The Death of an Icon Gives Birth to a Political Correctness Debate

The Death of an Icon Gives Birth to a Political Correctness Debate

On the internet, nothing is sacred. I think we already know that. Depending on what corner of the internet you go into, anonymous posters attempt to tear down anything and everything, simply because they can. So of course, after Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata died, we would see trolls disrespecting in every possible way. Go to the right forum and you’ll find people posting about having sex with his corpse, and absolutely nothing about that is acceptable.

But, of course, certain people have managed to offend, without even meaning to, and this has caused the ugly topic of political correctness to rear its head once more.

Now, personally, I don’t think “political correctness” even exists. I think some people get offended by some things and other people get offended by other things. We use the term “politically correct” to refer to anything we say that offends someone else but that we don’t think should offend them, which always struck me as selfish. Yet some people would say that form of being offended seeks to silence people and thus trample on free speech.

I want to make something clear. No one has the right for people to not be offended by what they say. That’s the interesting thing about free speech. Everyone, everywhere, is free to say what they like. If you say something, you are free to do so. Then, I am free to tell you that I think what you said is offensive. Then you are free to tell me that my opinion on how offensive it is, is stupid and whiney, and so on so forth. We can argue back and forth forever. Why? Because our speech is free. Both of us our free. We are free to be offended. That’s what freedom of speech means. Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.

So let’s ignore the topic of political correctness, and instead focus on offense. Should people take offense to statements made about Iwata post his death?

That’s a difficult question. Let’s look at two examples.

The Death of an Icon Gives Birth to a Political Correctness Debate

First we have the example of Frank O’Connor at 343 Industries, developers of Halo 5 . O’Connor took to Twitter the other day to honor the passing of Iwata by saying, “Sad to hear the wonderful and legendary Satoru Iwata has passed away. Commend his soul. 🙁 “ Many fans replied to this tweet and it became one of the most popular and most read tweets on O’Connor’s feed in a short while.

Then, a fan used this tweet to respond with a #bringhalo5splitscreenback hashtag, which has been used to try and get the Halo development team to, appropriately enough, bring back split screen play. O’Connor took offense to this and replied with, “wanted folks to see an inappropriate idiotic tweet before I block you & hope you take 5 mins to think about what you did.”

So then we have to ask the question, is it appropriate to use someone else’s death to further an agenda, even an agenda as small as attempting to get split screen back in a game you love? Is this disrespecting the dead? Is this too soon?

Another example comes in the way of Michael Pachter, popular game industry analyst. Pachter also posted his condolences saying “I have never been a fan of Mr. Iwata’s leadership, but am very saddened by his untimely passing. My condolences to his family.”

Of course, this caused fans to say what he said was tasteless, unwarranted, and mean. He eventually took back what he said and simply expressed condolences in in a positive way by saying “Nintendo had an amazing run financially and creatively under Satoru Iwata’s leadership. He will be missed by the games industry.” So was Pachter right to criticize Iwata while wishing him farewell?

I’ll give you my take on both of these situations. Personally, I do think that it is disrespectful to the dead to use a tweet mourning their passing to push an agenda for a video game. Once again, free speech means you have the right to do it, but I think it’s in poor taste, and I think that when we apply the golden rule of, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” anyone would be very upset if I showed up at a funeral for their loved ones and shouted something like “PUT GOKU IN THE NEXT SMASH BROTHERS !” or “FIX CALL OF DUTY ’S NETCODE!” It’s in poor taste.

Pachter’s comments, on the other hand, I struggle to find offense with. I actually found them to be quite beautiful in a way. It’s as if he was saying, “even though we were enemies in the past, I recognize your accomplishments now, and am sad at your passing.” I guess when I think about it, if I heard someone say the same thing about my loved one at his wake or funeral, I wouldn’t be offended. I would find it respectful, and an interesting way to bury the hatchet after ones passing.

But I think, when everything is said and done, the beautiful thing about our society is that everyone: Pachter and O’Connor, the tool that used O’Connor’s post as advertisement, the people who got offended by Pachter’s comments – we all can say and feel how we like. I think it’s also important to note that we don’t control our feelings. We can’t switch on and off whether or not something offends us. The most we can do is not talk about when we are offended, and if anyone is suggesting that we don’t have a right to talk about our feelings…

Isn’t that the real violation of free speech?

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