Read with a critical eye: XBL Lesbians (rant)

So you can’t have missed all the nonsense about this Consumerist article (I’m not going to dignify it by linking to it) that claims that “Teresa” said she was harassed on, and ultimately suspended from, XBox Live because she put in her profile that she was a lesbian.

It saddens me to no end how many people are upset about this.

Why? Am I a homophobe just like the entire Microsoft Corporation is (according to some comments I’ve read)?

No, quite the contrary. I’m rather disgustingly liberal, in fact.

But I do READ CRITICALLY. And I think about what I’m reading and I think about plausibility and I don’t believe something just because I see it posted on a website. I also understand the economics of websites and ad serving and page views.

Who is “Teresa?” No one knows. If anyone at the Consumerist knows, they aren’t talking or lending any credibility to their story. I don’t think they care. They got a juicy controversial story that has generated thousands and thousands of page views which has translated into “making their numbers” on ad revenue this week. Bully for them.

Teresa says “No one will help me get the word out about Microsoft’s anti-gay policy.” Well, don’t worry Teresa, the Consumerist will and all they need is your story to be juicy enough to get them page views…they don’t need anything as mundane as “facts” to convince them.

Mysterious Teresa. I’ll tell you who *doesn’t* know who “Teresa” is. Stephen Toulouse, Xbox LIVE Policy Manager. Y’know, the person who could fix the situation.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has an opinion about Microsoft’s anti-gay policy, too. XBox Live, Homophobia, and Online Gaming Policy

Sony, Microsoft, and many others have been trying to address this [using the word ‘gay’ in a derogatory fashion, and in general the shitty behavior of the online gaming community towards gays – pete] by putting policies in place to prevent subscribers from using the online shield of anonymity to harass, verbally assault, and generally defame others. Are they the best policies? No. Are they working to improve them?

In the case of Stephen [Toulouse] and Microsoft – they have been nothing but open, welcoming, and willing to discuss ideas for positive and inclusive changes during these conversations. Microsoft has invited GLAAD out to its headquarters in Redmond, WA, for multi-day meetings with developers, executives, and policy enforcers in the upcoming weeks.

Taking that Consumerist article at face value is just plain and simply stupid. If you read it and immediately became outraged at how some (as far as we know, fabricated) person was mistreated, then it’s time you took a moment and reflected a bit about how readily you accept stories as facts.

Your community needs you to think critically, people. Don’t be a sheep, don’t be a doormat. Ask questions, get facts, then make an informed decision about whether or not what you’re reading is true.

If Teresa’s story is true, then you are right to be outraged. But if its true, Teresa needs to come forward and back up her story with some facts.

I’ll end by duplicating Toulouse’s ending paragraph here…let’s get the word out:

Theresa from the Consumerist article, if you’re reading this, I don’t have your Gamertag or any information about you at all, the article was extremely vague. I’d love to get your feedback and talk to you about how we can make the experience better. Please email me at [email protected]

Damned anti-gays at MS…

5 thoughts on “Read with a critical eye: XBL Lesbians (rant)

  1. I was about to rage my ass off when I first started reading your article but was glad to see that you backed up your facts and did it well. I will admit that I was one of those people who jumped on my blog right away to post about this but I will also admit that ten minutes after I did so I went “Well who the fuck is Teresa really?” Honestly, I don’t think that the kids on XBL would be smart enough to cook up this story and I don’t think the consumerist would need to make this up to get views but there is the great possibility that this story became more of a tall tale than a fact-based happening.

    Considering not a gamertag of her or the bullies were given out or leaked or anything I think this story just felt like it came out of nowhere. Even stranger is that this story came out now, around the time that the movie “Milk” won 2 Oscars and also around the time span in which the homosexual community both online and offline are facing problems including Prop 8. This could be very true indeed with bad, amateur coverage or it could be something that the gay community came up with to get more sympathy from the public eye because they knew it would cause controversy. Whatever it is though, it definitely gets people’s attention.

  2. Really nice post but it doesnt change the fact: you admit your homosexuality in your profile you get banned, you have a nickname like”Thestraight” no problem. Equality, yeah right.

  3. MS (and others) need to address their policies regarding this type of thing, obviously. One of the “Theresa” articles I read also mentioned that a “Richard Gaywood” was banned from XBL — and that’s his real name. Not sure what a good solution is though. Automated systems are tricked and exploited and I don’t think anyone wants to create an account only to be forced to wait while their account information is reviewed by a real-life committee before approval.

    Now, that said, why would anyone in their right mind put their sexual, political, or any other preferences on their XBL profile? Is it relevant whatsoever to the gaming? No? Didn’t think so. Am I supposed to give Theresa special treatment? “Oooh, go easy on Theresa everyone, she’s a lesbian.” No? Didn’t think so. Has XBL become a dating service? No? Didn’t think so.

    Anyone who’s spent more than five seconds with the General Public in the most popular XBL games should know the amount of hate speech and abuse that goes on there. Putting controversial information in your profile is just asking for trouble.

    To take that in a different direction, the parents who scream “OMG this Theresa should be banned and be ashamed of herself, I can’t believe my little Johnny learned the word ‘lesbian’ from her profile!” need to get a grip, live in the real world, and take some responsibility. No one’s profile is in your face, you have to actively look for it. Also, you should hear what little Johnny is saying during those Halo 3, Gears of War 2, and GTA4 matches — all of which carry M ratings by the ESRB. Nice parenting. What happens when the power is out, do you send little Johnny down the street to the local XXX theater with a travel-sized lotion and kleenex pack? Jeez…

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