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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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 don't think anyone is saying there shouldn't be consequences. The question is about what the extent of those consequences should be.


Please do tell. Name those names!

This right here is, however weak, a "defense" of the behavior -- an implied assertion that it is not in fact harmful.
Let me put a stop to this line of thought - asking about the factual basis of actual harm is not an assertion that something isn't harmful.

Sometimes, harms are indirect and tend to happen in aggregate. Any specific instance of anti-Semitic speech may not, directly, result in harm.
That's a reasonable position which applied to this case seems to imply that the behavior we are discussing did not result in any direct harm. Are you now "defending" his behavior? ;)

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.
Sure. A crazy person can turn any idea and any speech to be deadly. Does that make the person that imparted the idea or contributed to imparting the idea responsible for such behavior. I'm not sure that's just and right in the general case - though it certainly can be in some depending on the particular facts.

And just to be clear, this isn't to say the speech itself was right or just - it wasn't. But 2 wrongs don't ever make a right and I think we need to be sure that the punishment meets the crime.

How many people shot up synagogues in 2018-2019? How many in, say, any given decade from 1950 through 2010?
No idea. I'm not sure an increased rate of mass shootings on any particular demographic means much as the rate of mass shootings on all demographics appears to have increased.
 

HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
I don't think anyone is saying there shouldn't be consequences. The question is about what the extent of those consequences should be.

Sure. A crazy person can turn any idea and any speech to be deadly. Does that make the person that imparted the idea or contributed to imparting the idea responsible for such behavior. I'm not sure that's just and right in the general case - though it certainly can be in some depending on the particular facts.

And just to be clear, this isn't to say the speech itself was right or just - it wasn't. But 2 wrongs don't ever make a right and I think we need to be sure that the punishment meets the crime.

No idea. I'm not sure an increased rate of mass shootings on any particular demographic means much as the rate of mass shootings on all demographics appears to have increased.
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It's a societal thing, not an individual thing. No individual lives in a vacuum. Their behavior affects others, and we, as a society, don't want hate speech promoted because it can lead to behaviors we as a society feel are harmful.

This is just like the time I had a discussion about evolution with a creationist. Completely pointless.
 
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It's a societal thing, not an individual thing. No individual lives in a vacuum. Their behavior affects others, and we, as a society, don't want hate speech promoted because it can lead to behaviors we as a society feel are harmful.
No one is arguing that his speech should be promoted nor that he shouldn't face consequences for such speech. The discussion is about the extent of such consequences.
 

Mistwell

Legend
James Mishler on Bob Bledsaw Senior.
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.
Then you missed a LOT of links. There are links throughout this thread. Screenshots too. Here is another link, to Erik Tenkar who directly messaged with Bob and had the same experience I did - Bob validated it, said he was not hacked, and stood by his posts.

However, in the general sense I will not feel guilty or ashamed for pleading for a moderate response while a situation develops instead of immediately grabbing a pitchfork and a torch when I only know a very minimal amount of information. Especially when most of that information that I have seen is in the form of uncited claims from anonymous individuals.
There is nothing still "developing" here, you just don't appear to have read most of this thread? Again, how many people do you need to directly confirm this? I directly confirmed it with him, and half a dozen others did most of whom are NOT anonymous, and it's all in this thread.

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?
Not everyone knew. Most didn't. He had few people actively reading his Facebook feed. It only came up with a recent post, and then I and a few others went back through his history to see the rest of it. It was all public, but nobody thought to look because Facebook algorithms just didn't display his content in many people's feeds.

But once you read it, the evidence is 100% incontrovertible and there is no way for you to have missed that if you have actually read this thread and clicked on some links provided here.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
The discussion is about the extent of such consequences.
What consequence do you think is fair or acceptable in this given scenario?
Personally I hate to see a man and his family's livelihood destroyed (although from the little I have seen, he was not doing so well) despite their political views, but I cannot see any other recourse his business associates had but to distance themselves.
 

Mistwell

Legend
So you are obviously in the camp that his speech hurt someone. Care to elaborate on how?
His speech really bugged me and I told him why. I explained how, as someone who is Jewish who has worked for a media company before, when he spreads that kind of stuff about how the Jews control the media, it makes me want to either hide that I am Jewish or feel the need to defend myself when working with a media company. Which is the same kind of feeling my grandfather had when he changed our last name from a Jewish sounding last name to a Catholic sounding one for his sales jobs. Hate speech impacts culture in ways that make the target of it feel like they need to adapt around it in ways that others don't have to adapt.

And that's before I saw his claim that the holocaust is a hoax, which opened up a whole other bag of damage.

Mind you, I am not someone calling for a boycott. I am just deeply disappointed in Bob and told him such.
 
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HarbingerX

Rob Of The North
No one is arguing that such speech should be promoted nor that their shouldn't be a consequence for such speech. The discussion is about the extent of such consequences.
Well since free speech rules out any legal sanction, a financial one is really the only one available. This is no different than sponsors dropping an athlete after public poor behavior. People who did business with him no longer want to associate with his brand.

If you feel he's been treated unfairly, you can buy his goods directly from JG.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
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.
Even though I mentioned Contrapoint's video on the dangers of canceling, I do, on the whole, agree with you. There are no vague allegations, we know what was said/done, and the person who did those things had a chance to explain/retract and did not do so. And history has taught us that antisemitism is well, intolerable
 
What consequence do you think is fair or acceptable in this given scenario?
Personally I hate to see a man and his family's livelihood destroyed (although from the little I have seen, he was not doing so well) despite their political views, but I cannot see any other recourse his business associates had but to distance themselves.
That's actually a great question.

I actually agree with his businesses associates needing to distance themselves being the reality this day. They likely would be punished just as harshly as him if the continued in business with him as if doing business with someone implies you support everything they do.

I guess what I think is acceptable - speak out against him and his views - stop refusing to buy things you otherwise like and use things you otherwise would just because you discover you don't actually like the guy who created them.

Now if and when he does something directly harmful to someone, then boycott his business and products.
 

Bohandas

Explorer
Religion/politics
What gets me is not that he post something racist, it's that seven people liked it. His facebook is a bubble where that kind of talk is completely normal.
I agree with this, but what gets me more than anything is that he considers Trump a representative of christianity despite the fact that Trump's values are the valies of Mammon and the man shares innumerable traits with the christian devil.
 
Are you seriously asking why the acceptance and normalization of hate speech and conspiracy theories about a historically persecuted minority group should be considered ‘harm’? I’d like to be clear about this.
His speech is not acceptable and should not be normal. That doesn’t mean it caused harm to anyone though.
 
Do you really need an explainer on how dehumanizing language & propaganda work, or are you just being stubborn (as people are wont to do online)?
You mean like dehumanizing someone by calling them a racist and anti-Semite? Or that’s okay dehumanization because it’s true? ;)

Look, I know how you think such things work. But i also know that the reason you show such outrage instead of just defending Your position is because you’ve likely never really thought about it and tried to scrutinize it.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
You mean like dehumanizing someone by calling them a racist and anti-Semite? Or that’s okay dehumanization because it’s true? ;)

Look, I know how you think such things work. But i also know that the reason you show such outrage instead of just defending Your position is because you’ve likely never really thought about it and tried to scrutinize it.
Have you heard of Sealioning? No? Go look it up.

Some things don't need explaining. We know the dangers of antisemitism. History have demonstrated it clearly. There is no need to explain it, scrutinize it. The work has been done

I'm not sure what you're proposing here. If you have a productive alternative, state it.
 
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