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Point 1: Free Speech. I do not think it means what some people think it means.

Strongly-worded objections to content =/= censorship, book-burning, etc. Telling someone that what they wrote was in appallingly poor taste, was personally upsetting and offensive, etc. and as a result you will no longer be reading their writing, buying their books, whatever (and perhaps will discourage others from doing so) =/= telling them that they can't write what they want to, or that they should be or will be hunted down, tortured, repeatedly raped, killed etc. for writing what they write.

Of note is that the latter HAS been happening to those who objected to the whole "dickwolves" thing. Repeatedly. In large numbers.

Point 2: Yes, I've seen the original comic. Yes, I understand that it makes fun of pointless quests and switch on/switch off heroics. I can intellectually understand why it was funny to its target demographic, and even that it was trying to mock a rather fail-laden mentality. But really, there was no need to use an image like "raped to sleep by the dickwolves" unless you were trying to play on the idea that accusations of rape, especially in the context of imprisonment, are a) funny and b) probably false.

Point 3: Not directly from the PA thing, but in general. For all that certain anti-feminist types point to male-on-male prison rape as something that feminists are allegedly unconcerned about because of the whole female-as-victim narrative, THIS feminist thinks that it's incredibly symptomatic of just how pervasive rape culture IS that "cellmate Bruno" jokes are used to deter crime. In other words, that sexual assault is somehow supposed to be a part of the punishment for whatever crime was committed. No, just no. (I'm not perfect in this regard. I was wishing such a thing on the Haidl Three before I stopped and gave it some actual thought. Last time I've said, written, or seriously thought that rape is an acceptable component of punishment.)

Point 4: I am SO incredibly glad that back when I was regularly playing RPGs, an atmosphere existed where people didn't say this shit. I'm not quite sure why our particular group was so much more civilized and egalitarian in this regard than most - perhaps because the membership from the beginning included a sizable proportion of women who wouldn't put up with the usual obnoxious things that some dudes think it's funny to do to the girl-gamer demographic. But I recall being a female GM for a regular game in which all the players were guys. Matt, Joe, Brian, Henry, Jesse: y'all were and continue to be awesome.

Point 5: This just bugged me in one of the threads I read, and isn't quite related to anything else. But there was a thread where an analogy was made to the use of "sinister" and its relation to left-handedness, where much mocking ensued because "yeah right, because being left-handed was such an awful thing." Actually - it was regarded as such. My grandfather had what was in retrospect severe PTSD in large part because he was beaten by nuns at his Catholic school for being a lefty. He made my very devoutly Catholic grandmother promise NOT to send their kids to a Catholic school before he would agree to marry her. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that this probably ruined his whole life. And YES, I understand this was in the 1920s/1930s, but it actually was a serious problem and he wasn't the only person it happened to. So, y'know, before you trivialize something as not being a serious problem, you might want to do your homework and find out whether or not it actually DOES have that history.

And my making that suggestion? Also NOT CENSORSHIP. Just to bring this full circle.


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 7th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
As for your point 4, I don't think it was you - I was one of two girls in a group of anywhere from five to ten players from middle school to early college, and I never heard a rape joke during one of our sessions. Actually, sexuality and power-based directed violence in general was more or less off limits, we just never went there.
Feb. 7th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
I'm gaming with one other woman and five men, all but one physicians. We've had one instance of sexuality-based violence (a socially maladept player, whose character is a large man spanked the other woman's character, a small woman, in game). It almost broke our group. She was so pissed, and I understand her. I'm glad I wasn't present at that session.
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is utterly not acceptable at all in the least. I think I would have had a hard time not shunning that player afterward.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
Wait, run that past again. The character of one player spanked the character of another player, and this is some hind of heinous offense in real life because the player chose to adhere to the character's personality rather than metagame?
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:15 am (UTC)
'Metagame' means use OOC knowledge IC. It's not an excuse for violating another person's character, god. I'm surprised she - and the GM - didn't say 'No, actually, you don't.'

Maybe not, but I wish they had.
Feb. 8th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
Awesome icon is awesome. :)
Feb. 8th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
America's Top Model gave us little, but it did give us Furonda + her awesome rules.
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:26 am (UTC)
The player creates the character. If he chose to act "in keeping with character", it's because he created the character in such a way that the action was in keeping. So yes, Anonymous Coward, this is a "heinous offense in real life".
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
That was the incident that opened my eyes to his social dysfunctions and lack of role playing skills.
Feb. 7th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Your view of the comic is still distorted.
Despite all you've written you still don't seem to understand the context in the comic, rape was brought up as one of the worst things possible that could happen to a person, to emphasize the punchline when the player didn't care.

You see....because a normal person would care, the fact that a WoW player doesn't is the joke, the player's attitude is supposed to be -unusual-, get it now?

The average person (yes, women too) who isn't a miserable chronically offended funhater got it 6 months ago. How about some concern for all the muslim women who have been raped, tried for unwilling adultery and then stoned to death in those last 6 months?
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
"But really, there was no need to use an image like "raped to sleep by the dickwolves" unless you were trying to play on the idea that accusations of rape, especially in the context of imprisonment, are a) funny and b) probably false."

I do not understand this conclusion in the slightest. I understand the objection to using rape in humor to keep us from being desensitized to it. But to say that anything about the comic implies that real-world accusations of rape are "probably false" is totally dumbfounding to me.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
This is specifically in the context of prison rape, which has a long and not-glorious history of NOT being taken seriously because, after all, the prisoner's in prison for a reason, amirite?

I wouldn't have said that about rape in general, no. Prison rape specifically, yes.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
"after all, the prisoner's in prison for a reason, amirite?"

In the comic, though, the character isn't a prisoner necessarily because of a crime he committed, but is in fact a slave.
Feb. 7th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
You also need to understand that you live in a world of hypersensitivity on a level that's completely alien to normal people (yes women too), let alone the "gaming" community or even people with much more serious combat PTSD, who don't take it upon themselves to try to police the internet based on their own sensitivities.

Because of this you can't expect the trigger argument (wouldn't the warning be a trigger?) among other things to be taken seriously, not on the internet which is full of content that's offensive to one person or another, where responsible adults know not to deliberately seek out things they don't like.

The world is far from a perfect place, or a good place, in fact it is a horrible place, much of Africa is still a wasteland of disease, starvation and genocide, much of the world still lives under totalitarian regimes or brutal anarchy, and child labour fuels the production of many of the products in your house. Considering all of this, can't a far away webcomic from a completely different community just make a joke, even if it offends you? Did it really need 6 months of this? Does the world really need it?
Feb. 7th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
What are you doing for Africa, Anonymous Coward?
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC)
actually, I quite like Africa, though saying one "likes" enormous continent of 900 million seems a bit trivial, like saying one "likes" the moon. However, much of it - no, actually, most of it, is not a wasteland of disease, starvation and genocide. I am quite tired of the "the world sucks, a la Africa where it sucks the MOST."

Also, do you think that without some people a. noticing and b. saying something, the vast majority of people would even think there may possibly be a problem? Jokes have meaning, Words have meaning, and sometimes it helps to think about the underlying meanings - question them at the least, and honestly analyze them from time to time. I think penny arcade and the gamimg community is strong enough to withstand it.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
I am quite tired of the "the world sucks, a la Africa where it sucks the MOST."

Excellent point. Thank you!
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
In an ideal world, perhaps the comic would have come out, and you'd have people saying "I don't think it was appropriate because of x." or "I was offended." or "That comic is so bad, that I won't frequent your website until you take it down."

And then, some other people would have said to the first critics "I disagree, because of x,y,z."

That would have been standard criticism, and that would have been fine.

What actually happened was that people made the allegation that Mike and Jerry made art that cause some viewers to suffer trauma, and further argued that because the art had the potential to trigger rape victims, 1) it should not have been made, and 2) they should apologize to the people so triggered.

This is where I believe that many people started worrying about freedom of expression. I certainly did, and I know that Mike did. To explain why, though, will take a few paragraphs:

1) Censorship, strictly speaking, is "suppression of speech or other communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body." (hooray wikipedia)

Note that the supression doesn't have to be in the form of criminal prosecution, it can also be in the form of fines, sanctions, etc.

2) A society can be censorship-free, and still not enjoy Freedom of Expression, through something known as the Chilling Effect. In essence, a Chilling Effect is the "inhibition or discouragement of the legitimate exercise of a right." http://law.yourdictionary.com/chilling-effect

3) Rights such as freedom of expression are sometimes curbed when they infringe upon other rights to a sufficient degree.

Mike's concern, and the concern of other PA readers, is that if Mike and Jerry had to apologize for a trigger that someone experienced when VOLUNTARILY viewing their comic, that act would have a chilling effect upon their freedom of expression.

To be clear: I would not defend PA's right to put that comic on a billboard, or on broadcast TV, or possibly even to hang it outside their home. Those are public places, where everyone should enjoy the right to walk around unafraid of encountering references to rape or other potentially triggering things.

But this was on PA's website, and asking them to apologize for the trauma someone experienced from viewing the comic would be similar to asking Brookstone to apologize if someone walked into the relevant section, saw a book with the word RAPE in the title, and had a trigger. Or, in another example I saw on shakesville, asking a homeowner to apologize for a blue ceiling that triggered a guest who had a traumatic experience in another room with a blue ceiling.

That's why people bring up Censorship and Freedom of Expression.

Also, I don't think this logic is sound:

"But really, there was no need to use an image like "raped to sleep by the dickwolves" unless you were trying to play on the idea that accusations of rape, especially in the context of imprisonment, are a) funny and b) probably false."

For one, I think that 'rape' could be exchanged for any other bad thing in that argument, and if no bad thing could be used in the comic, then the slave's plight was not bad, and there's no comic.

For two, I didn't read the accusations as being probably false. Again, the satirical point isn't made if the slave's plight is not genuinely terrible.

As for the phrase being funny, I won't deny that. It was obviously crafted both to portray the worst imaginable plight, and to get a laugh.
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
That's a very well crafted tone argument right there. If someone doesn't express their concerns about a given subject in just the way you think they should, it's "censorship"? Really?
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
That's a nice straw figure you have there. The issue isn't criticism, it's allegations of responsibility for real harm, and it's an issue of freedom of expression in non-public space. I hope you'll try again while identifying the assumptions and statements I've made that you disagree with. I could be wrong, but your post certainly doesn't show it.
Feb. 8th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
You've made a fundamental error that is at the basis of many such claims - that you, Anonymous Coward, or the writers of any given mediocre web comic, have a fundamental negative right of "freedom of expression," operationalized as "the freedom from having my words ever be challenged by anyone." Asking other people to think about their words does not constitute a violation of freedom of expression. In fact, if this were a reinforcement of rape culture and further normalization of prison rape, that would be a claim of "real harm" being done. Evidence indicates that Anonymous Cowards such as yourself have been responsible for negativity and even threats of harm being levied against those that objected. Is that enough "real harm," or do you want someone to actually go rape someone and then spraypaint "DICKWOLVES WUZ HERE" on them? Supporting negative cultural norms has the potential to lead to real harm, yes, even if it's supposed to be funny.
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
1) I don't believe that I have said that PA should enjoy "the freedom from having [their] words ever be challenged by anyone."

In fact, I have said "That would have been standard criticism, and that would have been fine."

To be sure, that doesn't *necessarily* mean that I didn't _also_ say the former, but I think you'd have to address the second statement before accusing me of saying the first.

My real concern, though, is that you keep focusing on criticism, instead of addressing my central point: this is an issue of responsibility.

(Incidentally, I keep numbering my assertions for two reasons: so that I can make sure I'm expressing myself fully and clearly, and so that any respondents can address specific assertions. It helps keep the whole dialogue clearer.)

1) It is OK to criticize, challenge, condemn expression.
2) It is NOT OK to hold an artist responsible for harm done exclusively through voluntary observation of the art.

Example of f 1) Everyone walks around saying "That PA comic is the worst shit, it makes comics that support rape and I hate it." it will create an atmosphere in which PA may not feel comfortable making comics (at least involving rape), and rightly so. It would also create an atmosphere where other artists feel that satire involving rape is not appreciated. No problem.

Example of 2) Everyone walks around saying "That PA comic harmed me, PA is responsible for the harm, and they must make reparations." it creates an atmosphere where _every_ artist feels uncomfortable sharing _anything_ that has the potential to trigger someone who VOLUNTARILY views it.

No more films or books or songs that deal with violence, rape, or other traumatic experiences. Remember, it's not that people would criticize the artistic merit, expression or what have you of these works, it's that people would experience PTSD-related episodes when VOLUNTARILY watching, reading, or listening to these works, and the artists would be held accountable for that harm.
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
Please provide an actual example of the second case, and evidence that this atmosphere has been created. Otherwise, I'll consider your argument for what it's worth.
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
Example: Freedom of Expression has experienced a chilling effect with regards to the word 'niggardly', insomuch as a person who used it was falsely accused of being offensive and racist, as a consequence of which he lost his job and his reputation:


Note that the government was not involved in his suppression (i.e. this is not strict censorship), the speaker actually DID apologize, despite the fact that allegations of racism were false, and yet he suffered irreparable harm. How comfortable do you think anyone else is going to be using the word 'niggardly' in the future?

GIVEN: False accusations produce a chilling effect on the actions in question.
ARGUMENT: Accusations that PA is responsible for the harm done to viewers as a result of viewing the comic are false.
CONCLUSION: Said accusations have had a chilling effect on their art, which, by definition, suppresses Freedom of Expression

I'm sure I could find another example that more closely illustrates my point, but I have a better idea. Why don't you? The very concept of 'rape culture' is rife with examples where what some (often ignorant, sometimes malicious) people call 'simple criticism' of rape victims creates an atmosphere where rape victims justifiably feel unsafe. Surely you have come across other, more benign examples of these issues?

The fact that I have written my arguments out so carefully is a demonstration of respect, respect for critical thinking, respect for this blog, respect for my fellow readers, and respect for you. Please afford me the same respect by responding to my arguments directly, in a clear, logical way.

Incidentally, the merit of my argument is completely unrelated to my capacity to produce an example.
Feb. 8th, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
Do you have an example associated with this case? I would respond directly to your arguments, if you had one. However, it seems to boil down to "waaah oppression", so no, I don't have any particular reason to jump through your hoops.
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
I was under the impression that you wanted to engage in useful debate. The fact that you express dissatisfaction with my example without providing any specific reason for it's inadequacy leads me to believe otherwise.

Incidentally, what do you say when people ignore your arguments and insist that you're simply yelling 'waaah oppression'? By all accounts this happens fairly regularly to feminists, but I can't think of a good response. I must not be a very good feminist.

In any case, well done tisiphone; I shall quit the field.

You may have the last word.

\\semicolons rule
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
OK, I lied, what I meant to say was:

You may want to change your handle to "phronesiphony - the fury who punishes rational thought."
a_proxy_for_my_thoughts [yahoo.com]
Feb. 8th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
Now I shall quit the field. (again)
Feb. 8th, 2011 08:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for a great post! Also, I have a comment. :)
OK. That's enough. People I don't know making personal attacks on my friends is not something I have to tolerate in the space I maintain. This thread is over.
Feb. 8th, 2011 11:22 am (UTC)
It is so totally not okay for people to say that rape is an acceptable punishment. Rape is never acceptable, no matter the circumstances. Such thought processes baffle me much.
Pat Lamourine
Feb. 9th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
Honestly, this whole thing has gotten out of hand a bit. I love how people go after people that get famous then do one thing wrong and you all jump at the chance to remove/belittle them. You say they misused the word rape. This won't be the last time anyone does that and it certainly isn't the first. Why not go after fps game companies because everyone screams the word rape at each other all the time. Why not go after the normal person that uses it on the streets. Most likely because the joe shmo on the streets isn't big enough or companies like Bungie are to big. This started in August and it's still going on. I've even heard rumors of feminists standing outside of PAX boycotting it. This is all getting ridiculous and way out of hand.It is the internet, 95% of it is junk and offensive material. 4.9% of it is trolls. .1% is actually useful information. That's how its always been and how it will always be. Why not worry about more important things in life then a silly comic
Feb. 10th, 2011 01:49 am (UTC)
Damn idiots.
I thought that Comic was hillarious Period. Just as Gabe said."Imaginary Person got raped by Imaginary Dickwolves." I could go an argue with you Women mindset on boycotting PA. Or I could go read some PA and forget about you morons. I think I'll just go read some PA.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )



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