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What discourse norms do you tend to follow? Why? Do you think everyone else should follow them, and why?
The basis of liberal democracy (that is to say classical liberal, not what is currently referred to as liberal) is maximisation of liberty. Freedom of speech is the most important form of liberty, because without freedom of speech it is impossible to effectively organise defence of the other liberties.
This means first of all that the state has no power to prevent speech that is not libel or direct incitement to violence. Categorising something as ‘hate speech’ or ‘vilification’ does not allow us to circumvent this restriction. The state will utilise any tools available to it to silence criticism. Countries with laws that forbid blasphemy use them to punish atheists and religious minorities. Countries with laws that prevent criticism of the president or the monarch use them to silence dissent. It is naive to believe that laws made with the best of intentions will not be used to defend those in power.
Second, and more relevant to the current climate, people who consider themselves liberals should not take pride in shutting down opinions or speakers that they disagree with. A climate of fear surrounding expressions of unpopular opinions breeds conformity and group-think. Bad ideas flourish in such an environment.
Incorrect opinions, no matter how vile we believe they are, can be engaged with or tolerated but not silenced. If they are indeed as self-evidently bad as we believe, then they should be easy to defeat through straightforward argument. If there is some value to them, then we will benefit immensely from engaging with them rather than utilising social pressure to dismiss them.
The value of these norms is universal, and everyone needs to play by the same rules. The basis of argument must ultimately be facts, not identity. ‘Lived experiences’ can be a useful form of evidence in certain circumstances, but they can also make people unreliable – a white person who was mugged by a black man might have a genuine fear of black people, but their trauma should not be allowed to dominate the conversation.
Abuse and harassment are of course unacceptable, regardless of who engages in them. The best way to deal with them is to disregard them whenever possible, rather than trying to construct a narrative where being the target of abuse makes a person or a position more credible. It is particularly important not to be hypocritical about abuse – a harassment campaign does not become acceptable simply because it is being conducted by your side.
What is the true reason, deep down, that you believe what you believe? What piece of evidence, test, or line of reasoning would convince you that you’re wrong about your ideology?
The underlying basis of my ideology is belief that freedom – free markets and free speech – are more effective and more just than unfree markets and unfree speech. Not only is freedom inherently a moral good, the best way to correct historical injustices is for people to be left alone.
When people are given special treatment because they belong to a disadvantaged group it reinforces the idea that they are weak and powerless. Members of that group and their allies wield that disadvantage as a club to silence criticism and continually demand additional advantages – which benefit a small elite but never the group as a whole.
If I could be convinced that free speech and free markets were actually ineffective at achieving efficiency and real justice (rather than the potemkin justice of eternal special treatment that ‘social justice’ advocates seem to want) then I would change my position.
Gamergate began as a reaction to the collusion between game developers (including, but not limited to, indie game developers) and game journalists. It was drawn into the culture war when the games journalists it criticised launched a coordinated campaign to tar these critics as misogynistic, basement-dwelling virgins. By framing it as a conflict between innocent women and vile men they successfully distracted attention from their lack of journalistic integrity.
Games journalists, as products of the humanities department of Western universities, tend to lean left in their politics. They also form a small, insular group closely tied to games developers. Their audience is much more diverse and less interested in the political content of games compared to their entertainment value. Over time, this divergence led to a contempt for their audience.
As a consequence, games journalists have consistently supported games such as Gone Home or Depression Quest which fitted their political agenda at the expense of games which are well designed or fun to play. At the same time, they promoted designers with whom they had personal or financial relationships and failed to disclose those relationships.
A series of scandals came to light in 2014, culminating in Eron Gjoni’s revelations about his ex-girlfriend Zoe Quinn’s relationship with journalists who wrote about Depression Quest and others who awarded her prizes at Indiecade 2012. Almost immediately, games journalists at a variety of outlets closed ranks, simultaneously publishing articles that characterised the accusations as a harassment campaign designed to drive women out of the games industry. Seeing that framing oneself as a victim of Gamergate was a good way to generate sympathy and publicity, several unrelated figures jumped on the bandwagon, suggesting that they too had been harassed. Moderators at Reddit and 4chan shut down all discussion, lending credence to the accusations of censorship.
Gamergate as it now exists is primarily a boogey (cis, white) man of the social justice crowd, a way of tarring any criticism as misogynist harassment and abuse and shutting out opposing viewpoints.