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Blizzard Cancels Overwatch Event (bloomberg.com)
450 points by dmitrygr 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 440 comments

We need to impose an 80% repatriation tax on any profits earned in China in order to offset the damages done to our domestic freedom of speech.

China should not be able to control society outside of its own walls, yet they have blatantly influenced the behavior of our biggest mass media companies for years.

To be fair, they've done an outstanding job of it. They fund a huge number of film productions. They've bought out our cinema chains and gaming companies. All the while we never once see China portrayed as an enemy.

Games are not permitted to promote LGBT acceptance. Films sometimes bend backwards to include China as a strong and moral ally. These aren't just one-sided impacts of the Great Firewall - China is directly altering the media we create domestically. They're changing the world narrative to enhance their reputation and take power from their enemies. They'll happily fund films that are critical of American history (and even if that's justified, it's terribly one-sided).

And now what was once simply a chilling effect on what types of media could be created has now manifested as proactive enforcement of China's will. How long will it be before China can force westerners it disagrees with out of their jobs? We never imagined something like Blizzard's treatment of Blitzchung would be possible, yet now we're beginning to see how deep China's political tentacles reach.

We have to stop this.

Tax companies doing business in China.

Disincentivize this blatant attack on of our freedom of speech. Don't let China change our cultural zeitgeist.

Tax any and all domestic profits coming from China. Heavily.

> They've bought out our cinema chains and gaming companies. All the while we never once see China portrayed as an enemy.

I agree with most of what you say, but as a Dane who grew up watching Hollywood movies portraying America, it’s also a little funny for this particular part, to be happening to America.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be manipulated into liking a free society than a dictatorship, but I’m sure you follow where I’m going with this comment.

> Hollywood movies portraying America

That's not really comparable because those are American movies. Is America preventing Europeans from making movies that portray America negatively?

If China makes its own movies where they are the heroes, that's fine, but they shouldn't be able to prevent anyone outside China from making movies where they are portrayed negatively.

There are countless movies that blame US companies, US agencies, US military, etc. in movies. It’s not like all US flags wave the American flag around.

This is in direct comparison to what China tacitly enforces. Good luck try to show the Chinese as the bad guys, much less the the government itself.

As an Indian who grew up watching Hollywood movies, I never saw the US imposing their will on Indian Bollywood movies.

So no - I don't follow where you are going.

Reminds me of the election interference by foreign entities

> Tax any and all domestic profits coming from China.

What would you do if there are no actual profits?


Just tax their revenue instead.

So that just incentivise them to spend foreign capital rather than bring it back. Say the USA passes this legislation you purpose the logical move for Blizzard would be to move development to china so that they could spend more Yen on development avoiding high taxes and have the low tax dollars kept at home.

This. If we punish them for spending foreign profits hiring Americans, sure enough we’ll see them stop doing it.


A quick duckduckgo search will indicate that these assertions are correct. For example, see the second hit for ‘china funding american cinema’, from 2016: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/07/01/china-cens...

And China has been involved in all sorts of questionable financing schemes with recent Hollywood films.

There may be enclaves of people who are paying attention that ridicule China as the authoritarian travesty that it is... but Western pop culture, big business, and our government kowtow to China and its whims.

Someone needs to get out of the twitterverse.

It’s funny that you’re complaining about freedom of speech violations while demanding that companies be forced to produce anti-Chinese media against their economic interest.

The first amendment protects people’s rights to shill for China in exchange for $$$. That’s what freedom of speech actually means.

> demanding that companies be forced to produce anti-Chinese media against their economic interest.

What? I never suggested this.

> The first amendment protects people’s rights to shill for China in exchange for $$$. That’s what freedom of speech actually means.

Right. And China discovered this fitness gradient.

Luckily we can use taxes on negative externalities to adjust for the damage that is being done.

Taxing speech you don’t like is the exact opposite of being pro-free speech.

> Taxing speech you don’t like is the exact opposite of being pro-free speech.

I'm suggesting that we tax all business activities in China because China has shown themselves to be an enemy of the West and of democracy. They pose an existential threat to both and we should begin taking additional measures to protect and secure our interests.

I'm not saying we tax pro-China messages or force companies to produce anti-Chinese sentiment. Don't reframe this as a free speech argument.

China has a demand for western media, and they cede small amounts of control when they let our messaging and culture reach them. By economically disincentivizing the creation of specialized media that is custom-tailored for consumption by the Chinese market, they are left with true and unfettered western culture. A culture that flies in the face of fascist narratives.

No one goes out of their way to create pro-Chinese media if there isn't something in it for them.

Taxing an entire spectrum of economic activity for the express purpose of discouraging certain kinds of speech (e.g. pro-China content) is anti free speech.

> Disincentivize this blatant attack on of our freedom of speech.

I'll quote you right here since you keep insisting you're not talking about free speech.

> Games are not permitted to promote LGBT acceptance.

I see lots of games that have LGBT characters. Isn't that what the Gamer Gaters keep whining about? That companies keep "virtue signaling" by pandering to minority groups?

But China isn't the only regressive society in the world. Corporations also sometimes avoid overtly endorsing progressive perspectives to avoid offending domestic conservatives. Should we also tax business activity in Alabama so companies aren't afraid to make LGBT-friendly games to cater to red states? The government isn't in the business of deciding which speech should be discouraged and which should be encouraged.

> China should not be able to control society outside of its own walls.

If you choose not to consume certain pieces of foreign media because you disagree with its philosophy or some other part of it are you also violating their country's sovereignty? E.g. if you decide not to read Harry Potter because the British slang confuses you, are you committing an unethical act by unduly pressuring British publishers to produce more America-friendly content?

> They are left with true and unfettered western culture. A culture that flies in the face of fascist narratives.

So much to unpack here

then i suppose it's a good thing he didn't suggest that

> China should not be able to control society outside of its own walls, yet they have blatantly influenced the behavior of our biggest mass media companies for years.

It’s companies that want access to China that are making these choices. It’s why foreign companies are afraid to deal with Cuba, Venezuela, or Iran.

The main reason is that doing business with those countries can cause serious issues if you have any business at all in USA, since it's illegal to do so.

I don't think of it as free speech issue. If an Overwatch streamer was banned for wearing a MAGA hat, most of the community would cheer Blizzard for that.

This sort of argument is so shitty. "If this thing that hasn't happened, happened, then people would do X action"

How do you argue against it? It's a hypothetical event that hasn't occurred. You get to feel smug with your point and no one can actually disprove it.

I generally find people that are so aggressive with their passive announcement of political values aren't the type of people I want to associate with, but I'm not going to say someone wearing a MAGA hat should be banned from playing Overwatch. It wouldn't even occur to me as something to suggest.

That's true, much of the community doesn't really support free speech, unfortunately, but some of us do and for us this is a free speech issue.

The Chinese government has zero respect for free speech and as they gain more power outside China we're watching our own freedom of speech disappear.

So in this instance, people who support free speech and people who just oppose China are aligned.

> We need to impose an 80% repatriation tax on any profits earned in China in order to offset the damages done to our domestic freedom of speech.

Well if you think we should antagonize china for offending our freedoms, then we should be culling the nsa, fbi, and other 3 letter agencies that violate our constitutional right to privacy.

The US gov't and the chinese gov't are two faces on the same coin. The difference is the chinese gov't does what the US gov't does in the open.

The US government and agencies are hardly pure and innocent, but they're not disappearing people off the streets for speaking out against them, or harvesting the organs from religious dissenters while they are still alive and without anesthetic.

Horrific tragedies have occurred in the US, like Kent State. But we know the truth about Kent State. We know the number of victims. It and similar events are included in our history textbooks. I know they are - that's how I learned about them! Tiananmen Square, we don't know the truth about. We don't know how many victims there were. The estimates range from hundreds to tens of thousands. And it certainly isn't included in history textbooks in China. It's likely one of the most fatal protest crackdowns in human history, but it is censored completely in the country where it occurred.

We're just descending into whatabout-ism at this point. The US has done plenty of horrific stuff. It shouldn't. We should be upset that it has. But that doesn't absolve China, and I don't think it's clear that they're even actually on similar footing.

80% tax because we can’t talk shit about Hong Kong? You have no sense.

> China should not be able to control society outside of its own walls, yet they have blatantly influenced the behavior of our biggest mass media companies for years.

The US government routinely practices Extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Anyone living abroad who was born in the US, currently holds US citizenship, or was at one point a "US person" to the IRS has to deal with financial institutions refusing to do business with them because of FACTA. [1]

The US has also been known pressure American companies to disclose data held abroad on foreign citizens. [2]

Recently the wife of a US diplomat killed a UK citizen in a road accident and fled back to the US while claiming diplomatic immunity. [3]

Yes, these examples are not of the US state entities or US corporations overtly using their financial interests to influence corporate policy abroad, but the US is hardly a model citizen when it comes to this claim.

I'd like to see more of every country (US, UK, China, Russia, etc) stop trying to "control society outside of its own walls" but this trend seems unlikely to change any time soon.

[1] https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=0e331f25-4e8a...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Corp._v._United_Stat...

[3] https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/06/uk/us-diplomat-wife-intl-...

The huge question here is what's going to happen at BlizzCon in two weeks. There'll be 40,000+ attendees, cameras everywhere, there are usually Q&A panels, homemade signs for player support, cosplay, everything. How can you host BlizzCon when you're terrified of political speech?

How do you respond when a character from your top grossing game is turned into a political meme? This is what Blizzard has been learning this week.

How do you handle potentially thousands of attendees, at your organization's biggest annual event, turning it into a platform for political protest agaisnt your biggest growing market?

There's three possible events:

BlizzCon is canceled. Extremely unlikely but possible.

Blizzard attempts to control the narrative during the con by policing the floors to extinguish any mention of china or Hong Kong. Stripping those who do of their con membership. Leading to more negative reactions from domestic users.

Blizzard does nothing. Thousands of videos and photos flood the web of blizzcon of what looks like a sanctioned public protests by the company. China responds by blocking all Blizzard products in their country.

This is a very awkward situation for blizzard, one they have ultimately created, no real way they will win.

How do you respond? A bit too late for that. Traditionally, reasonable companies preempted this kind of stuff by creating a clear separation between professional and personal matters, and not mixing the two.

But hey, these days many people want companies to stick their nose into everyone's business, police "bad speech", create comfortable "spaces", enforce conduct and so on. Well, you reap what you sow. Any mechanism that is created to do all this "activism" will inevitably be subverted by something like CPC to enforce their interests upon everyone else.

Perhaps not cleanly stated, but true. Blizzard quite explicitly catered to the LGBTQ+ demographic recently via an Overwatch promotion, a move that can easily be construed as political speech (and which was voluntarily censored by Blizzard in Russia and China).

They stuck their feet into this arena, and are now realizing that making political statement can affect their revenue in both directions.

The fact that they voluntarily censored it in Russia and China is essentially definitive proof that they don’t actually care about the issue, but rather think it will gain them more money in the US. If they cared, they would have required that China and Russia be the bad guy and force them, but they’d clearly prefer to take the path of least resistance.

I think it's probably a bit more nuanced than that...

Much like how tons of companies seem to jump on the LGBT logo type stuff, I suspect this kind of pro-LGBT sentiment is driven by people within the company who genuinely mean it and then it's up to the company to: (a) embrace their suggestions in the name of boosting employee morale and involvement (b) say no to sidestep potential political implications and potentially unsettle workplace morale

The company fundamentally does not give a flying f*ck about the issue at hand, but it manages to work its way up along a chain of individuals who either do believe in the motives or are unwilling to be the one to say no until it actually gets put out officially. If there ever was a "there's big money in this stuff" thought, I seriously doubt it was a significant motivator as the person thinking that cynically would doubtless be aware of international considerations too.

I'm not trying to defend companies here at all, to be clear. I struggle to believe any company that isn't taking extremely proactive steps at the risk of their bottom line don't actually care about anything on an ethical level.

They can care about the issue and still be greedy and care about money way more. The issue with letting governments "force" things like that is that they might just ban the game entirely and forever.

See the documentary "The Corporation". The basic premise of this doc is that corporations are sociopaths / psychopaths. Corporations do not "care" about anything - only people can do that.

Companies do not have ethics, morals, etc. Only individual people have those. The film also talks about how any group of people tend to lose their humanity because in any group, it is easy to fall back on "someone else made the decision", "it's someone else's problem", "I didn't have the final say-so on this", etc.

IMO we too often have given companies attributes and rights of individuals that they don't deserve because they don't behave like individuals, and are incapable of having things like morals.

I don't understand the line of reasoning here. If Blizzard wants to (appear to, if we doubt their sincerity) support a political cause, that's a decision by the company. I agree that they should expect a potential fallout for that.

But how is that related to Blizzard sponsoring (paying for casters, production and using their branding) content where random individuals make their own political statements (imho: presented in questionable ways)?

Is "not supporting individuals to hijack your platform for their own agenda" now immediately the same as "explicitly aligning yourself with the opposite political position"?

That feels like the "If you're against censorship you support child porn" argument? "If you don't want any random political statements then you are explicitly against the specific political point that a random guy chanted" does seem weird.

Context is important.

Context #1: there has been a years-long trend for Western entertainment media (movies, games) to cater to the Chinese market. This ranges from voluntary censorship that seems odd in the West (no skeletons?) to more sensitive topics like sexuality.

Specifically, last year Blizzard disappointed fans by announcing a mobile Diablo game that no one really asked for and that many felt is squarely aimed at the Chinese market.

Context #2: the trade war and Hong Kong protests have brought a lot of attention to China in general. The Hong Kong protests seem to be particularly popular with younger people online.

Context #3: Blizzard's reaction seemed particularly swift and heavy-handed, giving the impression that it was more about not offending China than about discouraging political statements on streams. Blizzard's announcement on Chinese social media supported this impression, and their delayed and lukewarm non-apology statement in the US didn't do much to change that perception.

Further, Blizzard's support for LGBTQ suggests that it's not just about political statements on the stream, but the content of the statements is important. Put another way: would Blizzard's response be the same if the unauthorized statement was pro-LGBTQ rather than pro-HK? There is no way to know for sure, but if the answer is "no" that means Blizzard is indirectly picking sides.

Combine all that and Blizzard put themselves in an impossible situation with no good way forward.

My personal opinion: it probably was about China, it probably was a decision made locally further down the corporate ladder, and US HQ is now stuck with something they can't fix.

> Context #1: there has been a years-long trend for Western entertainment media (movies, games) to cater to the Chinese market. This ranges from voluntary censorship that seems odd in the West (no skeletons?) to more sensitive topics like sexuality.

I .. take your word for it. I'm not sure what the "no skeletons?" references and I'd argue that sexuality is already a pretty weird thing if you - say - take the US and Europe (during the 2006 soccer championship US visitors got an "informational leaflet" that - among other things - said something along the lines of "On tv back home? Gore is fine, sex is bad. Here? Expect less gore, more nudity"). But again, without said context and without catching your references I .. can't really disagree.

> Context #2: the trade war and Hong Kong protests have brought a lot of attention to China in general. The Hong Kong protests seem to be particularly popular with younger people online.

Not sure how that's related to HK per se, but I agree that this was on the news a lot (I'm.. using a Huawei phone myself).

> Context #3: Blizzard's reaction seemed particularly swift and heavy-handed

Fair enough, that's true.

> Further, Blizzard's support for LGBTQ suggests that it's not just about political statements on the stream

I .. don't get this. What does LGBTQ have to do with .. anything? How does the fact that BLIZZARD can make public statements one way or another on BLIZZARD streams or elsewhere have anything to do with private unrelated individuals making their own loaded statements on BLIZZARD streams?

> Combine all that and Blizzard put themselves in an impossible situation with no good way forward.

I guess there's no debating this: They're in a bad spot and I don't know what they could/should do.

> My personal opinion: it probably was about China

I don't even disagree with this, I'm not thaaat naive. I assume it was mostly about China. My problem is that I still think that the guy was out of line and should be banned/punished for hijacking the event.

Pro-gamers often lament the fact that they aren't considered "athletes" in the general public, that people like to say things like "eSports aren't real sports" etc.

But in this case I feel this professional Hearthstone gamer got treated like an athlete - just not in the way he probably would've liked: If you're representing your sport, if you're on camera/in public, then you're not a private person and keep your private agenda to yourself. Otherwise there will be consequences for your career and your club/league/whatever association is relevant might remind you of that in fines/bans.

I agree with you, and I think most people do, that disrupting a tournament with political speech deserves some kind of punishment, perhaps up to a ban, though ideally not for the first offense. The punishment should be made clear in the rules and enforced objectively rather than selectively.

But note that what actually happened is much worse than a minor punishment: full ban for a year, confiscation of prize money that had previously been won, firing both the (Taiwanese!) interviewers for a crime that was extremely close to just being unavoidably in the wrong place at the wrong time, having the company representing Blizzard in China issuing an apology about defending China's "national pride".. it feels like a set of consequences that were likely dictated by China, or at least planned explicitly to try to please them.

You can object to a specific punishment without objecting to the idea of giving a punishment, and I think that's what's been happening here.

I think you gave me the most pause in this argument so far.

I do think punishing the player itself, even in the original 12 months / 10k way before they relented, was .. acceptable? Linking to my earlier comparison with professional athletes: You can lose your title, be fined and be banned for behaving improperly. Which I think was the case here, completely ignoring what he was advocating.

You're bringing up good points about the rest of the disaster though. Unless they were secretly in on this (and all coverage I saw makes that highly unlikely), the casters are complete bystanders and not responsible in the slightest¹.

I won't weasel around and say "It wasn't _Blizzard_ directly who apologized" or stuff like that. The apology is - in my opinion - the worst part in all of this and the single part I find a little disgusting.

Ban/Fine the guy? Yup. Fire casters: That's stupid. Apologize to China: Ewww..

I guess what made me burn my karma in this thread is that so far I've seen a lot of discussions focus on "Freedom of Speech" (not applicable on a private platform, not a global/unified concept anyway) and actually .. supporting the gamer.

Player vs Blizzard: Both fucked this up. The former intentionally², the latter incompetently. I don't see why Blizzard alone gets the hate and is painted as the bad guy.

① One might mayyyybe wonder if the production team could've cut to a commercial, but again.. no use blaming other people.

② I've never watched that player myself, but I extend him the courtesy to believe that he knew he was doing something stupid/risky way in advance

I agree with most of this, yeah.

> Linking to my earlier comparison with professional athletes: You can lose your title, be fined and be banned for behaving improperly.

This wasn't improper behavior that affected the result of the athletic event, though. Is it true that people are getting year long bans from their sport just for behaving improperly? Like, isn't Nick Kyrgios' on-court tennis behavior worse than this and yet he's still at events? I think as an athlete you have to be doping -- actually affecting event results -- to get this severe a punishment.

Another reason to be more lenient is that while Blitzchung knew some trouble would come, this was an unprecedented situation and the amount of trouble wasn't predictable by him.

Blizzard absolutely has the right to punish Blitzchung for his statement, and I am sure he expected and accepted there would be consequences. The issue is, was the punishment:

1) Strictly because Blizzard did not want unauthorized political statements on its video game stream - perfectly understandable, or

2) Partly because Blizzard feared retaliation from China, and acted more harshly than it normally would.

We can't know for sure from the outside, but context suggests 2 is more likely.

This is where the LGBTQ thing comes in. It's not central to the controversy but it is one small piece of the puzzle. It's an instance, in the past, where Blizzard has calculated it is worth it to take a public stance on a non-gaming related topic.

Now we would not normally expect Blizzard, out of nowhere, to take a public stance on the HK protests. But Blitzchung has forced them to consider the issue internally at least. We now know they have calculated, unlike LGBTQ, that it is not worth it to take any public stance on HK even though it might be the only way to disprove 2) and repair PR damage at home. Their silence doesn't prove anything but it is one more clue.

Also, regarding skeletons:


It's a silly example, and I don't have a big issue with localized versions of games or movies customized for local norms. But it becomes interesting when US content starts to self-censor at home to avoid losing money in the Chinese market. For years American entertainment has been some of the most effective propaganda globally, now American citizens are indirectly starting to be exposed to Chinese propaganda (by avoiding content or topics) in American entertainment. It's only tangential to the Blizzard situation but I think it's part of why it struck such a nerve.

This is why I find this mess so fascinating - it goes far beyond just the statement on the stream and it ties together so many different threads into a perfect storm for Blizzard.

> We can't know for sure from the outside, but context suggests 2 is more likely.

Can't it be .. both? And if we at least somewhat agree that this had to have consequences, why .. does it matter?

> For years American entertainment has been some of the most effective propaganda globally, now American citizens are indirectly starting to be exposed to Chinese propaganda (by avoiding content or topics) in American entertainment.

I'm not trying to be infuriating, but that seems something very American to worry about. As you write, American propaganda is huge worldwide (personally I cringe at - random examples - Independence Day speeches or Captain America). In addition, I don't quite understand how that is "propaganda" in the first place. Video games already tried to "censor" themselves before, to get around various gore acceptance level before for example. That's .. hardly propaganda. And if you build some erotic novel game that purposely avoids showing pubes and genitals to reach the Japanese market .. then I don't see censorship here either.

Now, I obviously don't deny that there IS censorship in general and around HK/TW specifically - I just feel the examples/comparisons aren't applicable?

> This is why I find this mess so fascinating

It certainly is interesting to observe, I agree.

>And if we at least somewhat agree that this had to have consequences, why .. does it matter?

This might be where our views diverge. If you don’t think it matters whether a US company punished a Hong Kong national, in Taiwan, for political speech in support of democracy out of fear of potentially offending China, then I don’t think we’ll find much common ground.

>that seems very American to worry about

It is, and that’s the whole point. If this were a French company punishing a Romanian caster for potentially offending the Bulgarian government, no one would care (other than mild confusion, probably).

This is one very small battle in a global struggle between the US, where democracy and political speech are supposed to be sacred, and China, where they are supposed to be taboo. Blizzard brilliantly got themselves caught right in the middle.

By the way - I’m not American either, I’m watching this from the sidelines just like you.

> I'm not sure what the "no skeletons?" references


In the US, if a player won the tournament and went political during the post match interview the likely response would be to switch to a commentator and that would be the end of it. Instead they went nuclear on him, banning him, clawing back winnings, going silent on the issue until finally responding on a Friday night.

There is a big difference between "not supporting" a political rant, which could be accomplished by turning off his mic and what Blizzard chose to do.

So, what, as an LGBTQ+ person, I'm not allowed to be represented in media? Because my existence is "political"?

I think the problem is like this:

Blizzard creates art/items/events specifically catering to LGBTQ, with the concept that in modern western countries this is not a controversial stance but the only decent stance.

Then, at an event, a tournament winner is given a chance to speak and calls for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong.

Blizzard's response to this is ban him, take his prize away, ban the tournament casters for some reason (who did nothing at all, AFAIK).

The takeaway people get from these actions is "Blizzard projects the image that they care about social issues, but in reality they will shut you down hard if those issues cost them a penny."

When forming opinions on things like this, I think its important to see what happened in context.

This [1] is the entire, in context, video of the controversy in question. Unfortunately I've yet to find a complete translated transcript so I am left on relying on potentially unreliable online translations. From what I've read the casters say 'Go ahead and say those 8 words and we'll wrap up here. There's nothing else to talk about. Let's lower our heads.' He then screams 'Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time.' Guess that's 8 words in [presumably?] Cantonese. This was done while wearing a gas mask. The tournament casters then laugh and clap.

This is actually the thing that most frustrates me about so many issues. How can people justify forming opinions on these things without seeing everything in context? Why isn't this entire video, alongside a professional translation, a part of every story on the topic? Of course providing in context video gets downvoted, because it makes the issues look less black and white. But that to me is the clearest example of idiocracy. We should not seek to create Hollywood villains and heroes in nuanced issues. We should consider these issues as they are, which invariably tend to be a million shades of gray as opposed to black and white.

[1] - https://youtu.be/KyxO0Ea1_kM?t=2152

Nothing in that video should change anyone's mind on the issue on anything except whether or not the casters were also involved. I don't see how any of it changes anything important about the issue - Blizzard is censoring political speech for their own financial gain.

Why would it matter if three people were involved in the political speech rather than just one?

There's no guarantee in life that everything is shades of gray. Sometimes people really are evil. They're not Hollywood villains - Hollywood can't sell the level of evil some people actually are. Go read about the Falun Gong and organ harvesting.

Add Blizzard's weibo account response to their list of actions "....We will always respect and defend the pride of our country."


Ehh... I think in common usage the "LGBTQ+" designation is fairly politically loaded. It really is intertwined with specific strains of political activism (mostly progressive left). And because of that, all sorts of policy views and prescriptions on ancillary matters have coalesced under the "LGBTQ+" umbrella. It may even say more about one's political identity/grouping at this point, than it does about sexual preferences or gender identity, etc.

It’s almost as if non-majority sexual identity was a political statement of left-wingers?

Seriously: that cis, straight, unkinky people actually use the term LGBTQ+, are alive to the challenges that this group of people face every.single.day and are prepared to stand up and be counted is somehow a “progressive left” hobby or “political identity” rather than genuine human empathy and expression of civic values shows how little some people can even conceptualize the inner lives of others.

When Blizzard says "this character is gay in America but in other countries he is straight", it seems like inauthentic pandering instead of actual representation.

When did they say that?

The first time was in 2016.

Blizzard has released a series of comics delving into the backstories of the characters in the game. Feel free to play spot the difference with which comics got released in various locales:

America: https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/media/#comics-section

Russia: https://playoverwatch.com/ru-ru/media#comics-section

China: https://ow.blizzard.cn/media/ (there's some weird javascript stuff that prevents me from linking directly, click the speech bubble on the right side of the page to see the list of comics)

Taiwan: https://playoverwatch.com/zh-tw/media#comics-section

Edit: The tl;dr is that one of the comics doesn't exist in Russia or mainland China. Funnily enough, it looks like their CDN actually has a zh-cn version of the missing comic which is distinct from the zh-tw one (I don't know much about the chinese language but I'm assuming it's Simplified vs Traditional characters? Some of the onomatopoeia are translated differently too) https://static.playoverwatch.com/media/comics/10/zh-cn/comic...

> zh-tw

This is just the ISO language code for "Chinese as used in Taiwan".

That's what a bunch of people have been saying in Reddit comments about Blizzard allowing "political speech" for acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ+ people.


Sadly in many places it still is political isn't it? Like Russia, China, Utah... Since homophobic bigots run the places and think it's ok to oppress things they aren't comfortable with...

You name two countries and then an obscure state. What's the deal with Utah?

Well, it might be that it is effectively a theocracy because a church with a strongly enforced normative code of "morality" controls access to political levers (practically requiring membership for anyone who wants to effect political change of any kind), and that church exerts a 10-15% tax on its members?

Which it then uses (in parallel to the "official" state government) to invest in projects and consolidate its own economic and political power?

Just spitballing though. It's certainly not as bad as Russia or China, but it's not an entirely unfounded inclusion on that list.

The LDS church (Mormons) are much more accepting of LGBTQ+ members than other Christian sects from what I’ve seen. And that “tax” is called a tithe. And it’s optional.

It's only optional if you don't want to go inside the temples and don't mind being burned during the Second Coming.

The LDS church downgraded same sex marriage from apostasy to a serious transgression this year.[1] The Episcopal church ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003.[2]

[1] https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/first-presi...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Robinson

I didn’t say it was the best. I said it’s better than a lot of other churches.

You said it's much better than others. Not that it's better than a lot of others. I think neither is true by American standards. Not even the Catholic church withheld baptism from the children of same sex parents.

Just wanted to point out that it's just not far-away places that have backwards politicians.

Do you think that there are groups of people that should not be allowed to be represented in the media?

this is a really illogical take that sounds extremely biased. I do not believe for a second that if American companies did not do anything you claim they do, that would somehow make Blizzard not be threatened by the Chinese government in this situation.

like I have no clue how you can relate these two. we aren't just talking about public backlash, we are talking about the threat that a government can harm your operations in their country for speech. this is so different.

> This is a very awkward situation for blizzard, one they have ultimately created, no real way they will win.

I don't think they created it per-say. I think they, and probably most of the executives in the industry, missed just how much a powder-keg chinese censorship is, and how political doing live international (or even national) sporting events can get. Everyone in the west is pissed at blizzard for cowing to China. China is obviously in the wrong here, because they're the ones threatening to kick Blizzard out of China unless Blizzard does what they say.

This is a risk that no matter how Blizzard execs managed it, if China pushes that lever all of their profits turn to zero. I think now any company should start to think twice about the risks of operating in China. I think ultimately this will fizzle out, unless the players don't stop protesting, at which point they'll have to stop broadcasting to China, and probably stop operating there.

Per se.

Per kay!

I wonder if the initial decision was made by Chinese Executives and Event staff without consulting corporate HQ, then corporate backed them since they have no obvious strategy for backpedaling.

But you just described the obvious strategy: say that corp should be involved in punishments that transcend a particular event (I'm sure they were already) and that corp has decided on punishment X instead.

Extremely unlikely, especially given the response afterwards. Blizzard runs things, despite the corporate setup as it is force to be in China.

They'll either avoid talking about China or attempt to "address" attendees concerns. If they do "address" attendees concerns it'll be something superficial to try and tide people over while they ride out their spate of bad PR. Like they're doing right now with Blitzchung and reducing his ban to six months which is still outrageous.

They would have to announce Diablo 5 to distract anyone.

It’s only a “no win” if you consider losing business with an autocratic nation responsible for mass violation of human rights to be “losing”.

In the US, public companies "have an obligation to their shareholders to be profitable", and China is a gigantic market.

The rules that govern the economy aren't optimized to create equity or equality. They're optimized to push companies to maximize profit and minimize scarcity.

Without proper regulation, the companies that optimize for profit will scale much faster than the companies that optimize for ethics or equality. Consumer pressure is somewhat effective in the short term, but it never lasts.

>In the US, public companies "have an obligation to their shareholders to be profitable", and China is a gigantic market.

This simply isn't true and I wish people would stop repeating it.


> "modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not do so."

I put quotes around the phrase ("have an obligation to their shareholders to be profitable") because even though it's not technically true, it has become a self-reinforcing platitude. Investors enforce that "rule", regardless of the actual law. If Blizzard-Activision said "we are willing to forgo the massive Chinese market and also we want Tencent to immediately divest from their 5% ownership stake", institutional investors would run, and the owners of capital would squeeze hard (as we have seen with Blizzard-Activision, which, to date, hasn't backed down).

That's the system we have.

> no real way they will win

They could win everywhere but China, by explicitly choosing to withdraw their products from China.

Most countries, and even many in the West, don’t actually care. I think HN and Reddit are a echo chamber in this regard. None of my friends have stopped playing and they are now talking about the “next outrage” like Catalonia or the Extinction Protests in London.

I care. I’m not going to buy anything from blizzard going forward.

And the subgroup of politically charged western customers will due to this spend more than the entire Chinese market in the long term.

I'm pretty sure Blizzard calculated this.

And kill their profit margin.

> They could win everywhere but China, by explicitly choosing to withdraw their products from China.

Westerner here. No, I don't want ANY political agenda in game streams. If Blizzard hosts people shouting "Free HK", "Liberate Tibet", "Support Palestine" then I'm going to tune out and don't buy their shit. If the next Dota2 stream I'm watching randomly is interrupted by one team reenacting a school shooting to then shout "restrict gun laws, down with the NRA" then I'll close the window and buy less Blizzard stuff.

This just Does Not Belong There. YMMV, but I really, really don't want to see this kind of content in gaming streams and would be turned OFF by it. China is unrelated at this point.

But in the West it is expected that token political statements are to be allowed and protected. "Free HK" isn't a particularly complex political statement, and it is over a topic which Westerners think is unfairly suppressed.

A similar comparison would be if Saudi Arabia had Blizzard ban someone for saying "Don't execute rape victims."

> But in the West it is expected that token political statements are to be allowed and protected.

Is that so? I could imagine a huuuge amount of political statements that are illegal in my home country, Germany. Since I was raised there these rules are ingrained in me: "Free Speech" is not a thing (if we compare it to the US) and - that's the important part - I don't DISAGREE with that.

> "Free HK" isn't a particularly complex political statement

Is it not? I truly, honestly, don't know how complex that is in the end, compared to - say - supporting Texas leving the US, Bavaria leaving Germany, Basque leaving Spain (note I'm not comparing these countries with China at all, I'm just wondering if a separation argument can be simple)

> and it is over a topic which Westerners think is unfairly suppressed.

I wasn't aware of that

> A similar comparison would be if Saudi Arabia had Blizzard ban someone for saying "Don't execute rape victims."


>Is it not? I truly, honestly, don't know how complex that is in the end, compared to - say - supporting Texas leving the US, Bavaria leaving Germany, Basque leaving Spain

The HK protestors aren't attempting to secede in any real quantity. It is not on their list of demands. They want a free Hong Kong, but it being part of China is perfectly acceptable as long as they have that freedom.

>Westerner here. No, I don't want ANY political agenda in game streams.

Perhaps you should, so you can be more informed on a position before posting opinions such as this. As evidenced by the above, you don't actually know what this protest is about, yet are trying to create comparisons that will mislead others that are uninformed.

>No. I was going to write out a lengthier response about what the similarities actually are between the two, but you provided a zero effort response, so I guess I can too:


> Perhaps you should, so you can be more informed on a position before posting opinions such as this. As evidenced by the above, you don't actually know what this protest is about, yet are trying to create comparisons that will mislead others that are uninformed.

Nonsense. I live in Singapore, have friends and coworkers in HK. This subject comes up on a near daily basis. On my Twitter feed I especially follow @Pinboard for a perspective on this, every day.

Basically you failed to read my sentence, THEN became condescending. I am aware of what lead to the protests, how the protests look like, I'm exposed to pro and contra opinions every day. Am I an expert? Certainly not. But I care and do think I'm largely aware of the events. I just effing don't want - you even quoted it, although you missed the point - ANY political agenda in game streams. Note the word "game" in there?

At no point have I shown any sort of disinterest in the situation in HK (or political situations anywhere), I merely expressed my strong preference to not cram them forcefully and unsupported into any game stream.

(I don't believe that there's any way to make a comparison about Saudi/Rape victims, but my "No" was certainly low effort. So was your reply above, honestly)

(Addendum while rereading before hitting reply: It seems you also believe that I think HK wants to leave China. While there is a minority that argues for that, I am aware that this isn't part of their demands. My comparisons were made based on the GPs "Free HK" - which my English parser equals with "Liberate HK" not "For a (more) free HK". Even if we only talk about giving regions substantially more authority/liberties, my argument still stands: It was that "Free HK" is actually quite a complex thing as far as I'm concerned)

> I could imagine a huuuge amount of political statements that are illegal in my home country, Germany. Since I was raised there these rules are ingrained in me: "Free Speech" is not a thing (if we compare it to the US)

Well I am sorry for the people who live in that country.

> compared to - say - supporting Texas leaving the US

I don't think many people would care if someone playing a video game said "Free Texas!". I certainly wouldn't. Go ahead and do that.

> Well I am sorry for the people who live in that country.

And this, Hacker News, is why it's hard to argue on English platforms / on mostly American sites.

This poster, in a single reply, just showed extreme arrogance, perceived superiority and complete unawareness of cultural differences - because obviously anything other than what the US constitution says is inferior and needs to be pitied.


I'm sure there would be some outrage if Spain got a player banned over "Free elections in Catalonia".

Fortunately many dictatorships are foreign and don't understand the subtleties of Western society. (ironic since the Chinese do hire white people for appearances)

I agree with you. I don't play video games, but at this point in my life, I don't even want normal politics, why would I want politics in my entertainment?

Probably also why I'm seriously turned off by musicians with political agenda, like Roger Waters.

I suspect what they're trying to do is to carve out some sort of minimal response that doesn't anger anyone too much and hope that people forget about the whole thing soon. That's generally what always happened. I don't think I've seen a boycott that lasted long enough to hurt any of these companies too much. Maybe this one's different? I don't know. I do know that there are movements that are now consciously trying to drag them into the middle of the political issue to actively get them banned.

They were at the wrong place in the wrong time, managing to fan some pretty bad flames and accidentally became a symbol people on the non-extreme ends of both political isles can agree with: the disingenuous corporation putting money above your freedom / others' human rights.

All I suspect is, with each atrocity during the protests, Blizzard's name is going to come up in peoples' minds, even more so than other brands that messed up. It'll be interesting to follow this.

I love that in reddit people are just taking all blizzard characters and using them in Hong Kong protests memes.

If they blocked Winnie the poo, imagine what they gonna do with Blizzard chars. Soon they will have no more original characters to release on China.

I'd say that video games will be the next social media (if they aren't already). When they created Twitters and Facebooks, they've never imagined that one day their platform will be a highly politicized. Similarly, people haven't imagined that video games are used for politics, but in the end every platform is going to be political. I wouldn't say it's something they have "created" (as others pointed out already), but rather they've only noticed its nature now.

And that is totally stupid, why does every platform has to be political? Or rather, being forced by a subset of people with political agenda?

Currently r/AskReddit is still relatively free, HN is also mostly free.

It's a lot easier to deal with the existence of political speech when the Great Firewall blocks you altogether.

Both Reddit and HN are blocked in China.

>And that is totally stupid, why does every platform has to be political? Or rather, being forced by a subset of people with political agenda?

Being able to be apolitical is a luxury and a privilege. Some people are not afforded this, and have to be political to attempt to protect their way of life. That there is nothing in your life that forces you to try and affect a change means that you are lucky.

The same cries of "Subject X shouldn't be political!" have been around since the days of slavery, civil rights, and suffrage. I expect they go back even further. Transgender people are murdered at appalling rates today - should a transgender person not talk about the fact that they are in significantly more danger than a non-trans individual purely so that someone else doesn't have to read or hear about it?

When you're dealing with real human beings, that entails a lot of baggage. Asking for all of that to be dropped at the door for your benefit is unreasonable.

Every communications platform provides a means of exchange and every exchange is mediated by politics big and small.

This is a very awkward situation for blizzard, one they have ultimately created

How do you figure they created it?

All these companies should refuse to self-censor for China. China does want western media and products. The fact that companies capitulate makes that the standard practice, and means China feels safe demanding it (or doesn't even need to because of the chilling effect). They can make a spectacle of any one company that refuses. I'm not saying that China wouldn't just ban them all, but it would at least mean there is a cost to China in doing it.

Yeah, that's putting profit at risk, 100%. That's precisely why it's so important that western audiences tell these companies that they'll loose western business if they capitulate—it has to be made the economic least-bad option to stand up to China for it to be common.

They created the situation by capitulating. Yeah, it turns out morals are at odds with profits. Who'd have guessed.

> China does want western media and products.

Does it? It seems like China replicates products that are inconvenient to get otherwise.

Quite a few Hollywood movies have made billions in China. This year alone, 3 US movies are in the top 10 grossing movies there, and they made about 7B

And those are very heavily self-censored.

Why should they refuse to self censor in Chine while they are happy self-censoring elsewhere?

China has shown they will steal the source code and create a ‘home grown’...

You can't totally blame Blizzard. It's a Nash equilibrium, right?

They banned a player and stripped their prize-money for speaking out in favor of HK.

They did this in order to try and maintain access to Chinese markets, probably assuming that the US market wouldn't care.

And everyone else in the room at the time was terminated. Which was the amazing part that totally destroyed any attempt at high ground.

Wrong, the casters were fired because they knew what was going to transpire and actively let it happen.

I don't think that's true, I believe the casters have said Blitzchung showed up on the live interview stream (it was remote) wearing the gas mask unexpectedly.

If someone is to cut him off and not let it happen, it's the job of the production crew. The job of the casters is to try to keep things entertaining and on the rails when the camera's live on them. It's not fair to punish casters for improvising a response.

>I believe the casters have said Blitzchung showed up on the live interview stream (it was remote) wearing the gas mask unexpectedly.

Nah that's wrong. Have you watched the live feed video?

Here's a translation of what was said by the casters.


So many mistruths being spread and believed as facts, it's sad really.

Your interpretation is not in contradiction to mine, and I had watched the video.

I'm saying that the casters didn't know before the interview started that Blitzchung would wear a gas mask to it.

You're saying that during the interview they encouraged him. That's true. But a caster doesn't have many other options at that point, their main job is to keep things genial and entertaining. They are not the production team, who could have cut away from the interview at any time -- even before the casters started responding. The blame goes to production.

They banned him because he spoken about politics which have nothing with video games. I don't think that they tried to censor exactly HK speech. I guess they would have banned him if he would talk about Putin as well.

One one hand, sure he broke the rules. If they had said "don't do that any more", or given him a slap on the wrist it would be understandable. But they banned him for a year and revoked the winnings he had already received in tournament play—

Blitzchung got a worse punishment than people who got caught cheating at Blizzard games. I think that says a lot about where their priorities are.

Based on past events (even Blizzard's own presentations at Blizzcon) it's already clear that the rule against offending people is being selectively enforced.

Edit: And I'm presuming it's being selectively enforced based on who is offended by a statement.

> One one hand, sure he broke the rules.

This is a very generous (towards Blizzard) interpretation. The rules weren't "no politics". The rules were a generic "don't piss us off or do anything we may find objectionable", basically.

Per the Verge, 'The rule in question forbids players from doing anything that “brings [them] into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages [Blizzard’s] image.”'

It's designed to be arbitrary, because if you were to strictly enforce it anyone would violate it simply by existing nowadays.

The Chinese version of the Blizzard statement was different: https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/10/10/verified-chinese-bli...

It included we will defend the honor of the nation, making it clear exactly what he did wrong.

Posted not by Blizzard but by Net-Ease, a Chinese company that isn't owned by Blizzard.

At the same time posted by a company officially representing Blizzard, unchallenged by Blizzard, and thus attributed to their brand.

> NetEase also partners with Blizzard Entertainment to operate local versions of Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, Overwatch in China


They aren't owned by Blizzard.

I'd imagine a licensee, hosting nearly all their games, has much more responsibility in their public statements compared to Blitzchung

I don't own the law firm I use to defend myself in court, but I do pay them to act on my behalf. Blizzard has also not done anything to backpedal on that statement. Honestly, how many mental hoops did you have to jump through to convince yourself that Blizzard doesn't endorse what NetEase said?

They officially represent blizzard.

If blizzard thinks that they said something wrong, then the burden is on blizzard to correct the matter.

If belltacos lawyer makes a statement “belltaco supports child rape”, should we assume that belltaco is a nice guy just because he outsourced the vile statement?

You reckon they'd have banned him if he'd worn a Elizabeth Warren campaign badge?

Really? Like...that's a thing you honestly can imagine?

I believe they would have banned him if he said “Free Palestine.”

Yes, because if unpunished, in the next game that will cause another player to wear a MAGA hat. And another to wear a shirt saying "ICE is just doing it's job". They cannot punish those guys because it will make them look biased. And it's all downhill from there.

Make Azeroth Great Again [0]? You could by them at https://shop.esfand.tv/ before, but it’s currently under construction (the website’s <title></title> still has it in the name). I posted this in the original post of the story too [1].

[0] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=494dkjXL3p4

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21190549

I believe that you believe that, but I'm here to tell you that your counterfactual is not realistic.

The same pro player had expressed his HK independence support on his social media in the past, yet was allowed to play.

No one said anything about Putin, so we can't really argue that. I could pose another hypothetical and say I guess they wouldn't have banned him if he said he believes LGTBQ+ people deserve equal rights. We don't know because those didn't happen, making them not particularly useful statements.

What we can say is that the operator of Blizzard games in China, Net Ease, while posting about this incident under a Blizzard branded account, said that they would protect and defend the pride of China. Blizzard has not distanced themselves from this statement, "clarified" it, or done anything whatsoever to indicate that this stance is not the truth.

When someone you have authorized to represent you is making a statement in your name, it will be taken as being endorsed, unless you state otherwise.

If they had just not done anything when blitzchung made his statement in support of Hong Kong, it likely would have gotten essentially zero media play.

I haven't followed the situation closely, but we never get to A/B test such decisions. We make a decision and see the outcome for which one we chose.

Saying they created this situation is a little like blaming a casualty of war for living in the country they were born in. China exists and it's a large country with growing power that has fundamental cultural differences with the West and always has.

There may be better and worse ways to respond, but we have to recognize that everyone is, to some extent, just a bit player on a world stage where many other forces are in play. Not everything that happens in our lives is a thing we directly caused.

It's common to take it for granted when the existing world stage benefits us and wonder where we went wrong when it shafts us. Both views are only partial explanations at best.

This isn't a fundamental cultural difference. This is a tyranny that brokes no dissent and murders its people to stay in power.

I took History of The Far East in college decades ago. The cultural friction between China and the West substantially precedes the current government of the country.

Regardless of what is going on there politically currently, they are a growing economic power. That makes them the proverbial 800 pound gorilla that people are increasingly afraid of pissing off for fear of financial consequences. They have one seventh of the world's population. It's a huge market that simply cannot be ignored.

>It's a huge market that simply cannot be ignored.

True, if your motive is profit above all else.

Otherwise, it is quite simple to ignore China's demands. Create the products, services, etc. that you want to create. If people in China buy them, fine. If China says they'll buy them if only you do Thing X, if you do not morally agree with Thing X, simply do not do it.

There are near limitless numbers of businesses that are economically viable without catering to China's demands.

Well, I don't know where communication went wrong, but I'm not talking about catering to China's demands. My original point was that this whole thing could have negatively impacted the company regardless of how they chose to act. I stated as clearly as I know how that it's probably a case of "caught in the crossfire" and blamed for being shot when the only way to escape the crossfire entirely would be "you shouldn't have been born in that time and place as it wasn't safe."

You can be a peacenik conscientious objector who refuses to take sides in the war and still get caught in the crossfire while minding your own business and trying your hardest to stay out of the fray.

People that try to pin this as a cultural difference only need to look at Taiwan, which is a functioning democracy, and equally as Chinese.

wait what? why make it so complicated... the simple fact is that people are pissed because one of their own got a treatment they didn't like. i am not involved or following but i get enough in the news to figure what's happening. a simple google search will give you plenty.

also, this is not the first time the gaming community went against a company. and tbh i am not sure some young ones don't know or care much about politics of what's happening in the east. one of their own got sacked. that's all that matters.

so yes, they probably shouldn't have banned that player.

Or just not went as overboard with it. Doing something might have been a good idea to still send a message (both to China and to players to please not repeat it), the tricky bit is not looking unreasonable while doing so. (e.g. certainly not rescind the price money)

But Blizzard would likely have lost access to the Chinese market.

Wrong, it would have got huge media play in China as Blizzard not enforcing its rules in opposition to China. Just like the NBA issue.

Highly debatable. It's by no means clear the rules should have been applied to this case; they were very vague "we can ban anyone for anything that makes us look bad", but what has made Blizzard look bad here has primarily been the enforcement of the rules.

If they had just played it off as the players speech, and nothing to do with them at all, it is by no means clear any significant blowback would have stuck to Blizzard.

The NBA issue is very different because the original tweet was from the general manager of a team with close Chinese ties. It's like if a Blizzard exec had expressed pro-human rights sentiments in an interview.

Obviously we'll never know now, but Blizzard did so much to increase the perceived importance of the event beyond where it would naturally have been (eg, their statement on an official account saying they would always "resolutely safeguard [China's] national dignity"). Once you've framed it in those terns, it's hard to back down. Were there really no alternatives though?

Only if China decided to do so. They can pick a fight about anything they want to, so there is really no avoiding that.

For further evidence of that, look at what happened to Lotte, a Korean conglomerate that was essentially banned from China for the crime of having previously owned land that the Korean government used for a military purpose that China did not like.

They chose to be involved with China, who has been infamous for demands like this.

The only way for Blizzard to get back any PR is to clean house or offer a “blood sacrifice.” Fire all ELT and upper management that approved the heinous decision to ban this Hearthstone player.

It seems obvious to me: C, Blizzard does nothing.

Is Blizzcon streamed in China? I agree - nothing will happen. They'll likely heavily filter what they broadcast in China if they do stream there, and that's about all they can possibly do.

Blizzcon contains live finals for the Overwatch World Cup, StarCraft 2 WCS finals, etc, and they will likely be streamed from the venue and watched by somewhere around (?) 100k people in China, I'm not sure of an exact estimate.

Blizzard could remove all Blizzard signs and advertising. Make the conference look unofficial.

I can’t tell if you’re serious.

But it’s Blizzcon

I, and several friends, all have tickets. We're still deciding what form of protest will be most effective (too overt and the message gets quickly lost when security kicks you out).

It might be too subtle and difficult to organize but it would be pretty funny and effective if _everyone_ showed up as Mei. It would be really hard for Blizzard to penalize anyone for it but the message would be pretty clear if enough people did it.

The problem is the Chinese fans are also using Mei for patriotic messages now, especially after the voice actress sided with China.

>especially after the voice actress sided with China

Elise Zhang has not taken any sort of public position on the Hong Kong protests at all. Someone living in China and celebrating their national holiday while stating they love their homeland is not the same thing as taking a position on every policy and action of said country.

I celebrate July 4th and love America. That does not mean that I believe that America can do no wrong, or that I believe we are on the right end of every decision. I have taken to the streets and protested the actions of our leadership - does this disqualify me from loving America and celebrating it for the good parts?

Try to copy a liberty-oriented message HK'ers are using and send it back.

For example, create a replica of their Lady Liberty and put it on the roof of the conference center or nearby hotel:


Or recreate "FREE HK" in neon lights and display somewhere prominent near Blizzcon:


Basically, ping them back, let them know the outside world is getting their message and supporting them.

I'll be attending. I made a small umbrella patch (it's in the style of the HK flag) that I'm going to pin to my t-shirt both days. I also think that an #eyeforhongkong style approach would be very successful, but is hard to coordinate.

Organize online with others. If enough people protest together it would be a really bad look for Blizzard to kick them all out.

Leverage the Q&A section(s)! Be sure to have a good, legitimate question about the game (in case they're screening them), but follow it up by asking, for example, "what is your opinion of Chairman Xi Jinping?"

Make it more focused: "What circumstances do you think justify censorship?"

"too overt and the message gets quickly lost when security kicks you out"

True, but also be prepared to be searched. If security can't legally search people, given the size of the event, they will very likely have police to patrol and do random checks "in case of terrorism", so hide your HK shirts, signs etc. because they would almost surely be confiscated for "inciting violence". If Blizzard fears any negative demonstration, they'll probably use every means for painting those supporting HK protests as violent disruptors and have police arresting them.

What? This reads like fantasy.

Yes, totally. But any company in a slippery situation like Blizzard is now would do anything to avoid negative backlash, both at home and away, since there are tons of customers and money at stake anyway. Let's say Chinese govt says "if we see a single sign of support towards HK protesters all your contracts end down the toilet"; what would they do? I'd never put limits to human creativity and destructivity when there's enough motivation just like in this case.

Who really cares? If China's totalitarian soft power is being displayed at conferences, they can all burn so far as I'm concerned.

Since we are on HN you should make it some what technical in nature. Blinking lights on your costume but if someone was to look at the lights it would be blinking in Morse Code "Free Hong Kong!". Or discrete QR codes you put on your costumes and try and put them if front of as many cameras as possible. The QR code of course leading to your website of choosing. I am sure there are lots of neat ideas smarter people then me can come up with. Good luck.

The easiest, safest and very noticeable one is to wear a T-shirt with relevant message.

Flash mobs of Do You Hear the People Sing, every hour on the hour.

You could all wear "Winnie the Pooh China" shirts. If you get kicked out for those, that will really be the shit hitting the fan for them. That's not even protest. That's simple freedom of expression.

They will just refuse entry. Wearing a MAGA shirt or hat, or a tshirt with various profanities is also freedom of expression, but is routinely banned in many private events including airports.

Edit: You can be banned from airlines since they are privately owned, but not airports since they are publicly owned.

In the US? I would be very surprised post Cohen v. California.

I would argue that a courthouse is a very different place than a privately owned location.

It’s not actually banned. There’s a Winnie the Pooh ride in Shanghai Disneyland.

You can also watch Winnie the Pooh cartoons on Chinese streaming services.

Can you share a link to the cartoon?

Broadcast a good wifi hotspot name of course.


Fantastic idea!

There's no way they'll be able to prevent the amount of pro-HK messaging attendees will almost certainly bring, now.

They are between a rock and hard place.

It's a total no-win for them now.

(Queue morbid curiosity.)

Cue, as in it’s your cue to speak rather than queue as in line up to wait for something. Truly English spelling is a delight for historical linguists.

> Truly English spelling is a delight for historical linguists.

The worst part to me is that many (often older) loan words have anglicized pronunciation, while other loan words keep their original pronunciation.

Sometimes we borrow a word multiple times!



> chief, chef, cape, capo, caput and head (French (twice), Latin via French, Italian, Latin, and Germanic, all from the same Indo-European word *ka(u)put "head")

Ah, I thought it was "queue" as in "put in line to do next"

It's definitely not no-win. They can completely exit the Chinese market. The company will still survive if they do so. Earlier in this thread it was pointed out China generates only 10% of their revenue.


Fire some people, make hongkong-protestor-Mei a skin [0], declare "we screwed up" in big letters, at that point the press this has generated for them would probably be a net win in the non-PRC market.

[0] end of this video https://old.reddit.com/r/Overwatch/comments/dibrb0/overwatch...

You’re correct that there’s a clear winning move, but you’re wrong about what that move is. Blizzard’s stock price hasn’t budged much since the scandal unfolded. Clearly the market doesn’t think there are going to be any long term repercussions from this. Every few week the gaming internet gets really mad about something or the (loot boxes, micro transactions, DRM, etc) and kicks up a huge fuss and then everyone immediately forgets about it and keeps buying games.

Why on earth would Blizzard feel compelled to exit the Chinese market right now (which would definitely tank the stock price)?

Agreed. This is Facebook-level outrage and Facebook-level market consequences (little to none).

I actually see it the other way around. This action to appease China is extremely cynical and they only reason they are emboldened to take it is because Blizzard have immense financial security.

Most normal corporations would be way too scared of exactly this kind of backlash to so brazenly crack down on behalf of a totalitarian state.

Well, let's hope the kowtow to genocidal fascist dictatorship option is clearly the more painful of two painful paths.

Have you seen Blizzard's official Weibo account apology to China? It seems like kowtowing still seems to be their plan to get into that sweet sweet mobile game market.

How did this sort of thing work out for the NFL, in terms of kneeling players? Pretty well, all things considered.

The NFL never took Colin's entire NFL earnings away from him on top of firing anyone commenting on the initial sitting. I'm pretty sure if they did this, there would be much more uproar than letting him do it and quietly not signing him onto any more teams.

He also didn't start talking about police brutality against African Americans in post game interviews to the media, IIRC.

1. Kaepernick kneeled during game ceremonies.

2. He talked to the media about this as much as possible. 18 minute interview with ESPN: https://www.espn.com/blog/san-francisco-49ers/post/_/id/1895...

3. And he launched an entire campaign around it https://www.knowyourrightscamp.com/

He absolutely did lots of interviews on the matter.

It's also, importantly, broadcast live to those who have bought access. Anything happening live will leak instantly if it's drama, like it did last year during the Diablo Immortal debacle. sigh...

I'm sure Blizzard will spend some extra time and resources on the entrance visitations this year so that no one brings anything dangerous with them (or rotten tomatoes), but they will never be able to stop speech or 20 people getting in just to chant Hong Kong. That will be heard until they're carried away and it will dampen the mood over the entire Blizzcon. They have no way to win other than to forcefully remove them, which looks bad too.

So there's no way to win for Blizzard on this one IF anything happens, but they brought it onto themselves and I have a hard time feeling sympathy towards anyone who have such a heavy handed approach to protests for democratic rights and an upheld juridical system. Yes, politics don't belong in a gaming stream but a reprimand towards everyone involved and a cut stream ought to have been enough here.

They will search all persons and bags on entry and confiscate any material that is deemed "political". They will do this on the grounds of safety and security so "people won't throw dangerous objects at competitors" and "nudity and hate speech will not be on signs" as it's an all ages event.

It's still not enough if attendees start chanting. Heck some may go only to do that.

Then they will be "removed from the premises" for "causing a disturbance", with their further entry forfeited.

I'm sure there's some language in the legalese of the ticket already where they can do this "at their discretion".

Yeah that is really going to be interesting. My friend linked [0] to me. I'm not sure if it's getting around to a lot of people, but some of the speech/plans in the document are likely concerning to the organizers. I hope they don't overreact in anticipation.

[0]: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19lgo0jxM5jYcPYvce-muR0JN...

Doesn't sitting down and refusing to leave when asked to, violate trespass laws?

They don't need to stream live but even if they do it seems trivial to add 8 seconds of delay and cut to commercial like most live TV.

It's going to be pretty interesting.

Lets all hope the red shirt guy comes back this year.

Let's hope they cancel that too.

Let’s hope they’re forced to cancel it and eat the financial cost of doing so.

Organizing public protests on public property near the venue is likely sufficient to encourage this outcome.

Mark Kern (ex-lead WoW dev, and dev for Starcraft/Warcraft/Diablo 2) posted a good analysis of Blizzard's statement on Blitzchung.


FYI, for folks who aren't familiar, Mark Kern's history also includes full throated support of GamerGate and being removed from a CEO role at Red 5 by the board of directors. (Allegedly for erratic and disruptive behavior.)

It's been a really, really wild ride seeing lefty twitter and righty twitter hold hands and agree that Blizzard did the wrong thing. (Though for different reasons.)

> FYI, for folks who aren't familiar, Mark Kern's history also includes full throated support of GamerGate and being removed from a CEO role at Red 5 by the board of directors. (Allegedly for erratic and disruptive behavior.)

how are these relevant to the subject at hand, particularly the second issue? it comes across like fnords

Because it's fairly common to signal boost someone who you may or may not agree with, and having the information can be useful for someone who previously was unaware?

sorry, how are rumors about what he was fired for useful information?

Because there was an appeal to his authority on the matter as a blizzard dev in the op.

Because almost everything he said reads like a really generic right-wing narrative shaping about media manipulation, complete with conspiracy theory accessories. Like the most egregious one he included in that thread involves a total misunderstanding of publication dates and general time zones.

Don't read that thread and expect to learn much or gain insight, save for the fact that Blizzard really messed up here.

Interesting, can you link to a proof that he supported the harassment of female developers since apparently, "Gamergate" was a harassment campaign against female game developers.

It should be easy to quote a tweet where he celebrates the harassment of female game developers, instead of making people take your word for it.

Also what do you think is more relevant? your "Gamergate petty bullshit" or the fact that Mark Kern is Taiwanese national and grew up in Hong Kong himself? And had a significant role at Blizzard?

What Mark Kern thinks about Gamergate is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but you people can't help it. Personal attacks are all you know to discredit others.

  but you people can't help it

  Personal attacks are all you know

This is a joke, right?

You mean this? https://archive.is/MmX9E

No idea if he legit supports democracy in Hong Kong, but his HK tweets:

* Show primary evidence of Netease (Blizzard China) directly contradicting Blizzard’s US press release

* Cite where in the Hearthstone rules Blizzard illegitimately chose warrant for their action (the rules prohibit making Blizzard look bad in the public eye, not unknowingly disgruntling Chinese investors)

* Give context to dispel any benefit of the doubt for Blizzard and how its execs operate

Perhaps the man is an axe murderer... useful context, but at the end of the day there’s (for better or worse) useful substance in his message

Thanks for posting this, is a really good analysis

I will never purchase another game from Activision or Blizzard unless they recant this backwards position. American art and media should not be subject to Chinese influence.

I've been a loyal customer over the years, but I have a long memory. Refuse to delete my account if you will, it will never be used again.

First they came for the skeletons, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a skeleton.

For real though, changing character design for things like skeletons because it has a different meaning in another culture is a perfectly normal thing to do.

Changing characters to scrub them of LGBT characteristics that are illegal in another country is cowardly and should have caused a much bigger outrage than it did.

Banning players for supporting pro-democracy movements outside the game and retroactively seizing their winnings is horrific. Nothing about their rules says they had to do this, it was entirely at their discretion. The chinese government didn't even threaten them over it. They chose to make an example of Blitzchung within minutes of his statement. They went above and beyond to endear themselves to the CCP. If they want to win their reputation back, heads need to roll, and if that means the loss of the chinese market, too bad.

>The Chinese government didn't even threaten them over it.

Overtly. But this is a clear example of what is meant when people talk about the 'soft influence' which China seeks to develop. At the crude end of the scale, you have indoctrinated CCP people spreading out globally occupied in various positions able to exert leverage favorable to the party. At the more subtle end you have boards mindful of impacting their bottom line if they lose access to a large market.

What we're seeing here could be coming from either of those ends of the soft influence playbook. But no matter what, it's a clear example of the power of the approach, and how confounding it can become to resist it's effect.

The chilling effect that China is having in liberal democracies like ours is extremely disturbing.

We need our governments to do something about this. If Chinese companies want to do business here, we need our own businesses treated with the same ruleset in their country. We wouldn’t ban a Chinese corporation for a minor executive’s political speech. We have laws against it. (The first amendment protects non-citizens as well as citizens.)

China has been enjoying our markets but hasn’t been willing to extend the favor fully. We need a new trade agreement that demands equal treatment, or we should pull out of China and do business with friendlier countries instead.

This reminds me of the classic mafia style of management; "Nice profit you got there, it'd be a shame if something happened to it."

Totally. Localization is a key part of game development, and includes more than just translation of the written language.

How does that jive with continuing to buy products made in China, thus ensuring their financial well being allowing them to oppress HK and minorities?

What Blizzard art and media was subject to Chinese influence?

As to your second question here's an example with the old version on the right. [1]

Your looking at removal of blood and skeletons mostly.

Similar changes have been made in other video games. For example this [2] story shows a reversal after player backlash to such censorship.

Call me paranoid as this point is anecdotal (and quite likely confirmation bias) but I've noticed a tendency for new AAA games to have a focus on enemies and combatants that don't have this issue. e.g. robots that don't bleed or dissolve away effects for enemies rather than leaving dead bodies. These are all things that have appeared in games before such efforts but it's certainly what I'd be advising if I was in charge of making games marketable in China without appearing to compromise 'realism' (we all know realistic aliens turn to glitter on defeat) or artistic vision.

[1] https://external-preview.redd.it/eIfkz0BCFqcwCnWen2Qi8ZwCOWO... [2] https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&c...

The company you're loyal to has already been hollowed out. What would a little spiritual revision do?

And I will never purchase another game until they start making good ones again. That is far bigger sin than refusing to be political about Hong Kong.

People have died and many are missing due to the Hong Kong situation.

That's more important than a game.

Boycotting Blizzard will do exactly nothing to change that.

Maybe put financial pressure on China by not buying things made in China? Nah that's too inconvenient for the keyboard(Made in China) warriors.

I don't live in China or Hong Kong so I insist on being able to live my life without having a position about all remote kerfuffles.

Ah yes, the traditional "as long as it's not me"

There are four primary effects of this cancelation:

1) It's given Nintendo a platform on which to distance themselves from Blizzard. The announcement from Nintendo explicitly notes that it's Blizzard who canceled the event.

2) It's reminded everyone that the Switch port of Overwatch is a thing, meaning that everyone from investors to people on both side of the HK issue will be watching its performance.

3) It's a lost opportunity for marketing for Blizzard. It's now pure cost, with the voice actors still needing to get paid for their time.

4) Attendance was limited, so this cancellation will create ill-will for Blizzard among those players who had obtained slots to attend.

I think what happens now will be called in future as Blizzard effect.

Video games are made by creators and there is an artistic side to it. People get emotionally attached to them and it's hard to remove this positive emotion associated with it, but when developers and editors treat it only as a money machine and disregard everything else it is like breaking up with your s.o. and the love is replaced with an irreversible hatred.

I think Blizzard has definitely lost their special place in most of their hardcore fans. The market has become global but so have the conflicts and whether they like it or not, sometimes they will be forced to pick a side.

This is a crisis point for everyone who supports political free speech.

Every corporation and business person is watching this to see which hurts their bottom line less, suppressing free speech globally, or angering China.

As consumers, we must make sure that they get the message loud and clear that suppressing free speech globally on behalf of China is going to hurt their bottom line far more than China will.

Otherwise, we will live in a world where China controls what discourse goes on in the world by controlling the corporations.

I agree with you completely, but this whole debacle has highlighted what seems to be hypocrisy in the general public's reaction to this.

Remember when The Daily Stormer got kicked off CloudFlare and a whole host of other platforms, to the point that no one would take their business and they were effectively censored? The average take on that seemed to be a mix of "Free speech doesn't apply to private companies" and "If you don't like it, build your own CDN/DNS/Paypal/certificate authority etc"

So what's the difference with this? Again, I agree completely with the concerns here, but what happened to TDS and a lot of other fringe sites was even more blatant and serious: They were de facto banned from the internet, whereas this is all over...a video game.

Did everyone come to the conclusion that corporations are powerful enough to effectively snuff out free speech since that happened, or is it different because this is China, or...?

The difference is that a country which is committing human rights abuses is pressuring said private company (among _many_ others) to abridge free speech. The other case is a private company not wanting to host right-wing neo-nazi content of which the general public isn’t really accepting. I don’t see the hypocrisy here at all.. tbh I don’t even quite understand how you can conflate the two situations other than the fact the two words “free” and “speech” are involved.

Both situations feature people being banned by companies due to their speech because the companies fear backlash from more powerful entities (China or the media/general public respectively).

They seem pretty comparable to me.

It's called double-standards. It's OK to cut free speech for those you don't like, it's not OK to cut free speech for those you like.

First they came for the right-wing neo-nazis, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a right-wing neo-nazi.

Wonder where this goes this time.

I don't follow your argument. Is it that we should not worry about morals and ethics, and instead just look at actions in vacuum, and decide whether or not an action should be taken with no regard to context?

It's not hypocritical for someone to believe that Cloudflare should kick nazis off their service and at the same time believe Blizzard should stand up to China.

Human beings are capable of exercising nuance and understanding complex topics. I don't want to generally go around punching or kicking people, but if I'm cornered and someone is trying to do harm to me, I'm going to fight back. It's the context around such actiona that defines whether or not it was just.

The difference is pretty clear.

In a democratic society, the people voices are heard.

In a dictatorship, only the small elite that controls the government's voice is heard.

>is pressuring said private company (among _many_ others) to abridge free speech

It was a post-game interview on a Blizzard event in a Blizzard broadcast. How is that different from "a private company not wanting to host <content>" ? The player had supported HK freedom on his Twitter in the past, yet was allowed to play in the tournament. Gaming events have not been places for sharing political ideas, like social media is.

I think that there would be no meaningful uproar if Blizzard would simply not host or broadcast that interview because they don't like it for whatever reason, and left it at that.

Exactly. It'd be like cloudflare kicking daily stormer off, but not before setting their DNS to resolve to with a ttl of 1 year.

How does that work in a live broadcast, or in live events with an audience?

FWIW, there is no visible pressure that has been exhibited from China against Blizzard. There have been no statements from China either in support or condemnation of any of the involved actors.

The situation is entirely driven by Blizzard, for fear of their potential revenue stream out of China.

This is in contrast to the NBA scenario, where China did speak out against the NBA, and later began to cancel contracts.

You can't say there is no visible pressure on Blizzard while mentioning the NBA in the same breath. China's aggressive move on the NBA is the pressure. It's an example to every company that operates in China: toe the party line, or face local obstruction like the NBA.

"If they could do that to NBA, what would they do to me?"

Activision Blizzard is not a company that would be bankrupted by the loss of the Chinese market; they chose on their own merely for a potential future in that market.

That they chose to toe the party line on their own, without prompting from the Chinese government, with swift and overwhelming penalties on the player and shoutcasters doesn't exactly speak well for Blizzard.

That's still "visible pressure". Not sure why it needs to be an extinction level threat for you to recognize it as overt Chinese pressure.

If I demonstrate to you that I'm going to shoot your legs if you don't tell me I'm pretty by doing so to people around you, and then I walk up to you and you tell me I'm pretty, would it be accurate to say you chose to tell me I'm pretty all on your own, totally unprompted? Can I say that you chose on your own merely for a potential future in walking? Hey, you won't be killed by the loss of your legs.

You have literally no idea what might be being communicated in private between China and Blizzard. How can you make such a claim in good faith?

By qualifying my statement with the word "visible", and presenting an almost identical case where there was visible feedback from China.

Why would China treat the (comparatively huge and influential) NBA one way, and (comparatively tiny) Blizzard another?

That's because Blizzard did the "right" thing in the government's view. Just because the influence isn't visible doesn't mean it's not there, and invisible influence may be even more pernicious.

That doesn't diminish that it was purely Blizzard's decision in the end. Blizzard had a choice, and they picked censoring Blitzchung on their own.

So if the U.S. makes a law that fines companies for criticizing the president, and then Blizzard fires an employee for criticizing the president to avoid the fine, it's Blizzard's decision in the end and everything's fine? I don't know if you have considered the implications of this logic.

It's possible Blizzard is only surviving if they have access to Chinese market? We don't know their financials, management might be just prudent from their point of view in order to survive (people are way more obsessed with gaming in Eastern Asia than anywhere else and those regions have largest population). The management is certainly fully aware of the whole sh*tshow and likely aren't happy with whatever choice they have.

Their statements to shareholders put the Chinese market at 10% of their total revenue. ATVI is posting billions of dollars in profits, and has a profit margin of 25%+.

Activision Blizzard is in no risk of going bankrupt even if they lose the entire Chinese market.

Good, then voting with one's valet should be a good strategy to bring them back to their senses, unless they are 100% into some Chinese-friendly business ideology. Blizzard is off my list, I might re-evaulate in 1 year.

Funny that no one is talking about voting with their wallet by not buying Chinese products.

Some people are. But since this article is explicitly about Blizzard, people are focusing on their actions with Blizzard.

Can you point to some recentish posts where is there is such discussion?

I love seeing how often people's (mostly on Reddit) answer to the question "how do we determine who're the nazis?" and they answer glibly "easy, they're the literal nazis'.

We've seen this all before with the "terrorist" label, the "communist" label in Hollywood blacklists, various Puritan attempts at censorship for sex, films, music, etc.

I wished I believed this much in our centralize opaque institutions to create these red lines consistently, reliably, and fairly. Which is amusing because much of the people pushing for this the hardest are often the same people who would never hand over such power in almost any other scenario.

The only reliable outcome, that we've seen repeatedly over and over in history is that once you start expanding censorship beyond just the obviously bad-guys (spam, violence, etc) and start wadding into the grey areas of speech is that:

a) context and intention, which are critical in day-to-day discourse, are increasing ignored as the system scales and the scope increases

b) the line will only keep expanding into a broader and broader group ("you did it for x, why not y?!!")

c) false positives dramatically increase

d) due process is only afforded in rare situations where the individual is already famous/powerful and can stir up enough controversy forcing the gatekeepers to actually consider it carefully

Everything goes great at the beginning as you sweep up the low hanging fruit. It's the long run where this 'solution' really gets tested - which is the phase we're now entering on many platforms.

The difference between neo-nazis and democratic protest?

The difference is content. I hate the tendency to fall back to arguments about free speech when that is not the point. Yes, of course everyone should be able to express views individually, but that doesn't mean I don't care about the content of what is being said. That doesn't mean everyone is entitled to the ability to ram that message down everyone's throat through every possible route.

Yeah, companies have a right to self-censor, and consumers have a right to punish them for that.

Hell yes I support CloudFlare kicking off neo-nazis, hell no I don't support Blizzard silencing HK protestors. No hypocrisy because what is being said matters.

> I hate the tendency to fall back to arguments about free speech when that is not the point.

What you're saying isn't free speech at all; it's supporting the right to express speech you agree with and being ok with views you don't being taken down. In particular, free speech isn't "the point" to you.

Free speech is about not being arrested for expression. You are talking about companies being compelled to repeat speech, and that begs a lot of questions: what speech, by whom, how much relative time and visibility are different bits of speech given?

Free speech is an ideal, the constitutional protection is only an implementation and in the modern world arguably not the most important one.

As for compelling companies to do business with people they don't want to, we crossed that line long ago, they can't refuse service to people on the ground of race, sex, etc. Are you in favor of getting rid of anti-discrimination laws?

Protected characteristics i.e. things you can't use as a basis for discrimination are things that people can't change about themselves. Refusing to do business because you don't like what someone is saying is different from refusing to do business on the basis of a protected characteristic.

> Protected characteristics i.e. things you can't use as a basis for discrimination are things that people can't change about themselves.

That's not true, the list of protected classes includes religion, gender, familial status and veteran status. All things which people have control over.

But the point is we've already stomped all over any "right" a business has to deny service to someone. Instead of defending this right and the new age of corporate fascism that comes with it, why not go for something fully universal and remove a tool for CCP manipulation at the same time?

If you have deeply held faith in Religion A and you convert to Religion B purely to avoid discrimination, I don't count it as a real change, and the person themselves would probably not either. The only way to really change your religion is to have a heartfelt change in beliefs, and who has conscious control over that?

Gender identity doesn't seem to be consciously changeable. Some people's gender may be different from their biological sex, but the identity itself is pretty deeply rooted.

Familial and veteran status are also not changeable i.e. if you already have children or are a veteran, you can't go back and change that fact. Even though people have some degree of control over having a family in the first place or serving/not serving, because they have been used as a dimension of discrimination in the past, they've been lumped in as a protected characteristic. There's also nothing bad about having a family or serving/not serving - in contrast to discrimination over a criminal record (legal in many places AFAIK), which like familial & veteran status also can't be changed and which people also have some degree of control over.

> Familial and veteran status are also not changeable i.e. if you already have children or are a veteran, you can't go back and change that fact.

Familial status is changeable: you can marry, have children, divorce, give children up for adoption, and be widowed. All of which change family status. Actually, even aging of children changes family status, since the age of children is itself a factor relating to the family that is covered by protections against family-status discrimination.

> discrimination over a criminal record ... which ... also can't be changed

Criminal record can legally be changed in both directions, though neither is under the full and exclusive control of the possessor of the record (though they certainly have an influence, in both directions)—new convictions, expungements, and pardons are all real things.

> you can marry, have children, divorce, give children up for adoption, and be widowed

Coercing someone into doing that under pain of discrimination is pretty cruel though.

> though neither is under the full and exclusive control of the possessor of the record

That's why I said not entirely in one's control. I'm aware pardons, expungements exist.

> The only way to really change your religion is to have a heartfelt change in beliefs, and who has conscious control over that?

Now consider how that applies to a white supremacist, the also have have a deeply held faith in their beliefs (as with most fringe groups), probably more so than most than most religious people. And their beliefs are often equally abhorrent. Why is it OK to discriminate against people that think the white race is superior but not to discriminate against people that think they're gods chosen people? What do we do when a religion thinks it's OK to discriminate against gay people?

> Gender identity doesn't seem to be consciously changeable. Some people's gender may be different from their biological sex, but the identity itself is pretty deeply rooted.

Some people switch based on mood, making it not an inherent characteristic:

> Genderfluid people often express a desire to remain flexible about their gender identity rather than committing to a single definition.[20] They may fluctuate between differing gender expressions over their lifetime, or express multiple aspects of various gender markers at the same time.[20][21] They may at times identify as bigender - shifting between masculine and feminine; or as trigender - shifting between these and a third gender. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-binary_gender

And as a social construct it can change based on societal expectations and roles.

> There's also nothing bad about having a family or serving/not serving - in contrast to discrimination over a criminal record (legal in many places AFAIK)

On the military I disagree, there is something bad about being a willing participant in wars of aggression and I'd much rather be able to discriminate against them then I would a stoner that landed in jail.

So instead of arguing about grey areas of what is an inherent trait and what is changeable along with how to handle conflicts between protected classes that themselves discriminate, let's make it illegal for companies to discriminate against individuals/organisations entirely?

> let's make it illegal for companies to discriminate against individuals

What does that even mean though? You can't discriminate against anyone for any reason whatsoever? What if they have terrible hygiene? Insult everyone around them? A company can't discriminate against candidates who don't have the requisite job skills? They can't fire someone who subtly undermines or plots or otherwise plays politics? Isn't that anti-meritocracy?

Protected classes are (mostly) "what someone is" - that's why they're "protected". The stuff I listed above is "what someone does" and depending on context it's totally valid to use it as a reason for discrimination.

> Now consider how that applies to a white supremacist

White supremacy isn't a religion.

> Why is it OK to discriminate against people that think the white race is superior

How did anyone find out that this person is a white supremacist though? They probably said or did something, right? Seems like discrimination due to actions, not beliefs, to me. As a businessperson would you trust an employee who openly proclaims such beliefs to treat all their co-workers or your customers with equal respect? At the very least, I'd question their judgement in other matters, because they fell for such an idiotic and backward ideology and then talked about it. As a citizen, would you trust a government official who espoused such views to treat everyone they deal with equally?

> not to discriminate against people that think they're gods chosen people?

Because it's a religious belief (I understand that's a tautology - "it's illegal because it's illegal"). Nevertheless if your employee goes beyond belief into action - discriminates against a colleague or customer - you have grounds to fire them.

> What do we do when a religion thinks it's OK to discriminate against gay people?

Side with the party being discriminated against in that case. It's also not OK for a gay person to discriminate against someone based on religion.

> Some people switch based on mood

Not at all. Some people have different gender identities at different times. That's still part of their gender identity. Calling it "based on mood" makes it seem capricious and arbitrary. But if it was really so then wouldn't they choose not to do it so they could fit into what society generally expects - being cisgendered. Most people want a hassle-free life and don't want to be discriminated against.

> And as a social construct it can change based on societal expectations and roles.

This is a meaningless statement. "I'm female/genderfluid but I'm expected to act male in my society due to my body so I'll do that to fit in." is pretty oppressive. That same person may be able to live their true identity in a more free society. Voila gender changed due to "societal expectations", but the fault really was of society. It wasn't the individual's choice to hide their identity in the more repressive society.

> a willing participant in wars of aggression

People join the military out of a sense of patriotism, to get an education, to escape poverty, or travel and see the world. They don't decide to start wars of aggression, the politicians do that. It's also bad national policy (in terms of self-preservation) to allow discrimination based on veteran status, because that will discourage people from serving in future. Regardless of one's feelings about individual conflicts, most nations today can't do without a military and you have to treat service members well after they have served.

People have control over their gender? You should let everyone suffering from dysphoria know that!

Take that up with the people claiming gender is a social construct, that identify as gender fluid or making up the alphabet soup of modern genders. I had no part in that.

> Take that up with the people claiming gender is a social construct

There's gender expression, and there's gender identity.

The people that use that phrase to 100% include gender identity are pretty much all anti-trans bigots. I do take it up with them when the opportunity arises, but if you're going to say the same things then you're part of the problem. You can't say something and be blameless because you heard it from someone else.

> that identify as gender fluid or making up the alphabet soup of modern genders

Maybe some of them are going too hard on the need to categorize everything, but they're still not choosing that underlying nature.

> No hypocrisy because what is being said matters.

Free speech - for people you agree with. Well, I'm glad we sorted out that mess.

The government shouldn't be able to lock you up for your expression, but we are talking about if Blizzard can stop an employee from expressing a view on their product. How can you possibly enforce that anyone should be allowed to express anything in that context? How must time be allocated? Who must be allowed to speak? Can they promote rival products or badmouth Blizzard?

Hell yes I support waterboarding terrorists. There's no way the definition of 'terrorist' will ever change. There's no way it will be ever done to me.

Hell yes I support civil forfeiture with no due process. There's no way it will be ever done to innocent people.

Hell yes I support the executive branch getting more and more power. There's no way someone terrible would ever be the President and use that power.

and now:

Hell yes I support corporations policing free speech. They are on our side! There's no way it will ever be done to me or people I like.

do you get the idea?

Am I a fucking terrorist sympathizer if I speak out against torture and extrajudicial indefinite detention? No. I don't give a shit about them, but whatever I support done to them might be done to me.

Am I a fucking Nazi sympathizer if I speak out against abuse of power by unaccountable private entities? No. I don't give a shit about them, but whatever I support done to them might be done to me.

Your first examples are all completely different. The government should not be able to punish the expression of ideas (usual caveats, calls to harm, etc...), no.

Beyond the government? It's just not that simple. The solution is compelled speech? If I run a company, I have to broadcast people calling for my death, for example?

Should Blizzard be forced to allow anyone to say anything on their show? What if someone starts promoting a competing product? How do you deal with who is allowed to demand airtime on their particular thing? What proportion of exposure are given bits of speech given?

I'm not saying there aren't issues with companies having control over speech—this case is absolutely an example of that—but you are pretending that compelling companies to allow any speech is simple.

I understand how people arrive at this position, but it's not a free speech position. You can't be pro free speech as long as you agree with it, that undermines the entire concept. You can't be pro free speech, as long as there are horrible consequences for free speech you don't agree with. If right-wing extremism and other factors are making people re-think the value of free speech, fine, there are plenty of compelling points to make about the dangers and downsides of free speech, but enough of the mental gymnastics where people convince themselves they're still pro free-speech when they are very clearly against the concept.

Free speech is about the government not punishing you for your expression, not that all speech should be without limit or repercussion in general.

How would it possibly work if I couldn't be fired for insulting a customer at work, or telling them to shop at a rival instead. How would it work if news networks were required to broadcast my rant about whatever I want? Do I have to associate with the neo-nazi who wants me dead because I can't apply consequences for their speech?

I agree that this case is an example of unjust consequences of speech, and I think Blizzard did the wrong thing. It is not the same as being arrested and convicted for it, and it's not that simple.

It never fails that someone will come into one of these threads crying crocodile tears for nazis.

People are free to associate and do business with whoever they want to and that is all part of the marketplace of ideas. Blizzard is choosing to get into bed with the Chinese government and cloudfare chose to get out of business with nazis and their customers get to decide how to react that. Right now it seems to be going poorly for blizzard and well for cloudflare.

CloudFlare banned a site that was far, far outside the American political mainstream. Blizzard banned a player for saying something that is completely within the American political mainstream, to the point that supporting Hong Kong is a rare bipartisan stance.

When you go against the mainstream American stance to curry favor with an authoritarian regime that is also a current political enemy, well, that's kind of kicking the hornet's nest.

An important tenet of the American ideal of freedom of speech involves specifically protecting unpopular speech, allowing people to express minority viewpoints without fear of suppression by the majority.

By this standard, Cloudflare's censorship of TDS is far less defensible that Blizzard's censorship of blitzchung. Saying that speech within the mainstream should be allowed and speech outside the mainstream should not be allowed is a violation of this tenet. If you support freedom of speech, you should support TDS's right to speak as strongly as blitzchung's.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - Evelyn Beatrice Hall, often misattributed to Voltaire.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall

Free speech only for political mainstream is political mainstream speech, not free speech. E.g. completely open borders and unrestricted immigration is surely outside the American political mainstream, is it okay to ban any discussion of it?

> Blizzard banned a player for saying something that is completely within the American political mainstream

Apparently not, considering how many US companies have decided that this is kind of talk is forbidden.

> CloudFlare banned a site that was far, far outside the American political mainstream.

Were this the 1950s during the Red Scare, people would have said the same thing, except the thing that would have been "far, far outside the American political mainstream" would've been Communists, leftists, pro-unionists, and other members of the political left. You know, the political wing you are a part of.

Want to reconsider your opinion? It's not as if a swing to the right couldn't happen again as the past few years of elections have shown.

> a swing to the right

Further than nazis?

I happen to agree with you:

There is literally no space on the internet that is public. There are only private spaces on the internet. And the internet is pivotal to modern communication.

It's very, very hard to craft a statement that has any meaning that offends nobody.

I believe that the ability to have free speech is important to the US; important enough to be codified into law.

As such I believe that companies who provide communication platforms, that are based on the morals of the US (or more practically who use US resources while conducting their business), should honor free speech.

If they don't - if they only honor convenient speech - genuine and open public discourse will disappear.

Karl Popper explained in detail why it’s perfectly rational to praise tolerance and still be intolerant of intolerance.


“if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

> Popper took pains to make clear that he did not mean the expression of intolerant words and ideas, but in fact the opposite: They who must not be tolerated are those who wish to silence discussion and debate


Killing “the jews” silences discussion and debate.

I’d definitely advocate reading Popper’s own words instead of the potentially ambiguous wikipedia summary.

That's a facile response, because it works for everybody. Everybody intolerant thinks of themselves as a fundamentally tolerant person, whose hand has regrettably been forced by the unforgivable actions of the enemy tribe. From the other side, you look like the intolerant one.

Really, I don't think mentioning Popper is a facile response ;) One should actually be familiar with the source material to criticize it.

You spout relentless apologia for Chinese government actions; for instance, you were arguing with me in the other thread about whether the pressure focused on the NBA/Rockets was Chinese government action. Silver has now confirmed that it was.

obligatory rebuttal whenever this gets brought up to excuse censorship: https://www.popehat.com/2017/04/18/the-seductive-appeal-of-t...

recent subthread on this topic: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21229775


Karl Popper was talking about intolerance as in a group who resort to violent actions against another group (e.g. killing people for making cartoons). Merely expressing an opinion is never intolerance. Karl Popper, a lifelong supporter of free speech, must be turning over in his grave to know that his opinions are now being used to stifle speech.

Also who gets to define who is intolerant? Chinese government will surely say that the Hong Kong protesters are intolerant. Does it make it okay to censor them?

“In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”

I completely agree that opposing views that can be argued against rationally should always be allowed. But we were talking about literal nazis who advocate (and act upon) VIOLENT intolerance.

Who gets to determine who is a "literal Nazi"? Is Jordan Peterson a "literal Nazi"? His films are currently being canceled.

The only difference is that one type is a type of free speech that people tend to agree with.

Free speech isn´t really free speech unless it is granted to dissenting voices. The majority (or acceptable range of discourse) does not need protection by definition. That´s why free speech exists to begin with.

>highlighted what seems to be hypocrisy in the general public's reaction to this.

I don't think there's a hypocrisy here. Private company removes someone from their platform because of a position they've taken that the company disagrees with, and members of the public react in line with their own values.

In the example of Cloudflare & TDS, members of the public that disagree with TDS generally support Cloudflare. Those that support TDS or take a stricter view of the private sector's duty to facilitate free speech criticize Cloudflare.

In the example of Blizzard & BC, members of the public that disagree with BC generally support Blizzard. Those that support BC or take a stricter view of the private sector's duty to facilitate free speech criticize Blizzard.

The difference is the portion of the public agreeing or disagreeing in each case. Which is not hypocracy because TDS and BC do not espouse the same views.

It's significantly different because in one case the corporations made the decisions without government influence and in the other they made the decision because of government influence.

For a start it's time we created a universal service obligation for online companies that create a high bar for deplatforming or service refusal.

This is fairly simple and not particularly radical, through anti-discrimination laws we already force companies to do business with individuals regardless of whether they want to, it just makes it universal.

edit: I'm being downvote bombed for this, which is strange. Anyone care to articulate reasons for disagreeing?

Would it be correct to boycott CloudFlare for deplatforming the Daily Stormer? No, because there's nothing wrong with deplatforming Nazis, there was nothing morally reprehensible in Cloudflare's actions.

Would it be correct to boycott Blizzard for severely over-reacting to a pro Hong Kong political act on one of their streams? Yes, because apologizing to a monstrous, despotic regime by throwing tournament players and casters under the bus for supporting Hong Kong is morally atrocious. (As Brian Kibler and other professional casters have pointed out, some generic slap-on-the-wrist would probably have been appropriate, in line with what they would have done if someone took their victory speech to talk about impeaching/not impeaching Donald Trump or something).

This has nothing to do with free speech. I don't care about Blitzcheung or the casters' individual right to political speech on a Blizzard Twitch stream (it doesn't exist). I care about Blizzard's actions, and what they say about the willingness of the company to harm others to protect business interests in a despotic regime during a very important moment in global history.

I'm kind of confused about why you're confused, honestly. It's not very difficult to parse out very obvious essential differences between the two scenarios.

I downvoted, since the two incidents are fundamentally about free speech (I have a post attached to a sibling that explains why I think this applies to private companies too). That one form of speech is detested while the other is supported doesn't change that it's fundamentally about free speech.

To be slightly hyperbolic, it's impossible to say something of substance that doesn't offend someone. If all we're allowed to say is that which doesn't offend anyone, then nothing of substance can be said.

No, they aren't. Hong Kong is about free speech insofar as the protestors are fighting for their freedom of speech from the Chinese (and Chinese proxy) government.

You do not, should not, and will never have a "right" to "free speech" in media that are privately owned and managed by others. You have a right to not have a government censor your speech. The federal government cannot compell you to remove an editorial from your blog criticizing the government. They may not compell your isp to bar traffic to that blog. Insofar as the ISP is a government mandated oligopoly, it's reasonable to argue that they may not block access to your ip. Must a blogging website provide you hosting? No. You never had such a "right" and you never will. You can argue that they have a duty to provide you equitable and fair service, but we rarely use duties in western political philosophy (an example would be Australia compelling citizens to vote).

Private citizens may or may not publish your material on their media at their discretion. You have zero right to any of their bandwidth, resources, or otherwise, again, in general. Furthermore you shouldn't, because that would in fact be tantamount to governmenr infringement of the freedom of speech of those private citizens.

Where, on the internet, do I have a right to free speech?

The internet is pivotal to modern communications, yet it is effectively entirely private. If the citizens and their representatives felt strongly enough to create common carrier laws for telegraphs (see a sibling comment for more details), why should we feel differently about speech that travels over channels designed and built for communication across internet?

> governmenr infringement of the freedom of speech of those private citizens

Those "private citizens" are actually corporations making billions of dollars in profit to provide us, in part, with communication channels on their platforms.

Did you deliberately ignore the note about government induced oligopolies?

You don't have a right to free speech on the comment section of my blog, or my twitch chat stream, or my discord channel. Those platforms enable me to moderate that content. If they lacked that feature, it wouldn't support or undermine anyone's rights, mine or yours.

Unless the government provides internet service, what does it matter who runs the ISPs, whether they are "government induced ogliopolies" or plucky startups? They're still private entities; still not protected by your vision of the right to free speech.

"Ownership" is not black-and-white in this space. The government (in the United States anyway) grants/auctions access to publicly owned resources (such as water, power, rail, land, the federal reserve, etc. etc.) for the purposes of creating fundamental infrastructure.

How property rights for those resources convey corresponding constitutional rights of users (or other government imposed requirements, see for example insurance and healthcare) is something that is continually in tension and requires constant litigation.

As distinct, say, from the twitch chat feed on my speedrunning channel.

The intent of the founders was to ensure that citizens and journalists could speak out against their government without fear of retribution by the state. The "anything ought to be fine to say anywhere without consequence" interpretation is a modern phenomenon that extremists have used to platform and normalize violent suppressive rhetoric.

That is a horrible mischaracterization of free speech.

The first telegraph network banned journalists who reported bad things against the telegraph company. They manipulated stock prices and influenced elections. That is why common carriage laws were made, which required communications platforms to provide neutral service to everyone.

I'm sure that you would have been there, bravely defending the coal barons right to shut down journalists trying to report on union organizing, because they are a private corporation and they can do whatever they want on their property and not answer to anyone. You would have screamed "muh freeze peach" at journalists trying to report about labor abuses. Because they are not entitled to use the private telegraph network.

Of course the line between ubiquitous large platform and government is blurry. That is why communications companies over a certain side must be forced to platform everyone, and can only be permitted to ban them when they have met certain criteria.

Insofar as radio frequencies, internet domains, cable infrastructure and the like are effectively government induced oligolpolies, they are protected media as well.

In general though, yes, you have no right to have a particular editorial published in the new york times on your behalf. What the press deigns to publish is protected. You're also free to start your own paper, or blog, or whatever.

> You're also free to start your own paper, or blog, or whatever.

NO, you really aren't free to do that.

If every means of communication is in private hands, and access is denied to you, then you effectively have no free speech.

I am really depressed by the radical libertarian corporatism here on HN.

If an oil company brought all the land around your house, and put up a wall on all sides, and refused to let you leave, I feel like people here would defend that. Because you are not entitled to be on other people's private property or what ever. And it was your fault for living in the center of the land they brought, and no freedom from consequences.

And the first mediums of mass communication were 100% private, so to reiterate what I said before, everyone should be cool with them systematically excluding people they consider to be "nazis". To them, union organizers and journalists are a dangerous threat to public order...

Shut up journalist, you are not entitled to use their private telegraphs that were subsidized by the government. You were banned because of your hateful speech against our corporation. No freedom from consequences, loser. Go whine about muh freeze peach elsewhere.

> private telegraphs that were subsidized by the government

The post you replied to said that those things would have to carry you. What are you even ranting about at this point?

> If every means of communication is in private hands, and access is denied to you, then you effectively have no free speech.

Which is a theoretical risk only. But I'd say the answer is that you can buy whatever size internet connection you want and then host it yourself, in the exceptionally unlikely situation that no data center in a thousand miles will rent you space.

(This would require 'common carrier' rules to be broadened very slightly, I'm aware things aren't perfect.)

> or blog

That's exactly what this discussion is about - you're not free to start a blog. Running any form of web site on the internet requires the support of multiple private companies, which can and do shut sites down at their whims.

If it's just a blog couldn't you host it on a home internet connection using an ip address?

I doubt ISPs would easily cut someone's home internet off. Is there precedent for that?

1. Some ISPs have provisions separating home use and business use and are priced accordingly.

2. Some ISPs (possibly overlapping 1. or not) explicitly disallow hosting of any service on their Internet plans that they categorize for home use in their Terms of Service.

I don't think hosting a personal blog would count as business use.

Hosting a personal blog is beyond the reach of a lot of people. I feel like a large number of the general public wouldn't really ever have it occur to them as an idea in the first place, and of those that do a surprisingly large number might find it too complex for them.

It requires exactly access to a DNS and an ISP, both of which do have an obligation to enable fair access.

Access to some blog-hosting SaSS is another issue entirely.

I'm content to provide my own stack from the server up. There is no realistic scenario where I can be deplatformed from purchasing hardware sufficient to host a blog.

Reporting on union organizing is not the same thing as issuing death threats. You're working really hard to blur the clear line between these two things, why?

Um, from the point of view of the telegraph/coal company, they probably would have said that they were protecting people from dangerous agitators and keeping the peace.

But really, by your logic, they have no right to report on union organizing, because it's a private company and they should be allowed to cover up human rights abuses, because the first amendment does not protect it, or something.

>But really, by your logic, they have no right to report on union organizing, because it's a private company and they should be allowed to cover up human rights abuses, because the first amendment does not protect it, or something.

You're really getting the power dynamic wrong here, carelessly swapping between powerful institutional actors and individual actors as though they were interchangeable and pretending I made a value judgement about a strawman you constructed. My point is that the issue is complicated and deserves more care. The ideologues claiming to champion a distorted, unbounded "free speech" flatten every issue and refuse to engage with the complexities of harm.

They employ a technique that allows them to lazily wave away every piece of evidence we have about what is necessary to foster healthy, constructive, inclusive communities online and offline.

Tell that to the union organizers who were killed because of those reports. So no, the line isn't that clear.

It's worth remembering that at that point in time, the anti-union faction was strong and brutally violent.

You're talking about a totally separate thing here. Death threats are still not the same as reporting intended to expose organizers personally and potentially make them more likely to experience violent retribution.

The issue you're grappling with is something that has no clear cut answer, namely: the question of whether doxxing is ever appropriate, and which major publications still face intense heat over. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/reader-center/whistle-blo...

Death threats are a psychological attack which does have significant consequences, though they rarely evolve into actual physical violence. While I don't want to downplay the potential psychological impact of a death threat, I also don't want to see the union busting activities shrugged off as mere "doxxing" (which, as an aside, has its own psychological harm).

We in the modern US simply do not have a frame of reference for how brutal these activities were. Being outed as a union contributor in many cases was equivalent to a death sentence. A small excerpt from when a union activity was "doxxed" to the union busters:

>>> More than 200 vigilantes or "citizen deputies", under the ostensible authority of Snohomish County Sheriff McRae, met in order to repel the "anarchists." As the Verona drew into the dock, and someone on board threw a line over a bollard, McRae stepped forward and called out "Boys, who's your leader?" The IWW men laughed and jeered, replying "We're all leaders," and they started to swing out the gang plank. McRae drew his pistol, told them he was the sheriff, he was enforcing the law, and they couldn't land here. There was a silence, then a Wobbly came up to the front and yelled out "the hell we can't."[4]

Just then a single shot rang out, followed by about ten minutes of intense gunfire. Most of it came from the vigilantes on the dock, but some fire came from the Verona, although the majority of the passengers were unarmed.[5] Whether the first shot came from boat or dock was never determined. Passengers aboard the Verona rushed to the opposite side of the ship, nearly capsizing the vessel. The ship's rail broke as a result and a number of passengers were ejected into the water, some drowned as a result but how many is not known, or whether persons who'd been shot also went overboard.[6] Over 175 bullets pierced the pilot house alone, and the captain of the Verona, Chance Wiman, was only able to avoid being shot by ducking behind the ship's safe.[5] <<<


> Would it be correct to boycott CloudFlare for deplatforming the Daily Stormer? No, because there's nothing wrong with deplatforming Nazis, there was nothing morally reprehensible in Cloudflare's actions.

Yes, it was wrong of CloudFlare to do that, and if I could choose a competitor I would.

And you would change your mind if someone accuses you of being a "nazi" and your account is immediately terminated. And yes it could happen to you. In this day and age anyone can be called a Nazi. Left leaning Jewish professors are getting called Nazis and assaulted and deplatformed. If it can happen to Jordan Peterson, it can happen to anyone.

So when it comes to the point, corporations have decided that they can arbitrarily deny service to whoever they please, for political reasons.

So I don't want to hear any of you complain about what Blizzard is doing. You should support Blizzard, because "freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences". Any Hearthstone player that insults China should have any company they do business with drop them. Because these are just the consequences of being hateful. From the point of view of a lot of Chinese people, supporting Hong Kong makes you an imperialist hateful biggoted sino-phobic "nazi" of sorts.

> If it can happen to Jordan Peterson, it can happen to anyone.


It is the business of extremist groups to craft the illusion of difficulty parsing between the two scenarios.

The modern neo-nazi movement subverts mechanisms for questioning and checking power, even going as far as subverting the brand power of "free speech" to mean their speech and only their speech, in order to accumulate power around themselves and their interests. It is tragic that we can't have conversations about imperial powers suppressing independence movements without connoting that those principles protect speech suppressing and threatening minority groups.

Blizzard stock hasn't suffered yet.

And I doubt the cancelled subscriptions and closed accounts will have a significant long term impact. Especially since they mitigated account deletions by only allowing manual deletion requests with a submitted id; due to very conveniently timed and curiously persistent technical difficulties...

These public outrage storms quickly subside and people go back to playing the games.

It's curios to me though how so many companies completely bend the knee to China, even though Chinese only have a small amount of stock or revenue percentage.

I guess the market potential is just too great. And of course for companies like Apple they are at the mercy of Chinese supply chains.

Blizzard stock suffering, or not, just has to do with what the public markets think the likely economic outcome of this is for Blizzard. So it seems that so far their shareholders think this will blow over, but there's nothing that makes them a perfect predictor of that.

If they keep cancelling events, if Blizzcon crashes and burns, if sales go way down, the stock will suffer.

Prisoners dilemma. Any individual corporation that stands up for human rights suffers the potential loss of market space to competitors and the likely revolt by shareholders, for which ~1/3 of American stocks are owned by foreign investors for whom there is no guarantee that they care about human rights either.

If American corporations banded together to stand up to China the way they claim to care so gosh darn much about LGBTQ+ rights, they could send a powerful signal that some values are higher than profits. But who wants to be first?

I don't think this is over. Blizzard has invested a lot in the assumption that they will make a lot of money in China. And if protesters make enough noise, they might destroy that.

It would take very little effort by protestors to destroy Blizzard's plans that they've been working on for years. The straw that breaks the camel's back could be that at an official Blizzard event, someone drops a banner that says: 光復香港 時代革命.

Even if the deal does not go through, it would severely harm Blizzard's leverage.

I managed to delete my account without submitting ID, and so did some other people on Twitter, so I'm not sure if they really mitigated this. It's possible that the reports about the technical difficulties were overblown.

Based on what I’ve seen, investors are taking a wait and see attitude - waiting to see what happens with Blizzcon. There are investment guides that are advocating selling ATVI, and those will rise as the outcry and practical impact on Activision-Blizzard’s marketing and sales show.

This hit is a pure hit against Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch marketing, and it’s brought the Switch port into the light of day. Sales of the Switch port will be watched closely by both sides.

> This is a crisis point for everyone who supports political free speech.

It’s a crisis created by the political movement to force every company to take a political stance on every issue, and to force companies to not associate with political out-group members. I’m sure it feels really good when you’re in the in-group, but quite obviously gets people really worked up when it doesn’t come down on their side.

Can't feel bad for companies since they started this with their targeted advertising campaigns in which they took sides in social and political issues to gain favor with certain customer demographics. Now that the precedent has been set, they're being pushed and pulled in every direction as a consequence. They're reaping what they sowed.

Companies have done this since companies were a thing. Consumption is always political, always social.

A neutral political stance would be to do nothing and ignore the "incident".

Blizzard took explicit action and chose a side.

That’s pretty much my point (although there would have been more than 1 neutral way of dealing with this). Countless companies have jumped aboard taking a side on divisive political issues, and excluding out-group members as much as possible. The fact they are happy to do this when it’s marketable, but don’t want any part of the practice when it actually puts the bottom line at risk just shows how insincere it all was to begin with.

None of this would have ever been a problem if there wasn’t an enormous political movement to force these politics into every corner of society. Now you simply have a situation where a lot of the same people who were proponents of this practice are unhappy, simply because they’ve found themselves in the out-group.

If you’re running a business there are certain things you don’t say to your customers despite being your right of free speech to say so. Alternatively, you can say whatever you like and lose those customer.

As much as I'm against combining work life and political life, I think there's a chasm of difference between taking a stance against someone who tweets things you don't like and a government who is engaged in ethnic cleansing.

Politics aside, just doing business in China and the security sacrifices made to do so is, to me, an outsized business risk and a risk that I wish my company would not take. I'm sure many others feel the same. The short term profits aren't worth the long term repercussions. My employer doesn't agree, but I still want to go on record with them saying so.

This is the correct interpretation of this issue.

All of a sudden, millions of people who are quite happy to be fence-sitters about all sorts of injustices across the world (Many of them in their own countries) have decided to draw the line on China and Hong Kong.

According to them, anyone who does not explicitly support pro-HK politics is an enemy, and must be punished accordingly. (Even if what they want is a no politics policy.)

This is, of course, the same sort of 'with us or against us' behaviour, that those same fence-sitters criticized when it came to other injustices...

> is going to hurt their bottom line far more than China will.

Yea right. a) China has a huge market and b) most people don't really care. Go to /r/hearthstone or /r/wow and browse by new. People don't care.

I just looked at https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/new/ and 2 of the 3 first posts are about China.

That's not really representative. 5/30 posts are about HK and of those 5 I counted the post that says "I don't care bout HK stuff."

Across all the blizzard subs except maybe /r/blizzard it's almost business as usual.

That's not true. It's spilled over in Overwatch and even the NintendoSwitch subs.

Many of the blizzard related subreddits are staffed by mods that remove posts about China. And when you post something in /r/wow you see a big "no politics" banner. Not seeing that many posts about this there means nothing about how the players feel.

And reddit in general was up in arms about this.

>And reddit in general was up in arms about this.

For two days.

>Many of the blizzard related subreddits are staffed by mods that remove posts about China. And when you post something in /r/wow you see a big "no politics" banner. Not seeing that many posts about this there means nothing about how the players feel.

Activity level is pretty much the same.

I'm sorry, but this is just the latest outrage target and in two weeks it will be something new entirely.

reddit is not representative of sentiment. I don't think the topic will go away so quickly, esp since NBA and Lebron have brought so much heat on them as well.

There was a bigger outrage about EA during the lootbox fiasco. The most downvoted post in Reddit history belongs to an EA representative.

EA doesn't seem to have suffered.

EA changed their lootbox strategy in multiple games and thus lost millions over that. The whole industry took a step back, regulations were announced or at least threatened in several countries. The outrage against EA had a huge effect. It didn't destroy EA, but that also wasn't the goal nor feasible.

Semi-political outrage can not destroy a gaming company (not until politicians carry on). Each year there are new 10-year old kids going into stores/the first time onto Steam and buy something flashy they want to play. And in countries like Germany a third of the population plays games. Those buyers are not unified politically nor culturally.

But: If the opinion that a company does harm to gamers or people in general becomes prevalent, that's a huge danger for the company in the long run. It dampens its success, how their marketing is received, what they can do and what they can say. They lose access to the core group. Stuff like this is important enough.

Tencent owns a mere 5% of Actiblizzard and they generate less than 10% of their revenue in China. Sure it's an expanding market, but I don't think that the amount of pressure necessary to make it unprofitable is outside the reach of the protesting consumer-base. I don't really believe it will play out like that, but one can hope.

I have no evidence, but I am willing to bet there is a large China based disinformation campaign regarding players and their opinions.

Right now nothing should be taken at face value, nobody should be taking their feelings from someone else's reddit comment. Not that I'm holding my breath.

Tencent is also an investor in reddit. I wouldn’t doubt they’re turfing the threads.


It may be a huge potential market but it's not a huge portion of current revenues. All of APAC (which is not just China) is only 12% of the total.

I was really disappointed to see this earlier today. Even many of the top posts were gameplay related. It took me .5 seconds to say goodbye to Blizzard and all their games.

Is it considered acceptable to push your political agenda on an unrelated events? For me it looks strange and out of place. Now punishing people for that might be too harsh. But if every sport event will turn into political debates (imagine US and RU sportsmen arguing with each other), it'll be bad and free speech has nothing to do with it IMO.

Blizzard did this first; set the stage for mixing politics with video games. Blizzard hosted and promoted a LGBTQ+ event in Overwatch, and much like Mei is being used by HK, Blizzard are using Tracer as a representative of the LGBTQ+ community.

That the event was not done in Russia and China, and that Tracer has a different sexual orientation in those countries, is quite telling.

The only difference is that the LGBTQ+ political statement had the effect of boosting their revenue, whereas the HK statement may have the opposite effect.

It's a complicated issue. This historical event and all the differing opinions about it might be relevant - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salu...

Indeed - platforms like post game interviews are not platforms for political views. However, it is naive to believe that Blizzard would have reacted anywhere near as strongly to any political statement not related to China.

The inappropriateness of Blitzschung's actions does not excuse Blizzard far less acceptable reaction.

These incidents are making me reevaluate my views on the Cold War. Growing up after the Cold War was over, I always thought the domestic reaction (in the US) to the Soviet Union and Communism was overblown. Of course, growing up during the 1990s boom, it was inconceivable to me that any foreign country could have the slightest negative impact on me, or that there was any possibility that the future offered anything other than the American way of life for more and more people.

The difference is that the USSR was a small market, so it was possible to crush it economically, which is what the West did.

This time around China is looking to become the largest market and if we let it to become one before China sheds its "communism with Chinese characteristics", it will crush the West.

And in large part that is due to our different approach to China. Opening up trade with China enabled its economy to reach the level it did today. In part [0] the minds thought trade would bring liberalization in China. But that didn’t happen, it’s quite a thing to walk back now but clearly it needs to happen. Unfortunately the politics of the US and EU are in absolute disarray so coordinating that is difficult to imagine.

([0] In another part forming relationships with China was also in part about putting a wedge between China and the USSR. Which may have been more productive but doesn’t explain the normal relationship since 1990.)

The Communist Party is selling out the future of the Chinese people for its own security. The world will not continue to subsidize China now that they have removed their mask. The monoculture they are building lacks the social tools necessary to compete on the global stage without external assistance and the west knows it.

There has been a lot of handwringing over China becoming the new global super power but what we seem to have instead is a repeat of North Korea but on much greater scale.

> This time around China is looking to become the largest market and if we let it to become one before China sheds its "communism with Chinese characteristics", it will crush the West.

If China can shed Communism and compete with the West as a free society, then more power to it. It might hurt American pride a bit, but the U.K. seems to have managed...

> but the U.K. seems to have managed...

Except for that Brexit conundrum.

Pity you didn't spend any time behind the Iron Curtain when it was still up. Formative experience if there ever was one for me.

I'm from, and lived in, Bangladesh, which was also formative. At the time, we saw America as the future for Bangladesh too. The resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism as a competitor to Westernization (in its Anglo-American form) came as a total shock. At least to my family. For the same reason I find China's Belt and Road initiative deeply disquieting.

No, it's not.

It's a crisis for speech by entities that are seeking to make millions of dollars in China.

Those corporations were never in the business of defending free speech in the first place. If you were expecting them to, I would suggest finding better role models.

This is not a problem for anyone who does not care about selling out to the Chinese market.

> anyone who does not care about selling out to the Chinese market

It's a crisis for speech by customers of those companies, who must make clear that they are just as capable of punishing those companies as the Chinese government.

The Chinese customers are also capable of punishing those companies, not just the Chinese government.

When you're a tournament winner, you're not a customer of the company, you're a partner that's using the tournament as a soapbox for your politics.

Having expectations of moral behavior from someone doesn't mean you consider them a role model, it means you have standards. A role model is someone you aspire to be, but I expect everyone I deal with to have some sort of basic standards of decency. If not, I don't deal with them and neither should anyone else.

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