Companies Cut Ties With Judges Guild After Owner's Racist Posts

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Several game publishers, including Bat in the Attic, have said that they will no longer do business with Judges Guild after its owner posted a number of racist and anti-semitic statements. They don't need to be repeated here; but there are several examples.

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Judges Guild has been around since 1976, producing products compatible with Dungeons & Dragons; the current owner, Bob Bledsaw II, is the son of its co-founder, Bob Bledsaw, and has run the company since 2008. The company is well known for 1976's City State of the Invincible Overlord, amongst other classics. Bat in the Attic and Frog God Games both license Judges' Guild properties.

Rob Conley of Bat in the Attic stated yesterday that the company would no longer do business with Judges Guild, or its properties. "Sunday evening, I called Robert Bledsaw II and discussed the issue. I notified him that I will no longer be doing future Judges’ Guild projects and will only continue to sell what I have currently listed. I stated that I will be calling the other Judges Guild licensee and inform them of the situation and of my decision."

Frog God Games, which has been working with Judges Guild for nearly 20 years, followed suit. "Recently the owner of Judges Guild made a series of racist and anti-semitic posts on Facebook. We will not reproduce them here; they are shown on Rob Conley's Bat in the Attic blog, and we are convinced of their authenticity. Rob wrote his post because, as a licensee of Judges Guild property, he felt he needed to state clearly that he would not be doing business with Judges Guild in the future. We have also licensed property from Judges Guild in the past, and we are seconding Rob's example by cutting off all future business with Judges Guild. The posts made on Facebook were completely unacceptable."

UPDATE — DriveThruRPG has severed ties. “The Judges Guild publisher account has been closed and they are no longer available on DriveThruRPG.”

A few years ago, Judges Guild ran a Kickstarter to bring back City State of the Invincible Overlord, with nearly a thousand backers raising $85K. The Kickstarter has not yet been fulfilled. The latest update was in October 2019.
 
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Russ Morrissey

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Ulfgeir

Explorer
One thing I never understand about things like this. I intellectually understand that there are people who hold strong racist (or other equally objectionable) views; that's clear and apparent. What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen? Or do they literally just not care about the consequences?
Like others have said, "opinion bubbles", and these persons think that they are right, and any backlash only reinforces their worldview as they then feel persecuted.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
One thing I never understand about things like this. I intellectually understand that there are people who hold strong racist (or other equally objectionable) views; that's clear and apparent. What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen? Or do they literally just not care about the consequences?
I think that there are two reasons.

1. The spread of social media. This can be subdivided into two parts:
a. People now have a platform to express the views publicly (and to a large audience) that they might have previously expressed privately. In other words, the previous racist joke to some golf buddies at the course becomes the sharing of racist memes on facebook or twitter.
b. Social media also makes it seem more acceptable- you are more likely to connect with, see, and know people that have similar views. In other words, it is easier to isolate yourself from the mainstream and think that your views are acceptable.

2. Our current .... moment. I'm not going to tie this into politics due to site rules, but I think that there is a reactionary backlash to a lot of the progress we've see in the last few decades, and some people feel emboldened.
 
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Coroc

Adventurer
One thing I never understand about things like this. I intellectually understand that there are people who hold strong racist (or other equally objectionable) views; that's clear and apparent. What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen? Or do they literally just not care about the consequences?
For them the other ones are the ones in the wrong. They did, for some reason never learn that each human is an individual. This starts with having to respect and accept yourself and then respecting and accepting others, depending on their individual deeds.

Those posting such views in the public might have a multitude of reasons:

Some eventually only like to troll or provoke, but there might be some for whom that is a religion. For some it might also come from some personal life experience which emboldens an existing stereotype.

There are people who seek someone responsible for their individual misery (or felt misery) / mistreatment / bad luck. Some of these never can admit to themselves that they might make errors too. They always need someone else to blame it onto. These might even be the hardest to convince.

Some might even seek the punishment which follows as a reaction, I am no psychologist, if there is one on the forum he might explain this symptom better. It is maybe a bit like someone who is mistreated by his partner and still never quits the relation.
 

Uller

Adventurer
One thing I never understand about things like this. I intellectually understand that there are people who hold strong racist (or other equally objectionable) views; that's clear and apparent. What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen? Or do they literally just not care about the consequences?
Because people live in a bubble of their own making. It isn't a right left thing. It is a human thing. Social media makes it easier and more catestrophic when the bubble bursts.

I am against cancel culture. I don't do boycotts. I think judging a person by a few social media posts is like trying to judge the quality of a mansion by peeking through the keyhole. More often than not, we can learn far more about the person calling for the boycott than about the target by the controversy that arises. But if I had been doing business with JG, i would stop and let them know why.
 

charlesatan

Explorer
One thing I never understand about things like this. I intellectually understand that there are people who hold strong racist (or other equally objectionable) views; that's clear and apparent. What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen? Or do they literally just not care about the consequences?
There's two ways to look at it:

1) Even the most objectionable views have their fair share of supporters. I guess it comes down to the owner thinking that there are more people who agree with them than those who don't.

2) Some people still support problematic companies/institutions regardless of the owner's beliefs because they like the product very much. Dyson's owner for example supported/funded Brexit but a lot of people still swear by that product. Also a lot of people are still fans of Marvel movies despite its CEOs history.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
Sigh... I don't even know how to respond to this.

Don't take that either way. I think there is a lot of fault here, but I also feel there is a lot of judgement.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
One thing I never understand about things like this. I intellectually understand that there are people who hold strong racist (or other equally objectionable) views; that's clear and apparent. What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen? Or do they literally just not care about the consequences?
No, they don't fear for the consequences, they probably see themselves as downtrodden by the forces of the Social Justice Warriors(tm). They're just emboldened by certain political developments in recent years to "take back the country" and think it's a winning fight.
That and they're pretty stupid.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
What I don't get is why they post them publicly; surely they know what will happen?
For many... no, I don't think they do know. Or, more precisely, they don't know it can happen to themselves.

It seems to me that holding such beliefs requires a significant lack of empathy. If you lack empathy, you lose track of how you and everyone else are basically the same - lacking empathy means you are an island, separate from the rest of the world. Once you are separate, there is no reason to think the consequences that befall others would happen to you.

No, this is not a well-reasoned, rational, or logical position for a person to be in, but humans are vulnerable to falling into such mental patterns.
 
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LeviBonaparte

Villager
I actually bought less than two weeks ago the Player's Guide to the Wilderlands at an LGS for just 10 €, so I am really taken aback by this news. What the heck?!
 

Mistwell

Legend
As this was breaking early yesterday I talked to Bob in private messages, and told him how disappointed I was, and gave him an opportunity to explain.

I won't repeat what he wrote because it was private, but I rapidly came to the conclusion these are not one-off posts, but are in fact representative of how he thinks and his beliefs and have been for many, many years.

I then scrolled down his public posts (he and I are not friends on Facebook - these are all public posts for anyone in the world to see) and there was actually worse stuff further back. It's just that somehow nobody had read it and let the larger world know about it more, until now.

I re-posted some of those posts elsewhere and they've since spread. You can find them now pretty easily if you look. If you have any doubts from the initial posts, I suggest you look around. You will, for example, find much more blatant and direct antisemitism he's posted.

I am not sure this is a...thing of the current mood in America. It seemed to me his beliefs, and his willingness to state those beliefs, goes back many years. Back before even this current President, for what that is worth. Some of his beliefs appear (in fact most I think) to go back to 9/11, where he has extensive 9./11 Truther conspiracy theories. His current focus is our current President, but before this President there were other focuses for these views, like the prior two Presidents and some events.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I am not sure this is a...thing of the current mood in America.
No, it is not. Racism is absolutely and totally nothing new, and it has never gone away.

Folks have been talking about racists operating in "bubbles" in which they are not met with consequences for expressing such beliefs. That concept cuts both ways - many have been living in bubbles where they may have become accustomed to how there didn't seem to be much overt racism, and so they thought there wasn't a problem, or at least the problem was fading into the past...

Then, as bubbles pop, we get surprised by how ugly people suddenly seem to have gotten - but the only sudden thing is your exposure and understanding.
 

Celebrim

Legend
He's obviously got... political views. Kind of glad I don't have ties with him to cut.

For my brief theory on his mindset, it's just tribalism. Whenever people are stressed, they tend to fall back on tribalism as a defense mechanism. Draw a circle around people you think are sufficiently like you that you can trust them. Rage against everyone else. Quite often the circle gets smaller and smaller, as you feel people in your circle have betrayed you and are no longer reliable. Reading his posts, he lives in a world were everyone is against him, so naturally he's against everyone else. Racism is actually just the tip of it. If you start narrowing down who he doesn't hate and fear, there isn't a lot left. Self-fulfilling prophesy.

What really gets me is not the angry conspiracy theory rants and the tribalism and all the usual crap associated with that world view, but that anyone who is in business would think it's a great idea to make public your political inclinations. It never works out. You always lose more customers than you are going to gain. Tribalism as a business strategy sucks. You'd think that would be obvious.

As for the whole "it's our time" or "it's a social media thing", I've been doing readings on the 4th and 5th century Roman Empire, and there is nothing new under the sun. Electronics carry it faster and to a larger literate class, but humans never change.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
As for the whole "it's or time" or "it's a social media thing", I've been doing readings on the 4th and 5th century Roman Empire, and there is nothing new under the sun. Electronics carry it faster and to a larger literate class, but humans never change.
I think they do.

You were just doing reading on the 4th and 5th century. And yes, similar attitudes have existed basically forever. But then... in the 4th and 5th centuries... democracy? Ha! Civil liberties? Would be to laugh!

Now... in most developed nations... women have the right to vote now. Minorities have the right to vote. There are legal protections (however poorly they may be enforced in particular cases) that would not have been considered in prior eras.

History seems to have a slow general direction towards acceptance and freedom. It is not monotonic - there are rises and falls, steps forward and back. But there is overall progress. People are slowly... painfully slowly.. changing.
 
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