Monday, 7 July 2014

Zak Smith Is Not A Homophobe



(No clever title this time, its there so google knows what this is about for once.)

REASONS NOT TO GET INVOLVED

1. The ancient policy of this blog is 'if it’s an opinions, don't blog, if it’s an opinion about an opinion, definitely  don't blog'. It is a policy that has served me well for many a year.

2. The Internet is increasingly essentially just isolated groups of people with exactly the same ideas getting into gangs and agreeing with each other. How pleasant it is to see another group of people who all agree that they are right. About another group of people. I loathe the idea of slowly decaying into one of a chorus of yes-men, and that is always a deep danger with online friendships.

3. Forums are balkanised hellscapes populated mainly by those who have been weeded out of personal circles or just by the very robust. Policed by self-defining cliques of sociopaths.

4. I strongly doubt the possibility of convincing any one of anything on the internet. And since that is the stated purpose of argument, then arguing on the internet is like masturbating with knives. Fun for a limited few perhaps.

5. Beyond all those intellectualisations is a deeper truth about my character. I find arguments tiring and fatiguing and upsetting. I get angry quickly. I get hurt easily. I take a long time to calm down. I do not behave well when I am arguing. I do not like the person I am when I argue. I have spent most of my adult life trying to change into a different kind of person. If you find my presence on the internet one of general civility and peace then good. That’s not my natural character. That’s the person I wanted to be. I am civil not because I am good but because I am wrathful and weak and I need the rules of my conduct to protect me from myself.

AND YET NOW.

1. It’s a little more serious this time. Words on the internet are more real than they should be and they never go away, which means the accusations made will still be there in 20 or 30 years time and can, and will, dog those accused for the rest of their lives.

2. I put that ‘funny’ little thing in the title of my blog last night. Now, thinking about it, it’s not really enough. Because what is being done is not funny.

3. There is the real, though very small, possibility of someone seeing who reads my blog hearing the name Zak Smith and going 'oh, isn't that the guy who tells gay people to kill themselves?'

4. And there is a point where the smallness and cruelty of the claims calls out for some kind of redress, or at least a statement of reality. I don’t think friendship should drag you into pointless online arguments that can never be won. But the truth remains the truth and if the lies should have some long lived memorial then the truth should as well.

So here is my gulf of Tonkin moment. I am sure everything will go well.

REASONS TO BELIVE ME?

None. As previously stated, I am a CLOSETCASE, one of the Clique Of Self Absorbed Knobends Who Cluster Around Zak Smith. I am even embarked on business ventures with him. I am also the kind of person who thinks a shit Gay-Panic joke like CLOSETCASES is hilarious. You can make you own (probably accurate) judgements about that. The only thing I ever did for gay rights was to maybe buy a Queen album or two and get sad when Freddie died.


NOW I SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT MY FRIEND

If you go out into the internet and forums you will find black and ruined fields of battle where the corpses wear smiles of grim relief to be released from life. Where nothing pure or good will grow again, where the ravens on the ruined trees spontaneously  drop dead from ennui, fat though they are with carrion from the field.

What are these places? What happened here?

They are the places where Zak has argued.

An abrasive hyper-rational obsessively legalistic mind that never ever gets tired and never ever gives up and seems to grow more obsessive and more narrowly legalistic the deeper the stress and rage of the war. A man who thinks the problem with the battle of Verdun is that neither side really gave it their all.

Is this bullying? Not to the person doing it. He would say that  he was being entirely logical. And this is true. He is. the more heated the argument becomes the more relentlessly and entirely logical he becomes. The fact that almost no-one in the whole world works like this, that arguments are rarely about logic or the exact meanings of words or that it never seems to work, has no effect.


This is difficult to believe for a lot of people. A man who says exactly and only what he means. It’s so unusual that it takes some mental gymnastics the first few times to wrap your head around it. You realise how fully we talk in code most of the time and you realise he's not doing it. he means exactly and precisely what he says and he thinks everyone else does too.


Has this done damage to people arguing with Zak? It might have. Has this done damage to innocent people arguing with Zak? It might have. It’s possible. Someone too depressed or fuzzy or without enough self-knowledge to fully realise that they can walk away any time and lose nothing and he won't follow them home.

If someone puts their hand in a food blender and loses a chunk of skin, I have some sympathy for them. We all do dumb shit sometimes. If they then force their hand into the blender and keep it forced down while holding it on full speed. And then complain. My sympathy begins to wane.

Other unpleasant things about Zak. The total absence of grace in victory against his foes. If he won gold in a race he would bend down and lick the tears of the silver medallist right off their face. And would think it reasonable to do so. The whining about people with children. The fact that he’s probably a communist.

So you could say a lot of pretty bad things about Zak Smith and they would be generally true. Or, at least, true enough that little argument could be made against them. You could simply say he's a bit of a tit and there is little that could be claimed against it.

So it’s strange that anyone would claim that he hates gays or hates trans people or tells gay people to kill themselves. Since he has never done any of those things. Not only has he never done them, but I am willing to make the unusually strong statement that he never will. Not while drunk, not while high, not while angry, not at the age of 105 in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s. 

The accusation is so alien to the nature of the man that it is difficult to comprehend. We all have darker aspects to our character, and he does too, but those are not his darker aspects. This isn’t a Mel Gibson situation where someone is nice enough with their friends but gets drunk and crazy and a bunch of darker suppressed atavistic stuff comes out. It’s not a situation where someone raised in another age of gender assumptions (all of us at this point) gets angry and loses control and responds with words that belong now to another time.

I mean that if you took a mining core of his soul and went through all of it and even examined the black gloopy stuff at the end and had that analysed you still wouldn’t find any homophobia. The dark secret version of Zak Smith you would get if you stripped away everything good about him and left only the nightmare shadow self is still not a homophobe. In the Star Trek mirror dimension where he wears a goatee? That guys still ok with the gays.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS?

That is a good question voiceless Word-Cursor. To address it I have to talk about how we decide who to trust in a strange age in which everyone differs in the rituals of their life.

Back about 30-40 years ago, all ‘decent’ people did exactly the same things and behaved exactly the same way. You knew where you were with people. You could judge them by their clothes and their class then 40 years later work out they had been a paedophile the whole time but that doesn’t mean the barbecues weren’t great.

And now everyone is insanely different to everybody else. Never before have we been connected to so many odd-seeming people who do not share our rituals or our patterns of life. How are we to know these people good or ill? The answer is generally that we watch them and that we stay aware of them and we learn gradually through the patterns that they leave in the world around them and this process never stops. Sometimes you worry about the loud family in the restaurant because they are loud, but sometimes the loud family is loud because none of them are afraid of each other and you worry about the quiet family because the silence is fear.

Now my friendship with Zak is pretty classically neuro-typically male in that we only exchange hard information and discuss ‘things’.  I am not sure if we have ever discussed our feelings about a thing, the relations of multiple things or even the meaning of a thing but only the correctness of the things themselves.
A typical conversation might go like this:

P – “Here is THING1.”
Z – “This thing is a functional thing.”
P – “Yes, it is good that there is a functional thing that works.”
Z – “Yes. It is good. Here is THING2.”

Actually that’s more like my dad’s conversation. Ours is more like.
P – “Here is IMAGINARYTHING1.”
Z – “This imaginary thing is a functional thing.”

And so-on. Now this might strike other people as utterly emotionally retarded and maybe it’s not good that there is someone I have known for several years now and that I like a great deal and his family could explode in mid-air and I wouldn’t know about it unless it came up in a description of an imaginary world several weeks after the event, but that is how things are. You do, however, over the years, soak up a little of someone’s life, even through a screen. And a core self is very hard to see over an hour but impossible to hide over a year or more.

You see their relations with the people around them. How do you know if someone who works in porn is an abusive bastard who hides it well or a good person? Bad people leave damage around themselves, they can disguise what they are but what they do builds up and cannot be hidden.

What do we see when we look at the people closest to Zak? Damage? No. Generally just the opposite.

What do we see when we look at the list of people he has worked with? Rage? Battered ruined tricked or worked-over people who he used and cast aside? I have not seen any. I have not heard any. Again, generally, quite the opposite.

What do we see in his day-to-day relationships?  Homophobia? Telling little ‘jokes’ like the one I made above? Never actually. And I mean Never. Not once in my experience. Again, quite the opposite.

A contempt for women? A secret lift of the brow that suggests ‘hey guy’s, were all in this together right?’ Nope. Again, if anything an almost strained desire to be fair in terms of gender, race or looks. The result of what I suspect to be a rather hippyish lefty upbringing. One not working against but  running closely to, the grain of his core character. This is not a man forcing himself to be a big inclusive liberal, or even reminding himself to be a big inclusive liberal. It is baked-in and fully supported. If you cut him he would bleed it.

It might surprise you to find that this radical punk with the weird hair should carry that particular mark of the bourgeois American meritocracy, a very-slightly-taut anxiety about people not being treated fairly. He hides it well.

THE ONLY REAL POINT

If you happen to be gay or transgender or transsexual and to have stumbled upon this blog, and if you happened to have read something about Zak Smith on some dark corner of the internet that suggests to you that he may be someone whose contact you should fear, or who will mock and sneer about your sexuality or your gender or your looks either to your face or behind your back: it is not true.

I have seen this man go out of his way to prevent nerds commenting on the weight or looks of someone who effectively accused him of hate crimes, and that was not unusual for him


I will not tell you that you will be safe in his tender arms. The truth is you will be exactly as safe as any other human being. He might be a prick to you but if he is, it will never ever be about your gender, who you fuck or the way you look. It will be what you say, and only that.

I urge you not to believe me. Don’t trust what I say. Look and seek for yourself. But, if someone makes an accusation of a moral crime. Please simply ask for proof. You will find none because there is none.

8 comments:

  1. Zak is my favorite American Pit Bull Terrier hybrid, and the fact that the American Kennel Club won't recognize him as such makes me SO MAD.

    Never change, dude.

    - DYA

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with the basic thrust here. Just because someone is a raging asshole who becomes nasty and abusive on a personal every time someone disagrees with him online, doesn't mean he's not sensitive to gender/sexuality issues (in fact, working in porn gives him plenty of extra incentives of both reward and punishment nature to be considerate of the issues of sex/gender marginal groups), or in fact pretty normal in person. Cf. Gabe's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

    I do have a few nitpicks, if I may without being called names, though.

    First, Zak is NOT "rational" or "logical," as you called him while you were praising him with faint damns. Here is a train of logic that he has explicitly engaged in:

    1. Person X is a bad game designer because
    2. Everybody I have met that I know has enjoyed their games is an asshole
    3. In my opinion.

    It should be easy for a logical person to see the multiple fallacies here. Let's work backwards:

    3. Just because you judge someone to be an asshole after a limited amount of (possibly online-only) interaction doesn't mean that assholery is the defining trait of their character. That point is especially apropos to this post of yours, although whether Zak is willing, or even psychologically capable, of extending the same courtesy to anyone NOT queer that you extend to him is doubtful at this point.

    2. Zak is ignoring the possibility that he has encountered lots of people who play the games in question, and whom he hasn't put on his "pigfucker" list, but who simply haven't mentioned to him that they play and enjoy those games.

    Science points out that when you are working from anecdote, rather than data, you simply aren't allowed to draw conclusions. I personally know people who have enjoyed some of the games in question, and they're certainly nicer human beings than Zak himself is, at least in his online persona. But he persists in pretending to himself that the vague, incomplete, and emotional perceptions he possesses somehow carry the force of evidence.

    1. Just because assholes, or even exclusively assholes, enjoy your game, doesn't mean it's poorly designed. You can have something that is gloriously designed but that attracts a nucleus of asshole followers who drive away all the non-assholes - or any other social-dynamic coincidence. Or think of a car associated with a social group you think is pretty awful (or is that just an American phenomenon?). Just because the people who drive it make you feel sick doesn't mean that it's a poorly designed car!

    1. And to be honest, even putting out a poorly designed game doesn't make you a bad designer categorically. Putting out a poorly written story doesn't invalidate the great works of an otherwise great author and turn them into an utter hack; it just means that they weren't done learning yet, or that they rested on their laurels, or whatever.

    0. In short, the argument doesn't hold water at all. It's not what I would call “rational.”

    ReplyDelete
  3. All this stuff is super simple. But when I tried to point it out, all I got was abuse. No consideration whatsoever. In fact, I'm going to go and say that when he smells the slightest hint of disagreement online, Zak goes into hyper-emotional overdrive and can't be bothered with ANY of the basic trappings of civil disagreement.

    Oh, mind you, if pressed hard enough he has a flicker of intellectual honesty that compels him to take refuge in weasel words like "seems." But would he ever apologize or revise? Of course not. This despite his incessant demands for apology from anyone online who dares to not simply yes-man his point of view.

    Second, you point out that it is possible to know someone in person for decades, go to their barbecues and all that, and yet still never know that they were a pedophile the whole time. That kind of directly contradicts your character witnessing: you FEEL that if he were that bad at heart, it would show. Well, by your own example, that's something that you *can't* know, maybe not even if you lived with him for decades.

    Here's my impression: simply reading Zak's blog for the creative bits got increasingly unpleasant because, even outside blasted forums, he will spontaneously use his blog to be nasty... without even paying the Joesky Tax. Asking him to be nice elicited nothing but abuse. I have stopped reading his blog because - by your analogy - simply opening up the page is like sticking a finger into the blender to see whether it's running.

    Finally - you're responding to something that I'm unaware of. My question is, what did he DO that made people start saying that Zak said that gay people should die? It's charming that you're stepping up for him, and for the moment I'm willing to believe you... but to be honest you've also planted the seed of doubt in me by raising the issue and then not logically deconstructing whatever caused that particular meme to sprout in the first place.

    But his feelings toward the queer communities aside, and his in-person persona aside, Zak's current function in the online community is that of a toxic cyst: he spews poison when poked or even accidentally brushed against. Imagine the arguments and ill-will he has caused, and imagine how much better it would be if HE stopped sticking his hand in the blenders on some forum and then shitting on everyone who suggests he pull his hand out and leave the blender alone. Imagine if he were a good example instead of a bad one, a knight who was willing to let people be instead of a barbarian taking axe to follower (which I used to be) as well as explicit foe.

    [sighs]

    Anyway, thank you for your time. I'm really not interested in arguing, any more than you are... but at least *you* seem like a person who is willing to listen to people's opinions and respond on a rational, rather than wrathful, basis.

    ReplyDelete
  4. TL;DR:

    1. Your character witnessing is irrelevant but well-meaning, and I believe what you have to say on that particular count.

    2. However, I strongly disagree with your assessment of his rationality: Zak's primary mode of argumentation is (abusive) ad hominem. Example: when asked to demonstrate how a game was poorly designed, he started calling people names and never once tried to actually tackle the merits of the games in question.

    3. I hope that one day he will calm down, dig the enormous undead bug out of his ass (um... gay joke?) and learn to treat humans like humans *regardless of their sexuality.* (Or at least realize that he can never stop being an asshole online, and just get offline.) Until then, he's going to go on making the world a worse place than it would otherwise have been. And that's one of the tiny tragedies of life.

    ReplyDelete
  5. For what it's worth, I posted a thing defending Zak, and some of his attackers made some stuff up to start calling me transphobic too. Seriously, I came into this knowing nothing but that Zak struck me as a jerk. Now I have definite first-hand evidence that the people going after him are defamatory by inclination.

    ReplyDelete