Cernovich’s Dangerous Play

I’ve known Mike Cernovich for years, long before he chose to take a stand in Gamergate and became a primary object of hatred for Social Justice Warriors.  His law blog, Crime & Federalism, has been on my blogroll since 2007, and he brought many strong and illuminating points to the fore.  That said, he’s also made clear that he was not ashamed of being a man, or being the man he was.

Not being a gamer, I never became embroiled in Gamergate.  It wasn’t that I shrugged it off out of some reluctance to join in battle, but that I didn’t know or understand enough about the issues to bring anything useful to the discussion.  I had nothing illuminating to offer, and there were others who were far more knowledgeable and involved.  I chose not to be that dilettante.

Cerno, on the other hand, leaped into the middle of it, mostly under his twitter handle of @PlayDangerously, and at his other blog, Danger & Play.  As he did before, he owned his opinions, for better or worse, and became a target for hatred and revulsion by SJWs.  As the target, he gets cool twits from random people like this:

Alisha Grauso, someone I had never heard of, recently pondered, “Why do people retweet Mike Cernovich? He’s a vile person.”

The answer doesn’t demand brilliance. Because not everyone thinks like Grauso. It’s fine that Grauso thinks Cerno is a vile person, and its equally fine that others disagree, much as Grauso can’t grasp why.

But Mike raises a point that has bugged me as well for quite a while now:

So far as I can tell, social justice warriors (SJWs) don’t do much other than mine Twitter for offensive conduct, form online hate mobs, and try getting people fired.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe those brave warriors for justice are writing inspirational articles and encouraging and helping others rather than trying to tear down people like me. (By the way, haven’t you gotten bored yet? You’re not going to beat me. Ever.)

Do you SJWs have an actual message? 

I have a question for Ms. Grauso and other social justice warriors: Where is your positive message? Your inspirational writing?

While I wouldn’t characterize the question as whether their message is “inspirational,” his point as to whether the SJWs have a purpose other than turning over rocks to find someone who offends them is a good one.

The concept behind them isn’t particularly difficult to grasp. Enjoying the privilege of being whoever they are, they believe it is incumbent upon them to clean up the world of hatred and prejudice by identifying things that might be hurtful or harmful to other, less privileged, people on their behalf and eradicate it.  By doing so, SJWs are doing battle against the forces of those they deem evil and fighting for those who, according to the SJWs, are incapable of fighting for themselves.

Except nobody asked the SJWs to be their champions.  And the SJWs don’t ask those on whose behalf they go to war whether they want their help or agree that everything said by anybody anywhere ever offends them.  The SJWs believe they are fighting to help others, but they have become a force of their own, fighting for what they care about rather than for any cause of interest to their purported underprivileged victims.

And that’s where Mike’s question matters.  Is there a point to this beyond being the Offense Police?  Is there any goal beyond identifying ideas and the people who espouse them that you revile?  Do you wake up in the morning full of vim and vigor to turn over rocks and find the next person to hate?

If you want to lay claim to eliminating hatred, do you consider your role in perpetuating, no increasing it, by swarming around those who fail to embrace your vision of Utopia?  And what is your Utopia?

Have you ever read Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron?  Do you at least have ice cream sundaes when you get together to clutch your pearls and wring your hands?

There is a world out there of people who aren’t in agreement with you that offense exists everywhere, and that it’s your duty to eliminate whatever today’s flavor of offense is from the world.  There is a world out there of people who find jokes funny, and are good with their gender, their sexual orientation, whatever. They do not suffer the pain of humiliation because they have a penis instead of a vagina, and really don’t give a damn if you find that outrageous.

They do not seek your approval. Yes, you think they should, and can’t begin to grasp how it’s possible they don’t, but they don’t.

Mike Cernovich may not be your cup of tea, but that doesn’t make him vile.  And that you think it does makes no difference anyway. He’s not trying to make you like him or agree with him. He doesn’t give a damn if you despise him.  Nor do I.

Even though I have nothing to do with Gamergate, I hear enough of the SJWs who are outraged by anyone not adhering and promoting their vision of perfection for some amorphous others that I’ve long since given up trying to avoid their sanctimony.

I look forward to having a beer with Mike the next time he comes east, and maybe I will agree with him or maybe not.  But I would rather hang out with a guy who has something useful, something affirmative, to offer than a bunch of whiny people whose only purpose is finding something to be offended about.

Does that make me as vile as Cerno? Maybe. I may not play dangerously, but I surely don’t want to play your game either.


37 thoughts on “Cernovich’s Dangerous Play

  1. Richard G. Kopf


    I spend most of my life with my head up my ass. But, I am not looking for anal beads (whatever they are), I’m just . . . (fill in the blank).

    Anyway, I read this post and was fascinated by it. Truly. But I had no idea whatever of the meaning of the word “gamergate.” None whatever. I’m not kidding.

    So, I write to thank you for educating me. I mean this sincerely. Maybe I’ll pull my head out my ass more frequently. More likely, I’ll just turn 69 in December with all the implications associated therewith.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      Like you, I have my head up my ass as well. I considered whether I ought to provide some background on Gamergate, but truthfully, my information comes from grossly biased sources and I really don’t claim to have a clue, beyond the fact that it exists, it’s highly contentious, and involves a clash of claims of misogyny and ethics (with some sex thrown in for titillation) in computer gaming.

      I hesitate to even suggest that I’m equipped to explain the issues, no less the relative positions, and I’m clearly not qualified to offer an opinion on who is right, wrong or otherwise. So, welcome to the club and I’ve got seat saved for you right next to mine.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Gamergate is an interesting glimpse of the future. I’ve spent far too long trying to figure it out, and I have no idea what the real story is, or how you would go about figuring it out, even with a lot of personal interviews and subpoenas and a lie detector.

        Of course, a major difference between now and the past is that we used to (often wrongly) assume that the facts claimed by the traditional news outlets were actually facts. We now often know better, and, for example, although my gamergate knowledge is inadequate, it is sufficient enough for me to conclude that the gawker piece you link to is nowhere near as balanced as it tries to portray itself.

        1. SHG Post author

          I thought as much about the Gawker piece as well, but then, Gawker. The problem is that it’s become too hard, if not impossible, to find trustworthy (and thorough) sources on contentious issues.

          1. se

            Cathy Young at reason did pretty well researched articles on topic (two I think). Not much sensational there, basically only what she could verified. At least, that was my impression from her articles.

            Erik Kain at Forbes had careful trustworthy seeming articles too.

            1. SHG Post author

              Thanks for the leads. I’m a big fan of Cathy, but didn’t read her posts as I just didn’t care about Gamergate.

              GamerGate: Part I: Sex, Lies, and Gender Games

              Misandry in the GamerGate Controversy

              What #GamerGate Is Actually About

              As to the subject of this post, this paragraph from Cathy’s first Reason post sums it up:

              I do have personal experience with the gamers’ mortal enemies, the so-called “social justice warriors,” to know they can be a highly toxic Internet presence. Those who voice their loathing of “the SJWs” are not simply talking about people sympathetic to socially progressive causes but about cultist zealots who enforce the party line with the fervor of Mao’s Red Guards, though luckily without the real-life power. In social-media discussions of art and entertainment, the “warriors” can be found sniffing out and attacking such ideological deviations as liking a heterosexual love interest for a character perceived as gay, liking or disliking a character on the wrong side of race-and-gender identity politics, or (I kid you not) using the “ableist” nickname “derpy” for a klutzy pony on the TV cartoon My Little Pony. Let them gain enough influence in an online community, and they will poison it for anyone who wants to talk to other fans of their favorite shows, movies, or books—or games—without relentless hectoring about “privilege” and “oppression.”

              If it was up to me, I would have named the pony “herpy” instead of derpy, but that’s just me.

              Edit: I see Mike has also offered his explanation of #Gamergate.

      2. Frederick Petersen

        The SJWs, for the most part, revolve around self-fulfilling prophecies. For instance: SJWs claim that the technology sector is full of misogynists that will fight tooth and nail to keep women out of it. The media, smelling the sweet savor of outrage articles, picks this up and can’t be bothered to actually look at factual statistics. Women who then consume the media come to believe that the technology sector is full of misogynists that will fight tooth and nail to keep women out of it, and understandably may look for other fields of employment, thus lowering the number of women in the tech industry. And lo and behold, the SJWs scream: See?! We were right all along!”

        Meanwhile, anyone who points out the irony behind this system is immediately decried as being a misogynist, even if the individual in question supports the idea of women in the tech industry, or, for added absurdity, is a woman herself (with feminist scholar Christina H. Sommers being a prime example). In short, even if one was to insist that social justice warriors have the best of intentions for women, the conclusion is that their behavior is harming women’s issues more than any actual misogynist could ever hope to do. And this example is just the tip of the iceberg.

        1. SHG Post author

          So what you’re telling me is that you didn’t read a few comments down where I linked to Cerno’s post, as well as others?

  2. Elie Mystal

    I… agree. I mean, not with Mike’s stand on Gamergate. At all. But at some point, trying to get people fired for disagreeing with you loses whatever point you were trying to make.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting people fired. Politicians, cops, pretty much any agent of the state. But, private people, come on. People piss me off on Twitter all the time. I tell them to go fuck themselves, then move on with my life.

  3. Dave

    I think you are far too kind to call them SJWs. I think they are Outrage Junkies(tm). They get off on being outraged about something. It makes them feel superior and allows them to viciously attack someone (in the rhetorical sense) with tacit social approval for doing so (by some).

    1. Brandon

      One description I liked in particular (but alas, I cannot recall the source or who it referred to specifically) was Professional Umbrage Taker.

  4. John Barleycorn

    Damn esteemed one, how do you go about reconciling your internal Billy Buckley vs. Mikey Cernovich conflicts when you have to go about picking out Bar Mitzvah gifts for the next generation? Throw in SJWs and I just don’t know how you do it?

    BTW, you do know the future of planet and civilization itself could very well be resting on that very delicate balance or whatever twisted realm that decision has to be made in.

    P.S. All I want to know after a little reading stroll is:

    Is cocaine a nootropic and just exactly what part of the 70’s is this gonna look like once all the balls are in the air?

    P.S.S. Don’t tell either side of this ride about gravity whatever you do!

  5. Antonin I. Pribetic

    Actually, it’s about the ethics of gaming journalism, or is it the gamification of journalistic ethics? I did master Golden Eye back in the day, but I still don’t get what this GamerGate has to do with Mike Cernovich’s Twitter account.

  6. Rob McMillin

    Do you SJWs have an actual message?

    An excellent question.

    Now, I understand that there are people who find “SJW” itself a pejorative. (I would here link to George R.R. Martin’s remarks regarding the similar #SadPuppies fiasco at the Hugos, but for the proscription on links.) To those people arguing in good faith and not engaging in broad-brush suppression of or pearl-clutching at dissenting views, I have no problem dropping the nomenclature as pointless labeling.

    1. SHG Post author

      Is there a non-pejorative name for SJWs? I used it because it’s the most common descriptor, but I didn’t use it in order to be pejorative.

      1. Rob McMillin

        I’m not sure; and Martin may himself be the only objector. But, and I frequently have to remind myself of this, Ken White’s backgrounder on GamerGate is spot on when he says that the vast majority of label-based argumentation is nonsense. (He used a stronger term for a bovine substance deposited in pastures, but you get the idea.)

        1. SHG Post author

          I trust you’re referring to this?

          95% Of Label-Based Analysis Is Bullshit.

          GamerGate is label-heavy, and labels are lazy, obfuscating bullshit.

          #GamerGate dialogue relies heavily on labels — feminist, gamer, MRA, SJW, and so forth. That’s why it’s mostly noise. I’ve used labels before, and when I have, what I’ve written has been mostly noise. Labels are an excellent way to vent outrage, but a lousy way to argue about ideas or facts.

          For those who are deeply committed on the inside, the nuance of labels means far more than it does to those of us who have no real appreciation of whatever butthurt comes along with the name. Labels serve a shorthand purpose. Is calling someone a feminist good or bad?

          It reminds me of a judge with whom I didn’t get along particularly well, telling me, “whenever you say the words ‘your honor,’ it sounds to me like you’re saying a curse.” She was quite perceptive.

      2. Alan

        I’m pretty sure SJW was coined by people who dislike them; however, for a while at least people would self-identify proudly as SJWs (the rationale being that fighting for social justice isn’t really a bad thing). This may have changed recently; people were complaining recently that SJW was a gamergate-created word (it’s not — it predates it by quite a bit).

        People getting outraged at nothing is older than that, and I can’t recall a self-imposed label for it; I remember rolling my eyes at Shakesville back in 2008 and she was already well-established.

    2. Jenny S.

      George is coming down on the wrong side, in my opinion. He’s backing the same people who can’t watch Game of Thrones because it’s too racist, sexist, etc. and would like to see it banned and said books burned. There is an article on the Guardian which I would link to, if I could. He may end up pondering his beard when he’s had a proper think about it.

      As far as I can see SJW’s don’t create anything, there is no positive message. I think this article is spot on regarding that.

      I’m not involved in gamergate and I hadn’t heard of it until humanity landed a probe in a comet in space and humanities answer to that was to humiliate the guy who led the project because of the shirt he was wearing. I wondered what type of people were these who would do that to a scientist?

      I found out that these people who were outraged by the shirt were called social justice warriors. I think what annoyed me most of all was the gloating when the poor guy appeared on the TV in tears a day or so later to apologize. ‘Nerds deserve to be bullied’ was one quote that I can still remember.

      If you would have asked me 6 months ago if I was for social justice I would have said – of course. If you were to ask me now, I would ask you – how can all of that nastiness and bullying ever be justified in the name of anything to do with Justice?

      1. Not Jim Ardis

        Well, since I and my taste in Hugo nominees and culture in general so disappoints GRRM, I’ll just save him from my money and just eschew his works.

        Thankfully, it’s been so long since his last GoT book that I’ve long since lost my desire to read the next one. So he did us both a favor…

  7. barnassey

    I’ll take the SJW’s seriously when they stop telling black folks who disagree with their narrative what to do and think. As well as them saying all who supported #notyourshield hashtag as being white sock puppets.

  8. Alan

    Gamergate is really too stupid and insignificant to go into too much detail about in terms of specifics of each side’s claims; what’s sad about claims about ‘SJWs’ or their opposition is that they both use incredibly similar tactics.

    Both sides have recognizable semi-reasonable nitwits that are the ‘face’ of gamergate; GG has the MRAs, anti-GG has SJW. Both sides have hordes of unhinged idiots (quite a few eggs with <50 followers) who will gleefully lob threats of violence at these 'faces'. From there you have the peculiar situation where both sides will claim to be victims of the other, using the other side's refusal to condemn (or, often, acknowledge) the attacks by the unhinged idiots as tacit approval of the attacks.

    This includes Mike Cernovich, who has pulled the 'bullying' card regarding anti-GG being mean to GG, among other nonsense.

    This isn't to say I think both sides are morally equivalent; I find the GG faces pretty repugnant, while anti at its worst is merely pathetic.

    1. SHG Post author

      For somebody who claims he thinks GG is too stupid and insignificant to be worth explaining, you go to great length to show the depth of your knowledge about it and express your strongly held opinions. I call bullshit.

      1. Alan

        Bullshit on what? I do think it’s incredibly stupid, especially in context of this blog. You’re posting about actual life and death injustices regularly, and Gamergate is about a difference in opinion. It’s about people acting like a multi-billion-dollar industry is at risk from a bunch of twitter users. I call it stupid because no matter how much I dig on either side of the discussion, all I get is idiocy. It’s a movement that somehow both sides are wining. My thinking it’s stupid doesn’t mean I’m neutral on it, though. If I had to pick a side I’d pick the one with the SJWs, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to hang around with them. I think the basic claim that ‘hey, maybe not every game should have a white dude as a protagonist’ is valid, even if the way it’s phrased is constantly terrible.

        I mostly lurk on this blog because I have nothing to contribute on most topics. With gamergate I actually saw it start, I followed it for a while. I know something about it, so I decided to leave a comment; hell, Gamergate is how I found popehat’s blog, started following him, and how I eventually found your blog.

        I’m not even claiming to be an expert on ‘Gamergate’ (I stopped tracking as closely as I had been, since all the constant yelling is just tiring), just that reading Cathy Young’s article on it, a lot of it just didn’t match what I remember. I was being kind when I said it was inaccurate; my true feelings is that she’d whitewashed a lot of it, in favor of a ‘fair and balanced’ view. A huge part of how the GG ‘event’ played out is people using anonymity to be awful to women, via death and rape threats.

        Ultimately, I didn’t want to post a huge ‘this is what really happened in gamergate’ post because it’d be a) boring and b) probably inaccurate. In the end, I kind of did that, though. I guess I got carried away because I had a couple of comments approved.

        1. Alan

          Since I can’t edit, an addendum, feel free to delete: the reason I think it’s boring is because I’ve tried explaining gamergate to people who don’t follow games, and realized just how profoundly stupid it all is, and I actually bored myself in the retelling.

          There’s nothing really at stake; video game companies are making the same games they were before, for better or for worse. The angry diatribes from two very vocal minorities (SJWs and GGers) have had a tiny effect on the industry, if any at all. The majority of ‘moderate’ gamers I’ve seen to are sympathetic to the more inclusive side, but they were before the whole thing started. Nowadays, they seem to want to steer clear of the mess (like me). If anything, SJWs have done a remarkable job alienating people who would otherwise be on their side (at some point they were demanding loyalty oaths from every major gaming publication — either you state your support publicly or you support the enemy).

          1. Alan

            Ugh, I promise this is the last:

            In fact, the ‘loyalty oath’ thing was when I checked out. I’m sure as hell not supporting GG, but I didn’t want to have anything to do with the antis either.

        2. neoteny

          the basic claim that ‘hey, maybe not every game should have a white dude as a protagonist’ is valid

          I worked on several edutainment games where the protagonists weren’t ‘white dudes’. In particular I wrote the code which moved Merida — a Disney princess equipped with a bow & arrows — around on a 2.5D screen. Another game featured Doc McStuffins, an African-American girl protagonist (yet again a Disney character).

          Accordingly, I find ‘the basic claim’ invalid: ‘every game’ doesn’t have a white dude as a protagonist. People are free to produce/design/develop any kind of game with any kind — or no — protagonist(s) in them.

  9. Mike Cernovich

    2007? Wow, time flies! It has certainly been my pleasure to know you and I look forward to meeting one of these days.

    As to the question of what is GamerGate, I wrote an article answer that for you at C&F. I of course know not to link it in your comments!

    Hope to meet up with you in 2015.

    – Mike

  10. DDA

    You wrote, “Is there any goal beyond identifying ideas and the people who espouse them that you revile?”

    The goal is simple: Power and the money and control that it brings. If they can shout you down or shut you up or make you self-censor or get you fired for comments whispered to your friend, they have control over you. And that control leads to money (witness all the Patreons these folks are running, not to mention getting paid for articles).

    Of course, the folks in the Twitter mobs aren’t necessarily getting a lot of money or power but those controlling the mob certainly are.

  11. Bartleby the Scrivener

    I wish I could buy both you and Mr. Cernovich a beer. Your writings and views are most excellent and compelling, and I appreciate them.

    *I’m not suggesting I’d like to be present for it. I have enough social anxiety as it is.

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