Editor’s note: I spoke with Mercedes via email and Perry from Open Gaming Society over Skype to get as many details as possible. I contacted SXSW for a statement or to answer questions but have not heard back from them.
Activist, adult film star, and free speech advocate Mercedes Carrera was scheduled to speak on a panel at SXSW called SavePoint, a look at the video game community on Tuesday afternoon. The panel was to cover, according to the convention schedule:
…the current social/political landscape in the gaming community, the journalistic integrity of gaming’s journalists, and the ever-changing gaming community, video game development, and their future. We will encourage honest critique and open dialogue between panelists and audience members, and will attempt to create a space where we can all speak on the social-political issues.
On the panel Mercedes would have been among SPJ member and Emmy-award winning journalist Lynn Walsh, Nick Robalik who is head of development for Pixel Metal, and Founder of the Open Gaming Society Perry Jones.
In the days leading up to the panel, and before Mercedes landed in Austin, Ms. Carrera posted several critical tweets about SXSW and other panelists, mostly in relation to a previous dustup over this panel and others. Hugh Forrest, of SXSW contacted the Open Gaming Society and demanded that several tweets be removed, citing a violation of the convention’s Code of Conduct, or Mercedes would not be permitted to be on the panel. Mercedes shared the tweets in question with me but I leave it to you to determined whether they are harassment or not.
- @BlackTridentTV @ljenkins314 @livebeef @DoneReasoning @sxsw and btw they put us on a bad day/time to appease Harper
- @livebeef @DoneReasoning honestly anyone with half a brain can see that Harper is not credible.
- @livebeef @DoneReasoning they could have, you know, spoken to us. But instead they censored me in favor of Harper.
- @BenjusMaximus @sxsw nope Harper had us cancelled & then sxsw was at least willing to reinstate us on a difft day after harper was difficult
- Also, Harper tried to get @sxsw to kick @pixelmetal out of @OpGamingSociety’s panel, but I said if they did that I wouldn’t go.
- .@sxsw said that my justified criticism of Harper (after she libeled me a “killer” btw) would affect our panel.
- They also blacked out any critique of Harper & @sxsw’s nonsense in the media, & made us look like the bad guys.
- I did what they asked & refrained from justified criticism of Harper & @sxsw for their capitulation. Gloves now off.
- Code for “my harassment summit flopped, nobody likes me and @sxsw lost huge $ because of my posturing”- Harper
- We are on gaming day, but Harper ensured @sxsw put us at an unpopular time & we already got skewed media coverage.
- .@SXSW “asked” me to not talk about Harper anymore “cuz harassment”. Now that her summit was a flop, I won’t be censored further. #GamerGate
- It just hurts too bad to be reminded of failure, eh Harper?
- That’s because @SXSW has purposely subverted our panel due to Harper’s whining.
- And I will be at teh @OPGamingSociety’s panel on Tuesday even though @SXSW has disrespected us repeatedly in favor of the cry bully Harper.
- Also, @sxsw has buried the @OPGamingSociety panel time & date, as well as not updated my bio, but Harper got a whole day for no-shows LOL
- It’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning- the cry-bullies like Harper & Wu are only popular in their own heads.
- They are determined to make @Twitter’s stock prices reflect the popularity of @SXSW & Harper’s “Harassment Summit”
Perry notes that no other panelists were openly critical of other panelists leading up to the convention. Despite that from what I’ve seen it’s impossible to deny that in the past the discussion over this panel and others, especially in relation to the #GamerGate discussion online, has been heated and contentious. Perry did confirm that Mr. Forrest put him in the place to talk to Mercedes over the incident, since he is the organizer of the SavePoint panel. Perry states that he did discuss it with Ms. Carrera, and he believes had her convinced to remove the Tweets at first but she felt doing so would violate her own morals concerning free speech. She did remove a video she had posted on YouTube concerning the events.
Ms. Carrera shared with us a parting letter she sent to Hugh Forrest when she decided to step down from the panel rather than censor her twitter feed.
It has come to my attention that you take issue with my personal opinions and commentary made on my personal Twitter account and my previously agreed upon appearance at the Savepoint panel hinges upon my willingness to self censor to your specifications. As my primary interest as an activist is in the realm of free speech, it goes without saying that I am tasked with upholding my convictions and morals. Therefore I must respectfully decline the request to abdicate my moral duty to those who might also find themselves in a situation where their speech may be censored.
It is my hope that you understand that free speech is woven into the very fabric of Liberty that has made this country great, and as a female person of color and sex worker I am well aware that my right for such always hangs precariously in the balance unless I stand up for it on a daily basis.
I therefore leave you with the following legal maxim: he who fails to assert his rights has none.