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Old 4th February 2019, 06:42 AM   #1
Eddie Dane
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Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out

What happens to those caught up in the toxic lies of conspiracy theorists? The Guardian spoke to five victims whose lives were wrecked by falsehoods

by Ed Pilkington

https://www.theguardian.com/technolo...urvivors-truth

Interesting article about people who are the subjects of conspiracy theories.
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Old 4th February 2019, 07:14 AM   #2
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Without even looking, I'm going to take a wild guess that the article is dedicated to left wingers wronged by right-wingers with not a mention of the reverse.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
Without even looking, I'm going to take a wild guess that the article is dedicated to left wingers wronged by right-wingers with not a mention of the reverse.
I got through the intro, and about halfway into the first case study. So far, the article reads like a bad parody of exactly what you predicted. I don't know if the rest of the article continues in the same vein, but I didn't really see a reason to keep reading and find out.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:25 AM   #4
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Wait, Brianna Wu? You've got to be kidding me.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:36 AM   #5
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OMG! The article is bad enough but the dismissal by two of our resident alt-whiters is appalling.


If you think there are any Alex Jones equivalents ruining the lives of some innocent white supremacists or Trump supporters or Republicans, then post them instead of pretending this is faux outrage by the left.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Wait, Brianna Wu? You've got to be kidding me.
What is this supposed to mean?
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
What is this supposed to mean?
Have you followed the Gamergate nonsense back in the day? Wu's involvement wasn't exactly positive; and I don't see the conspiracy theory in any of that.

Quote:
OMG! The article is bad enough but the dismissal by two of our resident alt-whiters is appalling.


If you think there are any Alex Jones equivalents ruining the lives of some innocent white supremacists or Trump supporters or Republicans, then post them instead of pretending this is faux outrage by the left.
Baron simply predicted that it would only focus on one side of CTs.

What's an alt-whiter?
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:43 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I got through the intro, and about halfway into the first case study. So far, the article reads like a bad parody of exactly what you predicted. I don't know if the rest of the article continues in the same vein, but I didn't really see a reason to keep reading and find out.
It's the Guardian, it holds no surprises.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Wait, Brianna Wu?
An appropriate name for this site, and I imagine for her content.

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
OMG! The article is bad enough but the dismissal by two of our resident alt-whiters is appalling.

If you think there are any Alex Jones equivalents ruining the lives of some innocent white supremacists or Trump supporters or Republicans, then post them instead of pretending this is faux outrage by the left.
Never heard of Justine Sacco? Wow.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Have you followed the Gamergate nonsense back in the day? Wu's involvement wasn't exactly positive; and I don't see the conspiracy theory in any of that.
I only loosely followed Gamergate and I don't recall Wu. But no one deserves to be chased out of their homes, jobs, have death threats, all based on made up stories spread on 4Chan and by Alex Jones.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Baron simply predicted that it would only focus on one side of CTs.
And I challenge him to find any CT victims on the right. Open the discussion up instead of complaining based on false equivalency.

There are some SJW attacks on right wingers, I don't think they reach the level of harassment noted in the article. But fine, let's hear about them.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
What's an alt-whiter?
People that support Trump and often complain about minorities and liberals.

You weren't included, you posted while I was composing.
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Old 4th February 2019, 08:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
Without even looking, I'm going to take a wild guess that the article is dedicated to left wingers wronged by right-wingers with not a mention of the reverse.
One of the subjects was a doctor targeted by anti-vax CTers, which doesn't really break along the typical political divides. Anti-vax enjoys loons from both sides of the aisle and is especially common among affluent, crunchy lefty types as well as right-wing anti government types.

I'll agree that Wu doesn't really belong on the same list. She was certainly a target of internet lynch mobs and trolls, but I would categorize gamergate as more of a culture war than a true CT. Including her isn't so bad given that the tactics of internet harassment and threats are pretty similar.
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Old 4th February 2019, 09:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I only loosely followed Gamergate and I don't recall Wu. But no one deserves to be chased out of their homes, jobs, have death threats, all based on made up stories spread on 4Chan and by Alex Jones.
I agree. She didn't deserve that. However, it's less to do with conspiracy theories and more about the vitriol she and others on both sides of the 'gate' threw at each other.

Quote:
People that support Trump and often complain about minorities and liberals.

You weren't included, you posted while I was composing.
I didn't feel targeted, I just didn't know what you meant.
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Old 4th February 2019, 09:36 AM   #12
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I had read the first two profiles when this article came out a few weeks ago. Skimming through it again, I don't understand what is left/right about this. Declaring that this article fits one's preconceptions about left/right while simultaneously declaring proudly that one didn't actually finish the article before posting here is ... odd?



I didn't understand what the gamergate thing was doing in the article, but the author says that the whole thing started when she tweeted about some CT believers in her industry. Whether the CT was the alleged affair that someone had remains unclear to me, and I really don't want to know. If it is, that's not what most of us understand a conspiracy theory to be; sounds more like rumor-mongering or slander.
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Old 4th February 2019, 09:50 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I had read the first two profiles when this article came out a few weeks ago. Skimming through it again, I don't understand what is left/right about this. Declaring that this article fits one's preconceptions about left/right while simultaneously declaring proudly that one didn't actually finish the article before posting here is ... odd?
Or indeed, that one didn't even start reading it. But it seems a logical conclusion of conspiratorial / tribalistic thinking; if one assumes that all of society is polarised into the political left and the political right, that these two groups are implacably opposed to each other, that one's own group is the only one that has any moral or factual validity, and that the opposing group is conspiring to obscure that validity, then one has only to identify the proximate source of a narrative to determine that the narrative either is biased against one's own side, and therefore entirely fabricated, or is entirely factual, and therefore supports one's own position. It saves all that tiresome business of engaging in the process of rational skepticism and assessing accounts on the basis of how well they agree with other evidence. It's clearly a superior approach for some people, because thinking is quite hard work. As is reading.

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Old 4th February 2019, 09:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I had read the first two profiles when this article came out a few weeks ago. Skimming through it again, I don't understand what is left/right about this. Declaring that this article fits one's preconceptions about left/right while simultaneously declaring proudly that one didn't actually finish the article before posting here is ... odd?


it's all about the race to be first. then telling the other to prove them wrong. about something something. you'll notice that's the latest wacky craze here.
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Old 4th February 2019, 09:57 AM   #15
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The left? What is this "left" some people keep taking about?

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Old 4th February 2019, 10:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I had read the first two profiles when this article came out a few weeks ago. Skimming through it again, I don't understand what is left/right about this.
From the intro and first profile:

The trend began on obscure online forums such as the alt-right playground 4chan.

[...]

Now the conspiracy theorist-in-chief sits in the White House.

[...]

Fontaine is a vulnerable leftwing individual who would not harm a flea, which apparently makes him perfect fodder for the sadistic mockery of 4chan, the anonymous message board that hosts alt-right activists and other extremists.

The article is explicitly framed as left/right.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:18 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Or indeed, that one didn't even start reading it. But it seems a logical conclusion of conspiratorial / tribalistic thinking; if one assumes that all of society is polarised into the political left and the political right
Have you actually read the article yourself? Baron guessed well, as it turns out. The article is in fact polarized into the political left and political right.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
I had read the first two profiles when this article came out a few weeks ago. Skimming through it again, I don't understand what is left/right about this. Declaring that this article fits one's preconceptions about left/right while simultaneously declaring proudly that one didn't actually finish the article before posting here is ... odd?
Didn't finish it? I never started it, I never even clicked the link because I knew what I'd find. But let's see if my prediction holds true; one point for a leftist victim or rightist persecutor, zero points for no political slant, minus one point for a rightist victim or leftist persecutor.

1) The victim is a self-described “non-binary gay queer autistic commie.”

+1

2) The persecutors were followers of "Alex Jones and Infowars". We don't know about the victim.

+1

3) OK, no political slant here.

0

4) Brianna Wu, leftist feminist poster girl vs the conservative right misogynists.

+1

5) The baddies here are far right Hilary haters

+1

So, on the scale of -5 to +5 I scored a solid +4.

You say you don't know what's left or right about this, that's a fair question. It's also one you should address to the Guardian, not me.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:27 AM   #19
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I'd say the prediction that the victims would be more on the left and the conspiracy mongers on the right was correct. Not because of bias from the publisher but because, while false accusations and conspiracies exist along the political spectrum, the business of sizeable outlets and communities unapologetically pushing conspiracy theory is just so much bigger on the right.

There is no leftwing "infowars" that is comparable in scale, unfounded craziness and impact.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:30 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Have you actually read the article yourself?
Yes, all of it.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Baron guessed well, as it turns out. The article is in fact polarized into the political left and political right.
Explain to me, please, how you discerned the leftist political affiliations of Lenny Pozner, Dr. Paul Offett and James Alefantis from the article, and where the claims are made that their attackers are from the political right. In particular, the accusation of Nazism levelled at Dr. Offett seems an unlikely one for a right wing attacker to level at a leftist.

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Old 4th February 2019, 10:30 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
I'd say the prediction that the victims would be more on the left and the conspiracy mongers on the right was correct. Not because of bias from the publisher but because, while false accusations and conspiracies exist along the political spectrum, the business of sizeable outlets and communities unapologetically pushing conspiracy theory is just so much bigger on the right.

There is no leftwing "infowars" that is comparable in scale, unfounded craziness and impact.
It's true that the far left can't organise, but why use 'sizeable outlets' as a criterion? Is somebody whose life is destroyed by a Twitter mob of 10,000 leftists more privileged than the person whose life is destroyed by a mob of 10,000 rightists purely on the basis the latter are more coherently structured?
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:31 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
I'd say the prediction that the victims would be more on the left and the conspiracy mongers on the right was correct. Not because of bias from the publisher but because, while false accusations and conspiracies exist along the political spectrum, the business of sizeable outlets and communities unapologetically pushing conspiracy theory is just so much bigger on the right.

There is no leftwing "infowars" that is comparable in scale, unfounded craziness and impact.
I don't know how you would quantify something like this, but I tend to agree. There are certainly plenty of CT's that are apolitical, and there are some CT's that are popular among lefty types, but I don't see anything on the left anywhere near the abundance of explicitly right-wing political CT's that exist. Birtherism, Pizzagate, QAnon, Benghazi, false flag mass shootings... the list goes on.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:45 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
It's true that the far left can't organise, but why use 'sizeable outlets' as a criterion? Is somebody whose life is destroyed by a Twitter mob of 10,000 leftists more privileged than the person whose life is destroyed by a mob of 10,000 rightists purely on the basis the latter are more coherently structured?
Instead of continuing to kvetch, why not educate us as you have already been invited to do? Name some right wing people destroyed by left wing conspiracy theories.

I mean this seriously, I'm sure some exist. If you seriously have a problem with lack of balance in this thread, why not fix it?
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:55 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Instead of continuing to kvetch, why not educate us as you have already been invited to do? Name some right wing people destroyed by left wing conspiracy theories.
Both need not be true. Rightist villains, leftist victims, or both.

Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
I mean this seriously, I'm sure some exist. If you seriously have a problem with lack of balance in this thread, why not fix it?
Not lack of balance so much as lack of reading, My second post? You know, the one where I give you a name? Nah.
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:13 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I got through the intro, and about halfway into the first case study. So far, the article reads like a bad parody of exactly what you predicted. I don't know if the rest of the article continues in the same vein, but I didn't really see a reason to keep reading and find out.

It's good that you didn't read any further. It would probably have upset to see Alex Jones and Andrew Wakefield criticized. There's really no reason why should keep reading and find out about that.
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:15 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
I don't know how you would quantify something like this, but I tend to agree. There are certainly plenty of CT's that are apolitical, and there are some CT's that are popular among lefty types, but I don't see anything on the left anywhere near the abundance of explicitly right-wing political CT's that exist. Birtherism, Pizzagate, QAnon, Benghazi, false flag mass shootings... the list goes on.

Which CTs "are popular among lefty types"?
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:24 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Explain to me, please, how you discerned the leftist political affiliations of Lenny Pozner, Dr. Paul Offett and James Alefantis from the article, and where the claims are made that their attackers are from the political right. In particular, the accusation of Nazism levelled at Dr. Offett seems an unlikely one for a right wing attacker to level at a leftist.
It's not a question of the actual politics of the individuals in the article. It's a question of how the article itself is framed. The introduction frames it explicitly as right/left, and this explicit framing continues into the first case study.
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:24 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Explain to me, please, how you discerned the leftist political affiliations of Lenny Pozner, Dr. Paul Offett and James Alefantis from the article, and where the claims are made that their attackers are from the political right. In particular, the accusation of Nazism levelled at Dr. Offett seems an unlikely one for a right wing attacker to level at a leftist.

No, not really. They do it all the time. Their opponents don't even have to be leftists. They do it against moderate liberals, too:
BILLIONAIRE WHO COMPARED OBAMA TO HITLER OFFENDED THAT PEOPLE ARE CALLING HIM A NAZI (Vanity Fair, Sep. 12, 2017)

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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 4th February 2019, 11:25 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Which CTs "are popular among lefty types"?
That Donald Trump is a crypto-fascist who is conspiring to become God-Emperor of America seems to be an article of faith for much of the left these days.
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:26 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's not a question of the actual politics of the individuals in the article. It's a question of how the article itself is framed. The introduction frames it explicitly as right/left, and this explicit framing continues into the first case study.

Yes, of course it does. It's because that's what reality is like. So, again, don't read it. It will only upset you to learn about reality.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:28 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
That Donald Trump is a crypto-fascist who is conspiring to become God-Emperor of America seems to be an article of faith for much of the left these days.

And you don't think that he's a crypto-fascist conspiracy theorist?! Well, good for you!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:33 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
...Never heard of Justine Sacco? Wow.
Wow

Yep, there are people that lost their jobs like that person and there was the scientist with exposed cartoon women on his shirt who lost his job. And there was that guy who said women make bad lab partners because they cry if you criticize their work.

What was the CT involved?

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's not a question of the actual politics of the individuals in the article. It's a question of how the article itself is framed. The introduction frames it explicitly as right/left, and this explicit framing continues into the first case study.
OK I give up, what left right framing?
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Old 4th February 2019, 11:51 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
What is this supposed to mean?
It's an article of faith amongst right-wingers, Gamergaters and their noxious ilk that Wu is an evil person who caused all her own troubles, that no Gamergater ever harassed, doxxed or threatened her (or anyone else).
The usual Alt-right crap.
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:01 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
It's an article of faith amongst right-wingers, Gamergaters and their noxious ilk that Wu is an evil person who caused all her own troubles, that no Gamergater ever harassed, doxxed or threatened her (or anyone else).
Nope. No points there. Perhaps you should've read my response to Ginger's question first.

Quote:
The usual Alt-right crap.
Yes, I'm well known as an alt-right ideologue, here.
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:19 PM   #35
baron
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Wow

Yep, there are people that lost their jobs like that person and there was the scientist with exposed cartoon women on his shirt who lost his job. And there was that guy who said women make bad lab partners because they cry if you criticize their work.

What was the CT involved?
Is that not obvious? The conspiracy theory is that anybody who makes a joke about minorities or the wonderful 'other' is a bigoted racist who has no rights and who should be hounded mercilessly at every opportunity.
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Last edited by baron; 4th February 2019 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:24 PM   #36
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Is this the Smollett thread?
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:28 PM   #37
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Ah I get it. Reprehensible behaviour is OK if you have political sympathies with the perpetrators. It's OK to be a bit racist - making jokes about minorities is fine as long as no-one's burning crosses, is that it?
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:29 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by threadworm View Post
Ah I get it. Reprehensible behaviour is OK if you have political sympathies with the perpetrators. It's OK to be a bit racist - making jokes about minorities is fine as long as no-one's burning crosses, is that it?
Oh, do tell. Who here has political sympathies with the 'perpetrator'? Would you even know?
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:30 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by threadworm View Post
Ah I get it. Reprehensible behaviour is OK if you have political sympathies with the perpetrators. It's OK to be a bit racist - making jokes about minorities is fine as long as no-one's burning crosses, is that it?
Your first sentence is at odds with the following two.
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Old 4th February 2019, 12:31 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by threadworm View Post
Ah I get it. Reprehensible behaviour is OK if you have political sympathies with the perpetrators. It's OK to be a bit racist - making jokes about minorities is fine as long as no-one's burning crosses, is that it?
Of course, no one in authority to worry about.
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