Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bad Apple
This week, Kickstarter funded a project that pisses me off. A lot.
The results of this asshole’s project, though, bug me even more.
The project is a book wherein some dude from Reddit gives all sorts of horrible relationship advice to other dudes from Reddit. The excerpts I’ve read are, at best, encouraging sexual assault and, at worst, encouraging rape. Further, they seem to imply that women really want to get raped so it is all OK.
I don’t get the feeling the guy is trying to write a satirical piece. I think he’s dead serious. I have no idea if he is getting a lot of “action” using the techniques he will be describing in his book but if he is, I’m not thinking that he has a lot of repeat dates.
The very idea that all women are the same and you could write a book that will somehow provide dudes a “cheat code” is pretty insulting to 1/2 our population already but when that supposed “cheat code” involves behavior that could easily be rape, it crosses a line.
A firestorm erupted within a short time of his project being closed and at that point, folks tried to get it shut down or have his funding blocked. It didn’t work.
Why not? Well, partially because his project didn’t include excerpts from his Reddit screeds on how to harass women into sleeping with you. Thus Kickstarter wasn’t able to properly evaluate if the project was “offensive or abusive.”
By the time folks started to report the project, it was within hours of closing.
Once it closed, Kickstarter took some time in responding and their response was, basically, that it was too late. They were going to fund the project.
And – damn it I hate to say this – I think that was the right call.
I think this project is awful. This dude is awful. The people who support him are probably pretty awful. Had he been completely honest in his initial project, it is likely it would not have been approved.
But it was. And while Kickstarter would have been completely within their rights to pull the plug, I think they needed to allow that the project as presented was within the guidelines.
While what this guy wrote on Reddit was completely unacceptable and that is probably what the book will be about, we don’t know that for sure. I don’t know what the final product will be. I can say that with relative certainty because I have no intention of reading it.
Should Kickstarter have responded faster? Yes. But.
When you find yourself in a situation like this, it is very hard to know how to respond or when to respond. For my part, I would want to have all of my ducks in a row before I would say anything about it.
I’d want to read everything this guy wrote rather than excerpts. I’d want to carefully review the policy. I’d want to check with my lawyers.
Now, I should probably say “I’m aware you guys are pissed and I’m looking into the situation” as quickly as possible. Kickstarter didn’t do that. So that’s bad.
But deciding to fund the project, while disappointing, is a decision I understand. I’ve had to make painful decisions before and I get that sometimes you can’t give people what they want no matter how much you wish you could.
If it had been me, I don’t know what call I would have made. I would have been extremely conflicted because most of me would want nothing more than to tell this guy that if he wanted $14000 to write a manual on sexual assault, he could get it somewhere else.
Another part of me would have felt that it was not my moral call to make and if 700+ assholes wanted this creepy book, it wasn’t my job to tell them that they were assholes and they couldn’t have it.
And no matter what call I made, I’d be bothered by the fact I hadn’t made the other one.
I don’t know if that makes me a bad person or not. It certainly places me at odds with several people whose opinions I respect and admire.
Let’s clear here – I don’t face the risk of being assaulted because someone read this book. I am not someone who is likely to be harassed or raped. My intellectual conflict pales in comparison to those concerns.
What frustrates me a this point is that other extremely worthy Kickstarter projects could suffer as a result. My friend Joseph Scrimshaw has a great project going on and it is a long way from being funded. He may still make it but a boycott of Kickstarter isn’t going to make that job any easier.
Yes, Kickstarter makes a little bit off of each project that is funded and yes, this one project is embarrassingly horrible.
But I’d hate to see a lot of creative people lose the opportunity to produce work because the Kickstarter folks didn’t make the “right” call on this one project. I’d hate to see Joseph fail to get to his $26,000 when a complete douchebag could beat his initial $2000 goal by $12000!
If it wasn’t a friend of mine, it would be someone else. The point is not that a friend could get screwed. The point is that friend is just one example of who will get screwed by this situation.
I totally understand the anger about the project. And I share it.
What would make this whole situation a great deal worse is if one bad project had a negative impact on a few hundred good ones.
I’m not speaking out in support of the folks at Kickstarter and I definitely have nothing but contempt for the dude who is telling other guys how to be the worst possible boyfriend/lover ever but I will speak in support of the individuals who are using the Kickstarter platform.
They don’t deserve to have their projects thrown out with the bathwater.
I abhor this project because it is not only a huge step backwards in gender relationships but also because it could hurt a lot of people who had nothing to do with it. They just had the misfortune to be running their own campaign at the wrong time.