Some of you might be aware of on-line traffic involving Richard of Too Fat Lardies, Bill of The Miniatures Page, and people who have views on their views. As with all such exchanges it seems to be dragging in those from the periphery with more extreme opinions that seem to have distracted from the core concerns that Richard expressed.
While internet flame-wars are far from uncommon, this one in particular has got me thinking more deeply than usual. Partly this is because I like Richard and the attitude TFL have to creating games, although I'll freely admit I don't play many of their rule sets. Partly it is because I have been visiting TMP for the better part of 20 years. Partly it is because I watch the news. Partly it is because of the emerging evidence of the effect inequality has on the health outcomes for some groups in our society and partly (well mostly) it is because of the efforts made in my workplace to improve how inclusive we are to everyone who works for us or to whom we deliver our services.
Put simply, it is no longer enough to "not be discriminatory" ourselves. If we are to see improvement, fairness and inclusion we must become actively anti-discrimination. Where we see discrimination there is a need to oppose it.
This can't be done without being thoughtful about our own actions and those of others. None of us are paragons and nor are most of those around us. Change will not happen overnight, but if we want change we can't expect others to do it all for us.
So coming back to the start, how am I feeling about the TFL and TMP situation? Firstly, it genuinely makes me sad. Secondly I have to reflect on being a member (non-paying) of TMP since October 2004, but only having made 842 forum posts in all that time and very few in recent years. I have found it to be a less welcoming, more extreme place but not peopled solely by those with such views, there are many good folks there too. This is not unique on the internet. Nevertheless, some of the more extreme positions do seem to be routinely supported on the site while contrary, often more moderate, opinions are regularly snuffed out or belittled in my experience. This in itself doesn't force me to take sides. I could carry on holding my nose and avoiding some forum areas and some posters, but really do I want to keep doing that? Does that sit well with what I have written above? I have to conclude, with a great deal of regret, that it does not sit well and I won't be using TMP any more as these issues seem so persistent.
So what you ask? Honestly I'm sure it will make very little difference. I'm not personally taking money directly away from the site as I put none in. I haven't been posting much recently anyway. I don't pretend I can or do exert much influence within the hobby (or anywhere much else). My actions aren't exactly "extreme", nor do I wish them to be; I'm not really an "extreme" person and I certainly don't want to turn my relaxing hobby into a real-life warzone; which is one of the reasons I don't post much on TMP. What I don't want to do is to tell other people what they should do; people have to come to their own decisions about who they support or do business with. So I'll stick with expressing my views in what I hope is a reasonable and measured manner.
I'd like to add that my focus of concern is about how real people are being treated now. Diverting debate into discussing history seems to seldom help create progress; rather it can be a way of avoiding more uncomfortable contemporary truths. History might explain how we got to where we are and how we didn't get to somewhere else; but it does not excuse our actions now.
What I do want to do is contribute to a process of us all becoming more thoughtful and aware of what is going on around us, and to act accordingly. This is a modest aim. If something makes you uncomfortable then withdraw your support or participation if it shows no sign of changing for the better, don't just ignore it and carry on; tolerance is important but cannot blinker us. If someone is speaking up for inclusion and fairness then support them. This goes for life in general and not just our hobby.
The only thing I would ask is that if you agree with what I have written, that maybe you share it or express these sentiments in your own words, to promote thoughtfulness and awareness in the hobby as part of becoming, if not more inclusive then at least, less exclusive.
I don't intend to respond to any comments about this post. If you agree with me I've indicated what you can do. If you disagree then I don't feel we have anything to discuss on this matter.
I promise, in the next post I will almost definitely be back to painting model soldiers. In the meantime I'm off to order something from TFL.