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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Dausuul

Legend
It's not like we don't have examples of cancelling gone awry.
To repeat myself: This is not one of those examples. It's the total opposite of those examples. It is the example one would make up to demonstrate how cancelling can make perfect sense and be appropriate punishment.

Oh, come on, now you're grasping at straws. You know what's easier than faking a Facebook post? Saying "I did not make those posts and I emphatically disagree with their sentiments." If Bledsaw had said that, we could debate the likelihood of it being true, but he hasn't.

This is not a scenario where we have to debate the facts on the ground. Bledsaw said this stuff. No one disputes this, including the man himself. He has apparently been saying it for a while.

When the facts are unclear or in dispute, I think we often do rush to judgment too fast. But when we're talking about somebody openly spouting vile bigotry, it isn't rushing to judgment to say "That is some vile bigotry and I want nothing to do with it, or you."
 

HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
I mean, probably.

I'm entirely willing to condemn Bledsaw II, and I don't think we should spare JG here, but it's certainly gone down shockingly fast. Potentially faster than JG could defend itself if it wanted to. We have one blog post that was made on Feb 10, 2020 -- that's four days ago -- and it appears to have resulted in ties being permanently cut from at least one storefront.

It's not like we don't have examples of cancelling gone awry. Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard. Zoe Quinn vs Alec Holowka. Tati Westbrook vs Justin Charles, which was the subject of Contrapoints' excellent video on cancelling.

I can't say that I'm willing to defend a racist or a bigot, but we're still taking the accusations of one blogger as gospel plus the rumors that we can find online. I don't see why that would mean the knee-jerk reaction would be the right one. It's not like waiting a week to see what's really going on is going to hurt, either.

Think of it this way: Just how difficult would it be to fake a couple Facebook posts?
If you read some of the people who cut ties with him, they didn't do it just based on the posts. They contacted him about the posts and asked him to explain them. He doubled-down. So they cut ties and explained why in their blog. Then others did the same thing as well. It's not a knee-jerk reaction, in this case.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
As I tried to make clear in my post, my point isn't to defend Bledsaw or JG. I know only about the information given in the title post and the pages I've skimmed through in this thread (roughly a dozen or so). I saw no links to anything else except Bat's post.

My point is that knowing only that it's not really clear what's going on and it's unwise to just assume what's what.
Here, here, and here are your what's what.
 
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seebs

Explorer
Not related to my post at all.



Yea but keep in mind, there was once a time when a woman "not knowing her place" was objectionable. - The point being that a majority finding something objectionable doesn't make it objectively so.
Yeah, but we're not talking about that, we're talking about racism and anti-semitism, and I'm pretty comfortable with viewing those as deeply objectionable. I've been seeing people's arguments for them for decades now, and have not found any that were any good yet.
 
Yeah, but we're not talking about that, we're talking about racism and anti-semitism, and I'm pretty comfortable with viewing those as deeply objectionable.
In general we are talking about behavior that is objectionable. I think having some historical context is appropriate.

What that context illustrates is that social consequences for "objectionable behavior" is a tool that can be used against any behavior.

I've been seeing people's arguments for them for decades now, and have not found any that were any good yet.
I've not seen one person here defend that behavior.

Let me ask you this - who did his behavior harm?

Keep in mind, I'm not asking this to defend his behavior but rather so that the behavior against him can be examined.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
In general we are talking about behavior that is objectionable. I think having some historical context is appropriate.

What that context illustrates is that social consequences for "objectionable behavior" is a tool that can be used against any behavior.



I've not seen one person here defend that behavior.

Let me ask you this - who did his behavior harm?

Keep in mind, I'm not asking this to defend his behavior but rather so that the behavior against him can be examined.
Why does "the behavior against him" need to be examined? He's a bigot with some seriously vile views, ceasing to associate with or do business with him is a natural and rational response. This isn't a new phemomena.

I really have to question what you're you're trying to accomplish here.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Why not? Nobody acted on it before Feb 10, 2020, apparently.
patently false. Rob Conley says he saw one of his posts on Saturday, then called Bob Bledsaw on Sunday evening. that's a full day before February 10.
If both everybody knew and the evidence was so overwhelming that it's immediately incontrovertible to everybody involved... but Judges Guild has had business arrangements with Bat and DTRPG for quite some time... why didn't anything happen until four days ago? Everybody knew, but nobody acted? And then because of one post everybody acts in four days? You're contradicting yourself and it's got nothing to do with the facts you're stating. Your logic just doesn't hold water.
everyone could know of something, but not know everyone else knows. not everyone is willing to take individual action for varying reasons (this is why things like support groups exist btw). those with business interests may have thought as long as this doesn't go public they don't need to rock an already unstable boat. Rob Conley himself was worried that a public post would be an issue due to the "mob mentality" everyone here is so concerned about, but he decided to do what he thought was right. this also assumes that everyone who knew agrees that what he was posting was objectionably terrible, some people very much don't.

though really, the point I was trying to make with his fb being open to the public wasn't that people were visiting his page all the time and not saying anything, it's that anyone could have gone and seen this for themselves. there's no reason to believe these screencaps were faked.

Quite clearly, either everybody didn't know, or the evidence wasn't incontrovertible. By overstating that everybody already knew and the evidence was unimpeachable... it makes me question your motivations and question what else you might be lying about because that's not how things work.

This is exactly the problem I'm trying to highlight. You're making claims that contradict yourself when you don't even have to do that. You're not making your claims more credible by overstating them. I can only imagine an extreme circumstance where Bledsaw didn't do everything he's accused of based on only what Morrus has posted, but you're so exaggerating your claims that it makes you sound infinitely less credible.
honestly at this point I'm not entirely sure why I'm being accused of lying (I'm only talking based on stuff that I know), and having false motivations (I'm out to ruin tabletop rpg's?). not even sure what my credibility has to do with anything when I'm not the one who brought up his behavior to the public.

I guess I'll say this:
1) it still stands that Bob Bledsaw II has made no public statement to defend his actions. 4 days is way more than enough time to make a statement about it, even a single day is more than enough time. he could have seen it coming, too, he was confronted by multiple people about his behavior. trying to disavow his actions or at least saying he was misunderstood is the bare minimum he needs to do to attempt to save his reputation and he apparently isn't even willing to do that.

2) given the circumstances of what we know, it's perfectly reasonable for DTRPG to drop JG in such a quick manner. like others have said Bob was confronted by multiple people and then doubled down on his beliefs. these conversations were probably shared with DTRPG who then decided not to wait for him to make a public statement. hell it's entirely likely DTRPG themselves got a hold of Bob and were told he won't stop.

3) short of hacking their website or holding the owners at gunpoint (or blackmail, I guess) literally no one can "force" DTRPG to do anything. JG being dropped from the store can only be enacted by the people who control the website. there's no system in place for the gaming public to cause something to be dropped from the store, and they weren't tried in a court of law either. this means DTRPG themselves found it so reprehensible that they felt the need to drop JG from their store.

I'm not even sure why DTRPG dropping them is being talked about as if the company is ruined. they may be the biggest store for pdfs, but literally nothing is stopping JG from selling their pdfs in other ways, no judge told them that they must cease selling their material.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
I don't suppose we can get Bledsaw to come here and explain himself? I'm sure it would be enlightening and/or hilarious.
look as funny as that might be, he might also just use this as a venue to espouse his awful beliefs (also literally nothing is stopping him from making an account and writing a post?).
 
Dulce et decorum est ceasing to do business with a bigot and antisemite.
I don't speak whatever language that is. Maybe you will translate.

You mean besides himself, his business, Jewish people, and his (nominally) fellow Christians?
Yes, he certainly hurt himself and his reputation and his business. He certainly offended Jewish people and reasonable people in general. But I'm curious - what harm did he cause to Jewish people?
 

seebs

Explorer
In general we are talking about behavior that is objectionable. I think having some historical context is appropriate.

What that context illustrates is that social consequences for "objectionable behavior" is a tool that can be used against any behavior.
This is true of any tool, and is not relevant in any obvious way. That a tool could be used in any way doesn't mean that it's a bad tool to use in other contexts. No one is saying that the existence of social consequences for objectionable behavior is always good, just that it happens to seem appropriate in this particular case.

I've not seen one person here defend that behavior.
I have.

Let me ask you this - who did his behavior harm?
This right here is, however weak, a "defense" of the behavior -- an implied assertion that it is not in fact harmful.

Sometimes, harms are indirect and tend to happen in aggregate. Any specific instance of anti-Semitic speech may not, directly, result in harm. But if the frequency of such speech increases, the frequency of violence against specific Jewish people goes up. As indeed it has, sharply, after the last couple of years of people making excuses for it and pretending it isn't harmful.

How many people shot up synagogues in 2018-2019? How many in, say, any given decade from 1950 through 2010?
 

HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
Stop broad brushing. If you believe this guys speech was harmful to Jewish people then you should be able to articulate why.
So are you really saying that promoting anti-semitic views is not harmful? Incel speech is not harmful? Racist comments are not harmful? Are Jihadist speeches not harmful?

The burden of proof is not on whether the speech is directly harmful or not. Speech that promotes hate of others can be directly linked to individuals taking action and killing others. So as a societal group, we prefer to sanction those who propagate hate to prevent the hate from finding someone who will then take action.
 
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