The Washington Post waded into Comicsgate with an article by Noah Berlatsky titled, “The Comicsgate movement isn’t defending free speech. It’s suppressing it.” (Archive link: https://archive.fo/4gpJP)
The article comes on the backs of a number of other publications including BuzzFeed, Daily Beast, Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, Paste and others that have made wild claims and spread their own false accusations in an attempt to malign comic book consumers and creators.
But Berlatsky’s article stands apart because not only is it riddled with outright false information, dare I say lies, but he actually advocates against free speech. In some extreme double think Berlatsky declares, “The most serious new threat to free speech, however, is the use of free speech as a cover for an ongoing online assault on the enemies of the right.”
No, Noah, the most serious threat to free speech is people actually assaulting other people in public because they disagree with people’s views and their free speech to say it. This just happened. Jeremy Hambly who runs The Quartering YouTube channel was physically attacked at a bar while attending GenCon.
Berlatsky then makes a completely false claim. He states, “The hashtag Comicsgate started in June 2017.” Does the Washington Post even have any editors? A simple Advanced Twitter Search shows this is a flat out lie as you can see the Comicsgate hashtag was used as far back as 2012!
Take a look:
Estoy escuchando #ComicsGate y aunque no lo crean… Con eso me relajo!!
— Majo (@majojugo) April 19, 2012
But the hashtag appeared to gain momentum at the end of September in 2014 when Marvel decided to pull Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman cover.
Scrolling through the numerous Tweets you can see it was mainly people mocking and insulting the people who were defending Manara’s Spider-Woman cover.
oh just kidding #comicsgate is where the comedy is, #ComicGate is where people are complaining about Milo Manara’s hurt feelings still.
— Katsian Andor (@dogunderwater) September 24, 2014
Annoyed that gamers have stolen their Vile Abusive Shithead Children crown with #gamergate, comics fans kick off with #comicsgate .
— Madeley (@Madeley) September 24, 2014
Where was all this complaining about censorship in comics when the CCA still existed #ComicsGate ?
— Isaiah Broussard (@IBroussardArt) September 24, 2014
“I have no idea what the word censorship means.” #ComicsGate
— J. Skyler (@jskylerinc) September 24, 2014
That’s three years before Berlatsky claims it started. Berlatsky does mention Manara and subsequently Frank Cho. Cho would defend Manara by producing a number of covers mocking people like Berlatsky who try and stoke “outrage.”
Interestingly enough Berlatsky contradicts his earlier statements when discussing Cho.
“Cho later claimed he was censored when writer Greg Rucka asked editorial to remove him as Wonder Woman cover artist because of his sexualized drawings.”
And in fact Cho was censored. You can see his original variant cover and the one that DC Comics took to print.
Frank Cho quit the Wonder Woman variant covers after Wonder Woman #6 due to the censorship. He is still doing the Harley Quinn variant covers.
This fact flies in the face of Berlatsky’s earlier claim that “Comicsgate participants in fact work to silence opinions they dislike and voices they deem malignant.”
The censorship of Frank Cho by Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka and DC Comics editorial proves that it wasn’t Comicsgate doing the censoring. In fact, they were pushing back against it. Yet, another lie in this Washington Post article.
But Berlatsky wouldn’t be done with his lies there. He would specifically cite Marvel’s Mockingbird #8 cover as a precursor to Comicsgate (It wasn’t as Comicsgate started with Manara’s Spider-Woman variant cover).
The whole Chelsea Cain “scandal” is much ado about nothing. In fact, one could also describe it as a media campaign against comic book consumers.
Brad Glasgow at Game Objective documented Cain’s exit from Twitter stating:
“The problem is there is no of evidence misogynist harassment. I’ve searched through Chelsea Cain’s mentions on Twitter going back to October 16, and there are only a few unkind tweets among thousands of encouraging messages.”
He only found one Tweet, one abusive Tweet and even then it appears to be directed at the character Mockingbird not Chelsea Cain.
Cain explained in her own words why she left Twitter:
“Let me be clear: I did not leave Twitter because I was trolled; I was trolled because I said I was going to leave Twitter.
I left Twitter because, in the end, all the good stuff about Twitter didn’t make up for all the bad stuff.”
The lies continued to pile up when Berlatsky referenced Darryl Ayo. In fact he claims that “Comicsgate targeted [Ayo] for speaking out.” But it gets worse. Berlatsky makes the assertion that Darryl Ayo “didn’t know Van Sciver.”
We’ve already called out this lie before, but for some reason people like Berlatsky and The Washington Post keep bringing it up.
Ayo had called Ethan Van Sciver a Nazi and a white supremacist several times before Ethan even invited him to appear on his YouTube channel.
Ayo would respond to Van Sciver’s request to get him on his YouTube channel.
As you can see Darryl Ayo was aware of Ethan Van Sciver and had even called him a white supremacist and referred to him as “Nazi” before Ethan even invited him on to his podcast. One has to ask, where is The Washington Post editorial on all of these lies? Do they approve of this?
Berlatsky tries to paint the whole YouTube debate between Ayo and Ethan Van Sciver as how free speech is being used to target free speech. Ironically, even with Berlatsky’s outright lies about the exchange he admits his theory didn’t actually live up to even his fake evidence, “Van Sciver wasn’t able to orchestrate enough abuse to force Ayo offline.”
After revealing the whole point of his article is a lie, Berlatsky tries to point to Anita Sarkeesian and Gamergate as evidence. To no one’s surprise this is another lie. The FBI investigated the threats and found:
“To date, all available investigative steps failed to identify any subjects or actionable leads. San Francisco USAO indicated the San Francisco office of USA will not be able to prosecute any threats against victims or subject that are not located in the San Francisco AOR.”
Berlatsky then goes on a wild goose hunt after admitting the whole point of his article is complete hogwash. He references Milo Yiannopoulos getting banned off Twitter because of his criticism of the Ghostbusters reboot. Ironically, Milo was actually the victim of real violence as crazed individuals attempted to truly silence him when they rioted at the University of Berkeley where he was scheduled to speak. The Washington Post even described the riot as “Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley.” But wasn’t the whole point of Berlatsky’s article to claim that free speech is somehow anti-free speech?
After attempting to tie Comicsgate to Milo Yiannopoulos and Kelly Marie Tran leaving Instagram, Berlatsky declares with absolutely zero evidence:
“Meyer, Van Sciver and their followers have made it clear that black critics who question their friends, or female Marvel employees who post selfies online, will be bullied and attacked. Their goal has been to make comics less welcoming to people who aren’t white and male, and they’ve succeeded in that goal.”
This guy is completely deluded. Meyer (Diversity & Comics) and Van Sciver have been subject to real threats of violence! One Image Comics creator, Michelle Perez, wished Meyer, a U.S. veteran, would die via an IED. Van Sciver has faced death threats as well. Mitch and Bettie Breitweiser had to cancel an upcoming appearance due to concerns for their safety. But tell me again how free speech is anti-free speech. No, it’s actual violence and the threat of violence that is trying to shut down free speech.
The Washington Post should be ashamed of itself for publishing these outright lies and joining a witch hunt against honest comic book creators who have already been subject to death threats and defamation of character.