Image by h3h3/YouTube
Note: Names have been censored to deny them attention, not to protect their identities
Barely minutes after wife Genna broke the news of video game critic John “TotalBiscuit” Bain’s death, critics and naysayers were already popping out of the woodwork to condemn Bain and all he stood for.
Bain is definitely a divisive figure. He had a major role in Gamergate, an online political controversy from 2014 that both its supporters and detractors refuse to stop talking about. As a pro-Gamergater, Bain was known for saying many things anti-Gamergaters perceived to be vile and offensive. To these same people, almost half a decade later, they still perceive John Bain the same person he was in the muck-fest that was Gamergate, with no room for change or improvement. Now that he’s dead, the same people who claim they were horrifically harassed and abused by Bain and his cohorts, are now free to engage in the same harassment and abuse they accused Bain of doing.
Many of these people condemning the death of TotalBiscuit claim to be critical and objective instead of the reality of abusive and narcissistic. They also claim that those they perceive as “bad” should not be martyred after death. At first glance, this may seem agreeable. Like the above Twitter screenshot, should all of humanity mourn Adolf Hitler’s death? He too was human, and many respected him in life.
This is a blatant appeal to emotion, and incredibly black and white. To compare TotalBiscuit, an outspoken video game critic, to Adolf Hitler, is incredibly insulting to the millions of people tortured, displaced and murdered by Hitler and his regime. These “critics” of TotalBiscuit legitimately believe you are either with them, or you are the worst kind of human to ever exist. There is a fine line between critique of TotalBiscuit and his alleged infractions, and cheering for his death because you believe he’s a literal Nazi.
Death should not be seen as black or white. Barely anyone is truly evil or truly good. For the radically-inclined, this is the only way to function, and we should not be giving them attention. If these people truly thought John Bain was the next incarnation of Hitler, then their behavior would not mimic that of an eight-year-old having a Twitter tantrum. They would not be shouting from the safety of their computer screens, having waited until a man has died and cannot defend himself to do so. They would have been debating him when he was alive, and finding ways for Bain’s supporters to see any perceived wrongdoing. Instead, it happens when Bain cannot fight back. Is this cowardice?
Regardless of political affiliation, this behavior is unacceptable. It is understandable to perhaps disagree with TotalBiscuit’s behavior in the past, and see fault with it. But to blatantly slander and screech at the man after he has passed on is only harmful to his wife, stepson, and family, not the man himself. One should be equally critical if it were a major anti-Gamergater who had passed on from a painful, debilitating disease.
Where is the same hatred for Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Nikolas Cruz, or even legitimate neo-Nazis like Richard Spencer or David Duke? TotalBiscuit was not a Nazi or a pedophile or a school shooter, yet it is somehow acceptable to treat him as worse than any of them combined. It is fine to spit on the grave of one who has committed an act of utter violence or devastation, yet TotalBiscuit is neither of these. An incredibly tenuous link between TotalBiscuit, Gamergate and Trump is not “utter violence or devastation”. It took until the past week for Harvey Weinstein to finally be arrested, but internet trolls would rather look to an easy target, a man who hasn’t done anything they’ve disagreed with in years, and tear him (and his family) down. If this is modern equity politics, then equality will never truly exist. In his final years, Bain was vehemently against Donald Trump, critical of much of his old fanbase, and in agonizing pain from debilitating bowel cancer, but none of this matters when you have a vengeance for blood on the internet. In the words of a Kotaku commenter: “He had opinions. You didn’t like them. Clearly that means he deserved his fate”.
Furthermore, to demonize and dehumanize anyone who even vaguely disagrees with you, should tell you how much these people do not care about what they claim to be for. Just admit: You wish to be able to call those you dislike whatever you want…without consequence. Seems a bit narcissistic, eh? Anyone who tells these dissenters to have respect—or to not be such a blatant asshole—is labeled a “troll”, “harasser”, or “the fact people/bots disagree with me means that I am right!”
There is a fine line between disliking a person and writing about their death respectfully, and being completely abusive and disrespectful. No, we should not be martyring absolutely everyone who passes away regardless of who they were as a human, but a little human decency goes a long way. If in doubt, simply log out of social media and write your thoughts and feelings in your personal journal. Not everything has to be online.
Better yet, why not hold hands together and shout as one: #FuckCancer?