Birthday Bust

Apparently, Resident reaction to Linden Lab™’s ham-fisted banning of the SL Kids from the Second Life® Fifth Birthday Celebration (previously, previously) had at least some positive effect: LL apparently called off the dogs, allowed the Kids to submit applications again, and expanded the celebration to two weeks (from the previous one week). For a time, all seemed to be well on the Grid (well, aside from the various technical glitches…but, at this point, SL without technical glitches is like ExxonMobil without a corporate acquisition policy).

Unfortunately, LL hasn’t finished butting into what was supposedly a Resident-run celebration. Jacek Antonelli reports that Trinity Coulter, who had taken over as primary organizer of SL5B from SignpostMarv Martin after the latter resigned in protest over LL’s initial meddlings, has been forced out of that position by Dusty Linden. Several other organizers are out as well, according to both Jacek and Shoshana Epsilon. Meanwhile, Dusty is also vetting all the images for the art exhibition, rejecting any that have a “child” avatar in the same frame with either an “adult” avatar, or with a bed of any sort. Never mind that absolutely nothing sexual may be going on in the pictures, or that all avatars therein may be dressed in outfits that wouldn’t so much as raise an eyebrow in church.

I’m willing to assume that Dusty is not the originator of these decisions, and is just passing on policy as dictated from a higher level. Ditto with people like Everett. So the question becomes: Who’s calling the shots on this policy, and why? Linden Lab’s own policy (“The Tao of Linden“) states:

There are many ways to emphasize responsibility, accountability, communication and trust. We believe that the one key principle that best supports all of these values is transparency. As much as possible, tell everyone what you are doing, all the time. This transparency makes us responsible to our peers, makes us accountable to our own statements, and replaces the need for management with individual responsibility. Over time, it creates and reinforces trust. Be willing to share ideas before you feel they are ‘baked’. Report on your own progress frequently and to everyone.

Yet LL can be notoriously UN-transparent about a great many things when it suits them. We have had these policies dictated to us, in a manner which has never happened before in the history of Second Life Birthday Celebrations. Yet, in terms of rationale for these policies, we have heard precisely bupkis.

Last time, I challenged M Linden, new CEO of LL, to come out and give us a statement as to the policies being laid down for this celebration. So, have we heard anything?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Look, M, Philip, all the rest of you Lindens, we’re all adults here, even those of us in avatars that look like children; your own age-verification systems encourage that. We know about that fundy bluenose shitbag Mark Kirk (Stupid Party-Peoples’ Republic of Illinois) and his moralizing crusade, and we also know he doesn’t really give a shit about child avatars in Second Life, because all politicians really care about is getting elected, then getting RE-elected. We know about Sky News and their little “gotcha!” exposes, and we know why they do it: because it translates into viewers, which translates into ratings, which translates into money. Is it these kind of dipshits that have you so scared, you feel the need to impose new, draconian restrictions on content at what’s supposed to be a celebration “by the Residents, for the Residents”? If so, why not simply TELL US? Sure, it would piss off a lot of people, but at least you’d be being honest with the people that, ultimately, are responsible for paying for your world…and, at least, we’d know WHO to hate.

With two weeks to go before SL5B starts, the whole affair looks to be coming apart at the seams. At this point, I’m glad I didn’t try to involve myself with this fiasco, and I predict the whole thing will turn into a shambles and a public-relations disaster for Linden Lab. The irony is, by making such a fuss over child avatars this time around, LL is playing right into the hands of the Mark Kirks, the Sky News people, and others who automatically equate any “child” avatar with kiddie porn, and start saying, “Icky! Icky! BAN! BAN!” Nice way to invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences, LL.

Meanwhile, I sit over on Lexxotica and continue to wonder…how soon before LL works their way down to me?

UPDATE: Prokofy Neva continues to take the Lindens’ side…a stance which I find somewhat puzzling, as he himself has been the recipient of arbitrary Linden Lab shaftings in the past. But this isn’t mere schadenfreude on his part.

UPDATE: Vint Falken has reopened her JIRA issue dealing with this, “MISC-1231: Missing Cultures and Communities from SL5B.”  Go vote for it if you haven’t already.

7 Comments

Filed under Community, Current Events, Philosophy

7 responses to “Birthday Bust

  1. *grumbles and steams*
    *mumbles something about good for nothing holier than thou Lindens*
    *stomps off*

  2. Oh, stop with the drama, Erbo, nothing is comping apart from the scenes because a tyrannical little Gorean is stamping her foot and not getting her way in using the birthday to lobby special interests. You *cannot* be serious that the purpose of this birthday is to lobby to smuggle in a picture of a child, and adult, and a bed to declare the world free for uh, non-sexual creepy kiddy avatars. You’re not hearing what most people find troubling about kid avatars, *even if* they are not overtly sexualized and are “innocent” — it’s because the lobbyists promoting this special interest acknowledge openly that they are victims of sexual abuse who cannot let go of the past, and think that reliving their trauma for you is the answer to their thereapeutic restitution. I beg to differ.

    What has Congressman Kirk to do with the desire to make a PG event that has to be mainstream and reflect a variety of interests and the majority of people in SL, who are not kid avatars, not Goreans, not BDSM, and not Asperbergers’ patients? Sorry, but, um, is that ok, not to be in a special interest or an extremist? Why is a desire to portray the norm and stay to PG themes somehow a bowing to Kirk? Instead, the desire *not* to do this, and waffle on it, is bowing to these extremist special interests who use bullying tactics and emotional blackmail and blogosphere ranting to get their way. Don’t budge, Lindens, I say.

    Sky News or Fox News or any “right wing evil imperialist news channel” does these exposes not merely to “make money” (most people aren’t going to even know what SL is and it’s so much noise out of the general coverage of video games). They do it because these politically-correct spaces with little attention to defending the rights of the mainstream cry out for some bashing and exploration and exposes of their sordid little extremism. I can only applaud each time any media outlet, or any democratically elected congressmen casts their eyes on SL because I don’t think a virtual world gets a pass from public scrutiny. Regardless of whether their findings or impressions are skewed or invalid, they can only be encouraged, because there is nothing sacred about these worlds; they are yet another social institution, and yet another form of advertising, media, and public influencing that bears debate and analysis.

    http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2008/06/good-for-linden.html

  3. Who am I to judge what may or may not be “therapeutically appropriate” for people suffering from the aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse, Prok? I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist, and I wasn’t sexually abused as a child, and I suspect none of those categories apply to you, either. But the conflation of what may be a legitimate use for child avatars with kiddie porn–in effect, seeing kiddie porn where none exists–is a BIG problem.

    People like Rep. Kirk don’t take the time to understand the world that they’re looking at. They look at child avatars and start immediately thinking “kiddie porn!” and it makes them get all twitchy. And LL, by making a big fuss over child avatars–are they banned from SL5B, or not? Are they allowed to present builds, or not?–is not helping clarify matters.

    (Stipulated: There may be incidences of actual child pornography involved with this. If so, those people need to be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. But I’ve never said otherwise; we’re discussing stuff that has no relation to sex.)

    When you say, “is that ok, not to be in a special interest or an extremist?”, well, sure it is…but I say, “Who defines what is a ‘special interest’ or ‘extremist’?” As someone who’s gotten the short end of the stick from LL before, you of all people should appreciate what it’s like to be classed as an “extremist” and someone worthy of banning. And when these definitions suddenly change in arbitrary ways, that is decidedly cause for alarm.

    And that’s the rub: we have people suddenly defined as “special interests” and “extremists” and deemed worthy of exclusion from a celebration where they were welcomed a year or two years ago. We owe it to ourselves to ask “Why?” and to question the motives of these policy changes. Otherwise, next year, do they ban furries? Transgendered or genderqueer individuals? Where does it end? How long before they work their way down to me?

  4. thelexx

    *wonders if Prok is feeling alright*
    It is not a matter of whether or not child avatars, goreans or BDSM lovers attend it is a matter of the rights of those people to attend being impugned. There are being told that they are NOT allowed to be counted or set up displays as residents of Second Life. Should they be considered any differently than any other resident of Second Life? If I remember correctly isn’t the tag line of SL supposed to be “YOUR WORLD YOUR IMAGINATION”?
    If so then who gives a shit who attends? Why should they be treated any differently then any other fucking resident of SL? Or are we promoting segregation now?
    Sorry I didn’t get that memo.

  5. thelexx

    Oh I am sorry I was just informed it was “Our world Our Investors imagination”.

    Welcome to the Disneyfication of Second Life.

  6. Lamont Helvetic

    First they came for the ageplayers, and I did not speak up, because I was not an age player. Then they came for the Goreans, but I did not speak up, because I was not from Gor…..

    we have seen how that ends… in RL, with mass “deletions”, in SL… the future is Barbie world.

    “Your creations, our sales brochure… Linden Labs, living off the Intellectual Property of others, like a maggot on a dead deer since 2003″

  7. Pingback: The Coming Disneyfication of Second Life « Evans Avenue Exit

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