Richard Pryor will wait a bit longer.
Gabe and Tycho made statements today, and god dammit, I’m still no closer to sorting out exactly how I feel about everything. But I do know this much: They’ve both done their best this morning to effectively wash their hands of this whole thing and walk away, and we can’t let that happen.
Their statements are a bit lengthy so I won’t replicate them here, but everyone should definitely go read them now if you haven’t yet. Gabe/Mike posted here (screencap) and about half an hour later Tycho/Jerry (notably silent up to now) posted his thoughts (screencap).
Before we get into these I wanted to say that my primary focus is on how this mess relates to the gaming community. I’ve mentioned a few times now that there’s just so much going that it’s impossible to focus on every aspect at the same time. There are people far more nuanced and knowledgeable than I about the crucial components of rape and rape culture that have been at the heart of this conflict. What’s more, I am not the one to tell rape survivors or those offended by Gabe, Tycho and Penny Arcade what they need to hear or have happen to feel okay about this.
When I read what both Gabe and Tycho had to say about this morning, the first thing that sprung to mind was “Oh so now it’s too much.”
That sounds dismissive which is not my intent.
They received messages via Twitter making “jokes” that people should go to their homes and murder them, their wives and their children. To be clear, I find this every bit as reprehensible as the unforgivable vitriol that’s been spewed at Kirby Bits. They are words specifically crafted to do nothing more than wound the recipient to the core while attempting to bully him or her into thinking or acting a certain way. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, this is inexcusable bullshit.
So I read their posts and there’s this feeling, unbidden, that popped into my head that only now, only after having been personally hurt, that things for Gabe and Tycho have finally gone too far.
It’s been six days – six full, active days – since the Dickwolves shirt was pulled from the Penny Arcade store. Six days since Gabe repeatedly used his public Twitter feed to undermine his own statements about inclusivity and solidarity. Six days of sitting back and, if not actively observing then at least being keenly aware of the unwarranted backlash their own followers were spewing at Kirby Bits. Six days of some of the worst, most vicious attacks from every side of the issue, all put out there, impossible to take back.
Six days of this toxic, destructive atmosphere with, at best, no comment from Penny Arcade and, at worst, goading from Gabe.
But less than 24 hours after someone says it would be a funny joke to go murder them and their families, suddenly the whole thing has gone too far.
I say all that, but I admit I’m not convinced there’s validity to it. As much as this has caused me to rethink a lot of thoughts and reevaluate a lot of opinions, I still want to give Gabe and Tycho the benefit of the doubt where I can. In the absence of any other proof, I choose to believe that their call to cease hostilities would have happened today regardless of what may have been said to them personally.
The fact that this is where I’ve had to reason myself to, that it wasn’t my first thought is the exact reason why we can’t just let this go.
It’s far, far too late now to just say “this isn’t what we wanted” and ask everyone to walk away. It’s beyond the point where you could argue that a group taking your comic in a way you didn’t intend is business as usual and moving on as though it hadn’t happened. Gabe and Tycho alone chose to escalate this nasty situation, but they cannot be the sole arbiters of when it finishes.
I keep coming back to PAX, because that for me was … well, pax. Pax Romana, a golden age, a time of peace. This is what we should be striving for. This is what’s at stake.
Gabe and Tycho started out just as two guys with a gaming web comic, but they grew themselves to be much more. PAX and Child’s Play were to be the good, accepting, welcoming, responsible faces of gaming. Gamers aren’t just ultra-violent, socially-inept, self-absorbed, overly-entitled children. That has been the message carried proudly by PAX and Child’s Play.
How can anyone with any kind of insight into what’s happened these past six months believe in that anymore?
This is why we can’t walk away. We must continue to talk about this. We must fix this.
I don’t know how. I don’t have the answers. But I do know that the answer isn’t to stop talking and pretend it never happened.