[Opinion] Let us not perpetrate vigilante revenge in pursuit of social justice...

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After reading a Facebook/Tweet earlier (here: https://twitter.com/dorkland/status/935194523243827200) I wanted to respond and have a discussion.

Here is the Tweet for easy perusal:

We have trouble with harassment and abuse in our #RPG communities. It is great to see retailers taking action and deciding not to carry the products of someone accused of rape, but I have to ask the question: why isn't this "rule" being applied to every publisher accused of rape?

Let me begin by stating that I absolutely agree with the first sentence. I want to establish that I support the He For She campaign, consider myself a feminist, and do not condone or tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape. I feel that we must believe all victims who step forward with the courage to report rape or assault. More importantly, I believe that it is MY responsibility to not perpetuate these crimes or passively tolerate them at my gaming table, at the conventions I attend, or in the gaming industry.

I disagree with the entire premise of the 2nd sentence on in this tweet. My short TL:DR answer? Because it would be wrong.

Believing means that you listen, that you empathize, and that within your power, you help. It means that you don't shame. Or second guess. Or dismiss out of hand.

It DOES NOT mean (however) you immediately leverage consequences and punishments against an alleged perpetrator.

Punishing alleged criminals before they can be convicted is tantamount to a witch-hunt. It works exactly the same way. The alleged criminal is tried by the court of public opinion and then punished. In the United States of America, we have the right to be judged in a trial by a jury of our peers. We have the right to a defense and a fair trial. There are tons of laws and procedures designed to ensure that this trial is conducted in a manner that is lawful and fair. The reason for this is simple. A mob of people worked up over something are going to want mob justice. The founding fathers of our country witnessed this behavior first hand. Hell, even WITH due process laws in place, we've witnessed mob justice first hand (Salem witch trials anyone?). When you rely on the mob, instead of process, things get ugly fast.

Don't be naive. If retailers or distributors start tossing out publishers, thereby eliminating their income, they would be leveraging punishment against the accused. Loss of sales is a punishment. Plain and simple.

Should we be cautious when dealing with someone accused of rape? Absolutely. Should we practice caution with our events and conventions when dealing with those accused of harassment? Absolutely.

Should we build a list of people accused of crimes, not convicted in any court, and cast them all out? No.

Selling a product is not going to condone rape nor expose anyone to being assaulted. If we pay attention, someone attending a convention won't have the opportunity to assault another attendee. Having someone accused of harassment at your convention does not mean you support harassment. (Can you even be sure how many potential harassers are in attendance? Without a giant magic lie-detector at the front doors, how do you determine who the bad people are?) We cannot condone the creation of a secret, undemocratically appointed group of "gatekeepers" who decide what alleged criminals get to operate in our markets or events. It's pure folly. It will create no different of an environment as the Hollywood Blacklist or the Salem Witch Trials. We have to find ways of shoring up our processes and procedures to help create safe environments that don't involve blacklists and mob justice.

I understand that hearing the stories of the assaults, especially in recent weeks, has caused a stir of angry emotions in many of us. I'm certainly not immune to it. The widespread abuse infuriates me! I'm thankful for the conversations it is inspiring us all to have; for the light it is shining on the issues in our society and more specifically in our hobby. We need to keep supporting victims and believing them. We need to keep refining our processes, our approaches and our spaces to make rape, assault, and harassment harder to commit and keep fervently educating each other to change our culture of rape and misogyny to prevent it in the future. We need to stand with one another in the fight against inequality and mistreatment.

But in our crusade for social justice, I encourage us all to not become a hateful, angry, unthinking mob of vigilantes punishing the accused without evidence of the crime. The principle of due process and justice apply to all things, not just official criminal trials. The principal protects the innocent from false accusations and more importantly protects us, the group of people emotionally compromised to exact mob justice on the accused. After all, exacting punishment without due process is also a crime. Two wrongs don't make a right.

I sincerely hope we don't start tossing publishers out of our retail spaces on accusations alone. We will be setting a terrible precedent for mob action that we can't take back.

We can support and believe victims and not perpetuate mob justice. We can work to make events and spaces safer without creating blacklists. I don't have all the answers but I know in my heart that mob justice is absolutely wrong. I look forward to having more honest and frank conversations about this. I am positive, with all the loving caring people in the gaming hobby and industry, that we can come up with fair principled means to prevent future abuses without vigilante revenge.

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Well, that was fun
Staff member
I don't the think this is the place for this thread. It's a general social/politics topic better suited to many other forums. The incidental mention of a game store doesn't really change that. I'm gonna close this one and recommend you find a more suitable message board for this particular conversation.

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