Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'll Hate Myself Come Morning

'Why can't people just learn to live together in peace and harmony?' said Arthur.  
Ford gave a loud, very hollow laugh. 'Forty-two!' he said with a malicious grin, 
'No, doesn't work. Never mind.'
--Douglas Adams

I really didn't want to do this.  I've never used this blog to discuss EVE politics or further any sort of political agenda as I firmly believe it compromises the integrity of the information presented on the rest of the blog.  However, with that said, the EVE community seems to be interested in talking about nothing else today except The Mittani's behavior at the Fanfest Alliance Panel.  Fine then, if that's all we're going to talk about today, then that's all we're going to talk about today.

(Before I begin, if you'd like some background on what the hell everyone is getting so upset about, go check out this post by Liang Nuren or this one by Marc Scaurus.)

Allow to me to state that this post has absolutely nothing to say on the moral implications of Alexander Gianturco's actions.  (Beyond the introductory paragraph, which did so to ensure we were all on the same page here, I will not be referring to Mr. Gianturco by his in-game character name when discussing his actions out of game.  He has publicly stated that he feels the actions of The Mittani in-game are that of a character he plays, and I will give him the respect of not attributing the actions of the man to that of the character or vice versa.)  Those currently commenting on the actions of Mr. Gianturco on the basis that those actions were morally right or wrong are, by their very nature, making a subjective value judgement.  This is an unwinnable argument for either side and, although I do enjoy examining such topics with other people in a rational and mature manner, not one I care to engage in with the people of the internet who are rarely rational or mature when it comes to such discussion.  What I would like to address is the idea being put forth that he has violated   either EVE Online's EULA, TOS, the laws of some country, or some combination of the three.

First let us examine EVE's End User License Agreement.  The EULA is available here, and I would encourage anyone reading this to examine it in full for themselves.  The EULA represents the agreement made between CCP and the end user of their product, that is to say the actual human being and the actions they may take outside of the game world, but in regard to it.  Theoretically it represents a legally binding contract between those two parties.  I say theoretically because the legality of such boilerplate contracts (those in which one party fully designs the contract and the other is able only to accept or decline without having the opportunity to make any modifications) has been called into question in numerous jurisdictions.  It would be up to a court-of-law to make decisions on whether or not a specific instance of a EULA was enforceable for any specific violation.  However, in this instance, I would say it's highly unlikely to come to that.

The important thing that many seem to be conveniently overlooking is that Mr. Gianturco is not the only one who has agreed to this contract.  The EULA does, in fact, mention harassment and has the following to say on the matter.
"You may encounter and converse with people who are rude, offensive, belligerent, and who may use indecent, obscene, and/or threatening or harassing language while playing the Game. You may report any instances of such behavior to CCP. CCP will investigate and take such measures as CCP, in its sole judgment, determines are reasonable under the circumstances. CCP does not guarantee that you will not encounter behavior of others that you may view as insulting, demeaning, offensive, threatening or harassing. You assume all risk associated with playing the Game, and CCP assumes no responsibility for the conduct of any other players, and shall not be liable to you or any other person for their conduct."
In short, expect to encounter people in EVE whose behavior you do not approve of.  If you think someone has gone too far, you have the right to contact CCP who will then decide what actions, if any, will be taken.  To those out there arguing that  Alexander Gianturco must be banned for his actions because the EULA says so, I would encourage you to read it again.

The second, although very similar argument, is that the EVE Online Terms of Service have been violated, so let's move right into examining the TOS, available here.  To those of who don't understand the distinction between the two documents, the TOS governs your behavior within the context of the game world. They are effectively the Rules of EVE, that you and your character's actions must conform to.  There's an important distinction to be made there; the TOS don't care about Alexander Gianturco talk at Fanfest at all, only his and The Mittani's actions within New Eden.  Nowhere is this stated more clearly in regard to the current discussion than the following.
"You will report out-of-game issues regarding harassment, such as threatening phone calls or correspondence, to your local law enforcement officials or Internet provider. CCP will not reveal personal information about its subscribers to unauthorized individuals. We are not responsible for actions taken by our subscribers that occur outside the jurisdiction of our game servers or web site."
In other words, CCP understands its ability to enforce anything starts at the log-in screen and ends when you log out.  If you feel that your rights are being violated outside of the game world, CCP encourages you to contact your local law enforcement.  Which brings us nicely to the next topic, that Mr. Gianturco's actions broke the law.

Let me just say that the legal quagmire of jurisdiction that surrounds this discussion and any specific laws regarding cyber bullying being broken is mind-numbing (The US has no Federal "cyber-bullying" laws. A minority of states within the U.S. do.  I have no idea where everyone resides.)  Anyone who would have you believe otherwise is lying to you or severely misinformed themselves.  Thankfully, we do not need to examine the laws of any specific jurisdiction and try to determine which takes precedence, because of a very simple concept.  The only people upset over the actions of Mr. Gianturco are not the person who it is said was harassed.  There isn't a jurisdiction out there that's going to try to hold anyone (Not CCP, not Sony, Not Mr. Gianturco) responsible for this crime without a victim that was somehow injured by his actions.

That's really where this entire argument that we should be outraged over Mr. Gianturco's actions and that he should stripped of his CSM chair, banned from EVE, thrown in jail, or strung up in the town square so we can all take shots at him breaks down.  All of the outrage is coming from people whose only involvement in all this is that it makes a good story.  It let's an angry mob stand around looking down on him with a smug feeling of moral superiority.  Or it brings in readers and helps sell ad space.  Or it drives up page views so that self-important bloggers everywhere can feel good about themselves.  And now I'm one of them.  Fuck me.




  1. From your quote:
    "We are not responsible for actions taken by our subscribers that occur outside the jurisdiction of our game servers or web site."

    The comments were broadcast live on the live-stream of fanfest which could easily be considered part of the EVE web site. If this happened in a bar in Iceland that is one thing... this happened at a CCP hosted event broadcast live on a video stream sold by CCP.

    I agree that there are lots of issues surrounding jurisdiction. But let's be clear.... if the 'victim' had in fact killed himself Alexander would be charged with manslaughter. He seems to understand more than 99% of the community the seriousness of his choice of words both morally, ethically and legally. That is why he is being so clear and unequivocal in his apology and response.

    1. In the sentence quoted, the emphasis should be on jurisdiction and not web site. CCP is stating that their power to enforce any rules or laws is non-existent outside of New Eden and becomes a matter for local law enforcement. Nothing more, nothing less.

      On the second matter, you are correct. If there had been a dead body at the end of this story, then certainly more inquiry into the culpability of those involved would be warranted. However, that's quite a large if. If any number of actions you or I take on a daily basis had the outcome a dead body, then they would immediately become far more interesting. But they don't. And they aren't.

  2. Here are two comments by a friend that succinctly sum up my thoughts on the matter:

    "What if someone threatened to kill themselves if people keep making terrible threads about idiots who threaten to kill themselves over space pixels?

    Would you guys be morally compelled to stop making terrible threads? Would you be morally compelled not to mock them for their obvious ridiculousness?

    The whole point is people threatening to kill themselves over inconsequential stuff is ******* ridiculous and deserving of mockery."


    "That's what you guys just aren't getting. He was mocking the very idea that this guy was actually going to kill himself over space pixels. Because he wasn't, because people don't. The whole idea that someone would kill themselves over space pixels is so preposterous, and it should be mocked. He should be mocked for trying to hold people hostage in a game with threats of suicide.

    The real solution here is to ban people who talk about killing themselves in a video game. Those are the people who should be suffering consequences."

    This whole thing is so completely absurd.

  3. Im going to be one of the minority here, but I thought it was pretty funny. Even better are the people upset by the whole thing. As a Goon, I feel that even out of game character, he meant to piss off people with this as well as entertain people who feel similar as I do (and obviously, himself).

    Real life tears > In game tears?

  4. They should make a movie about him. Ohhh...right... "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" -- heh, been there, done that. Wait, at least Tucker Max's fucked-up shit was actually mostly funny, and occasionally downright hilarious. Mittens....not so much.

  5. First reasonable post I found about this issue.