by Sharon Florentine

Gamergate leader’s arrest doesn’t signal change

Sep 15, 2016
Relationship BuildingTechnology Industry

Last week, one of the more prominent (and not anonymous) ringleaders of the Gamergate movement was arrested. That doesn't mean law enforcement's finally taking these threats seriously, though.

My mother raised me to look for the best in everyone. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Never wish ill upon anyone — not even your worst enemies. But I couldn’t help feel the slightest (OK, it was more than slight — sorry, Mom!) bit of glee when I read Brianna Wu’s post on The Daily Dot reporting that Ethan Ralph was arrested last week.

Who’s Ethan Ralph, you ask? He’s one of the more prominent ringleaders of the Gamergate movement, which makes a game of trolling, harassing, threatening and terrorizing women online via doxing (publishing private or personally identifiable information), shaming, threats to their lives, their families” lives and even in-person stalking and harassment.

Yeah, sounds like a wonderful fellow, doesn’t he? Now, don’t get too excited; his alleged crimes had nothing to do with Gamergate, unfortunately. He was arrested and charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, and he faces additional charges of obstruction of justice, according to Wu’s article.

I hope, as Wu does, that this incident will clarify for law enforcement and for the general public, that individuals who engage in this kind of behavior online can be just as much of a threat in “the real world.”

Wu herself has had to take drastic measures to protect herself and her family because of the harassment she’s faced, online and off. So has Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Alison Rapp and who knows how many others.

Women everywhere are subjected to horrific abuse, threats and harassment any time they venture into public spaces, whether those are online games, chat rooms or social media platforms — actor Leslie Jones is a very recent example.

And yet, those incidents are shrugged off by law enforcement and other authorities (unless you live in this part of England); it’s often difficult to identify the attackers or there aren’t statutes in place that apply to online harassment and threats. So, while I would have liked to see Ralph held accountable for those crimes, I’ll take cold comfort in the fact that he won’t be able to lead his online minions in their campaign of hate for now.