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By Paul Meekin
I expected that you were going to say, We in the Bartlet campaign do not believe Cornelius Sykes is a Hollywood sleaze…We believe his humor can be disconcerting to some but those who are making noise right now are feigning their concern in an effort to frighten white men.” – Cornelious Skyes, The West Wing.
A man of innumerable worthwhile words was almost undone by 9 of them – not including a pound sign and period. Those words?
“Ah. Peace and quiet. #ADayWithoutAWoman”
That man is gaming journalist and political commentator Colin Moriarty, and those words were a tweet intended as a joke. Alas, the Internet’s sense of humor isn’t particularly keen, and things went downhill fast.
It was the right of the public to be offended. It was the right of the media to report. We live in a society of free speech and a free press – but as I’ve stated, that freedom comes with responsibility. Hate what he said, unsubscribe from his Twitter and Youtube, but for the outrage to reach such a fever pitch over a dumb joke, is absurd.
The joke was tweeted on International Women’s Day, where women privileged enough to be able to take time off from work did so and marched in support of equal pay, equal treatment, and a number of other issues – it was coined “A Day Without A Woman”. The joke would have only worked on that day.
It was in poor taste. The same kind of poor taste that made countless comedians and millionaires and occasionally thought leaders.
But because most everyone is hypersensitive to any joke made about women, race, or any set of ‘people’, it became a lightning rod for controversy. Those offended raged and tweeted. The International Business Times referred to it as “racist” for some inexplicable reason. Those unoffended called the offended snowflakes and social justice warriors – all parties utilizing social media to validate their personal worldview and shame the worldviews of others.
The internet should be ashamed of itself… but it wasn’t. This was the same internet that wrongly accused a mentally ill college student as the “Boston Bomber.” The internet that shames Amy Schumer for being fat and unfunny when she is neither.
The Internet that cares only about vapid moral vindication – launching nuclear-sized strikes against, in this case, a hit-and-run level crime – and worse, outrage is possibly the most profitable form of media journalism today – capitalizing on deepening a divide in our culture.
Thus the tweet was over-covered and mutated and devolved and ultimately resulted in Moriarty leaving the Youtube channel he helped start: “Kinda Funny”.
All because of a joke.
“These are influential people basically arguing for backwards points of view, and they’re doing so in a sincere manner. It’s not humor being misconstrued as much as its gaming personalities arguing that sexism and white supremacy should be given a bit more respect in gaming discourse,” reported popular gaming website Polygon.
For what it’s worth, 17 years ago, the author said “rape is funny” as a joke. He likely changed his mind. But at some point, he wasn’t above an offensive joke, and it is hypocritical to not take Moriarty’s tweet with a grain of salt because of it.
Polygon is saying Moriarty’s joke doesn’t count because it argues for a backwards point of view. If you ask me, a truly backwards point of view is saying something isn’t a joke just because it offends you or isn’t funny. Backwards is using a massive platform to speak to a liberal audience in a way that doesn’t challenge them at all. Polygon’s article was well-intentioned social justice junk food, contained inside a “What about the children!” wrapper.
Speaking of children, back in the day, gaming was in danger of being censored. Congress was lobbied with arguments stating the violence in video games does not affect children, and it is the right of an american citizen of any age to purchase and own any game they wants – we live in a free society and restricting those sales were tantamount to censorship.
What exactly are we advocating for in the case of this fiasco?
So, Polygon, I ask this, what is worse? Moriarty’s tweet, or a 7 year old making it rain on a naked stripper in Grand Theft Auto V? If offensive content is begrudgingly accepted in Grand Theft Auto V, Borderlands 2, and other popular titles, why not this tweet? Because those games market themselves as satire, and because Moriarty is a real person, a deliberately satiric tweet is more sincere?
Something seems wrong with that.
Moriarty has made videos supporting gay marriage, transgender rights, and other social issues. But that doesn’t matter. Another bigot got put in their place, right? Diversity of thought is fine as long as all those thoughts flow from Left to Right, is that it?
Sorry, I’m getting ragey. I almost fell into the trap I’m illustrating. I credit a gaming writer’s group with talking me down. The responses ranged from constructive to confused to questioning why, exactly, I would choose to defend this man.
Why? Because it’s entirely possible I could in his shoes. On my LinkedIn and on this website, you’ll see me explaining how Internet Privacy Laws aren’t as big a deal as we think they are. How mainstream media manipulates your emotions. How to properly handle ‘marketing’ homosexual characters to the masses. These are not popular opinions, but are ones I stand by. They could harm me, were I to have a chance at a full-time writing career. Even if I’m the best man for the job, with these ‘extreme’ views on my hands, why risk it?
But you have to follow your muse and be honest – at all costs. I have too open of a mind and too big a mouth, (and frankly too small a social filter) to not voice a minority opinion or off-color remark when if it needs to be said.
I am not without empathy, however, or an element of understanding for those upset. This is ultimately a question of respect. The tweet was, by its design, disrespectful to women. Is it fair to request women and those legitimately offended by Moriarty’s tweet to ‘get over it’?
Of course not – sexism is real and omnipresent and an unintentional way of life for millions of men. It’s an institution. Something you’re brought up with, implied to you by media and friends and the world around you. But a sexist joke does not make a sexist person or a bigot – and overreacting to such a comment could just finish the job.
The reason I focus on Moriarty, and not Pew Dee Pie or JonTron who were involved in similar scandals, is because Moriarty provides insightful, thought provoking opinions regarding both gaming and politics.
Say you don’t care. Moriarty should be shamed out of existence for what he’s said and done. That’s fine, but outrage often has the opposite result. You think Milo Yiannopoulos would have been on Bill Maher if there weren’t riots at one of his speaking events? You think anyone of significance cared to listen to Richard Spencer until someone punched him in the face?
You think Donald Trump had a reasonable chance of winning the 2016 Presidential election until the story became he was a sexist, fascist, racist, orange, raping, pussy-grabbing, bigot and everyone started paying attention to him?
You hear the rage, and then if you have a semi-open mind you’re obligated to read up on their comments in context, and more-often-than-not find some value in their message amid the insanity.
Would the world be a more peaceful place if different cultures lived in their own countries and communities? When you consider how most every single first-contact encounter has gone between two races in global history? Gosh, some of what that Richard Spencer character says isn’t so crazy when you put it that way.
But of course he is, and that idea is stupid.
Not stupid are the two interviews Dave Rubin did with Moriarty, one prior to the fiasco, and one right after. You’ll learn something. You’ll see of all the people in the entire world to ‘demonize’, these folks shouldn’t be on the list. Criticized, of course, but unfollowed, ostracized, and having it affect their wallets? God I hope not.
In essence I find myself scared for the state of discourse, intellectual curiosity, and insularism. If we eliminate people from our minds and outlets who disagree with us for microaggressions like an off-color joke – we risk living in a world that exists entirely to gratify and validate us. A bubble.
Following that, those eliminated people will be required to cater to their own audience – focusing on those that most agree, gratify, and validate them – another bubble.
A safe space for everyone, and everyone in their place; unable to leave because the outside world won’t listen or will shout them down or hold them down. Then we’ll have ourselves what Richard Spencer was talking about in the first place. Ideological Nationalism.
Some days after this all went down, Moriarty started a Patreon. He asked his audience, and the world, to put their money where his mouth was. They did. He’s going to make 40,000 dollars a month. The free market at work, I suppose.
He’ll never have to worry about what you think about him again.
Don’t you wish you said something a little more constructive when he did?