There’s Nothing Virtual About Discrimination


This is an old picture from 2012, but a situation came up last night and the sentiments fit the situation.

Since we can create our virtual selves to suit our aspirational selves, most of us come to see Second Life® as a refuge from the kinds of discrimination and bigotry that infect our first lives. Linden Labs has deliberately fostered a culture that actively discourages and prohibits racism, bigotry and hatred. Opposing intolerance is the very first principle in the Second Life Community Standards and LL claims it is a cornerstone of their standards.

Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life’s Community Standards. Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as a whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life. 

Last night a gay couple went to a dance club. They were dancing together as couples are accustomed to do in dance clubs when the owner, Zardozer Kirax interrupted. He asked them to read the club rules and “helpfully” sent them a notecard with the rules included. They soon discovered what rule they were violating.

We are asking all our Gay or Lesbian visitors to respect those patrons around them by not dancing up front.. We fully understand that you would want somewhere nice to spend time too. The garden is large and plenty of places for you to enjoy our venue.

Holy Rosa Parks, Batman! Could someone be more obtuse and offensive? Yes, I know and many have said, it is his land and he could make it private and only allow members, he could be explicit about his bigotry and declare it a straights-only club just as there are furry-only clubs and role-play-only clubs and so on. But he does not do that.

Like the businesses of Birmingham and the Jim Crow South, he wants the business, the traffic, the tips, the money of gay people, he just does not want to see their gayness and he wants to protect the delicate flowers who dance in his club from having to see “the gay.” This is about as obtusely offensive as one can be. After all, he is okay taking their tips, their traffic, but ewww, don’t let him see them dance together.

Here is a portion of the conversation between the club owners and the people he was discriminating against.  “I would be full happy to see you guys dancing off to the sides in the back half over at the falls in one of the hide outs we provide. All we ask is not in this area.”

Asking someone to move to the back, to the hide outs is the very definition of marginalizing them. If Linden Lab is serious about tolerance, they would discourage this behavior in a public club. And yes, I know his land his rules, but he is operating a public club, not a private club. Perhaps if he wants to impose his bigotry, he should create a private club for members only  with his homophobic rules clearly stated before people join, then they would avoid the very public pain of being asked to hide themselves from view.

So yes, “his land his rules”, but that does not exempt him or his club from criticism. Yes, people who are lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex or questioning may just decide they do not want to go to a club that does not want them. However, I hope people who support our LGBTIQ friends and family also would not want to go to such a place to support such a business.

Several people will wonder why anyone should care about some homophobe using a bit of server  space  in a virtual world to assert his bigotry. But here is the thing, this couple was told they are not welcome because of who they are, that they should hide in the corners out of sight, that their presence offends the people he cares about. The harm, the hurt, the emotional damage is as real as anything said on Main Street.

UPDATE: The rule has been changed and an apology was made.

UPDATE: I put scare quotes around “His land his rules” to clarify that I was responding to the several people who made that argument and not asserting that argument myself. Here in Oregon, refusing service to someone on the basis of the sexual orientation is against the law. A bakery was recently fined $150,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. It is also illegal in California where Linden Labs is incorporated. I would assume that would govern the rules in Second Life. However, the club owner shared a conversation with Second Life support that implied he was free to make up whatever rules he likes.

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Sanura Snowpawso well said, as always <3
Chestnut/me stands and applauds.
Chestnut ::Plurk Frontpage Promotion::
T-KesserexThis article needs to be spread more. Everything you said is correct.
NatalieBrilliantly written. Beautiful way to make the point
Tau Hallardthat's awful.
Is.I'm surprised at how many gay posters on SLU are against what we did (standing up to the bigot) because they don't want all of SL policed a certain way:
CorgiHere's my question after reading through several pages - all these places that are so into forbidding certain classes of avatars. They're not RP locations, so honestly, what difference should it make?
CorgiI've heard the Titanic repro insists on humans-only, for example. Why? They're not a historical like Berlin, there's dress shops three steps outside of the ballroom. The real ship didn't have that!
CorgiI agree that there's no reasonable way to set official or enforceable standards for attitudes like that, but honestly - pretty ridiculous.
CorgiAn elf dancing with a bipedal lion with both of them in formal wear just means more potential tips.
VakiHe's violating the terms of service and should be reported.
Terms of Service | Linden Lab : You agree that you will not: (v) Post, display, or transmit Content that is obscene, hateful, or racially,
Vakiethnically or otherwise objectionable;
California law governs interactions on Second Life. In California, discrimination based on sexual preference is illegal.
CorgiUpdate: apology offered
(((Cajsa)))He posted a conversation with Linden Labs customer service (Tiffany) in which she assured him his actions were legal. That was his "rule change" that night.
Mishathere's tons of clubs that don't allow non-humans.
NataliePersonally i think he apologised because his name was being dragged through the mud, not because he knew he was discriminating and wrong.
(((Cajsa)))Cyberpink: I agree, but if the behavior has changed and the rules are changed - that is a good thing. Not accepting apologies will just encourage people to harden their hearts and not change.
Otenthsounds like a real apology to me: 1. I'm sorry. 2. I made a mistake. 3. It was dumb. 4. I changed my behavior (the rule). 5. I see now how it was offensive. 6. Please accept my apologies.
Cryssiemishaselene: in RL non-humans don't exist. In SL it's an RP choice. Being gay is not an RP choice.
CorgiCryssieCarver: Stipulated on gender, no possible disagreement; but aren't other appearances inherently personal expression on, often enough, a fairly deep basis? Rejection feels just as personal, no?
CryssieBeing excluded from anywhere for any reason is going to feel like a kick in the teeth. However I feel that comparing a RP preference to someone's sexuality is wrong because those things are not...
Cryssie... on the same level. You can take off your tail and your ears and return to the place with no issue. You can't change your sexuality at the flick of a switch.
dkronfeld'Cept in SL, of course.
Mishai wasn't making a comparison, and i'm well aware CryssieCarver: My point was that discrimination appears in many forms in SL. I wasn't aware, that I could only be upset about certain types of discrimination
CryssieNowhere in my comments did I say that.
CryssieMy point was being kicked off a sim because you are a furry in SL is not the same as being kicked off a sim because you are gay. You can de-fur and go back as a human without issue.
CryssieLast time I checked I couldn't de-gay.
CryssieThat was my point.
CryssieAlthough if anyone does know how I can de-gay I'd love that button because it would make my relationship with my RL parents so much fucking easier.

7 thoughts on “There’s Nothing Virtual About Discrimination

  1. Annie Brightstar

    I enjoy your blog Casja, especially when you write passionately about events, causes etc. I wish I was as eloquent.

  2. Starr Ghost

    How sad and disgusting in this age especially in SL that this even exists and I will truly pass along this message ~ will not be going to any type of club that discriminates ~ thank you for making us all aware of this situation ….

  3. Cajsa Lilliehook Post author

    Yes, asking Linden Lab to remove them from the Destination Guide is an excellent suggestion. If they will not act to change this behavior, they could at the very least stop promoting the club.

  4. Pingback: Real versus virtual prejudice comes down to choice in Second Life - Canary Beck

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