Addressing Racism/Anti-LGBTQ Speech on Off-Platform Media

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  • @Ampy Your post specifically mentions “hate speech” and racial slurs as things that should be policed off platform. I am of the opinion that these things should NOT be policed. Never was it mentioned or brought up that child molesters should not be barred from participating in RGL. That is an entirely different issue with separate reasons. The “precedent” you are referencing is an exception, not a rule, and it absolutely should stay that way. Hate speech =/= child grooming.

  • @cayorne Exactly. Not to mention that denying child predators access to children (such as those participating in RGL) is a valid reason to ban them from RGL, while the same reasoning does not apply to “hate speech”

  • @Ampy Are you actually trying to compare grooming to saying a couple of “naughty” words? To suggest these things are even close shows where your morals are at and how misguided and distorted they are.

    Grooming and pedophilia are leagues more terrible saying slurs and anyone who suggests otherwise is a pedophile sympathizer.

    also hate speech doesn’t exist. its free speech

  • @Ampy Thank you for your noble effort to increase accessibility of the TF2 community to more players by making it more welcoming. However, I believe that the way you are trying to do it here is misguided.

    I would like to make this virgin essay a series of responses to points made in favor of off-platform media bans which I disagree with.

    First, I would like to consider the opening statements of Ampy. The first of his arguments I will consider is as follows:

    “Arguments have been made that players should be allowed to have free speech…”

    This is an irrelevant argument. Private organizations and companies such as RGL do not need to abide by the absolute freedom of speech that the federal government and public institutions need to respect. They are allowed to make restrictions on speech which are reasonably related to their goal of continuing to exist/make a profit. As hate speech may impact their ability to acquire revenue through advertisements, it is entirely defensible for RGL to ban people on the basis of hate speech. No reasonable player is arguing that hate speech should not be a bannable offense when done in, at least, official RGL matches.

    The second point I will address continues out of the first and goes as follows:

    “[RGL’s] stance on not “policing” the private discords, or other media options players use still, indirectly harms RGL’s image. [Some] private servers […] are filled with only RGL players [and] hate speech is used flippantly [in those servers]. My particular stance is that RGL should allow players to report these instances (with screenshots or voice recordings only) and punish the accused accordingly.”

    After justifying why RGL should be able to ban players for using hate speech (at least in some circumstances), Ampy attempts to then claim that RGL should ban players outside of official matches, outside of scrims, and in private discord servers populated by some nebulous quantity of RGL players (with some amount of non-RGL players presumable allowed to still qualify for being banned). The issue here, and why I believe the first point is disingenuous, is that this is not about free speech but rather about jurisdiction.

    For those who do not know, the premise of “jurisdiction” is that rule-enforcing bodies only have the authority to punish people who commit offenses within some area(s). That is, they can only punish people who violate some rules within their jurisdiction. It is inarguable that official RGL matches fall within RGL’s purview as a league which functions to set up and facilitate matches between teams. All hate speech in matches, provided that such speech falls within the category of rule-breaking speech (which Ampy notes it does), is therefore liable to be punished. RGL has also extended these rules to in-game scrims and RGL-associated pugs as well as to out-of-game official RGL discords, voice calls, streams, and other social media platforms. RGL bans players for in-game hate speech when the offenses are conducted in an environment where the “teams” in question, and all players on them, are acting in a way that directly relates to RGL’s league either by virtue of these being (un)official matches between RGL teams or being pugs run by RGL staff and thru RGL-associated services. RGL bans players for out-of-game hate speech when it is done on official RGL platforms or done specifically against RGL or its staff. This is the jurisdiction as it exists.

    Ampy would seek to amplify this jurisdiction such that it includes private discord servers or other forms of messaging services or servers with some quantity of RGL players (while he states “all” it can be fairly interpreted, in my view, as being equivalent to “an overwhelming majority” or “almost all”). This makes little sense as these servers are not actually associated with RGL in any way other than their userbase being RGL players. While these players may be a part of RGL, they are also allowed to (and hopefully do) exist outside of RGL. No matter how unprofessional or inappropriate someone may act in private (assuming that there is no harm being done e.g. harassment or stalking) the expectation on the part of RGL is that they act as “‘perfect saints’ in matches and scrims [and official RGL platforms/communications]” and not that they are perfect people. Ampy justifies this expansion by citing some harm to “RGL’s image.”

    RGL’s image is it’s presence on its platforms and in its service. In other words, those things which are “on-platform.” RGL does a very good job of policing these services (some might even say it does too good a job sometimes). It is not responsible for the racism and bigotry that its players spew in their off time, even at other players, and should therefore not police it except as far as that racism and bigotry constitutes some legitimate form of harm. Saying slurs 100 times a day in the froyotech team discord server would not actually affect anything the league officially does provided it stayed within that private server.

    Another point I wish to address is the following made by @rairai

    “Acknowledging that someone is bigoted but being unwilling to take a stance since it didn’t occur in RGL-regulated services is a form of complicity.”

    This is disingenuous. RGL can take a stance but the argument is that that stance should not be a ban. RGL should say that hate speech is bad given that that is obviously RGL’s stance. However, to ban players for off-platform hate speech is to ban players for hate speech that, ultimately, has very little to do with the league. Simply because you signed up to paly in RGL does not mean that you implicitly agreed to never say any slur ever in every server with a preponderance of TF2 players.

    To whit @Ampy also notes:

    “Outsiders to the community see [racist players in off-platform servers…] and begin to associate RGL with the same. It promotes the idea that RGL is not actually a safe haven against this threat, but just a thin veil. Players inside the community are turned away from the league because the community is only inches away from the hate speech.”

    This is a reaction that one might have but it is also not the only reaction one might have. A seemingly obvious alternative would be the judgment that “wow some of these players are bigoted garbage and I should not associate with them.” In video games as in life, not all role models are perfect and we can and should choose who we choose to interact with and idolize. The league ensures that no bigotry remains in its official channels, it should not try to expunge the bigotry of all of its players as if that was a desirable or useful goal.

    The final point I want to address is this erroneous notion of “free speech” which is being thrown around most notably by @Ampy but by some other users as well. Before I quote it I wish to remind everyone, again, that as a private organization RGL does not have an obligation to respect free speech in the same way as it must be respected by the US government or public organizations.

    “Your […] right to speech isn’t being infringed on. You are completely free and able to speak your mind […]. You are not free from any or all consequences of such actions.”

    A right to free speech necessarily implies two different rights, one positive and one negative. The first, positive right is that one is able to speak whatever they want, within reason (often limited by harm inflicted), whenever they want. The second, negative right is that this right to speak freely may not be abridged (i.e. censored). One is not actually free to do something one is punished for doing. The “free” here means that it can be exercised without consequence. Conflation of free as in “free choice” with free as in “free speech” is a fundamental misunderstanding of terms. While I understand this may be counterintuitive, and it ultimately does not matter as RGL is a private organization, it is an important one.

  • “Tbh I feel like if you’re gonna have a competitive community, you’re gonna get players that have different opinions and beliefs than others. I think if someone is with a friend group just chillin and said a slur or something anti-lgbt then they shouldn’t have to be banned from the league entirely for it. As long as they are not hurting those around them within the league or the TF2 community then leave it at that. It’s borderline discriminating against people that have different opinions.”

    Idk how to quote. I am sorry. I wasn’t gonna put any opinions here but on this ONE comment, if we are talking about people using slurs specifically then this video instantly comes to mind: thisone I don’t really think slur usage is a valid “opinion.”

  • @LiaRein a shitty song that only uses buzzwords and doesn’t present any real points isn’t a valid argument. in fact im not really sure what your point is exactly.

    And I’m sure he doesn’t mean slurs is the opinion himself, more so opinions like being anti-lgbt, or things like that. Or perhaps the opinion that one should have the ability to say slurs at your leisure.

  • @cayorne

    I guarantee I could find numerous studies about the actual psychological harm that can arise from being called a slur for your race/gender/sexuality. The amount of suicides alone is incredibly telling.

    Hate Speech is incredibly damaging and pervasive in the culture and should be treated just the same in my opinion.


    An incredibly well thought out response. I’ll attempt to respond the best I can. I will note, some of this will be anecdotal reasoning.

    To your first point, I find there is nothing to counteract, it is simply a statement of fact. I believe everyone is in agreement to this point, so far.

    Moving to the second point, I will clarify that my intent for “all” was referencing places like pug groups, but majority-RGL players would be an acceptable differentiation. The most particular of places I feel this is necessary is the “public-private” pug groups that are generally just based around the divisions of the League. I would move to classify them under the same basis of scrims being affected, as due to a players desire to improve, many will undoubtedly seek outside practice and come into contact with this layer of toxic behavior that is undesirable. This can either portray RGL in a damaging light as you mentioned, or players will just forget it and exist without it, thereby limiting their exposure to improvement. I personally mute every pug server I’ve joined due to this issue, but due to the fact this has been the only viable way for me to practice in high level games, I have had to deal with it. In addition, I would also like to give my personal view that while a specific individual may not be the target of harassment, using a slur becomes indirect harassment or an attack on a person’s race/sexuality/gender/etc by virtue of seeing or hearing it.

    My issue here is that, in “private” discords such as team discords or pug discords, offenders are harassing people who do not wish to associate themselves with them, but are forced to do so due to the current circumstances. All the while, RGL could be doing more to influence the community in a positive light and continue to create an inclusive atmosphere, even in it’s outer circle. By choosing to take the risk and use hate speech around others, you would have to trust that these people either accept your thinking and agree, or else you would be encouraged to keep quiet if you wished to continue playing TF2 for RGL, who takes the most active stand (currently) against such hate.

    To your third point: By signing up for an account on RGL, you implicitly agree to follow all rules they have instituted in the guidelines, or else you would be removed from the service. If the rules are changed to state that it is not acceptable in private discords and is reportable by players, by signing up to an RGL account you would implicitly agree to that stipulation. Anyone who continues to play after the rule is changed would implicitly agree to that stipulation.

    For the fourth point: I spoke about this in my discussion of your 2nd point, but to reiterate, both are equally potential responses that are negative reactions to something that, honestly, could just not have a place in the community anymore if we so choose.

    For the last point: There are businesses all over the world that are allowed to ban entire swathes of religions/genders based purely on who they are. I could go downtown right now and say I was a muslim or from Iraq for instance, and go to a mom-n-pop store and be barred from entry and I would have 0 legal recourse against them. My freedom of speech was not infringed on, but I was refused service. I was not free from “punishment” by this private business for what I said. I was still subject to their rules if I wanted entry into their establishment.

    In any case, I appreciate your discussion and arguments greatly in contrast to half of this threads meaningless memeing.

  • No it’s just a funny song.

  • This has kind of been said already, but RGL is a gaming league. That means its goal (in theory at least) is to make it as easy and as enjoyable for people to PLAY TF2 as possible. RGL is NOT a charity, or a group of social activists, or anything like that. It makes sense for hate speech, spam, etc. to be banned in RGL related servers because it could directly hinder RGL’s ability to provide its services. What happens in private servers however, has little to no effect on whether or not people can use RGL to PLAY TF2. Simply put, it just isn’t RGL’s job to police these things. Why does a gaming league have to take stances on political bullshit? The role of a gaming league in a community should be letting people play the game, regardless of whether or not the owners of said league dislike them.

  • @Ampy Once again, I say this; GROW THICKER SKIN. I have had much worse than slurs said to my face, and you know what I did? I grew thicker skin, I ignored them, I stopped associating with those people. If someone on an enemy team likes saying gamer words in their own time and you somehow find out, you can just block them. Its that simple. Then you never hear from them again!

    Do you think that mom and pop example you gave is right? Do you think its moral for them to do that? We are not debating the legality of RGL potentially doing this, we are debating the morality.

    Restricting players in pug groups from saying gamer words is just stupid. People have a right to say whatever they want in their own private groups, and restricting them is just wrong morally.

  • @Kastaling why are you trying to make an argument based in morality? Like ignoring morals being completely subjective, do you think people using slurs is moral?

  • if you dont like the way rgl is doing shit just go to UGC. Or make your own league.

    its still quite moneky to punish someone outside of anything affiliated with the rgl league

  • @Xenagos depends on the context, but it’s sure as hell more moral than policing people’s private lives and infringing on their free speech

  • @Kastaling free speech is against government overreach not a private jaming league

  • @Kastaling this just in, saying slurs is moral. Telling people they can’t play in video game league if they slurs is not moral.

  • @nujito legally? Sure that’s how the current interpretations of free speech are by the SCOTUS in the US. But morally? completely different story and principle.

  • @Xenagos im glad you finally understand, even with the strawman

  • @Kastaling there’s like actual good reasons why this would be a bad policy, but y’all are intent on using the worst possible arguments for some reason, which is wild.

  • @Xenagos we’ve used all arguments against this, including ones that you think are “bad” because someone has thin skin.

    This rule would be a breach of privacy, an overreach by RGL, and would just be a turn off for any new players looking to play in the league

  • @Kastaling morality is subjective and is a bad anecdote to use. rgl has a image to uphold and if people think its just a bunch of jamers yelling out the N word here and there. it makes them look bad.

    now its a bit much in the “ethical” and workload department to have rgl police peoples private discord so it more than likely wont happen.

    just dont say it during scrims or on the forums

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