Adobe Sides With GamerGate Bullies As Part Of Their Involvement With The Bully Project (UPDATED)
In a move that is deeply troubling to someone who 1) has been using Photoshop since the mid-’90s and Lightroom and InDesign for the past two years, and 2) understands the difference between criticism and bullying, Adobe stated on Twitter today, in response to a question about GamerGate, that they don’t advertise on Gawker because they stand against bullying.
The Gawker Media family of blogs have been openly critical toward GamerGate pretty much since the beginning. On Gawker, Sam Biddle recently profiled the “D-List Right-Wingers Who Have Turned GamerGate Into Their Loser Army” and Gawker took the position elsewhere that it’s hard to look at GamerGate as anything but blatant misogyny; Deadspin called GamerGate “the future of the culture wars”; a social researcher analyzed GamerGate as a hate group on Jezebel; Kotaku reported positively on the hashtag #StopGamerGate2014.
Adobe is associated with The Bully Project, which uses as its centerpiece the movie “Bully,” which follows school-aged victims of bullying and their families as well as the story of two kids who committed suicide after being bullied. Bullying, for the sake of The Bully Project, is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”
And yes, to a certain extent, Gawker Media has some cultural power that individual GamerGaters don’t have, though it has been critical of the chosen figureheads of the movement, not GamerGate footsoldiers. And for sure, the critical coverage on Gawker has been unwanted by GamerGate. But aggressive? No. It’s been analytical, it’s been timely, it’s been factually accurate. It’s op-ed journalism, and it plays by the rules of journalistic ethics, which do not preclude expressing negative opinions.
But that’s been one of the biggest problems with GamerGate all along: They define bullying as merely having negative opinions about GamerGate. They don’t define it as a jilted ex-boyfriend airing the details of Zoe Quinn’s personal life in a blog post intended specifically to turn people against her and deprive her of future professional opportunities based on a personal grudge. They don’t define it as that jilted ex coordinating with known trolls and hackers to devise a strategy to further damage her public reputation based on that same personal grudge. They don’t define it as a threat of “a crippling injury” or doxxing and harassment that drove Quinn out of her home. They don’t define it as a threat to “massacre” feminists at Utah State because Anita Sarkeesian was speaking there. They don’t define it as a threat to rape Brianna Wu and then choke her with her husband’s penis and murder Wu, her husband, and their children if applicable. They don’t define it as anti-Sikh racism against #StopGamerGate2014 creator Veerender Jubbal.
No, they define bullying as Sam Biddle calling them a “loser army.” I’m not saying I endorse that language. It’s not the language I would use. But I do understand why after being harassed by GamerGate mascot Mike Cernovich, Sam Biddle would get frustrated and use the word “loser.” There’s a chasm between calling someone a loser and making concerted attempts to ruin people’s professional and personal lives and terrify them.
The problem I’m trying to point out here is that if you’re going to take a stand against bullying, you should take a stand against GamerGate. Because GamerGate has targeted people to harass and deluged them with tweets, doxxed them, flooded their phones, threatened them and their families, tried to get them fired from their jobs, merely because of the political opinions they happen to espouse. That is unwanted, unprovoked aggression. That is bullying.
So what do I do now? I’m tired of shutting down all of my accounts. I’m going through the long process of deconstructing my Facebook account because Facebook has made life hard for trans* people. Then I’m clearing out all of my personal Reddit accounts because they still haven’t deleted that noxious Philosophy of Rape Subreddit. I use a Mac, so it’s not going to be hard for me to avoid Intel computers. But now Adobe? If I have to vote with my dollars, I have to cancel my Creative Suite subscription. And I have to wonder why Adobe, and for that matter, The Bully Project which they’re associating with, are coming out on this side of the issue.
UPDATE: Adobe’s tweet was not in response to Gawker’s coverage, but in response to a series of tweets that aforementioned author Sam Biddle sent out advocating for nerds to be bullied. Come on, man, seriously? Speaking to The Verge about Biddle’s tweets, developer and #GamerGate target Brianna Wu said that she found his comments “breathtakingly tone-deaf. It frustrates me to have worked so hard to share these painful stories of women targeted by Gamergate, only to have that work undermined by Biddle’s thoughtless remarks. I think he owes everyone an apology.”
Adobe has followed up with a tweet stating: “We are vehemently opposed to bullying of any kind and would never support any group that bullies.” It would be more vindicating to see them reach out and publicly work with women like Wu, Quinn, and Sarkeesian, or be more precisely clear about their intentions, but as it stands it looks like this ultimately going to be a momentary PR snafu for Adobe.
[The Bully Project]
[Society of Professional Journalists]
[The Zoe Post]
[The New Yorker]
Give me a holler on Twitter.