Dear Totalbiscuit…

Dear Totalbiscuit, we just had a small chat in twitter when I took exception to your claim that Tone Policing is “made up”. This was all in response to your lengthy blogpost on the recent brouhaha in the gaming sphere, first started with the Zoe Quinn “scandal” ands latter inflamed by Anita Sarkeesian daring to post another Tropes VS Women in Gaming video.

Once I provided one of your followers an accessible link to explaining what Tone Policing is from the geek feminism wiki, you decided to directly challenge me to provide “academic evidence” that Tone Arguments are actually a thing. Eventually you declared that you would only engage me further if I discussed your blogpost itself in a length counter-argument, which given your status as an internet celebrity and mine as a virtual nobody, was intimidating to say the least.

So I’m going to use this opportunity and attempt to do exactly that. Even though I’m not the most knowledgeable on the subject and in fact I feel woefully inadequate to fully express the issues as those actually oppressed. Only I’m not going to talk about Tone Arguments. Because you see, while your blog has some issues with gross false equivalence and many aspects of tone policing, the biggest flaws in it lie elsewhere.

They lie in intellectual laziness and the arrogance by which you wield it. So let’s talk about two-player games.

By far the biggest issue I have with your blogpost is how little research you did before you wrote it. In fact that seems to be a chronic problem with your approach to sensitive issues that have been affecting the industry you’re part of. Reading your original foray into these issues, it was obvious you were caught proudly unaware, but rather than do due diligence and explore what is the issue, you had your followers feed you the info they felt you needed to know, and then you wrote about that. As a result, in the midst of one of the most massive and brutal campaigns of harassment against a woman and feminist allies, the best you could find to talk about was corruption in games journalism and an alleged DMCA violation. Talk about having perspective!

And then today, came your secondary opinion piece on this issue, in which you start talking about some nebulous MRAs and SJWs who might or might not be caricatures and they’re really surely just as bad as each other. You promote “non-extremism” without explaining what exactly it is. You’re talking about “your perspective” on what bro-gamers probably think, about what feminists think. You assume and interpret what people on both sides of the debate are thinking and doing. But you don’t actually bother to go and find out by talking to them directly!

Dear Totalbiscuit, ignorance is not a virtue. If you want to discuss a very charged issue with the people  who are on various sides of the subject, you need to understand their actual positions. Do you know why those extremists labeled as “SJW” are even upset, or did you just dismiss them because they are? Are they as bad as MRAs1 because they use the same tactics (they don’t), or because MRAs are angry as well? Did you ever even bother to find out what an MRA is and what they stand for, or is the acronym’s meaning good enough? Did you investigate to see if any side has an actual merit, or did you just assume the answer lies in the middle?

And since we’re at this, let’s put something into perspective. The fact that one or both sides of this argument are angry, does not invalidate their position, or make them “extremists”. There are reasons why people will absolutely not engage with people from the other side and this doesn’t automatically make them “destructive elements”  as you’ll liken them in your post. Victims have no duty to be nice to their abusers. The marginalized do not owe respect to their oppressors. This is the essence of the Tone Argument by the way, and sorry, but I still couldn’t be bollocksed to go and academically prove to you  that it is not “made up”

But do not misunderstand me. You have every right to be in the middle of this subject. Feel free to partly agree with Anita and partly agree with the criticisms against her. But just because you find yourself in the middle doesn’t make everyone else an extreme. Your point of reference is not the anchor of the discussion. If you are willing to be as open minded as you claim, you need to engage with the primary sides of the argument and actually make up your mind if their reaction is warranted or not. And let me tell you, given your reaction when you caught a fraction of the fraction of the abuse that women in gaming are receiving, it looks to me that you’d be reacting far worse in their shoes.

Your laziness to actually take the time to explore these issues became infuriatingly obvious when we started talking about it on twitter. Clearly you have not actually bothered to read about feminism or understand some of its basic arguments, and yet a quick google search was all that you needed to declare that Tone Policing is not a thing. You expected everyone else to feed you the info (at an academically-sourced level no less) rather than making a rudimentary effort to educate yourself. Not for me or anyone else talking to you, but for your own damn benefit! You know, to be able to make an educated evaluation of the criticism levelled against you and either counter it, or fix the issue.

So this is the biggest flaw in your post. It’s lazily researched and has only the flimsiest of understanding of the dynamics of the situation. Tim VS  JonTron, Zoe VS 4chan, whatever. Everyone must be a little bit right and a little bit wrong, correct? No. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to express an opinion on each of these situations, have the moral fortitude to actually stick your head out and argue your case on the actual issues being debated. Figure out where you stand and tell us! You disagree with Anita’s videos? Why? You agree? Why? This is what the rest of us are doing, and why (women primarily) are taking flak for it. Show us that you actually understand the issues at hand and why people on either side are wrong, or not.

If you want to have the discussion, then have at it. But do not attempt to dismiss or minimize those who don’t have the privilege of a huge following to buffer and protect them from the internet hate machine. The marginalized would like nothing more than to have a polite discussion, but as the reaction to Anita’s very polite videos show, this is not going to happen any time soon. So please do not equate the defence of the abused with the offence of the abuser.

Rest assured, I do not hate you for your opinion. I do not even dislike you. I am disappointed because, as one bullied PC-gamer to another, dear Totalbiscuit, you’re in the wrong in this. Not because you’re moderate, but because you’re not putting the effort required to do intellectual justice to the issues at hand. Not because you don’t know feminist concepts, but because you don’t want to know. Because you prefer to talk about the form rather than the content.

  1. Note, I am not implying that everyone on one side is an MRA, merely making a point []

39 thoughts on “Dear Totalbiscuit…

  1. You are the lazy one. You did not address TB’s points but rather continued with empty platitudes. Also, gamers here are the ones who are oppressed and marginalized. There have been tens of articles spreading lies and slander about them. Mainstream publications like Vice have run hatchet jobs about them. They were silenced in almost every website they frequent. Who is powerful if not the ones who can silence their critics?

    1. “Also, gamers here are the ones who are oppressed and marginalized”

      Dear lord, no! How could anyone be so mistaken? Being criticized does not make you oppressed. Oppression has to do with being at he bottom of power dynamics and given video games’ primary demographic I fail to see how gamers could be anywhere but the top.

      1. Who has been slandered and silenced during the past three weeks? It was not the feminists like Anita. Anita is not denied a voice in websites and magazines that claim to support the game industry. It was the gamers who were silenced, banned and threatened when they wanted to discuss the issues of cronyism and corruption. This is a well documented fact that you cannot deny. To learn who has power learn who you are not allowed to criticize.

        1. Who has been slandered and silenced during the past three weeks?

          Women. And not just in the past three weeks. Every time they opened their mouth.

          It was the gamers who were silenced, banned and threatened when they wanted to discuss the issues of cronyism and corruption.

          They were discussing and are still discussing these issues just fine. Just because they were not allowed to flood every discussion everywhere with this, does not mean they are being silenced.

          1. What you say is factually incorrect.
            There has not been a single article that didn’t unquestionably toe the SJW line. Every single article slandered gamers.
            Every. Single. One.

            Zoe and Juanita had their view broadcasted as gospel truth without any question. This is undeniable. The women were given voice and power and the gamers were silenced and oppressed. To say otherwise is to lie.

          2. It was the gamers who were silenced, banned and threatened when they wanted to discuss the issues of cronyism and corruption.

            Nonsense.

            This is undeniable. The women were given voice and power and the gamers
            were silenced and oppressed. To say otherwise is to lie.

            lol, “oppressed”, You wouldn’t know what oppression is, even if it smacked you in the face with cast iron chains…

          3. You are intellectually dishonest if you deny that sites like reddit deleted threads with more than 25000 post that were discussing the corruption. Many of the commenters were banned as well. This is well documented and there’s no point in you lying about it. It is very stupid to lie when you can be very easily proven a liar.
            You don’t know anything about me. I sure know more about oppression than you having lived most of my life in the third world. You are a disgusting bigot.

          4. You are intellectually dishonest if you deny that sites like reddit
            deleted threads with more than 25000 post that were discussing the
            corruption.

            You are intellectually dishonest if you don’t post the real reasons those were deleted, as explained by the mods.

            You are a disgusting bigot.

            A bigot? About gamer man-children?! AAaAahahahahahaaaa!

          5. I read the posts before they were deleted. The mods are lying.
            You are a disgusting bigot because you made assumptions about me.
            And since you can’t argue with logic and reason you start with insults. No wonder TB found you unworthy of debate.

          6. I read the posts before they were deleted. The mods are lying

            It seems to me, that according to you, everyone who disagrees with you, is lying…Convenient, for sure.

            You are a disgusting bigot because you made assumptions about me.

            You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

          7. You are taking the mods’ word at face value, I saw the comments myself. If you are trying to call me a liar do so instead of passively aggressively implying it . I called you liar because you were lying before and I proved it.

            “Bigotry is a state of mind where a person views other groups with fear, distrust, prejudice or hatred solely on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or other group characteristics.”

            So what did you assume about me and what conclusions did you draw based on what? Or are you one of those who think you can’t be bigoted towards whites?

          8. bigote means moustache in spanish. I hope that helps you better understand his sencence

  2. Funny that you’re doing exactly what TB criticized with telling him that he’s wrong because he doesn’t fall squarely into your camp and dares to disagree with tenets of your worldview. It’s just as he said – people like you take a very “us vs them” view on this stance and viciously attack anyone who doesn’t agree exactly with them. Develop some fucking self-awareness, will you?

    Also, who’s the lazy one when he asks you for academic sources and you fail to produce them? Feminism, critical race studies, and other academic disciplines dealing with marginalization and power dynamics in society are well-cited and researched fields, and it’s no surprise that someone who has a law degree like TB did would want to see the fruits of that research in a discussion. He said it best himself in a tweet: “You are aware that there are plenty of academic works regarding feminism and sociology right? Start with one of those.”

    1. telling him that he’s wrong because he doesn’t fall squarely into your camp and dares to disagree with tenets of your worldview

      That’s not at all what I did.

      1. Certainly reads that way to me. These lines especially sum up what is wrong with the entire SJW stance:
        ” Victims have no duty to be nice to their abusers. The marginalized do not owe respect to their oppressors.”.
        I don’t disagree with you (or the SJW) movement based on any of the criteria cited. I disagree because “Social Justice” isn’t justice. Its just a PC term for vigilantism. Just because you believe it to be unjust for some reason doesn’t mean it is.

          1. Yes. The first line was agreeing with Anon, and then the rest is why I disagree with pretty much the entirety of the SJW stance on principle. The entire post does exactly what you criticize TB for doing. He asked for information to rebut him, and instead all you said was “Nuh uh, you are a dumb head go learn something”. Its almost like you conflate justice with winning, and that is not how it works. That is by definition not justice.

          2. He asked for information to prove that Tone Arguments are talked about in academia, in twitter, He proceeded to ask me to address his blog. I did the latter, because the former is an absurd question design to squash discussion.

          3. You missed his point. “Tone Policing” is talked about, but it has zero to do with any field that is taken, or takes itself seriously. Its not much different than homeopathy or the myriad other wannabe important topics that get pushed as “real”.

  3. Hey, I’m the guy who was responding to you on twitter yesterday. Honestly, this is a really disappointing post to see. Having debated with me quite rationally yesterday, this is little better than a rant posted in an echo chamber. I expected better from you.

      1. Please stop lying to me. Having read your other comments, as well as this, I can’t even bring myself to not be anything but disgusted. If you were never willing to change you mind, or even think for yourself, before posting comments like:

        “gamer man-children”
        “lol, “oppressed” ”
        “They lie in intellectual laziness and the arrogance by which you wield it”

        Next time you want to apologise to someone, at least make it sincere. I’d rather just have you admit to me that you were never willing to listen (as is clearly the unfortunate position in which you’re stood) than lie and pretend you’re in any way sorry for this. I can guarantee you’ll look back on this position with regret, but this is your life and I can’t change that for you – nor would I want to if I could.

        1. Of fer crying out loud, get off you damn horse willya. I responded this way because your comment was vacuous baiting. If you want to discussion, try to initiate it better next time.

          I can guarantee you’ll look back on this position with regret, but this
          is your life and I can’t change that for you – nor would I want to if I
          could.

          The condescension! It burns…

          Clearly I have made the error of my life by criticizing Totalbiscuit and the rest of the fence-sitters who mistake their vantage point atop the fence as superiority. I will forevermore regret all this until my deathbed.

          1. Would you prefer a point by point breakdown of your entire article, why the premise is falwed, how you ignored what I tweeted at you and why I’m disappointed? I can provide that commentary, but on the grounds you posted this to an echo chamber and have done little more to other commenters than mock them without rebuking the substance of their posts, I can’t help but feel it’d be a waste of both of our time.

            And no, it’s not the mistake of your life, but it’s still a very poorly done post which I can almost certainly assure you that you will regret writing in 5-10 years.

          2. TB requested a thought out long article. This is my blog, not an “echo chamber”. Of course this is where I’d post it.

            As for the other commenter(s) (I like the plural. I mocked one commenter. Singular), sorry but I can spot a shit-poster from a mile away and I’d really rather not waste my time arguing stuff like “Or are you one of those who think you can’t be bigoted towards whites?”. The mocking I do is calculated.

            Feel free to try reply as you see fit, but it would be better if you posted it on your own platform and provided the link, rather than the comments, because whole point-by-point refutation is not easy to manage in this form.

  4. It looks like the person you are writing this in response to is guilty of fallacy of the middle ground / appeal to moderation. It might be helpful going forward to point out that it can be as much of a fallacy to assume the answer must be in the middle as it is to create a false dilemma.

    I do not see valid reasoning that necessitates the middle position.

    Rational wiki link : http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Appeal_to_moderation
    Nikzor : http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/middle-ground.html

        1. You missed his point. It is “talked about” but no one takes it seriously because it has more to do with philosophy than science. Its like homeopathy but worse.

      1. If the debate is between two groups viewed as extremists, the answer isn’t necessarily a moderate view between the two groups (that’s the fallacy). But rather than false dilemma – It could be a third option. Both groups could be wrong. One group could be objectively wrong, though the answer might not be as extreme as the other group, it’s still on their side. Both groups could be right and actually talking about different issues.

        See, avoiding moderation fallacy without a false dilemma. Not hard.

  5. hey. just wanted to anonymously drop by and say i’m really glad to see you doing this. i love your work on the netrunner plugin and it’s good to see dudes pulling their weight against shitty bigots in our community. much respect dawg. 🙂

  6. Big mistake “You disagree with Anita’s videos? Why? You agree? Why?”

    https://medium.com/@cainejw/the-factual-feminist-a-factcheck-f5ae584f56da

    Try because every single thing Anita said has zero fact checking and anything she claims has been proven fraudulent.

    No one gives two shits if Anita has “polite videos,” They’re deceptive and lack academic integrity.

    To quote you directly, “So this is the biggest flaw in your post. It’s lazily researched and has only the flimsiest of understanding of the dynamics of the situation.”

    1. If anything, Anita’s videos are meticulously researched, and as someone who plays games for the past 25 years, perfectly accurate in their criticism in my experience

      1. So the fact that she shows a clip of a Hitman game where the player kills several strippers while saying “the player can’t help but treat these female bodies as things” when the game PENALIZES you for attacking NPCs. Not to mention you can attack and kill literally ANY character in the game, male or female.

        Or when she showed the player character in Dues Ex: Human Revolution killing female prostitutes in the street when, again, you can do this to any NPC regardless of gender.

        Or that time she showed the female prostitutes from Fallout: New Vegas, whilst ignoring the male prostitutes with the exact same lines and options as the female ones? Or how she says you can “toss around and throw inert dead females after killing them” when the Physics engine in the game allows you to do this not only to female NPC but any NPC…of any gender…of any race…of ANY SPECIES. Not just NPCs but you can literally pick up and throw most of the object in the game.

        And that’s just off the top of my head. The inaccuracies in her videos combined with the fact she raised 160’000 dollars yet takes Let’s Play footage and fan art without permission in addition to citing no sources, statistics or any research shown of any kind leads me to believe that there was no “meticulous research” as you state.

        1. You still don’t get it. Go and read people who’ve responded to this misunderstanding of Sharkeesian point. I don’t have time to educate you.

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