Friday, 13 July 2012

Big Issues: Offending People

I'm not sure if you're one of those people who follow the gaming blogosphere. I'm not sure you regularly read the stuff published over at the House of Paincakes. But considering the fact that you are reading this, I find it likely.

And if you are, you'll be aware of the fecal hurricane thrown up in the wake of this article. Yes, I'm linking to it. Deal with it. No, I'm not going to be linking any of the brilliant, thought-out responses, nor any of the raving hate-filled ones. That, too, is something you'll have to deal with.

This is not an article about sexism in wargaming. If you're interested in that discussion, you're a big boy/girl/none-of-the-above, and can find it for yourself.

This is an article about offending people. Kind of, at least...

We're all occasionally offensive. Most of us don't mean to be, but feet frequently end up in mouths all around our splendid blue-green orb of a planet. Some things come out wrong.

And some things are a matter of opinion.

Personally, my hate-mongering is almost exclusively directed at two phenomena: GW's semi-constant attempts to alienate me and every other gamer on the planet, and the competitive scene. I've been vocal against both. I think I might have offended someone, especially over the latter. But I try to be as rational and clear as I can be, and I hope I don't come off as actually hateful.

Thing is, both of those phenomena offend me. (No, not the number things, the competition and GW...)

And I try to respond.

I'll be using SinnSynn's article (linked above) as an example, rather than focus on me. Why? 'Cause he's a much better troll than I can ever hope to be. Or a bigger fool. Whichever, really.

Essentially, he wrote an article about more or less nude female miniatures. Many were upset about this. So much virtual ink was expended that today's Weekly Top X was entirely made up of articles more or less sparked by SinnSynn's original.

And you know what?

That's a good thing.

Thought is never a bad thing. Being made to consider that our hobby might be less than gender neutral is a good thing. And heck, the very fact that people got offended, and did something about it, is a good thing. Even if 'doing something' here means writing an angry blog post...

You know what else?

This is the Internet. You're going to be offended. I think there might have been a sign over the door as you entered. Whether its the fact that women are depicted differently from men (with exceptions), or the fact that there are very few black Eldar, or the latest rage-spewing done by Stelek, offense will be had, in this all-you-can-stomach buffet that is the Internet.

I subscribe to the belief that any group of people is only as communaly smart as its dumbest member. And boy, are there some idiots on the Internet! Which means the Internet is a moronic place. It is where any nitwit can spout their filth and be heard, and its a place where brilliant thought is often lost in the din.

This is so no matter what subject you're perusing. Yes, certain hobby-related media are cesspits of chauvinistic crap, of the kind that deserves a nut-kicking, followed by the destruction of the poster's favourite mini. Those same media, however, are cesspits of other types of idiocy as well, and entering them is a sure way to be offended, no matter what your personal beliefs/gender/ethnicity/ice-cream-preferences are.

So I don't go there.

I stop reading BoLS articles before I hit the comment section.

I've stopped visiting forums almost entirely.

I avoid Stelek like the plague.

This is not to say that I won't oppose a notion or principle regarding these virtual locations (as I think I've proven in my campaign against competitive gaming). But I've stopped taking serious offense. Just like I can't be bothered to be upset every time someone from the Westborough Baptist Church is on the news, or when the American Republicans start getting ahead in the polls (I'm Swedish, so by definition a communist, right?), or when some company makes a miniature that depicts a less-than-realistic female form in sub-optimal armour.

Some of the minis SinnSynn posted appeal to me. Some do not. The Manga-esque ones are near-enough nauseating. And I might have been offended, had I not read a large amount of trolling into the article.

I don't own any models of topless females (with the exception of Zoraida, by Wyrd). I don't see the point. I want to be able to show my minis off to my girlfriend without shame, and some level of dress is required for that to be possible.

Tell me again how all female miniatures are sexualized...?
But, and here's the point that started all this off, female models in a state of undress do not offend me. If I was to be offended by any aspect of our hobby, it would be the glorification of violence, not its occasional traipses into the realm of soft-core pornography. 

I'm not offended by the violence, and I'm not offended by the nudity, or the sometime sexual poses. They're miniatures, for the Emperor's sake!

Bad behaviour towards actual people (based on gender, ethnicity, age or whatever) is unacceptable. The relative lack of sexualized male models is not. Even the skewed gender statistics within the hobby are not.

(And I told myself this wasn't going to be about gender thingies...)

Point is, people will get offended. And you have every right to be. But in the end, democracy (which we all still support, right?) presupposes freedom of speech. And that means that we might have to let people espouse opinions that do not sit well with us. Oh, do argue back, by all means. But don't shout. State your case calmly, and you might reach people. Get angry and rage, and you will not. At least not the kind of people whose minds you might change for the better...

You can't really please everyone...

And on that note, this sort of rambling excursion into the land of giving offense comes to an end.

Live and let live, and all that.

And be excellent to each other.

Peace out.

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