The Game Is Rigged

The game is rigged.

It’s not a surprise, not a mystery, definitely not news to a majority of the country’s population — women, people of color, the LGBT community, the disabled, immigrants.

But the election of the Naughahyde Narcissist to the Highest Chair in the Land has given 2017 a near-perfect view of the game, exposed — all its crushing gears and choking chains, all the mechanisms laid bare. All the uneven scoring, all the tilted fields, all the corrupt umps.

Harvey Weinstein is a serial abuser, and Hillary gets the blame. The women who never spoke out get the blame. Obama gets the blame. Harvey’s own agency in his own rapist predations is cast further and further from Harvey himself. The women are told, yet again, they were wearing the wrong clothes. That they probably egged him on. And on the other side, the fact they didn’t protest, didn’t fight back against a system that would’ve crushed them, didn’t do more to protect other women, that’s a scarlet letter staplegunned to their sleeve.

Black Americans get executed in the streets by a police force out of control, so Black Americans stand in the streets to defend against that — but they’re tear-gassed, beaten, made to disappear, threatened, sued, told to find a place to protest quietly, peacefully, non-violently. They’re called animals and thugs, treated like criminals even when they’re just standing there. Colin Kaepernick kneels during an NFL game — protesting the deaths of Black Americans quietly, peacefully, non-violently — and he’s a traitor, a quisling, shut up and play ball, dance when we shoot at your feet, hurt yourself for the pleasure of those in the stands. Use your platform for good, they cry, and he does, every day, but they don’t notice, and they don’t care.

Nazis in Charlottesville are just good old-fashioned protesters, though, just exercising their First Amendment Rights — and, more importantly, their Second, am I right? — they’re ‘white activists,’ they’re ‘historical cosplayers,’ they’re ‘Nazi-adjacent freedom-seekers.’ They kill a woman, but it’s okay, and besides, didn’t someone introduce legislation where it would be okay to mow down a protester with a car? That makes it okay. It must.

A white man opens fire in Las Vegas, he kills scores, wounds ten times those that he murders, and so begin the stories of what a good man he was, how nice he was, he was a lone wolf, not one of our tribe, oh no, just a man without a home, a family man, a friendly man — and we’re told now isn’t the time to talk about guns, not now, and not tomorrow because another shooting will come, and not the day after that, because another shooting will come. But he’s not a terrorist, he’s not a thug, not an animal or a criminal, just a good man who went bad. Not his fault. Never his fault. If he were Muslim or black, well… those people…

Puerto Rico drowns in darkness. And it’s their fault. Something about loans or their economy, something about their woman mayor playing politics, and all the while the Ding-Dong Dictator pisses and moans about how now one appreciates him, how no one sees what he’s doing, because really, isn’t he the victim here? Isn’t he the victim because we don’t see the hero that he truly is, our Orange White Man, our Rubbery Russian Puppet, our Inglorious Leader?

Protections for our LGBT population are whittled once again to splinters because really, aren’t protections for them actually the opposite of that for us? What about our freedoms to religiously persecute them? Giving them equal freedom surely, surely means taking away the freedom we have now to discriminate against them. The disabled, too — why should they have access to healthcare and bathrooms and compassion, isn’t it really their fault for being born this way, and if they weren’t born this way, certainly they must’ve done something to deserve it in this Ayn Randian Hellworld we’ve built for ourself, where the rich are special, where geniuses deserve their power, where altruism is a disease and the uneven distribution of wealth is simply a rational principle like the way water and shit both run downhill.

Isn’t it really just about ethics in videogame journalism? It’s definitely not about the unwelcome presence of icky girls or queerness or disability or differently-colored skin in our videogames, oh no. It’s about objectivity in game reviews, obviously, definitely, don’t you say differently, SJWs, or we’ll dox you and SWAT your house and unleash literal years of abuse online, abuse that nobody ever does anything to fix, because that abuse serves the platform on which it is trafficked. And then that platform, unmitigated and unrefined, still trafficking in abuse, will help to elect the Grabber-In-Chief, the Racist Ringleader, the Tiny-Fingered Tyrant, to the most powerful office in all the world, and we will stumble, shrugging, toward nuclear war, toward unstoppable climate change, toward a depressed economy, toward the throat-cutting of American nobility on the world stage…

Toward both the bang and the whimper.

But don’t worry. It’ll be okay.

Are you white? Then we will protect you.

Are you also a man? Oh, boy howdy, then do I have good news for you.

Cisgendered? Able-bodied? Right this way, sir.

Are you wealthy? Then please, accept this bag of money, and this nice car, and this beautiful house, not to mention these endless safety nets, these trampolines to always catch you and bounce you back up no matter how rampant your mediocrity, we will always protect you, here is your blame-resistant tuxedo, here is your bubble of clean air, here is your perfect place at the center of the universe where nothing can touch you, nothing can hurt you, everything is warm like bathwater. Nothing is your fault, don’t worry. You will be safe. Because the game is rigged in your favor. The doors will always open for you. We’ll give everything to you. It doesn’t matter if it destroys the world — there’s an underground bunker with your name on it, and a rocketship that will allow you to depart for cleaner, freer skies.

* * *

I don’t have any good call to action here.

I wish I did.

Just be aware of this stuff, People Like Me. Elevate voices that aren’t your own. Listen to those voices. Hear them. Pass the mic. Boost the signal. When you see the system working for you and against others, say something. Try to do something. Don’t worry about perfect, just be better, for Chrissakes. Stand tall for people who can’t, for people who will be crushed underneath the machine. Get out of the center of the universe. Give money to good causes. Vote for interests other than your own. Find empathy and critical thinking. Do something. Don’t just sit there and be the casual, happy recipient of love and favors. Share the road. And see the game for what it is, and how someone has cheated for you on your behalf.

[Note: comments are on and open, but the spam oubliette is open and ready for trolls and other shitbirds. I need not abide your nonsense.]


  • Thank you for your articulate recap of the shit storm out there. I’m sad and angry and I don’t understand why this current administration is appealing to anyone. The fragile comfort of knowing there are others who feel as I do brings a measure of comfort and refires the desire to make sure this comes to an end – with the next election or with Mueller’s findings.

  • “Just be better…” <– Amen. Unfortunately, when you're one of the Chosen, being You is good enough. There's no need to be better. And that's sad.*

    *I realise not all of the heteronormative CIS-gender white men are like this, and that there are indeed some who better themselves and others and stand up for the rights of people not born to that privilege. But the world would be a better place if it was All, not Some.

  • Well said and absolutely bone-chilling. Want to do something about it? Work to get electoral districts redrawn fairly. Otherwise, King Naugahyde wins again. Seriously, all ya’ll. That’s something we can all do. Don’t let the Koch brothers be the ones to draw (gerrymander) the maps.

  • Thank you for writing this. It summarizes a lot of what is happening right now, not only in the US (although the examples are from there), but also in lots of places in the world. The only way I can see to change stuff is to come back together as people and stop the process towards isolation and individualization, which only benefits those at the top, since they start with a lot of advantages, and make communities again. I know it is easier said than done, but it is the only way. Communities fighting on different fronts AND supporting each other when needed.

  • This is going to FB. Yes it’s preaching to my choir, but hopefully it will go where it’s needed most and will be heeded. You’re a good egg Chuck.

  • Oh. Oh dear. I’m going to have to share this on Facebook and it’s going to stir up a shitstorm. Bless you for saying this, and curse you for same.

  • Never give up, never give up, never, never, never give up. Do make those phone calls to your MoC’s when prompted by or, or whatever other org has your e-mail address. Do make it to the occasional rally downtown. Pick your battles – but, most of all, pick up your voice, because that’s the only way it will ever get counted.

  • Really well said. I wish I could do something more than applaud (and share) your words. I feel like I’m chipping away at a ginormous steel structure with a toothpick. Perhaps all like-minded people are chipping away with their toothpicks. And I wish I could write like that. Thanks, Chuck.

  • October 11, 2017 at 9:55 AM // Reply

    Right on, Chuck! Benevolent, sane, rational, empathic, generous, creative, compassionate people of the world unite! It’s our only chance to save the planet and ensure justice for ALL of its people. Also, wish I could write half as well as you.

  • it’s funny that the whole knee-bending thing has given me a modicum of respect for the NFL (not nearly so much as if Kapernick was rehired). For all its faults, Corporate America seems to know what side its bread is buttered on and a good reason for people to apply pressure when needed.

  • Thanks Chuck. I just watched Eminem’s 4min freestyle from BET awards and then read this. I feel like I have a bit of armour for the day.

  • I’d like to plug a law and advocacy group that has helped to temper some of my fears and directed my energy into a positive direction, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their guide to fighting hate has made a lot of sense to me and I not only think of it daily I try to live by it now. This is such a difficult time, especially ahrd when you see friends and family, former role models even, falling prey to dangerous and hateful ideas. I truly believe SPLC has some answers not only to help combat what is going on in American and the world today but to direct some of the mental chaos into positive channels.

  • Truth is a bitter pill. His election put me into MS overload and hospitalized me. Truth also elevates and protects, protests, and gives purpose to change the evils that be. Thanks, Chuck, for your words.

  • “Nothing we do as individuals matters, but it is vitally important to do it anyway.” Gandhi
    What keeps me encouraged during challenging times (and I’ve been through a few) is to do what I can in my own sphere of influence in terms of justice, mercy, and equity. I also wrote a book about what it would be like if the rich and powerful made it their first priority to take care of the poor and powerless. I wanted to present a model of a just society in a world of non-models.

  • Spot on Chuck, but we don’t need to give up. We need to keep on fighting, even if it is only in the form of small things. Each and every action we take to end this is a step in the right direction.
    I know of someone who started out writing a military atheist blog and ended up actually effecting change by her words. She called out military chaplains abusing their authority over their soldiers and airmen. She ended up getting these men removed from active duty and indirectly led to the ouster of a 4-star general. She still remains anonymous.
    Unfortunately, it took sex scandals associated with these men to get them removed, not their actions against minority and non-religious service members. In one case, a chaplain wrote a book urging commanders to repeatedly send out soldiers on dangerous duties until they get killed. He advised the commanders to do this with service members they disagreed with on religious matters as a way of getting rid of them and “sin” in the unit. She had heard through the grapevine that a couple of people had actually been killed as a result of this.
    The anonymous blogger wrote and sent letters, but nothing was done. One day she received an email from someone who knew that the chaplain was engaging in public sex online with multiple partners. She wrote that she normally wouldn’t care about this, but in war you don’t turn down a weapon.
    She posted excerpts of his book about removing all “immorality and sin” from your unit juxtaposed with images of the chaplain pleasuring himself from his online porn site, as well as a lot of snarky comments. She then added a little bit of javascript to track the IP addresses of those who were reading the article. When the addresses started showing up from the pentagon, she knew his time as a chaplain was up. He was shortly “retired” from the military and is currently running a church in the Midwest.
    Words can cause change. Ok, and images as well. 😉

  • First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Niemöller

  • I have been saving up Invasive for between exams (full-time grad student), and I read it yesterday afternoon. Then you posted this. I have to say, I finished Invasive wondering if maybe, just a little, Will was right – just wipe out the whole lot. Let the world get on with getting on. There are more people s**tting where they eat than not, and definitely more than those cleaning it up can keep up with. I felt the same way when I re-read The Stand.

    Speaking of Invasive, I also wanted to say that I had fully intended to spread out the reading, maybe take a week reading a little bit every day, but instead I sped through it in one glorious, all-encompassing four-hour binge, and ended it wishing I could experience it again for the first time because it was just that amazing. Bravo, good sir. Thank you for writing it.


  • The problem is, the people who most need this, don’t read. They get their news from Fox News sound-bites and it’s no wonder they’re swallowing it.
    Companies run by extreme right-wingers are buying up local news outlets, pushing the alt-right, conservative agenda.
    I saw a commercial, political ad funded by a wealthy conservative PAC, which exhorted people to believe President Pussygrabber told nothing but the truth and every Democratic President had lied, and it aired on BBC America of all places!
    Pussygrabber tells people the main media outlets report false news and they believe him.
    This is much deeper than most people think. It’s like Nazi Germany before the Second World War. It’s like the big lie. Tell a lie big enough and loud enough and people will begin to believe it. It’s scary and I fear for the future of my grandkids.
    For me, I’m too old. I’ll likely never see the outcome.

    • You are definitely right on the big lie and the references to the early 20th century – as a German who studied history, I’ve been looking at America these past three to five years and starting with how conservative politicians in Michigan thought it prudent to strip whole townships off their democratic independence in the name of “emergency management” to supposedly safe them in the wake of a world economic crises. A very similar thing happened to the “Weimarer Republik” (the first German republic) in the late 1920s/early 30s and was one of the threads that lead to the NSDAPs ablity to disolve the separation of powers in the face of a (quite possibly engineered) national security crisis in form of a thread from within and without – sound familiar?
      Of course that’s a very localized example in America and didn’t get good national press (how’s the water in Flint these days…), but still, the way the Trump administration systematically put figures at the helm of all essential government agencies that have no background in the field other than being uniquely qualified to slowly but surely unravel the governing mandate of those agencies and render them inert is as perilous as it is nefarious (I’m looking at State, Interior, Energy, Education, EPA, SEC, FCC, HHS, …. the list is looooooong). And there are many more parallels I could name. Before the election, my stance was that with all the harrowing simliarities I’d been seeing, there was still a central galvanizing figure of hitlerian ambitions, authorative ego and communicative populist prowess that the movement needed and Trump couldn’t possibly be it. Turns out I was so very wrong. It would be comical – the level of bubbled self-delusion America has achieved if it weren’t also so utterly frighting.
      The only thing I cling to is the old adage that history always comes in twos – the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Let’s hope this farce does play itself out before everything goes up in smoke.
      Ahem… well, that wasn’t supposed to be so depressing, I just to needed to vent it somewhere.
      Either way, there’s also the fact that all this dangling over the abyss has given society quite a push in different directions as well, grassroots activism sprouting; people engaging in the politcal and social process in a way they haven’t ever in their lives, making their voices heard; former centers of privileged power being broken open to be challenged and checked – people actually fighting for awareness and to be better.
      So there it is at the bottom of Pandora’s box, despite all the terror let loose on the world… hope. Gotta believe in that.

  • There’s been a mounting desperation within me for some time, unable to imagine how to attack ALL OF THIS. The focus you bring here is exactly the lens I needed: You can’t possibly do ALL THE THINGS, but you can do one thing, small as it may seem, and then do another seemingly infinitessimal thing, and another, and another. Slow and steady may not win the race right this moment, but if each member of our group – or tribe, if that’s your thing – does these small things over and over, eventually they build into something larger, something substantial. If we collectively keeping throwing our own tiny pebbles of hope onto the growing pile of resistence, the time will come when we’ll have enough to make a righteous obstruction to the waves of lunacy lapping at all of us.

  • October 11, 2017 at 2:43 PM // Reply

    “Elevate voices that aren’t your own. Listen to those voices. Hear them. Pass the mic. Boost the signal.” In a nut shell for why we do what we do (and your post lays out why it’s so hard and often hurts the soul).

  • Nice opinion piece. I used to love to get some writing advice from you but I have to unfollow now. Liberal agenda or not. Sometimes writing is about facts and evidence. You let Hillary and Obama of some serious hooks where there exists “facts and evidence” , they did some seriously shady things. Nothing on Trump but rhetoric and hate so far. The weisenheimer douche is a predator, no doubt. I sure wish you would stop with the “police killing every black person they can because the police are brutal”, bullshit, because that is just what it is. It’s lies and bullshit. You look up the number of white people killed by police…the number is higher. You look up the number of whites (population) that out number blacks…..its higher. You look up the which “color” is responsible for more crime…’s the blacks………..Now do a math problem. (Washington post has some data on this) Or just stick to writing and motivating other writers, because that is when I thought you had some platform. After reading this factless, baseless, opinion piece, I gotta go somewhere else, because I dislike liberals who hate people just because they are differ in opinion, lifestyle and habitat. This country needs to come together and quite blaming the police for doing their job, unless you can some up with a few where the police were found by judges to be unreasonable. And what I mean by a few is hundreds or thousands because it’s not the pandemic you liberals would love it to be. Peace.

  • Thank you. Thank you so very much. I live in a wealthy area, surrounded by entitled people who fill the air with complaints and hate. They speak to me as if I would agree, since I am white and rich, with the lack of respect they have for others who are different and do not hesitate to say, “fuck the poor” or “white is right.” I have spoken out to them, chastised them, walked out of events, but they have no shame…and why should they now that Trump is the leader of our country? They feel validated while I am disappointed and disgusted. Thank you for your words. Nice to find a place of comfort.

  • Thank you Chuck and all the positive posts here was ready to give up on humanity…now I’m ready to roll up my sleeves pay it forward. Thank you again, words are powerful x

  • God bless everything you said.

    Let’s put this on a series of billboards along freeways like Burma Shave used to do. If people don’t want to read them while they drive they should pay attention to the road, cut down on accidents. A win-win situation.

    Let’s make this a series of posters to put up in school rooms, the way the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are, or used to be. Maybe some kid, in a fit of boredom, will actually read it
    Let’s silk-screen this on a series of lady’s t-shirts and let women wear them so there would be no way powerful, lecherous men will be able to ignore it when they are oogling prospective victims.

    Hell, let’s print this on flyers to hand out like party favors wherever we go. Put a few in the aisles of grocery stores, or more effectively tucked among the meat and potatoes. Visit a liquor store and stash some with the cases of beer, the bottles of wine, the variety mixers. Slip into a gun shop or Adult XXX venue (movie theater, sex toy shop, or the porno magazine rack in the store of your choice) and spread them liberally. Put them on newspaper vending machines. Don’t bother anchoring them with a rock on top to hold them in place. Much better if the wind blows them around indiscriminately.

    Take these ideas and run with them. People–by that I mean white, male, able-bodied, Christian heterosexuals with IQ’s above 100–need to see this splendid essay.

  • Here is a potential call to action. Chuck, you boycott Twitter but stay long enough to get other sf/f verified accounts to join you. William Gibson, for example. Potentially, this boycott will then spread and force this pathetic company to examine why Nazis = good and Rose McGowan = bad. Stephen King would join, I bet. What happens when people with millions of followers start asking those followers to abandon Twitter?

    It’s a start.

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