I don’t judge indies and friends who feel it’s necessary to go to PAX in order to make headway in an incredibly biased industry, or friends who want to present in a brave, admirable attempt to be a positive force in a toxic space. Lots of people are doing everything they can to participate and make change in the community and I respect their choices.
But Elizabeth Sampat basically sums up how I feel in her piece here. Do you want to be part of a community where we listen and learn when we upset people by accident? Or one where we’re encouraged to become ever more militantly self-righteous and make jokes at the expense of people we alienate?
It’s not a crime to misspeak, or to be ignorant. You are not a bad person simply because you’ve never learned to think about the needs of people less fortunate or less-heard than yourself. But your goodness — and more importantly, your potential to do good in the world as a major organization like Penny Arcade — is determined by what you do after the mistake, when the harm you’ve done is pointed out to you.
When you have the opportunity to make a huge difference as respected figures in a community, do you use it to broadcast your own self-righteousness, or to teach people to be better to one another? Do you learn from the mistake, or do you keep making more, with such stubbornness and consistency that people begin to suspect you’re probably either deeply troubled or at worst, a terrible ass?
It shouldn’t be a tough choice. One in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Your friends, moms, sisters, daughters, partners (and let’s remember rape is not uniquely a women’s problem — far from it). How would you feel as a parent (and the PA founders are dads), or a colleague, or friend of a survivor, as part of an organization that probably still has boxes of Dickwolves shirts lying around?
These shirts were printed to make fun of the outrage of survivors and the people who care about them. They are literally an emblem of a refusal to care, and Mike Krahulik has just said he “regrets” pulling them from the merchandise table. And people cheered. PAX is still a place where people cheer for this.
This is also fresh off the heels of Krahulik’s transphobic remarks and his non-apology for them, and now the organization says it refuses to “engage” the discussion anymore. If this is how its public face behaves, think of what they’re like when they feel free to be honest. I find my outrage challenging to contain. This is video games?
I personally don’t understand how the founders of the PA organization can sleep at night without having admitted to a massive wrong turn in its relationship to its community and without having expressed a commitment to change, learn and re-earn trust. Probably all the money they make from the convention helps. I would rather it wasn’t our money.
Also, when I tweeted about never going to PAX, someone called me a “slanderous wench.” I want to be affronted, but feeling like I’ve just been damned by a pirate is kind of exciting.