I was astonished recently to read on /r/The_Donald that Teen Vogue engaged a virulently racist freelance writer, Lara Witt @femmefeministe (archive here). Witt claims that “[…]white people are evil. Whiteness is evil” (archive here). Such statements could be considered criminal in England. Witt also recently launched a veiled attack on members of 4chan coupled with a bizarre demand they hack US and Russian government email accounts. I asked her clients if they agree and invite readers to share their feelings with Witt’s various editors as well as her donations payment handler over at PayPal.
Lara Witt is a virulent racist, a fact not excused by the alleged historical mistreatment of her ancestors. In the United Kingdom, she would be prosecuted.
In England, section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986 makes it a criminal offence to publish written material which is “threatening, abusive or insulting” if, “19 (1) (b) having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby”. A casual glance at the replies shows that the insulting remark is in fact stirring up racially motivated hatred. The offence is punishable on conviction upon indictment by imprisonment up to seven years. If Lara Witt lived in England, she could be in serious trouble with the law.
Gawker’s response to its scandalous outing of a corporate executive has been chaotic. It is unclear what strategy the leadership has in place to stop the ongoing haemorrhaging of advertisers. The Witchfinder says that if Gawker wants to clean up its act it is time for Nick Denton to put Gawker’s house in order. That means reaching out to #GamerGate in a serious and sustained way, covering some socially useful stories and cutting out the cancer at the heart of Gawker Media – it is time for that epitomé of morally bankrupt journalist, Sam Biddle, to go.
In February this year I emailed Nick Denton and Max Read to complain about an article on Gawker.com. By Sam F Biddle, it had two major flaws. Firstly, the headling was wildly untrue, far from being a rump of psychopaths GamerGate has continued to grow in size and power. At the time of writing the major forum KotakuInAction now has over 47 thousand members.
Key figures in GamerGate have continued to grow in power, with the fair Shoe0nHead for example now at 77 thousand subscribers, despite her infrequent videos. If June produced say 1-2 videos a week she could monetise and live comfortably – perhaps wealthily – on the advertising revenues.
Secondly the article essentially amounted to picking an … eccentric … from the internet (who later turned out to be a hoaxer) and singling them out, bedlam style, for mockery. The article, like many before it from Sam Biddle, was a disgrace.
Sam F Biddle makes use of stigmatising mental health tropes, singling out a vulnerable individual for ridicule.
This is going to be an upbeat post. The Witchfinder is pleased to note that people are listening to reasonable persuasion from GamerGate as well as other sensible, moderate voices. The battle against the unhinged, out-of-control left, the so-called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ can be hard. When there are setbacks or things seem to be going badly it is worth reminding ourselves of our successes.
No matter how much the left-wingers who infest the media try to talk it down, from their perspective the truth is grim. Moderate and Conservative voices in the gaming industry and more generally in society outnumber them vastly.
Gawker.com (whose parent company Gawker Media has Nick Denton for a CEO) thought it would be really funny to poison Coca Cola’s #MakeItHappy campaign with text from Mein Kampf. The Witchfinder thinks it would be really funny if no one advertised with Gawker ever again and Mr Denton was socially ostracised. Swastika by Dreamstime, Nick Denton by Dave Winer on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 License – http://ow.ly/ICKRe
Incredibly conveniently, Gawker decides to demonstrate just who the villains of the #GamerGate saga are by writing software to interfere with Coca Cola’s latest publicity campaign by causing it to spew out Nazi propaganda. The Witchfinder calls for a boycott of any business owned or operated by Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton until Gawker Editor Max Read is fired. Also undesirable is generally objectionable Gawker Writer Sam F Biddle who has recently apologised for joking about bullying.
Ethics in Journalism. A weighty phrase, oft-debated with varying degrees of cynicism. The members of #GamerGate say they back it. Some people think it is ethical to go through a politician’s trash. Some do not. Some people think it is ethical to hack phones. Some do not.
Gawker.com has a history. For example in 2014 Gawker writer Sam Biddle was shamed for saying “Nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission.” After some advertisers pulled their advertising Biddle apologised for his ‘joke’.
In late 2014 Nick Denton reorganised the company to share managerial responsibility. However his is still ultimately the leadership. Denton sets the tone and the parent company website still lists him as CEO. It is unlikely, given the media coverage, that Denton is unaware of the ‘Mein Kampf’ story but even if he is, as the top man he bears moral responsibility.