincible sociopaths like you.

        • Solidstate89 says:

          You can start by ignoring a comic that you don’t like. No one’s forcing you to read Penny Arcade. I know it’s a strange concept to not indulge in something that offends you – but it is possible. And for 3 easy payments of 49.99, I too can show you the 2 step process.

          • magos says:

            I seriously have this problem with MailOnline. I despise it. Seriously despise it. But I can’t avoid my daily two-minute hate.

            Where do I sign up?

          • Solidstate89 says:

            Just send your checking account details to scam@scam.com. After I take the requisite payments out of that account (a convenience feature, so YOU don’t have to do anything!), you’ll be sent an e-mail with the two steps written out in over 20 different languages! There’s a even a link to a video guide, showing step by step, how to perform this amazing 2-step miracle!

            If you don’t understand any of the 20 languages that the steps are written in, we even offer our own language learning courses.

          • laiwm says:

            I guess people feel a need to comment on & criticise PA for the comic for the same reasons that you felt a need to leave your comment? Besides, this isn’t just one comic that can be ignored, PA now organise the year’s biggest dedicated gaming event. The pattern of hostility towards critics who say that PA’s attitude makes them feel unsafe & excluded is something that worries vulnerable people who want to participate in PAX.

          • Dave says:

            Money sent!

          • Randomer says:

            What about people that love >99% of the content on Penny Arcade, but who prefer that PA not remind them of extremely traumatic past events? Maybe it would be easier for PA to avoid offhand rape comments than for all those fans to avoid a website that usually caters to their interests?

          • Solidstate89 says:

            @Randomer
            Too bad, so sad? In a debate of hurt feelings and the 1st Amendment right granted to PA, I’m siding with the 1st Amendment at every opportunity.

          • tormos says:

            except that 1st amendment rights are not at issue here because Penny Arcade hasn’t been taken to court over the issue.

        • Nim says:

          Get a thicker skin

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        The issue is some people actively look to be offended. If it wasn’t this then they would find something else. Some people just love to cause trouble and start arguments.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          That’s one issue.
          It wasn’t the big one in this context, which you should know by now if you’re willing to comment on it.

        • Randomer says:

          You are right. People who have been raped and who don’t want to be reminded of it by an otherwise awesome website are clearly just trying to be offended.

          • Premium User Badge

            dahauns says:

            You mean a website who has been known from the beginning for violent, crass and vulgar humour?

          • Solidstate89 says:

            Perhaps you should start a therapy group, where people who were viciously raped by those dastardly Dickwolves can come together and talk about the hard ship they’ve had about PA making a comic about the pain they experienced from these wolves of many dicks.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            The fact there are a multitude of atrocities globally and people choose to get offended over a poorly worded comic strip, yeah that kind of proves my point tbh. This was a nothing issue, its not like it encouraged or glorified the crime in any way.
            To me it’s akin to those people who buy tickets to a comedian, or watch them on the TV. Then complain because they find the humour offensive. I highly doubt this was the first time they had printed something a bit risky, yet people will keep consuming media that is known to be on the offensive side, then go off the deep end when they find something that offends them.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Anyone who is still whining about how some people took the PA “dickwolves” comic strip badly can stop now. You’re just strawmanning this whole thing.

            Yes, some people took offense at the strip. Whether they were right or wrong to be offended and to announce their offendedness is beside the point. The issue at hand was how PA responded to them, how the PA community responded to them, what PA did or didn’t do to reign in their community (or at least attempt to), how they dealt with the threat of this battle being brought to PAX in their name, and whether or not that made PAX a highly unwelcome place for some people.

            When a diplomatic incident causes an all out war, you generally stop caring about who exactly said what to whom, and you start thinking about how to protect the people caught in the crossfire, how to end the war, and how to prevent it happening in the future. (And no, that last point still doesn’t involve caring about who said what — because if everything can be set off by one rude comment, you’ve got bigger, deeper problems.)

            If PA had made the offensive strip, and people had said they were offended, and PA had just said “we’re sorry to hear that, but you should be aware that PA is a comic strip that often resorts to crass humour and doesn’t generally limit where it ‘goes’ with that humour, so you should stop reading if you’re offended” — well, the original offended people would have mostly stayed offended, but the issue as a whole would be over. Or they could’ve said absolutely nothing. But to lash out, and then to continue to fan the flames for years afterwards — and to alternate between saying “PAX is for everyone” and actively encouraging their community to alienate anyone who complains (“wear your dickwolves shirt; I’ll be wearing mine”) — well, that’s the real problem here.

            PA can be pillars of the gaming community and hold themselves to high standards, or they can be intolerant jerks alienating everyone they disagree with or just don’t understand. They need to pick one or the other.

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        EDIT: Woops, didn’t mean for my original comment to be a reply. Please ignore it if you saw it here, it was not relevant to the original post.

      • Shuck says:

        The real issue was not with the “dickwolves” comic itself as with the response of PA when it was suggested that this might not be too funny to rape victims. PA’s extended series of responses amounted to saying, “Oh hey rape victims, is this offensive to you? Well fuck you! Ha ha!” over and over again. That was offensive. If PA had simply made the comic and then never commented on it, this wouldn’t even be an issue, frankly.

        • Rincewind says:

          Exactly.

          But this point has entirely been lost by the “LOL IT WAS JUST A JOKE” crowd.

          • derbefrier says:

            Seems like an approiate response to me. If you don’t like it fuck off. Its not their responsibility to pander to every group that decides to get offended over some trivial internet comic or insensitive remark. The PC crowd really does need to get a hold of itself. These witch hunts are a fucking joke.

          • Rincewind says:

            It’s only an appropriate response if you’re 12 and think “LOL FUCK YOU HAHAHA RAPE” is an appropriate response to criticism.

            Because it isn’t. The appropriate response was either to ignore it, engage with it, or acknowledge it and say “thanks, but we’re going to do our own thing.”

          • derbefrier says:

            fair enough but i do disagree, ignoring it isn’t an option, people should be able to defend themselves against these asinine accusations. I wouldn’t engage them either, as in thier eyes that would only validate these wild accusations. In other words what they did is what they should have done. You people wont be happy no matter what they say or do anyways as evidenced by this very article. If these accusation were lead by reason, and even an anttempt to understand these guys position i might agree but seeing as that’s not the case the best bet here is to just tell you to shut up and go away.

      • KevinLew says:

        If you look at the entire scenario and how it all unfolded, it wasn’t about dick wolves. One of their critics complained about the content of their comics. If they had just said the obvious, which is, “I understand that you’re offended by our comic, but we defend it as part of our First Amendment rights and we’re not changing it”, then the issue would have been dropped. But instead they decided to escalate the issue and that made some people mad at the time. Years pass and it gets forgotten by most people. Then for some dumb reason, PA themselves brought it up again at PAX years later.

        It’s kind of like being caught on tape saying racist commentary. People get mad; you give a weak apology; people forget. Years later, you reopen the issue by saying that you meant what you said and you shouldn’t have apologized. Seriously, that is really dumb. There is no way that it would have any kind of positive outcome other than increase the polarization of your fans and critics. Which is exactly what happened, right?

        • Moraven says:

          +1

        • Solidstate89 says:

          I’m glad they escalated the issue. That’s almost exactly the kind of sarcastic response I would have made, were I in their shoes when someone tries to censor my “art.” Which is exactly what they were asking them to do.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            This was not censorship. Censorship would be “you can’t do this or you will be arrested”. This was always “please consider not doing this in the future because it offends people”. Conflating the two, at least in the eyes of their readers, was PA’s first and biggest mistake.

            If you equate common politeness with censorship, then you’re saying that free speech doesn’t exist anywhere in the world.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            The ‘it’s not censorship if it concerns future content’ baffles me, to be honest.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Censorship involve coercion.
            Saying “that thing you did/said before upset some people. Maybe you could think about such things before doing them again” Isn’t coercion.

          • Asurmen says:

            Self-censorship is still a form of censorship.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            “Self-censorship” is also called “being polite”.

            By all means, please go out into the (real) world and state aloud everything that comes to mind, no matter how rude, lewd, or offensive. See how society treats you. Then see if perhaps you understand the need for a basic level of self-censorship.

          • Asurmen says:

            There’s a substantial difference between the self-censorship to have a function ing society and self-censorship in art and media. One is required, the other reduces human thought, knowledge and experience.

      • Moraven says:

        In the context of the comic, it was funny, especially to those that have played WoW or any MMO after.

        People will get up regardless and it really was a rather non-issue. But their poor response made it into an issue.

        I know people who are sensitive about rape and rape jokes and found no offense from the comic.

        • iamscottevil says:

          Funny/not funny, offensive, not offensive isn’t the point. In America free speech is about saying what you wish to say without criminalizing the person saying it. It does not mean you are free from criticism for what you say, i.e. stopping more speech against you.
          Taking offense to what someone says, does not entitle you to shut down their free speech, which is why the ignorant always holler about the ACLU’s defense of bad people.
          The answer to bad speech isn’t censorship of bad opinions, it’s more free speech.

          Boycott of their PAX event is a normal response when you disagree with someone’s position. In fact I see this leaked notice as a desperate attempt on their part to come to terms with balancing their freedom as comic artists with the needs of getting wide support for their corporate event. They have a choice to make, and since they threw their streaming video channel and news division overboard I think they’re still trying to find a middle ground.
          I personally am finding them tiresome, watching two grown rich white men complain their uninformed opinions are losing them money, and I have their very first book (year one) signed, kickstarted their podcast, and laughed at the comic in question. I just find my interests diverging from theirs and the comic is not on my feedly list anymore.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            It’s a right/responsibility thing, I guess.

            The right to free speech comes with the responsibility you must take for whatever you say.

      • vecordae says:

        Offense is not a dominance game. “I am offended” is not an attack. “I am offended by your offense!” doesn’t prove anything and misses the point entirely. Responding with “Well, your feelings are dumb, inappropriate, and also you should stop burdening us with them” is very much an attack. It is absolutely an attempt to establish dominance over the offended party in a situation that calls for a bit of honesty and respect from both parties. It changes the dynamic from “I feel that this is a problem” to “you are a problem.”

        That, I feel, is the real problem with how PA have conducted themselves. Being ignorant of social issues one does not regularly and personally encounter is understandable. It is also impossible to do virtually anything without it potentially offending someone, somewhere. Offense doesn’t obligate one man to another. However, once offense is voiced, one can choose to respond ethically, unethically, or not at all. They seem to be trying all three at once, but are only really experienced and proficient with responding unethically so far. Still, they do seem to be trying to correct that and that’s worth acknowledging, I think.

        • Jad says:

          Well said.

          “I am offended” is not an attack. “I am offended by your offense!” doesn’t prove anything and misses the point entirely. Responding with “Well, your feelings are dumb, inappropriate, and also you should stop burdening us with them” is very much an attack.

          I feel like these sentences need to stamped on top of half of the comments on this page (and basically any comments section following an article about these kinds of subjects).

          • Diatribe says:

            Because people are taking offense at the taking of offense, henceforth, offense may not be expressed. If you disapprove of something, you must refer to it as “ungood.” If you feel strongly, you must refer to it as “doubleplus ungood.” No other means of expression will be tolerated.

        • Premium User Badge

          dahauns says:

          “Offense is not a dominance game. “I am offended” is not an attack.”
          Seriously: No. That statement simply doesn’t hold up in reality.
          Excessive PC and language control as a weapon is a huge field of debate.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Or maybe they just draw the line somewhere else? If you don’t like one thing they do, that’s fair enough. They’ve never really apologised for DickWolves, you’re right. But does that mean every positive thing they do has to be viewed through some sort of filter that makes them the ‘bad guys’ and the people attacking them the ‘good guys’?

      I’d imagine Penny Arcade are somewhat like me. I’m hugely in support of making Cons safer and more inclusive places, I’m a full on supporter of gay and transgender rights. I have some issues with modern feminism. I thought DickWolves was fine, and I think rape jokes are generally okay (with some caveats around context and message).

      That I think some of those things about rape jokes might make you disagree with me, it might even make you think I’m a bit of an arsehole. And that’s fine. But does that mean my support of LGBT issues is therefore disingenuous? That I must be making it up because my opinion on rape jokes clearly puts me in the ‘baddies’ camp and therefore we can’t possibly agree on anything ever. Or am I just a person, with complicated views that aren’t black and white, some of which you share, and some that you don’t?

      People aren’t that simple. Penny Arcade is basically two people. Going after them when they do something good, just because they have unpleasant opinions about other things doesn’t help at all.

      • Ich Will says:

        In reply to the question you sensibly deleted – because it doesn’t have to negatively impact on someones life. OCD is only a disorder when it interferes with your life for example, otherwise you are just a tidy person*

        * Drastic oversimplification, I know, but just for my example.

        • iamscottevil says:

          Thanks, I figured it would come off as trolling and I figure I just don’t understand enough about it. Thanks for the reply though.

      • Diatribe says:

        So very much this.

  3. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    *If* the wording is altered to be less ‘Doh!’ boss, might we be changing the no-PAX policy?

    (If that reads flamey aplogies, it’s not meant to, genuine interest in the answer)

  4. Hillbert says:

    I’m not sure that labelling that area as a “Safe Space” is implying that the rest of the zone is particularly unsafe. Whenever I’ve heard “Safe Space” it’s normally been in terms of an actively monitored/moderated area where there is, on some level, a guarantee of being safe.

    For a conference the size of PAX it would be nigh on impossible to say that the entire conference would be a Safe Space. Especially for a conference which is primarily not to do with these kind of issues.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Yeah, it’s a Safe Space, rather than a safe space. The entire area should be a safe space. But Safe Space is a specific thing isn’t it? I agree that there’s a problem with terminology there, but it’s not a problem coming from PAX, it’s one coming from activism that is pushing Safe Spaces as a practical solution to a problem, that somewhat screws with any more general attempt to just make everything better.

      The problem is that when you have an activist community that support the notion, and by and large want that sort of thing, with that sort of language, it’s kinda best to say yes and do it, which is what PAX are doing. Else you end up in tricky territory akin to “I think men and women should be on equal footing in everything, but I’m not a feminist because that implies I support the rights of women above those of men”.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Hang on, I’m not trying to pick a fight or accuse you of anything here, but are you suggesting that being an ‘activist’ against something that you yourself admit is wrong, is the problem here?

        • Deano2099 says:

          Nope I’m saying that:

          a) ‘safe spaces’ was a stupid name to pick for it, and they should have done better, or start adopting ‘positive space’ more – just because I agree with their politics doesn’t mean I think they’re any good at marketing

          b) I’m not convinced it’s the best long-term solution at all, though it’s certainly a practical short-term one, and as a white cis middle-class bloke, if that’s what they want then I’ll support it because I’m likely blinded by privilege. Privilege doesn’t effect my judgement of how well they’re getting their point across though (see a) )

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Fair enough. Sorry if that came across as hostile.

          • Juan Carlo says:

            In their defense, I suspect they got the idea of a “safe place” from “Safe Zone” which is a long running program on many American college campuses which certifies professors and other administration in GLBT topics, then the certified people usually have a “Safe zone” sticker on their door which kind of advertises that people can safely talk to them about GLBT issues. Other places on campus (like the GLBT center, if there is one) would also have the sticker, indicating that it’s a place where people can freely discuss these issues without reprisal or anyone freaking out.

            So I suspect people are reading waaaaaay too much into their usage of the word “safe.” I don’t think it’s meant to imply that the rest of the convention is “unsafe,” per se, as much as they are just using the existing “Safe Zone” program as their model. I mean, in a perfect world all places would be “safe zones,” but even in 2013, I still don’t think that’s the case. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with designating places where people who want to discuss these issues can meet and do it without fear of harassment or reprisal.

  5. Themadcow says:

    Whatever people think of PAX, or Penny Arcade more generally. It’s very noticable that the moderation in their communities is very proactive in stamping down on offensive behaviour of most types. The PA leadership have often put their foot in it (this, I think, is another example) – but I’ve never doubted they are generally well intentioned.

  6. commentingaccount says:

    As someone who is both transgender and a sexual assault victim,

    Penny Arcade can well and truly go to Hell. Their actions repeatedly have shown that they are not interested in true repentance for their issues, but rather just covering their own ass. Gabe is a mad dog who should be leashed at all times, and Tycho is the moron owner who refuses to put his dog on the leash.

    You know, after the transgender incident, I had hope for them. I truly did. Then, the last PAX incident happened and it showed just how callous they are. They don’t care that actions have consequences, and that words can hurt and propagate bad and harmful ideas until their actions and words bite them on their asses. Fuck ‘em.

    • drinniol says:

      Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Have you not done or said anything stupid over the internet ever?

      • Premium User Badge

        Hanban says:

        I think equating the behaviour of PA with saying something stupid on the internet is a bit off.

        • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

          Even though it is, literally, explicitly, the exact same thing?

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            If by “say something stupid” you actually mean “say something stupid, give a big middle finger to offended parties, watch your followers send death threats to offended parties, encourage them to do so by releasing shirts, and keep bringing the issue up and egging your followers on indefinitely” … then yes.

            Me, I think we’re talking about two different things here.

          • Diatribe says:

            @Wisq

            You’re right. The people offended by the cartoon and P.A.’s response to outrage following the cartoon really shouldn’t have made those death threats.

    • Premium User Badge

      melnificent says:

      When Penny Arcade outed their EMPLOYEE to cover their own backs I realised they actively hated Trans* people.

      RPS is really good, and actively campaigning for equality in games and gaming spaces.
      it just turns into a cesspit of idiot commenters below the articles, when they don’t understand or want to understand other people.

      • Distec says:

        Actively hates trans people?

        Yeah, you’re not being ridiculous. I’d really like to see you support that.

      • Billzkrieg says:

        Whelp, this is it, this is the comment that spurred me to make an account.

        PA didn’t out anybody. Sophie was well and out long before Mike said anything. Furthermore, he asked her permission to post the letter she sent him, and was granted it, before he did so. You’re perfectly entitled to be angry, to ignore any attempts they’ve made to make amends and admit their folly. But don’t lie and spread bullshit.

        • Dances to Podcasts says:

          Haha. Complaining about idiot commenters while lying. Now that’s entertainment.

    • Reapy says:

      At what point did penny arcade stop being two random dudes who did a web comic about video games become tasked with spearheading diversity in gaming? Personally I don’t find the pa comic funny and their writing feels like incoherent babbling most of the time. I don’t understand the expectation people have for them to behave like elected officials and pretend they understand the specific issues of each person out there and are required to champion them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        When they stood up in front of hundreds/thousands of people, plus whoever was tuning in online and said this shit? Could be that.

        • Reapy says:

          What obligation do they have to conform to anther’s wishes? Just because they have achieved a large platform for their voice doesn’t convey any responsibility towards what they are saying and the way they are saying it. I have alopecia yet I do not expect them to champion anti – bald jokes. The severity of the issues are lesser, but the concept is the same. But even better would be better if the penny arcade is anti this and that was a product of true hate speech and not pedantry.

          • Rincewind says:

            The thing is that no one is telling them what to say. The original Dickwolves controversy involved a post on a website saying “Hey guys, this comic could have made people uncomfortable. In the future, please consider using a different kind of joke, as a way to make sure that your readers aren’t unnecessarily hurt in a way you didn’t intend.” It only blew up when the creators responded with a nasty and sarcastic comic making fun of that fairly tame criticism.

            The size of their platform does matter, though. They are major industry figures. They run conventions that almost 100,000 people attend each year. Coverage of each PAX event takes over the gaming media every time it happens. They dominate the conversation for significant portions of the year.

            Being that public means being open to criticism. Public figures have influence far beyond their inner circle; they dictate the conversations we’re having, as shown by the fact that I am currently writing a post about a leaked document from their offices. While they are not required to do or say anything in particular, we can still criticize (in the sense of critique, not the sense of insult) what they are saying and ask that they use their public mouthpiece in a better way.

          • Nevard says:

            Anyone with such a huge platform surely has a responsibility not to use it to spread beliefs of a hurtful nature. If you are an important cultural turning piece you definitely have to be very careful with your words and actions because they will have wide-spreading ripples and impact.
            The PA guys still do act as if they’re just a couple of guys writing a webcomic with a handful of readers rather than the figureheads that they have managed to raise themselves to be, and what is appropriate as one isn’t as the other.

            Though to be honest transphobia and dismissal of rape culture is never appropriate in the first place.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Obligation or no, the complained-about series of actions are still reprehensible. Repeated transphobia, deliberate spread of rapeculture by selling dickwolves tshirts, and so on.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            Well, OK, they do not have a legal responsibility to not say certain things in a public forum like a PAX panel or their website (note that politicians don’t, either). However, they do have greater power in the community – they have a fairly wealthy company that organises conventions, and a website that is well-read. While RPS has criticised everyone in the community that makes minority groups feel unwelcome, it isn’t unreasonable to criticise the comments of those with more influence specifically, since those comments will likely be more visible than those of joerandom304 in the DOTA2 chat window.

            As I’ve said before, satire can be filthy and yet self-conscious – I cited South Park’s Hobbit episode for something that is pro-feminist, and yet is still, well, South Park. Of course you can make any joke you want to – but you don’t have to, and equally others are open to criticise you. It’s not your legal responsibility to be self-conscious about what you say and apologise when you mess up in the broadest sense, but it is your responsibility as a decent person.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vesuvius says:

        No one REQUIRES them to do anything.

        People, however, have opinions about how your “just two guys” (who- a decade later are running a multi-million dollar enterprise with huge conventions on multiple continents, who spearhead a huge charity, who have published games, and who purport to speak for gamers everywhere) people have opinions as to how individuals in that position use their power. As well they should. To say “why are you upset that corporation X is homophobic, they only ever wanted to sell sprockets, so get off your high horse and stop judging their degrading ad campaign”… well..

        PA chose to use their position of power to bring up these issues, to expect their audience to only cheer them on or keep quiet is unreasonable.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “At what point did penny arcade stop being two random dudes who did a web comic”

        Probably somewhere around the time they became two random dudes in charge of a huge annual conference that brings in tens of thousands of people and is the subject of the post you’re commenting on.

    • Lanfranc says:

      Perhaps in addition to the safe spaces, they could also make a “free speech zone” and dump Gabe in there for the duration?

  7. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    The mixed feelings I have about the idea (good that they’re trying something, bad that their idea appears to be a Gay Ghetto, but there’s time to change details so no point getting worked up) is tempered by the joy I feel at having access to the internet during a Penny Arcade Did A Thing moment. Do I make a joke about having a “Diversity Bus”, where Diverse people have to sit at the back, or a joke about them making Diverse people wear yellow stars so normal people can tell who is Diverse? The agony of choice…

  8. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    That’s it. Now I’m not going to PAX.

    • Nim says:

      Can I buy your ticket?

    • Icedcool says:

      Good.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        Yes. Of all the other times I did not go to PAX, at least now I have a reason. :)

    • Distec says:

      Oh my gosh, Penny Arcade is trying to do something good and constructive to make up for past sins (real and imaginary)! How do we respond to this?

      FUCK ‘EM HARDER, ASSHOLES

  9. Oathbreaker says:

    Hi RPS. I love you. But really, get over yourselves.

    • Dave says:

      I agree! How dare they report news! Down with this sort of thing!

      • Nim says:

        I would call it olds.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        They’re not “reporting”. They’re trying to shape facts to fit their own slanted agenda. The whole manufactured Penny Arcade beef RPS has is completely laughable, because it’s based entirely on RPS lying their asses off and twisting reality to get people on their side.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “They’re not “reporting”. They’re trying to shape facts to fit their own slanted agenda.”

          Every publication does this. When you don’t notice it, it’s because the agenda fits your own.

          • Ich Will says:

            Allow me to correct that for DatonKallandor:

            “They’re not just “reporting”. They’re trying to use the facts to form their own distinct opinion.”

            The whole Penny Arcade beef RPS has is understandable if you use your empathy gland, because it’s based entirely on RPS having an opinion and telling people what it is.

    • Curratum says:

      Oh, RPS, I love you so but do you have to put up one of these every week? My desire to read your otherwise consistently above-average articles dwindles every time I run into yet another of those pieces.
      People are not inherently evil, spiteful bastards. Not everyone on the internet wants to debase women and make fun of people with a different sexuality. Most of the time people just want to play games, have fun and then read RPS articles related to games and fun.

      • Premium User Badge

        Hanban says:

        I am now imagining people chained to comfortable gaming chairs being forced to read news items on RPS. DAMN THEM FOR FORCING PEOPLE TO READ ARTICLES!

        • Reapy says:

          I want women playing games. I’ve always dreamed about that, I love chatting with women and getting a different point of view on things. It would be cool to have a 50 / 50 gender split in the games I jump into online. I support this goal and would love to help it out as much as possible. I try to call out homophobia and racism online when I see it (except for pro trolls, no gains to be had there) and whatever else I can do to steer the gaming back to gaming.

          I just don’t think this sort of approach is effective and helpful at all. It lectures and doesn’t teach, it polarizes and strengthens positions rather than softening them and allowing a change. It acts like a person who draws a woman the same way art books all show them is intentionally trying to oppress women. This stance will pucker up any humans ability to hear your words.

          But whatever this has been brought up many times before in comments. I like the articles about deeper issues in gaming, but I’d prefer them to be awareness and educational rather than fire and brimstone, but I don’t think the authors here are personally capable of moving from their space, a thing that they ironically call out other people for all the time.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            The ‘fire and brimstone’ here is in the comments section. You realise that, don’t you?

          • Rincewind says:

            As the commentator above me correctly pointed out, there is no fire and brimstone in the article, only in the comments.

            Summing up the article:
            “This is a step in the right direction, but their use of wording here makes it unclear exactly what their motives are, and they should attempt to dedicate themselves to a more inclusive convention as a whole, not just one space.”

          • Reapy says:

            Fire and brimstone from previous articles. Tone here comes from a place as though all the articles and ideas are facts rather than debatable, which they are based on the probably 3000+ comments total on the ‘issues’ that have come by.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Perhaps they can move all these articles from the main page into a separate, special and safe Diversity sub-site?

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “Oh, RPS, I love you so but do you have to put up one of these every week?”

        The last PAX article was three months ago.

    • Iscannon says:

      It’s really just John that needs to get over himself. The rest of RPS writes about games and doesn’t assume the reader base needs to be taught lessons about how not to objectify women/minorities/other humans etc.

      • John Walker says:

        I’m just wondering what part of me needs to be “got over”, in reporting the news of some leaked documents from PAX, about a thing they’re doing?

        • Rincewind says:

          John, even though the article was in NO ways inflammatory, I just want to say that as a reader, you have nothing to “get over.”

          Keep up the good work. There’s a reason that this is the only gaming site I check every day, and your writing is a large part of it.

        • Deano2099 says:

          The part of you that gives people like the above the time of day rather than just delete his rubbish and move on. Sometimes I think you’ve been dead wrong about stuff, and sometimes I think you’ve flown off the handle at people that want a legitimate discussion, but lscannon’s post is just pure rubbish, a personal attack with no point or argument whatsoever. Noise that isn’t worth bothering with.

        • Reapy says:

          Most likely the ‘well look they still fucked it up’ bit at the end. The problem really is that this tented area is going to enforce a very regulated set of behaviors, probably monitoring everything you are wearing and saying within the vicinity. It is most likely impossible as a person not up to speed on this to know how to behave when you enter this area. PAX has millions of DIVERSE people of age and background attending.

          I personally don’t think I come across as offensive to any groups but I would be very uncomfortable walking into this area at PAX because I have no clue how I am supposed to conduct myself, will I be thrown out? Mocked by a large group of people, harassed because I said something wrong in the safe zone and offended a person unintentionally? It is like walking into a club where you don’t quite understand the rules.

          It would be virtually impossible and probably wrong to try to control speech in such a way for the entire area of pax. As a person from the states I really do value our first amendment right to speech, I would hate to be in a place where things go down like the guy that was fired for saying ‘i’d fork his repo’, and meaning, he would literally fork the code repository from svn.

          It is nice they are making a safe area in a diverse public event, but when I go outside I don’t expect the same type of understanding of my personal issues and semantics that I expect in my house. Creating a safe space and calling it that is not implying PAX is un safe. You, John Walker, are implying PAX is unsafe.

          They are implying that a diverse crowd of thousands is uncontrollable at the level they will be able to in a smaller area. They could make these ‘safe rules’ for PAX and try to have 1000 guys enforce them, but they still won’t cover everything and it would be infective. At least this way there will actually be something effectively done.

          But still, not good enough?

          As a reader here of your words I always find it interesting how I always 100% agree with your stance on issues but 100% disagree with how you identify those issues and talk about them.

          • Deano2099 says:

            Reapy – not really the point, but if you do go to PAX, I’d suggest you go over there and just politely ask them to tell you what it’s all about. They’ll probably appreciate your interest, and you’ll benefit from what you learn. They’re not club bouncers looking for a reason to kick you out.

          • Reapy says:

            I definitely would love to do that and will try to do so.

        • Iscannon says:

          Just to clarify my stance here John, someone mentioned it below and I thought it might reassure you slightly regarding my attitude towards these articles:

          “As a reader here of your words I always find it interesting how I always 100% agree with your stance on issues but 100% disagree with how you identify those issues and talk about them.”

        • Berzee says:

          “I’m just wondering what part of me needs to be “got over””

          ankles

  10. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    John Walker, you truly have no idea what a “safe space” refers to in that context. In your rush to find something to criticize, you have nitpicked on the most innocent detail there is.

    Please go to any self-respecting LGBT-friendly and/or feminist blog and get educated. You’ll find that they make similar claims of being a safe space. You go ahead and find about whether they mean to imply the rest of the whole world (or blogosphere) is unsafe.

    I anticipate your cheeky edit.

    • Deano2099 says:

      It’s true, but given that Walker is a huge proponent of feminism and equality in gaming, to the point of making half of the internet hate him, the fact that even he doesn’t know what ‘safe space’ means in this context pretty much demonstrates the problem with the phrase doesn’t it?

      If John Walker of all people doesn’t get it, what hope for your average Penny Arcade attendee?

      • Premium User Badge

        daphne says:

        That’s a valid query. But the term serves a purpose, for that we have those who fought for those spaces to thank (not to mention, critical theory in general is concerned with the notion of a space).

        I don’t really blame Walker, he’s simply pointing out the binary opposition inherent in such classifications. But PAX is simply using the correct terminology here, and I don’t see a reason to fault them for doing the right thing. Yes, ideally the whole event should be a safe space. But this panel, this hub, is especially safe. And it’s not a bad thing to describe. It’s not condemning the remains to being unsafe.

        • Deano2099 says:

          Aye – as in my other post, it’s not PAX at fault. But I don’t think it’s John at fault either just for being ignorant of a term that has an obvious alternative meaning. It was a bad choice of term to start with. I like positive space better, but what can you do?

          • GROM says:

            But that implies that the rest of the convention is a negative space!!!!1! see, I can twist words to further prove any point I’m willing to make even if it only exists in my head, teehee

          • Deano2099 says:

            Yeah, but I’d pick negative over unsafe any time. Also in regards to PAX, it’s probably true.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        Well, the leak itself states that it’s a existing term and gives some alternates (“safer space”, “positive space” etc). You basically can’t read about the fact that there’s a Safe Space without reading why they’re calling it that. And criticizing PAX in particular for using a widely-adopted term is pretty absurd. It’s a valid discussion, but it’s not a PAX issue, it’s a community issue.

        Besides, even if John was unaware of the term, the onus is kinda on him to do the research before making those kinds of claims. Journalistic integrity and such.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      The difference being: the rest of the world isn’t controlled by the owners of those blogs.

      Meanwhile the rest of PAX *is* controlled by the organisers of PAX. They could try to ensure the whole of the convention is a safe space (as far as is possible), rather than just a tiny part of it. The above documents imply they don’t seem to think that’s worth doing for some reason.

      • Premium User Badge

        daphne says:

        They are not implying that, though. And if you want to look at it that way — and Mr Walker rightly does not — surely the existence of a seperate hub like this it itself troubling, rather than the fact of it being called a safe space?

    • cbob says:

      It doesn’t even say it’s a safe space in the document: it says the enforcers there will have “Safe Zone training”, and that anyone can get Safe Zone training there if they wish, which seems considerably more positive than people are spinning it as.

      • Luke says:

        +1 for actually reading the words and not just seeing what you want to.

        The only time the term safe-space is used is when they are providing the definition of the term, in the context of a training session that will be made available in the “Diversity hub”.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      What I think Walker misses is that “Safe Zone” is a loooooong running program on college campuses which certifies professors and other administration in GLBT topics, then the certified people usually have a “Safe zone” sticker on their door which kind of advertises that people can safely talk to them about GLBT issues. Other places on campus (like the GLBT center, if there is one) would also have the sticker, indicating that it’s a place where people can freely discuss these issues without reprisal or anyone freaking out (because, yes, even in 2013 sometimes people will freak out if you bring up GLBT topics, so safe zone is really just a means of establishing places where discussion can take place without all the usual impediments).

      PAX just seems to be adopting this same approach (I don’t know if this is directly affiliated with Safe Zone, or if they are just using it as a model), so I think it’s unfair to criticize them for this as they are just using terminology and a model that the gay rights movement has used for years.

  11. Premium User Badge

    cpt_freakout says:

    I disagree with the point that this is a good thing. The intention might be positive, but like you imply, it reinforces separation, difference as ‘not normal’ because there are areas for you to be your weird little self among other weird little selves. Tolerance will only get you so far – what things like PAX and most places in the world need is acceptance and understanding, which would mean actually changing the structure of the show and consequently its content, allowing everyone in the place to identify as a (great) community made of a myriad different perspectives on the world instead of having a “happy subaltern place” where the “normals” can become misery-tourists. Having a spatial separation is a superficial statement, and to me it reveals the extent to which these people haven’t understood anything about the criticism they’ve been getting.

    • Jac says:

      Very well put. Completely agree.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Ghettos are not “safe zones”. Simply put.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Absolutely this.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      What happens when in the “myriad different perspectives” you speak of, everybody finds something about the content of the show that offends them? Do we just have an empty hall with no content, because you speak of changing the content so its not offensive. Even if your lowest common denominator is pink fluffy bunnies, you know what, I find that offensively bad content, best remove it. There you go, we now have no show.

      The idea of changing content to be more inclusive is, in my opinion, ridiculous. There needs to be content ADDED for everyone. Not the systematic removal of anything that people don’t like. This crusade against scantily clad females in gaming I find ridiculous, it is NOT THE PROBLEM, it serves a purpose and has a market demographic which it fills. Supply and Demand. The issue is the lack of alternative entertainment, this is where the focus needs to be.

      • Tams80 says:

        People should have tolerance. Most of the offence taken in the games industry is petty.

      • Premium User Badge

        RaveTurned says:

        What happens when in the “myriad different perspectives” you speak of, everybody finds something about the content of the show that offends them?

        Pretty sure this isn’t a thing that has ever happened, or ever will. When it does, check back here and we’ll work something out.

      • RanDomino says:

        Yeah, people should have more tolerance for the objectification of women.

        • Tams80 says:

          The best response to that is to ignore those who practice it.

          • RanDomino says:

            Ignoring rape, violence, and everyday harassment is easy, for those who aren’t subjected to it.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      This would be all well and good in a perfect world, but in reality GLBT issues are still controversial so you never know how someone is going to react when you bring them up. Which can have a chilling effect as many people will end up just staying silent for fear of causing a fuss or drawing attention to themselves, or even, out of fear of negative reactions. Safe Zones just provide a place where people who want to discuss this can do so freely and without fear. I don’t think it’s about separation or ghettoizing gays or anything like that, it’s more about providing a forum and pretext for people to discuss these issues openly, who otherwise might not have.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Okay: yes. You’re right. As a statement, as an attempt to effect actual societal change, and create a long term acceptance for people of all genders and sexualities, it’s probably not helpful. Perhaps even harmful.

      But.

      Is it harmful enough to outweigh the short term benefits of actually making it safe for these people to attend a convention in some capacity and feel a degree of inclusion where there previously was none? Is it harmful enough to outweigh letting these people actually feel comfortable in the here and now.

      Honestly: I don’t know. To be honest I probably agree with you more than not. But I kinda think it’s up to that community to make that call, not those of us peering in, because after all, what do we know about what’s best for them?

      • Premium User Badge

        cpt_freakout says:

        I think that we are, essentially, in agreement. Part of my point is that the people who attend PAX, in this attendance, constitute a community. While the decision should be up to them entirely, I think that the people who organize this event and give it a name and a certain identity cannot be discarded as an important factor of what makes the PAX community a community. The difference is that they have an hand in the way people relate when at the event, by means not only of panels and activities and so on, but also how the place itself is set up, so when the community gathers up, the form it takes is that of the event itself. So what I’m saying is not that we know better, but that these things can and should be contested from inside and outside, creating a discussion that might benefit everyone. What I would argue, then, is that the short-term benefits you mention are actually only that, and they change nothing of the ‘state of the question’ that comes to the fore when asking how the community should grow for the better, which I think is what is valuable from this whole issue.

        I think it’s not, like the other poster said above, about quantity of content (cutting or adding) but about its quality. It’s not about catering to the offended, because that’s exactly what PAX is doing, which is a very ineffective way of dealing with problems. I think it’s about asking that fundamental question of what the PAX community is and how it is conformed, and how it can be built on understanding that we’re all very different from each other without resorting to an establishment of divisions and categorizations that make differences seem not the rule but the exception. I think that if the organizers had that in mind, that we all like videogames but we all have diverse ways of playing, looking, feeling, and so on, (instead of basically saying “this is normal, this is not, but hey, we’re nice and give you your own playground so you don’t need to mingle!”) the show could start shifting gears towards something else, maybe even better.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          (setting some context: I went to PAX East last year and have ordered tickets to go this year as well. I vaguely follow Penny Arcade but wouldn’t really consider myself much of a fan.)

          Can you point out anything about PAX as a show that you think needs to be changed? From what I’ve seen, most of the objections to PAX are actually either towards the Penny Arcade creators themselves or towards some of the attendees’ behaviors. As far as I can see, the show itself is neutral at worst; it’s almost entirely about the games themselves, with some light focus on the community through fan panel-type stuff.

          Tycho/Gabe and their big panel are probably the most politicized and/or toxic part of the whole thing, but there’s some weirdness in that their company is organizing the show. I feel that the show has long since evolved past the PA branding, but I don’t think they’ll remove it anytime soon. If that’s too problematic overall, it might be a lost cause.

          Anyway, I’m not sure that PAX can really do anything besides making an attempt to educate people. Maybe a centralized affair isn’t the right way to go about it (maybe incentivize panelists and companies to include tolerant messaging in their bits?), but I think it’s a step in the right direction.

    • The Random One says:

      This is basic PA stuff, trying to do good the worst way possible. Just like when they banned booth babes in such a way that the booth babes themselves were being targeted, rather than the companies that hired them.

  12. Pamplemousse says:

    This’ll get maybe 300 comments so I might as well get in on the first page.

    “What’s less than superb is then calling that area a “safe space”, and in doing so, directly implying that the rest of your convention be designated an “unsafe space””

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    Just because this one area of PAX is given over to the discussion of these issues DOES NOT mean that the rest of the expo is violently against LGBTQ issues. This implication is absurd.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I agree completely. This is an absurd implication indeed. So… uh… why did you make it?

      • MichaelGC says:

        That quote from the article states that’s the implication (perhaps with a slight flourish of exaggeration just as part of a writer’s art – I’m not sure).

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      It’s maybe poorly worded but people are going over the top with it. Like the rest of the expo will suddenly turn into something resembling a crowd of football hooligans brawling over the last meat pie.
      I’ve said it before, purely arguing semantics in most situations is wholly stupid. Yet some people love to pick through every sentence with a fine tooth comb and find a phrase or expression which can be thrown back in the writers face without trying to consider the greater meaning of their words.
      Look at pretty much any of the discussion threads of this nature (discrimination etc) on RPS. It devolves into pages and pages of semantics based discussion and people trying to one-up each other with bigger and longer words rather than creating any meaningful, constructive back and forth.

  13. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I am very certain that the diversity zone will receive many wonderful well-wishing visitors who don’t require it, and who will take part in the education and training opportunities. What possibly could happen otherwise?

  14. tellrov says:

    “Any titillation gets called out as sexist or misogynistic, and involve any antagonist race aside from Anglo-Saxon and you’re called a racist. It’s gone too far and when will it all end?”

    But that’s a valid point of discussion.

    • Nevard says:

      Not really

    • Premium User Badge

      Unknown says:

      No, it’s not. The two premises are false and the point of discussion is “when will it all end?” which is another way of saying “how do we shut these people up?” Do you really think “how can we silence our critics?” is a valid discussion?

      • ugadog says:

        How can we silence our critics seems to me to be a perfectly valid conversation depending on the solution. Assassinate them – No. Ban them from saying things – No. Persuade them they are wrong through open and honest discussion – Why not?

    • The Random One says:

      It will end when people learn to create titillation without objectification, and to use non-Anglo-Saxon characters for things other than “comedy sidekick” and “ineffective wise mentor”.

  15. P-Dazzle says:

    This Social Justice Warrior Expo is becoming a laughing stock :)

  16. Bull0 says:

    Not sure how having that talk title is such a problem. Isn’t the goal for everyone to be able to express their ideas, and the best ones to float to the top / the worst to sink to the bottom? I’d be more concerned if they only had talks with agreeable topics.

    I get the idea about making the new bit the “safe space” implying that the rest of the convention isn’t, yeah, that’s clumsily worded. Ought to fix that up.

    • taristo says:

      Haven’t RPS made their stance on this abundantly clear? “We do not have a freedom of speech policy here. If we find your post offensive, or just don’t like it, it may get deleted. Complaining about it won’t change anything.”
      Expressing ideas should only be allowed on agreeable topics. Everything else should not be tolerated.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Except you’ll note that a good half of the comments here (I pulled that out of my ass but it must be about right, feel free to count) are people disagreeing with RPS, or more specifically with this writer, to various degrees and in various tones, ranging from “here’s why you’re wrong please consider changing” to “you are sickening/laughable/stupid please stop writing”.

        They are fine with you making your opinion clear – and apparently even fine with you sounding like an ass in the process – and, it seems to me, that disclaimer is there purely to forewarn of the removal of the most extremely vulgar/hateful comments in the most extreme circumstances. I admire them for it.

      • Bull0 says:

        Ah, I dunno, man. I don’t think the two scenarios compare that directly. I can see the benefit in keeping some order in your blog comments by removing trolly posts, but that’s not the same as citing PA’s allowing that talk to go ahead as proof of some wrongdoing. I think it’s the opposite. Give people enough rope to hang themselves. Discuss the attitudes and opinions and reach common ground instead of fucking demonising people all the time. It’s immature.

  17. InternetBatman says:

    Eh. They should just have a not being a douche event. Gender issues aside, there’s still a core disregard for their fellow human beings.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      That is pretty much the major problem. Possibly the only problem. This isn’t about treating any single group of human beings poorly, that’s a symptom. The problem is this mindset that it is okay – ever – to treat another human poorly. That somehow it’s alright, that the consequences of your actions are somebody else’s problem, that your feelings and/or safety are all that actually matter.

      I vaguely recall some major historical figure once suggesting that every single human-on-human problem in the history of the world can be traced back to people treating other people like objects. I really believe that’s the case.

      • InternetBatman says:

        It’s Granny Weatherwax from Discworld: “A sin is treating people like they’re objects.” From Carpe Jugulum.

        • MichaelGC says:

          It’s possible Granny was channelling the ‘Kingdom of Ends’ formulation of Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. If I remember rightly, and I probably don’t, it basically states that people must always be treated as ends-in-themselves, but never as means-to-an-end. And further that the hedgehog can never be buggered at all.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          While I’m fairly sure this isn’t what I was originally thinking of, I’ll go with it. So much wisdom in that one.

    • The Random One says:

      Are you suggesting they shouldn’t invite themselves to their own expo?
      MASSIVE ZIIIIIIIIIIIING

  18. cpugeek13 says:

    I’m sorry, but making a big deal out of semantics is one of the lowest forms of journalism. On a related note, thats basically 99% of what Fox News does on a daily basis. This article isn’t so bad, since it at least looks at things from the bigger picture, but I’ve already read some overly negative ones. Of course they’re not implying that the rest of the event isn’t safe, that would be crazy. Stop analyzing the words and be happy that they’re at least making an effort.

    • Horg says:

      ”semantics”

      In legal speak, semantics are a big deal. Context is everything, and I think this context warrants closer inspection of what exactly they mean by ”safe zone” in relation tot he rest of the event. It might be harmless enough, but asking for clarification certainly doesn’t hurt.

      • MichaelGC says:

        The leaked documents are quite detailed. Plus the ones above seem to say ‘1’ and ‘2 of 4.’ I wonder if there is some more somewhere? (I guess I can look myself after the foot-to-ball.)

  19. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    As I gather, there were similar panels at previous PAX events, where the creators also said inflammatory things. So while Penny Arcade as an organisation might be trying to broaden its appeal, I don’t really believe that at its heart it has changed much. My guess is that this sort of thing will keep happening.

    And again, I’m not particularly against satire, even offensive satire – hell, South Park’s recent Hobbit episode was a pretty great attack on sexism in modern society. But if you run a huge gaming show and popular website, it probably helps to punch up, not down. Although to be honest I’m not even convinced that being an awful person is all that great even if you’re just some prick in a bedsit typing invective into 4chan.

  20. Tei says:

    “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.”

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      “Lovers make better humans, for haters bring misery to themselves and others.”

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

        Wait. I think I am doing it wrong.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      I wrote a comment that got marked as spam for some reason, so I’ll just shorten it and say that free speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism.

      • LionsPhil says:

        That’s weird, I saw that comment for several seconds.

        RPS’ comment system really is something else.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          I tried to edit in something else, which brought up the spam filter. So I dunno.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          In retrospect I probably forgot to agree with Jennifer before mentioning my salary and then giving a link to a Russian malware site.

  21. Rincewind says:

    Commentators who have come on here spewing insults towards those who were offended by the whole Dickwolves thing are the perfect example of why this story has continued to exist over the past years; because every time it’s even mentioned, a legion of rabid fans shows up to actively try to force PA’s detractors to shut up, and does so in increasingly insulting ways. This just keeps the impression in people’s minds that PA just “doesn’t get it” and never will.

    Dickwolves went away as a thing for a while because PA’s creators had apologized and seemingly made amends. Then they themselves blew it all open again on stage at PAX (you know, one of three massive gaming conventions that they run, which is a great indication that Penny Arcade is way more than simply a webcomic), and everyone started talking about it again, which included the return of the PA defenders who mock, insult, and belittle anyone who had the audacity to not think a joke was funny or to get offended by people making fun of who they are.

    • Rincewind says:

      My post makes a lot more sense in context with the previous thread it was replying to. Mods, if you want to delete it, be my guest.

      [or I just edited it to make it more coherent on its own]

    • Grygus says:

      Nobody cares that you don’t think Dickwolves are funny, and pretending otherwise is intellectually bankrupt. People get made fun of for considering that comic strip a rape joke, when it is very clearly the opposite; I’m pretty sure the majority of people who think Dickwolves is a rape joke haven’t even read the comic. Yes, the word “rape” is there, and yes, it is a joke. That doesn’t mean it’s a rape joke – in fact, the actual statement being made doesn’t even work if rape isn’t horrific. If they hadn’t gone off half-cocked and reacted like idiots to the criticism, 100% of their detractors on this issue would be morons. Unfortunately for everyone, instead of calmly pointing out that they hadn’t made a rape joke, they got their feelings hurt and lashed out. If you want to be mad at them for their reaction to the reaction, I think that’s completely fair… but the comic itself is only tangentially related to that, and whether you think that comic is funny is utterly irrelevant.

      The PA dudes aren’t perfect people. Sometimes, they’re actually bad, and their handling of this matter in particular has been clumsy at best. But the genesis of the problem was people throwing hurtful accusations without bothering to do any research or thought whatsoever… the very thing they are mad at PA for doing. It’s all a big ball of hypocrisy, and nobody seems to want to realize that the stupid shit they do is eerily similar to the stupid shit we all do, every day. Instead of holding a grudge so huge that even positive overtures have to be examined for the hidden digs that they obviously must be, we should take away that we’re all selfish assholes, each and every one of us, and we all need to be vigilant against that tendency. It’s the exact same lesson we should be learning from all kinds of mistakes that people make, but instead we turn people into monsters and learn exactly nothing about ourselves, preferring to pretend that we’re immune to bad behavior. It’s a sadly missed opportunity for self-improvement.

      • Rincewind says:

        Sigh.

        Again, for like the millionth time on the internet and probably the tenth or eleventh time in this thread, the Dickwolves controversy erupted not after the blog post asking (not demanding) Penny Arcade to not use rape victims as a punchline, but after Penny Arcade posted their disproportionately angry response comic essentially telling their critics to go fuck themselves and making explicit rape jokes, and then doubling down on the situation by creating and selling a T-shirt whose sole purpose was to insult and belittle the people who had criticized them.

        Pretending that this whole mess started because people just didn’t get a joke is intellectually bankrupt.

        • Reapy says:

          I call this ‘old internet’ versus ‘new internet’.

          A ways back this was a standard response to offended readers, many sites has ‘hate mail’ pages that were highlights of people getting upset for off the cuff reasons (such as using the word rape somehow means the author is targeting rape victims ) and flaying them on the site.

          They clearly had not updated themselves with the times nor the position they are sitting in such that you can’t as easily get away with that style of humor anymore.

          • Grover says:

            Aye, getting offended on the internet used to mark you as a drooling moron worthy of that old wall of shame: the hate mail section. Not today.

            Taking offense has become a way of winning arguments and establishing a clique for social justice warriors and religious Right wingers online alike. Taking offense has become a sport, a hobby, a damned career. If you’re offended you have the high ground; people search for reasons to be offended. This isn’t treated as an issue, it’s an excuse to look down your nose.

            “Another thing. This idea of ‘I’m offended.’ Well I’ve got news for you. I’m offended by a lot of things, too. Where do I send my list? Life is offensive. You know what I mean? Just get in touch with your outer adult. And grow up. And move on. ” – Bill Hicks

          • Ich Will says:

            Funny how you quote Bill Hicks, who was so offended about another comedian stealing his material, he didn’t “get in touch with his outer adult”, he didn’t “grow up” and he certainly didn’t “move on”. He behaved like a massive baby and tried to screw with that comedian over and over.

            He also refused to appear on Letterman again because he was so offended at his segment being cut.

            Maybe choose your quotes a bit more carefully?

            It’s also worth pointing out that the demographic of the “old internet” and the “new internet” has changed, specifically it has become more diverse and, well, less the domain of the straight white 20 something male. Maybe these webmasters of old were mangod genui of epic comedy trappings with their rape jokes and their riddiculing of, presumably rape victims who took the time and effort to explain that they didn’t like the rape joke. Maybe they were bottomfeeders cackling in their mothers basement as they said the things they would never dare to in real life because the football players would give them a wedgie in front of the whole school. Who knows.

          • Distec says:

            Behind every great quote is a flawed human being. What’s your point?

          • Ich Will says:

            The point is quite clearly that there is no flaw in becoming offended. It is perfectly normal and also perfectly natural to express that offensive. People who try to “man it out” often seem to end up psychologically screwed up and nursing repression related mental health issues.

  22. Tams80 says:

    Ah, this is one of my pet hates. People go on about racism, sexism etc. and then they are actively differentiated, sometimes by those same people.

    I don’t think having a separate zone is the best way to go about this.

    • Rincewind says:

      People of a minority culture often do not want to become assimilated and absorbed into the majority culture. These people will try to fight against racism/sexism, while still maintaining their own uniqueness. A multicultural society is not one in which everyone is “equal” in that everyone is the same, it’s one in which there are multiple distinct cultures which do not discriminate against each other.

      This is why a gay activist both wants to declare that he is gay, and also push to allow his gayness to be treated with equal respect. Or, similarly, why a black activist wants to fight against racism while still maintaining a sense of “blackness” as distinct from the white majority. Neither of these situations imply any kind of hypocrisy, because equality does not mean sameness. Indeed, history is full of a massive number of examples of forced cultural integration of a minority into the majority, like the Native American children who were taken from their families, sent to Christian schools, forbidden from using their native languages and had all their tribal identities stripped from them by force. Therefore, it makes sense that a Native American activist would want to maintain and strengthen her culture, pushing for equality in the law and equality of opportunity, while still maintaining the culture itself as a distinct entity away from the dominant American culture.

      I hope that maybe explains why some of what you call a “pet hate” happens.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        okay you said it better

      • Tams80 says:

        Perhaps I should have used ‘they make a fuss about the differentiation’ they make. I have no issues with people differentiating themselves as they see value in their differences. What I don’t like is when they are overly vocal about it, and especially when they are so and then complain about the responses to it (I’m not condoning these responses though).

        I’m not suggesting homogeneity and certainly not enforcion of it. I just struggle to understand why it’s so hard for some people to just accept differences among people. You could say I want homogeneity; a homogeneity of understanding. Perhaps I’m just a socialist in denial.

        My reaction is usually “And…”.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      If you don’t mind me chiming in:

      I think it is good to recognise the differences between people. But instead of discriminating against those who are different from ourselves we should be celebrating those differences. I wonder if often times, in trying to prevent discrimination, we brush those facets of culture that should be celebrated under the carpet with blanket guidelines on treating everyone the same.

  23. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    There’s a few problems here.

    1) The “Safe Zone” idea has been around for ages now. It’s usually less a warning that the rest of the area is unsafe and more a statement on the part of the person who put it up. It’s pretty common among educators and others who work with young people.

    2) Guess what? The world really can be “unsafe” outside of marked places. You know how easy it is to see homophobic attitudes? There are whole religions that consider us abominations, but nobody let’s us get away with criticizing those faiths; the best most of us can really do is criticize the “interpretation” that offends us, lest we get utterly buried beneath pro-religious outcry. That’s not even getting into the many places in the world where simply being gay can slash years off your life. You can say that the world is progressive and wonderful and making these distinctions is part of the problem, but it comes off as somebody who doesn’t know jack shit about the actual experience of being GLBT trying to be magnanimous and open-minded. When you live your whole life under implicit threats–physical, psychological/emotional, political, economic–explicit protections don’t seem pandering, they seem an admission that somebody understands that the world isn’t rosy and wonderful and if we just believe hard enough everything will be great. Which leads to…

    3) That thing about purchasing the booths really is important. That’s a conscious decision that, like you said, shows they don’t want to isolate or ghettoize the issues. That’s the really interesting takeaway here. Do you know how easy it is to screw up an organized event? I would have expected them to slap up a sign and walk away in self-satisfaction; that’s what most people would have done. Instead they thought it through and instituted a logical policy.

    4) But why isolate it at all? Here’s the thing: based on studies I’ve seen, we (gay people) make up <5% of the total population. I haven't heard about trans and bisexual numbers so somebody else will have to chime in there, but it's probably similarly low. Let's say about 95% of the population identifies as straight. Out of that 95% of the total population, how many are bigots? How many are simply thoughtless and ignorant? A Safe Zone tells those people that they, for once in their lives, won't be tolerated and will likely not find anything of interest in that area. Do you know how nice it is to know that people like that aren’t hanging around? That you aren’t going to have problems with them? And I realize that rhetorically that’s kind of an ugly sentiment, but when you live every day surrounded by people who, at best, don’t really understand your perspective, it’s refreshing to know that just about everybody in the immediate vicinity is on the same page as you.

    So that’s my two cents. Feel free to disagree or be offended by it

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      ^ I agree with this, and it’s worded pretty effectively as well.

      (Although I never liked those places only designed for a certain group of people “Oh, we should be friends just because we are both gay? No way, I’m a person who is much too complex to be reduced to just that one characteristic so that you can then say that we have something in common”)

    • bit_crusherrr says:

      I think special zones for certain types of people are silly. To me it’s like its pointing out you are different so have to be in this designated area, instead of just putting it in with everything else as it’s normal to be gay.

      Having said that I do get why there are gay bars etc. but at a convention like this it doesn’t make sense to me.

      • Moraven says:

        There is no “special zone”. Its saying all of PAX is following Safe Zone guidelines and they will have a hub to educate and deal with issues related GLBT problems during the convention.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        That’s because you’re not someone who struggles with bigotry on a regular basis.

        I’m gay and I don’t struggle with bigotry on a regular basis, because I’m 40, and I moved to a part of the world where this was less of a problem. And I grew older and cared less about what idiots say. And I speak out when people are awful. And I cut off contact with people who won’t stop being awful.

        But I remember when I was 19 and lived in another part of the country and had a lot less control over my life and a lot less control over who I would associate with. And I remember being confronted with bigotry and awfulness on a regular basis and it was COMPLETELY EXHAUSTING. Family events were awful, social functions were awful, dealing with my peers in school was frequently awful.

        If your life has some of these characteristics, then having a place where you can take a rest is fucking *amazing*. That’s what this is about.

        It’s also about the possibility of escape from awfulness at an event you don’t want to leave.

        I was sent on a business trip to some trade show in Florida. The day we arrived, my cowork started talking about some current politics about gay marriage on a late night dinner when we all needed desperately to have food and go to sleep before a week long slog of running a convention presence. I pleaded with them to drop it and then politics and the workplace, especially on divisive issues, were just not a good mix. They didn’t care, and went on and on talking about how gay people are against god and it’s wrong for them to be allowed to marry or something like that. I don’t know *how* they didn’t realize I was gay as I was pretty open about it within the company but actively debating them wasn’t going to create an accord. I eventually tried to make that point but they didn’t care. Their religious beliefs were more important than the civil freedoms of other people. I so desperately could have used a fucking “safe space” to retreat to away from all that bile so I could complete the convention with some recharged strength. But there was no such thing, and for that and other reasons (I had been dragooned into convention in the first place), I got on a red eye the same day and went home.

        This kind of point of retreat gives people the assurance that they won’t have to BAIL OUT from an event that’s sufficiently hostile in some capacity.

        • bit_crusherrr says:

          You make it sound like the vast majority of people dislike gays. I have gay friends and I’m yet to meet someone who genuinely hates gay people for being gay. There should not be a need for a “safe space” and that anything to do with LGBTQ related video games shouldn’t have to be put in their own little place as weather people like it or not gay people are a part of society, play video games and should not be sectioned off.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            It depends on where you live. I live in rural North Carolina, and it’s pretty fucking easy to encounter some ugliness. I went to college in an even more rural part of NC and once heard the following exchange at the barber shop between the barber (about 50 or so) and a customer (let’s say 19-20).

            Barber: Yeah, I’ve had trouble finding help.
            Customer: Can’t find someone who’s not queerish?
            Barber: Well, I’d take what help I could get.

            Yeah. And I’m 27. Now jrodman said he’s 40, and that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Even now, I think I could still get fired for being gay here in NC, should the business owner have a problem (fortunately, most corporations know which side their bread is buttered on and have their own policies in place). Rewind 20 years and things are even worse. I’m glad you know so many accepting people. They have not been so common in my (and others’) experience.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            No, I don’t make it sound like that, you’re making that up.

            Even those assholes who thought it was A-OK for their religion to dictate the civil rights of their peers don’t hate gay people. They just think it’s OK for them to totally fuck their lives over with a smile.

            Incidentally the company I worked for at that time would have happily sanctioned them for these actions, but that wouldn’t have really improved the atmosphere at all, it would have only worsened it. I think my actions of dumping the convention on them to fend for without my help spoke a lot larger than any sort of Human Resources soulless filing could have.

          • Emeraude says:

            I’m reminded of that late life quote of MLK saying, (I’m paraphrasing from memory and from a French so sorry,, any approximation mine) “The real enemy of the black isn’t the racist,n but the middle class man who, to keep its quiet undisturbed presumes to dictate the pace at which the victims must be freed.”

            You don’t need many people to create a violent, aggressive context. Just minority of violent rabble-rouser and a vast majority of people who do not care for the victims as long they can ignore what happens and keep their comfort.

            I live in Paris – which, though far from being the most welcoming city on hearth as far as homosexuality is concerned is also far from the worse – and my elder brother, who’s not gay, just naturally very feminine looking, got harassed for a whole year because of it, with local youth insulting him daily and sometime going as far as throwing stones at him.
            It took people voicing their discontentment at the youth for things to stop (great neighborhood, overall).

            I can only imagine how tough it is when it goes on your whole life, and no one ever stands for you.

      • Premium User Badge

        Foosnark says:

        I think special zones for certain types of people are silly

        In an ideal world, that would be the case.

        But we live in a world where, outside of a “safe zone”, some people are in danger of harassment and life-threatening physical violence simply because they don’t conform to society’s expectations of gender and sexuality.

        That makes those safe zones rather less silly, doesn’t it?

    • Icedcool says:

      Heroic post.

    • taristo says:

      In the US: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf
      1.7% identify as lesbian or gay
      0.3% as transgender

    • Berzee says:

      “nobody let’s us get away with criticizing those faiths”

      You must live in a pretty rough-and-tumble part of the USA. =P In my area, people often imply or state directly that all kinds of belief systems including mine are Dumb Garbage, without particularly raising any eyebrows or becoming the victim of a vicious campaign of social ostracism. It seems to be generally accepted and expected. =)

      (Admittedly, since 2010 I’ve mainly just been sat in a comfy chair talking to people on The Internet, so perhaps there are outcry-burials happening all about town and I just haven’t noticed. =/ )

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        There’s a bit of a public speech vs private speech divide here.

        Say among your friends that religion is idiotic in a city, and an eye will rarely be batted.

        A public figure challenging a religion by calling its intolerant belief system harmful? Shit will go down.

        But meanwhile the religion can carry on preaching to hundreds of thousands of people that gays are evil.

        • Berzee says:

          Yeah, from Skeletons’ talking about “most of us” I assume the remark was focused on the talk of ordinary private citizens. (If I was wrong and the subject is public discourse, I’ve currently no relevant thoughts =).

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            When I used “us” I meant “gay people.” Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

          • Berzee says:

            Nope, it was clear from the outset. =) My second post was just to clarify that in my first post I was addressing the private speech side of the divide he mentioned.

  24. SanguineAngel says:

    I don’t know, I think that the implication that the rest of convention is an implied “unsafe place” is a bit thin. Perhaps it’s just an effort to view the matter from all angles but this appears to be a criticism of wording that you would like to see tidied up a bit rather than the story itself, which John seems on board with.

    It took me a moment to realise that this article isn’t actually criticising PA this time but instead discusses lexical semantics

    • Nevard says:

      While there’s some semantics to it, it does also imply that they are enforcing standards in one area that they will not be in the rest of the convention.

      • MichaelGC says:

        I read it that the standards would be enforced throughout, and the “Roll for Diversity Hub” would be where one could go to have them explained or discussed, etc.

  25. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    In my humble and no doubt irrelevant opinion, I think neither side of the ongoing discussion in the comment is completely wrong or right. I didn’t follow the scandal about Pax when it first started, but by now I can tell that, whatever they did to apologize and/or make things better would be seen as offensive by someone, or not enough, or in some other negative light.

    Language is important, but coming from an organization that is mainly about gaming and certainly not an activist against discrimination, doubtful choice of words could be overlooked in favor of seeing that they’re making an effort in the right direction. Even feminists debate with other feminists about whether certain words are offensive or not.

    I can’t possibly agree with the view that everything may be offensive for someone. I mean, if it’s true, it’s irrelevant, simple because it makes non-offensive communication impossible, and it overlooks any difference between language that truly is discriminating and word-choices used for lack of better alternatives.

    The community should try to be inclusive (not that i have any hope in it actually doing it), but there’s a limit to what people can legitimately call offensive in any meaningful way that advocates for change.

    I’ve also known my share of people from minorities of different kinds who try to “abuse” their position of minority to feel offended by everything, in order to make you (the “privileged”) feel bad about it; and that’s a tactic that only works if you’re sensitive about those themes in the first place. It may sound “entitled”, but I can see where those conference titles are coming from.
    I can feel “socially discriminated” insofar as I belong to a group, and then I’m going to fight for inclusion, but I hardly feel personally offended, simply because I only care about the opinion of those I respect.

    TL; DR: Penny Arcade could certainly improve a lot more, but, for now, can we appreciate that they’re making the effort, and maybe suggest how to improve even further, without trumping anyone’s freedom of speech.

  26. taristo says:

    Are people (especially straight white males) going to be getting their privilege checked by the diversity enforcement squad and not be allowed entry if their privilege level is above a certain threshold defined by the awareness team? How else could they possibly create a safe space where people wouldn’t feel oppressed by them?

    I also hope to find a stall promoting the Feminist Software Foundation there, who have made it their goal to create a coding language entirely free of the oppressive patriarchal concepts of yesteryear: http://feministsoftwarefoundation.org/

    • Rincewind says:

      You know that was a joke made by 4chan right?

      • taristo says:

        I thought it was an idea initiated by Arielle Schlesinger that they put together to build a programming language around a non-normative paradigm, which should encourage new ways of thinking and feminist ideology, as well as get rid of inherently problematic patriarchal object orientated logic that most languages nowadays are unfortunately full of? http://www.hastac.org/blogs/ari-schlesinger/2013/11/26/feminism-and-programming-languages

        • Rincewind says:

          feministsoftwarefoundation.com is a joke written by 4chan, as you can see from my link below.

          Arielle Schlesinger proposed a feminist software language, and had a discussion about what it might look like. 4chan then took that and turned it into a joke website where they made the entire idea look even sillier than it was at the start by the use of absurd hyperbole.

          The fact that you think feministsoftwarefoundation is real is a sign that you really need to get your internet satire detector checked. I think it blew a fuse.

          • Geebs says:

            There’s a guy in her comments who has got his panties in a twist about how compiler errors are talking down to him, and finds the word “syntax” offensive. I think my satire meter has broken too.

    • Icedcool says:

      Holy shit no kidding.

    • Rincewind says:

      Oh, and in case you need a citation to 4chan making that shit up:

      http://imgur.com/a/kzglk/layout/blog

  27. Icedcool says:

    This is fucking ridiculous.
    Penny arcade and PAX are attempting to be inclusive, and people STILL bitch about anything they can find about this. “People of color”? “Safe zone”? That is what we are bitching about here? That they used those words when they are trying to create a place for diversity to be discussed?

    The bottom line is PAX and Penny arcade can’t please everyone, and should continue making comics about whatever they want including rape, without allowing gangs of victims to hinder their self expression because they find it offensive.

    That they can’t please everybody and should accept that some people aren’t going to come, and so be it.
    Rather than attempting to cater to everyone, which seems to only open them up for more attack and defamation.

    • F33bs says:

      Exactly. The end product of social justice is eternal victimhood, not social progress. They should build it for regular, well-adjusted humans to attend. The awful Twitter-warriors and emotionally damaged Tumblr-divas can just stay home where they belong. Everyone wins.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        In this case “everyone” being “you”, right? Which is really all that matters.

  28. namad says:

    I don’t know if you actually attend pax but something like pax prime is so huge and has so many people in it…. making the entire enormous and crowded public area a safe space is clearly a “long-term” goal, not something you just semantically get right in a memo. It sounds like they’re trying to change things to make them that way, but they also realize like you almost give them credit for at the start of your article…. that a few memo’s/signs won’t change a huge event like this… then later in the article you condemn them for the very lack of those useless promises! so which is it? is this a serious problem that requires actions, or are the semantics of memos being as politically correct as possible (even at the expense of being useless) what matters?

  29. namad says:

    Just compare pax to any other major event in a giant venue with a hoarde of people, how “safe” are concerts or sportings matches? Making something like this an entirely “safe-space” is a huge undertaking, not something you fix overnight, this article is just really unfair and biased.

  30. walldad says:

    I’ll read PA’s most recent change of heart as the usual cheap game journalist gimmickry and a way to sidestep a sincere reconciliation with the people they pissed off. Authenticity is a big issue when it comes to any sort of activism, especially in an explicitly commercial venue like PAX. This doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    • jalf says:

      Is there anything they could possibly do to pass your sniff test? I suspect not.

      PA’s most recent change of heart

      Which recent change of heart is that? Did they formerly say “PAX is intended to be unsafe for anyone who is not a straight white male? [citation needed] methinks.

      I guess the way I choose to look at it is going to be this:
      PA is trying to make PAX a better place for everyone.
      You are bitching that their efforts do not satisfy you, and otherwise doing nothing.

      Score PA?

  31. Geebs says:

    Holy shit, there’s a WOOD here! All those trees were getting in the way….

  32. Berzee says:

    “women, LGBTQ, people of color, disabled people, and mental health issues in gaming”

    I understand the common elements that result in all these things being on the same list, and it’s not quite in the range of “blueberries, mercury, and 2/3rds of a panther”, but I still find it to be oddly disparate.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Maybe it’s because at some points in history LGBTQ, people of color, and women were all considered to have mental health issues?

  33. DestroyYourEgo says:

    If this were on ANY other video game website, it would have been “Flame On!” flame wars, for sure. Gotta love RPS for being the voice of reason, and it’s people being smart enough to be respectful.

    As a member of the gay community- I support this wholeheartedly. Thanks for the good news in my coffee cup, RPS!

  34. Cryo says:

    Won’t all fucking awful nerds just please die in a fire already.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      There it is, that’s exactly the kind of tolerance and fairness I’m looking for here. Mission complete, everyone go home. This person just solved all the world’s hate.

  35. RProxyOnly says:

    Huh?

    I thought you weren’t going to report on Penny Arcade anymore?

    • Ich Will says:

      You should go back and read the article again. That is not quite what they said.

  36. fharion says:

    Perhaps this is a bit of lingo that hasn’t made it to the UK but “safe space” is a pretty common term used by LGBT groups in the US. My university’s LGBT resource center, for example, has a big rainbow “safe space” poster on the door. It’s not an attempt to suggest that the rest of the place is unsafe (although it doesn’t preclude it), but rather that this is an area dedicated specifically to these issues.

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  38. tznkai says:

    You cannot make all of PAX a safe space, but you shouldn’t want to. “Safe space” is a term of art with a lot of implications that people tend to miss, but the most important one is that the safety is not physical, but emotional safety – a safe space is a shield against being emotionally disturbed. The other is to understand that free speech and free expression is incredibly unsafe.

    To see how this works, imagine one wanted to make a “safe space” for Christian gamers – a place where men and women of religious conviction could dialogue, etc. etc. etc. That means, among other things, that barging in and saying that the religious are delusional while cosplaying as a character from the Binding of Issac might not fly. This isn’t because that kind of expression isn’t valuable or worthy of protection, but because it would compromise the safety space. A safe space is there to protect a vulnerable population. To suggest the entire event is a safe space would make it so no one can ever share those opinions or wear those costumes.

    Likewise, within the Christian gamer safe space, you might imagine an uptick in the number of religious symbols, and frank discussion of shared religious beliefs. These are the same thing that could make LGBT uncomfortable – that is, feel unsafe. A safe space creates a different set of social norms and barriers. Creating one takes certain effort, above and beyond the others, and has a lot of difficult implications to calibrate. To try to make all of your public space safe all of the public is impossible, which is why smart advocates usually call it “safer” spaces. There isn’t a single way it is done, but there are lots of ways you have to calibrate your rules, and a lot of extra efforts and staff time that goes into it.

  39. Shieldmaiden says:

    Whenever I see a Penny Arcade scandal, I see the same thing: two normal guys who fuck up like everyone else, but are out in the public eye without hiding behind a screen of PR. When I read about Mike’s ignorant comments about trans* people, I winced. I’m transgender, but I’m also a long-term PA reader. It’s been a solid, consistent presence through a very difficult life.

    I missed seeing it happen live, so to speak. I’m not really a Twitter user. So I read an article about what happened and got quite upset. Then I went to a couple of other sources to get a more balanced viewpoint than “Mike Krahulik is a raving bigot and possibly the devil,” because I was dealing with a fairly biased source to begin with. The impression I got was the same impression I get every time; he’s a loudmouth, he doesn’t know jack about trans* people and he’s kind of an arsehole. But, and this is the important thing to me, he acknowledges it and tries to get better.

    Perhaps I’m being naive, or overly-optimistic about the basic decency of human beings, but I’ve experienced the same thing from close friends and family. My mother, who has been incredibly supportive and understanding from the very moment I came out to her, has said things to me that were the verbal equivalent of a punch in the face. Things that have sent me reeling and forced me to leave the room to collect myself. It hurt to hear some of them, but I know that they were made out of simple ignorance; she didn’t know any better. If my response had been to lash out, a perfectly understandable response to pain, physical or emotional, I doubt any good would have come of it. Instead, calming explaining things increased understanding and empathy.

    I don’t believe in holding random strangers to higher standards than I would my own mother.

    The counterpoint to that is that I know my mum pretty well. I know that she loves and cares about me, and I can be pretty certain of her sincerity when she apologises for a slight. On the other hand, I’ve never met Mike Krahulik.

    However, I have been reading his comics for almost fifteen years and been privy to some quite open and frank details about his private life. I’ve seen him start a charity that has raised millions to improve the lives of sick kids. I’ve seen him start a convention that has a “no booth babes” policy in an industry that is rife with misogyny. As far as I’m concerned, the evidence suggests that this is a guy trying to do good, who fucks up sometimes. Just like everyone else.

    • SurprisedMan says:

      I agree SORT of, in that I think there needs to be much more of a tolerance for fuckups, but there are certain issues where the PA guys seems to have rather consistently fucked up, so it’s not surprising that people have their doubts.

      Also, I assume when your mother said the things that hurt you, it wasn’t in front of the entire internet. I think it’s not insignificant that as organisers of an event like this, it’s part of these guys’ jobs to create a welcoming and safe environment for people, and their behaviour in no small way sets the tone for the whole event – and so they are obviously going to be under far more scrutiny.

    • Doomclown says:

      It strikes me as really strange to pick on Penny Arcade as being non-inclusive, in a game industry that often seems to be by 13-year-old boys, for 13-year-old boys. Badmouthing PAX while covering E3 is the baldest hypocrisy. I suspect PA is easier to pick on, since its creators are people and not faceless corporations or whoever runs other game conventions.

      It’s like a guy in the 50s complaining that NFL teams need to be more racially integrated, to your buddy at the weekly KKK hang-out.

      Also your criticism of the “Safe Zone” terminology is ignorant and nonsensical, like if I complained that a Brit was talking about “having a fag”. Or maybe you’re just trying to drum up controversy4clicks, in which case well done I suppose.

      Edit: I retract this comment if it turns out RPS actually boycotts hundreds of other more bigoted game industry figures and is actually being completely non-hypocritical here. My bad, then!

      • The Random One says:

        PA is easier to pick on because they are some of the worst offenders. They rejoice on being offended, dig in when called out on it and often act stupid because they refuse to learn from people who understand this stuff and instead just go with their gut. There’s no line on the ground between what is acceptable and what isn’t, there are only degrees, and while it’s true, as you say, that most video game companies are harmful to a certain degree, PA is to an extreme one, and there is no hypocrisy in refusing to cover only their expo.

        Also, if you think it’d be fair to RPS to stop covering E3, clearly you haven’t seen what their coverage of E3 looks like. RPS is being overly kind to PAX by giving it the kindness of silence (maybe because they are run by recognizeable human beings?). They could do nothing to promote E3 further on this site than just aim their snark cannons away from it while it flounders in Los Angeles.

        • Doomclown says:

          Every major games company is worse than Penny Arcade. I have no idea how anyone could even think otherwise, unless they get everything they know about gaming from skimming Twitter. Unless you buy nothing but socially-conscious indie games it’s completely hypocritical.

    • Premium User Badge

      Big Murray says:

      I’d argue that even his fuckups are not mean-spirited. The “transphobic” comments weren’t transphobic because reading his comments, I never got a sense that he has any kind of hatred, animosity or otherwise discriminates against transgendered people. All he said was that while it’s cool to call yourself whatever gender you want, it surely doesn’t change the physical actuality of your existence. He didn’t put it in a particularly eloquent way, in fact he was quite blunt. But did he deserve the reaction he got? I don’t think so.

      I don’t think activists are going to change many people’s minds by jumping down the throats of people who don’t deserve it.

  40. MachineCode says:

    Somehow I seem to have missed this brouhaha regarding PAXand RPS, could someone fill me in on what I’ve missed. A short summary?

    • Doomclown says:

      RPS wants to pat itself on the back for its social justice stance while supporting a bigoted industry.

    • Ich Will says:

      RPS said that they weren’t going to PAX because they were personally uncomfortable with some things said by the organisers, Penny Arcade fans literally have not stopped flipping their lids since.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      On of the comments above me leads to freedom, the other to certain death. One of the comments always lies, the other always tells the truth.
      You get one question. Go.

  41. Merlkir says:

    There is no way to satisfy the social justice warrior crowd. Anything you do will be picked apart and some offense will be found. You make an attempt to give your critics some room and a platform to express their views? You’re making a “ghetto for dem bitches, queers and faggits”.

    Are your sales and profits really falling so much that you feel the need to bend over and have their ribbed dragon furry dildos rammed up your ass? (nothing wrong with actual dildos going up asses of course)
    All this talk about “safe space” only reinforces the constant victim complex some of your attendees (or not-attendees rather) have, like they need to be protected from the “hurtful words”. Just make sure everyone behaves according to law and maybe a universal code of conduct (which you probably already have).
    Good fucking grief.

  42. TheBarringGaffner says:

    Yes, just give the “diverse” people their own section, god forbid myopic nerds have to be around a black person or a woman.

    Joking aside, this is a hilarious failure to be more inclusionary. Stop making insulting comments about rape victims and transsexuals, and give a real apology. Don’t just put some outsiders in a corner and say you’re progressive.

  43. TheLoot says:

    “Safe Place” eh? Good to know there’s a place I’ll be thrown out of, being the privileged white, straight male I am.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      If you have a genuine desire to learn about the issue and help make a difference, I guarantee you will be welcomed with open arms.

      On the other hand, if you’re just butthurt because of the existence of a place that is not specifically for you – oh well. You still have the rest of the convention. And/or the world.

  44. theblazeuk says:

    Sometimes I feel like people are determined to smother all goodwill beneath an endless supply of wet blankets.

  45. Emeraude says:

    @jrodman:
    Atheist billboards are not primarily an attempt to proselytize. They are mostly attempting to send a message that atheism is reasonable, normal, valid, reasonable, and perfectly legitimate.

    As an infidel myself, I must say that the few Atheist billboards I had to suffer were as much proselytism as a Jehovah Witness knocking on my door, what with proposing people to get de-baptized and all….

    @Diatribe
    There is a difference between “there is no god that I know or that I care” and “there is no god” – which as a statement is as unfounded as “there is a god”. Compare “There is no such thing as a black swan as far we know” with “There is no such thing as a black swan”.
    Making the jump from the first to the second, presented as an indisputable absolute truth is an act of faith. It has nothing to do with science.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      de-baptism sounds like some shit-stirrers.

      Even then, it doesn’t sound much to me like people knocking on my door invading my private space. I personally think it should be illegal to go door to door selling religion, or at least should be trivially accomplished to put a sign up saying “no sales here, religion or otherwise” and make knocking anyway a 200 dollar fine or similar.

  46. jrpatton says:

    So, how’s that boycott of PAX coming along? Oh, you went a whole two and some months without mentioning PAX. Good for you, RPS.

    About the safe zone thing. You guys can find anything to bitch about! Obviously topics about queer, female, trans, etc; gaming can be sensitive. This area is a place where people who are nervous about their orientations and identifications can come to SPECIFICALLY speak about these issues.

    It doesn’t imply that the rest of the convention is unsafe.