Saturday, 30 August 2014

Extremely destructive

Off-topic, today. Quite so, actually. If you came here to read about programming, you may want to give this one a miss.
There's this light comedy French film called "Le Placard" ("The Closet" in English, "Sai do Armário" in Portuguese). Quite enjoyable, BTW, recommended.
The IMDB summary says it all:
A man spreads the rumor of his fake homosexuality with the aid of his neighbor, to prevent his imminent firing at his work.
The man's elderly neighbour is actually gay, and at some point mentions the irony of him being fired for being gay back in the day, when he was young, and how these days what happens is the exact opposite, because of anti-discrimination laws/fear of lawsuits/whatever. Yes, I know it's an over-simplification, but it's a light comedy, not a documentary.
However, it's no secret that, if we go back a few decades, being gay could land you in trouble at the workplace (and land you out of the workplace). It was a totally unfair practice, where your professional performance would be ignored and you'd be judged exclusively on (selected parts of) your personal profile. And you have any doubt on how unfair and tragic this was, just read Alan Turing's bio, and think on how many "anonymous" people suffered similar fates.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and things are looking a lot better... or so I thought. Until I witnessed the whole Brendan Eich's debacle.
Speaking solely for myself, the only thing it has achieved was to make me more cautious in providing my support to a cause I've always considered worthwhile (and still do) - equal rights for everyone. That's the way I've always voted, and that's the way I've always seen myself voting. But now that I've witnessed how the previously-persecuted can do the exact same thing to others with such abandon and glee, I'm left wondering - if I'm ever called to vote on any subject-related matter, what will I do? As the guy sang, "I don't know the answer".

You see, the thing is... I don't like mobs, and I'm not particularly amenable to the argument "We're a mob, but it's for a good cause, a just cause". There is no "good cause" in mob mentality, only rabid persecution.
However, this incident was months ago, why write about it now? Well, because now we have "the mobs" up in arms again, this time in the "gaming industry".
I'm an on/off gamer. I'm a Steam customer, and a very good GOG customer (if there's one thing I've learned is to vote with my wallet and reward those that actually care about their customers). These days, I sometimes go for months without playing a game. Before I got back into programming, I could spend all my free time playing games. Now, gaming is relegated to 3rd place, behind programming and guitar-playing (I'm excluding Real Life, which means family, friends and work, obviously).
I've never had any problem in calling myself a gamer, even as it stopped being part of what I did. And then, slowly but surely, the word "gamer" began to take on very specific meanings, all of them negative. It didn't bothered me much. It's like reading "All Portuguese are lazy bastards, living off everyone else's money", this says more about the speaker than about the Portuguese people.
Anyway, now it all came to a climax with this last brouhaha. I'm sure you can find the... "relevant information" (for lack of more appropriate words) and links. I'll just link to the best summation I've seen of this whole deal:
So many interesting conversations and things to challenge. But you can't have a discussion during a riot. It's a shame.
Indeed. What you have here is a) a few people who should be detained for online harassment/threats; b) some people on both sides who have nothing to say except indulge in some feces-throwing (tribalism at its best); c) some people (fortunately, more numerous), again on both sides, who are raising up important issues that should be discussed (but, as Shamus put it, not "during a riot"); and d), (going out on a limb here) I'm willing to bet you have an even grater number of people who are just looking at this whole thing from the sideline, thinking "God, what a waste".
Like the "Eich incident", this has just contributed to make me more skeptical towards a cause I would definitely lend my unconditional support to - namely, equal treatment, be it of gender or any other differentiating aspect.
Because, once again, I don't care what is moving a persecuting mob. At the end of the day, it's still a persecuting mob.
Actually, I'm just about to finish, so I believe it's a good time to let Godwin in to make an argumentum ad Nazium (Nauziem, maybe?) - I see absolutely no difference between a mob that's going to indiscriminately shoot Jews, calling them all sub-humans, and a mob that's going to indiscriminately shoot Germans, calling them all Nazis. I, for one, am glad we had the "Nuremberg trials", not the "Nuremberg massacres".
So, if all you want is to stoop down to the lowest level of what you have elected as your "opposing tribe", I'll just stand by the sideline, watching, and taking notes. Those are notes I'll reread and evaluate the next time I'm called to vote, either with my ballot or my wallet.

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