For somebody who spends probably over 50 hours a week writing things, you might think that I would shy away from writing outside of work. And you’d be right! And yet here I am, as we crest the hill of the new year, wind whipping our hair back in a most heroic fashion, fingers tapping away at the keyboard in a vague attempt to scribe the year’s main events. Let’s get stuck in, before I change my mind.
Hello, everybody! Welcome to 2012. Jess is asleep on the couch in front of me after a hard night of partying with our bros, and I’m running on six pitiful hours of sleep. What better time to cast a groggy mind back across the year that was? Let’s fire up the Retroscope and sort through the best of two thousand and eleven.
On the outside, it’s easy to misconstrue “Draw Muhammad Day” as a noble cause, a peaceful protest of sorts. It’s easy to believe that you’re doing the right thing by scribbling down a picture of the prophet Muhammad, posting it on the internet, and flipping the bird at any Muslims who might happen to find your actions insulting, and that they should lighten the-fuck-up because “free speech lol”.
Unfortunately, this is incorrect. What we have here is a classic case of very popular internet forum mindset – specifically, confusing the right to free speech with the right to act like a toolbag.
I’m serious – what else can you call it when a bunch of non-Muslims who live comfortable Western lives, and whose freedom of speech is not threatened in any way, deliberately and enthusiastically engage in an activity that they know will be offensive to others? Offensive to people who have never personally done anything to offend them?
It’s trolling of the highest order; textbook in execution, industrial in scale, and dripping with extra lashings of the misguided self-righteousness that only the greatest breed of troll – the unwitting – can summon.
Is it that simple? Yes, it is. But let’s examine it in more detail.
So as most of you know, I do a weekly Refried comic for games.on.net. My editor found this week’s comic delightful (Pure gold, mate) and in fact liked it so much that he showed it to his manager – which turned out to be a bad move. She decided that it was possibly so contentious that it had to go all the way up the chain to the CEO of Internode to make a decision on – and he said no. Given that its subject matter is a South Australian politician and Internode is an Adelaide-based ISP, they decided it wasn’t a good idea to go upsetting the establishment.
But, under the terms of my contract and as a private citizen of an entirely different state, there’s nothing stopping me from publishing it myself, and a lot of people have been asking for it, so here you go.
In the middle of October, Jess and I travelled down to Newcastle. I had just won an eBay auction for ‘Ere We Go and Freebooterz, two of the few remaining out-of-print Games Workshop Ork sourcebooks I did not own. This was tremendously exciting for me; previously these books had always escaped me as I was either outbid or I could not make it to the place required to collect them. But this year, fortune smiled and they popped up in sunny coastal Newcastle, only available by pickup, and I happened to be in the right state at the right time. The seller and I even agreed to meet, fittingly enough, at the local Games Workshop store in Newcastle. It was perfect.
Little did I know, when we undertook this labour of love, that this would be the very thing that would cause me to lose my own job with Games Workshop.