Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wired Comes Out in Favor of Boycotting Everyone You Disagree With

There's apparently a controversy about the game Shadow Complex because one of the writers who worked on it is open and actively anti-gay marriage. Because of this, some people have suggested boycotting the game, such as Wired writer Guy Mustapa, who writes:

Many question the efficacy of a boycott. Even Peter David, the comics writer who penned Shadow Complex’s dialogue, piped in to call the boycott “cheap and vicious and small-minded.”

He’s dead wrong there. The point of the boycott is to start the discussion and encourage people to look at the issue from a different point of view. Epic and Chair may not feel an economic sting around this boycott. Orson Scott Card may not lose an minute of sleep. But if only a handful of people notice how strongly some folks care about the issue of gay rights and take a moment to try to understand where they’re coming from then the boycott (or even the intimations of one) can be considered a success.
I disagreed strongly, and wrote a comment at the bottom of the article and then thought, hey, I haven't blogged for a while, why don't I use this comment in my blog:

The mentality behind boycotting this game is equivalent to the mentality behind the 1950s Hollywood blacklist, in which writers, actors, and directors were prevented from working because of their political opinions. True, a boycott would not have the same decimating results as a government witch hunt, but the attitude is exactly the same.

Do we really want to do this? Do we really want the left to boycott every game or movie or TV series that has connected with it anyone who is anti-gay marriage or anti-health care reform? Do we really want everyone on the right to boycott every game or movie or TV series that has connected with it anyone who is anti-war or anti-abortion?

I am no less horrified by this suggested boycott than by the concerted effort made years ago to destroy the Dixie Chicks because they said they were ashamed to have come from the same state as George W. Bush (an attempt that failed spectacularly). People actually do have a right to have their opinions, and they do have a right to employment. I'm pro gay-marriage; does that mean the anti-gay people should all refuse to read my game reviews (at, quick plug, nintendo.about.com) and encourage everyone else to follow suit? Is that really the world we want to live in, one where everyone's livelihood can be affected by every political opinion they express?

Mastrapa's statement that the point of a boycott is to "start the discussion" is ludicrous. The point of a boycott is to stop discussion; it is a way of saying "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!" It is a way to bully people who disagree with you.

It is my believe that rather than trying to shut people up, we should encourage everyone to speak their mind. It is my belief that the most effective way to counter an argument is to let that argument be expressed and then rebut it.