I’ve been a pretty vocal supporter of Reaper Miniatures since I discovered them a few years ago, and unfortunately, one of their employees said some offensive things online recently (it’s hard to tell exactly when, things were edited). I’ve been struggling with this for a few days, and unfortunately I don’t think I’m articulating my concern well. It doesn’t help that people seem to have moved on since the news was revealed and any attempt at discussion either gets ignored or shouted down. You can read the original screen cap here. There’s a lot wrong with it and the generally antagonistic behaviour. Though it’s been edited, I never read any denials about what was said, and it would’ve been bad without the recent events in Charlottesville. The mocking tone in addressing serious subjects would be enough for me not to support a business, but the implied racism, homophobia and transphobia as trolling make it so much worse. I’m glad the Reaper Board came out with a quick message condemning the comments while they investigate, but I’m not sure it’ll amount to much. It’s a bit vague, and the more I think about what was said and what’s happened since, the more I’m uncomfortable supporting the company going forward.
The lack of public action (I never expected any discipline to be public, but people have definitely been fired for less, and it feels like options exist to counter perceptions of intolerance without firing), the vagueness of their statement, combined with deleting any discussion of the subject lessens the distance caused by their statement (supposedly posts that aren’t about minis are against Facebook group terms). It may be smart from a public relations standpoint, but doesn’t feel genuine.
The vicious group response – first to potential consequences for the employee’s actions (free speech and all), and then again after people thought he’d been fired after a biased Daily Caller article made me pretty uncomfortable about the online community I’d found over the last few years I’ve been painting. Maybe most disheartening were the people who just wanted to bury their heads in the sand – most of them – and talk minis, because they were there to get away from real life and politics. The fans seemed to take it upon themselves (though there may have been strategic requests from Reaper that I missed – I’m not reading every tweet, facebook or forum post, or 40000+ kickstarter comments) to flood social media with pictures of painted miniatures. Any concern pretty much got drowned out.
I’m glad the false equivalence of “both sides bad” has been widely addressed already. The apologists seemed to focus on that and AntiFA, which… well, I just don’t understand. The media coverage has been pretty minimal – that Daily Caller article (which I won’t link to for obvious reasons), and some other site that picked up the story – that claims that the employee in question lost his job (which he has not), and that’s it. There’s been very little discussion in general – a thread on dakkadakka forums, a wargaming/miniatures website, which completely devolved, and one more on another message board I can’t find again. Like I said, Facebook discussion was deleted, and the Reaper forums have never gotten into much serious discussion from what I’ve seen. I can understand if people are concerned about articulating themselves properly on such tense issues, but to not talk about it at all?
In the end, I’ve tried to provide information for people who want more of it – what little there is, anyway – who maybe stumbled across the aftermath or references and don’t know what happened. People can make their own decisions.