Monday, July 5, 2010

The Most Offensive Thing Ever on SecondLife?

Generally, I'm willing to listen to any side of the Israel question, so long as the speaker is fairly grounded in reality and knows something about the history that lead us to this impasse.

Yesterday I log on to find this on Crap Mariner's blog.  It lead me to this on the SL forums.  Wow, "the most offensive thing ever".  This I gotta see.  So, I went.

What I found was pretty standard Palestinian protest rhetoric.  Apparently the most offensive piece was removed by the owner, a guy named Lord Ansar, before I got there.

The rest was mainly the same photographs of dead Muslims and crying children that I've seen a thousand times before, despite the constant mantra from the Palestinian supporters that the (Jewish controlled) US media prevents us from ever hearing their message.  Somehow I managed to escape their filters and heard both sides of the argument many, many times.  There wasn't a hint of dead Jews anywhere on the sim, so it was pretty evident how they wore their blinders and wanted us to wear ours.

There was quite a crowd built up, separated into factions.  The smallest faction was the Palestinian supporters, lead by Lord Ansar himself.  The next smallest group was the few people, like myself, who were generally interested in political or historical discourse.

There was a slightly larger group of atheists against any religion-backed government, Jewish or Muslim (a position I'm sympathetic to) but, by far, the largest group was from Ahern and similar areas simply there to troll the crowd as best they could with their non-sequiturs. 

Ansar, I discounted (and almost muted) when he said the Jews wouldn't rest until they conquered Egypt and Syria, adding them to the Zionist empire.  The atheists were full of sound and fury signifying nothing so I discounted them next.

I hate to say it, but the only people who were the least bit interesting were the Ahern watards who managed to weave their somethingawful.com memes into the conversation, quite illogically, but with an almost musical pattern.

Needless to say, I soon bored of the spectacle of the crowd and began searching the rest of the sim for "the most offensive thing ever on SL".  I never found it.  I did find a water-slide amidst the photographs of dead Palestinians and crying children which made me question how seriously these people wanted me to take their political speech in the first place.

That's the issue really.  I'm in favor of as much political speech, and speech as free as possible on SecondLife, but to maintain my interest or gain my sympathy it has to be much better done than this.  Instead of actually listening to their message, I found myself blandly picking out how crappy and hastily done their build was.

At its base, SecondLife is a communicative medium, and a very powerful one, but it has to be done right and what you're trying to communicate has to be well considered and formed in a way your audience can digest it.

I suspect what Lord Ansar really wanted (whether he knew it or not) was to build a sim in solidarity with like-minded Arabs on SecondLife and let his message end there if need be.  I'm sure he thought it'd be shocking to a SecondLife audience because of this myth that Americans have never seen their side of the story.  The reaction of the Ahern crowd though, was pretty good evidence that Americans (and Britons) are not only exposed to the message, but so exposed to it that they're bored with it.

The most offensive thing ever on SL?  Eh, not so much.  Despite that, and despite their lack of perspective and factuality though, I have to support what Lord Ansar did with his build.  It basically sucked in terms of artistic and communicative and rhetorical skills (unless the message was just Arab jingoism), but by sucking he might inspire somebody else to do better.  If you want to reach me with your message by offending me then have at it, but you're gonna have to try harder than this.

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