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You Really Need to Shut Up

April 30, 2009

Angry gamer language is like listening to someone with tourette’s syndrome screaming at a losing horse. It’s unfortunate. The anonymity factor allows gamers to get away with saying anything they want. However, that does not stop the fact that gay isn’t actually a derogatory word, and if we were in England, that other word you just called me would only mean cigarette.

The biggest issue is that when people use these words – in games, on forums – in a derogatory way, the people who run the game and or forum are then held responsible when somebody takes major offense and contacts a legal organization. So steps are taken to prevent such language from happening so that they don’t have to deal with the hubub, but this prevents any serious conversation about the topics from arising, such as homosexual relationships in the Star Wars universe or announcing a Gay/Lesbian Guild in World of Warcraft. Thus, the company that was trying to protect these demographics from harrassment is in trouble for trying to do the right thing.

The issue is that companies do not want the individuals responsible for this kind of harrassment to get in trouble. They may not be able to afford the lawsuits, or they may not have the constitution to apologize for their actions. If they ban the users from their forums, they get attacked for not allowing freedom of speech. If they censor the words, they get attacked for not allowing discussion about homosexuality. Basically, if a company has gone through the trouble of developing a community for their game, they’re going to get in trouble.

It’s the black ice conundrum. If I slip and fall on black ice on the sidewalk outside your house, the government says it’s your fault. In reality, it’s my own damn fault for not going into the street and walking around it, saving everybody the hassle. What am I suggesting then? I am suggesting an adjustment to user agreements, be it for games, communities, screen names, everything, that basically states that it is the individual’s responsibility to treat others with respect, and if they choose to use ignorant or hateful language that they themselves must suffer the burden of responsibility for their actions and not the company in charge or anyone affiliated with said company.

I don’t believe in censorship.

I do, however, believe that sometimes people really need to shut up.

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One Comment
  1. incobalt permalink

    A person can’t ask the government to stop their neighbor from using the word “gay” as a derogatory adjective any more than they can sue their government for allowing it to happen. If you never want to be subjected to name-calling of the third-grade kind, then don’t play in the third grade. I’m not excusing the behavior, I’m saying blame the instigator, not the medium. People will say what they say. Appropriate reaction is required: either let go of labels, or kindly ask the instigator to quit with the reference. You can’t make anyone (not) say anything.

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