Blizzard’s Mistake: Are People Oversensitive?
I’m not surprised, but I am a little bit disappointed that I’m having to write this in 2011.
The story came about that Blizzard decided to feature a video with George Fisher, the frontman of Cannibal Corpse, as part of their BlizzCon coverage. It was a bit of a bizarre call to make, since it was liberally spattered with a not-so-delightful array of gay slurs (bleeped out, but nonetheless evident). This was, apparently, some kind of ‘joke’.
I’m not going to blast Blizzard too much about this. In seeming to indirectly support this kind of idiocy, they help perpetuate it. They were stupid to do so, and they’ve apologised. Fine. What’s less fine is the sort of response I’ve been seeing in large numbers in the comments threads of sites like Destructoid and even Rock Paper Shotgun (which has fairly civilised comments, on the whole). Here’s a few choice picks:
“I have to say, you guys are being a bunch of pansies. I’m tired of all this politically correct crap. Oh no, someone might be offended. If we use that as the measuring stick for everything we say, then you might as well not say anything at all because someone, somewhere, will find it offensive.”
“I point at a rock. I say: ‘That’s a gay rock.’
That’s not hate speech against cocksuckers nor carpet munchers, and it in no way supports discrimination against them.”
“If you’re offended by words, you’re an idiot. (And offended by me calling you an idiot, you idiot.)”
“god people are so fucking oversensitive these days. words only contain the power you give them. i see no reason to censor this kind of crap just because a few morons are going to cry over it.”
Well, you get the picture.
I was very lucky growing up gay. Nobody ever hurt me or called me names or threatened me. I didn’t and still don’t subscribe to any religion that told me how I feel is wrong. I was never kept from any opportunity. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to offend me with words, and so my general view of the BlizzCon video is that the guy’s an idiot, and I can shrug and move on.
But it wasn’t like that immediately. I still had to spend the years coming to accept that I was this thing that society had marked out as strange and less-than-ideal if not outright wrong. I still had to listen to someone at school, in complete seriousness, say: ‘I think faggots should be dragged out onto the street and shot.’ Later, he told me not to worry – he didn’t think I was a faggot. So that was something.
I had it easy as can be and there were still moments when I, in my very English way, sincerely wished that this being gay stuff would jolly well go away because it’s frightfully inconvenient. And there are people a lot worse off than me.
So how dare anyone tell people how offended they should feel, or how sensitive they should be when someone uses the sort of language in that video? The same language they might be more used to hearing delivered with a kick to the gut. Or running through their head as they contemplate how best to commit suicide.
It doesn’t matter one bit whether it was supposed to be a joke. It doesn’t even matter if (as some people have suggested) he was somehow magically using the words in a way that had been scraped clean of their homophobic meaning. They are words that have and are still used to hurt and discriminate and if you ignore that, it shows just how out of touch with the world you are.
I’ll defend anyone’s right to say what they like. But I will also challenge anyone who says that everyone else needs to shut up and take it quietly, with a loud and resounding: fuck you.