Last night I was checking out a #gamergate meetup where Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Hoff Sommers were appearing at, taking place at a bar called Local 16. I walk up the stairs and see the crowd, and suddenly memories of Magic: the Gathering tournaments come rushing back to me. I leave early, only to find out that at 12:15 people are evacuated for a “fire drill” which turns out to be a bomb threat. The threat was made by a throwaway Twitter account and not by phone call.
A lot of people implicated Arthur Chu, who was making cryptic tweets beforehand:
He also sent a weird email to Local 16, trying to shame them for hosting what he calls “a right wing hate group.”
These are definitely the kinds of bizarre communications you’d expect from an ideological fanatic, but overheated rhetoric claiming that Arthur Chu made the bomb threat is ridiculous and everyone should know better. Almost as ridiculous is claiming that anyone would give their ideological opposition the much-coveted victim card to wear as a badge of martyrdom.
Someone who hates #gamergate making this bomb threat doesn’t make sense. Without specific knowledge, we can only deal with general knowledge of who has what kinds of incentives. I can see two possibilities. It was either a third-party prankster trying to stir up drama or a pro-gamergate figure trying to get a slice of his the victim pie for his comrades.
In either case, there is going to be a rude awakening. It’s going to be interesting to observe the complete asymmetry in mainstream coverage of this bomb threat. Even the least credible threats to anti-gamergate personalities get massive mainstream coverage. That just isn’t going to happen this time or any time that the ideologically misaligned are on the receiving end of such things. Bias isn’t always a conscious thing. It’s often expressed by what the editorial board isn’t thinking about. No amount of social media flailing is going to change that.
While everyone else on social media seem to take the most unfounded threats with the grace of a diving soccer player, what’s actually interesting are the quiet attacks. The website that I edit for, TechRaptor, has been DDoS’d four times. Nobody announced it. The only reason I know this is because the owner of the site told me privately. The perpetrators didn’t announce their evil intentions on social media. We also gets threats in the comments which are quickly and quietly removed. TechRaptor doesn’t malinger about it. That’s what it looks like when angry fanatics are genuinely trying to silence you. It looks like nothing.