#Gamergate – GG Via Rules for Radicals

I generally prefer Sun Tzu or Machiavelli, and I’ve read them more often and more recently than Alinksy, but Sargon’s video was a reminder that there’s some good stuff there and that Gamergate has actually done very well by Alinsky’s standards.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect upon Gamergate from the Alinsky perspective and see where it’s done well, and badly, and where – perhaps – Alinksy is no longer quite so relevant or effective.

It’s important, before we start, to first frame what’s going on with Gamergate. Even though we all know.

Gamergate is a year-long, anarchistic and emergent campaign (99% online) against corruption in games journalism, against censorship of video games and against the politicisation of video games media.

Gamergate’s enemies are the status-quo games media (the large sites and commentators/critics), pseudo-academia (the soft humanities and agenda-driven cultural critics) and cultural authoritarians in general, including the mainstream media when it’s also pushing an agenda.

Gamergate is characterised by being a politically neutral, genuinely grassroots movement of game enthusiasts and consumers.

Gamergate’s enemies are characterised by being the existing, comfortable establishment even though they exploit and use a victim narrative and pretend that they do not have the power.

RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

Gamergate has both the money and the people, hypothetically. Gamergate is much larger than its opposition and, as a consumer movement, controls a great deal of money in terms of advertising clicks and consumer dollars spent on product and merchandising. In theory, then, Gamergate should have the power in this situation, and it could.

Gamergate’s opposition, however, has power in strategic points and places which acts as a great force multiplier. If you only had games media and mainstream media to go on, you would have no idea what Gamergate actually is. Gamergate’s enemies control the narrative and gatekeep people’s access to the genuine Gamergate, preventing many from finding out what it truly is.

For Gamergate to continue, expand and succeed it must find ways to get around the enemy’s control of the mainstream media and to gain access to the wider array of ‘normal’ people.

RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

Gamergate has, relatively speaking, the ‘common touch’. Jargon is light and what is there is well known in the gaming community, and gamers KNOW GAMES. When nonsensical news stories come up about lack of diversity in games, gamers know it’s bullshit and can rattle off thousands of counter-examples. When accusations of ‘privilege’ come up, again, from personal experience there are thousands of compelling counter-stories.

Gamergate’s enemies do not know or understand games or gaming culture to anything like the extent that gamers do and they’re strangely proud of that fact. Their ‘play’ is made at the corporate, reputational level and with mainstream ‘normal’ people by painting Gamergate as misogynistic, racist, hostile etc, though their jargon and lack of relatability lets them down.

Gamergate can get around the ‘shaming’ tactics that have served AGGro so well simply by continuing to do what it has done, to ignore and mock it. We don’t need to understand or adopt their argumentation when your average normal person fully understands racism to be ‘prejudice on the basis of race’ and NOT ‘prejudice plus power’. Examples like Bahar Mustapha and Rachel Dolezal have been great for Gamergate as your average person just squints at either like they’re crazy – which they are.

In short, it’s unnecessary to be experts on race/gender etc, only to speak in commonly understood – but decent – terms on these things.

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

Gamergate already occupies an arena outside the expertise of the enemy and can make them look ridiculous whenever they try to talk about games or nerd culture at all. Every attack can be countered by greater knowledge. This is our default position, so this is not hard at all.

AGGro’s area of expertise is ‘social justice issues’ but this is a naturally small demographic of particular echo-chambers when taken to extremes. We don’t need to meet them in this area, but in the common understanding of these issues where they will flounder and look foolish.

RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

Gamergate could do with doing more of this. Not a single anti-white or ‘uncle Tom’ message from the enemy should exist without a string of replies pointing out that it is racist. Not a single anti-male message should exist without a string of replies pointing out misandry, the same goes for the ‘damseling’ that goes on and the presentation of women as ‘weak’ which can be interpreted as misogynist. Not a day goes by that AGGro doesn’t make a mistake in this regard and they need to be vigorously pointed out as hypocrites.

AGGro has begun to use this against us, most notably with the attacks on Sargon. They are attempting to hold us to our own demands for ethics, even though we are – by and large – not paid journalists and (thus far) haven’t actually done anything unethical. It has been a tactical mistake to answer these accusations when they should probably, simply, be dismissed. After all, we’re not journalists, we’re not being paid to do that job and so are not beholden to journalistic ethics.

Of course, we should be reasonably circumspect, for PR if nothing else.

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

Gamergate wins massively on this score. Gamergate is FUN, Gamergate is FUNNY, Gamergate has the BEST memes and Gamergate as a collective entity is an expert at taking the piss. AGGro, on the other hand, have zero sense of humour, take themselves deadly seriously and this makes them vulnerable. Exquisitely so.

RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

To reiterate, this is somewhere where Gamergate shines. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s amusing. We need to find more fun activities and we need to make the less fun activities easier.

AGGro, by comparison, are not fun or amusing. They’re just mean and they think everything is terrible.

RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

This is why ‘happenings’ are so important in Gamergate, they fuel engagement and re-engagement. ‘Ops’ need to come back too in a big way and in ways more innovative than ‘send email’.

AGGro have been repeating their same tactics since the start, so a refresh and renew on Gamergate tactics should be even more effective.

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

Gamergate was good at this initially but has begun to slacken off. This is a reiteration of the need to keep the heat on, to keep piling the heat on and to develop new tactics and operations.

AGGro do this, naturally, but they are not fighting just us. The pressure is a constant push from media outlets and pseudo-academia and needs to be met just as strongly every single time it appears.

RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

Perception is not reality and one major departure I have from Alinksy is his innate embracing of irrationalism. In the end reality is always what determines what happens, not perception. You need to know and have the reality AND to work the perception to the correct end.

Also Gamergate doesn’t want to be seen as a threat, we want to be engaged. Being seen as dangerous and a threat is counterproductive to the narrative that we want to sell. We also want to sell the narrative that it is the opposition that are dangerous and a threat – to fundamental human freedoms such as free expression.

RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

We are the underdog in Gamergate and we have been subjected to a great deal of brutalising treatment from doxxing and threats to brigading, jobs being threatened and so on. We’ve also been censored from even discussing the problems we’ve found in most remotely mainstream places.

Yet AGGro has successfully presented the narrative that Gamergate are the harassers, the monsters and so on. This needs challenging and countering constantly with concrete examples from topic bans and blockbots to documented cases of harassment.

RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

We have our solutions. Alternative sources of media, truly egalitarian and meritocratic games, truly free expression. This side does, however, need to be pushed more. Since the start we’ve pushed ethics policies and we’ve made ground on that, but we need to go further.

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Personally, I do not like this tactic. It’s an automatic ad hominem, but there’s no denying there’s plenty of awful people in AGGro who are easy to demonise from Butts and Harper to Sarkeesian and Joshathan McInjosh. There’s a steady flow of awful people doing awful things.

AGGro has done well in demonising certain people like Davis Aurini and smearing our whole side based upon them. They do a similar tactic with websites like 8chan and their constant accusations of paedophilia etc or trying to claim that Gamergate is inherently ‘conservative’.

I personally can’t condone this tactic, but there’s no doubting its effectiveness. What I could advocate is holding up certain AGGro personalities as exemplars of everything that’s wrong with the ‘Social Justice’ movement.

Those are the twelve rules but there’s something else in Rules for Radicals worth addressing and that’s building a broader movement and constructing alliances. We’ve been wary of doing this and of going beyond ‘ethics in journalism’ because of the lessons learned from Occupy Wall Street where bringing in too many subjects ended up breaking the movement and removing its power, turning it into a lunatic fringe.

I think it’s possible to expand Gamergate without becoming lunatics and that’s by building alliances.

  • The moderate end of the Men’s Human Rights Movement are good allies with similar experiences, knowledge of tactics worth sharing, a higher media profile and an existing network.
  • Skeptical Atheism has been through this same situation with Atheism Plus and has a good array of Youtube personalities and debaters that make good allies – ‘The Slymepit’ especially may make good common-cause fighters.
  • The Sad Puppies pushback against PC culture in genre fiction is a cause worth supporting and allying with.
  • There are similar disorganised pushbacks in comedy, music, pornography and elsewhere.
  • Then there are individual causes and issues where the opportunity for broadening appeal and allies exists. Shirtgate or Tim Hunt being fine examples.
  • The moderate right wing are not people we should be afraid of, nor the equity feminist movement. We don’t need to agree on everything to agree on something.
  • Alternative publications, such as Spiked, which also occupies a left-lib position could be strong allies, as could groups such as the ACLU and the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

Reflecting on all this, my own suggested guidelines for Gamergate moving forward into a second year would be these…

  1. Come to a consensus on what Gamergate IS: We pride ourselves on disorganisation and consensus, but there are aspects to Gamergate that are more easily ‘sold’ to normies. A consumer advocacy group is a good selling point. Free expression is a good selling point. These are things people will reflexively support. Being apolitical is also a good thing, and probably why people try so hard to make Gamergate out to be ‘right wing’.
  2. Come to accept that PR matters: We all hate it, and yes, it shouldn’t matter, but it does. The Harassment Patrol needs to make a comeback and we need to be ruthless with trolls like Ayyteam etc. Disassociation from these kinds of people will disempower the harassment narrative and, honestly, we’re more often their target lately anyway.
  3. Challenge Everything, Expose Everything: We can’t let these things slide. Every attack is an opportunity to fight back. Every instance of racism, sexism etc by the opposition is an opportunity to build alliances.
  4. Mix Things Up: We need new operations and new tactics and to streamline existing tactics. Our email campaigns are effective, but would be a lot easier with form letters and mailing via a website. The less effort, the more effective, the more mails. We also need more innovative operations to bring our message to new places and to get around the bans on discussing Gamergate. New scandals and nastiness could probably be addressed independently without mentioning Gamergate and supplementary hashtags to use (without the Gamergate tag) would get around those who automatically write off anything Gamergate. Multiple accounts are also useful to get around blockbots, though that sails close to harassment.
  5. Broaden and Build: Gamergate can’t just be ‘ethics in journalism’ if its to succeed and continue. It needs to be a broader anti-SJW movement and a free-expression movement. These naturally combine together as it is, since they all interrelate in the issues anyway. We also need to signal boost, and be signal-boosted by, groups that can be our allies.
  6. Link, Share, Host, Spread: OpSkynet was very effective on bringing people into contact with each other. We need to use these networks to share and host material. Thumbs-up and reshare each other’s videos, reblog, host, pick up on good stuff and spread it around – without the tag necessarily so that we can reach more people with this material.

Gamergate’s message IS positive, so hammer that home.

  • Your media shouldn’t lie to you.
  • Your media shouldn’t preach to you.
  • You should be free to make what you want.
  • You should be free to buy what you want.
  • You should be free to say what you want.
  • You’re not evil.

#Gamergate How GamerGate Was Hijacked

b5miliqccaeiqt5What Gamergate is Vs How Gamergate is Seen

Gamergate is a consumer revolt against problems in gaming media. This is primarily a concern about the ethical conduct of gaming journalists but extends to concerns about one-sided ideological propagandising within the dominant games media spaces and issues of censorship. Gamergate draws on a long tradition of resistance to interference from the out-culture, previously in regards to game addiction, game representations of violence and even earlier to issues in other spheres like comics and tabletop RPGs. The difference is that this time the attacks are coming – at least in part – from the in group.

If you limited yourself to the larger gaming sites and the mainstream media, you would think that Gamergate is actually a misogynistic hate group, a gang of reactionary hoodlums intent on keeping women out of gaming. You might even think that they are terrorists, behind SWATing, doxxing, death threats, rape threats and all sorts of awful behaviour.

How is it that the reality of Gamergate and the public image of it are so wildly different and who hijacked it, and how?

How did the Message get Hijacked?

There’s two parties at fault for hijacking Gamergate. One more organised and unified, the other as chaotic and leaderless as Gamergate itself.

The first party are those called – disparagingly – ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (which you could consider in relation to actual social justice, the way you might read Islamist as opposed to Muslim). The second party are the internet’s usual legion of trolls, abusive commentators and drama-creators.

Trolls hijacked Gamergate simply because it was a magnet for a lot of drama, involving a lot of people and types of people who are perfect trolling targets. This would include the aforementioned ‘social justice warriors’ and most especially feminists, who can all but be guaranteed to takes trolls seriously and to create the drama and upset that trolls love.

For sake of clarity as the term gets misused, I am using ‘troll’ to mean those people who deliberately stir up trouble and post provocative and offensive things (spuriously) in order to garner a negative reaction. Trolling is nasty, and a problem that bears discussion, but it’s not a direct Gamergate issue.

The ‘SJWs’ hijacked Gamergate by making it about their pet issues. This was somewhat facilitated by the fact that some of the first corruption issues that emerged involved other ‘SJWs’, women amongst them. This made it quite easy for them to pretend that the ethical issues were, in fact, misogyny.

Since then, despite progress on the ethical and censorship issues, the dominant media narrative – in both games and mass media – has been misogyny, abuse, sexism and harassment, pinned on Gamergate, despite having nothing to do with Gamergate’s goals.

There’s synergy between the two hijacking parties because SJWs treat trolls as though they were part of Gamergate in addition to taking them seriously and treating them as though their threats and nonsense were not spurious. The SJWs get to smear their enemies, the trolls get to troll two parties for the price of one.

Why Was this so Effective?

It’s questionable whether it has been. Old media has lost a huge amount of influence, current games media has lost a lot of ground because nobody trusts it any longer. Still, it is distressing to see the public narrative so utterly skewed in both cases. On the other hand, this – in and of itself – is proof positive that there are issues of corruptions and ethical concerns and that they are serious.

To the extent that it has been effective, it has been effective in the following ways:

  1. Existing, dominant games media was always going to reject criticism of itself. D’uh.
  2. While Gamergate actions have exposed ‘wrong action’ by people of all kinds, the stories where women can be portrayed as victims are better press. Even if they’re corrupt (Sarkeesian) or have engaged in ghastly actions (Quinn, Alexander) there’s a psychological effect where women are seen as less villainous and more innocent than men that’s well known. Ironically the ‘damsel in distress’ is a trope that’s being taken advantage of here.
  3. Internet culture, and gaming culture, have existed for some time. Chan culture is an extreme that is often demonised, but not half as bad as it has been painted. Gamergate is just the latest in a long line of collisions between these cultures and a lot of problems are down to misunderstandings.
  4. Ideological corruption is harder to grasp than the more obvious financial corruption. While financial corruption issues have existed for years, it was ideological corruption that triggered Gamergate and has dominated much of the discussion (though the fixes for both kinds of ethical issues are broadly the same – disclosure and recusing).

Solutions & Consequences?

Are there any solutions to this? Nothing direct. The mainstream media is lazy and more interested in views (and viewers) than the truth these days. A sad consequence of the liberation of news sources and the ad/sponsorship driven model. The media can’t really be trusted to hold itself accountable, on any scale, for its own corruption and ethical issues. So far as mainstream and existing, dominant games media goes there’s only damage control and pressure.

A common complaint about Gamergate – from outside – is that it has no leaders. This has, in fact, been a huge advantage in making Gamergate more resilient and capable and has allowed it to survive internal drama and outside attacks. However, part of the reason there’s so little representation of ‘the other side’ in these media presentations is the lack of identifiable spokespeople. Gamergate doesn’t need leaders, but it does need spokespeople. It should be possible to find suitably eloquent, bullish and intelligent spokespeople that can be proposed and agreed to by a raw majority of Gamergate identifying voters in an online poll. Then you’d have people who are contactable for media appearances, to give the alternative point of view and to counter the kinds of nonsense that otherwise gets free rein on these reports.

The other solutions, beyond the successful pressure to tighten ethical policies, is to continue to act as a watchdog and to continue to promote alternative sites. Gamergate participants should also, in my opinion, strive to act well, represent the revolt well (I’m not saying mind your language, just to leave no suggestion of doxxing, no reasonable suspicion of harassment etc), and to concentrate on spreading the accurate message. Confounding the false narrative with charitable actions and NotYourShield also helps. Ultimately Gamergate wins out when people actually investigate and are pointed to the correct facts.

There are consequences to Gamergate that have deeply concerned me and I’d like to finish up by covering these and making an appeal to its enemies.

I, along with many Gamergate supporters, identify – or identified – as being on the left. We believe, passionately, in equality, justice and many of the other things that our enemies also believe in. Our differences with the other side come in when their demands come across as irrational, unscientific, unsupported, authoritarian or compromise other values – such as free expression – which we also hold dear.

My worry is that the extremists of the ‘SJW’ crowd and their hangers on, are driving a huge number of people to the right. The more right/libertarian media has been more sympathetic to Gamergate, due to their agreement on socially liberal concepts. This has earned those sources a great deal of sympathy and has meant people listen to them more, because they’ve proven themselves – at least on this topic – to be more honest and accurate.

I don’t want people to be biased in this way, by their bad experiences with a radical fringe and a corrupt media. I appeal to the opposing side to please, at least alongside everything else, to take the ethical concerns and issues seriously and to discuss those, at least, in good faith. Call Gamergate’s bluff, as PC Gamer did, by addressing the ethical concerns. The worst that can happen is that we all end up with better media and, hopefully, people will stop being pushed to the right.

Pax.

#Atheism – Why I Loathe Islam

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
– Inigo Montoya

Time was, I would have told you that while Islam was a horrible, nasty, squalid little religion it wasn’t really that much of a threat to modern Enlightenment values or the west, but that Christianity was. In the triage of religions we needed to marginalise it seemed to me that Christianity had far more sway over public life than Islam did, what with Church schools, Creationist nonsense, evangelical scam artists and so on.

I’m not as sure as I once was.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks I posted a bunch of the cartoons that were made in response with the tagline ‘Fuck Islam’. Impolitic, perhaps, but truthful.

The resistance to that simple, pained and understandable statement was incredible and not from the kinds of people you might expect to be against murderous religious nutcases enforcing censorship from the barrel of a gun, but from my fellow left-liberal types. All manner of apologia for the actions of the terrorists and ways to excuse Islam from the equation were presented, even a great deal of victim blaming as we’ve also seen in the mainstream media. The idea that somehow this reaction should be expected and normalised because they were being provocative.

Disgusting.

There’s a kind of paralysis that falls over my fellow lefties when you can be accused of a thought crime. Whether it’s ‘islamophobia’ (which is a dog whistle for ‘racist’) or accusations of ‘misogyny’ when you’re fighting against censorship and for ethical journalism in games media. There mere accusation is enough to taint any further discussion and it doesn’t seem to matter how wrong or ridiculous the accusation is, it has power.

Let’s get a couple of things out the way first:

  1. Islam is not a race. There are Muslims of pretty much any race you care to mention. This should be obvious enough that it doesn’t constantly need restating, yet here we are.
  2. Phobia’s are irrational. Islamophobia would be an irrational fear of Islam. Given the context of Shariah law, the links with terrorism and other barbarisms it could be argued that ‘phobia’ is an inappropriate suffix. Fear of Islam, given the content of the Koran and the state of Islamic nations would appear to be a perfectly rational response. Islamomisia, irrational hatred of Islam, would seem to be equally inapplicable in most circumstances. It’s going to be impossible to avoid Godwinning in this article, so let’s get it out of the way. You wouldn’t accuse a Jew in 1940s Poland of being ‘Naziphobic’, because their fear and hatred would be entirely justified because of the beliefs and actions of Nazis. So it goes.
  3. Islam isn’t like other religions. While there are commonalities, mostly between the Abrahamic faiths, Islam isn’t a personal religion that confines itself to faith, belief and personal conduct. It is a complete system for theocratic autocracy with a great deal to say about personal, professional, governmental and judicial conduct. It is as much, then, a political ideology as a faith and one that draws its authority from ‘god’. The ultimate autocratic dictatorship. It’s not some wishy-washy, half-hearted spirituality like the Church of England, it has very defined and delineated ideas – many of which are anti-human.
  4. Islam ≠ Muslim. There are many lovely Muslims but the fact of the matter is that you can only be a lovely person by being a bad Muslim. If you’re OK with people making fun of your prophet and your god you’re a god, chilled, laid back person, but you’re a bad Muslim because the Koran and Hadith and the example of Muhammed himself (Al-Nadr bin al-Harith, Uqba bin Abu Muayt, Asma bint Marwan to name but three)  tell you that you should kill people who do that. There are many great people who are Muslims, but they are great by virtue of being bad Muslims.
  5. Hating with Good Reason is not Bigotry. Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as ‘a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.’ The key here is ‘unfairly’, which shifts the question to asking whether it is fair to hate Islam or not. I would argue that it is.

I have read the Koran and many of the Hadith (all of the Sahih). I have engaged in very long arguments with Muslim apologists and creationists and have even had brushes with Islamic spokespeople like Anjem Choudary and Mo Ansar. I have devoted considerable time to trying to understand the faith and its adherents and have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is a primitive, violent and dangerous faith with no good prospects for reform.

But why?

  1. Extremism is Mainstream. When you say ‘religious extremism’ you might be thinking of something like the Westboro Baptist church. A couple of dozen loony-tunes existing at some far-flung edge of the religious spectrum. While Islam has those too, even mainstream, ‘moderate’ Islam is pretty damn extreme. Wanting to live according the Shariah, a set of hideously barbaric rules come up with in the 7th century here, today, in the modern era is mainstream for Muslims, but extreme to everyone else. 20-40% of UK Muslims polled want Sharia law brought in, and that poll is from 7 years ago, according to most analysts things have gotten worse. Another poll showed unanimous loathing for homosexuality amongst British Muslims, with a margin of error of 4%.
  2. The Koran is Unquestioned. A huge part of the problem we face with any religion that is based on a supposedly divinely inspired book is that it is simultaneously the ‘perfect word of god to be followed to the letter’ and riddled with contradictions and vague statements that can be interpreted as one sees fit. The Koran is no different on this score but, unlike Christianity, does not have a kinder/gentler second book that justifies ignoring most of the first for its followers.  When the book outright advocates death, torture, mutilation, wife-beating and all the other horrors we’re now all to familiar with its hard for anyone claiming the title Muslim to speak against it – or they’re an apostate and subject to imprisonment, shunning and/or death. This is only made worse by the Hadith which, generally speaking, prioritise and give license to the more violent and horrible passages.
  3. Muslims Weasel. Getting a straightforward condemnation of the actions of ‘extremists’ is very hard, excepting some of the more politically minded or already outcast Muslims (such as the Muslim Council of Britain or Majeed Nawaz). Why? Because the ‘extremists’ are drawing from the holy Koran, which is the infallible word of god, so to condemn or question the ‘extremists’ is to question god or the prophet. Things which aren’t allowed. It’s like getting blood from a stone to get a clean, clear, outright condemnation of terrorism, violence, intimidation, poor treatment of women or even, most telling of all, child rape. Why the last? Because of Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha. Admitting that it’s wrong to have sex with children would be condemning the prophet, so you can’t do it.
  4. Islam Appears to be Unique. Islam’s ability to create suicide bombers, to excuse and encourage the worst aspects of human behaviour wherever it is followed, to unleash real horrors upon innocent civilians and the militarise believers appears to be unique in its scope. Terrorists exist across all ideologies and faiths – yes, even Buddhism – but Islam is the grand-daddy of them all possibly because of the cult-like nature of it, its internal enforcement and the lack of access to alternative points of view in Islamic communities. Yes, the actions of The West and Economics play a role, but to ignore the role of religion is ignorant.
  5. Islam Makes People Stupid. Not the Muslims, but my fellow lefties. Islam terrifies many of them in its implications, but so does the idea of being ‘racist’, of not being completely accepting and open to other points of view – even if those points of view are wrong, stupid, violent and dangerous. Never mind that you would not the same reaction when criticising any other ideology. If one were to say one hated Stalinism, for example, because of its cult of personality, the gulags, the purges of the intellectuals, its insane ideas about agricultural policy and the genocide of the kulaks, you would not be accused of being racist and your points would be taken seriously. Say something similar about Islam however and people will lose their minds.
  6. Islam is Hugely Arrogant. According to Islam we’re all born Muslims. This is why they use the term ‘revert’ for converts to Islam, instead of converts. This would just be annoying were it not for the fact that apostates (those who leave the religion) are subject to death under the Koran. Handy, but hardly fair or respectful.
  7. It’s Just Horrible. Sexist, racism, advocating for slavery, rape and murder, mutilation and so many other horrors. Its beliefs helped end the Islamic Golden Age as they became more rigorously enforced, it’s viciously anti-semitic, anti-scientific, dogmatic, autocratic and domineering. It has no true ‘moderate’ centre as we would understand it. I don’t see how any moral being can excuse it.

Nothing is simple, there’s always other factors, but so long as we keep ignoring Islam’s dogma, hate fuelled passages and its affect on the world we’re not going to be able to find or work towards solutions that might help. Ideally the human species needs to divest itself of religion (and faith) altogether, but that’s an unrealistic goal. Islam, at the very least, needs a reformation or a new sect. One that is explicitly peaceful and distances itself from its own violent past, one where membership is not automatic and enforced under pain of death.

Charlie Hebdo’s approach, that so offended Muslims, was to treat Islam the same way it treated every other religion. With scorn and childish schoolboy insult. ‘You’re not special’ was the message and it’s one that needs to be seen more. Instead, increasingly, we get cowardice in the face of Islamist threats and news organisations bowing to their demands, even while those who share their professions lay dead in morgues for standing up for universal principles that make life better for everyone.

I don’t hate Islam through ignorance, racism, bigotry or prejudice. I hate Islam having studied it, having seen what it does and what it believes and having seen how its unreasonable threats and terrorist actions make coward and hypocrites of those who should be standing against it.

And now I’m going to try ignoring it, like Gamergate, because people can’t stop and think whether I have a point long enough to overcome their panic.

2015 can’t get any worse at least, right?