My mom hates GamerGate.

On Mother’s Day, I rubbed her aching back — and joined a three-hour Google Hangout of the AirPlay committee.

I mostly listened as the four members pondered speakers who were both pro and anti GamerGate, as well as neutral observers who’d be acceptable to both sides.

I’ve always believed this…

If a journalist can’t explain a story to his mother, he doesn’t understand it himself.

So after two weeks of diving into GamerGate, it’s clear I still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about – because despite my best efforts, all my mom knows for sure is that GamerGaters don’t love their mothers.

Thankfully, I do understand journalists.

So starting now, I’m approaching GamerGate critics with the same time and attention I’ve given the GamerGate community.

My goal is to prove to both sides that SPJ is an honest broker in this debate. Everything I’ve offered GamerGate proponents, I’ll offer their opponents.

I’ve been working with a pro-GamerGate committee to choose that side’s speakers, but I also asked for a list of GamerGate’s very best enemies – because I had no idea who they are.

I’ll contact them myself, and I’ll hear what they want and need to make AirPlay fair for their side.

Many GamerGaters doubt their adversaries will show up. This comment from this blog sums up their feelings…

Can you confirm anyone whatsoever will show up to debate AGAINST Gamergate? Because our detractors are apparently ignoring this entirely.

…but because so many have been doxed, threatened, and harassed, their skittishness is justified. So here’s what I’ll tell the leading anti-GamerGaters…


AirPlay is a demilitarized zone.

Neither side will have home field advantage. AirPlay happens at an intimate and intense journalism conference called Forging the Future.

The conference is sponsored by two groups who couldn’t tell Gordon Freeman from Morgan Freeman if you offered them a Pulitzer Prize – the Florida chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

As conference director, I can offer you security inside AirPlay as needed or desired. I’ll also notify Miami police about our plans, just as a precaution.

Bottom line: This is not a con. It’s a bunch of pros.

The moderator is a journalist.

That’s me in the morning, for the first two hours.

I don’t yet know who will moderate the afternoon debate – any suggestions? – but if you don’t dig them, leave after lunch. (Or before, but your meal is included, as is hotel and airfare.)

You deserve to know all the moderators’ biases, so here’s mine…

GamerGate deserves a debate, but it doesn’t deserve to win.

I don’t care who “wins.” I only care about a conversation. I’ve been surprised that some of GamerGate’s most prominent members really want their most articulate opponents at AirPlay. It’s almost as if they’re desperate to prove they’re not the stereotype of GamerGate nor the assholes who do the most evil shit.

Debate now or duck forever.

A politician once said something smart: “You negotiate peace with your enemies, not with your friends.”

One GamerGate critic I emailed about coming to AirPlay never replied, but she later tweeted…

Yeah, l’ll refuse for the same reason most scientists don’t debate creationists.

Except that’s exactly what scientists do.

Why do they even bother? No hardcore creationist ever changes his mind. Neither does any committed scientist.

Because those debates aren’t for them – you can’t budge someone whose feet are firmly planted. But for those leaning in one direction or the other, a gentle shove may be all they need.

If that sounds too GamerGate Ghandi, then let’s be blunt: This isn’t going away.

My little blog, which averaged 162 daily views in April and is known only to a handful of journalists, has averaged 5,099 views in the first 10 days since I mentioned GamerGate. That’s a lot of people who haven’t gotten bored after nine months.

If those months have worn on your soul, the solution isn’t to avoid AirPlay. It’s to speak at AirPlay.

Let’s talk to those who are leaning in to listen.

As a journalist, I’ve never believed blanket statements. In this case, every GamerGater can’t possibly be part of “a motley alliance of vitriolic naysayers” (Washington Post) leading “an orchestrated campaign of harassment against women” (New York Times).

Some? Sure. Many? Dunno. Most? I’ve come to seriously doubt it.

I’ve spoken with dozens of GamerGaters these past 10 days, and I’ve run across my share who I’m glad aren’t my neighbors. But I’ve also met thoughtful, passionate men and women who hate the harassment and want to wash off the stink.

Two days ago, I wrote a red-meat post aimed squarely at GamerGate’s softest target: I defended a transgender GamerGate critic who publicly described some jaw-droppingly obscene threats she received. Then I asked for public statements decrying her harassment.

Sure enough, I got some of this in the whopping 264 comments beneath my post: “You’re an asshole. And I’m out of patience.” But none of it was any worse than I heard while covering local bands back when I was an alt-weekly entertainment editor.

I also heard a lot of justification (“Nyberg and MIB are noted trolls”) and indignation (“I refuse to accept responsibility for what others have done”).

But I also got a lot of this…


Those sound like GamerGaters who are leaning toward rationality.


On Monday, I joined an impromptu stream hosted by GamerGate advocate Oliver Campbell. We talked for two hours about AirPlay.

At one point, I said clearly, “I’m not lying, I don’t care who quote-unquote wins. I care enough people can get into the discussion.”

Campbell didn’t object, which was a good sign. But later on, he mused that GamerGate’s critics would boycott AirPlay, and he feared for my online safety…

One of the things that scares many is that they aren’t going to show up, and I’ll be honest with you, as far as we’re concerned, many think you are going to end up next on the hit list for them, because that’s what they do. 

I replied…

I’m going to give the opposition as fair a shake as I gave GamerGate. You are basically saying about your opposition what people told me about YOU.

“That’s so…strange,” Oliver replied, gathering his thoughts before concluding, “No, it’s not strange at all.”

No, it’s not.