Toxic Fandom: The Saga Continues [Updated]

Toxic Fandom: The Saga Continues

I’ve spoken earlier regarding toxic fandom, specifically those who fall under the banner of Comicsgate; a gathering of supposed fans who have consistently demonstrated a considerable ignorance of the comic book industry and its history.

Comicsgate have continued their collective ways, with many of its Twitter users continuing to claim that ‘SJW messages’ are killing the comic book industry. This is despite no evidence being presented for these claims and, according to Comichron, sales on the rise (Marvel 16% better than the same time in 2017 with DC enjoying a staggering 29% increase). Indeed, any fall in sales (according to comic book store owners themselves) seems to fall squarely at the feet of factors such as the impact from online retailers such as Amazon and almost continuous title relaunches.

It does not seem to matter to them one iota that social messages of all kinds have been a staple of the medium certainly since Action Comics #1, where the now archetypal Superman fought injustice in the form of corruption and greedy businessmen. Indeed, the only time that comic books did not feature blatant social commentary was during the period when publishers found themselves bound by the Comics Code Authority, which included very strong stipulations on what could and could not be included in a printed issue. The most celebrated titles in comic book history are those that took a strong and blatant stand on issues: V for Vendetta, Sandman, Kingdom Come, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, Action Comics #775, Contract with God, Maus, Persepolis and so on.

I attempted to enter into discussions with the group on Twitter (@Matt_of_Geek, if you wish to have a civilised chat) but found their lack of evidence, inability to discern correlation from causation mixed with their not taking responsibility for their groups actions to be lacking a foundation for productive dialogue. Comicsgate members seem to take delight in, as a quick example, doxxing people and repeatedly asking rather private questions as seen with Twitter user @Renfamous; who had wedding photos repeatedly photoshopped and was asked what genitals she possessed. I found it very telling that no Comicsgate member told their own to cease those behaviours, while the number of likes the posts received were considerable.

Of course, it should go without saying that whether or not someone is male, female, trans or anything else is utterly irrelevant and should be well beyond what anyone with even a modicum of ethics would ask. However, that lack of ethics seems to be well entrenched in Comicsgate. Afterall, any antisocial behaviour that you see but do not challenge (especially if it’s from a group that you affiliate with) is behaviour that you are effectively condoning.

The Political Hypocrisy of Comicsgate

Another questionable claim from Comicsgate is that they simply wish politics (especially gender politics) removed from the medium. Let us, just for the sake of argument, forget that commentary on issues of the day haven’t been the bread and butter of the industry since its inception just for a moment. Let us look at some of the figureheads of the Comicsgate movement and see how their politics looks.  Mike S. Miller is a fundamentalist Christian with very conservative beliefs and openly supports Donald Trump. Ethan Van Sciver proudly boasts his #MAGA allegiances and support. Jon Malin is much the same, though not as open about political beliefs certainly appears to be on the right with frequent attacks against “SJWs”. Richard Myer is disappointed when he finds another creator does not support Trump, while simultaneously pulling a claim regarding Trump support out of nowhere.

I spent some time trawling through the Comicsgate hashtag and found no political material that was not of a conservative leaning. Of course, people are free to have whatever political (or other) beliefs they like but those chosen beliefs have consequences and paint a picture of what the Comicsgate movement is actually about. If the figureheads (de facto leaders, for all intents and purposes) all push similar beliefs that are clearly at one end of the political spectrum then any claim they wish to remove politics from comics becomes rather shaky; it seems much more reasonable to say that they wish to have removed messages that they do not believe in.

An example of this message pushing can be found with Bounding Into Comics. Boundingintocomics.com claims to be a “premiere destination for nerd culture focusing primarily on comic books, comic book movies, and comic book television” and is often cited by Comicsgate. This frequent referencing is not surprising at it is a site that seems to act as no more than propaganda for their chosen cause. Stories seem to be less objective analysis and more editorials and frequently make claims with no evidence to support them. BiC seeks out interviews with dubious folks such as Vox Day, an alt-right activist and white supremacist, who was expelled from Science Fiction Writers Association of America and subsequently tried to rig the voting at the Hugo Awards. BiCs Twitter feed also leans very heavily to one side of the political spectrum, as you might expect.

Comicsgate have recently thrown their support behind author Jon Del Arroz, who was banned from WorldCon 76 due to proclaiming that he would attend and break established rules regarding filming without permission, on top of having a considerable history of harassment of others and being in the middle of attempting to sue the same convention. Despite receiving a notice that he would not be allowed to attend, Jon arrived at the convention and attempted to buy a ticket while live streaming his questioning of volunteers regarding why he was not allowed entry. It should be of no surprise that Jon Del Arroz is of the same political cloth as the Comicsgate figureheads, evidenced by both his public statements and the selling of MAGA merchandise on his website.

Jon’s actions speak of two issues that I’ve touched on previously and are often found in movements such as Comicsgate; the first is that of an overblown sense of entitlement. Worldcon is a private event that the public can buy tickets to and attend, as long as they abide by the conventions rules and regulations. As a private event, they are not bound by the First Amendment and can restrict access to whoever they deem necessary. This action, I can speak here from experience as a very long time forum moderator/admin, becomes necessary when someone’s actions either disrupts or threatens to disrupt the peaceful enjoyment of other participants. An emotionally mature and well centred person would, upon finding themselves barred and the reasons thereof explained to them, shrug their metaphorical shoulders and simply move on. It takes someone with notable narcissistic traits to demand entry anyhow, as it effectively placing their desires above that of those who worked to make the event happen. This is reflected in Comicsgate in how many of their number wish publishers to write the stories that CG wants, trying to elevate their wishes above those of the storytellers. I have seen this push compared to the actions of Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery and I think it has some merit.

The second issue I have with Jon’s actions is that he has tried to deflect responsibility for his actions, accusing Worldcon of silencing those of a conservative learning and thus trying to claim some manner of victim status. We sadly see this sort of tactic increasingly in the news where people assert that they are victims for being banned/barred/shown the door because of their beliefs – when it is usually a case of the person simply being a jerk that people would rather not be around. Jon’s track record is not great and his attempt to record a confrontation at Worldcon only attests to this.

As a side note, Twitter had the #VisibleWomen hashtag trending; initially started by Kelly Sue DeConnick and rebooted this month it was intended to give the inarguably under-represented female comic book creators out there a chance to show off what they can do. It was a marvellous showcase of talent, imagination and creativity.  In the face of this celebration, Jon Del Arroz had the highly questionable response pictured.

Once again, it seems blatantly clear that it is not a case of removing politics and social messaging from comics that is their concern – it is removing the politics and social messaging that they do not agree with or do not wish to think about. Which, of course, is to defy one of the main reasons to engage with literature; to learn, to be challenged, to become better.

Darwyn and Marsha Cooke

Over the past few days the issue of Comicsgate has blown up even more, this time because of beloved late creator Darwyn Cooke (most famous for DC: The New Frontier and a great Catwoman run). Members of Comicsgate attempted to claim that Mr Cooke would support their particular cause, which led to his widow reactivating her Twitter account to let them know in no uncertain terms what he would have actually thought.

This led to CGers claiming that it was not actually Ms. Cooke and that they might actually know what Darwyn wanted more than she did. A number of them then decided to insult Ms. Cooke, just for good measure.

Now I must give credit where credit is due; Ethan Van Sciver did handle himself well during all this and he did call for his followers to back off. Sadly the abuse is more indicative of Comicsgate as a whole, where highly questionable behaviour seems to be the norm in ever greater amounts. While the call for respect is noted, a video of Mr. Van Sciver destroying Rose Tico (a character from The Last Jedi) figures for almost an hour was found which is somewhat troubling – especially when the actor who played Rose has been the subject of considerable harassment herself.

Ruby Rose and Batwoman

Moving on to a different aspect of toxic fandom, there is the matter of Ruby Rose and her casting as Batwoman. Batwoman was relaunched as a character back in 2006 and was earmarked for being one of DCs highest profile gay characters. The character enjoyed a forty issue run that concluded in 2014, not recovering after the original creative team left the book over restrictions handed down by DC. I can not say that I have ever followed the career of Ruby Rose; Orange is the New Black is not a show that ever hooked me for instance, but when the casting was announced it seemed quite suitable. Claims that Ruby Rose was “not gay enough” or “not Jewish enough” seems to be absurd; the very foundation of the role of an actor is to play a character that they are not. They are acting out the role of a character. Even if Ruby Rose was completely straight was portraying a lesbian, it would not matter one jot; Neil Patrick Harris played a womaniser in How I Met Your Mother while the fantastic Tilda Swinton was The Ancient One in Dr Strange.

It’s not all doom and gloom…

Sometimes it seems that fandoms are terrible places, especially on social media. For example, I have a fondness for Doctor Who and seeing the reactions to the casting of Jodie Whittaker (who has been great in every role I’ve seen her, from Black Mirror to Broadchurch) as the new Doctor has induced many a facepalm. However, there is one fandom right now that makes me believe that a group of fans can actually get together and enjoy what they claim they are fans of. It is no secret that I, as well as a certain BBC time travel show, enjoy much of the Transformers franchise specifically IDWs current Transformers: Lost Light (previously known as Transformers: More than Meets the Eye). The fellow fans of this title are a delight while interactions with the titles creators are an exercise in celebrating works that have real emotional impact. Having creators such as artist Nick Roche geeking out about introducing Stan Bush on stage at TFNation or writer James Roberts pointing out brilliant TF cosplay really makes a fellow fan glad to be a part of the journey. The only thing that is missing from MTMTE/LL fandom is the negativity that pervades some many other gatherings – and it is not missed. Not at all. For me the adventures of the crew of the Lost Light and the enthusiasm of those other that follow them serve as a reminder of what fans should be like and how we should enjoy what we claim to enjoy.

Because if you don’t enjoy something then you are best to move on and find something that you do. Why? Because you are not the centre of the universe and other people clearly ARE enjoying it … and who are you to stop that?

UPDATE (24/08/18):

It appears that more occurred overnight that is worthy of commentary. Above I had complimented Ethan Van Sciver on how well he had handled the situation regarding the rather ignorant attempt to co-opt Darwyn Cooke into Comicsgate and how it had been rebuked by his widow. It now seems any positivity Mr Van Sciver was due is now undeserved, as he has apparently changed direction.

Others have come out of the proverbial wood work to share their own experiences with EVS, which continues to paint a rather poor picture of his character and of his modus operandi.

33 Comments

  1. M-Wolverine

    Eh, I find most of the time people tell people to move on and do something else it’s a dismissive way of saying “but I like the politics of X, so I don’t see any problem with it, so why should you?” But if things were flipped people flip. And most often what is occurring is that something that may have had subtle politic messages, or messages open to interpretation, have become hard left or right in their leanings. Populist entertainment is getting turned into “everything has to have a message.” You don’t care because comics are leaning in the direction you like right now. But if they were suddenly to become pro-Trump mouthpieces you’d freak. (As many on this site have at his mention). And it’s always excused by “yes, but in this case it’s really really bad.” Most of them are pretty awful people, but if they’re on “my team” they get excused for all their awfulness. But don’t tell me if they turned Batman, an old wealth rich guy, or Superman, a guy who grew up in Kansas, into hard line conservatives you wouldn’t have an equal number of people freaking out, even if it technically makes more sense for the character. (I’m mean, let’s be real…they’re ALL law and order vigilantes. That’s about as anti-liberal as you can get). Tony Stark ends up a villain so often because writers can’t conceive of a heroic capitalist. But Captain America is the most liberal 1940’s guy ever. And lately they have shown the lack of talent to be able to write characters of all sorts in an even handed way. (It’s funny, humanizing genocidal maniacs to make them more rounded characters is usually no problem, but a well rounded Trump voter? Right.) But it’s the squeezing in of beliefs that don’t fit character or story but fit the writer’s beliefs that stand out like sore thumbs. That’s the danger of serial storytelling, it’s not one author’s vision. You shouldn’t be changing characters you didn’t create and will go on after you to flip flop on your own whim.

    You’re doing the same thing the Comicgates guys are, by naming names and outing them and making them “others” for their beliefs. You’re just doing it in a more polite way. But you can find tons of the same hateful outliers on both sides of the social spectrum. Ruby Rose, who people should be complaining about being a waif who would get broken in two and can’t act, not how “gay” she is, is a good example you mention. But if anyone can play anybody, someone should tell Scarlett Johansson. Because it wasn’t far right wingers tearing her apart.

    Or more currently, take a look at Crazy Rich Asians. A great landmark for an ignored group. But they’re getting it from both sides. The guys who are “why is this getting so much hype, why can’t they just be movies, what does it have to be a political statement” to the other side where “they don’t represent ALL Asian in the movie, just Chinese…where are the brown people, the poor people, the X people?!?!”

    And the private business not public thing is a great part of the hypocritical divide in this country. It’s always OK, unless I don’t agree with it. Banning from a convention, selling cakes to whoever you want or don’t want, disrupting speeches on campus, not serving cabinet figures because of their politics, smoking in bars. It’s always an outrage if you’re against those politics, and it’s always free speech and private organization rights if you’re behind the message.

    The problem is, everyone thinks they’re in the middle, and because most often we associate and live around people with like thoughts, we just think everyone thinks that way. But really most of the people doing these things aren’t in the middle, but the hard right or left. And they seem just as toxic to those who are in the middle, who are a large part, if not a majority. But are by the nature of it not as loud about, well, everything. There’s always been two sides of a coin, but it used to be they were ven diagrams. Now as people push to make “progress” in their direction they’re not even in the same orbit. And that’s what’s toxic right now. People who not only believe they’re right, but that their way is the only way, and anyone else is an enemy. And a society that can’t find middle ground, and keeps pushing the walls of the shared house away from each other, is destined to have the roof fall in and collapse on everyone.

    1. Le Messor

      Thank you, Chris, for a more even-handed view than we usually get.

      ” And a society that can’t find middle ground, and keeps pushing the walls of the shared house away from each other, is destined to have the roof fall in and collapse on everyone.”
      “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
      (Jesus, later Lincoln)

    2. Matt_of_Geek

      “I find most of the time people tell people to move on”

      I dislike it when people try to subscribe motivation to others when there’s no evidence for the given motivation. The reasons for what I said are simply that it’s the mature and emotionally centred thing to do – to always expect products to be made for one’s personal tastes is nothing but narcissism.
      To think that Marvel, DC or any publisher will always keep a title aimed at the same audience is silly and also not in line with comic book history – Batman has ranged from a gun toting vigilante, sci fi explorer, grim dark avenger and so on.

      Different creative teams bring their own interpretation of characters at different times for different audiences.

  2. mrclam

    @M-Wolverine
    Just curious–what is the “middle ground” when it comes to racism? Hating only half the races? And about homophobia, is the “middle ground” accepting lesbians but not other gays? I suppose I get the “middle ground” on sexism: just dismiss half the people on the planet. Or is the “middle ground” treating all these groups like second-class citizens instead of enslaving and criminalizing them? It’s kind of unclear, so for now I think I’ll stay well on my side of the Venn diagram.

    Also, I don’t agree when you compare the author of this article to those comicsgate losers. He was much more than just “more polite”. His argument was rational, and he was very careful to back up his assertions with evidence. He wasn’t just spewing unfounded hatred, as the other side so often, if not always does.

    Not to be insulting, because I honestly think you had good intentions, but your response didn’t remind me of Jesus or Lincoln. It reminded me of Trump when he said, “There are good people on both sides’.

    1. M-Wolverine

      Where’s the middle ground on hating on Christians? Which side of the Venn Diagram of “not racist” are you on? The side that’s full of neo-nazis at Trump rallies, or the side that gets you hired to the editorial board of the New York Times?

      And what is racism, or homophobia, or sexism, exactly? Hating those groups, or just not agreeing with every policy that comes up regarding it? Is it not believing every single case of a police shooting is racism? It is saying sometimes wait for the evidence in every #MeToo case so we don’t become internet vigilante justice? Because I’ve seen far less bring out the cries of RACIST or MISOGYNIST because it’s the intellectually lazy way of making an argument. Rather than argue issues or facts, attack the person.

      Which is what this article, in part, does. It’s not a full on Dox’ing with addresses and contact information, but it’s naming names and attacking people and ascribing motives to them. Some of them are pretty awful people, and probably deserve it. Others get lumped in, well, just because.

      People’s opinions become facts when they agree with them.

      1. mrclam

        I don’t recall bringing up Christianity at all, but I find it telling that you associate bigoted behavior with the Christian belief system. It’s been a while, but I don’t ever remember Jesus being racist, homophobic, or sexist. I do remember that Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, but I have yet to witness this in real life. I have also never encountered a Christian who took the parable of the Good Samaritan seriously. And, most certainly, I have never encountered a Christian who believed this:

        Matt.7. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

        Do you consider yourself a Christian? Because it seems you’re a fairly judgmental fellow who is loathe to turn the other cheek. Have you given away your all your earthly possessions to follow the Lord? Did you follow Jesus’ teachings about caring for the sick or did you vote to eliminate health care for the poor and needy? I suppose you could say that I’m about as anti-Christian as I am anti-unicorn, because neither creature actually exists.

          1. mrclam

            What point was that? That you unfairly criticize by making baseless assumptions and without providing adequate evidence? Or was it your puzzling declaration that there are non-racist Neo-Nazis? It’s hard to tell, because your argument is not very well thought out or rational.

            But, never mind. I can see you’re uninterested in civil discourse, so I’ll leave this discussion with a comics-related thought: while his politics were awful, in the case of bigotry, Ditko was right: A is A and there are no shades of grey. You’re either a bigot or not. I know what I am, and I’m starting to realize what you are.

          2. M-Wolverine

            That’s funny, because the only totally uncivil discourse in the whole thread is yours. Accusatory, insulting, and hateful. You’re the one using ad homenim and appeal to outlook arguments (the latter which I confess I may have used a bit) with your spittle flecked tirade. But if you need it explained it was rather obvious I wasn’t discounting racism or all kinds of -isms, but that depending on how extreme you are you excuse your own. Then you perfectly illustrated how prejudice and hateful you are to Christians. A group that I’m not a part of, but you deem OK to hate. Which was my point; that those who so perfectly can attribute an -ism to anyone they disagree with, but harbor as much hate themselves, if not more. That makes you a hypocrite. Take everything you said in your original post and plug in Muslim for Christian, I’m sure you’d freak and accuse the person of all sorts of things. Even though, while certainly equally prejudiced statements, a lot of the same hypocrisies of that religion could be applied to all the religions. But in your world some are OK to hate and some are protected. That makes you a bad person. And those of us who don’t proscribe to your extremist “religions” of politics, on both sides, are getting tired of you tearing thr country apart.

            Don’t play thr “smart enough” card; you’re out of your depth.

          3. mrclam, he’s right. Knock it off with the personal stuff. There are a million websites for that; this is not one of them. This is your one and only warning.

            MW: That said, I have to admit that I’m baffled as to how your argument with me is somehow crabbing that I’m part of the problem for wanting toxic people to go away. I keep saying it’s not about ideology and named a fandom I’m an active member of as an example of how it’s anything but impossible for people with widely varying politics, ideologies, and opinions to get along just fine. You managed to make that into an insult which again is hugely frustrating because it misses the point so spectacularly.

            Look, this fabled middle ground you’re lamenting? It’s actually not fabled at all; it’s where most grownups live. You’re talking about it like it’s Narnia. Most– scratch that– ALL– the fan gatherings I’ve ever been to have been peopled with ideologies literally across the spectrum. The toxicity under discussion has nothing to do with that. It’s all about tribalism and gatekeeping and the rush that comes with pushing people around.

            For the hundredth time, it’s about behavior. That’s what makes it toxic, not the thinking behind it. Have you published anyone’s personal information on the internet? Spammed their personal social media or email with hate messages so vile they abandoned the platform entirely? Tried to get them in trouble at work? Threatened them or their families at home? These are all things that have happened and a great many of them have nothing to do with any kind of politics. You part of any of that? No? Then take it as read that we’re not talking about you. Or in fact anyone of ANY particular political persuasion.

            They use politics as cover but that’s all. These guys are just entitled jerks acting out. What were the political leanings of the guys screaming at Dan Slott over Superior Spider-Man or threatening Kurt Busiek’s kids over JLA/AVENGERS? When they’re caught or criticized, yeah, suddenly it’s about “making SF good again” or “integrity in games journalism” but that’s about as persuasive as “the dog ate my homework” to anyone who’s spent any time in fandom at all. It’s an excuse. Accepting their word that they are driven by idealism is absurd. That’s just not how idealists behave. Moving the goalposts and claiming noble motives when they’re called out, though, is exactly how abusers and bullies behave.

            So I honestly don’t get it. What the hell IS your beef? If you are feeling somehow attacked when we single out fans behaving badly and say it has to stop, that is in your head. It’s not what I wrote. I don’t think it’s what Matt wrote either. If you want to make a case that conservatives don’t get a fair shake in the popular arts, okay, that argument’s there to be made — though I don’t actually agree with that, it’s a valid discussion to be had. It would probably make a good column. You’re still a site contributor, why not write it?

            But that’s not THIS discussion. We are talking about TOXIC fans. No, I don’t want them in gulags. I want the criminal behavior to result in criminal penalties and I want people who are supporting that specific behavior, saying this criminal harassment of creators is somehow justified, to be denied a platform to spew that brand of stupid; which is to say, I want social media platforms to enforce the terms of service. That is my opinion no matter the political affiliation.

            The only difference between me and Matt is he keeps trying to sway these people with logic. That’s how his brain works; he ran the stats board at CBR for years, and bless him, can’t help making a case didactically using evidence and reason. Me, I did my hard time trying to get these jerks to behave. The result was a site constantly plagued with conflict and often under literal attack from these guys, to the point where the site owner had to wipe the boards and start over. (That was the thing with Janelle Asselin, whose great crime was writing a CBR piece saying maybe it was poor marketing to sexualize the Teen Titans so much considering how beloved the cartoon was among younger children and those kids probably would buy a comic that didn’t look like FHM. It blew up into a swirling mass of entitled fanboy stupid you could see from space. The new rules that came after were pretty much what we moderators had been begging Jonah to put in place for years.)

            So I’m done trying to litigate stuff with them. I guess you could say that on this subject, yeah, I’m ‘radicalized.’ The ones committing crimes go to jail. The ones violating terms of service get banned. How hard is that? Why is that even controversial?

            We assume your goodwill and have all along. It would be nice to get the same in return.

          4. M-Wolverine

            I guess it’s that there seems to be a lot of lumping in theses days of anything I disagree with being toxic, racist, SJW, insert perjorative. If we really are just talking those who do criminal behavior…well, what’s the point? To all agree that people who cross the line from ideas to threats and attacks be punished? I mean, yeah, the vast majority already agree with that.

            But what do you want to do about it? Gulag hyperbole aside (mind, not yours) what’s your solution? Shouting them down? They feed off the attention, and wrestling with pigs and all that. Penning a column of action, where we show how to contact Twitter et al to encourage them to enact higher standards, ban people more frequently, and with more teeth (and in an unbiased manner), and report criminal threats to the authorities? And how to contract our lawmakers to catch up with the times and technology and start enforcing threats online that would result in jail time if you did it in person or with pen and paper? Sure, that seems productive and I could get behind that. If it’s just “if you think Rose Tico was a bad character who helped make a movie a mess and was a waste of talent” you’re fine, but “if you’re contacting an actress who didn’t have a damn thing to do with the script and saying awful things to her you’re a horrible asshole” then I agree, but I’m not sure I see the point beyond feeling better about ourselves and letting out some steam raging against the machine. But it’s the Internet, that’s fine too, they’re not running out of space.

        1. mrclam

          I guess fairness dictates that I admit to an error I made earlier. When I volunteered at a soup kitchen, it was run through a church, and the Christians I met there did indeed take the Good Samaritan thing seriously. So, sorry for that.

          1. Matt_of_Geek

            “Janelle Asselin, whose great crime was writing a CBR piece saying maybe it was poor marketing to sexualize the Teen Titans”

            Thanks for the reminder – that was a GREAT article.

    2. There is no valid comparison between the baker case and Sanders being treated like the pariah she is. Sanders is actively working to harm the gay people who work at that restaurant, and was asked to leave on the basis of the job she willingly does, NOT because of who she is. The gay people who wanted a cake were denied because selling them a cake would somehow constitute endorsing or participating in their marriage. By that logic, if the wedding singer at the reception sang “We’ve Only Just Begun,” that means Paul Williams is endorsing their marriage too. Both you and the court are so blinded by partisan agendas that you’re immune to logic.

      Stop spouting Republican talking points and start being honest with yourself. You are defending evil people because you are afraid to throw them out of your party.

      1. M-Wolverine

        You logic is the ones that twisted, as evidenced by the strange example. It’s simple really; either you have the right to serve whoever you want or don’t want, or if you’re a public place you have to serve the public, period. So either you’re for it in both cases or against it. “Actively working to harm gay people at the restaurant”…what does that even mean? And where does it end? White House secretaries? Security guards? Since you want to split the ok-not ok over party lines, you’re the only one who is blinded by partisan lines. Republicans aren’t my party. I just see how extremists like you have taken over both parties and are tearing this country apart.

        And being hypocritical about it. But that’s nothing new. You had a nasty attitude to Le Messor, and Matt, who you are all defending now, but before he wrote his first column Greg Hatcher called a sociopath, or at least a sociopath enabler who needed to grow up. And I quote Greg Hatcher, referring to Matt recommending his column – “Especially since Matt, formerly ‘Parallax,’ was one of the guys instrumental in bringing Rumbles and all its attendant sociopaths to CBR way back when. I guess people do grow up.”

        At least if I have something nasty to say, I say it to their face. And usually wait for something nasty to be said to me first. So have the last spittle flecked word, go back to talking about people behind their back. It’s fun to have a debate with reasonable logical people, who don’t let their emotions rule them, but when it gets hateful AND thin skinned it isn’t really fun. And you just prove the group think on the left is just as common, and problematic, as that on the right. You can’t even conceive of anyone who isn’t us vs. them. Hate to break it to you, but the majority of American isn’t on your side, or the “bad guys” side. They’re just kinda sick of both of you.

        1. “Management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone” has held up in law when the refusal is based on the customer’s actions and behavior, not on what class they belong to. Neither “professional liar” nor political affiliation are protected classes. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability are. The bakers violated the couple’s civil rights based on bigotry disguised as a nonexistent religious issue- a cake is not recognized as part of a wedding ceremony, it’s part of the celebration afterward, there was no religious issue other than that these people have been lied to by their church and told that bigotry is a required part of their faith.

        2. Matt_of_Geek

          Yeah, at this point I have to say you’re not doing yourself any favours with the somewhat … creative interpretations (maybe just context is missing) of what Greg wrote.

          He did not call me a sociopath. He did give a friendly rib dig regarding “attendant sociopaths” as the absorbing of the Rumbles community into CBR was a bit of a system shock for everyone involved – Rumbles started out on another site known as CBUB and was generally a free for all.
          When CBUB folded, I was a Mod (maybe even super mod by that time) at CBR and offered to asked Jonah to create a board for the displaced CBUB community.
          Yes, the new community were sociopaths *relatively speaking* to what CBR was used to. Hyperbole, nothing more.

  3. You know, you guys are debating M-Wolverine’s idea that it’s about identity politics like the premise actually makes sense when there are MOUNTAINS of evidence to the contrary. It is NOT in fact a case of only tolerating certain approved politics, or both sides doing it, or anything like that.

    The extreme BEHAVIOR is the issue. And it’s not coming from ‘both sides.’ In fact it’s not even from just one side but from one particular group of extremists on one side. Who are not arguing or debating or showing any interest in finding a ‘middle ground’– they are being assholes. Full stop. Suggesting anything different is a tacit endorsement of the shrieking fanrage and stalker behavior on display from them. Sorry, but there is no DEFENSE for that, there’s no ‘devil’s advocate’ viewpoint that justifies it. It’s abhorrent behavior. It needs to be condemned wherever it pops up. The flailing around to find an example of ‘the left’ behaving the same way to prop up some sort of false equivalence is disingenuous bullshit. Because no one is acting that way except the SAME GROUP OF ARRESTED ADOLESECENTS THAT HAVE BEEN ACTING THIS WAY FOR YEARS.

    Don’t want to be lumped in with them? Don’t stalk people, don’t dox them, accept there are going to be comics and TV shows and movies not for you, and yeah, “move on.” The accusation that we would tolerate jerk behavior if it was on our ‘side’– which, as another person points out, is the side of basically not being a bigot, and yeah, I’ll happily take that label– is frankly insulting. We tolerate other VIEWPOINTS just fine. Hell, my editor is a hardline Hillary-hating conservative and we’ve worked together for going on six years now. I have a bunch of writer friends all over the spectrum, several of whom have published work that I strongly disagree with. The men’s adventure/pulp subculture is a pretty conservative group for the most part.

    But you know what? I DON’T STALK THEM when they publish a book I don’t care for. And when guys like me or Adam Garcia publish something that is a deliberate attempt to being in a little diversity, they don’t stalk us either. It’s not only POSSIBLE, it’s the usual state of affairs between grown-ups and it’s what makes these tiny minority groups like Comicsgate or the Sad Puppies or whoever look so pathetic… were it not for the fact that in recent years they have weaponized their ongoing tantrum into something genuinely criminal and scary. It needs to be stopped.

    THAT’S the complaint. Keep your eye on the ball. Getting embroiled in good-hearted ‘but everyone deserves a seat at the table’ arguments is what they count on. Don’t be diverted by it.

    1. M-Wolverine

      And you’re case in point of exactly what the problem is. You lump extremists in with everyone on “that side.” Your whole “my editor is conservative” reeks of “I’m not racist, I have Black friends.” And the fact you have even less nuance than the article does of toxic fandom coming from all sides (it is about toxic fandom, and not just ComicGate) shows you’re so entrenched in us vs. them you can’t even see the examples on your own side. It’s not rare, or an anomaly. Right now for every neo-nazi rally there a antifa riot. And continually painting all the bad in the world on one side (and both sides do it) doesn’t convince anyone of the problem, it just pushes them away.

      That seems to be your goal. Not sure what you’re plan is to do with all these people if you don’t think you can convince them. Gulags, maybe? It’s time to look in the mirror; you’re not solving anything, you’re part of the problem.

      1. Did you read the same post I did?

        You say Greg is lumping extremists in with everyone on “that side.” That’s not true. What IS true is that all the extremists in question are on “that side,” and rather than cleaning their house, “that side” is making excuses for them.

        And no, the actions of neo-nazis and antifa are not at all the same. Antifa has only been involved in violence when attacked by police or fascists; the fascist groups drive cars into people and look for ways to provoke violence, and you would see that if you were honest.

        This is what happened in DC.

        Trump is not a Republican and has never been one, but he has convinced a sizable portion of the party to betray all of their political, moral and religious principles and replace them with personal loyalty to him. He peddles unfounded fear, nonexistent enemies, and reprehensible values, and his enablers assist him because he stuck an (R) after his name. Calling him a Republican is pissing on the graves of Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Theodore Roosevelt. Anyone who understands what Republicans have traditionally stood for would recognize him as a usurper and a fraud, a would-be emperor and a fascist.

        Left and right have nothing to do with it. The two sides are human decency vs venal sociopathic fascism. Once we get rid of him and his evil enablers, we can go back to rational discussions of policy, but for the moment there is no room for party bullshit. There are no liberals or conservatives; there is only opposition to naked evil or collaboration with it.

        As Greg said, it’s not about political positions, it’s about behavior.

        You are a big fan of false equivalences: the ComicsGaters engage in doxing, digging up people’s personal information such as home address, phone number, employers, children, etc., and posting that information so that others can more effectively stalk, threaten and harass them; when Matt reposts their threats verbatim and includes their self-posted names, you accuse him of “doing the same thing the same thing the ComicsGaters do.” It’s not the same thing, but your deliberate distortion and misrepresentation of the facts serves to aid and abet the malignant trolls.

        And no, they are not “on all sides.” There is only one side: ComicsGate (which is the same guys behind GamerGate, the Sad/Rabid Puppies, and aligned with the incels and redpillers) vs. decent human beings.

        Let me be blunt: The founders of this site are all in agreement on this issue. All of us agree that the ComicsGaters are toxic and dangerous blots on the face of fandom.

        The fact that you are still here, still have author privileges, and still can post comments, ought to be a clue that the two sides are not the same. Nobody has revealed your real name or address or called for others to harass and threaten you. The people you’re defending do that.

        If you think Greg is “part of the problem,” you’ve blinded yourself to reality by looking at everything through your partisan filter.

        1. M-Wolverine

          If I thought this place wasn’t capable of civil discussion I wouldn’t bother to post, because there’s no point in discussion with a hive mind. But I have noticed your “all in agreement” has shouted down other creators who either are more polite or more timid than I.

          As for false equivalency I think taking extremists, who probably get what they deserve, and some of the names like Ethan and others, whose newsletter I would probably not like to subscribe to, but probably don’t deserved to get lumped in with extremists. Which is kind of my point. Too often people are throwing the slight left and right in with the hard partisans. When really these are the people who need to be yanking their parties back from the extremists. The person who voted for Trump because he/she wanted a change from the same old, and probably regrets it now, shouldn’t be lumped in with the pro Trump can do no wrong slappies. Just like those who voted for Hiliary because at least she’s better than Trump shouldn’t be lumped in with those that seriously think of her as some kind of feminist savior and not another crass politician out for herself. I’m not sure the attitude of “my opposition is evil” is really the way to correct that.

          While I’ll certainly agree that Neo-nazis are worse…because what’s worse than a nazi (Illinois nazis?)….I will disagree that antifa is just an innocent group proked by police. It’s not police that are making them trash property, loot store, and wear masks doing it. There’s a lot of promotion of anarky there, and it’s been going on longer than Trump has been around. While not a documentary, Dark Knight Rises for a time frame, was using those themes when it was just under a different name. And they weren’t protesting nazis back then.

          The easiest way to turn someone away from your views is to promote and undertake lawlessness, and damage people who have nothing to do with what you’re protesting, and are usually much closer to your problems than being “the man.” Unfortunately the more abhorrent groups are actually getting better at sticking to the letter of the law, where the side of “right” gets their message out in a way that turns people off more than it changes hearts and minds.

          1. Antifa is not a group. It’s an abbreviation for “anti-fascist,” an adjective that the right-wing outrage machine keeps trying to pretend is the left-wing equivalent of the KKK or Aryan Nation. The difference is those groups have officers and members, there is a way to join those groups and be recognized as a member. Antifa is anyone who is anti-fascist. Anyone who says ”I’m antifa” is antifa. It does not exist as a group. The Antifa bogeyman is right-wing propaganda and another example of false equivalence.

            But then that’s the problem with everything you’ve written in this thread; it’s all straw men.

            The false narratives are well illustrated by one case you cited earlier, the homophobic bakers. That was a case where the bakers were clearly in the wrong, and the people who should have most loudly condemned them are conservatives and Christians, because the bakers hid behind them in order to excuse their bigotry.

            If you own a public business, you have the right to choose what you will and will not make, but not what groups of people you will or will not sell to. If somebody comes into a bakery and wants a pornographic cake, or one with violent or racist decorations, the baker has every right to refuse to do that. If a customer comes in and chooses a standard cake that you have on display and in your catalog, the baker does not have the right to refuse to sell that cake to them on the basis of irrelevant issues like race or religion or sexual orientation. Either they sell these cakes to the public or they don’t. Period.

            Unfortunately, well-meaning dunderheads prattling on about “the middle ground” and inventing bullshit rationalizations like “what if it were reversed” in order to avoid admitting that their fellow Christian/conservatives were wrong managed to muddy the waters enough to let the public deny the obvious.

            Exactly the way that falsely inventing a nonexistent leftist terrorist group allows them to muddy the waters and excuse racist fascists who are clearly in the wrong.

            So many straw men, so much denial of the obvious.

            The people who should be screaming the loudest against the Comicsgate crowd are the ones whose reputations are being smeared by improper association with them, but the problem is that instead of denying and repudiating them, people like you are excusing them, defending them, and manufacturing an imaginary opposing group in order to pretend that “both sides do it.”

            Whenever a Muslim extremist appears in the media, conservatives and Christians always call for “reasonable Muslims” to denounce and repudiate them. So it’s the same here: where are the reasonable and responsible Republicans, Christians, and Conservatives denouncing the terrorists in GamerGate/ComicsGate? Why is the right not calling out and rejecting the fascists among them?

            I don’t want to hear any more “both sides” bullshit, because, as you were told in preschool, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” We are talking about these particular wrongs, and “what about” is nothing but an attempt to deflect, excuse, and move the goalposts.

          2. M-Wolverine

            Yes, I’m fully aware of what antifa is supposed to stand for. What it actually does is something different. It’s not propaganda to acknowledge a bunch of masked people are causing riots in the streets “because…something.” And while they may not have home offices, the idea that all these are just random grassroots organizations all doing the same thing (organized by teenagers, nonetheless) is either hopelessly naive or serious denial.

            Seems like the Supreme Court may disagree with your second paragraph, legally. Philosophically either you believe what you said or you don’t. Either we have freedom and you can sell to anyone you want and I have the right to not buy from you anymore if I don’t like your policies, and hope you go out of business if you’re offensive, or we do actually have to sell to everyone, whether we like them or not. So I’m sure you object to the restaurant that kicked Sarah Sanders out because of who she is, and not what she asked for (dinner). Because it’s that hypocrisy I’m talking about. (And it works both ways because an equal number outraged about the Red Hen thing were all “yay, property rights!” when the cake thing went down). People love pointing fingers, but too often excuse it on their side.

            And the fact that some people probably need to look in the mirror, because while they’re accusing others of not admitting their like groups are wrong and should be shouting them down as not accurate representations, they consistently fail to do the same with those extremists on their side of the aisle. And a lot of denial that it even exists, or is not as bad, or whatever tribalism that convinces people that they’re the good guys and everyone who disagrees with me is the bad guys. And nowadays, can’t help injecting it everywhere.

            And I think some of you are moving the goalposts from the original article to bolster your argument. The title of it is Toxic Fandom. Not ComicGate. Gamergate. It makes a point of mentioning the toxic fandom that Ruby Rose has received, and we all know that’s not from the conservative fandom. So you’re talking about particular wrongs. The topic, and discussion, was talking about it as a whole. But blind eye for what’s going on in our own backyard and all that…

          3. The fact that you characterize people standing up against actual self-described Nazis waving swastikas and wearing armbands as “rioting in the streets” tells me everything I need to know.

            For the past 30 years, white supremacist organizations have been encouraging their members to join law enforcement. We now have a significant percentage of police who are active supporters of racist policies; in Los Angeles there is an avowed white supremacist street gang operating in the Sheriff’s Department; the #2 deputy (now in prison) was a member. They’re called the Vikings and there is a lengthy list of their crimes that the new Sheriff has to clean up. So don’t fucking talk to me about law and order or pretend that the police attacks on anti-fascist protestors is anything but more racist bullshit.

            Your arguments are specious at best, partisan rationalizations aimed at propping up the regime rather than addressing injustice. You will find yourself in Matthew 24:31-46, and you’re not needed here.

          4. M-Wolverine

            Serious people don’t take people who say things like “partisan rationalizations aimed at propping up the regime rather than addressing injustice” seriously. This isn’t a comic book or pulp fiction. You don’t have it that bad, really.

            You’re just mad I quit your group before you could kick me out. I stopped talking to you, and about this, a week ago. Find something better to do on a Saturday night and you won’t hear from me.

        2. The bought-and-paid-for Supreme Court denied reality. There is no comparison between the bakery case and the Red Hen restaurant. In the former case, they argued that selling their stock in trade to a gay couple meant they were somehow participating in or endorsing the wedding, which is bullshit. In the second case, Sarah Huckabee’s job is to lie on behalf of people who are actively trying to materially harm the employees of the restaurant, and they have every right to refuse to serve her as an individual. Her poisonous conduct is not a protected class.

          And if you were a Christian, you’d know that.

          1. M-Wolverine

            OMG, you’re a tin foil hate wearing far left loon who believes every conspiracy theory out there. “Bought and paid for Sumpreme Court” and police infiltrated by te KKK tells me all I need to know about you. The fact that you’re extrapolating the Charlottesville tragedy and making a blanket statement that antifa and occupy just magically appear only at Nazi rallies and never hold protests on their own show logical dissonance and almost a break from reality.

            And I’m not a Christian, so weak attenmpt at digs, but great success at revealing yourself as a bigot. The fact that you’re still obsessing over this days later, look in the mirror and “get over yourself.” All you’ve done is set an example that proves me exactly right that you far left and right loons trying to turn each other into the ultimate evil with no compromise is killing it for the rest of us willing to have discussion and find common ground. It’s not that there aren’t really bad people in the world; it’s just that in your world that means “anyone who doesn’t agree with me.”

    2. BB

      Matt, thank you for the post. You’ve obviously done a lot of work here, and that does not go unnoticed.

      Greg, thank you for the additional focus on the point. I was feeling much like I’m sure Mr. Clam was after reading Wolvie’s comments, and I was struggling with removing emotion from my reply.

      Wolvie, you are obviously a very learned person – your writing attests to that.
      However, this isn’t the first time you have been quick to insert a “yeah, but…” that is irrelevant, unnecessary, and somewhat caustic. Your comments/answers are in search of questions that weren’t asked, and they read like a blanket dismissal of what are very real problems affecting very real people. THERE IS NO VALID COUNTER TO THE POINT OF THIS POST – THE BEHAVIOR OF THESE PEOPLE IS REPREHENSIBLE, CANNOT BE IGNORED, AND MUST END.

      1. M-Wolverine

        Now here is some criticism that I can constructively take. I may be too quick to “yeah, but…” and maybe turn it to something beyond the scope of the actual article. This one seem to branch out a bit beyond these specific issues, and address toxic fandom as a whole, but I’m certainly bringing my bias into it too where the issue as a whole seems to be addressed one sidedly, with uneven reaction. And perhaps my initial critique of the post blended too much with the general criticism of the issue at large, and I should have been more clear. It’s probably one of the multitude of things that is more fun and less hostile to debate over a beer than in typed word on the Internet.

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