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Last night and this morning Mike and I were discussing the Dickwolves thing. We’ve been discussing the Dickwolves thing a lot this week. Never in my life did I think I’d say that my husband and I have had serious conversations about Dickwolves.

We were talking about Gabe and Tycho’s responses, which dovetailed nicely with some comments in the posts I linked above that were freshly posted today. As has been my running theme with this, I’m trying to sort through my surprising number of feelings and reactions, so when the question of “What would make it better?” came up and I didn’t have an immediate answer, it seemed be a helpful topic for me to direct my focus.

This is probably a gross oversimplification, but I think we can break down the reactionary parties involved in the Dickwolf debacle into four groups.

On one end of the spectrum (let’s call it Group A) we have those most offended and affected by this. They have been the most vocal opponents of Gabe, Tycho and Penny Arcade.

Their polar opposite, we’ll call Group D. They are the most vehement and staunch supporters, and have been the most vocal defenders of Gabe, Tycho, and Penny Arcade.

Somewhere in the middle we have groups B and C, which is probably where the majority sit. They’ve been troubled by what’s occurred with everyone involved, and aren’t prepared to fully lay all the fault on one side or the other. However Group B’s sympathies sway more toward those offended while Group C leans more toward Penny Arcade.

As for me – no surprise if you’ve been reading what I have to say – I’m squarely in Group B.

Gabe and Tycho, they aren’t in any group at all. They’re outside of this system for the simple fact that they are the ones that everyone else is reacting to. That isn’t to say they’ve not experienced anything uncomfortable, disquieting or downright painful in any of this. I have no doubt that they have. But it’s around their words and their actions that the rest of us spin in this, thus they sit outside of this particular setup.

I think this grouping distinction is important, because it helps to set expectations as to What Comes Next.

Group D, I think we can safely dismiss. As far as they are concerned, Penny Arcade is wholly innocent. For them, even removing the shirt was a concession too great. They’ve not been wronged in any significant way, certainly not by Gabe or Tycho, so Gabe and Tycho have nothing make amends for.

Group C, it seems from what I’m reading, feel that enough has already been done. They feel Gabe and Tycho said all that needed saying in yesterday’s responses, and now believe the matter should be put to rest. They need nothing further from Penny Arcade on this; they are satisfied.

Group A … I can’t speak to. As those originally offended, as those who have been targeted the longest and wounded most deeply by these events, they must decide what is needed from Gabe and Tycho to heal the rift between them. I fully concede that it’s possible it’s already gone too far and Penny Arcade might never be able to make this right. It won’t be the first time we humans have damaged each other beyond repair. However that doesn’t mean I don’t think Gabe and Tycho shouldn’t try (which I personally don’t believe they have yet in a meaningful way).

Which leaves Group B, about which I clearly can talk endlessly.

Maybe there is no Group B. Maybe Group B is me sitting alone in an empty stadium. In which case, here’s what I think I need.

From Gabe, I would like to see some kind of self-awareness of the damage he, personally, has done. Even in the midst of what must surely be the most stark way possible to finally make that empathic connection – the moment he saw that his family had been threatened – there is nothing. It’s not good enough to say “Okay now it’s gone too far, let’s all ignore it.” This is no admission of any wrongdoing on his part, no spark of self-reflection, no hint that he has learned anything at all from any of this. For being the single most visible and divisive person throughout this debacle, saying “I’m snarky, let’s not talk about it anymore” is very simply not good enough.

From Tycho, I admit, I would like much more. For good or ill, my expectations of Gabe are now so low that just a flash of empathy would be amazing. But from Tycho I want more because I think he’s capable of so much more.

I really want to see more of Tycho’s thoughts on this. However I think we need for him to shift his attention from “The Sixth Slave”. I don’t intend to be dismissive of the effects of that strip, but I think as a focus of discussion in the larger sense it’s run its course. The conversation inevitably comes to breaking down the joke and trying to explain why it is or isn’t a rape joke and why it is or isn’t funny, and the problems have grown so much larger than that. We keep coming back to it I think because it’s easier to defend as a thing that was made rather than a thing that was said.

Tycho’s response is a lot of words, but they’re words that don’t really say much beyond “I don’t know what to say”. I get that, I totally do. I do not envy his position. I genuinely don’t think “Breaking It Down” was intended as more than a knee-jerk response to what they perceived as an equally knee-jerk response that thought the absolute worst about them. That doesn’t make it right, that doesn’t make it okay, that doesn’t mean there isn’t much more at work in a larger cultural sense – but for me, right now, I’m willing to give them the benefit of intent.

But not knowing what to say doesn’t excuse what I feel is his responsibility to say something.

That’s about as far as I can take it at the moment. I don’t know what it is I want Tycho to say, but his thoughts on this controversy outside of the comic strip itself are vitally important to the world that exists outside of that comic strip.

This is what Tycho does. One argues it’s his strength. He’s spent 13 years building himself as a leader of that world, and he can’t simply choose not to speak about it now because it’s hard. Especially not when his actions have so much to do with why it’s hard.

  • none

    You’re not alone in group B. Well, maybe my position is a bit harsher.

    I didn’t find the original comic at all offensive. But I’m really disgusted at how the fans reacted and how Penny Arcade more or less tacitly supported their behaviour, until people started acting towards Gabe the way some of group D did to their opponents.

    You know, when you and your fans are running a campaign of harrassment against rape victims who had the audacity to try and deal with the trauma by posting on obscure blogs, when your fans are sending death threats and rape threats and all kinds of horrible things, you have to start asking yourself, is this really something I want to do? Are people who are uncomfortable about rape really one of the great evils of our age which must be mercilessly destroyed? (And yes I know that Gabe received some death threats too – and I think the fact that death threats only became a serious issue to him when they were directed at him reveals something about his character that I’m really disappointed to find out about.)

    I wasn’t a big fan of the idea that Penny Arcade should censor themselves. I’m generally pretty anti-censorship in general. But it’s pretty clear that Group D is just as pro-censorship, and they aren’t being pro-censorship because they went through a really traumatic experience and understandably might have strong opinions about the topic. They’re just being dicks, who haven’t got the guts to take the smallest fraction of what they dish out. Funny how the guys who complain about the bloggers being hysterical and oversensitive seem the most hysterical and oversensitive ones here.

    I guess I thought that Penny Arcade was better than this. I always had a high opinion of them, and so although I’m usually pretty indifferent to stuff on the internet their behaviour really disappointed me.

    • Jet Wolf

      There’s sadly a lot to be disappointed about.

      The larger issues at play here, Group A and such, I can’t speak to. I’ve yet to see anything from either side of that debate that fully satisfies and makes sense to me and I feel dramatically underqualified to make commentary on it much beyond what I already have. Simply put, that’s not my fight right now.

      But when it comes to how this has fractured the gaming community, how this makes me, a female member of that community, feel – well that I know a hell of a lot more about. Dickwolves didn’t create this sickness but it has shown us (or me, anyway) just how deep it runs.

      Gabe and Tycho have instituted themselves as pillars of that community, and have taken great pride in that role. They can’t now withdraw from it, pretend that what they say and do doesn’t matter, just because it’s uncomfortable. Not and still try to hold themselves, PAX and Child’s Play as better than that.

  • H

    I was disappointed in the timing of Mike’s apology, too. After all the threats and epithets hurled at their opponents for days and days, he only speaks up after one tweet jokes about murdering his wife and child. (I don’t mean to imply that because it was a joke, it was less frightening. But the opposing side was dealing with “I’m going to find and rape and murder you,” not “wouldn’t it be funny if” scenarios.)

    It makes it seem like he felt everyone but him deserved the abuse, when no one deserved it.

    • Jet Wolf

      As I talked about here – posted shortly after reading their responses – I really don’t want to take a “this is what it took?” stance on the timing. But I admit it’s difficult.

      What most disappointed me about Gabe’s response was the missed opportunity to have made a connection between what he was feeling then and what others have been feeling for weeks and months. Something powerful and healing could’ve happened in the wake of such a vile and disgusting moment, but it passed him by.

  • itdraugr

    I’m squarely of a mind that none of the key players in this debacle are wholly without fault, and none of them are completely without blame.

    I’m also not sure that your four groups convey a practical lineup of the forces involved in this monstrosity of a misunderstanding-turned-ragefest. We need at least two or three more groups, just to make cover all the players involved.

    So, the breakdown:
    A – Uncontrollable Overzealous bloggers who will never be happy with Penny Arcade from this point forward, no matter what, and who have decided to paint everyone who disagrees with them (D, E, and F) as rape apologists (Shakesville, in particular, also others.)
    B – Bloggers and other commentators who sympathize with the offended, but who see some of both sides (lots of people, this site included).
    C – The actual Offended parties, most of whom want or wanted to have a meaningful discussion on why they were offended as rape victims/survivors (including KirbyBits, among others).
    D – Gabe and Tycho, who wanted a flippant discussion on how they feel attacked as misunderstood artists.
    E – Bloggers and other commentators who sympathize with G&T, but who see some of both sides (including but not limited to myself).
    F – Uncontrollable Internet Trolls who might like but take no orders from PA, and want to harass A, B, and C because they are basically jerks (leading theories suggest these are mostly 4Chan trolls with a grudge against Shakesville).

    A can basically only be satisfied by Gabe and Tycho committing seppuku while donating a kajillion dollars to a rape survivor charity and changing the PA site to be a digital monument reading “all men are monsters” for all time. Yes, I am being hyperbolic… but not by much.
    F can basically only be satisfied by finding someone else to troll because 4Chan is a hive-mind case of ADHD.

    I hate to say it, but B and E – that’s the vast majority of us, for those keeping score at home – probably won’t end up with 100% closure, but then again we weren’t 100% involved like C and D, nor were we 100% crazy like A and F. We’ve known all along that this is out of hand, but we’ve probably also all suspected all along that this won’t end well for absolutely everybody.

    Which leaves us with C and D, which is where the fundamental misunderstanding has always been. For either to be happy, C and D have to realize that while both have misunderstood each other, both should engage in fence-mending directly with each other.

    • Benly

      From what I’ve read at Shakesville, what they actually want is an acknowledgement that G&T did something wrong and that rape culture, as an idea, is not complete made-up nonsense. (Note that rape culture, in this context, does not mean “a culture where everyone is raping everyone else at all times”, but “a culture where a rapist is more likely than not to go unprosecuted and, if prosecuted, there is a good chance that people will say “the victim is making it up to get attention”.)

      G&T have each more or less explicitly said that they don’t think rape culture exists, probably because they think it means the first thing and not the second. This is like people saying racism doesn’t exist – it’s an insult to the people victimized by it.

      Characterizing them as shrieking, unsatisfiable harpies doesn’t really do anyone involved in the debate any favors.

      • itdraugr

        The Shakesville community definition of “rape culture” does actually seem to be “anything part of pop culture that irks them at any and all times, anywhere,” though. That community has literally – and no, I’m not exaggerating, I literally mean literally – said that anyone posting any disagreement with them at all on the subject is not only a rape apologist, but is a de facto rapist because they are posting disagreement without that community’s consent. They have banned actual rape victims who posted and didn’t fall 100% in lock-step agreement with the Shakesville community, and then directly equated those very rape victims to actual rapists when they tried to appeal being banned. That is not a rational point of view. They are not legitimately participating in honest discourse.

        That community is absolutely as uncontrollable and impossible to please as the polar opposite. Their “no one is neutral about rape” argument essentially argues that if you aren’t in 100% agreement with their stance, you must then be an active, willful supporter of rape culture, or even an outright rapist.

        Now, as far as Gabe and Tycho’s awareness or belief of the theory behind rape culture, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that while disappointing, this shouldn’t be a shock. Honestly, I had never heard of any such thing before this debacle, and during this debacle, its loudest supporters are the ones who seem to be asserting that all men everywhere are complicit in the building and maintaining of a vast social machinery designed to subvert, punish, and oppress women. It’s an offensive accusation to be told that you’re supporting such a conspiracy, especially over something as petty as a webcomic. So, while I’m not saying that Gabe and Tycho are angels by any stretch I do see how and why they got so defensive considering the constant campaign to label them as pro-oppression. There are a lot of problems with rape culture theory, and even among feminist scholarship it isn’t universally agreed upon, while outside of that setting the idea is practically unknown.

        • Madra Liath

          “its loudest supporters are the ones who seem to be asserting that all men everywhere are complicit in the building and maintaining of a vast social machinery designed to subvert, punish, and oppress women.”

          I’m sorry, but there *is* institutional and social prejudice against women in every society. It isn’t that men are part of some diabolical club where they sit around twirling villain mustaches and thinking up new ways to oppress women (although considering that pro-life politicians are trying to deny federal funding of abortions for women who will die if they don’t have one, sometimes I wonder). It’s that men aren’t affected by it, and thus have the luxury of ignoring it, minimizing its impact, or denying it exists. Straight people have the same luxury regarding homophobia, and in the “West”, white people have the same luxury regarding racism.

          Why is “no one is neutral about rape” a ridiculous or extremist stance? Are there really people who say, “oh, well, I mean, yeah, rape can be bad, but you know some people like that kind of thing, idk, I never really thought about it.”

          • itdraugr

            “I’m sorry, but there *is* institutional and social prejudice against women in every society.”

            Yes, and if you’re open-minded enough to see it and honest enough to admit it, there is also institutional and social prejudice against men, and whites, and straight people. These are all social problems that everyone needs to take responsibility for fixing. Pretending that everyone but straight white men are oppressed, and that straight white men are not at all oppressed is just as bad as ignoring the injustices that every other group suffers.

            “Why is “no one is neutral about rape” a ridiculous or extremist stance? ”

            It isn’t, in and of itself. It’s actually a logical, obvious stance that no one should ever have to spell out, because it’s that obvious. The problem is when it gets warped into a very specific claim that “if you don’t agree with *OUR* extreme view about rape culture, you *MUST* be infavor of rape culture or be an outright rapist.” The lack of any third option, say, “I hate rape too, but I think *these* are some potential solutions to society’s treatment of the subject,” gets completely thrown out when it becomes an us-vs-them dichotomy like that.

            • Madra Liath

              “there is also institutional and social prejudice against men, and whites, and straight people.”

              Institutional? No. Sorry. Social? Well, there are some problems, but nothing that even stacks up against what people who aren’t male, or white, or straight, or cis-gendered, or able-bodied have to put up with.

              I’m female, white, straight and cis-gendered. Yes, there’s some shit I have to put up with because of my gender. But I can get married, both legally and in a church. I can show affection to my partner in public without worrying about being threatened. No-one is going to freak out and kill me because I’ve got something in my pants that they didn’t expect. No-one is going to suspect me of comitting a crime just because of my skin colour. I don’t have to worry about the sex on my birth certificate matching the gender I present.

              I’ve had to put up with bullshit because of my gender. I have *never* encountered social prejudice based on my colour, orientation or cis-ness. Never.

              • itdraugr

                And here’s where you’re imagining that just because I’m a straight, white man I’ve never encountered any other difficulties.

                I was in the top 20 in my graduating class of ~500 in high school, but I was denied financial aid because even though I’m lower-middle class I wasn’t poor enough, and there aren’t any scholarships for or which show favoritism for white males.

                I’ve had to accept lower wages than similarly qualified, competing female job applicants to be able to get a job.

                I have been threatened and harassed because of my skin color before.

                I’ve heard the “our group has it worse than that group” referred to as playing the “Oppressed Olympics,” so I’ll go with an appropriate analogy. Straight, white men might not be bringing home all the gold medals, but we’re still in those games. Pretending we don’t have it hard, or that we don’t have it hard enough to matter, is more than a little insensitive.

                • Daniel

                  “That community has literally – and no, I’m not exaggerating, I literally mean literally – said that anyone posting any disagreement with them at all on the subject is not only a rape apologist, but is a de facto rapist because they are posting disagreement without that community’s consent. ”

                  I think you’ve misunderstood this – that is, when you say “literally” you mean “not actually”. What has been said is that if people have been banned, and if they then either attempt to circumvent the ban with a new account or email the moderators directly to carry on saying the things that got them banned, then they are ignoring boundaries, ignoring the right and desires of the moderators and, in general, exemplifying the refusal to listen to or accept women’s requests or rights to control their own spaces. It ratchets up the emotional temperature to describe this as “acting like a rapist”, but then they’ve been getting abusive emails and blog messages for nearly six months over this now, so I can understand them feeling a little frazzled.

                  Link to the relevant post here.

            • Ross

              “Yes, and if you’re open-minded enough to see it and honest enough to admit it, there is also institutional and social prejudice against men, and whites, and straight people.”

              I’m sorry, but this is the equivalent of saying, “Yes, your house burned down, and that’s bad; but I got a splinter in my finger the other day, so really, we’re all suffering here.”

              The oppression that straight white middle-class males suffer in our society is NOT EVEN REMOTELY the same in magnitude, severity, or pervasiveness as that experienced by people who are not straight white middle-class males.

              • S Crahan

                No.

                We are not going to engage in some kind of “who is more oppressed” competition. Lots of people have it rough, lots of people fall into categories that might seem to offer them advantages institutionally or socially that you aren’t privy to, and lots of people are made to suffer, terribly, have experienced oppression that may or not be “competitive” with your experiences. And you don’t know who they are. I may be a male rape survivor, a man turned down for a job because the company wanted to meet quota, an Indian who hates going to the convenience store he worked hard to own, because he’s going to hear ethnic slurs and ignorant comments on a religion he doesn’t practice, an illegal immigrant who just lost her job because of some idiocy in Washington DC, and now can’t send money back home to help the parents who raised her, an eastern european woman sold into the sex slave industry because she tried desperately to get out of a country where a “rape culture” isn’t some high minded intellectual construct, but a very real condition that she’s now stuck in.

                You don’t know the experience of the person on the other end. The extent of their human suffering may be as banal as a pet’s death, or it maybe as traumatic as their murdered family. And just because of their gender, skin color and ethnicity, you presuppose to pass judgement? No.

                • Ross

                  Suffering != oppression. I am in no way denying that straight white males — like anyone else — can get handed huge chunks of undeserved suck by the whimsy of the universe.

                  But we’re not talking about suffering in general. We’re talking specifically about systemic oppression, which is one source of suffering.

                  Can straight white males experience the pointy end of systemic oppression? Sure, it happens.

                  Do straight white males, as a group and in our society, experience systemic oppression to anything like the degree that people who are not straight, not white, or not male do? No, they do not, and this can be objectively verified by all sorts of data.

                  Does this mean that all straight white males live lives of glory and success handed to them on a silver platter? It does not. It simply means they have fewer barriers between themselves and glory and success. Fewer != none.

                  Does this mean that straight white males never experience real suffering? It does not. Suffering, as noted above, is handed around pretty liberally.

                  Should straight white males be allowed to play the, “We’re all equally oppressed, so get over it,” card without being challenged on it? No. At least not so far as I’m concerned.

                  When did I turn into Mr. Rhetorical Question? I’m not sure.

                  • s crahan

                    Mea culpa, I thought that was your intent when you made the “house on fire/finger splinter” comparison. I agree that systemic and institutionalized oppression exist, but I think that the obverse, that a person is expected to be the recipient of systemic or institutionalized privilege is a dangerous starting place for an argument. It invalidates the real and personal experience of people who very well could have experienced personally, the same kind of oppression or suffering that is considered atypical for their socioeconomic position.

                    And a second mea culpa for the hostile tone of my original post. It was unnecessary and dismissive of your valid position.

        • Andy

          Amen. Mike made some comments that were not intended to be hurtful, but were, both to people who suffer triggers and to the larger cause of rape victims, and then releasing the shirts (as a defense of their original comic etc.) added fuel to that fire. Both were bad moves and he should man up.

          That said, nobody in group B seems to be manning up like they expect Mike to. Nobody is saying “The people critical of the comic are ignorant, and they were wrong.” Group B just says “I think we’re done discussing the comic.” Here’s a clue group B, if you want an apology, start by acknowledging group A’s mistakes.

          Have you READ shakeville posts and comments? They are doing more to discredit triggers, the concept of rape culture, and victims than Mike and Jerry ever have.

          • Jet Wolf

            Nobody is saying “The people critical of the comic are ignorant, and they were wrong.”

            I can only speak for myself, but as a Group B’er, I’d qualify as someone you’re looking to see this from. Thing is, I can’t say that because I don’t believe it.

            The criticism of the comic comes from a perspective that I do not have and is an opinion that I do not hold. I feel that those things are subjective however, so I despite my disagreement, I don’t think they’re wrong. They are simply different.

            I also don’t think that those individuals talking about their perspective and opinion is wrong, particularly when done on their own web sites.

            I also don’t think that those individuals communicating their perspective and opinion directly to Gabe and Tycho is wrong.

            Here’s a clue group B, if you want an apology, start by acknowledging group A’s mistakes.

            Again speaking only of myself, I don’t want an apology. I wasn’t the one offended, so why apologize to me? And it’s not my place to say that an apology to Group A will make things better because I’m not there. If it seems like that’s what I’m demanding then I didn’t communicate well and I apologize for that.

            All I can speak to is how I feel about the situation, and in my view this is not about the comic strips. It has grown far larger than the comic strips.

            For the level of damage done to the gaming community, for the level of damage done to perhaps its greatest ambassadors to mainstream society – PAX and Child’s Play – I believe that Gabe and Tycho have a duty to try and repair the damage they have caused. Simply saying “I don’t want to talk about it anymore” is not good enough.

            • Andy

              Hmm, I think I was unclear. I don’t think that group A is going to apologize, they have their opinion, and they have a right to it. I would just like to see more people in group be expressing their opinion, on their own sites, in open support of the comic, satire, and free speech in general.

              Instead, I see blog post after blog post that begins “We’ve already hashed out the argument over the original comic.” which is really just another way of saying “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

              I think THAT’S why Tycho and Gabe are stuck on it. They feel like this whole thing should NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. It’s hard to let that feeling go, even if you’ve made mistakes after the fact that you need to own.

              I do recognize that you say above that you had no issue with the comic, and give them the benefit of the doubt on the follow up, but it comes a little late in the post. I think it comes too late to do much good.

              If the calls for apologies started with “Hey, you guys were in the right, and I was with you, but then you took a misstep.” I think that would give Tycho and Gabe the breathing room to stop trying to defend their art and start trying to understand what happened after.

              • Andy

                pfft, I said group be instead of B. whoops!

              • Madra Liath

                Group A didn’t keep it going. Group A got annoyed and said they were annoyed, and that was it. *Six weeks later*, along comes the Dickwolf shirt. At that stage, the initial intent of the comic didn’t matter any more. They knew people were upset by dickwolves and they decided to make a shirt anyway. A shirt that references monsters that rape people to sleep.

                And then they had to pull a shirt that was tasteless even if you didn’t know the reference. And some of their fans revealed their true colours, going to town on anyone who’d said anything about the shirt or the original strip. And they’re still doing it. And you want the Group B people to say that Group A were wrong all along?

                You know how it looks to me? It looks like Tycho and Gabe, and some of their fans, keep harping on the original comic because they want to put all the blame on Group A. Like they want to avoid taking any responsibility for the Dickwolves shirt in the first place. Like they believe that if the original strip wasn’t offensive, then everything they did afterwards is also not offensive.

              • Jet Wolf

                I do recognize that you say above that you had no issue with the comic, and give them the benefit of the doubt on the follow up, but it comes a little late in the post. I think it comes too late to do much good.

                Well in THIS post maybe. This is my third on the issue. In my first I think you’ll see that in my very first paragraph, once I actually start talking about this, “I laughed” is right there. I talk at greater length in that post about my feelings on the strip specifically and taboo subjects in general.

                I didn’t do it here specifically because I had already done so when I first broached the topic. You can’t exactly keep saying “let’s talk about another part of this” while talking at length about the bit you don’t want to talk about anymore, you know? :)

                But I perhaps took for granted that anybody coming in would go back and read what I’d already said about this first. If there are any future posts in me about this (and I gotta tell you, I’m pretty bloody exhausted at this point!), I’ll make sure to very specifically point out and link back to my previous posts so that my full viewpoint is on display.

      • bendemolena

        Re: Shakesville-
        I noticed that too! I just started following this whole.. debacle recently, and honestly while I feel as though G+T never, ever set out to hurt anyone, their damage control has been.. spotty, at best, so I did feel sympathy toward Shakesville and the community. However, now that any and all people who disagree with their stance on the issue are branded as being as bad as actual rapists I’ve lost a great deal of sympathy from me. Call me insensitive, yes, that’s fair, but by doing so how are they any better than their opponents?

        By saying, ‘No, this is the only one way to be looking at this situation and if you are wrong you are a horrible, asshole of a monster,’ they’re just as bad as group.. whatever letter is on the other extreme that says, ‘No, the joke isn’t offensive and it’s stupid to even have this conversation so just shut the hell up.’ It’s essentially the same response, just from the polar opposite side. And I noticed that the comments on the responding post there are now screened and only the ones that display complete agreement with the OP are even being posted.

        Just.. meh. I think both sides have done way more harm than good at this point. I wish the whole thing could just be dropped with G+T apologizing and admitting that they never meant to offend anyone but are sorry that they did, and we can all wipe our hands clean but unfortunately I don’t think that can happen at this point.

    • Madra Liath

      Re: groups A and C, you do know the webmistress of Shakesville is a rape survivor, don’t you?

      • itdraugr

        Yes, but that community’s utter refusal to discuss or even acknowledge any viewpoint but their own makes them considerably more hostile and less open to reasonable discussion than other rape victims who are engaged in more honest discourse about the whole matter.

        It’s the difference between saying “we’re rape victims and we were offended by your joke, which probably wasn’t your intent” and saying “we’re rape victims and you’re monsters who are part of an all-encompassing system working to oppress us.” Sure, they’re both touching on the insensitivities of rape culture, but only one of those standpoints is communicating in a way that allows frank, real discussion in return.

    • Jet Wolf

      Well I did say it was probably a gross oversimplification. :)

      I think your breakdown does have some merit, although clearly from a different focus. For me, leaving Gabe and Tycho out is a critical point as they are, in the context of this debacle, the sun around which the other groups orbit. Everybody here is adjusting and responding to their words and actions, thus I think that including them in the lineup minimizes the reality of their involvement. But that’s simply my take on this, and one need look no further than this very thread to see there’s way more than just one way to see things.

      All of that said, I think you do your points a disservice by using intentionally inflammatory language regarding Shakesville et al. I actually agree with you to a point; I believe that there are members of the Group A community who will never feel that Gabe and Tycho can make amends and will think the absolute worst of them for all time. But I also think it’s possible to disagree with viewpoints respectfully, even if you don’t see that respect in return. Especially then. We have set the stage for the kind of discourse we want to have.

      But back to your points! I agree groups B and C (E in your breakdown) may never see full closure, but I think it also depends on what it is they’re looking for. I mean, I still don’t entirely know for myself what will make it all okay yet, you know?

      • itdraugr

        “I mean, I still don’t entirely know for myself what will make it all okay yet, you know?”

        Precisely. Personally, I would love it if Gabe proves that his “I’ll wear the shirt” tweet was just a moment of angry weakness, and he wears the Heartris shirt instead. It would be a gesture, at the very least. But everybody in the “rational bystander” groups like us wants something a tiny bit different, but not irrational, I’d wager. But the thing for us, the “rational bystanders” to keep in mind is that whatever “side” we favor, if we favor one at all, we’re not direct participants in this.

        And I agree that respectfully disagreeing with viewpoints is a noble and right-minded practice. But looking at the blind rage and spiteful vehemence from the polar opposite extremes on this issue, I think our best route to respectfully disagree with them is to ignore them and filter them out of the discussion. Take the “going to hate PA forever no matter what” crowd and the 4Chan kiddies who are just trolling to troll and just rule their entire participation in this matter null and void. For our collective sanity, I think that’s the best policy.

        As for my lineup, I’m a fan of symmetry. That, and giving Gabe and Tycho their own group as a direct corellation to the group of people who they directly offended seemed to highlight to me how they should be talking to each other, if it weren’t for the fact that they don’t know how to talk to each other about the same issue at the same time.

        • Jet Wolf

          But everybody in the “rational bystander” groups like us wants something a tiny bit different, but not irrational, I’d wager. But the thing for us, the “rational bystanders” to keep in mind is that whatever “side” we favor, if we favor one at all, we’re not direct participants in this.

          Absolutely, absolutely true.

          I suppose in my view, and perhaps I should’ve stated this more clearly in the post itself (perhaps I’ll amend) is that I think we have two issues here which although related are separate.

          We have the rape culture issue and the gaming culture issue.

          The first is one that I, here, on my blog, in my posts, am intentionally trying not to discuss too deeply. I suppose to some that makes me part of the problem and perhaps they’re right. I haven’t yet decided for myself where I sit on this, and so in their eyes (according to my interpretation of what they’ve said at least) I suppose this means that I must be completely against it. All I know is that the rape culture issue is one that for me, right now, is too big for me to fully digest. There are other sites and individuals much more qualified to have those discussions, and I am more than willing to leave it to them.

          But the gaming culture piece of it, now I’m right at home!

          I suppose whats extra frustrating is that it seems that division of issues is something we – as a body of people all discussing this – can’t seem to move beyond. And maybe that’s on me, maybe I’m making it too cut and dry.

          However the more I talk about this, the more I see a clear division between the two issues. It all revolves around the damned shirt.

          Had the shirt simply been removed from the store, left without comment as it was for several days, I firmly believe we wouldn’t be here right now. In my mind, everything at this point was, largely, the rape culture issue.

          Then Gabe decided to post about the shirt’s removal, and this is where we have the shift to the gaming culture issue. His statement, his tweets, his reaction and his attitude which began with that post are, I feel, what has brought us to now.

          With the shirt gone, with the strips “old news”, what we had left was Gabe and Gabe alone. There was no artistic/comedic shield to hide behind. His thoughts and words stood alone, and they were ugly.

          Which we could maybe play off or ignore or whatever, but he started all this in the name of PAX. And he is OUR HOST at PAX.

          If we hold PAX to the standards for which it was created, as an all-inclusive, welcoming home for every single person who loves gaming – standards which Gabe himself invokes at the start of all this – then we have to hold its hosts to the same standards within its context. Anything less kills the very spirit both he and Tycho claim they foster.

          And wow did that get way rantier at you than I intended!

          • itdraugr

            I don’t envy Gabe’s position. He has been and is being accused of awful, terrible things in a prolonged campaign which paints him as a rape apologist. I’m not going to lie; if someone were attacking and criticizing me for months on end, I would respond with anger as well. The problem is that while Gabe sure has been a jerk at times about this, it’s partially because he’s being bullied. In almost any other context, we would be okay with Gabe cutting loose on someone saying awful things about him, Tycho and the comic. But this time, the critics and bullies are rape victims, so not only is it not okay to be snarky and rude (read: be Gabe) to them, they’re also leveraging their victim status to portray him in an even worse light despite the fact that there’s enough blame to go around on this one. Our empathy for their plight makes automatic assumptions in our heads, like “Who disagrees with a rape victim? A monster, that’s who.”

            Gabe is in a no-win scenario right now. Every step he takes angers somebody in some camp.

            He took the shirt down, but he had to explain why because then PA fans were attacking him. He took people’s feelings into account, but still nobody was happy.

            Then he tells the sociopaths on Twitter to knock it off and everybody says it wasn’t good enough. He does it again, but it again gets dismissed because he did this after his family was threatened.

            He publicly apologized on Twitter – the same medium in which he posted most of his hotheaded, snarky comments – stating that it wasn’t about defending the comic and he was just being a jerk. It was a simple, honest “I’m sorry,” that despite being short, conveyed a solid message. Honestly, I don’t know that demanding a longer, bigger apology in another forum wouldn’t just be beating a dead horse. How much apologizing can we ask before it just gets vindictive?

  • A commenter

    I write for a gaming news website, and most (if not all) of our commenters range from barely-restrained MRA-type douches to solid group Cers who are full of crap. I finally gave up trying to engage (because I’m a Group B type) because it was clear they just weren’t getting it, and by far and away, I was tired of listening to people defend rape culture because petty tribalism ruled the day.

    All I hope we get out of this now is that the gaming community reflects on its misogyny and grows from it.

    • Jet Wolf

      All I hope we get out of this now is that the gaming community reflects on its misogyny and grows from it.

      For me, this is the minimum I’m hoping for. As I mentioned … somewhere in all this (good lord I cannot shut up this week), the Dickwolves didn’t CREATE this misogynistic underbelly, but they’ve shone a spotlight on it and, I hope, woken up a lot of people. I wish like hell I had the answers to make it better but I’m just not that smart. That’s why I think it’s so important to keep talking about it. Together we can be just that smart.

      • A Commenter

        One positive of all this is that I have found other socially conscious gamers and their wonderful blogs. It’s good to know that not everyone that shares my hobby is a Neanderthal.

        • Jet Wolf

          And I think that’s a really important point for everyone to take away from this. We can talk about things, disagree about things, and everyone involved still gets to be a person. We’d get so much more done – have so many more awesome games to play and people to play them with! – if we’d just treat each other with respect.

  • Jay

    Talking about what we need from Gabe and Tycho is probably giving ourselves too much credit. It’s pretty clear that they don’t care whether we in groups A and B remain fans at this point. They’re just trying to shore up support in C and D, who are already disposed to accept anything that even remotely looks like an apology.

    (Though, depressingly, I’ve been reading a number of people in group B who sound like they’ll keep reading the comic anyway in spite of their disappointment. I mean, come on!)

    • ColdFury

      Isn’t it a bit harsh to condemn two men for one bad act? These aren’t politicians, or even, really, businessmen. These are two gamers who have created something terrific, and even if this is a black eye on the face of Penny Arcade, these are still the men that arrange an awesome convention, give out scholarships to college students, and who organize a charity drive that gives millions of dollars in toys to sick kids.

      Hell, that’s not even counting their writings and comics.

      I understand disagreeing with them, but why do they have to be PERFECT for it to be okay to continue supporting them?

      • none

        I’m not the OP, but I generally stop supporting anyone who can’t handle criticism. Sure, I thought the original criticism was pretty stupid, but when you’re the size of penny arcade you’re going to get people being offended at you all the time. And of all the things to take a stand against, rape victims? Really?

        Sometimes online communities turn into these creepy cults of personality where criticizing them in any way will get you really gruesome death threats (and rape threats, in this case) and honestly I thought the response to shakesville and company had far more of an effect on free speech than some people writing on blogs nobody reads anyway. Sure, they started taking the harrassemnt seriously when it turned on them, but really, it took that much to say threatening to rape and murder rape victims for disagreeing with a web comic isn’t ok?

        The whole thing seemed like a lot of petty playground bullying on Penny Arcade’s part and really, I’ve lost all respect for them. Normally I wouldn’t care that much, but I used to think Penny Arcade was really awesome.

        • itdraugr

          “And of all the things to take a stand against, rape victims? Really?”

          Hold on now. It isn’t just that they’re taking a stand against rape victims. That’s drastic oversimplification of the issues. It’s that they’re taking a stand against people accusing them of supporting – in some way, consciously or not – women being raped and abused.

          Mull that over for a few minutes. As a thought exercise, say that someone sees you doing something that you always do, and walks up to you and says that by doing that thing, you are supporting racism and helping to keep minorities oppressed. How do you feel? More importantly, how do you feel, assuming that your actual intent was to raise awareness of a completely different issue?

          Penny Arcade can handle base criticism; they’ve done it a multitude of times before by basically saying “well, that’s how we roll, sorry.” But they’ve also never been accused of being a lynchpin in a society-wide conspiracy to abuse and disenfranchise women before.

          • none

            When I say that they’re against rape victims, I don’t mean that they hate rape victims – I should have made that more clear. I mean that the people who are the focus of this whole vendetta happen to be rape victims instead of say, politicians or lawyers or major public figures. And harassing rape victims seems really low to me no matter how offended at them you might feel.

            I understand that they’re upset. It’s not like I’ve never had anyone say anything to me that offended me (I’m at a university where accusing people of oppressing minorities is apparently everyone’s favourite activity!) – but they’re adults, and major public figures. I was originally pretty unhappy at the response to the dickwolf comic too. But there are mature and immature ways of dealing with your anger, and the way that the penny arcade guys have dealt with this has made me do a complete 180 on my position on this subject. If you’re angry, go vent at a friend or something. I’ve had people say similar things, and things I thought were a lot worse, and I got angry, but I got on with my life, or at worst spoke to them privately about it.

            And I know you could say the same thing about the Shakesville people, but if what had happened to her had happened to me I’d probably be really angry at everyone too. And it’s not like they have some major influence over the type of discourse going on in a community that I feel I’m a part of.

            There’s also the fact that a lot of people who I think have been quite reasonable even if I disagree with them sometimes, like kirbybits, have also apparently been the target of death threats and such.

            And I guess I’m as much angry at the community as at Gabe. The attitude of a suprising number (a minority sure, but a pretty vocal one that Gabe seemed unwilling to say anything against until things backfired on him) seems to be “Free speech for everyone! Unless you disagree with us, then you deserve to be raped and murdered!” And you know, I’ve seen some of this IRL too, in gaming communities and general nerd communities, and over much more minor things than anything Shakesville has said. I guess I naively thought Penny Arcade was a different type of community. Oh well.

            • itdraugr

              Gabe actually did tell at least one of the Twitter trolls to knock if off (in more colorful language) well before his wife and family were threatened. Sadly, that has gotten either glossed over, or dismissively labeled as “not good enough,” which seems to be a recurring theme with the better points of Gabe and Tycho’s response to the whole debacle.

              On the one hand, sure, they’ve done some stupid stuff during this whole mess. On the other hand, even the parts that they get right, a lot of their opposition seems to be saying isn’t good enough, isn’t genuine enough, or doesn’t show enough penance on their part. I’ve seen actual arguments from some commentators that they can’t even think of forgiving Gabe and Tycho unless they make a donation of at least [X] dollar amount to [Y] rape victim support charity. Seriously? Putting a dollar amount on forgiveness seems just as tacky and disingenuous as Gabe’s flippant, angry, heat-of-the-moment responses in this mess.

              • Madra Liath

                “Gabe actually did tell at least one of the Twitter trolls to knock if off (in more colorful language) well before his wife and family were threatened. Sadly, that has gotten either glossed over, or dismissively labeled as “not good enough,” ”

                It isn’t good enough. He knew that at least one person was saying foul, disgusting things in his name. That was the time to write a post saying “Hey chuckleheads, knock it off and stop threatening people over a T-shirt.”

                There’s no way for either Tycho or Gabe to physically stop anyone from making threats, but they could and should have distanced themselves publically from them a lot sooner. It shouldn’t take some asshole threatening Gabe’s family for them to say “This isn’t cool, quit it.”

              • http://www.coherentlighthouse.com/ Scott Elyard

                It’s evident that it isn’t good enough, because it was almost completely ineffective.

                I don’t think that’s an unfair metric to measure “good enough” in this case. Nor do I agree that establishing a donation drive as penance is necessarily “tacky” (in poor taste) or “disingenuous” (insincere). (Though I wouldn’t suggest that it was good enough on its own.)

                So what is? If Gabe mans up, admits he was wrong, honestly, it would do a lot, but some time will also need to be given to the situation.

                A dollar amount to a charity probably doesn’t hurt, so long as it doesn’t just end there. PA has established that charities are one of the things the group does, and does well. They could do worse by diversifying. Gamers aren’t douchebags. My SO is certainly not that, and when I counted myself a gamer, neither was I.

                But enough of them obviously are that it is damaging the community, and reflects poorly on that community to outsiders. Not a bad thing to address. It might even be “good enough.”

      • Jet Wolf

        Isn’t it a bit harsh to condemn two men for one bad act?

        It’s not so much an act, in my view, as an attitude that speaks to the person, and if that person is someone with whom you want to continue to associate.

        Gabe and Tycho don’t know me. They have absolutely no idea who I am. They certainly won’t miss me if I stop reading their comic and going to their convention. I’m under no illusions that they won’t feel any impact from my absence.

        Sometimes actions aren’t so much taken against someone else as they are for yourself.

        If I’m unable to find any way to reconcile their words and actions over the past week with what they have said and I believe to be at the heart of PAX, then I will no longer attend. As the founders and hosts of PAX – created and fostered as much as an idea as an event – they set the tone for what PAX is. To butcher a colloquialism, if they won’t walk the walk, then I won’t believe the talk.

        That will only “hurt” me, I know that. At the end of the day though, all we have are our beliefs and our actions, and all I can do is stay as true to them as I can.

    • Andy

      So you won’t read PA comics or attend PAX because you think Mike and Jerry have some moral failings?

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/2/26/

    • Jet Wolf

      Talking about what we need from Gabe and Tycho is probably giving ourselves too much credit. It’s pretty clear that they don’t care whether we in groups A and B remain fans at this point. They’re just trying to shore up support in C and D, who are already disposed to accept anything that even remotely looks like an apology.

      You may be right, but I have to say, I sure as hell hope not. If it were just a web comic thing, trust me, I wouldn’t be here right now.

      But I believed in PAX as a place for all of us, no matter who we are, to come together for the love of the game. I believed in both the direct contributions of Child’s Play and the larger face that it presented to mainstream society of gamers as compassionate and giving and not just basement-dwelling homicidal-maniacs-in-training. I want to believe the best of Gabe and Tycho because I think they’ve done, and can continue to do, a lot of good. I don’t want to completely write them off, not just yet.

      (Though, depressingly, I’ve been reading a number of people in group B who sound like they’ll keep reading the comic anyway in spite of their disappointment. I mean, come on!)

      I’ll be honest and say I haven’t unsubbed from the feed yet. If I reach my breaking point where I simply give up then I will, but as I said above, I’m not there just yet.

  • Kai Samuelsen

    “When I say that they’re against rape victims, I don’t mean that they hate rape victims – I should have made that more clear. I mean that the people who are the focus of this whole vendetta happen to be rape victims…”

    The fact is, this isn’t about rape victims to Gabe and Tycho – I’ think that’s why Gabe has been so glib. Look at his twitter comments – every flippant answer is to someone accusing him of supporting rape culture. Read the first comic again – there’s no way on earth that that comic supports a rape culture. He mocked trigger warnings, true, but he also considers the entire Penny Arcade history a trigger warning. Their first comic with the word “rape” occurred in 2003.

    The communication breakdown as I’ve seen it is because for some people this is about Gabe and Tycho being mean to rape victims, and for Gabe and Tycho, this is about making fun of people who thought “the Sixth Slave” was promoting a rape culture (which concept even some feminists disagree with).

    People keep saying they haven’t done enough, and yet, when someone said that the shirt would make them uncomfortable at PAX, they took it down. (They left it up before because they figured if you don’t like Penny Arcade, don’t read Penny Arcade.) When Penny Arcade ‘supporters’ began harassing rape victims, Gabe told them to stop. The Group D people are beneath contempt. On that we can agree. The group A can never be mollified. Again, we agree. Group B feels that ‘something’ more needs or needed to be done, but to this somewhat group C (male) feminist the question is, what has gone on that needs to be apologized for that is directly Gabe or Tycho’s fault?

    • Phil

      Disclaimer : Group C member writing

      Amen to that,

      I agree with what Kai just said.

      The original accusation from Shakesville that the Sixth slave was propagating rape culture was so overly exaggerated yet in accordance to the all-encompassing pop culture = rape culture view of Shakesville that it could only be answered by derision from Mike and Jerry as was seen in the Breaking it down comic.

      Further critics and accusation of being rape apologists only lead Mike and Jerry to answer with more derision which lead to the creation of the Dickwolf T-shirt and the fake trigger warning.

      Jerry says it in it’s answer to the dickwolf matter : I’m not entirely certain that a conversation is possible. Unfortunately he is totally right. Group A will never accept that the Sixth Slave comic had nothing to do with Rape Culture and that all subsequent answers to the matter from PA was a snarky rebuttal to an accusation so deep in the realm of Fantasy to them that it didn’t even deserve a serious answer. Which is a normal reaction when faced with radical opinions.

      By Jerry own admission the PA crew received a fair share of emails complaining against different comics they make. I’m sure the answers of those comics revolve around : sorry the comic displease you, no we won’t stop making jokes about them.

      The heart of the matter is that Mike and Jerry don’t consider the complaint of being rape apologists or perpetrators of rape culture valid, with good reason I might say. They are more than probably pretty pissed about it. Now due to this frustration they made some moves that were designed to ridicule the complaints of their opponents.

      A lot of people in group B associate the Dickwolf T-shirt to rape. I personally perceived it as a penis joke on the matter of mythical creature with erect phallus instead of limbs. Call me immature if you want but the though that there might be somewhere a hockey team (Canadian here) that would pick such animal as their emblem was funny as hell.

      I understand how some people could perceive the Dickwolf T-Shirt as a rape team T-Shirt especially in light of the douchy moves of group D. However, to perceive it as such you would have to consider that the Dickwolf as a creature is inherently about raping stuff and less about being the punchline of a penis joke. I highly doubt that anyone outside this debate would ever associate the Dickwolf T-Shirt with rape but rather ask Is he really wearing a shirt saying : Dickwolf?

      This lead me to my final thoughts on the matter. This has nothing to do with rape. It could have been racism, sexism, whatever. The issue is that after following PA for more than ten years and viewing PAX as a real Mecca for gamers I was disappointed with their handling of this situation. Ridiculing their opponents for their equally ludicrous accusation might have been shortly satisfactory in a spiteful way but in the end created a clusterf@ck of epic proportions and I felt let down by it.

      Mike apology was enough for me, he admitted behaving like a dick in this matter, something his opponents won’t even consider by still propagating the idea that the Sixth Slave encourage rape culture.

    • Jet Wolf

      People keep saying they haven’t done enough, and yet, when someone said that the shirt would make them uncomfortable at PAX, they took it down.

      But then Gabe turns around and says he’ll wear his. I’ve been wrestling with this since it happened and I still haven’t come to any conclusion that makes it okay.

      I think we can all agree that the motivation for pulling the shirt, at least as far as the explanation goes, was to remove something that was uncomfortable and unwelcoming for a portion of PAX’s community and attendees.

      But then Gabe turns around and says that he’s going to wear his shirt to PAX anyway. That’s not him just grabbing whatever’s clean in the closet when he goes in that day, that’s not having a brainfreeze and somehow forgetting all this happened. This is a premeditated act he plans to put front and center at PAX.

      Gabe and Tycho are the hosts of PAX. They set its tone. What does it say when the host to your party waves the very symbol that he himself acknowledges causes feelings of discomfort and being unwelcome?

      It says to me that he never actually meant what he said in the first place. It says to me that he doesn’t actually care about PAX being for everyone. To me it completely negates the goodwill gained from removing the shirt in the first place.

      When Penny Arcade ‘supporters’ began harassing rape victims, Gabe told them to stop.

      But it took him six days to do it. Six days of sitting back and, at best, blithely ignoring that the harassment was occurring. It wasn’t that he didn’t know. We all knew. He didn’t care. At least his actions, or lack thereof, certainly don’t make it seem that he did.

      Group B feels that ‘something’ more needs or needed to be done, but to this somewhat group C (male) feminist the question is, what has gone on that needs to be apologized for that is directly Gabe or Tycho’s fault?

      Again, I’m looking for an apology. I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t attacked, I wasn’t offended. There’s nothing to apologize to me for.

      I guess … I guess what I’m seeking is for Gabe and Tycho to somehow show that they aren’t they people that this debacle has made them appear to be, at least in my eyes. That they aren’t so incapable self-examination. Of basic human decency and empathy.

  • http://peacock-king.infernalshenanigans.com Irk

    I think what keeps getting me as (possibly) a member of group C (maybe?) is that a lot of people seem surprised that Gabe is a caustic jerk with a bad mouth and a fly-off-the-handle-at-first way of handling problems. Gabe is and will always be a jerk with sub-par civil communication skills, and any fans that have acknowledged that have already dealt with it before continuing Penny Arcade fandom, pointedly ignore it, or have already left because of it and are in other groups now or not even on the graph.

    Or, to reword that, when I found out Gabe was handling this situation in not the best way possible and that people were upset about it, I kinda laughed at the idea of being surprised at his actions, and wondered if those outraged had somehow missed all this time that Gabe is a socially inept bad-tempered geek who handles things by speaking first and thinking when Tycho reminds him to. The problem isn’t getting Gabe to apologize or acknowledge he has done something wrong. The problem is that he’d have to change as a person to understand what the hell that all even means. As in, go through some therapy or something. Now, I think if he were more emotionally stable he’d definitely benefit, but I am definitely not a good judge of how much therapy a person needs or even if it’ll work. (Heck, I’ve already breached the radius of ‘kind of a lot of conjecture’.)

    But yes, if you hang out with a caustic person then you get used to ‘their moods’, when someone points out they said something offensive you kinda just blink at them. We have a badly-trained dog, yes, someone’s *extreme surprise* that he peed on the carpet is a little disconcerting.

    So what does this bring us to? Well, quite simply, saying Gabe went “too far” this time is a little weird for some people to take in, because they’ve gotten used to the fact that Gabe always goes too far, and it is in fact what he does, and Spinal Tapp’s ams go up to eleven. Some of the incredulity you’re hitting is simply that – disbelief that someone could call out something like, say, South Park for going ‘too far’, or the claim that there is in fact some unspoken sacred thing he cannot transgress upon that he didn’t even previously know existed. Gabe is the type to be offensive on purpose and this all started from both he and Tycho being offensive on accident. For some people on the side of PA it kind of resolves to “so basically, you’re complaining that a misanthrope acted particularly misanthropic about one thing you cared about, but until then the misanthropy was okay?”

    But this isn’t really about Gabe and Tycho at all, it’s about the things they have created that more people are now a part of, something which I think the two of them are only now realizing has happened. G&T’s lack of pomped-upness about their position of power in the gaming community is endearing, they always act like two regular guys who are gamers who just happen to draw a comic. Occasionally they take in that they are responsible for big things, but on the whole they want to be two normal guys, and I don’t think either wants to believe their impact really can be this big. Combine that with the accusation of being cogs in some sort of all-pervading, invisible machine of rape, and add in the previous “Gabe really is a dick” factor, and communication turns into something very much not very simple.

    I think they are in the position right now, to be honest, of not having any good option. Saying “I don’t know what they could do to make this better, but they haven’t done it yet” isn’t going to help make it better, they seem to be at a loss to be honest. Suggestions could at least make people think on it as to what *they* want from Gabe and Tycho. Honestly? Gabe and Tycho don’t owe me anything. They make a comic for free. I settled with that the first time they insulted something I cared about (don’t even remember what). If they owe someone else something, maybe the people who are owed can settle on that. If they don’t owe you anything, if you are not someone they directly hurt, if you don’t have anything to do with this, then maybe it’s time to think through what it is you want to see from Gabe and Tycho.

    Also, something I haven’t seen acknowledged yet is that one of them or someone close to them has experienced something akin to what rape survivors had, and that they handle these things in different ways than other people do, and maybe something private like that is something neither wants to talk about publicly. Can’t really blame them for not wanting to disclose something that’s usually a very private conversation to millions of internet viewers.

    If you are wondering where I am getting from, reread Tycho’s blog on the issue. It may not have “done enough” for it all, but to be honest it’s pretty easy to read between the lines in a couple of places and see WHY he is just so reluctant to talk about any of this.

    “I don’t have any intention of going into specifics, but speculating about my own sexual history or the sexual history of the people we know is profoundly unwise. I will also tell you that people deal with horror of this kind in different ways, and one of them is with humor.”

    If that isn’t obvious enough I don’t know what is. I think the group of “survivors/friends of survivors who support Penny Arcade” has gone unacknowledged, and it’s very likely that some part of PA itself is in that group.

    • Jet Wolf

      Or, to reword that, when I found out Gabe was handling this situation in not the best way possible and that people were upset about it, I kinda laughed at the idea of being surprised at his actions, and wondered if those outraged had somehow missed all this time that Gabe is a socially inept bad-tempered geek who handles things by speaking first and thinking when Tycho reminds him to.

      It surprised me.

      As I said in my first post on the subject, I’m not a member of the Penny Arcade community. I’ve read the strip for years, but never their forums, never their Twitter accounts, and only occasionally their blog posts. I’ve attended a few PAX Primes now, but don’t go to the QAs, the signings or the strip drawings.

      So I was taken by surprise by his attitude, totally. However I don’t think “Oh that’s just Gabe!” is a sufficient enough justification for what’s happened here.

      At least not – and I think this is a really important point here – at least not once he involved the world that existed outside of his comic strip.

      As I also said in that first post of mine, I am completely on-board with his assertion that Penny Arcade: The Comic Strip is one thing, and that PAX and Child’s Play are another. I am with this 100%. However it’s Gabe that decided to drag all the nastiness of his “socially inept bad-tempered geek” comic strip personality, where several thousand fans were fairly well sequestered and unto themselves, into the larger world of several hundred-thousand gamers who are supposedly, according to his own statements, meant to be invited and welcomed.

      If Gabe is that much of a loose cannon that a mere condition of being around him is to dismiss him, then he shouldn’t be speaking on behalf of the larger face of Penny Arcade: The Company.

      Or if he does, then someone else with Penny Arcade: The Company should intervene quickly to mitigate his damage.

      Or if they don’t, they should demonstrate that they’ve learned something from all this and will take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

      But Gabe did speak. And it was six days before anyone even tried to call a halt. And nobody seems to have learned a damned thing.

      The only other alternative is to drop the farce that PAX is inclusive to everyone and welcome to all, at which point I’ll stop expecting better of anyone involved. But so long as they continue try to present the idea that they are better and what they do is better then I will keep trying to make them prove it.

      But this isn’t really about Gabe and Tycho at all, it’s about the things they have created that more people are now a part of, something which I think the two of them are only now realizing has happened.

      I can’t claim to know what goes on inside Gabe and Tycho’s heads so I can’t say you’re wrong. If this is indeed the case however, I believe it’s incredibly naive, nearly to the point of self-delusion. They’ve watched PAX grow, they’ve watched Child’s Play grow – two things founded on precisely the idea of utilizing their very public and powerful position within the gaming community to sway internal attitudes and external opinions in a more positive way. They’re both avid followers of gaming news. Tycho especially has a gift for analyzing trends and getting to the heart of them. To say that up until now, up until this very controversy, they had no idea the kind of power they could wield is, I feel, disingenuous.

      But okay, let’s say that it’s true and only now have their eyes been opened to their powerful influence on the gaming culture. So let’s fix it. You know you have the power; use it to do what you always claimed you wanted.

      That cannot happen by withdrawing and pretending it never happened.

      I think they are in the position right now, to be honest, of not having any good option. Saying “I don’t know what they could do to make this better, but they haven’t done it yet” isn’t going to help make it better, they seem to be at a loss to be honest. Suggestions could at least make people think on it as to what *they* want from Gabe and Tycho.

      I felt that is what I had done, but I’ll elaborate as best I can, hopefully without sounding too repetitive.

      I believe that – for me at least (and I can’t claim to speak for anybody but myself) – what I would like to see to start being okay with all this is some measure of a lesson learned. I would like to see Gabe be able to display a spark of empathy for his not insignificant role in bringing us to this point. Saying “I was an ass, let’s drop it” is not that.

      You indicated he may be incapable of more. Given that you’re an acknowledged long-time supporter of his I think that probably says a lot right there, but I’m still going to hold out hope that he can prove better than your expectations.

      If he for whatever reason simply can’t, then I would like to see some movement made on his behalf to help heal the damage he’s caused. Tycho, Khoo, hire the dude a PR rep, get his wife to issue a statement … I don’t know. But letting his actions and words stand alone without comment or attempted amends by anyone else with Penny Arcade: The Company pretty much says all I need to know about Penny Arcade: The Company.

      Tycho I’m a lot fuzzier on, I admit. I still have a lot of respect (however fragile) for Tycho, and I believe he is capable of greater thought, introspection and reflection than his partner, as well as the ability to connect what’s occurred here to the deeper and far more troubling undercurrents in our gaming culture. I would like to see him address this, and utilize his position in our community to help turn this mess around so that at least something positive can come out of it.

      In the absence of any or all of these, I simply can’t see anything but a melting pot of hypocrisy in the ideal of PAX which they both claim to hold in such regard.

    • Jet Wolf

      Also, this totally got lost somewhere along the way of me writing that novel, but I wanted to thank you for your post. You forced me to crystallize several thoughts and feelings that have been bouncing around for me this past week. Even if we don’t manage to come to any common ground beyond this, that’s been invaluable. Thank you for challenging me.

    • Rabbit

      I think what keeps getting me as (possibly) a member of group C (maybe?) is that a lot of people seem surprised that Gabe is a caustic jerk with a bad mouth and a fly-off-the-handle-at-first way of handling problems. Gabe is and will always be a jerk with sub-par civil communication skills, and any fans that have acknowledged that have already dealt with it before continuing Penny Arcade fandom, pointedly ignore it, or have already left because of it and are in other groups now or not even on the graph.

      THANK YOU. It’s pretty obvious that the people who are genuinely upset about this are not hardcore PA aficionados. Tycho has even stated in the past that Gabe’s super power is being able to say just the right thing to infuriate people and get a reaction. And generally it’s pretty funny when the target is a deserving one, like Jack Thompson. Rape survivors, not so much, but I think he was genuinely hurt that people thought he was endorsing rape.

      My mother’s a therapist (who deals daily with survivors of both rape and childhood sexual abuse, incidentally, as do I) and the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given me has come from her: No one is responsible for your feelings but you. You can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you react to it. Dudes on the internet saying stupid things will always be there, forever and ever, and people will always be outraged by them until they’re distracted by the next outrage. Nothing Penny Arcade says will make them happy, so they can either apologize over and over and over or they can shrug and move on.

      It’s kind of like customer service. There’s always someone mad at you, and maybe they even have a legitimate complaint, but you’ve still got a job to do and you don’t really have time to bend over backwards trying to take care of their feelings. You move on and try to do better next time.

  • Kai Samuelsen

    I would like to point out that so far the list of Gabe’s sins is, in its entirety as far as I can tell, not telling 4chan to knock it off earlier, and saying that he will wear the Dickwolves shirt at PAX. For the first, for all the points that it took him 6 days, and that everyone knew about it – it is entirely possible that Gabe did not. After his reception at Shakesville, he may have ignored the blogs, and only heard about the continuation via twitter. As far as I can tell via the timeline, his response to wolvington came the day after same attacked Stanton.

    As far as the dickwolves shirt – I’m not going to defend that. I think he was wrong. I understand why he did it though, I think – defending the comic has gotten to be such a gut level reaction for these guys over the years, that it just bypassed the part of his brain that remembered why they’d pulled the merch in the first place.

    But what’s gotten lost in here are a couple of important things. First, I keep seeing things on twitter about how “Gabe was mocking rape survivors,” a thing which never happened. Never. Not once. The only people he has mocked are people who suggested that he supported a rape culture. The second is that the behavior of Shakesville has never been apologized for. Whatever you may think of Shakesville, her behavior in this debacle has been central and terrible – but no one is asking what it will take for her to apologize, so we can move on. For all the talk about the damage and hurt that Gabe has caused, he never banned actual rape survivors from his boards for disagreeing with him, and then when they tried to email/register a second time on the board, compared their actions to rape. I would wager that in this entire mess, which began with a Penny Arcade comic (but did not begin with Penny Arcade) Penny Arcade has caused less damage to actual rape survivors than many of the other participants.

    Finally, for all the talk of what Jerry and Mike need to do/apologize for – I wonder who is lining up to apologize to them. For calling them rape apologists; for saying they encourage a rape culture. For suggesting that they are anything but anti-rape.

  • Phil

    Disclaimer : Group C

    Hi again Jet Wolf,

    I think that the shirt itself merit more discussion because of it’s importance as a symbol for group A & B.

    Like I said in a previous post, for Mike & Jerry, for me and for a myriad of PA fans, the Dickwolf shirt has nothing to do with rape. It was unfortunately claimed that way by the members of group A, who are actively trying to rout out anything that might remotely concern the word rape out of our society.

    Show the DIckwolf shirt design to anyone outside this controversy and I promise you there is no way they will identify the Shirt to rape. I tried it, most of my friend laughed at the idea of a dickwolf, a more prude friend who doesn’t like penis jokes didn’t find it funny but that’s all.

    Must the fact that members of group A and some of B decided to claim the Shirt as yet another symbol of the greater evil known as Rape culture ruin the joke for everyone else? Apparently yes because PA retired the Shirt. Now Gabe himself admitted that removing the shirt was the path of least resistance. They did it to satisfy the demands of a very vocal minority of people who, in the mind of the PA guys, didn’t get the joke.

    The removal of the Shirt from the store sprung the vicious retards vomited from the fetid bowels of 4chan into action. The actions of those man are disgusting but I’m equally disgusted by the way the posters from Shakesville handled any attempt to reason about the fact that the comic and therefore the Shirt were not about rape culture.

    I think that’s why Mike twitted that he will be wearing his shirt at PAX. For Mike the shirt is a good penis joke and I’m sure he was more than fed up to be accused of propagating rape culture and being a rape apologist. Any sane person will attest that rape is horrifying and probably the most terrible fate a being could be submitted too. Being accused of propagating the idea that rape is not that bad is vile and disgusting. Rape apologists rank worse than Nazis in the mind of everyone I asked and I am sure we can all agree that Nazis were pretty bad people.

    Mike and Jerry don’t feel the need to apologize more than they did because their opponents want them to acknowledge that their work contribute to rape culture. It is not something I agree with and I’m sure the PA crew don’t agree to it either. The difference of beliefs from both side are so irreconcilable that any kind of meaningful apology is impossible.

    I believe that at this point Mike said he will be wearing his Shirt because not doing so would be agreeing that the Shirt does promote rape culture.

    • Phil

      Sorry to reply to my own post (couldn’t find edit) and clog your own blog with my thoughts on the matter of the Dickwolves but I really needed to say what I had on my mind and I find your blog a place where polite intelligent discussion is welcomed and not automatically derided for not fitting within A or D. For that JW I thank you and plague you with my following roman.

      That said,

      Coming home from a superbowl party I had a long walk under a snowy night that gave me time to think and fortunately or not my mind is rather full of thoughts about this controversy right now.

      My thoughts ended up wandering around the Shirt once again and how unfair group A or B could use it as an excuse to berate innocent bystanders at PAX. Let me clarify on this.

      I read the PA blog, comic and TV religiously but I do not consult their forums, I am largely unaware of the blogosphere outside of blogs related to Canadian politics. I consult Gamezone, The Escapist, Gamasutra and Kotaku daily. I do not Tweet nor tumblr nor do I use a smart phone, my own work as a manager consisting already of me dealing with hundred of emails daily I would rather avoid doing so in my free time.

      Now, I am a self-declared PA fan, yet outside of the Breaking it Down comics and blog posts I had no idea whatsoever of any problems with the DIckwolves. When the shirt came out, I saw a penis joke and nothing even remotely close to rape culture.

      Amongst my extended group of friends either online or my own group close at home we are only two who actually read the PA blog yet a good group of 20 geeks, 70/30 male/female ratio all self-declared PA fans and very eager to join our greater community at PAX again. Of those 20 individuals, 4 bought a DIckwolves T-Shirt. I had one placed in my cart with other items when the shirt was removed from the site.

      Now before you judge those individuals for buying Dickwolves shirts you must realize that I only learned of the Dickwolves controversy when Gabe commented on retiring the shirt on the 29th of January. I followed by informing myself of the controversy and then telling my friends about it. Had I never informed them of it, there is a good chance they would have gone to PAX wearing those shirts.

      What would happen at PAX if a member of group B would go to someone wearing a Shirt and accusing him of being a member of Team Rape? I am sure a lot of the people who bought the Dickwolves shirt have no idea whatsoever that a specific group of people associate that shirt with rape. It is even quite possible that some people who bought the shirt didn’t remember the 5 month old sixth slave comic but just found the notion of a dickwolf hilarious.

      The group A appropriated the Shirt to themselves making it an exemplification of Rape Culture at work. Yet outside this debate it is a far stretch at best to associate a dickwolf shirt with rape joke. Groupe A made the Shirt a Team Rape shirt not the PA fans and certainly not Mike and Jerry.

      Another thing that’s been bugging me in this is the recurring accusation that Mike asked people to stop when the threats became personal. A certain number of members of group A & B openly mentioned that they received death threats, raped threats and various levels of insults. Mike never mentioned receiving something similar. The only thing we know for sure is that he was accused of collaborating with rape culture, being a rape apologist and when he posted on Shakesville was answered with nothing approaching even the will to discuss the problem.

      I don’t have access to Mike or Jerry’s mailbox but I would be willing to take the leap of faith and working with the assumption that they received their fair share of insults, death threats and yes even rape threats. Those were probably very personal accusations targeted at them and I am quite sure they didn’t forget to criticize Mike’s appearance or is very geeky tastes. The fact that Mike and Jerry didn’t mention receiving those emails doesn’t mean it didn’t happen yet a lot of people from group A & B seem to assume that the only threat or insults ever leveled at Mike & Jerry was the threat against his family which sprung him into action.

      I wanted to address the issue of the fanbase but my eyes are now closing. Hope I didn’t took up to much space on yours!

      • Jet Wolf

        Sorry to reply to my own post (couldn’t find edit) and clog your own blog with my thoughts on the matter of the Dickwolves but I really needed to say what I had on my mind and I find your blog a place where polite intelligent discussion is welcomed and not automatically derided for not fitting within A or D. For that JW I thank you and plague you with my following roman.

        Not at all. I’m happy to have any discussion here so long as everyone treats each other with respect. I’m really amazed (pleasantly so) that every single comment I’ve gotten has been exactly that without me even having to ask. I mean people just started flooding in and it’s all been amazingly open and thoughtful. It’s been the single most encouraging thing I’ve seen come out of this yet. I’ve said this elsewhere, but so long as we can keep talking, listening and considering, even and especially when we disagree, then we’re making huge progress.

        Now before you judge those individuals for buying Dickwolves shirts

        I wanted to pick this out real quick and say that I wouldn’t judge someone for buying the shirt. Or, well … I would try very hard not to. I freely accept that there are a great many people out there who have no idea what’s going on here in our tiny corner of the Internet, and as I’ve made mention the world of PAX and Child’s Play is far larger than the relatively isolated and insular world of the comic. Thinking about it, if I passed someone on the street and they were wearing a Dickwolves shirt, I wouldn’t automatically write them off in my head and think they were a terrible person.

        If I saw them wearing it at PAX … yeah, that might give me pause. But I like to think that it would simply be one of those “first impression” things that we all do constantly. You know, like, if you saw someone wearing a t-shirt of a band you hated. You might start out thinking their musical tastes suck, but you wouldn’t ostracize them simply because they think Justin Bieber is the shit. Or maybe we would I mean it is Justin Bieber. But I think you catch my meaning.

        What would happen at PAX if a member of group B would go to someone wearing a Shirt and accusing him of being a member of Team Rape?

        Well I think the question there isn’t one so much of a-group-that-I-arbitrarily-made-up as it is what would happen at PAX if anyone went up to someone wearing a Dickwolves shirt and accused them of being a member of Team Rape? I have to guess that no matter who it is doing the accusing and no matter who it is being accused, it’s going to be a pretty unpleasant confrontation.

        If I may, I’ll twist the question a little and say “What would happen at PAX if a member of group B saw someone wearing a Dickwolves shirt?”, as it doesn’t presuppose such an extreme reaction.

        Now that said, despite putting myself in Group B I can’t even pretend that I speak for the entire group. Particularly on a “what would you do if?” kind of question. No one of the groups consist of a single hivemind (well, maybe Group D), and no one single set of experiences comprise it. I mean we can probably agree that most members of Group A would find a Dickwolves shirt at PAX offensive at the minimum, but I can easily see in equal measure one person confronting the wearer about it, another glaring quietly from the sidelines, and a third completely ignoring it and the wearer for the duration of the con.

        The only person I can talk about with confidence is myself. So what would I do? I’ve given it some thought, tried to play it out in my head. I think I wouldn’t do anything overt one way or the other. I might frown a little, but if the wearer asked me for the time I wouldn’t spit in their face and kick their shin, you know? I probably wouldn’t strike up a random conversation with them but it has to be said that I’m much more the silent observer and don’t strike up random conversations with anyone, so don’t ascribe too much to that. If they spoke to me though, I think I’d be my regular old self (whether that’s good or bad, well, that’s something else again!) until the person gave me reason to be otherwise.

        As with all such things it’s difficult to say until you’re actually in the situation, but I like to think I know myself pretty well by now, and I feel confident in saying that’s how I would handle the situation. I know I twisted that around a bit and I’m not entirely sure I know what you were looking for in that so I don’t know if I was helpful at all there.

        I don’t have access to Mike or Jerry’s mailbox but I would be willing to take the leap of faith and working with the assumption that they received their fair share of insults, death threats and yes even rape threats. Those were probably very personal accusations targeted at them and I am quite sure they didn’t forget to criticize Mike’s appearance or is very geeky tastes. The fact that Mike and Jerry didn’t mention receiving those emails doesn’t mean it didn’t happen yet a lot of people from group A & B seem to assume that the only threat or insults ever leveled at Mike & Jerry was the threat against his family which sprung him into action.

        It’s possible that happened. I can’t deny it. You’re right, we have no way of knowing it didn’t. The thing is, once we start trying to write in our own backstory we totally lose sight of the facts. You can say that behind the scenes Gabe and Tycho were inundated with threats, but you could also say that behind the scenes Gabe and Tycho were inundated with cheers. As far as we outsiders know, each are equally likely. Once we start getting into hypotheticals we start writing our own version of the story that will best fit the conclusion we want to see.

        I prefer to stick to what we do know, what we can say is indisputable fact, and draw conclusions from there. Obviously our own perspective and opinion will determine exactly what those conclusions are, but at least everyone is coming at it from the same agreed upon place.

        On to the timing of their statements, here are the facts which we can all verify to be true:

        1. Kirby Bits was under a flood of violent threats for a week. They were publicly visible and she was quite vocal about receiving them.

        2. Neither Gabe nor Tycho spoke out about any attacks of any kind against anybody at all, save for one tweet Gabe made to @dickwolvington saying (essentially) “not cool, knock it off”.

        3. Gabe receives one tweet saying it would be a funny joke to murder his family.

        4. Less than 24 hours later, both Gabe and Tycho speak out against violent hate speech.

        Now like I’ve said, I very much don’t want to believe that it took receiving a threat to make either of them actually care. But given the facts, it’s very difficult to reach another conclusion. Even if you choose to do so (I do too), I don’t think it’s an inherent fault if people go with what’s actually the most logical conclusion.

        I wanted to address the issue of the fanbase but my eyes are now closing. Hope I didn’t took up to much space on yours!

        I love the discussion and am willing to help clarify where I stand if I can. I’ve pretty much said my final piece on the Dickwolves thing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a whole hell of a lot to talk about in this. An amazingly complex issue.

      • Madra Liath

        Groupe A made the Shirt a Team Rape shirt not the PA fans and certainly not Mike and Jerry.

        Except that Mike and Jerry:
        1) created a monster called a dickwolf which rapes people to sleep
        2) knew that it had upset people
        3) decided to make a Dickwolves shirt
        4) and picked a design that evoked a sports team.

        If you know the context, it most certainly can be read as “Proud Member of the Penny Arcade [Rape Monsters]“.

        Do I think they sat down and rubbed their hands in malicious glee, deciding “Let’s deliberately upset rape survivors!”? No. But it was a monumental misstep on their part, and I can’t see any provocation (for want of a better word) for them to decide, six weeks after the initial controversy, to stir things up again.

        I can cut them slack on the original joke, I really can, because I know what they meant by it. I understand why they made a pissy, condescending follow-up comic. Creating a Dickwolves shirt? HUGE lack of awareness.

        There were better ways to handle this situation. Hell, maybe they could’ve fudged the truth a little and instituted a “G-rated T-shirts only” policy at PAX, instead of saying “a vocal minority” was the reason they pulled the shirt, which only served to direct people’s ire at, well, the wrong people.

   
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