Forum culture: What is over the line?

This sad instance is from Why D&D so popular.
Is it okay to declare things like 'XY is a fuckin fascist' here? Maybe I was daydreaming for years but I always thought that this forum is better than that.
For what it's worth, I didn't mean the word as a pejorative, just the most generic description of an authoritarian non-conservative right-wing political philosophy. The issue of what I think about fascism is a separate one, and indeed not something I feel appropriate for this forum.
I was not referencing Eero as he is usually
1. impartial/neutral or
2. sarcastic but still polite in his wording :)

Im talking about things like this:
I generally feel like JKR is a horrible person and her books shouldn't be in print.
They're definitely not magical realism, especially given how much of the metaphors in the series are metaphors for views espoused by fantasy in the first place. The woman is a fucking fascist, for instance.
I often find Emmas stance and phrasing in other topics 'countering', 'opposing' or 'non-apologetic'. This style creates stark contrasts in arguments. While I think that this can be helpful in highlingting new and different perspectives (for example about possible game styles), i think that politics are too sensitive topics for this type of talking.

I am sure that everyone agrees with me that 'XYs is a horrible person', 'her books should not be in print' and 'she is a fuckin fascist' is not about neutrally describing a 'authoritarian non-conservative right-wing political philosophy'. (grin)

And for me, these lines border on hate speech.

While I did not read anything from JKR I am shocked that nobody else spoke up about this or tried to intervene.

This forum was a haven for me because no ideological propaganda, flaming or other bullshit could go on for long. Is it still that way?

I am wondering about how much intolerance should we tolerate here. What do you think?

Comments

  • A callout post for being anti-fascist...
    Well, this is new.
  • I think that starting a new thread to discuss the rules of conduct is a good idea in a situation like this, so kudos for making a good choice, Ham. It's been a while since there's been any difficulties here, and it's good to review the principles regularly in case the rules should be changed.
    A callout post for being anti-fascist...
    Well, this is new.
    You did break the explicit forum behavior guidelines (politicizing a thread and attacking people, to be specific), so it does make sense to draw attention to it.

    It is also possible that I broke the rules by using the word "fascism" first - harshing the zen if nothing else, considering how negatively fascism is viewed. I am actually pretty surprised that nobody seems to have been upset by my characterizing Gary Gygax as possibly a fascist. I expected the thread to go belly-up at that point, really.

    We could ask the moderation to tell us what to do - they might think that anti-fascism is an unspoken exception to the rules, for example, so political name-calling doesn't count if it's done for that purpose. Otherwise it's a pretty clear situation, though, isn't it? If I had any faith in humanity I'd think we could just agree to tone it down a bit in the future, no fiat authority necessary.

    Anyway, however one interprets the particulars, I think that Hamnacb is right in that SG should show political restraint. I am not personally in favour of the historically repressive moderation policy on this forum, but I think it's been pretty clear about what it is, and I think that people who want that should get it if it's what the rules prescribe. Ham is entirely in the right to ask us not to politicize threads and agitate against fascists on a hobby forum. Or, the rules need to be changed.

    Also, in the spirit of positive social signalling, I'd like to say that I was impressed by how Emma was very clear about her position on what the implications of repressive politics in gaming are. This bit:
    For me personally, something being colonialist makes it toxic and unusable, but that doesn't mean you have to find it unusable too.

    My way of reading and writing very much doesn't include authors like Shakespeare, Conrad, Lovecraft, etc, and it doesn't include fantasy as a genre. That's not to say that it's wrong that yours does, as long as you admit the issues with those writers, and as long as you work to avoid carrying on their mistakes in your own work (if you publish anything, I mean).
    I thought that this was very nicely said, particularly as it is much more moderate than some other positions along those lines that have been discussed over the years. I myself have come closest to leaving SG for being on the wrong side of debates on specifically this matter, in fact. I like it that Emma acknowledges the possibility of doing something worthwhile with historical material, even if she's not interested in it herself.
  • You did break the explicit forum behavior guidelines (politicizing a thread and attacking people, to be specific), so it does make sense to draw attention to it.
    And frankly it's a joke of a rule because everything is political, especially trying to claim that what you're doing isn't. In basically any incarnation of "don't get political" being uttered, it just means don't threaten the current status quo ideology of who gets oppressed.

    That entire thread started from what I would consider a deeply political claim about eros being a driving force in the popularity of D&D, yet nobody seems to want to invoke the hand of moderation against that.

    That thread had someone openly mocking Emma and treating the idea of even questioning a certain system of political economy as a joke. Not a peep.

    Oh, but to criticise an author who sold an entire generation of children on a fantasy about being a member of a clandestine, blooded aristocracy of super humans...Unconscionable!
  • I am quite eager to learn about why some people consider JRK as a bad influence on kids. I am interested in reading good quotes, facts and arguments.

    I am also open for personal confessions and subjective opinions if they are presented as such and not as declared, objective truth.

    But I am not sure if these have happened. @yukamichi, would you consider the Iines I have quoted as criticism? I have read them as frustrated attacks.
  • You did break the explicit forum behavior guidelines (politicizing a thread and attacking people, to be specific), so it does make sense to draw attention to it.
    And frankly it's a joke of a rule because everything is political, especially trying to claim that what you're doing isn't. In basically any incarnation of "don't get political" being uttered, it just means don't threaten the current status quo ideology of who gets oppressed.

    That entire thread started from what I would consider a deeply political claim about eros being a driving force in the popularity of D&D, yet nobody seems to want to invoke the hand of moderation against that.

    That thread had someone openly mocking Emma and treating the idea of even questioning a certain system of political economy as a joke. Not a peep.

    Oh, but to criticise an author who sold an entire generation of children on a fantasy about being a member of a clandestine, blooded aristocracy of super humans...Unconscionable!
    I think it is fair for a forum to decide to what degree politics can enter the discussion. Obviously there are gray areas. But there is a big difference between a forum that allows people to argue about Trump and one that doesn't. When people say they don't want politics, I think they really just mean they don't want the partisan conflict they experience elsewhere in their lives driving the discussions on the forum they visit to talk about games. I can sympathize with this view a lot. That doesn't make you apolitical or blind to the reality of politics in the world. I think for most people, it just means they have lots of stressful things that occur in their daily lives, and they come to the hobby to get away from those things. Personally I have strong political positions on issues, but I also have a lot of stuff going on in my own life that is unpleasant. So when I go to a forum or get on social media, I am generally not looking for the kind of heated debate and partisanship I find elsewhere. I will dip my toe into such discussions lightly, and I will exchange ideas when they remain cordial. But I have a basic rule of not participating in forum discussions once I feel the stress of it impacting my body. I just want to make the point, that a desire to not engage in heated political discussion on a gaming forum, doesn't necessarily mean you don't care about the issues people are talking about, or that you don't engage with those issues in real life.

    That said, I don't think Emma should be mocked for taking strong positions. I think it is fair for people to disagree with those positions, but I do think people should be able to maintain a respectful dialogue with Emma (or simply say "I can't engage you on the subject" for whatever reason). I think the latter is worth considering for many, because when you are talking about topics like Colonialism, those are pretty deep, academic topics that not everyone is going to have the same background in. This sort of gets at my point in the other thread about 'just because you lose the argument, that doesn't mean you are wrong---with a topic like this, the person with the better background and knowledge in the subject will usually win the debate). It has been ages since I've read much on colonialism (in college I studied history but graduated ages ago). So I am not sure there is much I can contribute even if I wanted to, beyond a few passing thoughts.
  • Holy carp, I think this may be the first time, ever, that I've agreed with Brendan on anything.
  • Holy carp, I think this may be the first time, ever, that I've agreed with Brendan on anything.
    For what it is worth Komradebob, I have a goldfish memory when it comes to posters. I can't even remember what we disagree with, and when I do have disagreements with posters (unless someone has been riding me and sending PMs or something, so they really stick in my memory), the next time I have an exchange with them, the previous one is already forgotten. I was a mod before on another forum actually and I was always having to ask the other mods to remind me of who a given poster was when there was a problem.
  • Holy carp, I think this may be the first time, ever, that I've agreed with Brendan on anything.
    Also, I get this a lot for some reason.
  • I chose not to engage too much with the political angles of the D&D, commenting on subjects that are immediately relevant to my gaming. I think it's nice to see that the thread has remained civil and full of interesting opinions and observations.

    The one point that disturbed me was someone sarcastically responding to Emma - that seemed unnecessarily aggressive. I was relieved to see that it didn't turn into a conflict, though, and I see no need to respond to that now, since the participants aren't trying to turn it into one.

    I fully expected this new thread to turn into some kind of vitriol (or a tough least confusion), and I'm pleasantly surprised to see reasonable thoughts and patience win out, instead.

    Reminds me why I like this forum! Thank you all for staying civil. :)
  • It'd be really nice, as the original writer of a discussion, to be able to choose when to close it.

  • If political discussion isn't allowed, then there's a ton of games that get discussed here that can't be discussed here. Pretty much nothing can be discussed if politics aren't allowed, because everything is political, especially things that go out of their way to try to avoid what they see as a political commentary.

    There was definitely a lot of meanness in that thread though, and a lot of bad faith, and I think that's definitely something that needs to be discussed.
  • edited March 4

    The one point that disturbed me was someone sarcastically responding to Emma - that seemed unnecessarily aggressive. I was relieved to see that it didn't turn into a conflict, though, and I see no need to respond to that now, since the participants aren't trying to turn it into one.

    I fully expected this new thread to turn into some kind of vitriol (or a tough least confusion), and I'm pleasantly surprised to see reasonable thoughts and patience win out, instead.

    Reminds me why I like this forum! Thank you all for staying civil. :)
    I responded as I did because I thought she was being an ass taking on the authority of what should and shouldn't be published, I was happy to drop the matter when she posts this:

    Agreed!
    There's definitely been points where I've felt like this thread has turned into "My elfgames are being attacked" in a lot of really unfortunate ways instead of people listening on subjects of colonialism and other linked oppressions.
    Which I would largely call a product of how much those types of oppressions are swept under the rug in most of the Western world, the US especially. The fact that they have a societal excuse for it doesn't make it any less exhausting though.
    The way I read this is "shut up and listen, by the way your elfgame is perpetuating evil". How is that not an attack on my elfgame? There is a bunch of other nasty and chauvinist assumptions and implications baked into this such as denying that the other side could even have a legitimate opinion. I think this is way over the line.

    I'll not respond further in that thread to keep from raising the tone further.
  • If political discussion isn't allowed, then there's a ton of games that get discussed here that can't be discussed here. Pretty much nothing can be discussed if politics aren't allowed, because everything is political, especially things that go out of their way to try to avoid what they see as a political commentary.
    I see what you're saying, but I think you are - here and in other places in this thread - making it a strong (and false) dichotomy. I want to reiterate what Brandon said, because I think it's really the key point:
    I think it is fair for a forum to decide to what degree politics can enter the discussion.

    When people say they don't want politics, I think they really just mean they don't want the partisan conflict they experience elsewhere in their lives driving the discussions on the forum they visit to talk about games. I can sympathize with this view a lot. That doesn't make you apolitical or blind to the reality of politics in the world.
    It seems to me that this is not a viewpoint you are sympathetic to. That's fine. But for the sake of clarity in the exchange, is it clear that the above position is distinct from taking the position that games exist in an apolitical vacuum?
  • I think that we are back on tracks and my faith in the forum community has been restored. All these in one day, wow, so much relieved!

    I hope that these are not 'reinforcing an oppressive status quo' or something (grin).

    What do you think?
  • OTOH, "I don't want to talk about politics" can end up being a pretty privileged position. I mean, I don't always wanna talk politics, but when I live with a constant low-level dread about being in one of my own government's favorite groups to publically oppress nowadays, I have a lot less ability to not see the world politically.

    No offense, but this thread has a lot of folks congratulating themselves on their ability to be "objective" and "above it all" which for female-identified people is a tragically and frustratingly common experience. Emma was a bit vehement about JKR and I might quibble a bit with her genre terminology; but the original post was kinda provocative as well, yes? And maybe more than a bit uncomfortable for the female-identified folks here? And seriously, do folks on a story game forum not know about the concept of sensitivity reads in this day and age?

    I'm uncomfortable even talking about this. I don't say a lot here, beyond my AP stuff. You may however, consider the following: I've written three games in the last year or so. I haven't talked at all about them as designs (although I have talked about Rovers at least in a thread the Whites started.) There are reasons for this, some stretching back to the Great Are Women Allowed To Have A Woman-Only Game Night, which was not one of the times SG covered itself in glory IMHO.
  • There's a fundamental blindness here that's difficult to deal with if you're the one who's blind: "[not having] the partisan conflict they experience elsewhere in their lives driving the discussions on the forum they visit to talk about games" is possible if you are not affected by the problematic nature of many games, but may not be possible if you are emotionally injured when any discussion of a game which by its very nature injures you has been mandated to ignore that injurious nature.

    "I feel fine with this framing of the discussion therefore anyone who doesn't is overreacting" is... not really defensible.

    If a bunch of folks consciously decide to create a space which excludes certain people by nature of the space's conversation rules, they of course may, but... be aware that's what you're doing, and that there might not be a compromise that gets everyone all of what they want.
  • OTOH, "I don't want to talk about politics" can end up being a pretty privileged position. .
    That’s impossible to disagree with. People more comfortable with the status quo are certainly going to feel more comfortable not discussing it in a critical manner, or at all. But...

    A community really can’t be both a place where politics are freely and frequently discussed, and a place free of partisan tension (unless it enforces a strict political homogeneity, of course.) The issue isn’t whether gaming discussion should be divorced from political discussion, or how much so, but where on the spectrum any particular community wants to fall.

    I grew up not really afraid of being (in minority group Z.) Of late, there’s been a vocal resurgence of folks who’d be happy seeing me dead. I -get- wanting to discuss it. I discuss it frequently in various places, in and offline. But I also get not wanting every single recreational space one sticks their nose into to be rife with that tension. I ended up bailing on The Gauntlet as a community because they couldn’t go a day without political stuff being a major topic, and I just don’t want to live with that agitation in the very places I go for entertainment and relief from the day to day crap. Sometimes I just wanna talk about the best way to fireball the goblins, not have a lengthy conversation about whether fireballing the goblins is a metaphor for X’ing the Z’s.

    Which really brings to mind a different sort of privilege. Folks in the in-group can talk politics anywhere until they turn blue in the face, because to them it’s not actually a life or death topic. For some of us, it is. It’s a stress, not an abstract topic. The in-group can bring it up ad nauseum, and forcibly drag along those of us not eager to think about the ways in which our society would be comfortable fantasizing about erasing us. Constantly talking about killing all the Z’s is a stress-free behavior for everyone but the Z’s.



  • Yeah, I mean I'm not at all saying that there isn't a place for rules about how we talk about politics. But I'm not sure I've seen the kind of interrogation of what those rules might look like or mean here.

    (As for the Gauntlet, I grok, though there's also a lot of "we played this game and it was so sad and that's awesome" emo stuff which may not be everyone's cup of tea--I trend emo, so fine by me :) A big chunk of Gauntlet culture is it has a lot more representation from queer and female-id'ed folks than other communities, which bends it more political for sure.)
  • Generally speaking, I'd always rather hear more different opinions and backgrounds than fewer, so I'll welcome discussion which allows more different voices to be heard.

    (I'm curious about these mentions of the Gauntlet - which community/place/medium is this referring to? I'm only aware of certain YouTube streams and a G+ community. Is that what is being referred to here?)

  • There's a fundamental blindness here that's difficult to deal with if you're the one who's blind: "[not having] the partisan conflict they experience elsewhere in their lives driving the discussions on the forum they visit to talk about games" is possible if you are not affected by the problematic nature of many games, but may not be possible if you are emotionally injured when any discussion of a game which by its very nature injures you has been mandated to ignore that injurious nature.
    .
    I think there are two topics in here. I would disagree a bit with the first part. I am directly and personally affected by these things, but I don't want to have conversations about them when I am gaming.

    The second is more complicated and hard to discuss without getting into specifics. I think we can always control our reactions to things. Some things demand strong reactions (a person telling you you are not welcome at the gaming table or being rude for example). But if we are just talking about tropes some people view as problematic, I think that is trickier. People don't come out of the womb being affected by colonialist tropes in a game. I think that is the sort of thing you have to learn to discern and not everyone is going to react to it the same way. A lot of people can hold media content at arms length without being affected strongly by it (even if the issues it presents do affect them in real life). People have honest disagreements about this stuff.


  • There are at least three distinct positions/visions being expressed about what a discussion platform like SG should be like. These aren't new, they were the same the last time the issue was being hashed out. I'll try to summarize them for clarity:

    "I want an apolitical discussion forum" is the position that elevates the distinction between gaming and politics, believing that it is for the most part possible and meaningful to talk about the craft and experience of gaming without demanding political accord from the participants. To make this sort of forum work it is basically necessary to forbid sermonizing your political views no matter how great and good those views are, because it only takes one disagreeing person to completely derail any given discussion into politics. So if you want a web forum where all different kinds of people can talk hobby stuff together it's a practical necessity to draw the line and simply... pretend for the convenience's sake that the underlying worldviews don't matter. It may be superficial, or it may be a basic premise of a functioning society, but either way it's something that some people want from a hobby forum.

    "Minority voices should be privileged" is the idea that there are some voices that are more precious and delicate than others, and an active policy of encouragement is desirable to bring these forth. This is a necessarily political position because somebody gets to choose who is privileged, what kinds of worldviews and ideas get amplified. It is necessarily in contradiction with the apolitical position, which is viewed as enforcing the status quo.

    "Politeness rules should reign the day" is the notion that "zen" is more important than topical limitations per se, and that it's less important to draw lines about what allowed discussion topics are than it is to demand egalitarian social respect for all participants - not because of ideological convictions, but rather because getting along is a necessary precondition to useful interaction, and therefore politeness is more important than politics. This position is, again, incompatible with the other two: constraining rules about political talk favour certain politics over others for no good reason, while minority privilege allows some people to be more rude than others.

    SG moderation has in my experienced swung between these forum moderation strategies over the years, and as far as I've seen it's not possible to really resolve their contradictions when they come to a clash. All of them are encoded to some degree in forum rules and praxis. The minority privilege thing hasn't been as big recently as it was a decade back, apparently because most of its proponents moved to G+ and stopped interacting here shortly after a series of experiments in privileging discussion practices.

    If I got to choose, I would prioritize the politeness thing over the other two ideals, mainly because that's the forum most useful for my own purposes - I prefer an environment that has relatively high freedom of thought exchange. I don't think that the other visions are worthless, either, so it's not indefensible to make SG one of those instead, and they certainly should exist somewhere in the noosphere if not here. As I ultimately don't get a vote, I don't tend to worry about it so much - the owner does as he wills, not my problem.

    If you want my advice on how to deal with the ambiguity here, then I suggest that recognizing the value in the other positions being advocated is a good first step. They're all valuable things to attempt, even if it's not possible for them all to exist simultaneously in the same place. Treating the opposition with contempt gets you no closer to understanding.

    Ironically that's what a "politeness rules" advocate would say, of course [grin].
  • How the devil are you so eloquent, Eero? Oh, it's practice, isn't it. This is what writing so many tomes does.
  • I read the word "partisan" to specifically mean "party-based political conflict," particularly in a USian context. It's totally possible to have a community that enforces rules of "no partisan conflict / debate" without trying to indulge in the ridiculous fantasy that it's possible for anything to be entirely apolitical.

    I'd also like to suggest that there's a huge distinction between saying, "X phenomenon is bad / problematic / harmful (to Y group) / fascist," and saying, "This thing hurts me because of the group I'm in." The former is saying that some work of literature / media / gaming is harmful in a non-actionable way, while the latter gives the members of the forum something specific to reflect on.

    Of course, many times when minority voices are raised, even in the latter, specific way, people react dismissively, and in my view, that's what forum moderation should try to prevent.

    I actually haven't posted much about ableism in gaming, but there's a great deal of it. I should probably start a thread about it one of these days.
  • edited March 5
    Yeah. This thread is reminding me why I don't generally talk about this stuff here, and it's getting a strong feeling quite similar to the infamous (for me) Some Dudes Decide Ladies Shouldn't Game Only With Each Other, For Principled Reasons That Also Show They Did No Wrong thread that is a very bad memory for me.

    If you wanna talk forum culture and talk about what you see as specific violations of the forum rules, that's a thing. If you wanna talk about encouraging the participation and criticism of the culture here by the various diverse members, that's another. If you wanna talk about why there are almost no women among the regular commentators here, that might be a third thing. Those are all things that could be done.

    Oh, @Paul_T , the Gauntlet has a Slack for the Patreons which is where a lot of the real bonding happens, there and in the online games run by the Gauntlet. That's the community most people mean when they talk about The Gauntlet.
  • edited March 5
    *MOD VOICE*

    Hey all. I was just in the air to Japan, so kind of out of the loop.

    I guess some really quick points:

    1) The intention of the "no politics" rule isn't some sort of statement about that gaming can or should be apolitical, or having a belief that forums that don't let people express political opinions are somehow better or more focused at do gaming. It's more a simple realization that I and the mod team don't have the energy and desire to moderate those threads in a way which would fit with our beliefs. I'm sorry that was never clarified before, and I'm sorry for the way that might feel exclusionary to those for whom that kind of separation is not possible or anathema.

    I think I'm definitely open to discussion about how to loosen/clarify that line to make sure that we can discuss the politics and ideas and beliefs that are embedded into games, and even ways in which to have more explicitly political threads with more attentive moderation from the start. If you want to brainstorm on this, please start a new thread with [META], as this thread is already a bit topic-ful.

    2) I haven't read the relevant thread about D&D. I'm happy to read it, so if any of the parties involved wants me to go through and evaluate a bit, just send a private message to me and I'll take a look.

    3) @hamnacb: if you think that a poster is violating the rules/spirit, there's a stated policy here, which is that you contact the moderating team and we look into it.. These kind of thread recaps aren't part of our culture, and feel disrespectful to posters who haven't opted in to this kind of criticism. Starting a thread this way is not okay, and please do not do it again.
  • I agree with Guy, this is a very helpful summary, Eero!

    I am also personally biased toward the politeness vision. However I think a dynamic balance between these three (or more?) values is possible and practically neccessary for healthy group dynamics.

    There is an ancient Chinese story about a vessel which always tilts but never overturns (a basic example for the yin-yang principle). As there are no real perpetum mobiles I am sure it needs a few personal nudges when it rarely stops.

    This discussion was a real re-volution for me.

    @James_Stuart: thanks for the official clarification! I will stick to it in the future.
  • edited March 5


    I'd also like to suggest that there's a huge distinction between saying, "X phenomenon is bad / problematic / harmful (to Y group) / fascist," and saying, "This thing hurts me because of the group I'm in." The former is saying that some work of literature / media / gaming is harmful in a non-actionable way, while the latter gives the members of the forum something specific to reflect on.
    I don't think anyone should be dismissed for raising concerns. On the other hand, I don't think people have to automatically agree with someone that their hurt by a media trope is justified because they belong to a particular group. I see this argument a lot. But going down that road, in my view, means relinquishing your ability to think for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Again, I don't think people should be cruel about it. But we can have honest disagreements over whether a particular reaction to an element of media seems justified or not. I also think it is worth pointing out, we know very little about one another except for our screen names. I think there are a lot of assumptions about identity in this thread. But you don't really know other posters backgrounds, race, religion, disability situations, etc unless they volunteer that information (and there are lots of good reasons for people to not want to share that in a forum discussion---particularly one that is political). I understand what it is like to have a condition that causes me emotional and physical pain, and that there is an impulse to feel bad when it is handled insensitively. I also realize that I am the one in control of my emotional responses to things and to react to every perceived slight in media strongly hurts myself more than anything else and can lead to a situation where I am sensing insults that are not intended or not even real. We have to be able to think critically about this stuff. We can't just say "you belong to X group, so we have to accept what you are telling us about this trope is the case". We can totally believe the person feels hurt, and we will sometimes agree that the hurt is justified. But automatically accepting that a person is justified in their emotional response to something just seems like a very dangerous way of approaching the world to me. Everyone in this world is suffering to a degree. Being sympathetic to that is good. But suffering doesn't automatically confer wisdom, insight or accuracy in analyzing media.
  • All very white or whitewashed straight male perspectives!

    I mean storygames (including the mod behavior) has for the past decade or so done it's best to run off POCs, women, and queer. folk. That's pretty evident.

    I've been on the the fence about leaving but give how white washed circley jecrky you all are being here it's about time to leave.

    It's probably no surprise that I have most of you all block or not circled up on other social media.
  • All very white or whitewashed straight male perspectives!

    I mean storygames (including the mod behavior) has for the past decade or so done it's best to run off POCs, women, and queer. folk. That's pretty evident.

    I've been on the the fence about leaving but give how white washed circley jecrky you all are being here it's about time to leave.

    It's probably no surprise that I have most of you all block or not circled up on other social media.
    I certainly don't want to run anyone off, and I want as many different kinds of people here as possible. All I am saying is, I won't automatically agree with someone about something because of their skin color or background. And I think that is a fair and reasonable position, that isn't at all in conflict with embracing people of all backgrounds, races and sexualities.
  • edited March 5
    I personally am very opposed to political discussion on the Story Games Forums, and I’m very greatful it is prohibited by the rules. I think we should try our best to keep it that way. That said, because the topic has become central to this thread, I think it’s important to address.

    Gamers on average actually tend to be high in certain personality traits, such as creativity and openness, which correlate with a liberal— defined in the American sense—political disposition. My experience is that indie gamers and game-texts often display these personality traits to a higher degree, and tend to be further to the left on the political spectrum, than the average gamer.

    Our political dispositions are associated with our values and are part of our moral outlook. Research has shown that we don’t understand the motives of those with different political views and can often view them as acting in bad-faith, and as immoral, selfish, and unintelligent.

    We assume that our morals are correct because they are important, natural and seem reasonable to us; and especially, because people with different personality-types actually are different from us and really do see the world in a different way then we do.

    We tend to think that our positions are based on reason and that if people of the opposite political persuasion would only base their positions on reason they would adopt our positions, but—believe it or not—reason isn’t the primary determining factor when it comes to our political views. Instead our personality and personal values shape our reasoning—our reasoning is actually motivated-reasoning. People on the opposite political spectrum are just as reasonable as we are, given their values and the lense through which they interpret the world.

    People of both liberal and conservative political perspectives have big blind spots and likely can’t understand the other side without doing a fair amount of research into the psychology of personality differences; how these differences shape values and political differences; and making an effort to understand the other side’s values, motives and reasoning.

    I’m naturally inclined towards being a liberal, in regards to my personality traits. I think like a liberal. For example, I’m high in openness and creativity, and interested in discussing ideas and abstract subjects.

    After studying the different values, motives, and rational of the other side, I have become a moderate. I know a lot of you will have the impulse to think of me poorly or dismiss my post because I’ve defined myself as a moderate. Many may be thinking: How could he see any value in the other side’s worldview? This is a natural reaction, but please try to remember that I’m human and that I hold my values as deeply as you do; and, that I’m also a person trying to do the right thing and who wants the best for others.

    If my political views don’t align with your own, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad, uninformed or unintelligent person. The reasons I hold different political views isn’t because I haven’t done my best to reason through and educate myself about the issues, or because I’m self-interested, or don’t have empathy for those who are disadvantages or the like.

    I’m actually very poor. I’m middle aged and only make about fifteen thousand dollars per year. I also have severe, treatment-resistant Major Depresive Disorder. I’m currently in remission but there have been periods in my life when I literally could not get out of bed for years and was in absolutely excruciating pain—it is a state I can only discribe as torturous; a state akin to being in Hell. My MDD is genetically-based so they had to map my genome and try dozens of medications before anything worked, but thank God they finally found a combination of medications that did. I was on the cusp of having to file permanent disability.

    In saying all of this my point is not to claim I’m disadvantaged or to say I’ve been marginalized or the like, but instead to say I know what is like to suffer, and even though I may hold different political positions than you do, it’s not because I don’t care about people. It is to stress that, even though someone may have a very different political perspective than you, their motives are almost always as well-intentioned as your own.

    I’ve found that when politics are being discussed on these threads the values expressed often presuppose that certain liberal perspectives are an ethical given. Because our members, on average, tend to hold these values, I feel that this escapes most folks notice and many just take it as a given that these values are self-evident and therefore apolitical, or perhaps that if someone doesn’t share them it is an indication that they are a bad person. I think that sometimes people don’t even realize that their comments contain political assumptions that imply the rightness of certain values and the wrongness of others.

    As I said above, I’m a moderate and I’m not comfortable discussing politics here. I don’t think political discussions will be productive or bring out the best in us—these discussions certainly haven’t in the past. Most have devolved into tribalism, produced animosity and overwhelmed and derailed discussions. This forum is meant to be a place where we can focus on the games we love, and where we can discuss things constructively and in good-faith.

    We all hold our values dear and getting into political discussions will inevitably cause discord and bad feelings. There are other places to discuss politics that won’t derail and politicize the focus of these forums, which is roleplaying games and our shared love of play and design of RPGs.

    These forums are something I cherish. That may sound cheesy, but this is a place I can discuss one of my great passions with others who are also passionate. People’s whose opinions I respect, and whose games and game design ideas I respect.

    So instead of inviting tribalism and an ideological back and forth, I suggest we keep the focus on games.

    Let’s assume others are acting with good-will and interpret what they say in a charitable manner. Let’s avoid name-calling and promote productive and interesting discussions. Above all, let’s help this continue to be a place we can focus on games and our shared love of games, and have meaningful and nuanced conversations that are constructive, respectful and engender friendships rather than discord.
  • *mod voice*

    I think the continuing to discuss the “this is why I believe we should or shoudn’t have this in our discussion threads” isn’t being productive, or respectful to all the people of the thread.

    I’m closing this thread down, and if there’s a right time and way to discuss some of the issues in here, I’ll start that thread (this supersedes my prior offer about meta threads)
This discussion has been closed.