The creation of the #PeDont tag by #GamerGate members after the recent sickening revelations about a prominent opponent is an opportunity for GamerGate to do some good in the grand tradition of other online groups like opDarkNet.
The left and their ilk have been apologising in various ways for paedophilia for decades. Last year, I wrote an article exposing a British activist called Peter Tatchell because ‘back in the day’ he wrote a chapter for a book in which he questioned the idea of having an age of consent at all.
This sickening subculture needs to end, and the brave activists who support #GamerGate and #PeDont can help, just like opDarkNet.
The internet, sadly like the real world, is full of creepers –
- There are actual paedophiles – always seeking victims, fellow travellers and dupes to treat them as an oppressed minority.
- Then there are those who enable them – stupid or arrogant academics – political leaders such as in Rotherham.
- Finally there are so-called jokers and edgelords. These are not so much a threat, and as a cultural libertarian I am reluctant to include them, but the difficulty is they are often the thin end of a wedge. Apologists and perpetrators often begin things as a joke – and when caught will often claim they were only trolling, or “playing devil’s advocate”. We have seen where that leads.
Simply by polite condemnation and questioning, #GamerGate supporters can do a great deal of good. There are always those trying to ‘push the envelope’ –
In 2008 Woolworths had to withdraw a range of beds called, ‘Lolita’ (archive here). The range was considered creepy because, ‘Lolita’ is the name of an infamous book by Vladimir Nabokov about paedophile exploitation and obsession. The character ‘Lolita’ is groomed and abused by the lead, Humbert Humbert – a paedophile.
In 2010 Next had to withdraw a range of baby-gro clothing because it was covered in penis drawings (archive here).
Read stories in newspapers about paedophiles caught browsing illegal websites and the names are all the same – they include words like, ‘Lolita’ or ‘Wonderland’. The reality is anything but ‘wonder’ – in one court case the judge spoke harrowingly of a video of a young child being raped set to a soundtrack of screaming children. When police forensic officers search computers for illegal pornography, these are the kind of keywords they look for.
The web overflows with horror. One bizarre incident that happened to me not long after I set up the Twitter account for Matthew Hopkins News was unsolicited contact from a user called @SexOffenderUK (archive here). The user openly admits to being a convicted sex offender who is subject to a restraining order (called a SOPO) for same. Twitter was asked to investigate but found no breach of rules and took no action.
There are endless numbers of accounts with tasteless or simply outright awful names. I do not usually bother doing anything – not because I agree but because there are too many and life is too short. That attitude, I suspect, is a problem. We should all feel under a duty to ‘do something’.
One name I recently came across in passing was a user called @LolitaScent (display name Lolichops) (archive here) – and I used them in a recent, satirical video because they had interacted with Charlotte Proudman (@CRProudman).
My video only accused @LolitaScent of having a ‘creepy’ name. It expressly and carefully states that they are not accused of paedophilia or any other offence. The description on my video also makes clear no offence is alleged and says merely, “I personally feel ‘@LolitaScent’ is an offensive, poorly chosen name”.
The user’s explanation was that it was named after a range of perfume. So? – the perfume itself has a tasteless name and the user, who claims in their profile to be a criminology graduate, must understand the appalling connotations of their chosen handle.
Reader’s will see why people might find the name … off. @LolitaScent and her friends claim they have been hassled online for months. Your author cannot imagine why!
After the relatively mild criticism a wide variety of tactics were used in a vain attempt to silence and censor me. There were threats, some of which I took screenshots of and showed in the video. There were claims I –
- sent threats over Twitter direct messages (nope, just a draft script of the video for comment, per standard journalistic ethics)
- accused them of being a paedophile (nope, just having a tasteless name)
- accused them of being a paedophile apologist (nope, see above)
There were emotional appeals in relation to a disability (so what?, a disability makes your name no less tasteless)!
There were even attempts to convince a couple of GGers that I had a personal army request. Nope. For the record no one mentioned in this article has a pre-existing conflict with me. The only reason I have mentioned these people is the issue at hand. I have not even asked anyone to do anything, although of course the ‘report’ button is a perfectly lawful tool.
In an eerie echo of recent events elsewhere, several of @LolitaScent’s supporters changed their display name to ‘Lolita’ in solidarity, even after being told what it means. In a particularly bizarre move, others wrongly identified a person called ‘jay’ as a sock of mine and spent all day harassing him. He laughed at them.
The storm of tweets would have seemed daunting to regular users – but I had nearly a million hits yesterday. I am used to critical tweets and impotent threats and I could see that it was a lot of tweets … from a handful of vewy angwy tweeters. They were soon blocked. Your author admits the traffic was a spike – a mix of the Gjoni story and the Proudman reported story – however it demonstrates the growing power of cultural libertarian media.
The attempt to brigade was ultimately futile but it does show the aggravation some users experience when challenging inappropriate behaviour on Twitter. And all I was doing was challenging an inappropriate name. The threats levelled at people who challenge more serious matters can be chilling indeed.
One of the creepers asked why I was not targeting all the other people with ‘edgy’ names. It is actually a good question. I do not want to see names like @SexOffenderUK or @LolitaScent in my feed. Why not mass report them all?
Please understand, your author condemns and in no way condones harassing people – I ask you to act responsibly and not to do it – but equally there are lawful and courteous ways to deal with the obviously unacceptable.
#PeDont are right – there needs to be zero tolerance of paedophilia, and zero tolerance of creepy comments about it, including inappropriate terms and jokes. The activists of #PeDont can be proud of their work – another benevolent fruit of #GamerGate. Simply by letting these types of people know their behaviour is unacceptable, #PeDont are helping to clean up the internet.
Long may it continue.