#GamerGate Makes the Left Uncomfortable Because Gamer Gaters Have Adopted the Left's Tactics

Via Flickr user joo0ey
October 20, 2014

Since last we checked in on #GamerGate, there have been a couple of rather silly arguments leveled against the grassroots hashtagtivist campaign.

Let's deal with the dumber of these first. This argument goes something like: "#GamerGate has been totally discredited because some small number of people have threatened violence against some other small number of people while using the hashtag in their attacks." This has led luminaries such as Joss Whedon to explicitly compare GamerGaters to the Ku Klux Klan:

I can't imagine his buddy Adam Baldwin (who Seth Rogen recently attacked using similar logic) is thrilled with this sort of degradation of the discourse. The argument is absurd on its face: it's like saying "Black Twitter" is a hate group because a few idiots called for the murder and rape of Justine Sacco for making a joke or because a few idiots called for the murder and rape of a Twitter user for joking about black women dating white men or because a few idiots called for the murder and rape of a juror on the George Zimmerman trial.

If you were to take these wholly unrepresentative tweets and then say, "Well, #BlackTwitter is basically the Klan," you'd get called a bigot. At the very least, you'd get your wrist slapped for violating the fallacy of composition. And rightly so! So maybe chill out on the cherry-picking ad hominem, mmkay Seth and Joss?

Meanwhile, Kyle Wagner over at Deadspin thinks that #GamerGate is gross because it reminds him of the Tea Party:

The only comparable online flare-up any of the representatives interviewed could remember is SOPA—the Stop Online Piracy Act, one of the most universally panned pieces of legislation in recent memory. This is how a very few people can get their way, and the use of this technique is one of the many similarities between Gamergate and the ever-present aggrieved reactionaries whose most recent manifestation is the Tea Party. ... A more important resemblance to the Tea Party, though, is in the way in which it's focused the anger of people who realize the world is changing, and not necessarily to their benefit.

That's an odd argument. Because when I look at #GamerGate, I don't really see the Tea Party (just as I'm sure Jessica Hunter—a gay, liberal, female Canadian #GamerGater—doesn't really see the Tea Party). No, I see the tactics of the modern reactionary left. Consider: The movement's biggest accomplishment thus far has been to get Intel to pull advertising from video game blog Polygon Gamasutra after they flooded the company with complaints. We've seen this a ton over the last few years, but not from the Tea Party.

No, we've seen it from the anti-Prop 8 campaigners, who used their combined efforts to get Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the California Musical Theater, fired for donating to the anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative. We've seen it from astroturfed anti-gun groups trying to pressure Kroger into banning people from carrying guns. We've seen it in Black Twitter's efforts to get Paula Deen dropped after she admitted to using racist language following an armed robbery. I could go on and on: the freakout over Grantland's Dr. V. story; the effort to #CancelColbert; Feminism's Toxic Twitter Wars; etc.

At the risk of engaging in some questionable psychoanalysis, allow me to suggest that one of the reasons the left is so disturbed by the rise of #GamerGate is that this is the first time in many years that these self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors have met any sort of organized pushback. And they find it doubly infuriating to see the tools they have used so successfully—the Twitter mob, the email campaign, the claims of grievance—turned against them.

This is why you see Whedon et al resorting to dull ad hominem. "#GamerGate is a hate group" is an easy slogan, one that can be used to intimidate media outlets trying to give the story fair coverage. Time will tell if the tactic works.

[Above reference to Polygon/Gamasutra corrected, thanks Erik Kain.]