Moral Panics and the Death of Fun

Hi, I’m Pax Dickinson. I’m the guy who was shamed by Gawker and fired because I made off color jokes on twitter. I’ve been quiet for the past year, but I wanted to stick my head up and talk about some troubling trends in the technology industry. This isn’t an essay about me and my moment of infamy; it’s an essay about tolerance (or, rather, the lack of it) in the tech world and how political correctness is making people fear to ‘Think Different’. If we’ve learned anything from the amazing Silicon Valley explosion that’s done so much to expand our horizons over the last thirty years, it’s that tech – and the world – needs its misfits, its rebels, and its troublemakers. Over the last few years, out of a mix of motivations (some good, some bad), the tech industry is losing the freedom that made it – and America – great. This worries me, and I want to talk about it.

After being fired last year from my job as Business Insider CTO, I went full time into building Glimpse with my co-founder Elissa. I really felt strongly that I could try to take some of the negativity and try to leverage it into building something positive for privacy and free speech. The Glimpse story is still to be concluded but having built out the infrastructure and encryption architecture successfully after a year it was time for me to move on to other things.

I also knew that I was holding Elissa back. I know my baggage was hurting the company. We were asked to insert clauses that would strip my equity if I “embarrassed” the company and it’s reasonable to assume that my presence as co-founder made other VCs shy away from us, which is heartbreaking to me because Elissa is fucking amazing and deserves better than that.

A Moral Panic On The Dance Floor

I’ve been observing the political developments in the technology scene keenly since that day just over a year ago, and what I’ve seen disturbs me. I’ve seen similar events happen to several other people, most notably in the Mozilla/Brendan Eich fiasco. This intolerance of dissenting & unpopular opinions in technology is frightening and the trend has only been accelerating. What happened to Brendan Eich, and the donglegate guys, and others is the result of a moral panic.

Mozilla - Brendan EichA moral panic doesn’t have any relation to reason. It’s a mob expression of rage against an issue that threatens the social order, usually relating to the violation of some cultural taboo. There exists a long American tradition of moral panics, from Prohibition in the 1920s, to the Red Scare of the 1950s, and most egregiously the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. People were jailed and  lives ruined over obviously false accusations made by children trying to please psychiatrists and other adult authority figures.

Brendan Eich faced a different flavor of moral panic, but I’d argue that the events are not wholly dissimilar. His donations favoring Prop 8 were a blasphemy against the reigning orthodoxy (despite it winning a majority of the vote at the time), and he was forced to resign from the organization he founded despite his amazing accomplishments and impeccable technological credentials, and despite a long track record of working well with all manner of diverse employees and co-workers.

I see the current GamerGate uproar as a pushback against a related ongoing moral panic, this one against ‘sexism’ in video games. The video gaming press has launched a moral shaming attack against their own readers for their perceived sexism, but unlike the previous moral panics the gaming community has refused to cower before the onslaught and has risen up in rebellion against the accusations.

I’m far from the only one to notice this general trend towards moral shaming. Joel Kotkin wrote an article on the topic for the Daily Beast back in June entitled, “Watch What You Say, The New Liberal Power Elite Won’t Tolerate Dissent”:

The new liberal ruling elite, a mix of academics and cultural powerbrokers, is like the old clerical orders—wielding its wealth and power to enforce “truths” and punish dissenters.

Today’s Clerisy attempts to distill today’s distinctly secular “truths”—on issues ranging from the nature of justice, race and gender to the environment—and decide what is acceptable and that which is not. Those who dissent from the accepted point of view can expect their work to be simply ignored, or in some cases vilified. In the Clerical bastion of San Francisco, an actress with heretical views, in this case supporting a Tea Party candidate, who was pilloried, and lost work for her offense.

Kotkin’s ‘Clerisy’ believes that ‘incorrect’ opinions should be punished and driven from the public square. We’ve seen this happen in media, to people like Rick Sanchez and Anthony Cumia. We’ve seen this on university campuses, where FIRE has done so much good work defending freedom of speech and diversity of thought against would-be cultural censors. In the past year we’ve begun seeing it in the tech industry as well, and right now the video gaming scene is facing the same kinds of attacks.

Pull Over, This is the Moral Police

When Valleywag posted their story about me, they dug through years of tweets to find the ones most damaging to take out of context, mostly tweets that had been posted years before to an audience of two dozen friends. The most damaging tweet was a 3edgy5me reference to long forgotten celebrity gossip item I had tweeted several months before I began working at Business Insider. The author of the article pointedly referred to my employment status to directly imply I should be terminated immediately. As I was, the next morning.

It’s common to make comments around friends that one wouldn’t want widely distributed. Have you ever tweeted in jest about how badly you need a drink? Your friends who know you rarely imbibe to excess might chuckle, but how would that comment come across at a child custody hearing? What if it featured on the front page of Gawker, juxtaposed with five other tweets about heavy drinking, carefully cherry picked from thousands of tweets over years of social media use? What might your boss and your co-workers think? What would your neighbors think?

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.56.26 AMWhile I certainly regret some of the tweets that I agree went too far and were offensive, this was speech on the internet. No one was physically harmed by my tweets. Relief was never more than a Block button away. I never tweeted at people who didn’t want to hear from me, no one had to read my tweets without opting in.

No one at Valleywag ever attempted to contact me, before the article went up or afterwards. In the following days, I was declared by literally every media organization that I have ever heard of, and many that I haven’t, to literally be The Devil. CNN hilariously posted a picture of me in a Halloween costume wearing horns. Other outlets used a different Halloween pic of me as a brogrammer with a popped collar. (Don’t tweet pics of your Halloween costumes kids. It’ll come back to bite you. Trust me.)

Reporters contacted anyone who had recommended me on LinkedIn. I was a trending twitter topic, the “Sexist Tech Bro Nightmare”. I got dozens of death threats, which I didn’t take seriously, but it was still disquieting to receive threats, and it says something disturbing about the vindictiveness of the Clerisy when their social norms are transgressed.

The thesis of the media coverage was that I had retrograde opinions about women, and couldn’t work with them.  I can understand, I suppose, how they reached these conclusions from a handful of tweets, but ironically the reality is the exact opposite of the story they drew.

I have a long, long record of successfully working with women, working for women, and having women working for me. At Business Insider I reported to a woman, and I had a female developer working for me the entire three years I was there. We got along terrifically. I’m still friends with the developer. When I’m asked for professional references, I provide glowing recommendations from three women. No one has ever alleged that I engaged in improper behavior at work, or with regards to employment and hiring. If the Clerisy could have found someone, they would have, and Lord did they try.

think different skull

Let’s Stop Firing People For Expressing Themselves

I expressed opinions and reporters went through my life with a fine toothed comb looking for further dirt to pin on me. They dug into my personal life, and they dug into my professional past. They found nothing. An army of reporters couldn’t find a single shred of evidence that I was ever guilty of sexism at the office or had anything but a happy home life with my wife of 16 years. So while I am certainly guilty of being a troll and while I certainly am a complete idiot to have made all of this possible, I have a great track record where it matters most, with the people I worked side by side with every day to build great things, and with my family.

My career has been irretrievably damaged. I’ll always have trouble finding a job. It used to be easy for me but even a year later I find that recruiters shy away and applications to jobs I’m well qualified for don’t result in a call back. I’m not worried, I know that with enough time I’ll find someone who doesn’t mind my notoriety given my skills, but I’ll always pay a very real price for this whole incident. I can certainly accept that for myself, but I hate to see the tech industry that I grew up respecting for its freewheeling style and embrace of eccentric freethinking degenerate into moral gray goo. This issue is far bigger than me and my career.

If the tech industry gets rid of its iconoclasts, if it expels its rabble rousers, if it Bans Fun, will it even be the tech industry we treasure any more? Can technology remain an innovation engine when “Think Different” is punished by an informal social blacklisting at the hands of the Clerisy? Did we build an Internet to foster free speech and let it be taken over by Mrs. Grundy, to use in whipping up mobs to voice her moral disapproval?

And my God, are we going to also let this happen to video games, of all things? Have these people no decency? Shall we draw a line here, at GamerGate, before we have nowhere left to go? Will we let those who seek to turn the pastime we love, a hobby about Fun, into a hobby about ‘Social Justice’?

I don’t mind if they make games about the things they like. I want everyone to have the same freedom to make what they like, and play what they like, without being lectured or oppressed for making those choices. We can all make wonderful things, together or separately, in gaming and in the tech industry as a whole, but if we choose to purify the world of heretics instead, it comes at the cost of innovation. It comes as the cost of great products. It comes at the cost of Fun.

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97 thoughts on “Moral Panics and the Death of Fun

  1. Cowardly Anonymous Founder says:

    It’s interesting (and saddening) to hear about things like the “embarrassment clause” – I had no idea that last year’s scandal would have had such an impact.

    I also work in the tech world. I came across Moldbug around April last year, and immediately realised the reactionaries shared many conclusions about the world which I’d formed independently. I’d previously been fairly libertarian, and I wondered if I should try and spread reactionary ideas amongst my tech friends, many of whom also tend to be (cynical, realist, pragmatic) libertarians. I’m very glad that I didn’t. It seems the dangers of being associated with such ideas were even greater than I’d previously assumed.

    Since you’re looking for a new project, are you interested in discussing ideas? I currently work as a web developer for a startup in Asia, and there’s a lot of money available out here – a LOT – if you know the right way to pitch yourself. Not many people here will care what Californians whinge about on Twitter.

    Sometime in the next few years I hope to start a business, possibly something around cryptocurrency, or a crypto/blockchain-based platform inspired by Moldbug’s “Antiversity”. Singapore could be a good place to start up – lots of Objectivists and libertarians like it because they have a very efficient, business-friendly regime that treats residents like customers. You should be able to see my email (and can see my background if you Google my real name – I haven’t shipped anything impressive but I was the top student on my CS course and previously went through one of the most prestigious European accelerators). Please do drop me a line if you want to chat more!

    Like

    • Cowardly Anonymous Founder says:

      https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8493620 Damn, Hacker News flagkilled this article. The community has certainly come a long way since it was created by Paul “What You Can’t Say” Graham. I was in the middle of writing a long comment in that thread; I think it deserves to be posted here instead:

      ====

      I’m going to fulfil the Hacker News stereotype and defend this evil racist brogrammer with epic amounts of pedantry. [1]

      [the following is a quote from the top comment on the HN thread:]

      This guy was a C-level exec for a financial journal making rape jokes and using racial slurs

      This sentence is inaccurate. In actuality, the guy was a C-level exec for a financial journal who several years prior to attaining his current position had posted a tweet satirising Mel Gibson’s use of rape jokes and racial slurs.

      Do these differences matter? I.e., are they morally relevant? Yes. We can agree that Pax’s acts were bad, but there are degrees of badness. Pax was punished (by the court of public opinion) for what he said, and the punishment was grossly disproportionate to the crime.

      The principle “People with high-status positions should uphold high standards of public conduct, and fired if they do not” is reasonable. If we didn’t uphold this principle, and, e.g., let high-status people make racist jokes in public, it would signal that making racist jokes was considered acceptable. Firing such a person is harsh but is justifiable because executives should be able to police their own behaviour, and therefore such firings should be very rare.

      However, the principle “people with high-status positions should never have broken high standards of public conduct, and fired if they have done so, even if it was many years ago” is not reasonable. Especially in an age with many communication platforms, each with a rapidly evolving culture (several years ago, Twitter was more like a casual mass IRC channel), almost everyone will have said things in one forum that would be improper to say in another forum.[2] So punishing people for historical improper speech is not reasonable, because it leads to a culture where people can be fired at any time for something they said long ago – and since you can’t fire everyone who ever tweeted a racist joke, people will either be fired at random, or at the will of whichever social media “influencer” has an axe to grind. Furthermore, people will have to assume that any comment made anywhere online might someday be blasted across media outlets and used to kill their career. It’s not just rape jokes; sensible people will avoid debating Marxism, or creationism, or abortion, or any controversial topic. If you agree that arbitrary firings or suppression of debate is bad, this principle is bad.

      OK, but aren’t rape jokes and racial slurs evidence of a racist, misogynist character unfit to work in a modern corporation? In Pax’s case, clearly not. He worked for a female boss, had a female developer report to him, and later co-founded a startup with a woman. All of them said positive things about them [3], and the media could not find anyone he had worked with to say negative things about him. Again, it seems pedantic to point it out, but “raped by a pack of n****rs” was poking fun at something Mel Gibson had said which was in the news at the time. At the time, in that context, it was clear Pax was making fun of Mel Gibson, not women or black people. Several years later, out of context, Pax sounds like a racist, misogynistic brogrammer. This underscores the basic unfairness of taking comments from a ephemeral medium like Twitter and extrapolating from them someone’s entire character.

      What’s my point? My point is that even if you think that Pax was wrong to make his comments, a reasonable punishment would have been forcing him to make a public apology. Firing him and effectively blackballing him from the industry is massively disproportionate, and punishing people in such a way only hurts the tech community.

      Obviously the tech industry is not a single decision-making entity, and the “court of public opinion” is not an actual court. There is no single judge meting out punishments to people like Pax Dickinson, Brandon Eich, et al. But there is definitely a social movement committed to ousting people like them. And this movement is organised around a few core leaders: Anil Dash, Shanley Kane, Ashe Dryden, Steve Klabnik and a dozen or so others. When one of these people decides to publicly criticise someone, they almost always succeed in mobilising several thousand social media followers and then most of the mainstream tech blogs against that person. Though the actions of Twitter mobs seem arbitrary, the leaders appear to be intelligent, rational adults and we must assume their decisions are not arbitrary, but aim towards a definite goal. From their writings online, they clearly believe they are working for a just cause. It is also clear that they have a very strange definition of justice and very strange moral principles.

      Greedy and short-sighted people generally act alone or in small groups and do little damage. People who uphold bad moral principles can attract huge numbers of followers and do limitless amounts of damage. The ‘clerisy’ have completely perverted the concept of justice. They are evil.

      [1] Call me an insensitive Spock-type with no feelings. I believe logical pedantry is justified because I believe there is an objective standard of morality, which isn’t based purely on emotions, and which can be elucidated through reason and logic. I used to think ethics was subjective and relative but I became convinced that there are ethical facts which most sensible people can agree on – such as “killing someone for no reason is bad” and “keeping your promises is good” – which can be used as logical axioms to derive further moral principles, such as non-coercion and property rights. Furthermore, these principles can be judged by whether or not they improve the prosperity and welfare of society.

      [2] I know, you and your friends would never even consider making racist/sexist jokes, even in private. But I bet you make jokes about rednecks/Mormons/Catholics/etc which you wouldn’t want to add to your LinkedIn profile. It’s part of human nature to joke about an outgroup when amongst close friends.

      [3] https://twitter.com/ElissaBeth/status/385557657853390848 “Drinks w/ folks from @BusinessInsider. They won’t stop talking about how Pax was awesome CTO. Women devs too. Wow.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • sdfsdf says:

        The only time I’ve seen a story flagkilled with such prejudice was when someone posted an article by a philosopher calling Neil Degrasse Tyson a philosophical ignoramus. So, that’s what you’re dealing with now on the “Hacker” “News”.

        Like

  2. Thanks for this, good read, really unfortunate what these puritanical hypocrites did to you.

    Like

  3. Uncle Ebola says:

    Political Correctness is not like a religion. It IS a religion. Their religion and its liberal tenets do not tolerate any dissent. You were branded Heretic and they flexed their power far and wide to make sure you can’t get a job. Is there not one business owner with a sack out there willing to give you a job? Is every multimillionaire and billionaire a diaper wearing liberal? Did not one person reach out to you and help? Fucking amazing and sad.

    Like

  4. Elliot says:

    “A moral panic doesn’t have any relation to reason. …the Red Scare of the 1950s….”

    That doesn’t belong in your list. KGB files confirmed that there were, in fact, spies in government. “McCarthyism” is falsely equated to witch hunts. There is no such thing as witches, but there were, in fact, Soviet moles.

    You can criticize the methods of McCarthy and his ilk, but stop pretending that there were no communist agents or that their allegiance to a regime which murdered tens of millions and which militarily occupied a good portion of Europe was nothing to fear.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Uncle Ebola says:

      And their extremist descendents in the current American Left would have no problem with another gulag/mass murder in the US as long as the “right people” were being butchered. For now they are satisfied with economically and socially starving their ideological enemies, but as their ability to control the narrative fails, watch out, they are sociopaths and will not play nice.

      GamerGate is not the last bastion waiting to fall to the Left, its going to be the first of many major set-backs left/liberals are going to face. They are unable to control the toxic lunatic fringe within their ranks. The average person is starting to realize that the extremist liberals and SJWs do not live in the real world. The average person does not want have a sex change operation or marry a donkey or become a minority in their own nation. With non-whites starting to divorce themselves from the elitist white liberals and lead themselves, liberals are going to find themselves isolated, alone and carrying some really bad luggage.

      Like

      • ProgHater says:

        Which is why everyone needs to vote Republican for the mid-terms to stop these progs from destroying society.

        Like

      • DayofTheRope says:

        “With non-whites starting to divorce themselves from the elitist white liberals and lead themselves, liberals are going to find themselves isolated, alone and carrying some really bad luggage.”

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say that non-whites are,or will be, leading themselves but nevertheless,you are correct. We have reached the point where people who are divorced from reality-in a word, insane- are leading vast numbers of dependent people that they have made insane through sexual and psychological abuse. They are divorced from reality,but as you have said, they are vicious and bloodthirsty and on a religious crusade against normal and healthy people. It’s very serious, but we have a couple of things on our side. One thing is that we know they are insane, the other is that we know they are incapable of introspection,incapable of finding any fault whatsoever in themselves;incapable therefore, of stopping or backing up.

        Our strength is in using their momentum and force against them,in this way, we will force them to injure their own cause, to betray their own ideals and goals,to cut off every limb they would use to injure us with,to rush upon our swords and lances, and finally to bash their own heads against the iron laws of reality until they kill themselves in their own self-destructive rage and blindness.

        Always keep this goal in mind when confronting one of them. Isolate easy targets for this program and pick them off one-by-one. Force them to cut their own throats.Never have any mercy or pity for any of them. Never have any consideration for them,they would destroy you in a moment without even thinking about it. They are sick and diseased and must be neutralized for the good of society. But yes, handle them with care for your own safety. If you are vulnerable or incapable of playing the game by their Chicago Rules,practice on easy targets, rabbits that have already fallen out of favor with the warren or who curry little favor with the high priests of perversity or their adherents.

        Like

      • me says:

        Twenty years from now, being considered a “Nazi” will be less toxic to one’s standing than “liberal” or “Democrat”. The question is how many millions of lives will it take to reach that point…

        Like

    • Kyla says:

      So many people were terrified of being considered “red” that they changed the way they do things, name things, the way they act or speak, just so some nosy person didn’t go decide they didn’t like them and report them for being a spy. One incident that stands out to me is “St. George and the Dragonet”. They changed “Little Red Riding Hood” to “Little Blue Riding Hood” so no one would get the wrong idea.

      This is exactly what is happening now with the social justice tyrants.

      Like

    • Orthodox says:

      Far more importantly, the SJWs are the descendants of the communists who took over the academy, media and government of the United States. There is an element of mob madness involved that is apolitical, but the goals of the SJWs and their assorted fellow travelers are pure communism.

      Like

    • xcbsmith says:

      You can criticize the methods of McCarthy and his ilk

      I believe that was precisely what was being criticized…

      Like

      • Elliot says:

        “Only years later did I come to grasp, as the formulation has it, that some of the witches were real; or at least, that they were less principled idealists than pitiless ideologues and apparatchiks-in-waiting for their dream of a Sovietized America.”

        http://bit.ly/1tjbTiW

        Like

  5. No, lets not stop harassing people for what they say. What you said was stupid, shitty, and this whole “PC movement” is not something getting in the way of your fun. You have an incomplete (and utterly self-centric) view of why this happened, the ramifications of it happening, and what should happen next as a result.

    We’re not taking away your free speech. We’re calling you an asshole, because, I mean, you kind of sound like an asshole. That’s our freedom, too. You say your thing, we say ours, and whatever happens is out of either of our control.

    Say sexist shit? Online? On Twitter? It’s not the “Moral Mob’s” fault that you got called out for it.

    Like

    • scastro87 says:

      ^the same logic would support blacklisting communists.

      Like

      • me says:

        Well, communists (like “liberals”) are prone to genocide and brutal persecution of others. They SHOULD be blacklisted!

        Like

    • grerp says:

      There’s a considerable difference between disagreeing with what people say, online or elsewhere, even denouncing it as immoral or unacceptable, and depriving that person of his ability to earn a living and support a family. The latter is essentially social terrorism and is deliberately chilling to free speech and free thought.

      Look, it was just Twitter. How many times have we seen people comment on articles about actual murderers and rapists that “He was a good boy,” or “He was pulling his life together”? How can there be sympathy for violent criminals and none for people like Brendan Eich who have, at best, only a very limited retarding effect on “progress”? Pax didn’t commit any crimes, other than thought crimes, and if you were hurt or angered by his thoughts, maybe you and people like you need to stop venturing outside your online bubbles and stay where it’s safe – with the people who think exactly like you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • see, this is why we should have kept up the Red Scare instead of giving up because a few people got caught up in it through no fault of their own. Next time we won’t be so naïve.

      Liked by 1 person

    • DayofTheRope says:

      “Say sexist shit? Online? On Twitter? It’s not the “Moral Mob’s” fault that you got called out for it.”

      Why does anyone need to be “called out” for saying anything? What is your motivation for taking it upon yourself to mete out punishment or reward for the things that people say on twitter?

      Like

  6. Not my real name says:

    Hear hear. The shame is, I would ordinarily link to this on twitter, but I don’t want to get fired for offenses against the cleresy.

    Like

  7. Richard Call says:

    I interpret one of your tweets as saying: “The more women you rape, the better”.

    Cry me a river. Society is a double-edged sword.

    https://twitter.com/paxdickinson/statuses/18435669053 <- you [redacted]
    http://www.meltingasphalt.com/personhood-a-game-for-two-or-more-players/ <- suggested reading to help you be more successful at life.

    Like

    • paxdickinson says:

      I have no idea what tweet you’re referencing, but your interpretation is wildly incorrect. If you’d be more specific I’d be more than happy to explain it.

      Like

      • Andre Kibbe says:

        The redacted tweet he’s referencing: “Who has more ambition, dedication, and drive? Kobe only raped one girl, Lebron raped an entire city. +1 for Lebron.”

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/pax-dickinson-fired-business-insider-tweets_n_3900548.html

        Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        That tweet is referencing LeBron leaving Cleveland and sarcastically pointing out that LeBron was subject to more vitriol from NBA fans for leaving his hometown team than Kobe Bryant was for literally being charged with rape. I’m actually making a satirical comment in this tweet against the trivialization of rape charges.

        Look at later minus the “LeBron leaves Cleveland” context makes the satirical nature hard to see, and it admittedly wasn’t that good of a joke. Like my Mel Gibson tweet, the way it was interpreted was the opposite of the underlying message I was trying to make.

        I publicly apologized for that tweet and since deleted it.

        Like

      • Andre Kibbe says:

        “That tweet is referencing LeBron leaving Cleveland and sarcastically pointing out that LeBron was subject to more vitriol from NBA fans for leaving his hometown team than Kobe Bryant was for literally being charged with rape. I’m actually making a satirical comment in this tweet against the trivialization of rape charges.”

        That’s not how it reads to me. More importantly, that’s not how it gets read by your prospective employers. Anyone who’s been online for any reasonable length of time knows that using irony (real or alleged) to discuss emotionally charged topics like rape is Russian roulette, especially when doled out in 140-character capsules. There’s a reason Jonathan Swift wrote essays, not epigrams.

        “Look at later minus the ‘LeBron leaves Cleveland’ context makes the satirical nature hard to see, and it admittedly wasn’t that good of a joke. Like my Mel Gibson tweet, the way it was interpreted was the opposite of the underlying message I was trying to make.”

        So the problem was “the way it was interpreted,” like Alex in A Clockwork Orange begging for mercy: “I see now that what I did was wrong because it’s, like, against society!”

        If only everyone else was hip enough to pick up on the underlying message. Sorry, but employers who don’t waste time reading Gawker or TMZ aren’t going to recognize phrases like “a pack of niggers” as coming from elsewhere, and the burden of due diligence for contextualizing an applicant’s offensive social graph isn’t on hiring managers.

        IT jobs get hundreds of applicants. In an employer’s market, there’s no reason for any company to take a risk on someone who’s demonstrated a recurring pattern of socially aggressive online interactions when there are plenty of applicants to choose from without that baggage. If someone in HR sees a bunch of tweets suggesting that the applicant who tweeted them might be emotionally unstable, it’s easier to move on another candidate than to spend extra time trying to find some rational impetus behind those ostensibly outrageous tweets.

        We all make mistakes. Plenty of people post an occasional tone-deaf tweet. Justine Sacco was fired over her “going to Africa” tweet. Yet she got a job again, for two reasons: (1) it was an isolated incident, so blogs couldn’t produce a rap sheet caching and collating a dozen similar insults; (2) when she apologized, she really apologized, describing herself has “ashamed” and the tweet as “needless,” “careless,” and “insensitive”. She didn’t hide behind the sophistry of “I’m sorry you were offended” or “Admittedly, it wasn’t that good of a joke.” She’s not writing follow-up blog posts lamenting the death of fun (at other people’s expense).

        “I publicly apologized for that tweet and since deleted it.”

        And yet a year later, in this essay, you argue that the consequences are society’s fault, not yours—an extended non-apology apology guaranteed to further your exile from the kingdom. Good luck with that.

        Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        The people like you who aren’t going to forgive me are never going to forgive me no matter what I do.

        I explained to have that on the record but I knew you would continue to chastise me. It’s how the game is played. I’m done being intimidated by it though.

        Like

      • Andre Kibbe says:

        “The people like you who aren’t going to forgive me are never going to forgive me no matter what I do.

        I explained to have that on the record but I knew you would continue to chastise me. It’s how the game is played. I’m done being intimidated by it though.”

        If laying down some unvarnished truth on you was “chastisement,” then guilty as charged. You haven’t even tried to refute anything I said, you just continue to act like a victim. Man up, FFS.

        It doesn’t matter what I think of you. What does matter is what potential employers think of you. If your social graph portrays you as a malcontent, you’re going to have problems in the job market. You might be OK with that. I’ve probably been passed over for more than one job for not being on Facebook or LinkedIn, which I accept without complaint. It’s not like employers en masse are recoiling in horror.

        Maybe you’re financially independent and don’t need the work. Maybe you can get an IT job at the Cato Institute or Fox News, where your bad boy rep would be seen as a badge of honor. But most HR departments are going to google your name, see a bunch of ostensibly deranged tweets, then wonder if investigating further is worth the effort. They won’t stomp their feet and yell, “I’ll make sure Pax never eats lunch in this town again!” They’ll just shrug and move on less troubling candidates. So you’re not being blacklisted, you’re just being shrugged off. To think otherwise is to give your MRA crusade too much credit.

        Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        This is just concern trolling. You don’t wish me well, so stop offering advice like you’re doing me a favor.

        Like

      • akibbe02 says:

        “This is just concern trolling.”

        Yeah, that would be like—oh, I don’t know—writing essays with titles like “Moral Panics and the Death of Fun”. I’m sure your concern for civil liberties transcends self-interest.

        “You don’t wish me well, so stop offering advice like you’re doing me a favor.”

        Oh, you didn’t appreciate tipping you off to Cato or Fox, where you might actually get a job? Try ignoring the advice then, and try to refute the actual criticisms you’ve studiously avoided to date.

        Of course, if I’ve caused you any moral panic, you have full admin rights, so relief is no more than a Block button away. We’ve seen that you can dish it out trolling, but can you take it?

        Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        I’ve always tweeted in favor of civil liberties and free speech, and against foreign wars and drone assassinations. None of those tweets ever made the news, though.

        I don’t know what you’re expecting me to refute, all you’ve done is lecture & scold me for what must be about a thousand words by now that my apologies aren’t sincere enough for you. I don’t think you sincerely want an apology, I think you just want to lecture me and feel morally superior. I hope it’s making you feel warm inside.

        Keep going if you like. I’ve heard it all before.

        Liked by 1 person

      • akibbe02 says:

        “I’ve always tweeted in favor of civil liberties and free speech, and against foreign wars and drone assassinations. None of those tweets ever made the news, though.”

        Hmm. Perhaps a sign that people are reacting to personality issues behind rape jokes and racial slurs rather than political issues? No, that couldn’t be it.

        “I don’t know what you’re expecting me to refute, all you’ve done is lecture & scold me for what must be about a thousand words by now that my apologies aren’t sincere enough for you.”

        Excellent reading comprehension—two paragraphs talking about your apology represent the other dozen. It reminds me of Woody Allen’s review of War and Peace, which he read in one hour after taking a speed reading course: “It’s about Russia.”

        “I don’t think you sincerely want an apology”

        Pretty accurate so far.

        “I think you just want to lecture me and feel morally superior.”

        Oh, I felt morally superior when a saw your tweets a year ago. I suppose I could blog for the moral high ground instead of lecture, but it looks like you’ve got that covered.

        “I hope it’s making you feel warm inside.”

        Aw, I’m touched.

        “Keep going if you like. I’ve heard it all before.”

        It’s about Russia.

        Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        It’s about how some words on the internet hurt your feels.

        Like

      • akibbe02 says:

        “It’s about how some words on the internet hurt your feels.”

        I feel morally superior and warm inside, high on schadenfreude, remember? Sorta like watching a guest on Jerry Springer and thinking, “Phew, my life isn’t great, but at least I’m not that guy!”

        Congratulations on blogging with gravitas about how reactions to your Twitter feed are a civic pathology. That’s no small accomplishment—maybe you can put it on your résumé.

        Like

  8. Phillip McCracken says:

    Of the ostensible moral panics you list, only satanism qualifies. The others were legitimate conflicts of interest, largely fought on ethnic lines.

    Elite-sponsored SJW meddling isn’t a moral panic either. It’s a hopelessly narcissistic society’s final strained breaths, not some triviality that will blow over when people come to their senses. They’ve no senses to come to. Hence your conciliatory rhetoric is not useful, only succeeding to make you appear meek and foolish to those who wish to destroy you.

    All you can do is establish parallel social structures to replace the crumbling ones, and shelter refugees scurrying from within.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elliot says:

      “The others were legitimate conflicts of interest, largely fought on ethnic lines.”

      How were Prohibition and anti-communism a matter of ethnicity?

      The fact that law enforcement oftentimes more significantly impacts poorer people and minorities doesn’t mean those matters divided peope on ethnic lines. It just means police and other officials were racially biased.

      Perhaps you could argue that the poor lacked the resources to get into speak easies, pay bribes, etc., but on the other hand, the upper and middle class owners of alcohol-related businesses were frequently wiped out, unless they made deals with organized crime and corrupt officials.

      And, the greater prevalence of Marxist ideology among Jewish Americans was a result of many cultural factors within that community. It wasn’t that gentile Marxists were overlooked.

      Like

      • Phillip McCracken says:

        Prohibition pitted ethnic Americans against recent European migrants. It can’t be reduced to this single dimension, but I believe it’s the most significant one. Without the contemporary degradation of migrant communities, prohibition would never have gotten off the ground. Once it did, migrant organized crime was the primary target of law enforcement, for obvious reasons. You’re right that no ethnicity was immune, but the corruption that attended prohibition arose from many parties’ unwillingness to partake in the struggle. Individual opportunism remains a feature of ethnic conflict today.

        Anti-communism was fought between Americans (often including its oldest Jewish cohort) and radical Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. It became irrelevant as Jews dropped support for communism, as they gradually acknowledged the movement had ceased supporting Jewish interests.

        Communism in America was only ever a vehicle for ethnic interest, which explains why it hasn’t been a prominent ideology here for decades.

        Like

  9. Paul says:

    Can’t say I’ve got much sympathy.

    First, words from prominent people have weight. They mark out acceptable territory in idea-space. If you are the CTO and you make dumb sexist and racist remarks then you are marking that out as inside the range of acceptable behaviour, and others will follow your example. You may not be used to that: when you were a student or a junior employee then your words carried little weight. But when you became a CTO you graduated from riding a bicycle to driving an SUV, and suddenly a careless action on your part can have real life-changing consequences for other people.

    Second, behaviour like that matters, in ways that perhaps you are beginning to understand. When you denigrate a class of people, and encourage others to do likewise, you damage their self-respect and career prospects in exactly the ways that you are now experiencing. If you are a woman or black then every time you get turned down for a job you wonder if your sex or color was what made the difference. Your job prospects are damaged, and you can’t use your technical abilities to benefit humanity and earn money because of other people’s irrational prejudice. That is both wasteful and unjust, and part of what perpetuates it is the unthinking denigration that you perpetrated.

    You say that there was never any evidence of sexism in your actions at the office. There didn’t need to be. Merely failing to make an overtly sexist (or racist) decision is a very low bar, and does nothing to heal the damage you did elsewhere.

    You at least are in a position to change your position. You can change your ideas. You can post a mea-culpa and explain how you now get it. You can spend a few years living this down. But if you are a black woman then becoming a white man is not an option. That is why overt sexism and racism is not merely unfashionable or a subject of media-driven moral panic, it is morally wrong.

    Like

    • paxdickinson says:

      You are mischaracterizing what I did. Please point to where I denigrated a class of people. I didn’t do that, I just made a few jokes. I made jokes on twitter that some took offense to, because they CHOSE to take offense, because taking offense is what pays the bills at Gawker Media.

      I never said it was wrong for me to be fired, I made the company look bad and made my own bed. Nowhere in anything I’ve written do I claim it was unfair that I was fired.

      I apologized and remained out of the public eye for the next year. Please inform me as to what further penances I have to pay in order to be allowed to work again and feed my family. I’d really like to know.

      Like

      • I wonder, do Asians have Asian privilege in Asia? How about blacks? Do they have black privilege in Africa? Are Asians in Asia being fired for tweeting unpleasant things about white people? Are Pakistanis in Pakistan socially shunned for making sexist tweets at work? Nah, all that’s for whites only. lol

        Like

      • ProgHater says:

        Yes, these scourgings seem to only apply mainly to whites, particularly white males, although plenty of conservative blacks are demonized and smeared. Liberal black and hispanic leaders can make anti-white, anti-semitic remarks and get away with it.

        Like

    • Phillip McCracken says:

      Hurt feelings and prejudice do not menace the careers of women and minorities. To the contrary, available to them are two paths to employment: preferential sinecures and demonstration of merit. The latter category is where real professionals do real work, while producing few complaints of racism or sexism. The former category, responsible for much of the vindictive bleating over imagined oppression, seems to soak up lots of washout dilettantes. I doubt this is coincidental. In any case, with today’s de facto quota system, many careers are built upon the idea of prejudice and nothing more.

      Suggesting he can apologize and repent either comes from blinding ignorance over the way these character assassinations work or outright bad faith.

      Like

  10. Eduardo Pereira says:

    I share your sentiment.

    The fact so many people on our society feel the need to punish someone because he is “thinking wrong” is very sad and scary.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again if this text spreads, take care of yourself.

    Like

  11. Anonymous Coward says:

    For what it’s worth, I agree with your sentiment. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s funny how the people who still censure you in these very comments ignore all context (opt-in tweets, before you had your powerful position) in order to continue cherry picking their arguments. They make it sound like you mass-emailed and lectured your employees instead of tweeting a sarcastic remark to your friends years earlier. As usual, I’m afraid that the people who need to consider these words won’t stop to read them once before posting how ANGRY and UPSET they are.

    Like

  12. […] you want and say what you want and not care what other people think you should think. Someone else really nailed the biggest reason for avoiding the Nanny People: they are a lynch mob, witch hunt, high school […]

    Like

  13. Lane says:

    Ah fucking men. I said your exact argument when you were fired. People feign offense just to see someone fired who they don’t agree with. It’s sick. Let people think what they want and keep their jobs.

    Like

  14. There’s a mania going on now because of the economy. It’s not like it used to be, it’s turned into a king of the hill struggle for scarce cash. I know one of these social justice guys, he’s a freelancer who makes 60k a year and has no health insurance but he seems like a millionaire when he does this stuff. People are paranoid and unhappy because the country is going downhill or at least changing in a way that makes more people unhappy and we are getting to see it through a microscope via twitter, every detail of the all the unfairness. People are lashing out using everything they can.

    Like

  15. It’s bullshit that you are still feeling fallout from that Gawker article after a year. Even after you apologized and made up for it with your venture with Elissa: http://venturebeat.com/2013/12/11/ladyboss/

    You really make a good point about how all this is entering into the area of thought crime and social stigmatizing, but I feel that point will be lost in your post. Your post could be immediately interpreted as “People are too PC for me to make sexist/racist jokes!” I know that is not what you mean, but the very people who should be made aware of how their ideologies make them act out social stigmatization, are the very people who will interpret it that way. I honestly don’t want that to happen. All people, no matter how just they feel, should be aware of their faults. We all have faults.

    The problem here is not that the fight for equality ruined our fun. The problem is that the fight for equality have blinded people to using the very tactics that cause problems in our society. Tactics like ruining someone’s reputation because you feel morally justified even though the target never did anything to hurt anyone and even actively worked to make up for offending people.

    So yeah, your post has the chance to focus on how Gawker’s harmful reporting tactics (and similar shame campaigns) affected you and others. That needs to stop. The generalizations about society and the easily misunderstanding of what you mean by “Think Different” will shift the focus away from that. Shifted away by the very people who, I feel, should be made aware of this.

    Like

  16. […] yesterday published a thoughtful blog post about the policing of language online by Gawker, and their intolerance of anyone who does not pay […]

    Like

  17. […] yesterday published a thoughtful blog post about the policing of language online by Gawker, and their intolerance of anyone who does not pay […]

    Like

  18. […] yesterday published a thoughtful blog post about the policing of language online by Gawker, and their intolerance of anyone who does not pay […]

    Like

  19. […] yesterday published a thoughtful blog post about the policing of language online by Gawker, and their intolerance of anyone who does not pay […]

    Like

  20. Mr. Dickinson –

    The culture of political correctness in the United States is no longer a culture, but a cult. Insiders are taught to demonize anyone and any arguments, however reasoned, which disagree with their “moral” principles, while outsiders are exploited by those who can gain by stirring up moral outrage. As is the case in most cults, insiders are not excommunicated for actual evil, but for not keeping up with the ever-changing dogma. You were merely a victim of someone else’s greed.

    Some other commenters have worried that your article will fall on deaf ears. The still unforgiving posts of yet more make it obvious that for some, it already has. When dealing with cult members, one cannot make a redeeming argument, because cult outsiders are perceived as a de facto source of evil and untruth. One can only point out the folly and hypocrisy that is the cult to those who have not yet been fully sucked in.

    Victory, unfortunately, can only come through repeated exposure of the lies that the cult is based upon. Show the cultists for the hateful hypocrites that they are, while living a life of empathy. Don’t apologize for what you didn’t do.

    In the meantime, don’t give up on your job search. You may find work for those of us who have succeeded in dismissing the mainstream, or under an alias. Anyone who still harbors resentment for you based on false narratives is clearly not worth working for.

    Like

  21. Derp. says:

    I remember you. I deleted my Business Insider bookmark and blocked them on my router after what they did to you. Hope you’re doing well. Take care.

    Like

  22. craguilar says:

    They can’t take over video games because the free market won’t allow it. People play games to feel good, to escape political correctness. Gamers will buy what they want regardless of what the elites think is acceptable, and thus successful developers will give it to them. The fascists will attack gamers for not conforming to their aesthetic demands, but gamers don’t care. They care about the product and the experience. And they shell out the bucks. So Intel is smart and so are the advertisers pulling from the fascist publications. And I predict that after shaming a few strays and beclowning themselves with feminist nonsense, culture fascists will get bored and move on to the next fake outrage. They will accomplish nothing in changing “gaming culture.” And thank God for that, because fascism is dull.

    Like

  23. josh says:

    Pax, you seem to be confused, and this article did far more harm to you than good. You simply cannot come out guns blazing. Indeed, you have mostly undone your year’s worth of effort to express contrition.

    I am just one person, not a representative of any cabal. And I didn’t even know about the kerfuffle last year – but looking at your tweets, I have to agree that you seem like an unsavory person I would not want to know. You seem like someone who has a long way to go before being trusted with anything like real money or responsibility. This is not a moral panic, this is my own personal reaction to the awful, hateful things you wrote – and it must be added, to your tone deaf and arrogant attempt to reframe yourself as some sort of martyr for the expressors of unpopular views. Or, if you are, then you’re in the same category as a Westboro Church member.

    For the record, the Brandon Eich incident was a different case. His historical support for Prop 8 was a quite and sincere expression of his religious views; he has not, to my knowledge, ever expressed personal hatred of gays or any other sort of ugliness. I strongly support gay marriage, but I respected Eich’s dissent and thought it was awful that he was driven from the Mozilla CEO role because of it.

    Eich has a legitimate claim to martyrdom. But you, dear Pax, do not.

    I suggest you grow up, learn to control your words, work hard, and get back in the game in a few years, and stop writing posts like this that only dig your hole deeper.

    Like

    • paxdickinson says:

      Pax, you seem to be confused, and this article did far more harm to you than good. You simply cannot come out guns blazing. Indeed, you have mostly undone your year’s worth of effort to express contrition.

      Did you even read my article? This is an essay about culture & politics and in no way am I coming out “guns blazing”. I haven’t undone anything because those who don’t understand this essay were never going to give me a second chance or consider the circumstances anyway.

      I am just one person, not a representative of any cabal. And I didn’t even know about the kerfuffle last year – but looking at your tweets, I have to agree that you seem like an unsavory person I would not want to know.

      Looking at the tweets which were taken out of context and not knowing anything about me other than those tweets? Seems narrow-minded & prejudiced to me. I’m actually pretty friendly, I was a well-liked guy in the NYC tech scene before all this happened. Your loss.

      Eich has a legitimate claim to martyrdom. But you, dear Pax, do not.

      I am definitely not claiming martyrdom, did you skip the part where I called myself a complete idiot who brought it on himself? The greater point is not about me. I’m no Brendan Eich.

      I suggest you grow up, learn to control your words, work hard, and get back in the game in a few years, and stop writing posts like this that only dig your hole deeper.

      You’re saying I shouldn’t be allowed to work in the industry I have 20 years experience in for “a few years”? Really? Who dictates that exactly?

      I don’t think I dug my hole any deeper except with ideologues like you who were never willing to view me as anything but the cardboard caricature the media already drew of me.

      Like

      • josh says:

        You don’t like the social punishment, you think it’s too harsh, and you’re angry about that. I get it.

        What I’m trying to say is that, as an objective bystander, who doesn’t know anyone involved, I personally approve the opprobrium you got and are getting, despite not being a carrying member of any political correctness group. Further, I disapprove of this post, which reads like you think you’ve been wronged.

        If you really think your actions long ago were idiotic, focus on expressing remorse not criticism. The culture is indeed capable of making egregious mistakes, as with Eich, but it is also capable of accurately identifying idiots they don’t want to work with. Given the fact that you’ve been identified by the culture as an idiot, and given that you yourself agree with that judgement, how wise is it for you to be finding common cause with people like Eich?

        If you’re black, and you really did rob a liquor store, then maybe you should think twice before attacking the criminal justice system as racist. The system is truly racist, but you kinda lose the right to point that out when you are actually a criminal, no?

        Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        You don’t like the social punishment, you think it’s too harsh, and you’re angry about that. I get it.

        No, you don’t get it at all. You don’t know anything about me personally or how I’ve conducted myself professionally. All you know about me is Twitter and some articles you read on the Internet.

        I personally approve the opprobrium you got and are getting
        Further, I disapprove of this post

        Mrs. Grundy disapproves of things, that’s what Mrs. Grundy does.

        focus on expressing remorse not criticism

        I have written articles about my remorse in several venues. This article is not about that topic, although I do touch on it. I’m sorry this article was about a different topic than what you desire it to have been about.

        Like

      • xcbsmith says:

        The reality is social punishment is invariably disproportionate, because scapegoats are held accountable not just for their sins, but everyone else’s. It is an unfortunate and unfair reality.

        Like

    • Phillip McCracken says:

      This emasculate, humorless generation is the first to widely regard every offensive expression as hateful. The playful plausible deniability inherent to humor is necessary to smooth social function. Maybe the speaker is serious, maybe not. The attendant unimportance of the speaker’s actual ideas ensures there is no barrier to him bonding with others. Humor defuses tension and keeps bigotry at bay.

      Without humor, people retreat ever deeper into carefully pruned social circles where everyone agrees entirely with one another, and worse, into isolation. Meticulous impression management is not organic socialization- in fact, it’s a symptom of narcissism. No matter how many hurt feelings you believe your orthodoxy is preventing, it can only damage the social fabric.

      Like

      • josh says:

        I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert, for example, and Louis CK. And Galafanakis (especially in “Between Two Ferns” mode). I also really enjoy everything Matt Stone and Trey Parker do. Last but not least, I’m a huge George Carlin and Chris Rock fan. Suffice to say I’m not easily offended, and I love it when conventional wisdom is questioned, especially by comedy.

        But that’s not what Pax did on twitter. There was no coherence, the jokes were just middle-school meanness that I can’t help but read with that same pubescent braying tone that smacks of an immature signal, “Hey, this is a joke, and I’m going to call you a pussy if you take offense.”

        And this article is basically calling all those people who took offense pussies. Well, guess what? It turns out that in the world of adults, saying unfunny offensive shit gets you blackballed from your industry, and then calling people pussies for taking offense gets you, well, more blackballed. Sorry, that’s how it is.

        There are plenty of communities that have a compatible middle school mentality, as displayed by several comments here, including yours. Pax’s problem is that these immature communities just don’t happen to be associated with any money-making enterprises, because mean-spirited middle-schoolers make terrible coworkers, partners, and investment risks. But hey, you never know. Peace out.

        Like

      • DayofTheRope says:

        “Well, guess what? It turns out that in the world of adults, saying unfunny offensive shit gets you blackballed from your industry,”

        That’s not an adult response to anything. Are you trying to say that children are supposed to have more composure in responding to offense than a fully grown man or woman? That’s what you’re suggesting. That composure and self-assurance may be just fine for teenagers and adolescents but an adult needs to have skin thinner than rice paper and kill,kill,KILL THE UNBELIEVER-KILL THE HERETIC!!!! Has it been your experience that your self-control has degenerated as you have aged? You may have Alzheimer’s,narcissism, or Tourettes Syndrome.

        “and then calling people pussies for taking offense gets you, well, more blackballed. Sorry, that’s how it is.”
        No one’s calling you a pussy, you are a pussy if you can’t take a joke. That’s how it is. If you can’t respond to a joke with self-control,let alone levity, you are not an adult. You are an idiot, and you may even be mentally-ill,but if nothing else then you certainly are a pussy.

        Like

      • Phillip McCracken says:

        “I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert, for example…”

        It’s telling that you use mass-media comedians as your assurance of a sense of humor. Far from “questioning conventional wisdom”, these comedians are rubber-stamped by the establishment, so tend to poke fun at accepted targets and leave the others unmolested. But more importantly, you highlight the aspirational aspect of character assassination: signaling identity & compliance with the shrinking elite’s interests because you wish to join it. Chris Hadrick’s excellent post ITT is on-point here.

        Clearly I was talking about humor at the smaller, tighter levels of communication, where Pax reasonably claims his tweets were made (they only blew up due to attacks on his character). This is where the truly essential aspects of humor play. It has nothing to do with “questioning conventional wisdom”, but with facilitating bonding between people with disparate interests & ideas.

        Your claim that this is a natural state of affairs is bogus. Strong authoritarian controls ensuring a narrow range of acceptable thought & expression is extraordinary, and most of us recall a time prior to the inception of the current climate. Today’s levels of interest in other peoples’ beliefs, and attendant prevalence of self-interested accusations, is comparable to the early USSR or Nazi Germany. The only comfort (at least in the US) is physical violence is unlikely and prison time impossible.

        Most generations understood not to aggressively sniff people out for their beliefs.

        Like

    • DayofTheRope says:

      Pax,I support you. That is why I feel I must tell you that you cannot get out of this by apologizing OR by acts of contrition. You have to figure a way out without admitting any fault or showing any guilt whatsoever,even if YOU truly believe you were wrong. You must paint this in black and white terms. YOU were wronged, not the ones who took offense to your harmless jokes. Notice how this idiot is anticipating that move and moving to cut you off from going in that direction. Now this is important, he’s going to move into your way if you go that way, but he’s nothing. He looks like a brick wall from far off,but he’s made of paper. He’s going to try to shame you into flinching because he knows if you get past him going down that road, he’ll never catch you, you’re home-free.

      You have to stand firm and say “I am NOT sorry. I did NOT hurt anyone.I did NOT do anything wrong. I’m not apologizing for anything.” His only response will be “Seriously? SERIOUSLY? SER-I-OUS-LY!?!?!”. He will not be able to counter you logically.

      The reason you must do this is because, let’s say he agrees that you’re not a racist,sexist,homophobic,ableist,classist,heterosexist,cishet transphobic naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews. Well, you’ve already said you MAY have hurt someone’s feels, and YOU think you were idiotic, and while that may not be “sexistwhowantstorapesixmillionnegressess”,it’s good enough for him to club you with a few times. And when it stops working, he’ll just go back to “racist,sexist,homophobic,ableist,classist,heterosexist,cishet transphobic naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews”,it’s all he knows. He’ll return to it like a dog to his vomit.

      They’re right. You’re digging the hole deeper.

      Don’t apologize. The damage is done, and it can’t be undone. You’ll never crawl enough for them, so join us instead,the gamers,the “racists”,the “misogynists”,the “fascists”,the “neo-nazi white supremacists”. They keep increasing our numbers every day. Every thoughtcriminal that they punish extra-judicially adds a hero and warrior to our ranks. We’re a boomtown,brother. Rob them of their power and increase our power over them. We need people like you who have talent and conviction. Relative to some of the people they have done this to, you still have much of your life intact. Your skills and your connections can be a platform,not for your previous career goals, but for others to exact justice.People who never got as far as yourself before they were wantonly destroyed,people who,if they had a way in,could help us all get justice.

      It’s too late to save yourself. It’s not too late for us to save everyone else together. We can use their perverse and antisocial behavior against them,because their ostracization and persecution is the one anti-SJW recruiting mechanism that they will never shut down. The more they SJW,the larger and stronger we grow,IF you will learn the right lessons from this situation.

      The Western world is sick and dying of the disease the people who attacked you have.
      They will not stop. They cannot stop.
      You are not at fault when they attack you. It does not matter what you said or did. They attacked you for who you were,not what you did or said.
      You have some natural immunity against the disease that is killing our society,but you are acting as a carrier when you apologize.
      You cannot avoid being harmed by the diseased,or minimize the harm they will do to you. Sooner or later, everyone will get some of what you got, even the psychopaths who are cheerleading this lunacy.
      Hence,you must endure it.That’s all you CAN do. Endure it. Do it with grace and dignity if you can manage to endure,swallow a bottle of pills if you can’t.
      Those who stick around will have a chance to get even,to separate themselves from the rot, or to prevent the persecution of others,which I’m sorry to say, is all the justice we will ever see.But it beats crawling on your hands and knees and begging for mercy by a country mile.

      Like

    • Dan says:

      josh:

      You think it’s “awful” that Eich was driven from Mozilla, but won’t go after those responsible. Instead, it’s more important to you to attack someone who does, and demand exactly the same concept of “social punishment” that led to Eich’s departure. You are, in sum, on the same team as those who tried to destroy Eich.

      We will remember who was on our side and who merely pretended to be, only to try to stab us in the back as soon as we thought, even for a second, that they really had any regard for our cause. There’s not much doubt where you fall.

      Like

  24. Funny think about the Red Scare of the 50s is that was correct. There really were many people, both agents and fellow travelers, in the Federal Government spying for the Soviet Union. Access to the Soviet archives after the wall came down and the declassification of the Venona papers proved that nearly everyone accused at the time really were guilty.
    It just goes to show how successful the press narrative has been that their version of events has achieved cultural acceptance, even though it is crap.

    Like

    • xcbsmith says:

      Funny think about the Red Scare of the 50s is that was correct.

      No. It wasn’t.

      There really were many people, both agents and fellow travelers, in the Federal Government spying for the Soviet Union.

      Yes. That wasn’t what was wrong with the Red Scare. Of course there were spies in the Federal Government spying for the Soviet Union. That might have been about the only aspect of the whole thing that McCarthy got right, but then again, how could he have possibly been wrong?

      Like

  25. DDG says:

    You’re not a victim of a moral panic. You’re a victim of something far more deliberate and insidious: Cultural Marxism. You case follows a pattern that you see over and again. This article is a good summary of it as it applies to GamerGate, but it applies equally well to your circumstances: http://mitrailleuse.net/2014/09/19/intellectual-bullying/

    More specifically, there’s a pattern of “status shaming” described in this article that fits you perfectly: http://www.popehat.com/2014/10/21/gamer-gate-three-stages-to-obit/

    The status shaming is also of the usual type: high status blue / pinks follow Alinksy’s battle plan.

    First, they pick a low-status target (rule 12). This target is usually a pale, bespectacled Aspergers-ish nerd) for a transgression against the norms they wish to universalize. The high social status pinks paint themselves as victims of a power imbalance, then they use their superior popularity to out-speak the target and push their version of the narrative. Pink allies in the media join in to keep the pressure on (rule 8). This is easy to do, because the act of social shaming is not only fun, but it’s click-bait, so everyone involved not only has lolz, they has cheeseburger (rule 6). The toxic nature of the allegations is usually sufficient to make sure that the target of the attack does not get much, if any, sympathetic press (rule 12, again: “Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions”.)

    Like

  26. Josh’s advice that recommends apologizing to the SJW’s is crappy advice. It is much better to maximize retaliation against the SJW’s instead.

    Like

  27. […] yesterday published a thoughtful blog post about the policing of language online by Gawker, and their intolerance of anyone who does not pay […]

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  28. benjamin says:

    I’m happy that Programmers Being Dicks tweeted about this article…so I could make it a point to unfollow Programmers Being Dicks.

    Like

  29. […] Moral Panics And The Death Of Fun […]

    Like

  30. Rex says:

    This is moronic.

    First of all, GamerGate — the movement, the hashtag, the media spectacle — was created and propelled by juvenile gamer boys, not by activist women. To this day, it continues to be a topic because those very boys — those ACTIVISTS — continue to propagate the belief that they are somehow marginalized.

    The shamers you are describing? THOSE ARE THE GAMERGATE BOYS. They are the ones creating twitter accounts to scream at journalists.

    Those activists you describe who want to limit your freedom? THOSE ARE THE GAMERGATE BOYS. They are the ones who don’t want games to change.

    I want to say this very clearly: The people who are trying to limit the potential expression of games are the GamerGaters themselves. These “outsider” boys are the ones creating the “moral panic” that you are describing. THEY STARTED GAMERGATE.

    Second, it’s true there is a group of devoted gamers out there who wish that games weren’t so hostile to their identities. Yes, that includes women who have written and spoken about this simple idea: “I love to play games, but they are rife with hatred toward parts of my identity.” All these people are saying is, “Games would be better if they were more encompassing of the human experience.” That’s all. And what the fuck is wrong with that? How could anyone possibly disagree with that?

    Third, your cultural logic is insipid. Your argument is that games will suffer in the future if “The Clerisy” confines it to some boundaries of political correctness. This is idiotic. In 10 years, do you really want the entirety of game culture to be first-person shooters aiming rifles at bimbo women? That’s really “the creativity” that you want to defend?

    Games of the future will get BETTER if they become more comprehensive of the human experience. If games continue to be confined to reactionary boys, then gaming will suffer. It is already trapped in a boring, repetitive cycle — a cycle whose only escape is to more accurately reflect culture.

    Finally, I am not a political correctionist. I agree with you on one small thing — that society is losing some fun, that the ability to “win points” by feigning a stance of “offended” is not helping society. But that’s exactly what your post does — it pretends to be offended, it spreads a non-existent fear, it reeks of moral panic.

    This post kills fun.

    Like

  31. […] Business Insider CTO and fedora fancier Pax Dickinson is back, endorsing #gamergate and complaining that we’ve Banned Fun. What counts as “fun,” it goes without saying, is solely judged by Mr. Dickinson. If it […]

    Like

  32. Steve says:

    I think the lesson to be learned here is: If you are prone to saying dumb stuff and have a high profile job, stay off of Twitter.

    Like

    • lujlp says:

      Actually the lesson is: If you are prone to saying stuff stupid people can be convinced was dumb and have a high profile job, build a time machine and tell yourself nearly a decade in the past to stay off of Twitter.

      Like

      • paxdickinson says:

        You’re both obviously correct, and you accurately describe reality. But is this really the reality we want? “Don’t say anything controversial or you might lose your career, oh well too bad that’s the way it goes.”

        What’s the point of living in a “free country” if we all have to permanently walk on eggshells to avoid offending anyone and destroying our lives?

        Like

      • Steve says:

        Not sure why we’re not allowed to respond to Pax directly – so this is directed at him, not you, lujlp.

        It might be true that people have to “walk on eggshells” these days, but I don’t understand how you plan on changing that? Words matter, and people form opinions on what you have to say. And when you were confronted by people on what you readily admit are some “..too far and offensive” tweets, you mostly seemed to double down. Why?

        Is it that hard to understand, or unreasonable to expect a level of professionalism in public (which is what Twitter is) when you have a high profile job? Was speaking your mind in that fashion worth getting potentially blackballed from the industry and negatively affecting your family?

        Only you can answer that, but I’ll offer this: I certainly make off-color, offensive, and possibly even racist jokes with my friends. I’m pretty sure most average people do. But I don’t make them on Twitter or Facebook, and therefore they can’t be held against me in a professional context.

        I like to think of “don’t be a dick in public” to be the new Golden Rule. I don’t see why this is an unreasonable expectation.

        Whatever your feelings on the above I hope one day your family won’t have to suffer for your admitted mistakes.

        Like

  33. xcbsmith says:

    You’re carrying the weight of society no longer instinctively trusting you. That doesn’t mean you can’t work or can’t collect a paycheck, but I’m sure it makes it much more difficult for someone to take a chance on you. That’s a fate shared by a lot of people, most of whom haven’t done anything to deserve it, so it may be hard to find sympathy.

    That said, I agree this idea of demanding that people lose their jobs for conduct outside their workplace is ridiculous. Someone who acts outside of what society deems the norm is going to face consequences; it is unavoidable and probably in a lot of cases desirable in terms of the overall societal benefit. The consequences ought to be felt in a social context, not “career” one.

    I would encourage you to consider the possibility that moral shaming or at least related variants are already the status quo, and that to a large degree the “moral panic” you observe is an attempt to fight fire with fire. GamerGate, itself was a terribly absurd hostile overreaction to criticism of a gaming subculture that is actively hostile with all the other elements of a moral panic. Eich was a “scalp” in a hunt fueled by bitterness from the Prop 8, but Prop 8 itself was fueled by absurd moral panic. There is a similar problem with your case.

    Like

  34. […] earned his. And his refusal to cash in on it is proof enough of that. Thus far he’s put up Moral Panics & the Death of Fun, The Rise of The Grey Tribe, and Three Modern Grassroots Rebellions. Pax holds out some hope that […]

    Like

  35. Rex says:

    Let’s imagine for a second that I’m an employer who is interested in hiring you. And let’s imagine I stumble across this post.

    Here is what you seemingly want me to conclude: “Okay, this guy made a mistake, but he seems smart, so maybe he deserves a second chance.”

    Here is what I will actually conclude: “This guy is an asshat who has no self-awareness, no ability to express honest contrition, and no understanding of human empathy. He can’t see what everyone else sees and he doesn’t seem like a good human being.”

    This post is a fake apology, at best. It’s full of bullshit rhetoric that claims to have apologized for misdeeds (always in past tense), but immediately follows it up with, “but it’s really not my fault.” This whole post has no intention of actually expressing contrition or regret or empathy — this whole post seeks to blame other people for your woes.

    You’re not apologizing when you invoke make-believe bogeymen like “The Moral Police” and “The Clerisy.” The fucking clerisy is not the reason you got fired — you got fired because you said stupid racist things. The fucking clerisy is not the reason you won’t get hired — you won’t get hired because you refuse to actually admit that YOU did this, YOU were wrong, YOU made a mistake.

    Saying “I apologize, but…” is not apologizing. It’s not. This post is the equivalent of “I am sorry for beating my wife, but she had it coming.” This post screams “I do not take responsibility for my actions.”

    Here’s what you should do: Go back and start over. Rewrite this post and remove everything that blames “the moral police” for your predicament. Take out the bullshit about “the clerisy” leading to your demise. And, dear god, redact all this nonsense where you align yourself with misogynist creeps like GamerGate. (You seriously expect any employer to take you seriously by comparing yourself to those miscreants? Seriously?)

    The only way any reasonable tech executive would consider hiring you is if you truly recognized your mistakes, which I don’t think you actually do. Posts titled “MORAL PANICS AND THE DEATH OF FUN” do nothing for your professional rehabilitation. But it sounds like you have some personal rehabilitation to do before you get there.

    Like

    • paxdickinson says:

      This isn’t an apology. That was a different post.

      This is a go-fuck-yourself to the moral scolds like you. This is my announcement that I’ve decided I no longer care for your opinions. Please take your concern trolling elsewhere.

      Like

    • Phillip McCracken says:

      Good thing we need to imagine you in an executive position.

      More seriously, Pax doesn’t pretend to be apologizing in this post. He’s claiming he did nothing wrong, but was himself wronged. Your bizarre interpretation comes from your strong belief that he ought to apologize, and lack of any other lens through which to read this piece- thus revealing your own stunted empathy.

      Like

  36. richard says:

    Please stop with this partisan bickering bullshit

    Liberals this. Liberals that. Are you aware that virtually all gamers support Net Neutrality? Doesn’t that make them a bunch of hippie commies for you guys? Except of course not all conservatives are against NN either. And neither are conservatives completely free from feminist rhetoric.

    This is not about Left vs Right. This is about Right vs Wrong.

    Like

  37. Nils says:

    At the very least this is a cautionary tale to anyone using social media. Stay anonymous or don’t ever say anything controversial. I don’t think BI is a particularly good publication but it has a certain taste that you were targeted by other media companies. It seems like a pretty deliberate attempt at character assassination. I think there is a lot of corruption in online media, just as an example is Buzzfeed attacking Uber. Scott Adams (author of dilbert) wrote about that in detail and how they usually do their character assassinations, he’s been a victim of gawker a few times too.

    I also find it somewhat sad that people think they can deduce a persons character through dissecting tweets, and the sort of moral outrage that is created by some things that wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow at the thanksgiving table.

    For a white male it’s probably prudent these days to be ambiguous about your sexual orientation, at least you have one *-card you can use in your defense.

    Like

  38. […] against Noah has echoes of the victimization of former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson. In 2013, Dickinson was the target of a Valleywag article castigating him for satirical Tweets he’d made over the years, many from when he was almost […]

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  39. […] short new book “SJWs Always Lie” is essential reading for anyone interested in modern online moral panics triggered by Social Justice Warriors. Vox explains what these people are, how they function, and […]

    Like

  40. […] Shevinsky’s ’01 former partner, Pax Dickinson, writes about moral panics and the death of […]

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