I’ve been saying for some time now that one of the things I’d like to do is DJ one or more sets at the Second Life® Fifth Birthday Celebration (known as “SL5B” to the sort of people that appreciate abbreviations). Unfortunately, events have transpired that are causing me to rethink this.
For previous birthday celebrations (including the Third Birthday celebration that Tateru, Mera, Torley, and a cast of dozens put together so well, and which impressed me so much when I was still a n00b), Linden Lab maintained a relatively light hand on the content of the celebrations. That has now changed; the “Second Life Children” community has been told that, not only may they not exhibit at the event, they might not even be able to attend the event.
The Second Life Children are a group of people, all adults in RL, who use child avatars in SL for the purpose of engaging in activities appropriate to children (playing on playgrounds and the like). I’ve come down hard against the idea of sexual ageplay with child avatars in the past, but clearly, this isn’t it. There’s absolutely no pedophilia–real or simulated–involved, the claims of certain Congressional bluenoses and some Scheisse-für-Gehirne German prosecutors to the contrary. I’m hard-pressed to figure out just what they’re doing that’s in violation of the TOS or Community Standards.
Oh, and, according to an update at the Massively.com article I linked above, the Goreans and BDSM’ers have been given the official ixnay for SL5B from LL as well. Is this what they call “celebrating the cultural diversity of Second Life”? As usual, there has been absolutely no clarification of this new policy offered whatsoever from the Lindens, who may be dedicated to spreading the love amongst themselves, but clearly practice “mushroom management” with Residents. (“Put ’em in the dark, feed ’em shit, and watch ’em grow.”)
Now, some of you are no doubt saying, “But, Erbo, you’re not a child avatar, or a Gorean or BDSM’er either. What are you so honked off for?” I’ll tell you: Every time I hear about some new restriction LL is applying to certain people or things on the Grid, I wonder how long it’ll be before they work their way down to me. Let’s say I do land a gig DJ’ing for part of SL5B; would LL suddenly find it necessary to tell me which songs I could or could not play? I can imagine that someone might take offense to, say, “Bilingual” or “Crazy Bitch,” or most songs by Children of Bodom. Would they have to pre-vet my playlist, and maybe forbid me from taking requests because someone might ask to hear an “unacceptable” song? Don’t laugh; yesterday, you might have thought it was inconceivable that the highly-popular SL Kids builds would be banned from the celebration. As far as I’m concerned, LL has now thrown everything up in the air as regards SL5B, and I question whether I’d want to be involved at all under those circumstances. (In this, I am joined by SignpostMarv Martin and Ariel Otafuku, two of the main organizers of the event. Hey, M, Philip, are you getting a message yet?)
We can only speculate on LL’s motives in this case. Maybe they’ve been threatened with a major lawsuit, and are circling the wagons to either quell the suit before it starts or to make their potential defense airtight. Maybe LL really is planning an IPO, or shopping itself to some large Internet company, and wants to keep the folks on Wall Street from getting any whiff of controversy. (Remember, Controversy = No Money = Bad.) In any event, the Lindens seem to suddenly be living out their (Second) lives in fear…and for that, I have just one piece of advice, which I will be using as the epigraph to this post.
More on the story from the esteemed Ms. Malaprop.
“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” – From the movie Strictly Ballroom
UPDATE: Vint Falken is doing the best job tracking blog comments on this issue, and she has also filed a “bug report” with LL’s JIRA on this issue. I have voted that particular issue up, and I recommend you do likewise.