I think that it was pretty extreme, losing prize money and being banned from competitions for a year. Same with firing the two stream hosts. To have it all based on a very broadly-worded clause in the contract (i.e. anything we say is bad is bad if we say it is) irks me as well.
Blizzard was in a tough spot, at least from a business perspective. Just look at how the NBA is having events canceled, losing partners, etc., and they initially apologized. I work for a large global company that has its eye on the Chinese market as well, so I understand the desire to not rock the boat and foreclose the future revenues – revenues that are demanded by shareholders.
All that said, I still canceled my WoW accounts, canceled my WC3 Reforged pre-order, uninstalled all Blizzard games, and put my Blizzcon tickets up for resale. I’m in the process of trying to cancel my pre-order for the anniversary server blades as well. We’ll see how that goes.
I think the problem is China. So you know where I stand.
That said, when people can’t abide with people that don’t share the same beliefs, there is going to be blood.
Well… I don’t see it so much as “no China” as “no drama” policy.
Not unlike the OTG ‘no drama’ policy.
It wasn’t game related. It wasn’t Blizzard related. It was politics.
A functioning adult - streamer, gamer or otherwise - knows politics from gaming.
There is a time and a place. They chose the wrong place, in my opinion.
So, I don’t think Blizzard is out of line. I think the people who consciously chose to use the platform for politics had to know what they were doing and had to know there was a risk. They took the risk. Their decision. They own it.
I think it’s their sandbox, play by their rules. Blitzchung knew he was pushing that line and decided to take the risk. Even if the rule may sound vague to some, it is exactly what it says. We reserve the right, don’t do this when associated with us, we don’t want our name dragged into it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. He can call free speech all he wants. It’s a private company that has the right to enforce their rules. It’s not about his right to believe what he wants, or talk about it, or even agree/disagree with it. Blizzard is simply saying don’t commandeer their platform to do it.
Oh. And the 'free speech" has nothing to do with it.
The 1st Amendment restricts and applies to the government. Blizzard is not the government.
Frankly, I think Bliz might have been a bit too heavy handed by pulling back all the rewards that player already eared prior to the dust up. I can see a ban for a period of time, a removal from the platform that player was actually on at the time he did this, and a fine. But to do all they did I feel is a bit heavy handed.
However, the player was definitely in the wrong by bringing his politics onto a game platform. I like the way OTG handles these things and agree with Hashberry that if you play in someone else’s sandbox you play by their rules. I do think Bliz might want to tighten up their rules instead of leaving them so loosely written. Too easy to interpret in so many different ways that the “rules” lose their guidelines.
I read an excellent article a while back that put forth the notion that free speech is a foundational principle of the USA, and it is worth embracing it beyond the strict legal requirements specified in the Constitution. I have heard that speech control amounts to thought control. I also have heard that civil and respected discourse across differing perspectives leads to greater understanding for all.
Do you agree with the idea that free speech is a foundational principle, and should be supported beyond the strict requirements of the Constitution?
The 1st Amendment doesn’t apply just to the government, it applies to society. Otherwise, why would LBGT people take Christians’ to court for not making them a cake? Both declare 1st Amendment rights…
Secondly, sure Blizzard can do what they want, but they also need to be held accountable for their actions just like anyone else, including China. It is a known fact for decades if not way longer, that China is not human friendly, so if you believe that human rights is a thing worthwhile, then maybe you should act like it and not poo poo your own enablement of that behavior.
The reality is, if you buy a product from a company, you are supporting that company and their ability to influence the world. If you don’t agree with their political motivations, then maybe you should reconsider. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
That said, people very easily disassociate their responsibility from others simply as a mental convenience even while they associate with that person or entity. Reason is a powerful skill, and most used to cope with inconsistencies in personal behavior. Just ask any criminal if they are wrong, you’ll see the excuses they make why they did what they did.
Do you think award shows and other entertainment media might be better served by removing politics from the content?
I think they need to consider the implications. If the show or whatever (or even retail business) supports a cause (political or otherwise), people are going to react to that. Some people will judge and react based on that view. They will gain some, they will lose some. Because of that, I do think a company might be better served just staying out of it. Not because of a philosophical reason, but for an economic & reputational one.
The Bill of Rights does not ‘give’ the government authority - it ‘restricts’ government authority. I like it that way.
So, yes, the First Amendment is a foundational principle of restriction on the government.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
No, it should not be enforced by the government on private enterprise. THAT is when you get to ‘thought control.’ Hence it is specifically forbidden by The Constitution.
Do I agree the concept should be ‘supported’ beyond the legal restriction placed on government by the Constitution? Absolutely. Just as we are seeing it done. People can punish Blizzard - through their consumerism - and the government can’t stop them. That’s the way it is supposed to work.
People - consumers - are using the power they have. While I, personally, do not think Blizzard in the wrong, those that do are doing exactly what they should do - boycotts, etc.
I do not think the government should have the authority to enforce it on private sector. I like it just the way it is - US - “the people” - restricting government. Not the other way around.
To me, it is all ‘working as intended’ (to steal a phrase). Blizzard can legally retaliate against them for commandeering their gaming platform and the government can’t stop them. People can retaliate against Blizzard if they don’t like it - and the government can’t stop them.
In that, we clearly agree: “Thought control” is not a good thing. It is just that I like the idea of letting ‘the people’ handle it and not making it a ‘legal’ thing - which gives it to the government to handle - which leads to government controlling who is ‘right.’ Which leads to The Ministry of Truth.
For these issues, context is key as well. In the U.S., freedom of speech (protection from government censorship) is baked into our Constitution. If you live here, then you can rely on having the ability to protest in different places at different times. From that perspective, saying there is a time and place for it makes sense.
In other countries, this freedom is not guaranteed. In fact, it is actively quashed. Perhaps for Blitzchung, he felt that there would be no other time and no other place to make an impact. For him, his only outlet to lodge that protest was the venue given to him by virtue of his gaming skill. Think of it like the 1968 Olympics and the silent protest against discrimination.
The conversation now is expanding beyond actions in Hong Kong and China. Now we’re also discussing self-censorship in the US so that products (entertainment and consumer goods) can be exported to restrictive countries. So even though the government can’t restrict what we say, companies are stepping in. This lessens the freedoms we exercise here, in order to match restrictive government mandates abroad.
So the question is, when it is up to a company to decide, what do they do? In essence, do they enforce a “least common denominator” approach to expression by penalizing people in “free” countries who go beyond what a restrictive government allows? Alternatively, do they accept potentially losing out on a market in order to support free expression at home?
This can end up being even more insidious than direct government control. It restricts/penalizes expression based on a fear of what a restrictive foreign government (and their state-controlled markets) may do in retaliation. That’s a bit scary.
I enjoyed South Park’s recent “Band in China” episode, and their subsequent “apology”.
it basically boils down to what is more important, people or money?
I understand what you are saying here, however, I do not like to get involved in political discussions. Everyone is on one side or the other. But, I was actually addressing the heavy handed method Bliz implemented their so-called punishment.
Reading Bliz’s rules does show how ambiguous they were written, any interpretation is possible. I do not fault the player for his beliefs but I think he knew going into that action there was risk. I just don’t think anyone realized how hard the ban hammer was going to fall until it did. That took everyone by surprise.
I just feel the action by Bliz is a bit over the top and don’t agree with the severity.
I just wanted to say I am enjoying this civil discussion with you, and appreciate the time you are putting into your responses.
Here is the dilemma I see brewing. China is putting so much pressure on so much of private industry that there is a net effect across industries building of censorship in this free nation. Their market is so large, their supply chain so lucrative, that the threat of cutting that off really hurts the bottom line.
If you look at each industry in isolation, it does not seem like much.
So before Bezos bought the Washington Post, they were inserting a Chinese propaganda section into the paper. They knew it was propaganda, they stated it did not represent the views of the paper, and they needed the money.
We have seen Chinese contributions to university programs that shed a positive light on China. Again we have private companies which teach young minds taking money.
We have seen Chinese pull on Hollywood, most notably with Rising Sun changing the villains from Chinese. It is rare to find China as a villain in Hollywood productions now. Again each of these companies is private, and they are making their own decisions.
We have seen China put pressure on the NBA recently with the Houston Rockets. Again it is a private company, making its own decisions.
And now Blizzard.
This is what gets me, is it feels like there is so much Chinese influence across all of our industries and universities that we are seeing pressure on a broad scale to suppress honest discussion of China. China has many deplorable practices, such as pollution you can see from space, environmental contamination to air quality levels above 150, the point at which human lungs can no longer filter. We have the internment camps and re-education centers for various religious groups, and more horrifying reports of organ harvesting from those groups. We have prison labor, and child labor. We have forced tech transfer for any company trying to do business in China, state sponsored corporate espionage and IP theft. And somehow China with 90% of the worlds manufacturing is still labeled as ‘developing’ by the WTO, and thus exempt from all of the restrictions placed on developed nations. You have the censorship and citizen point system in China on its own people, and you have it exporting control via the belt and roads program. Hardly any of this gets reported, and at best you have isolated pieces reported, not the entire context. If any of this was going on in a western nation with free press, there would be reports, and people would be screaming. But China has systematically shut down via economic pressure any criticism it can.
Now I have some hopes that perhaps maybe trade pressure will either reduce the profits in this present trade imbalance which fuels much of this exported control by China, but we have so much corruption on so many levels throughout government that unless the people kick and scream about it, odds are it will just get worse and worse.
And I think that the influence is so pervasive and widespread across so many industries that we can not count on individual protest against specific industrial sectors by consumers to change it. Public focus shifts, but the economic pressure is sustained and widespread.
So maybe if they just reclassified China as developed, and then had the punitive tariffs kick in for violation of all of the aspects of WTO member nation requirements, that would put the entire pressure of the free world trade upon China to reform or face losing supply chains to other developing nations. That would dry up belt and road funding, and the slush funds for newspapers and media and universities, and maybe the influence would wane. Frankly I think the problem is so huge now that we can not count on normal protest processes to correct it.
Quite the wide-ranging discussion! My compliments on keeping it civil.
China is one of the greatest (i.e. worst) human rights abusers in history.
To give into their demands because you want to maximize profit, is insulting. The same can be said for the NBA.
And to the extent that Blizzard slapped the ban and penalties, it was very heavy handed.
For these reasons, I no longer subscribe too, will purchase, play or even have a Blizzard product on my PC.
Nor will I go to an NBA game.
I have studied China for years (Russia too) and I know its not much and my little ole account won’t make much difference, but its what I can do.