If there were only two sides to an argument conflict of all kinds would be easy.
She said, He said
Jelly, Peanut Butter
Unfortunately, rarely are there only two sides to an argument. Again, unfortunately, it is a human condition to attempt to boil any argument down to two sides. Two is a lot easier to comprehend. Having a side to defend and assail is much easier than taking the time to look at all of the sides and even easier than taking the time to understand all of the sides and even easier again, than attempting to have some compassion and understanding for those who you disagree with.
This weekend, starting Friday and potentially ongoing, a series of events unfolded and here is what I know…
Carmine Bellaire of Rogue Heroes Games wrote a poorly worded post on the Robotech RPG Tactics comments. He may have had the best of intentions, unfortunately his words were poorly chosen. Essentially, he was attempting to drum support for his impending Rifts Boardgame Kickstarter and deflect as much negative attention from disgruntled Robotech RPG Tactics backers.
- Prior to his comments, there had been discussion of backing the Rifts Boardgame with a dollar to post comments/commentary on the negative state of the Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter, to avoid anything Palladium Books in general, and be disruptive (in my opinion, a poor way to handle the situation)
What followed was, by internet standards with a few exceptions, a reasonably spirited discussion/argument. Make no mistake a lot was said, most of what was said was not well thought or well intentioned by anyone. This is a problem with internet communication where people on all sides are passionate and feel they have a stake in the discussion.
The following day or so, Kevin Siembieda president of Palladium Books posted Update 197 “A Terrible Day.” I can only hope that Kevin really does have the best interests of Carmine in mind when he wrote Update 197. Unfortunately, instead of writing a factual account of Carmine’s attempted suicide, support for Carmine, and expressing empathy and understanding for Carmine, people who are suicidal, and his target audience, he wrote an attack piece, laying the blame for Carmine’s situation at the feet of the backers.
And that is where I got involved. At first I was curious. Then I started researching. And here were are.
Remember, there are more than two sides to this and nothing is mutually exclusive.
Carmine did what he did not because of a single conversation on the internet. People who harbor suicidal thoughts harbor them for a long time and there are issues beyond the obvious and immediate. That conversation or the one on the Palladium forums or anywhere else may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but make no mistake Carmine needed assistance before then.
Kevin wrote what he wrote, not because he was truly concerned with his friend. The tone and topics of the Update speak directly to this. A friend in need is never in need of having their laundry aired in public, especially in the manner that Kevin chose.
What bothered me most, was the following…
the expectation of the tone Kevin’s update, that when there was a situation to exploit, Kevin would and did take that route.
the level of distrust of Kevin and Palladium Books has engendered, that the thought, “Kevin made it up” was seriously brought up and that is a horrible thought to have.
the complete lack of follow thru, see, on one hand I am okay with what Kevin wrote, if I thought someone or a group of someone’s had done something that led to a friend getting harmed, I too would react in an over the top manner. I would blame them. I would castigate them. I would hold them responsible. I would rant and rave without much thought.
I would think. I know I would do this, because I have been there.
Kevin should, not needs too, write another Update. He does not have to offer an apology for what he wrote. He should however, speak of his friend in better terms, stop speaking for his friend, inform the community he blamed of his friend’s condition, he should reach out to those who may also harbor similar thoughts, he should demonstrate that he is indeed concerned about his friend and not about his company. He should, in other words, do more.
What about the community? Well, I cannot speak for all internet communities and I won’t. I can say that there are people who need to dial back the vitriol, dial back the rhetoric, dial back the aggression. I understand frustration. I understand frustration leading to anger and all it takes to spark anger into a fire is a few poorly chosen. The community too, should do more.
For Carmine and others who harbor similar thoughts, I hope he recovers. I hope he moves on from this in a positive manner. I hope he has support and gets more support. I hope he reengages with the community, because while his initial words may have been poorly chosen, there is a dialog to engage in for everyone.
* I have not provided links to the comments or Update 197 for my own reasons.