You have surely noticed that the authoritarian left has gained purchase in a number of subcultures, from gaming to comic books to librarians. These subcultures, shaped by decades of societal marginalization, have been damaged, perhaps irrevocably, as social justice dogma forced members to take sides. GamerGate, a consumer revolt against collusion, among other things, is perhaps the most prominent battleground for these issues. GamerGaters have been extremely successful and dedicated in their fight against the authoritarian left, but they would do well to learn from a community that has been dealing with the problem for years. No matter one’s chosen religion (or lack thereof), you can learn from authoritarian left tactics employed by atheist SJWs and the resistance that rose in opposition.
It wasn’t that long ago that the atheist and skeptic community was on a roll. Long-established organizations such as the Center for Inquiry and the Freedom From Religion Foundation were doing great work in science education and maintaining the barrier between church and state. The “Four Horsemen,” Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, found their books at the top of the bestseller lists and dismantled creationist debate opponents with admirable regularity. Even better, these debates could be enjoyed by larger numbers than ever before thanks to the secular miracle of streaming audio and video. The community’s conventions were prime examples of accessible scholarship: primarily focused on sharing information, but also a lot of fun.
Everything changed after June 2011’s Dublin’s World Atheist Convention. A prominent female blogger headed back to her room from the hotel bar in the wee hours of the morning. A male convention-goer ended up on the elevator with her. He asked her if she wanted to join him in his room for coffee because he found her “interesting.” She declined, disembarked the elevator on her floor and went to bed.
The incident was soon characterized as “harassment,” though the blogger herself didn’t seem too offended at first. Soon dubbed “Elevatorgate,” the incident was the Shot Heard ‘Round the World that created the schism in the atheist and skeptic community. As you can imagine, the situation is far more complicated than I can describe in this single post: Freethought Kampala posted a fantastic and detailed summary of what happened.
What GamerGate Has In Common With The Skeptic Community
Sound familiar, GamerGater? Look at the similarities between the formal kickoff of your schism and ours:
- Both started with accusations of sexual impropriety against men: the elevator incident and “The Zoe Post.”
- Both were centered upon a fringe figure whose influence in the movement seems disproportional to their level of skill.
- The reaction narrative constructed by the mainstream media painted both incidents as emblematic of rampant sexism and misogyny in both communities.
- Moderates were forced to take sides, and those who opposed the authoritarian left faction were painted as outsiders.
- SJW figures in each community, previously depicted as brave outsiders challenging the “old boys’ club,” became “professional victims” and were rewarded financially for their status.
It must be said that GamerGate began their admirable resistance movement almost immediately. Aside from the inevitable and minuscule percentage of trolls who will always be hungry for their lulz, GamerGate has kept the focus on journalistic ethics and chronicling the takeover of their hobby. The atheist and skeptic community placated their venomous faction for far too long, among their many, many mistakes at the onset of the schism. What can GamerGate learn from these missteps?
- Treat your anti-GamerGate friends with respect, but do not allow them to share their Salon-inspired gospel unchallenged. When your friend shares an article labeling GamerGaters as misogynists and the like, they are talking about you. Put a human face on your movement and remind acquaintances that they are not insulting nameless, faceless sexists. They are insulting you: a decent human being.
- Offer full-throated protests of anti-GamerGaters who are in positions of power in your organizations. For example, SJW influence from within compelled the Center for Inquiry to hold two Women in Secularism conventions. Devoting such valuable resources to authoritarian leftists did not stop them from roasting Ron Lindsay, the CEO of CFI.
- Understand that many in the authoritarian left simply can’t or won’t respond to reason until the SJW faction turns on them. For example, Ellen Beth Wachs was a devout believer in many aspects of the authoritarian left dogma… until she learned for herself how they treat a woman when she disagrees.
- Make your peace with the presence of Founding Mothers such as Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. They are not going to go away, no matter how many times you refer to them as Literally Who? As always, follow the money. Why would these figures go away? They’re making out like bandits.
Remember, GamerGater, you have already done fantastic work. The schism in the atheist and skeptic community has visited irrevocable damage; here’s hoping that you can learn from where your atheist and skeptic counterparts failed.
Read More: The Schism In Gaming Is Coming