Someday, I May Be Important Enough To Demand Fair Reply

…but until that day, Damion Schubert is tanking the Mark Kern aggro, and doing so very adeptly.

First off, let me say, without irony: welcome to the discourse, Mark. You have your own megaphone. No one is shutting you down, no one is shouting you down. I linked to your reply to Damion in the first line of this post. Your position in this foofrah is on the record and public knowledge. This is how it is supposed to work. You say things, other people say things in response, readers enjoy the interplay of ideas, *it’s all good*.

Welcome to blogging, circa 2002.



Let me start by saying, I don’t have a problem with people blocking other people on Twitter, or using a service like a block-bot to do so. If, for some reason, you came to this conclusion I’d like to apologize.

Well, thank you, Mark. In an ideal world, this would have been your entire post. And I’m glad that you recognize that most people do not particularly want to see what weird anime porn 8chan saw that week on their Twitter feed and act accordingly. The best way to solve every problem is to give people the tools and power to solve it themselves. That is the libertarian philosophy, the anarchist perogative. We rule our own roosts, we have our own castles. This is the ideal. I’m glad you recognized this fact. And in a perfect world, this blog post would have stopped… here.

It’s not over.

Another brief factual point, which Mark is correct on:

Also, Damion’s article refers largely to Randi Harper’s gg autoblocker. In my public tweets with Randi, I’ve made it quite clear that I’m not talking about her list, but rather the Atheism + list, called “theblockbot,” which is operated out of the UK and predates the gg Autoblocker. So this part of the article is factually in error and fails to address my concerns with the

And regular readers of this blog will note that this is in fact what we discussed. The issues with the UK Atheist blockbot (which are minor, but still problematic) have nothing to do with Randi Harper’s ggautoblocker, who, in case you missed it at any point, I 100% support and recommend. Randi is doing the Lord’s work, and being harassed for her pains, because, well, Internet. Do I need to continue? No.

But, of course, Mark does, because MarkKernMarkKern.

My simple question to the readers of @ZenOfDesign is this: Why is it necessary for these blockbots to label its lists as lists of horrible people who are bigots, harassers, or otherwise “bad people?”

Gosh Mark

I can’t



with such polite discourse being brutally suppressed by bots acting in self defense. (And trust me – it took some doing to find things that weren’t in and of themselves an assault. I died for your sins.)

And that’s really the point here. We’re not talking about an alternative political viewpoint that is being suppressed. We’re talking about a pack of obscene idiots who use the open nature of the Internet as a weapon to attack people they don’t like. And those self-same pack of obscene idiots then complain, with no visible irony whatsoever, because they are being censored because a good many site hosts do not particularly want to host blathering obscenity.

At the end of the day, that is why people install blockbots. Not because they want to live in an echo chamber of people they agree with (or “hugboxes”, in the entirely too illustrative vernacular of Gamergate where hugs are apparently awful things to avoid at all costs), but because they would like to read Twitter with 80% less sewage. That is, for everyone I’ve talked to about this, literally, LITERALLY the only consideration. No one has any problem with the sea-lioning “actually, it’s about X in X” justifications. It’s what comes after. It’s the flood. It’s the sewage. It’s about self-defense.

And the fact that Mark Kern denies that flood of sewage exists is obvious, and incredibly illustrative, and demolishes any credibility he may have as a “neutral commentator” that he pretends to hold.

(But he’s still fun to make fun of. Though I’ll try to only do so in moderation.)

(PPS, and I didn’t notice this but someone else did, so I will just point that out because it made me laugh for about four minutes)

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  • Shjade

    Yeah, that last bit from Notorious came up on Damion’s blog…in the comments.

    It’s such a sweet addition to the whole thing as to make it something resembling perfection.

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  • oolon

    The Block Bot is not a UK Atheist bot … It’s not really even the bot (An international forum of atheists who believe in social justice), that is just where it grew from … Now a sex positive, trans inclusive feminist community bot. Many of the people using and adding into it are not atheists. Muslims, Xtians and atheists all working together to block arses on Twitter 😀

    • Unhiddenness

      Does your mate ‘Latsot’ count as an arse, Oolon? He’s certainly got a knack for sending @ replies en masse, or labelling people as “rape apologists” simply for stating that the issues around alcohol and consent are complex.

      I was soft on Latsot because of his insomnia (I also think he means well in his own quirky way), but his behaviour is childish for his level of education. That said, I still did not block him on Twitter. Why? Because grown men don’t act that way.

      • oolon

        I’m sure he does in some peoples books, but he has the awareness to realise this. He is on a “block list” of “women abusers” and thinks it is quite amusing that Sanderson put him on it. If people think I’m an arse and don’t want to talk to me that is no problem. Why would it be?

  • Vetarnias

    I have to ask, who is this Kern fellow, and what has he done to justify all that attention given to his showboating?

    At any rate, I’ll say that I find this typically American attachment to the First Amendment quite perplexing, in that the United States gets it backwards: because of the US Government’s inability to curtail/preclude some kinds of speech (there’s a problem when false advertising and death threats are seriously being considered by the courts as potentially constitutionally protected, as I’ve read), it creates a void filled by the least apt to the task: those who want to shut you up because they don’t like what you say, or because they might benefit from shutting you up.

    As for the “right of reply”, yeah, doesn’t exist in the States, but it’s quite a laudable concept when approached as a courtesy, when it’s not a professional duty. I’d expect a journalist writing about, say, a politician who is alleged to have bribed his way to office, to actually interview the politician in question, or at least make the effort to attempt to, and not just because there’s a legal sword of Damocles hanging above the journalist’s head.

    If Kern wants a “right of reply” regarding claims made specifically about him, it’s correct to say that no such right exists, especially in the US. But seeing how “Gaters” have started using that as evidence of censorship, is it too much to ask to at least let him respond? It’s just good manners, even without any law to enforce his wishes.

    Because in this the attitude of the anti-GG, among which I include myself, is itself reminiscent of the pro-GG line of reasoning that if it doesn’t please us, then it shouldn’t exist. I don’t like the idea of barring someone from replying just because “well, Mark Kern has a blog, or he can set up one, so he can respond to it there all he wants”. Just imagine if The New York Times (or Fox News, whichever you don’t prefer) started making defamatory claims about someone, then said, well, we don’t have to give him the space to reply here, since he can post his response on his blog. To be read by how many, in comparison to those media titans? I guess it’s a question of clout; one might even call it, dare I say it, “Privilege”.

    And I say this as a person who’s decidedly not of the all-free-speech-all-the-time breed. Wikipedia bothers me in that respect, for example, especially in how the grand techno-libertarian information-wants-to-be-free vision of Jimmy Wales against censorship, real or imagined, is at odds with — or, to be more exact, is inevitably the prelude to — the kind of stifling consensus-by-hierarchy operation of Wikipedia; or how Wales himself being against GG did not prevent a massively pro-GG slant on the pages concerned. Wikipedia is just a playground where the consumer revolts can be played out. (Actually, I think the anti-GG people are harping on the wrong GG claim:
    instead of focusing on the part that says it’s about “ethics in games
    journalism” — and, rightly, not believing a word of it — I would instead go
    after a GG claim I can believe, that it’s a “consumer revolt”. Which is
    itself an ugly thing, but perhaps not massively so to Americans.)

    So you end up with cases like the Wikimedia Foundation telling the French Government that it, not the French, has a better knowledge of what the French should consider strategically sensitive material, and that if the French want to have that information removed from Wikipedia, well, they should just comply with the WMF’s request for more information so that it may assess the French claim. Yes, the Wikimedia Foundation actually did that, and guess which side took most of the online media (look up “Pierre-sur-Haute” in connection to Wikipedia and you’ll see). Jimbo, in that case, was all about spreading that particular controversy as far as it could go, to make sure the French wouldn’t try again.

    As for GG, at this stage, I’d say, let it die; it’s just one battle in a much larger war.

    • Chaos-Engineer

      If Kern wants a “right of reply” regarding claims made specifically
      about him, it’s correct to say that no such right exists, especially in
      the US. But seeing how “Gaters” have started using that as evidence of
      censorship, is it too much to ask to at least let him respond?

      Who is denying Kern a “right of reply”? BrokenToys and ZenOfDesign both have open comment sections where Kern can post a reply, and they’ve both posted links to Kern’s article on his own blog. GamaSutra invited him to post an article to their “developer diary” section.

      As far as I can tell, Kern is just pretending that he’s being denied a “right of reply”, so that the Gators can pretend that he’s being censored. I mean, are you seeing any kind of serious issue? It looks like another one of their sea-lioning projects to me.

      • Silvanis

        I can only imagine that Mr. Kern is trying to argue he has the right to reply at the same level as the accusation. In other words, he wants to have a featured article or blog post containing said reply. Simple comment sections or unboosted blog posts are beneath Mr. Kern.

  • Tremayne

    I’m not quite clear… I don’t “do” Twitter (or Facebook) at all. Does that mean that I’m illegally censoring Mr Kern? Am I obliged to register for these services because The Truth must flow?
    Also – I live in the (still, just) United Kingdom, where we don’t have your First Amendment right to sealioning, although we do have some fairly ferocious data protection and defamation laws (which Mr Kern has shown he is vaguely aware of, even if he clearly doesn’t quite understand them). Does that change the answer to my first question?

  • Unhiddenness

    I have little interest in GamerGate or its proponents, but I do have a problem with the idea of blocking by-proxy. There seems to be a growing intolerance of alternative viewpoints on the ‘net, and this cuts across many ideological divide.

    • Chaos-Engineer

      The problem is that any unmoderated bit of the Internet is going to be flooded by trolls and spammers, to the point where it’s not useful for its intended purpose.

      You almost certainly have a spam filter on your personal e-mail account, and it was almost certainly configured by someone else. Likewise, you’re reading the comments on this blog, even though someone else is moderating them. Twitter is newer technology, and people are still trying to figure out the best way to use it, but it seems like the only workable solution to the spam-and-troll problem is going to be a combination of top-down moderation (from Twitter) and bottom-up moderation (from shared blocklists).

      Also, GamerGate isn’t really an “alternative viewpoint”; it’s more of a troll brigade. Letting them flood a forum doesn’t foster discussion, it just makes the site useless for everyone else.