Image by geralt
Days after its founder was accused of sexual misconduct, NeoGAF has come back online, and the infighting that occurred between disgruntled members of the online social justice video game forum has been enlightening, to say the least. Tyler “Evilore” Malka was accused by his ex-girlfriend in a Tumblr post of a number of sexual misdemeanors, and the members of his eighteen-year-old message board did not react well. That’s an understatement. Many reacted furiously, threatening Malka in an attempt to have their account “suicided”, or permanently banned.
This outrage is too little, too late. After all, NeoGAF is the same messageboard responsible for having Christopher “Amir0x” Goldberg as one of its moderators: the same Goldberg who was arrested on child pornography charges back in June. Where was the collective outrage from those on NeoGAF back in June? Where was the mass boycott, the ripping into NeoGAF as an evil site? Why did it take one claim of sexual assault—unverified, except for a Tumblr post—for the downfall of NeoGAF to occur? Possession of child pornography is not a minor crime, and it should be taken just as seriously as those made by Tyler Malka’s ex-girlfriend. Goldberg’s home was raided by police, where 53 child porn images were found on his cell phone, and more suspicious software and files on his seized laptop. Those on NeoGAF tried to downplay Goldberg’s role on their site, claiming he was a member ten years ago, so it doesn’t really count, and many claimed he wasn’t really a true GAFer and was actually a member of the Alt-Right.
The boycotts and outrage over NeoGAF come when those on the messageboard have been defending bad behavior for too long, as long as it’s on their side. Now it’s only a matter of time before NeoGAF closes for good—and is replaced with ResetEra or likely fades into the ether—it is yet another instance of people jumping ship only when it is a liability to them. This is not just true with NeoGAF.
For decades, people in Hollywood knew of Harvey Weinstein’s bad behavior and did nothing. Some of these people had good reason—they were threatened or blacklisted—but most knew of the allegations and didn’t actually care until it affected their reputations. It’s revealed people like Matt Damon, Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney, Russell Crowe and Lisa Bloom, all allegedly knew about Weinstein’s behavior, but for whatever reason, stayed quiet. It wasn’t until their reputations and livelihood were at risk that they spoke up.
How many people know about horrible behavior but only speak up or jump ship when they realize they will be affected negatively? Just before Islamic State’s recent fall, many member of ISIS gave themselves up to the West, claiming they were manipulated. The same happened with Nazis during World War II, who claimed—most of the time unsuccessfully—they were manipulated into horrible behavior.
Of course there are many unsuspecting people—completely unaware of previous wrongdoings by Harvey Weinstein or at NeoGAF—but these surely aren’t the majority. Edmund Burke once said:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Pretending to be the good person once the ship has sunk is not being a good person: it just means you are cowardly. You’re not a hero for quitting NeoGAF now, when everyone loathes NeoGAF. While one must still admire the bravery of those coming forward against behavior of Hollywood perpetrators like Harvey Weinstein, those who came out when it came at great to their career are truly the heroes. Corey Feldman is one such person, trying to name and shame the sexual harassers of Hollywood at great risk to his own personal safety; the behavior of which previously claimed the life of his former co-star Corey Haim.
It’s not a bad thing to denounce bad people, but when everyone else is also doing it, you are not the hero. Jumping ship off a dying NeoGAF is not heroic, it’s just attention-seeking. Quitting your membership as an Islamic State terrorist just as Raqqa is defeated is not heroic, it’s just an attempt to get off your bad behavior scot-free.
You are not heroic for condemning someone when everyone else is, you are just doing what is expected of you. If you truly want to be the hero, then condemn the bad behavior even when it is socially unacceptable and you likely face negative repercussions. Otherwise—like those trying to flee NeoGAF—you are a hypocrite, end of story.