Re: Rape Threats

It has come to my attention that Desborough and his wife have been receiving rape threats. This is unacceptable and shameful behaviour, and there is no place for it within proper discourse.

No matter my personal feelings, Desborough is a human being and deserves dignity and respect like anyone else. I hope he and his wife have a strong emotional support network to help get them through this. Rape Crisis UK has a counselling hotline should either of them need it. As someone who has also been targeted by such attacks, it is not an experience I would wish on anyone, and my thoughts are with the Desboroughs as they work through this.

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How to Handle a PR Crisis: Mongoose Edition

So, Mongoose has issued a response. Overall, this is phrased very well. There are a few specific bits I want to highlight, because they show how you should respond when offence is caused.

“We regret any offence given either in private e-mail by myself or on our forums.”
This does not deny that harm was done and owns up to it. This is a genuine apology.

“Finally, it has been reported that some… individuals (I would hesitate to call them people) have been sending threats of violence to others. We have nothing to do with that, condemn it utterly and, frankly, those individuals should be ashamed of themselves. There is nothing big or clever in what you have done.”
This is a clear condemnation of the e-mails I have been receiving. As far as I’m concerned, this is a thing of beauty.
Moreover, the apology thread (from my understanding) got just as abusive and hairy as the poll did. You will notice that the only response remaining is Sprange’s initial statement. This is the correct response. By refusing to allow abusive and hateful language on their forum and their thread, they show that it will not be tolerated. Sprange may not like what I did, and he may very well hate me. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that he recognizes that I am a human being who does not deserve a torrent of abuse for holding an opinion.
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How Not to Handle a PR Crisis: Mongoose Edition

(Note: The mods have locked the thread. DO NOT START ANOTHER THREAD ABOUT THIS, they have enough to deal with already.)

The Coles Notes version and context of the e-mails is below. In between e-mails I have included context as to what was happening.

June 14-17: Ettin posts this thread on the Tangency boards. Discussion revolves around Desborough’s actions, his works, and how to handle rape in TTRPGS. It slowly comes out that Desborough has written for a number of indie game publishers and several works of his are still in print.

June 18: Mongoose contacts me requesting an information update for their Mongoose Infantry program, of which I used to be a member. I respond that I want nothing to do with a company that publishes a rape apologist and thinks it’s a good idea to name projects “Love You Long Time”. I create this petition and go to bed. The petition e-mails both Steve Jackson Games and Mongoose Publishing.

June 19 (Morning/Afternoon): Mongoose creates the poll “Is Mongoose a Bad, Bad Company – You Decide” (Google cache here) and asks people to vote via their Twitter feed. Approximately one hour after the post, I begin receiving rape threats. Several rape threats call me “an attention seeking slut” or refer to me as having “attention slut syndrome” and suggest that the only way to “cure” me is to violently rape me. Both phrases (but not rape threats) were used with impunity on the Mongoose boards, although Mongoose will delete your posts if you call another poster a “dick”. Several e-mails mentioned Mongoose by name, and one e-mailer said that he was going to “rape me like Matt should have.” The e-mails from Mongoose become increasingly abusive and pedantic.

Sometime after this a petition went up on to stop me from making petitions.

Regarding the Counter-Petition: It does not spam rape threats at me. The people who sent me rape threats looked up my name, looked at my posting history, and inferred me e-mail address from that. Much more cyber-stalking, much more creepy, and much more in line with actual rapist behaviour. Threats have been forwarded to the relevant authorities.

June 19/20 (Night): After receiving mod permission to post the received threats without identifying information, I begin to do so. I edit out e-mail addresses, IPs, and avoid posting the ones that specifically reference game companies, trusting that the owners of said companies will want to handle that internally. The posters of show that there is a pointed difference between making fun of rape and mocking rapist behaviour.

June 20: Mongoose_Matt, screen name of Matthew Sprange, begins posting in the thread. One of the posters on the Mongoose boards identified herself as female, and Sprange assumes that person is me. Despite having access to my e-mail, IP, and login information, the fact that the poster and I share a gender was enough for Sprange feel confident that we were the same person without needing to check. The thread becomes a train wreck and is shut down. DO NOT GO TO RPG.NET AND START ANOTHER THREAD ABOUT THIS.

I e-mail some of the rape threats I have been getting to Mongoose and wait for a reply. I mention that the threats started after they posted their poll. The poll disappears, but I receive no further e-mail.

June 21: Sprange accuses me of threatening him with legal action because I pointed out the rape threats. Needless to say, I have not threatened any legal action, and have merely been forwarding the threatening e-mails to appropriate authorities. Sprange requests I never contact him again, and I am happy to comply.

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