Your Enemy’s Enemy

Now I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about NeoGAF Idon’tknowmuchaboutNeoGAF – hah! Got in before you.

I don’t know much about it save that it’s been mentioned on Podquisition a few times. I do know that it’s a forum, I believe it’s focused on videogames, and it seems it’s been a favoured stop-off for games journalists looking for insider info. Apparently it has a sort of Wikileaks vibe to it. I don’t know. But I also get the impression — perhaps unjust, perhaps not — that NeoGAF has a sizeable population of Gamers. I don’t mean gamers, as in “people who enjoy playing videogames”. I mean… Gamers. You know. Them.

Truth be told I’m not really that interested in NeoGAF, except inasmuch as it’s been mentioned on some YouTube channels I follow, and recently some of those channels have said that NeoGAF has been struggling to keep going after an apparent sexual abuse scandal erupted over alleged behaviour by the community’s leader. The site had, as of a few days ago, been taken down, and I don’t know whether it’s back up or not.

I don’t know because honestly I haven’t looked, because NeoGAF isn’t really the subject of this post. I mention it only as background, because this mild interest in the apparent collapse of a site I’d vaguely heard of is the reason I ended up watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject, including this one from ReviewTechUSA, as presented by Richard Masucci.

In that video, the commenter does an interesting thing in referencing ‘Gamergate’ (or, as it’s still sometimes written, #gamergate). Now, I’m not so crazy, even now, as to make too much of a comment on Gamergate. I am, after all, a woman posting on the Internet — a trans woman at that — and therefore having an opinion on Gamergate would be exceptionally unwise. I’ll just refer interested parties to RationalWiki, who are far braver than me and can summarise the shitshow… I mean The Legitimate Campaign For Ethics In Games Journalism® far better than I dare.

Back to the video. Apparently, NeoGAF, for all its users of the gamer, and even Gamer, persuasion, largely came out in opposition to Gamergate. According to the video, anyway. And during the video, whilst explaining why he doesn’t mourn NeoGAF’s passing, Mr Masucci says something that particularly interested me:

“Here is a website [NeoGAF] that was anti-Gamergate, that basically tried to destroy anybody that didn’t agree with their hive-mindset, and… look at the clientele that they had. They thought that they were so intellectually superior, and here they are, their CEO is a sexual deviant; they harboured paedophiles — which, again, I know this is the minority, but still it was on there — and, you know, you have the CEO being outspoken, calling out Gamergaters when he has no moral compass himself.”

There are several things to pull apart in this comment, not least the potential legal issues (since as I understand it no legal action has yet been brought against the CEO or NeoGAF as an enterprise), but I’m going to focus on one. Mr Masucci invokes Gamergate and immediately falls — or appears to fall* — into the of the Enemy Fallacy: the critical misconception that “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. This is, as a moment’s objective thinking should demonstrate, logically nonsensical.

The enemy of your enemy is your enemy’s enemy. You can’t derive anything more from the relationship than that, and if you build your strategy on the assumption of more, then you will very likely fail. Of course what the phrase actually means is that your enemy’s enemy is a potential ally — you have a temporary harmony of interest with regard to a single goal — but still, ‘ally’ is a very long way from ‘friend’; and even an alliance isn’t necessarily on the cards. If your enemy’s enemy is particularly strong, or particularly hostile to other parties, you may simply find yourself engaged on two fronts in a three-way conflict.

Just hypothetically, let’s imagine that Gamergate was, ooh, say, Daleks. Let’s represent — purely conjecturally — Gamergaters as the terrified, hateful, violently aggressive and utterly xenophobic murderbots-yes-I-know-they’re-cyborgs-really of the Doctor Who universe.

Image result for daleks

Now let’s imagine that NeoGAF — for equally hypothetical purposes — is made up of the Borg. You know the folk in question: “We will add your biological and technologicial distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.” They of the laser-pointer faces.

“All your bases, and so forth.”

Who would you choose? On the one hand, you’ve got a race of genocide-obsessed racial purists, who believe anything not Dalek, or in any way tainted by anything not Dalek, is a threat to their supremacy and has to be destroyed. No compromise, no quarter. Cooperation is weakness.

On the other hand, you’ve got a monolithic army of mindless soldiers, all obedient to the… well, Mr Masucci himself used the term: the hive mind. Individuality erased, and with a central, fundamental drive to make everything else in the Galaxy Borg as well. Friendship is irrelevant. Comply.

Either of these would be happy to use your contribution in weakening the other. Or would they each be happy to use the other’s contribution in weakening you? Whatever: you could probably get one or the other to agree to an alliance. But as I say, that’s not the same thing as friendship — which isn’t to say that friendships can’t come from alliances, but the latter is by nature cheaper and more disposable than the former.

But you also have to consider who you are, and what your standards are. Even assuming the Borg or the Daleks could live with you as a little insignificant ‘friend’ after the war is won… could you live with them? Could you watch them carry on as they do, assimilating or exterminating worlds full of people as they drive their wave of conquest across the Galaxy? As the counter-proverb says, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

The problem is that this leads us all too easily into another popular fallacy: that something you disagree with is by definition ‘evil’, and that this is an excuse to abstain from making a necessary choice. That fallacy is itself so critically wrong, and it’s something so consequential in a democratic society, that it’s probably irresponsible of me not to give it equal time in this post. But this post is already over a thousand words long, and let’s face it, only a long and acrimonious row including lots of reasons why Hillary Clinton is actually Satan can stem from such a discussion.

Basically the points are these:

A) Don’t align yourself with evil things, organisations or people, just because you think someone else is more evil. That’s not how morality works. If something’s evil, stand against it.

B) Don’t be melodramatic and assume everything you disagree with is evil. There’s lots of stuff out there that is straight-up evil, and you don’t have to go padding out the category with every schmuck who happens to be slightly to the left or right of you politically.

(* Or is it that I’ve fallen into the trap by assuming that, in deriding NeoGAF’s opposition to Gamergate based on what Mr Masucci clearly feels is hypocritical moralising, that he is himself pro-Gamergate? Am I assuming that because NeoGAF opposed Gamergate, and Mr Masucci was in opposition to NeoGAF, therefore he was aligned with Gamergate? Is that not what he meant to convey? Mmm. Interesting. Still doesn’t negate what I said, though. Might negate the reason I suddenly decided to say it now, admittedly.)

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