I tried, well beyond the call of courtesy, to speak with Mr. Wieck about the choices he was making, in selling his site over to the would-be censors, the pseudoactivists of the hobby who demand the RPGnow and DrivethruRPG should have to appease their growing demands that anything they personally find offensive be censored, and be censored immediately. He has made it clear that he has no interest in reasoning with anyone who supports freedom of speech, and everything I've seen indicates to me that he is determined to go forward with a policy whereby anyone who claims offense will be able to have a product IMMEDIATELY pulled from OBS' shelves at the click of a button. This is a move that will assure considerable profit-damages to many publishers, particular Old School publishers who will be a target of the D&D-hating pseudoactivist mob. But more importantly, it will create a climate of fear: with no rules as to what constitutes "offense", with the possibility that ANY publisher's product could be taken down for no good reason at all with no defense permitted and not even any judgment until after the fact, the environment this will create will be exactly the one the psuedo-activists want: one where people will be terrified of writing or publishing any kind of game that could be even the slightest bit controversial, or potentially catch the ire of the censorious mob.
So, with all reasonable means to a solution apparently ineffectual, ALL of us must dedicate ourselves now to a more rigourous measure to fighting this move to censor the biggest marketplace in our hobby. It's time we created a climate of fear, for any would-be censors out there.
There are three steps I propose that anyone who opposes this kind of censorship will need to take in order to fight back:
1. Publishers: Everyone who is an RPG publisher and who is afraid of being targetted by censors, or who values free speech even if they don't think they'd be hit (but if you don't think you'd be a potential target, you're being naive: these people went after Monte Cook, remember?) must follow Ben Franklin's old adage: "We must hang together, or else we will hang separtely".
We need to form a Solidarity Coalition. In a post in response to this situation, James Raggi already publicly stated that if a single product of his was banned, he would pull his entire catalog from OBS. This is a good and noble gesture, but even a publisher as significant as LotFP, alone, would not stop OBS from implementing a pro-censorship policy.
What we need to do is to be signatories to a promise, coming together as a group, where if any of the products of ANY of those publishers who have signed to this coalition is censored, then ALL the undersigned publishers will pull ALL of their product from OBS. Any one publisher won't scare OBS, but imagine if he loses all the OSR and quite a few other publishers in one foul swoop. We must create a situation of assured destruction, where the cost of censorship of any single product will be too great to risk.
2. Businessmen: One or a group of people, whether publishers or otherwise, need to take advantage of this situation by getting ready to potentially launch a competitor site to OBS. If OBS suddenly sees 20-30 of its hottest publishers drop it like a rancid turd, there would be a golden opportunity for someone to pick up the slack in the name of free speech, and create a PDF-sales site that would have everything OBS has plus a large number of publishers that OBS no longer gets to have because they decided to like banning books.
3. Everyone else: there's two things you could do. First, make it clear to OBS and Mr. Wieck that if they implement a pro-censorship policy you will refuse to purchase any further products on their site. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
Second, you could think hard about just how easily offended you are. If the policy that any offense will get a product taken down should happen to go through, I'm sure this means that, in fairness, Mr. Wieck WANTS you to be offended. So if a game or its author is offensive to you, if you can think of a reason (and really, if you think just a little, I'm sure you could find THOUSANDS of causes for offense), then you should go ahead and look at every game you can on OBS' shelves and click the "Report" button on any of those which you feel have offended you. Maybe you're offended at the thought of malicious hats. Or maybe the notion of a world of darkness full of vampires is triggering to you. Or heck, maybe you find the presence of overtly supernatural elements and the lack of a "chaotic Atheist" alignment in Wizards of the Coasts' products to be deeply offensive to your values.
The point is that if OBS wants to create a safe space, you should go out of your way to try to help them in that erstwhile quest to use the reporting function to purify the site of any and every product you can imagine holds offense to you. Of course, pay particular attention to those that might get missed by the other people already dedicated to the quest of telling everyone else what is best for them, and also to those really big publishers that bring in a lot of money, because I'm certain Mr. Wieck wouldn't want to be a hypocrite and make them feel that they would be immune to this policy.
So there you are: this is the response. Up until now, a tiny tiny gang of complete assholes have managed to manipulate the hobby and push an agenda of censorship, blackballing and thought control because they operate as a mob, and the other side does not unite. We must now UNITE, and work together, if we want to make sure that they do not undo the hobby you love piece by piece.
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