We can't save the world, but we can protect and care for [RPG.net]
November 2, 2018 10:06 AM   Subscribe

One of the oldest online RPG forums takes a stance: "We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. [...] We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both." spawning multiple discussions on other online communities like reddit, resetera, hacker news and twitter. Among the media coverage, Mashable has an unabashedly positive article about the decision and Vice's Motherboard reached out to the admins.
posted by Memo (95 comments total) 103 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the Motherboard piece:
“Different staff members had their own breaking points, but after Christine Ford's testimony, and Trump's public reaction to it, I don't think we had any more holdouts,” the admins said. “If someone came to a dinner party and decided to mock a sexual assault victim at the table, I think most reasonable hosts would kick them out, or at least not invite them back again.”
This is excellent framing, and shows how bankrupt the difference of opinion argument is.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:12 AM on November 2 [221 favorites]


I'm surprised we haven't done that formally here as well. We should. And we should encourage other sites to do the same.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:12 AM on November 2 [70 favorites]


An eminently sensible policy, and one they clearly devoted a lot of thought to. Particularly these two points, which I imagine all discussion of this topic on white supremacist-friendly sites like Reddit and HN will be ignoring:
5. We will not permit witch-hunts, progressive loyalty-testing, or attempting to bait another into admitting support for President Trump in order to get them banned. The mod staff will deal harshly with attempts to weaponize this policy.
6. It is not open season on conservatives, and revenge fantasies against Trump and Trump supporters are still against the rules.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:19 AM on November 2 [84 favorites]


Thank you. This news brightened my day and more importantly provides an example to point at when discussing reasonable limits on tolerance.
posted by wierdo at 10:22 AM on November 2 [7 favorites]


I think moves like this can help Republican leaning folks come back from the edge and try to think about (re?)gaining a sensible conservative party.
posted by Shutter at 10:26 AM on November 2 [5 favorites]


I'm starting an Imperial Rome RPG next year at the homeschool Co-op my daughter and I attend, and I was wondering just yesterday about other online communities (besides MeFi, natch) to consult for advice as I'm a little rusty, RPG-wise.

Looks like some very level heads run that site, so I just signed up. Thanks for the post, Memo.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:32 AM on November 2 [7 favorites]


help Republican leaning folks come back from the edge

People, generally, don't respond well to being told their opinions are wrong and not welcome. It usually leads them to become even more radicalized rather than reevaluate themselves. This move is about deplatforming white supremacists and protecting marginalized groups, which is effective, rather than trying to convince radicalized people that they're wrong, which is rarely effective.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:38 AM on November 2 [78 favorites]


It also teaches those susceptible to being radicalized the difference between political speech and hate speech. And it denies the proto-fascist a place to learn the habits and mannerisms that would make them a full blown Nazi.
posted by wierdo at 10:48 AM on November 2 [31 favorites]


It also teaches those susceptible to being radicalized the difference between political speech and hate speech. And it denies the proto-fascist a place to learn the habits and mannerisms that would make them a full blown Nazi.

This ties back to a point I was making in this thread - one of the biggest problems we have with combatting hate speech is that we refuse to call it such, instead letting it be covered in euphemisms like "offensive", "distasteful", "unpopular", and such. This, in turn, enables people to make the "difference of opinion" argument, justifying their hate by saying that it's just their opinion is different.

By pulling the mask off and calling hate for what it is, we not only are being honest, but removing the legitimacy of the "difference of opinion", because it is not okay to be hateful.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:01 AM on November 2 [30 favorites]


As soon as I have time I'm going to buy advertising on their site congratulating them. That's awesome.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:02 AM on November 2 [22 favorites]


It's kind of a breathtaking policy in its clarity. It still makes me nervous; I treasure free speech as an abstract principle. And as much as I loathe the man Trump is the president of the US and a whole lot of Americans like the guy. It seems weird to just say they are no longer welcome.

OTOH fuck the fascists. And particularly fuck the disingenuous arguments in bad faith that are the basis of so much pro-Trump rhetoric. Also fuck the complete absence of any pretense of telling the truth or basic human decency. It still makes me uncomfortable that it's so bad that we literally can't allow pro-Trump speech in places where respectable people hang out. But the problem is with Trump and his brand of hate speech, not the policy that requires quarantining it.

Particularly sympathetic for a place like RPG.net. I mean politics is everywhere, even in gaming, but if you really want to get nerdy about your elf's backstory I can see wanting to just not have to deal with fascist politics.
posted by Nelson at 11:05 AM on November 2 [17 favorites]


And as much as I loathe the man Trump is the president of the US and a whole lot of Americans like the guy. It seems weird to just say they are no longer welcome.

That is explicitly not what RPG.net is saying. They are saying that "support of Donald Trump or his administration" is no longer welcome. That is not saying that "supporterers of Donald Trump or his administration" are no longer welcome.
posted by Etrigan at 11:11 AM on November 2 [54 favorites]


Yeah, it's the speech act of posting support for Trump's policies in an RPG forum that's ban-worthy. This is an important qualification, and necessary given how common it is to troll with support in spaces that are not necessarily about presidential politics.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:15 AM on November 2 [19 favorites]


Oh, well done. That's the argument so many places or sites should be making. it does cut through the shit admirably. I have no actual use for the site, but, dang, I'm gonna have to try and find one now.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:18 AM on November 2 [5 favorites]


I'm thrilled that RPG.net continues to be a bastion of acceptance on the Internet.
posted by Revvy at 11:27 AM on November 2 [1 favorite]


It's kind of a breathtaking policy in its clarity. It still makes me nervous; I treasure free speech as an abstract principle. And as much as I loathe the man Trump is the president of the US and a whole lot of Americans like the guy. It seems weird to just say they are no longer welcome.

Here's the thing everyone always overlooks about the First Amendment, though, which spells out why this is perfectly okay.

The First Amendment refers to what the government itself can and cannot restrict. No city, state, or federal office can make any kind of a speech rule that favors one group over another. It's allowed to set time limits (i.e., a school can make a rule that says that kids can't bust out with speaking in tongues in the middle of an algebra lecture) or set rules on spacing (i.e., a town is allowed to forbid people from holding pep rallies in the middle of a freeway, or is allowed to say that "if you're going to protest this dude's funeral at least make sure you stay X number of yards away from the cemetery"). Those restrictions are all okay. It's when you have situations like "you're not allowed to protest this dude's rally in our town at all", or "the Christian club can use the library for their after-school meetings on Tuesday's when it's empty, but the Muslim club isn't allowed to on Wednesdays even though the library's empty then too" that you have a problem.

So the First Amendment already has some restrictions to it. But those still apply to federal restrictions only.

The First Amendment was never intended that private businesses also have the same kind of permissive policy. A private business is 100% allowed to make its own rules when it comes to "you're not allowed to say X, Y, or Z if you're inside this store". Just like they are allowed to set standards for customer's dress and other behavior. Because a business is considered private property, and in your private property you can set whatever kind of speech rules you want. The reason why "you can't talk about the Care Bears while you're in this store" isn't a violation of the First Amendment is because of the "while your'e in this store" part - you still have the rights to walk out of the store and talk about the Care Bears to your heart's content.

Things get fuzzier online, but for the purposes of First Amendment stuff, a site is akin to a business. So a forum, like a business, is perfectly within its rights to say "you're not allowed to talk about this topic in our forum", because any person wanting to discuss this bullshit is free to go find another place to talk about it.

I mean, it may come to be hard for them to find such a place, but that is not RPG.net's problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on November 2 [71 favorites]




Previously. Political forum posts are not really debate or free speech rights, they're a form of political theatre. Forum moderators are not obliged to provde you with a microphone and an auditorium for your performance.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:40 AM on November 2 [6 favorites]


I mean, one might not be allowed to talk about one's scat fetishes on a knitting forum. But it doesn't mean the forum bans scat fetishists, per se. A scat fetishist could still easily post there, as long as they're talking about knitting and not about scat.
posted by RobotHero at 11:42 AM on November 2 [94 favorites]


There's an enormous gulf between, "I will not publish, broadcast, or give you a stage to say that here," and "You will be arrested (or executed!) if you say that anywhere."
posted by straight at 11:45 AM on November 2 [26 favorites]


But it doesn't mean the forum bans scat fetishists. A scat fetishist could still post there, as long as they're talking about knitting and not about scat.

Aaaaand RobotHero wins the thread.
posted by benzenedream at 11:48 AM on November 2 [12 favorites]


But what if you're against scat? Can you talk about it then?
posted by clawsoon at 11:51 AM on November 2


on the internet, nobody has to know you're into scat.

skibby dibby dee bop da ya da bop
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:53 AM on November 2 [80 favorites]


Finally. It's about time white supremacists started suffering social consequences like actual shunning.
posted by holborne at 11:55 AM on November 2 [13 favorites]


> skibby dibby dee bop da ya da bop

Flagged for scat.
posted by ardgedee at 11:55 AM on November 2 [68 favorites]


Furthermore, they point out the usually ignored fact that unrestricted speech for some means no speech for others. Free speech absolutism fundamentally cedes the field to those who shriek the loudest, and that can’t keep happening. Since we can’t unmake the internet and social media, we have to adapt how we think about them and what we tolerate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:58 AM on November 2 [44 favorites]


I've been pleasantly surprised by how well this has gone over among my nerd friends. Usually whenever something like this goes down, I get to witness at least one grown-ass man behave like a teenager who's had his TV privileges taken away. But even the more conservative voices of my own circle of geek-dom have pretty much collectively shrugged and said, "Their site, their rules. Fair 'nuff." Maybe the Age of Trump has already already filtered the belligerent types out of my personal network.

There's a lot of tastes and attitudes in the RPG community that are heavily retrograde, and I think a lot of fans kind of try not to examine that too hard for fear of damaging enjoyment of something around which we've built a portion of our social lives and personal identities. I've been guilty of that, anyway. It's really good to see organizers of larger communities standing up and setting boundaries. It's a healthy thing.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:59 AM on November 2 [7 favorites]


I applaud this, if only because it seems diehard supporters of the donald are oblivious to realizing when they are being mocked. Hubert Humphrey seemingly once said, "The right to be heard does not necessarily include the right to be taken seriously."

That is not saying that "supporterers of Donald Trump or his administration" are no longer welcome.

Wait, is a supporterer like a supporter but more so? I endorse this typo/neologism.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:00 PM on November 2 [6 favorites]


I mean, one might not be allowed to talk about one's scat fetishes on a knitting forum.

FWIW, Ravelry has at least two forums fully dedicated to knitters who are also kinksters, one general one and one specific to members of Lazy, Stupid and Godless.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:02 PM on November 2 [19 favorites]


It would be great to say that my fellow nerds and our community are finally turning the corner on some horrific behavior, but if not, maybe at least we're hitting the turn signal and letting folks know this is the way we want to go soon.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:03 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


The First Amendment refers to what the government itself can and cannot restrict.

I think it's time to put this trivia tidbit to bed. A great number of people have come to use "First Amendment" as a synonym for "ubiquitous free speech" and correcting them every time has come to feel more like pedantry than discussion.

Signed,

Your friendly neighborhood descriptivist
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:09 PM on November 2 [11 favorites]


There's a reason I hedged my bets with "one might not."

And kinksters are *usually* (hedging my bets again) good people who accept if a forum wants to stay SFW rather than cry about their freedom of speech.
posted by RobotHero at 12:10 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


I guess it makes sense that the meaning of "descriptivism" has drifted to the point where now it stands for basically a form of linguistic nihilism.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:16 PM on November 2 [39 favorites]


I think it's time to put this trivia tidbit to bed. A great number of people have come to use "First Amendment" as a synonym for "ubiquitous free speech" and correcting them every time has come to feel more like pedantry than discussion.

Sign me up for Pedantic Patrol, then. Until every last person truly understands what the First Amendment REALLY means, I'll keep correcting them. That "great number" are just flat out wrong about their understanding. This has very little to do with prescriptivism vs. descriptivism, in my opinion. It's an amendment to the Constitution, not a grammar rule.

Yes, I know this is a losing battle. I'm still gonna fight it.
posted by cooker girl at 12:16 PM on November 2 [56 favorites]


*runs off to register knittingandshitting.com*
posted by dr_dank at 12:16 PM on November 2 [59 favorites]


I think it's time to put this trivia tidbit to bed. A great number of people have come to use "First Amendment" as a synonym for "ubiquitous free speech" and correcting them every time has come to feel more like pedantry than discussion.

It's important pedantry, though. There's a reason why those two things are being linguistically linked - it's a way to legitimize free speech absolutism, and to paint people opposed as being on the wrong side of the argument. This is a point that should not be conceded.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:18 PM on November 2 [34 favorites]


I've got dibs on knattingochshatting.com, the Swedish site.
posted by clawsoon at 12:18 PM on November 2 [9 favorites]


Also from the Motherboard interview, there was this bit about moderation:
Since the change, RPGnet has dealt with what it calls “drive-by trolls,” new users that make throwaway accounts simply to harass people on the board. Some were driven to the site after an alt-right YouTube personality made a video decrying the decision, but RPGnet’s admins have banned the trolls as they’ve appeared. “This isn’t a great hardship,” the admins said. “Going forward, handling these rules and adjudicating them is going to require careful moderator attention and some allowances for unintentional violations. We're not anticipating it being terribly difficult, but it will involve some hustle.”
Turns out that when you no longer tolerate intolerance, the intolerant find it harder to hide.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:24 PM on November 2 [43 favorites]


I think it's time to put this trivia tidbit to bed. A great number of people have come to use "First Amendment" as a synonym for "ubiquitous free speech" and correcting them every time has come to feel more like pedantry than discussion.

Just because a bunch of people read the law wrong, doesn't mean the law's meaning has changed. And since the majority of people decrying the censure of their free speech are actually huge flaming assholes who want to subject everyone to their odious beliefs without suffering any consequences, we should maybe think carefully about letting them shift the meaning of words.
posted by Mayor West at 12:25 PM on November 2 [41 favorites]


Descriptivism doesn't mean preemptively shutting down debate about the political meaning of a term when there's no consensus.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:30 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


This is pretty great.

At the point at which trumpists started pulling the "you just call everyone you don't like a racist" BS, I shifted from calling them out on being racists to calling them out on doing racism. That makes no claims about the actor, only the act. This policy draws some pretty clear lines around that.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:33 PM on November 2 [14 favorites]


"And since the majority of people decrying the censure of their free speech are actually huge flaming assholes who want to subject everyone to their odious beliefs"

This is why the U.S. government created the NAB form PB-18. 'Agreement form for political broadcasts'

Good move RPG.net
posted by clavdivs at 12:35 PM on November 2 [1 favorite]


Especially given that it's only distantly a linguistic issue.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:36 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


one of the early comments in that thread is by a user with the description "Feminazgûl" and that is just a great word
posted by numaner at 12:49 PM on November 2 [23 favorites]


on the internet, nobody has to know you're into scat.

I have no idea how these people got their scat wedged into their scanners, or why.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:51 PM on November 2 [15 favorites]


I have a pretty good idea, to my sorrow....
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:56 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


I have no idea how these people got their scat wedged into their scanners, or why.

"It was a million to one shot, Doc! Million to one!"
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:01 PM on November 2 [5 favorites]


FWIW I'd like to state for the record that I did not use the words "First Amendment" in my comment. I didn't use that term on purpose, because I know what the First Amendment means as a limit on American government's powers. I referenced "free speech as an abstract principle". It was someone else in a reply that introduced the First Amendment. Maybe we can move on from the derail?
posted by Nelson at 1:10 PM on November 2 [13 favorites]


There's a lot of tastes and attitudes in the RPG community that are heavily retrograde

First "hooray" for RPG.net - taking a stand matters.

I am curious about what constitutes "retograde" tastes and attitudes - because - and is probably a generational bias - in my previous experience with RPG communities (which ended in about 93/94), the basic fact that you were playing make-believe in some fashion or other required a non-traditional, non-conservative more liberal-leaning point of view.

Historically (at least in my experience), extremely right-wing and conservative people snubbed their noses at most actual "role-playing" games. Exceptions I saw, were games with typically a militaristic bent (Phoenix Command, Living Steel) - but again - never met someone "in-person" that I couldn't have an intelligent conversation with.

However - I can see that certain types of people would probably play RPG's in different ways - allowing them to play out their fascist fantasies... The other thing ... just about any open community on the internet attracts mindless, childish trolls - I wonder how many of them were actual current and regular players?
posted by jkaczor at 1:18 PM on November 2


I'm enjoying that the First Amendment is a derail but knitting scat is not.
posted by clawsoon at 1:36 PM on November 2 [46 favorites]


I can't get to rpg.net right now, but I checked out the Reddit discussion, and it went pretty much as expected - most people in agreement that you can kick out assholes if you don't want them in your forum; a couple of MAGAts insisting that valuing "free speech" requires that you allow all forms of speech, and that words can't cause any actual damage.

I wind up rereading this article a lot: Tolerance Is Not a Moral Precept
Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.
I can see that certain types of people would probably play RPG's in different ways - allowing them to play out their fascist fantasies...

Roll20.net gets plenty of "edgelord" RPGers; haven't seen anything that looked like overt racism, but I've seen a lot of violent and sexist games, and some of them looked like coded racism, but I wasn't getting close enough (i.e. applying and getting accepted) to see if that's what was going on.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:36 PM on November 2 [23 favorites]


Metafilter: I'm enjoying that the First Amendment is a derail but knitting scat is not.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:39 PM on November 2 [18 favorites]


I think it's time to put this trivia tidbit to bed. A great number of people have come to use "First Amendment" as a synonym for "ubiquitous free speech" and correcting them every time has come to feel more like pedantry than discussion.

But "ubiquitous free speech" is bad and strong restrictions on the government's powers to prohibit speech is good.

They're not sorta versions of the same thing, they're two completely different things.
posted by straight at 1:47 PM on November 2 [5 favorites]


Good for RPG.net. This moderation policy is a logical extension of Jay Smooth's common-sense classic "How To Tell People They Sound Racist". It's difference between the “what they did conversation” and the “what they are conversation” when holding them accountable.
The “what they did” conversation focuses strictly on the person’s words and actions and explaining why what they did and what they said was unacceptable. This is also known as the “that thing you said was racist” conversation and that’s the conversation that you want to have. [...] When somebody picks my pocket, I’m not gonna be chasing him down so I can figure out whether he feels like he’s a thief deep down in his heart. I’m gonna be chasing him down so I can get my wallet back. I don’t care what he is but I need to hold him accountable for what he did.
Being a Trump Supporter is a matter of identity as much as affiliation for his hardcore faithful, but they must understand that their act of supporting Trump means supporting all his horrendous policies (see also John Scalzi's The Cinemax Theory of Racism).
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:48 PM on November 2 [9 favorites]


The problem is the RPGNet is already a terrible place to talk about RPGs. Too much argument, factionalism and politics. I'd be much happier if they banned all politics. You really don't need to get political to talk about role-playing games, and when one does, it inevitably muddies the waters and creates conflict. That's not something new with the Trump administration - it's been a fact on RPGNet for over a decade.

There are precious few places where you can talk about RPGs online these days without running into (1) angry political "debates," or (2) socially dysfunctional people who will literally argue all day about an obscure facet of gaming theory. I have a couple watering holes that I visit which I won't broadcast because these communities are inevitably ruined when they reach a certain size. In fact, the forum that I frequent had to repeatedly tell a visiting "rock star" of gaming to act like a civil human being - they were this close to banning him. And this guy is literally the biggest name in the particular niche that I occupy (OSR - a very small pond).

A lot of websites lately have been ruined by embracing the politics of the moment. For instance, the AV Club has transformed from a pop culture website with great interviews to a place that links to articles about whatever and then riffs on that in a highly partisan fashion. I don't go to the AVC for that, nor do I visit RPG sites to discuss the latest travesty committed by Trump and co.
posted by Edgewise at 1:59 PM on November 2 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of pretending that politics doesn't permeate everything. People want to talk about politics because it affects their lives in meaningful ways - even in their hobbies.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:05 PM on November 2 [34 favorites]


You really don't need to get political to talk about role-playing games

I guess you don't need to, but good luck getting more than ten pages into any RPG sourcebook without running into some issues surrounding racism, cultural appropriation, gender roles, casual sexism, the legitimacy or lack thereof of various forms of governance, pre-industrial economics, retributive justice, etc etc etc...

It would not surprise me in the least to hear that RPG forums are constantly boiling over with political arguments.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:07 PM on November 2 [27 favorites]


I'd be much happier if they banned all politics.

Banning all discussion of politics is not an apolitical or neutral stance. Silence is always inherently pro-status-quo.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:12 PM on November 2 [44 favorites]


Soooo...if RPGnet could do it...theoretically,...Facebook...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:12 PM on November 2 [11 favorites]


Just as a data point...I write indy RPG books and, being Canadian with malice aforethought, my Luxury Gay Space Communist politics (or at least politics of some sort) arise every couple of pages. I try to disguise them so the medicine goes down, but they're still there. Everything is politics.

It doesn't help that, as Michael Moorcook has pointed out, Lord of the Rings is rather fascist in tendency. So too is D&D at one remove and other RPGs at two, just by inheritance. You have to actively work against it.
posted by Quindar Beep at 2:25 PM on November 2 [15 favorites]


I'm strongly in favor of not bringing irrelevant politics into discussions about other topics, but I have to admit that most RPGs have plenty of extremely relevant politics to argue about.
posted by value of information at 2:27 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


It has been some years since I was active on the RPG.net forums, but I have always been aggressively impressed with their moderation style, rules, and articulation.

Taking basic principles like "no personal attacks on other RPG.net members" and extrapolating them out to, "... and some of our members are trans, so when you post transphobic stuff, you're personally attacking them, and that's not allowed," is such a great shift in both how moderation ought to work and how we should talk about politics.

It isn't about debating what "being a woman" essentially is in some kind of vague angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin kind of way ... it's about recognizing that there are specific people who are specifically hurt by the rhetoric.

There may be places where it's worth having the debate despite hurting people by having it. Sure.

But an RPG forum isn't that place.
posted by Myca at 2:50 PM on November 2 [17 favorites]


Quindar Beep: It doesn't help that, as Michael Moorcook has pointed out, Lord of the Rings is rather fascist in tendency.

Keeping in mind that fascism is a nationalistic mass movement, I found LoTR more aristocratic than fascist. In fascism, everybody in an ethnic group has better blood than outsiders; in LoTR, it's aristocrats who have better blood than commoners.

Anyway, I'm getting off the topic of knitting and scat.
posted by clawsoon at 2:52 PM on November 2 [12 favorites]


It doesn't help that, as Michael Moorcook has pointed out, Lord of the Rings is rather fascist in tendency.

LotR is monarchist and arguably colonialist, but not fascist.

The orcs are the closest fascist analogue; the glimpses we get of them show a society devoted to power and violence as ends in themselves, with non-orcs primarily serving only as victims to be plundered and enslaved, except for the very few (Saruman, Sauron) with sufficient will to power, as it were, to command orc armies through sufficient application of power and violence. The heroes only win by giving up an artifact that is the physical manifestation of the concept of domination. Aragorn has a right to claim the kingship because of his bloodline, but he isn't allowed to become king until he proves that he's worthy, and a large part of that worthiness comes from demonstrating qualities of mercy and restraint in the face of the temptation of power that fascists don't value. (A fascist Aragorn likely would have behaved a lot more like, well... Thorin when he made it to the Lonely Mountain, probably, which is why the latter had to die during The Battle of Five Armies in order for The Hobbit to have a happy ending.)

I mean, maybe it's possible to argue that the Shirefolk are volkish or whatever, but even still it's Sharkey and his men who are behaving the most like fascists, not the hobbits who rise up and depose him and then just go back to happily tending their own fields rather than getting involved in some kind of expansionist quest for lebensraum.

Fascism is a specific thing, not just a stand-in for whatever political philosophy you (the general you, here most applicable to Moorcock) don't like.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:53 PM on November 2 [39 favorites]


My husband is a big role player with a particular interest in historical wargaming and he's pretty much stopped going to cons for that particular subgenre due to the rampant in your face trumpism. Lots of dudes playing as the Axis or Confederacy for, yanno, reasons. So yes, gaming is political for many people.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:00 PM on November 2 [10 favorites]


particular interest in historical warming

Historical war gaming, right? Although the mental image of a role playing game about Nazis and confederates battling it out at the end of the last ice age was somewhat compelling.
posted by dazed_one at 3:21 PM on November 2 [1 favorite]


Still, blowing up nazi tanks should be a right.

It's about the time you spend.

Seriously. What kind of headache/ resource drain will this be on Moderation.
posted by clavdivs at 4:49 PM on November 2


What kind of headache/ resource drain will this be on Moderation.

There may be a short-term spike, but after the drive-by trolls get bored I suspect this will actually require less enforcement effort. It's definitely possible to be publicly pro-Trump in ways that don't explicitly break anti-racism/homophobia/transphobia rules while still implicitly assaulting the right of non-white, non-straight, non-cis people to exist, both on the forum and in the world in general. Edge cases create the most work for mods; having a blanket anti-MAGA policy should be a godsend.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:52 PM on November 2 [5 favorites]


Historically (at least in my experience), extremely right-wing and conservative people snubbed their noses at most actual "role-playing" games.

Welcome to the new right. There's always been a lot of libertarian bros into gaming, acting out a vision of what life would be like for them if they weren't constrained by laws. And it's always attracted socially inept young men that were on the border of misogyny - gamergate, 4chan, the Red Pill, etc. have helped turn some of those people to t_d enthusiasts.
posted by Candleman at 6:00 PM on November 2 [7 favorites]


Anyway, I'm getting off the topic of knitting and scat.

I have rarely been so happy for the lack of a preposition.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:07 PM on November 2 [10 favorites]


I guess you don't need to, but good luck getting more than ten pages into any RPG sourcebook without running into some issues surrounding racism, cultural appropriation, gender roles, casual sexism, the legitimacy or lack thereof of various forms of governance, pre-industrial economics, retributive justice, etc etc etc...

Yeah, I recognize that there's a political dimension to everything. But that's just going to happen. When I object to politics on an RPG forum, I'm talking about something much more blatant and in your face. For instance, putting "Candidate X in 2020!" in your sig. That's just an invitation to argue.

In my experience, allowing that kind of blatant political expression on an online forum leads to one of two outcomes: constant warfare or groupthink. I'm not a fan of either, but too many people out there embrace one or the other.
posted by Edgewise at 8:15 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


"Their site, their rules. Fair 'nuff."
Werks for me!

Now, about that scat.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:19 PM on November 2 [1 favorite]


I have mixed feelings about this. It's hard for me to support anything which makes it more difficult or less likely for people to talk about their differences.

r/the_donald is a cesspool, but it's participants are exposed to many more moderate voices on reddit than they would be on something like gab or voat.

It's fair that people who still support Trump pay some social cost, and it's important we all unambiguously reject a message as vile as Trump's often is. But Trump's base already exists inside an echo chamber, it may very well be that rpg.net was the last place left that some poor soul still interacted with the world outside his bubble.
posted by KBGB at 12:14 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about this. It's hard for me to support anything which makes it more difficult or less likely for people to talk about their differences.

The RPG.Net moderator quoted in the Twitter link summed it up best:
No. You know what? Fuck that noise. Ethnic cleansing is not "different views." Racism is not "different views." White nationalism is not "different views." Dogwhistling that attacks against your political enemies will continue if the media doesn't stop saying things you don't like is not "different views." Putting children in cages is not "different views."

This is not an argument over tax rates or the proper role of government in education. This is an argument about who will be allowed to exist in America.
Bigotry, hate, and white supremacy are not "differences", and arguing that they are is arguing in bad faith. And the argument that the people targeted by them should just put up with it out of the wrongheaded notion that maybe someone who espoused those views might suddenly reject them is getting tiresome.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:31 AM on November 3 [50 favorites]


r/the_donald is a cesspool, but it's participants are exposed to many more moderate voices on reddit than they would be on something like gab or voat.

But now, the moderate Trump supporters - many of which would,not know how to find their way to gab, or just plain may not want to be bothered over joining it - will now be re-introduced to more diverse voices again, and may hear more about how other people are being negatively affected by current policy. How is this not a good thing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:04 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


We will not pretend that evil isn’t evil, or that it becomes a legitimate difference of political opinion if you put a suit and tie on it.
Preach it.
posted by flabdablet at 4:08 AM on November 3 [13 favorites]


A necessary clarification:
Can we show support of some specific action taken by the Administration, if it does not relate to the policy areas indicated above and does not reflect an overall support of the President or the Administration?
Yes, obviously this is context sensitive and we would appreciate it if posters try to debate in good faith and avoid pushing each other's buttons on hot topics.
From the second page of discussion.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:56 AM on November 3 [1 favorite]


But Trump's base already exists inside an echo chamber, it may very well be that rpg.net was the last place left that some poor soul still interacted with the world outside his bubble.

But this works the other way, too -- now some disaffected kid on RPG.net isn't hearing about how all his problems are caused by the Gays or the Jews or the Feminist Bitches. Letting hateful messages leak outside their bubble invites more people into the bubble.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:07 AM on November 3 [28 favorites]


Letting hateful messages leak outside their bubble invites more people into the bubble.

In addition to this excellent point, remember that the alt-righters and hate-groupers are actively recruiting disaffected young men. They have instruction manuals, and they all start with, essentially, "Go to an allegedly non-political space and find someone who you'll be able to manipulate right there out in the open. Tiptoe along the edges of the rules of the community." Moving the edges of the rules helps to make that harder for them.
posted by Etrigan at 7:20 AM on November 3 [23 favorites]


r/the_donald is a cesspool, but it's participants are exposed to many more moderate voices on reddit than they would be on something like gab or voat.

Can you help me understand why you think they're paying any attention whatsoever to those 'moderate voices'?
posted by PMdixon at 8:49 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


Sunlight isn't the best disinfectant. A blowtorch and some strong oxidizer is.
posted by signal at 8:59 AM on November 3 [7 favorites]


r/the_donald is a cesspool, but it's participants are exposed to many more moderate voices on reddit than they would be on something like gab or voat.
Do we have any evidence that this is happening more than recruiting? In my experience these are mostly the guys who only post news stories about black people committing crimes, sexist “jokes”, or claiming someone like Damore was unfairly punished by the evil politics correctness conspiracy. If they were interested in fairness or object truth they wouldn’t be r/the_donald members in the first place.
posted by adamsc at 10:15 AM on November 3 [3 favorites]


As I see it, a great many gamers are what I call Man-Children. Some of us gamers woke up, grew up, learned how to have healthy relationships, raised children, and basically became adults who still played RPG's.
I started playing RPG's around 1980, and most of those that I gamed with were in their late teens, early 20's, and acted accordingly. We were shy, clumsy dudes who had no clue.
These days, as I approach the late end of my 50's, I see some of those same people who seem to be stuck back in their 20's, albeit with no relationships, no children, no need to be an adult, plenty of disposable income, and a lot of time to hate others.
Going to a scifi, comic, or gaming convention is an exercise in cognitive dissonance when you look at these older dudes and then see how they dress, act and carry themselves.
I realize I tar a lot of people with this brush, but they are out there.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:48 AM on November 3 [6 favorites]


But Trump's base already exists inside an echo chamber, it may very well be that rpg.net was the last place left that some poor soul still interacted with the world outside his bubble.

I hear this sentiment a lot; that Trump supporters are poor ignorant souls who, if only they were exposed to the right information, would see the err of their ways and step into the light, ergo we owe it to them to welcome them into our spaces and patiently educate them. I have a couple problems with this.

I was willing to accept in, say, October 2016 that a Trump supporter was a disillusioned and misguided low-information voter. Two years later, not so much. 24 months of the Muslim travel ban, the attacks on the press as "the enemy of the people", terrorists who openly cite Trump as their inspiration, the anti-science erasure of trans and intersex people, locking children in cages, and sending thousands of troops to the border to confront asylum seekers, anyone still on Team Trump is a straight-up bigot.

Like even within the confines of their "echo chamber", they saw all these things happening and decided "yes this is fine". That should be damning enough in itself. But it's actually worse.

There are numerous sources of information out there they could turn to that consistently, daily, hourly even, point out everything false and harmful about this administration; this includes moderate and even conservative news sources. Hell, Fox News has been raising an eyebrow here and there at things Trump says and does. Yet his supporters stand by him. So I find it super hard to believe that rpg.net is the last remaining spot on the internet where they can interact with people outside their bubble. Their bubble has a radius roughly the size of Trump's shadow; it takes effort to stay within it. They enjoy the shade of his shadow and have zero interest in leaving it.

There is certainly something to be said for, say, confronting your aunt when she posts some racist meme about asylum seekers. But we forget that diehard Trump supporters are a very loud but very small minority, doing real harm and ending real lives. Fighting this, at this point, has far, far less to do with holding their hands and educating them than it does with defending and protecting the people that Trump supporters seek to harm. It has to do with unifying the resistance against him. That is where the efforts should be placed, and that is where one fights fascism; not in educating the fascist, but in protecting the marginalized from harm as we stand together to defeat fascism.

There was a time and a place for educating Trump supporters. That time and place has long since passed. These people put tremendous effort into resisting and denying information that bombards them every single hour, they continue to actively harm, and welcoming them on an RPG website is not going to turn the tide one iota—least of all not while we are three minutes away from fullscale ethnic cleansing. Fuck. That.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:22 PM on November 3 [28 favorites]


When we get through this we will need a truth and reconciliation commission.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:47 PM on November 3 [4 favorites]


I have to admit, this kind of makes me want to take up RPGjng :)
posted by eggkeeper at 2:31 PM on November 3 [1 favorite]


I have to admit, this kind of makes me want to take up RPGing :)

DO EET! DO EET!
It's really a wonderful hobby. No matter what you are into, there's usually an RPG associated with it.
The trick is usually finding others to play with, but even that can be overcome if you don't mind gaming via Hangouts or Skype.
There are a bunch of us here on MeFi that are RPGers, look in those threads and reach out!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:43 PM on November 3 [2 favorites]


I realize I tar a lot of people with this brush, but they are out there.

I think all of us know there are terrible men in the world. But did you really have to single out single and childless men as particularly terrible?

Also, I sincerely do hope that when you mean "relationships", that you include friendships and bonds with family and not mean that it's a woman's job to fix a man.
posted by FJT at 6:59 PM on November 3 [3 favorites]


The culture wars have no limits it would seem.

The more I hear about this the more I appreciate Metafilter.
posted by Middlemarch at 7:11 PM on November 3


While I agree that nothing (or very little) is without a political dimension of some kind, it is also true that turning everything, from the most public to the most personal, into an endless toxic political battlefield is one of the main tactics of hate-speechers and fascists.

We are under no obligation to tolerate the words and deeds of these bad faith actors. They are lethal parasites upon humanity and should be treated as such.

*runs off to register knittingandshitting.com*

Even on this most serious of issues, I knew MeFi wouldn't let me down. :)
posted by Pouteria at 8:20 PM on November 3


There was a time and a place for educating Trump supporters. That time and place has long since passed.

At least, it's no longer reasonable to attempt to educate them in general discussion areas not focused on politics.

If a Trumpist came to Metafilter, and posted in AskMe something like, "I voted for Trump; I support his politics, but recently, a few people I really care about have been giving me a lot of flak for it and calling me some very nasty names. At first, I just ignored them, but they're not shutting up, and I may be banned from the family Thanksgiving gathering. Please, explain to me why my relatives can't handle my political views" — we'd happily explain, in great detail and with an extensive list of links, exactly why we think this person's family is the reasonable party in this situation.

And it's likely that, had any of them posted such a thing at RPG.net in the misc/other folder ("Tangency Open"), there would've been a polite and informative thread there. But the 45ers aren't asking for explanations or "why don't people agree with me;" they're spouting 4chan-ish hate propaganda, and claiming it's quite reasonable to have a national policy that denies the existence of some people's identities and goes out of its way to torture innocents. And in order to allow them to enjoy the forum, the mods have to ignore the discomfort and pain of many other people. OTOH, there's no sign that the 45ers will be actually harmed by having to shut up about their political opinions on a forum not intended for political debates.

The opportunity for education remains open - but we need to be done with leaving the door open for wandering orcs to stomp through the kitchen. And if a few thoughtful, considerate 45 supporters (I'll posit there might be some) wind up feeling stifled because of the brutish actions of their peers... nobody who cares about human rights and dignity over corporate profits is shedding any tears over that.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:17 PM on November 4 [2 favorites]


It doesn't help that, as Michael Moorcook has pointed out, Lord of the Rings is rather fascist in tendency. So too is D&D at one remove and other RPGs at two, just by inheritance.

Of course the original D&D alignment system (which was just Law vs Chaos) was pretty much explicitly inspired by Morcock and Morcock gets directly referenced alongside Tolkein in Appendix N, AD&D's recommended reading. I'd also call the presence of both Lovecraft and R.E. Howard's Conan series to be more worrying than Tolkein. (Of course the "We must restore the balance between Good and Evil" ideology of Dragonlance is something else entirely).

And to second quite a few other people in this thread there is no such thing as an RPG devoid of politics. What is the impact of violence - and weapons control? Do we have gender differences? Why do the bad guys do what they do? What is the role of gay people in our fictional society? Without politics there is no worldbuilding. And if we look at the only game line that ever seriously challenged D&D for the top spot, White Wolf's World of Darkness was intensely political in many ways for both good and ill.
posted by Francis at 4:16 AM on November 5 [2 favorites]


Any time somebody decries 'why did you bring politics into X????', they mean, 'why did you bring politics different than mine?'
posted by signal at 5:22 AM on November 5 [6 favorites]


Two examples of how this might come in are the Wizards of the Coast announcement that, in a forthcoming edition, some elves in Dungeons and Dragons can be gender-fluid, and Ironsworn's statement regarding gender and sexuality in character background. On the CRPG side, chunks of gg has taken the position that representation of people who are not white men is an example of SJWs taking over the industry.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:57 AM on November 5 [3 favorites]


GamerGate has also taken the position that the presence of women and trans game designers and reviewers is an affront against White Male Gamerdom, to the point of massively harassing visible women and trans game writers.

So, I guess "no politics" means not discussing that issue. Hell, it means not discussing The Watch or other games with womens' names on the title.

"No politics" also means not discussing Green Ronin Games grooming women for a sexual harasser, or their attempt to promote an industry-wide harassment policy intended to protect harassers at the expense of victims.

All of those items above have been discussed at rpg.net. All of them are considered part of the site's remit.

Of course those threads tend to make some people uncomfortable. But then there's plenty of sites like Giants in the Playground that will avoid those topics, while promoting the status quo. Enjoy.
posted by happyroach at 3:20 PM on November 5


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