Whiteness as a Social Construct: Gamergate Hero Edition

How many white people are in this picture: one, two, or zero?

How many white people are in this picture: one, two, or zero?

It’s interesting how whiteness is assigned to people. It should be simple, yet so many exceptions exist. For example, Barack Obama is considered black, although he’s half-white. Rachel Dolezal was outed for being secretly white, after altering her appearance and telling people she was black. White people in antebellum Louisiana followed the one-drop rule, meaning if you had any black ancestry, you too were black; and they had all kinds of delicious names for the various shades of blackness that resulted from miscegenation.

Sometimes, the only difference between white people and non-whites is that other white-labeled people acknowledge them as white. For example, two people could come from the same country, immigrate to the US, and one might be labeled “white” by his peers while the other is designated as non-white.

On the left is Eron Gjoni. Most people in Gamergate agree that he is a white guy.

On the right is Anita Sarkeesian. Many Gamergaters believe (or used to believe, or, at the very least, claim) Anita is not white, but Jewish or Latina. Some Sarkeesian-obsessed wingnuts have claimed Anita only pretends to whiteness: i.e. “she bleached her skin“, or learned to smile “like a white person”.

In fact, Eron and Anita have just one thing in common: both are children of Armenian immigrants. Gjoni even spent a significant portion of his early childhood in Armenia. (Sarkeesian, for those interested, was born in Toronto.) But when #Gamergaters acknowledge Sarkeesian is Armenian, Armenians themselves lose their white status, becoming “palette-swapped Jews”.

So who is white: Gjoni, Sarkeesian, both, or neither? Because from here it’s starting to seem like the only reason Eron is designated as white and Sarkeesian is not is to polish the reputation of the former while disparaging the latter.

Edit: added some more quotes from Gamergaters discussing the whiteness, or lack thereof, of Armenians as a people.

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Feminist Magazine Editor Continues to Be Harassed by Neo-Nazis

These are the guys accusing Shanley Kane of racism. On the left, Young Milo Yiannopoulous. On the right, troll-hacker nerd lord Weev.

These are the guys accusing Shanley Kane of racism.
On the left, Young Milo Yiannopoulous.
On the right, troll-hacker nerd lord Weev.

If you google the name of Model View Culture Founder and CEO Shanley Kane, quite a few headlines catch your eye. There’s “‘Yes, I was a Racist… and I’m Mentally Ill’: Shanley Kane in Shocking Social Media Meltdown”, or “The Madness of Queen Shanley”, or “I taught Shanley Kane how to Troll and I’m sincerely Sorry”.

In fact, Shanley Kane’s Google Search Results are mostly hot takes & smear pieces about her, many of which were written by just one guy: Milo Yiannopoulous. And of the smear pieces Yiannopoulous wrote, most of them rely heavily on just one inside source: Andrew Aurenheimer aka Weev, Internet Famous Neo-Nazi hacker and Shanley Kane’s ex-boyfriend. Although these guys accused Kane of being a former racist, the charge seems hypocritical to say the least. Weev and Yiannopoulous are active, continuing racists, who, (unlike Kane) have never publicly disavowed their racist beliefs.

Weev (real name Andrew Aurenheimer) has a fucking swastika tattooed on his chest. Weev got himself Internet Famous by hacking iPads, demanding ransoms, and by ruining his enemies’ credit scores. In 2005, weev doxed game developer Kathy Sierra, revealing her Social Security Number and home address. This semi-professional identity thief has been spouting neo-Nazi bullshit for years. In a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Weev said:

“Trolling is basically Internet eugenics,” he said, his voice pitching up like a jet engine on the runway. “I want everyone off the Internet. Bloggers are filth. They need to be destroyed. Blogging gives the illusion of participation to a bunch of retards. . . . We need to put these people in the oven!”

I listened for a few more minutes as Weev held forth on the Federal Reserve and about Jews. Unlike Fortuny, he made no attempt to reconcile his trolling with conventional social norms.

Weev never disavowed these beliefs. If anything, his love for white nationalism only intensified during his 2013-14 jail stint. A quick check of weev’s blog reveals he is just as proudly racist nowadays as he was in 2008.

Milo Yiannopoulous is also a racist, sexist, transphobic blowhard, whiling away his fading youth as #Gamergate’s pet journalist and resident gay man who hates gays on the Breitbart News team. When Yiannopoulous is not writing breathless smear pieces about women and minorities, he enjoys his degenerate British culture and the conspicuous consumption of luxury goods. Allegedly, Internet Draco Malfoy is writing a book about #Gamergate.

And yes, he too is a Neo-nazi. In his early twenties, Yiannopoulous published pictures of himself wearing Iron Crosses, and pictures of his favorite Hitler biographies. I’d ask Yiannopoulous how much Nazi costume jewelry a man can own before becoming a Neo-nazi himself, but I suspect the answer is “none whatsoever.”

These two Hitler-loving, women-hating, racist dudes are not what I would consider to be a credible source about anything, but their campaign to flood the Internet with bad press about Kane was taken seriously enough that Valleywag picked up the story. Even Kane’s former business partner jumped on the bandwagon, accusing Kane of mistreating the staff at Model View Culture. (Specifically, Kane’s ex-partner Amelia Greenhall denounces Kane for removing her name from Model View Culture’s founders, although Greenhall quit just four months after launch.)

It is a demonstration of sexism in action that Yiannopoulous’ accusations about Shanley Kane were uncritically repeated by mainstream tech news like Valleywag, without any discussion of Yiannopoulous’s own racist beliefs, or those of his source Weev. It is a demonstration of sexism in action that Yiannopoulous’s festering self-hatred and Weev’s batshit asshattery are disregarded so that Shanley Kane’s mental health can be dissected and opined about by people who never met her. It is a demonstration of sexism in action that Kane’s every move to re-establish & secure her own safety and privacy is seized upon by Yiannopoulous as an example of a paranoid feminist acting unreasonably.

Shanley Kane has been stalked by Yiannopoulous and her ex-boyfriend for months. If, in the end, Yiannopoulous’ campaign against Shanley causes more people to read Model View Culture (e.g. myself) it will be in spite of his attempts to discredit her, not because of them.

It annoys me that Yiannopoulous and Weev can put on 3-piece suits, appear on the TV news, and be listened to as professionals in their respective fields; while Kane is disregarded and minimized based on the Breitbart News articles written about her. Weev in particular is feared, even; other journalists tend to recite his various hacking achievements like a litany of conquered foes. But I’m not frightened of these guys, and I don’t take them seriously. Because once you strip away the hair bleach and nazi tattoos, Yiannopoulous and Weev are basically just two bullies nursing a grudge. And the worst thing you can do to a bully is mock them.

Edit: Added a photo of Weev and Milo.

Dumbass Pokemon TCG Players Demonstrate Need for Better Gun Control in This Country

Boys will be boys

Boys will be boys. Note the NRA bumper sticker.

This Saturday two Pokemon: the Trading Card Game players were arrested trying to enter the Pokemon World Championships in Boston, MA after posting photographs of weapons later found in the trunk of their car. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, were curiously tactiturn about why they brought an AR-15 and a 12-gauge shotgun to a game tournament, or why they carried the mint-looking weapons (and a big ‘ol pile of ammo) across state  lines without a permit, which is itself a felony. The boys aren’t talking about their motivations now (probably a good idea) so it’s hard to tell whether this is a ‘massacre averted’ or just ‘weird and dumb decision noticed by police, who understandably took it seriously.’ It wouldn’t the be the first time dumbass gun nuts brought weapons to places weapons probably don’t belong, for no discernible reason at all. Many of these stories have tragic endings, so it’s understandable that the BPD took this really seriously.

But surely this incident demonstrates the need for better gun control in this country.

First of all, these guns look brand fucking new. There’s not a scratch on them in the BPD photos. C’mon, when did they buy these things? It must have been recently or Kevin Norton would have taken some pictures with them at the range. That’s kind of his thing. (Stumbo, on the other hand, posted a lot of pictures of himself at other Pokemon:TCG events.)

How easy was it to get these weapons? I’m guessing it was super easy for Kevin and James to buy these weapons. In fact I’ll bet it was as easy for Kevin Nortion and James Stumbo to buy weapons as it was for Elliot Rodger, and Dylann Storm Roof, Adam Lanza, that neuroscience drop-out Holmes, and literally hundreds of other mass murderers to buy their weapons. (Mass murderer meaning someone who kills 2 or more people in a single event, which is how the SPLC defines it.)

According to the SPLC, mass killings by cells of 1-2 angry white men occur, on average, once every 34 days. Not all of these events make the news – many of them barely make the local police blotter, especially if the only a few people are killed, and they happen to be related to the shooter. Some of them are retaliatory attacks by men who feel they have been wronged, or who have been rejected by women; so that the only way they can get justice for themselves is to explode like some kind of rage bomb, hurting everyone around them. Just think about that for a second. Once every month some idiot plans an attack like this and actually succeeds in killing somebody. So when cases like Norton & Stumbo happen, we have to wonder if the persons involved this time are violent white nationalists or contrarian edgelords trying to get attention.

Why are guns so goddamned easy to get in this country? In particular, why are they so goddamned easy to get by angry, almost entirely white, straight men? Or, put it another way: why are white, cis, straight men so eager to respond to life’s downturns by shooting somebody? And why, when every 34 days (on average) when some white cis straight man gets that frustrated does nobody ask why the hell these guns aren’t harder to get?

Because they are easy to get, at least in certain jurisdictions. I’m glad to live in New York City, where getting a permit for a long gun costs hundreds of dollars and a lot of time and trouble to obtain. You really must have a need for a long gun if you want to own one in NYC, because the frustration of turning in a handwritten application with two passport photos and a nonrefundable fee of $140 (plus $90 for fingerprints) to a particular NYPD office in a certain, specific time window is actually quite a bit of work. By comparison, in my hometown of Orange County, North Carolina, one handed in their long gun application to any sheriff’s office during business hours for a refundable fee of just five bucks. 

Five bucks! Now that’s what I call an affordable rampage. But that’s not even the floor of negligence in gun rights legislation. In Iowa, (where Norton and Stumbo hail from), you don’t need a permit to purchase a long gun at all. 

Meanwhile, the overproduction of guns in this country virtually ensures that new, used, and inherited guns will be easy to come by and cost very little to obtain. That’s what happens in a free market when you flood the market with product: the price falls. If we, as voters, don’t demand reform about this issue, it seems obvious that we’ll never get it. And if it doesn’t happen, I would assume that we can expect, on average, a mass killing by some angry man once every 34 days.