Oh lord not this thing again.
I respect an artist's freedom to do or say what he or she wants as long as the created work is legal. I may not agree with the message or how it is delivered, but I believe the artist still has a right to express that message. In this case, the message was "Look at the massive gulf between the terrible things you are choosing to ignore in the game versus the meta this game is encouraging you to play."
I got it. I played MMOs. Every time I ignored a virtual mugging in City of Heroes, that victim probably got knifed and left in the gutter to die. In the real world, that's horrible. In the game world, that's the mechanics of the game. So I found that particular strip funny because it was true. Ha ha! I moved on.
The problem of course is that any message can be wilfully aligned in such a way as to seem contrary to a particular cause and when a vocal groups with a legitimate cause to champion decides to do that, they are quite used to badgering an organisation with emails, articles and blog posts from (usually) well educated and comfortably literate individuals and achieving a quick victory they can parade in public that boosts their own egos and page hits as much as - if not more than - it helps draw attention to a real-world problem - and they just didn't get that from Penny Arcade. They got the opposite in fact because telling Mike what he can't do or say is bound to set him off and the harder someone pushes, the harder he pushes back, hence the whole "Do Not Engage" thing he has on his desk. While I encourage Mike's freedom to do that strip and acknowledge his right to defend himself against the kind of hate the vocal group likes to claim is the exclusive purview of PA supporters, the shirt was an ill-conceived swipe at the people who believed they could tell PA what to do (and not, as they like to claim, at Rape Victims) simply because it became a point they would later be able to cede to the partial satisfaction of the anti-Dickwolves crowd.
So I agree that removing the Dickwolves merch was a mistake because it set a precedent for pressuring Penny Arcade into appeasing any vocal group with an axe to grind. That was never their style, even if it had to become a consideration after a thriving business formed around the duo. But while making a business decision to never cave in like that again is one thing, publicly announcing it at PAX was unnecessary unless there was some swelling anti-PA sentiment I'm not aware of that they felt was being left unchecked.
The real loser in this, I'm sure, is Khoo. People like Elizabeth will not be able to pass up such a juicy target of opportunity and as we are seeing now, they are starting to wind up their writing arms to whip up support for a real problem, seemingly oblivious to the harm they are doing to their own message in the process. And despite the fact that "rape" was never part of the message from PA in the first place and what was said at PAX was a commentary on how the decisions they made affected their own credibility, Mike sure as hell isn't going to back down from anything that comes his way and ultimately Khoo is going to have to manage this somehow.
Oh, and rape victims. When they've been through something like that AND they've got people like this 'representing' them on the public stage, that's a lose/lose any way you look at it.
Edit: Removed a word. Added a word. Editing is hard!
This comment was edited on Sep 4, 2013, 10:21.