Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The 40K Radio Incident

So if you haven't heard, 40K Radio has ended.  There's been a lot going on over there and I was probably about 4 -5 podcasts behind.  Now I can't speak to the apparent falling out between Spencer, Scott, and Chipley, but during this time Spencer's wife had a miscarriage and Jar Jar (the guy who dropped the N-bomb on an episode) was allowed back for a second chance after his permanent ban was changed to temporary.

In light of Jar Jar's return, so did the anger and resentment over his use of the N-word.  This led to this e-mail being sent:

Thanks for bringing the racist asshole back. Just so you know I have chatted with your sponsors regarding this and am trying to get them to drop you. I have a few others online doing the same. We have started a following and will try to topple and undermine you. I also hope that your affairs are all in order.
Ever think that your wife’s miscarriage is due to your actions? I say good riddance, one less racist to be raised in the world. Its Instant Karma in my mind.
Again, I hope your affairs are in order. Seriously.
Now, everyone has an opinion about this matter.  Some people are very bothered by what was said, some people aren't all that bothered by 40K radio going away, and some people have even tried to explain away the threat that Spencer saw in this e-mail.  Don't think so?  Just go to any forum or site where people are opining this news.

The fact of the matter is, you can't explain it away.  You can't explain away the emotions over the racial slur, you can't explain away the emotions in that e-mail, and you can't explain away the emotions Spencer and his wife are going through after losing a child.  Nor can you explain away that no matter what you say the accepted meaning in "I also hope that your affairs are all in order" is to make sure you are prepared for your passing.  And that makes this whole thing stink.

Don Imus is sober and calls women's basketball players "nappy headed ho's" on his paid job and he gets a second chance, but Jar Jar is drunk and says the N-word during a podcast he does on the side and he's never allowed to talk about his hobby publicly again?  Spencer loses his child, and it's okay for this person to anonymously make callous comments about it and not suffer any punishment or sanction?  This person is allowed to make implied threats and he's defended?

40K Radio was never known for being politically correct.  It was a bunch of guys talking about a hobby, often times drinking at the same time.  They often said things that were, well, stupid.  But the N-word crossed the line.  The ban was right, the ban was appropriate, the ban was needed.  Jar Jar screwed up and he needed to be punished.  People are very sensitive about that kind of language, and you have to tread lightly.  There's no way we could see this happen again.  But time and again when a public figure is censured for doing something stupid we hear that this is a country that allows second chances (yes the internet is international, but 40K Radio was made in America...which happens to be where I live).  Sports figures cheat, and we forgive them.  Famous spouses cheat, and we overlook their indiscretion and continue to be fans.  So when a guy gets drunk and slips up, yes he needs to be punished, but doesn't he deserve forgiveness when he apologizes and shows contrition?

Instead, we get hate.  Apologies were made.  Punishment was enacted.  But forgiveness by some was drowned in their vitriol.  And instead of dialogue and hobby talk we got threats and crassness.  And someone uses anonymity to spread their own brand of hate.  And the internet and the gaming community suffer for it.

Is this where we stand as a community?  Is this what it comes to?  Be bland in your opinions, do not offend anyone or else you too could be threatened?  I don't partake in hateful writings here on this site.  But what if I have an opinion that isn't liked?  Am I open to being threatened?  Is my family open to attacks?  I recently finished "Flight of the Eisenstein", and have written and rewritten a blog post about religion in science fiction and gaming.  I'm not as big as 40K Radio, but if I post it and someone's beliefs are offended is it okay for them to send letters like that?

I would even be willing to forgive the sender of that e-mail if he or she came forward, accepted their punishment, and showed some sort of contrition for what they said.  Unfortunately the internet doesn't work this way, and instead the community suffers a loss as a popular podcast is shut down.  Where there other circumstances leading to the podcast shutting down?  Yes, but that doesn't soften the blow of what that e-mail said, and it doesn't make sending something as baseless and crass as that okay.  Seriously, read that e-mail again.  Everything he said was okay, maybe not anything I agreed with but at least acceptable, right up until the "affairs in order" comment.  That's when the sender crossed the line, and when the sender voluntarily participated in hate.  This is an e-mail.  This is a written correspondence.  This person had the chance to hit the delete button, something Jar Jar didn't.  And some people think it's okay?  No, it's not okay, it's hypocrisy, and it's cyber bullying, and it's illegal.

I love 40K, and so far I've had nothing but good dealings with the community.  I believe this person represents a very small minority in our fraternity.  But we need to police ourselves, and we need to recognize that if one form of hate is bad, so is every other form.  We have a bond that we share, and when we argue over our differences, let's not forget what we have in common:  A love for the coolest game I've ever played.

40K Radio is sadly gone, but 40K itself is still here.  Let's not ruin that by ruining our community.


  1. Pulled this PM exchange off my DLT account this morning. I contacted dapatrick on the DLT forums as I remember him as being very vocal about Jar-Jar’s slip up a few months ago. He was attempting build some support towards getting sponsorship pulled from 40K Radio. When I read the above e-mail I was struck by the tenor of the letter as being very similar to how dapatrick writes his posts. Further, dapatrick has a post on the DLT forums with an alleged bit of correspondence from Stephen Hope.

    It should be noted that dapatrick has not denied that he is Stephen Hope aka, Jack the Ripper. Actually, his easy and off-hand dismissal itself is suspicious. I know that if I was accused of being someone who would do such a thing, I would definitely deny it.

    dapatrick has not made that denial. If anything he has responded with the lofty dismissal so prevalent amongst internet badasses who sit safe in their anonyminity.

    The first communique is listed at the bottom and works backwards towards the top.

    Re: Who are you?
    Sent: Tue May 25, 2010 9:51 am
    by James

    No thanks….

    I see you are still declining to answer the really important question…

    Are you the person who sent the e-mail to Spencer at 40K radio?


    Re: Who are you?
    Sent: Tue May 25, 2010 9:47 am
    by dapatrick

    drink the cool-aid buddy.

    Re: Who are you?
    Sent: Tue May 25, 2010 9:44 am
    by James

    I don’t know how to respond to that.

    If you are Stephen Hope you are a detestable human being.

    If you support the e-mail sent to to Spencer at 40K Radio via Jack the Rippa (aka, Stephen Hope) than you again qualify as a detestable human being.

    If you are neither of the above then you are merely someone with whose point of view I disagree with.


    Re: Who are you?
    Sent: Tue May 25, 2010 9:41 am
    by dapatrick

    so then i guess it doesnt matter who i am

    Who are you?
    Sent: Tue May 25, 2010 9:34 am
    by James

    Are you Stephen Hope?

    I guess it is pointless to ask.

    I remember you leading the charge on these forums back when Jar-Jar dropped the N-bomb on 40k Radio.

    Either way, I disagreed with you then and I disagree with you know

  2. I've also been seeing all these hits that Jackass the Rippa is Stephen Hope, which disturbs me even further, because he's a big sugar-daddy for DLT.

    If that's the case, I'm really in a pickle. It was bad enough JtR spazzed out so magnificently as to convince Spencer to shut 40K Radio down entirely, but if he's providing so much bank to DLT, I'm not sure I can morally support that by continuing to listen to THEM if they keep taking his money (assuming the Stephen Hope / JtR connection is true, which I'll have to see proven).

    So that would pretty much knock both of the biggest 40K podcasts out of my listening. Sure, there's plenty enough to take up the space, IVC being the clear front-runner in my book, but it's still a crappy situation.

    Whatever happens, I sure hope JtR gets everything he's got coming to him. That was some vicious, vile shit he laid on Spencer and he'll richly deserve any and all misery that comes his way, IMO.

  3. The conspiracy theorist in me hates where this could go. I hope this was just the work of one misguided fool and not some sort of orchestrated move to force a rival of the net.

    If this turns out to be just Stephen Hope, then I don't envy the DLT guys who will have to make a hard decision. If they stick with him then they're bound to lose listeners. If they cut ties then it will be hard on them for losing a sponsor...not to mention any retaliation on his part.

    It's easy to say take the moral high ground, but when it comes to money it always muddies the water. Either way, they are not going to come out of this completely clean.

  4. Agreed. In the DLT guy's defense, I feel pretty good believing they weren't involved in this directly. I've never been under the impression there was ever much love lost between them, but I don't think DLT would stoop to this kind of behavior.

    But again, if this connection between Hope and JtR turns out to be true, I sure as hell hope they have the integrity I think they have and tell him his money is no longer wanted. Otherwise I just can't listen to their podcast in good conscience, if they're willing to consort with that kind of human trash.

  5. Really well put, pnakotic. Talking to the sponsors, boycotts, etc. would have been appropriate but a threat like the one directed at Spencer goes beyond acceptable behavior.

  6. "Everything he said was okay, maybe not anything I agreed with but at least acceptable, right up until the "affairs in order" comment."

    No! FUCKING NO!!!

    Now, I don't want to attack you, the author, for this slip, but I have to get this out there. When I first read this email I went FUCKING APESHIT because of the way this JACKASS talks about the misscarriage.

    Seriously. That's not okay. It's a terrible, terrible thing to talk like that about someone's dead child.

    Death threats are one thing, they are typed easily and can just as easily be explained away as "just joking". But this other thing.... that's an entirely different story. That's the line crossed, right there.

    Jack the Rippa, I really hope you can someday look back to this and regret it. That day you qualify as a human being again.

  7. Actually Silber I completely agree with you. The author of the e-mail uses the "affairs in order" phrase twice. The first time is just before the miscarriage comment, the second time at the end. I have no problem with the author going to sponsors or doing something along those lines. That is expected behavior from someone who is protesting a decision like bringing Jar Jar back. It was once he used that first "affairs in order" phrase that the e-mail took a decidedly dark and sinister turn. That was my point.

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  9. Thanks for clarifying, pnakotic. As I said, I didn't mean to attack you or something, I was just so pissed by what Mr Rippa wrote there that I needed to get it out there.

    "Hope your affairs are in order" is easily typed, I think, "I'm happy you lost your child" isn't.

    In a perfect world Mr. Rippa would post a public apology, Spencer would accept it, then Spencer would take up podcasting again and Jack would keep trying to express his discomfort with 40k Radio like a decent human being.

    I really wish it would happen like that. We all know (and I'm sure so does Spencer) that the quality of 40k Radio was mediocre at best over the last year or so. But still. What rises must fall, what has fallen may rise again.

    Take your time, Spencer. Step back, take a break. I'm sure that sooner or later the mic's gonna call you again, and I hope that you'll answer the call and send out a big "FUCK YOU" to the Jack the Rippas in this world.

  10. To often words have power and this is one of many examples. I sadly came into the end of the podcast and was thankfull they pulled the episode in question. To say what was said in that email is unforgivable. 40k radio is one of the few podcasts I listen to and will be missed.
    We all say things that we soon regret and beer or no beer it may have come out sooner or later. We can't always censor ourselves. I have no liking of the word and beleive that maybe even the author of the email has used it.
    I hope Spencer and the gang are back soon enough.
    In terms of what is said about your affairs being in order I can only think that this person may have been trying to get the site closed down for quite awhile and waiting for a chance.