Patreon, Morality, and Equality

The following article was initially going to be a facebook post, but the topic was simply to difficult to navigate wisely in a few hundred words. I’d also like to emphasize that I quite enjoyed Patreon as a service for managing transactions of goods and services. I’m open to returning to this service depending on how this situation is handled, but we may very well be past the point of no return. Hopefully society can grow from this situation, as I do think these are important matters to discuss.

I have some unfortunate news about Patreon: I’ll likely be closing my account with them shortly. I was not a particularly popular creator, but I’m deeply indebted and appreciate of my supporters over the years. I’d like to begin by saying that the people who have supported (including those who have supported me via social media), will have my eternal gratitude, and I’d like to reemphasize that I will all make efforts to help you personally if I can do so (please do reach out to me). Further, all rewards offered and payed for on Patreon will continue to be extended to these individuals. I will email past and current Patrons with specific details on this in due time.

Unfortunately, I need to write this post with two conflicting goals:

- My primary goal as a content creator is to promote free learning (both financially and figuratively), and to treat people based on their actions and words; as opposed to their skin color, ethnicity, gender, or whichever group identity us humans like to dream up.

- I must fail at that today, as I believe politically motivated decisions based on tribalistic out-group hate is exactly where things have gone wrong with Patreon. I must discuss this at least in some detail in order to explain why I’m ditching this service.

Before I proceed, this is not a call for a debate, and I don’t plan to put much energy in to publicly discussing my views on such matters in my public forums and networks. This is an announcement and explanation of why I’m no longer content with Patreon, and it ended up being far too long to be appropriate for a Facebook post to my community. If you really wish to debate me or discuss such topics further, you can try to PM me via my networks, but I will not guarantee a response as I have better things to do with my time generally speaking. I care more about helping people learn how to build software at this stage in my career.

I consider myself to be a radical centrist politically speaking. This means that I try not to vote based on which party I like, but which candidate I like. It also means that I do not fit into either side of the political spectrum that well, as I try to evaluate political ideas based on reason, evidence, and merit; as opposed to which ideas are most popular in my social group. In short, I try to care about what is true more than what is popular, while admitting that no single human is the arbiter of truth.

We all carry flawed assumptions and make mistakes due to our limited processing capacity; and I believe the only antidote is to monitor oneself for biases as much as possible, and to find others who will call you out when you say silly things without assuming that you are a person of bad character or moral fiber.

Patreon recently decided to ban several individuals who do not align with their political ideology; some of whom I don’t see any issue in banning. If an individual calls for direct or indirect violence against a particular group (which is very different from criticism and reasoned analysis of a particular group), then I do think it can be justifiable to consider that a bannable offense. Further, I understand that this falls under their terms of service, and they are a private enterprise which may do as they wish.

Some of the individuals who were banned recently, do not promote violence and hatred towards others (some do and I’m not upset about those cases). This problem is made much worse by the fact that there are a number of Patreon Creators who promote hate speech and direct violence, who are allowed to keep doing so because they happen to be left of center politically (among other group identities which I care not to discuss here). Whether or not Patreon did this deliberately or out of unconcious biases is no longer something I’m very concerned about. What is very clear, is that Patreon does not unilaterally enforce it’s terms of service, and indeed is biased and not in support of diversity despite claiming otherwise publicly.

If I was to read Patreon’s Terms of Service and claims of supporting free expression, here’s how I think they ought to apply their reasoning process as to who should have their livelihood potentially destroyed:

If you are on the right end of the political spectrum, and you make direct/indirect calls to violence against a particular group, you are breaking the TOS, probably making society worse (hateful people don’t tend to come up with fair and reasonable solutions), and should be justifiably banned.

If you are in the center of the political spectrum, and you make direct/indirect calls to violence against a particular group, you are breaking the TOS, probably making society worse (hateful people don’t tend to come up with fair and reasonable solutions), and should be justifiably banned.

If you are on the left end of the political spectrum, and you make direct/indirect calls to violence against a particular group, you are breaking the TOS, probably making society worse (hateful people don’t tend to come and reasonable up with fair solutions), and should be justifiably banned.

In short, and to speak plainly, if a person (and by extension an organization) claims to be against racism/bigotry/sexism (as I claim), then proceeds to single out and unfairly target a particular race/ideology/sex, then I’d like to politely invite that person to remove their head from their rectum and look in a mirror. My guess is that it’s been a while since much introspection has occurred, and that person may possibly be confronted with the unfortunate experience of seeing the same qualities and thought patterns which are possessed of racists/bigots/sexists.

The problem with strongly identifying yourself as being “smart” and “morally superior”, is that you’re better at rationalizing your own particular brand of nonsense, and it sneaks up on you because you already consider yourself to be morally superior. I’ve had to face up to this experience myself at times in my life; and while painful, it certainly can lead to personal growth.

Dear Patreon; thank you for your service over the years. I liked you’re app quite a lot, but you have deemed yourselves as moral authorities, and based on how you’ve carried out such actions in a biased and bigoted manner, I deem your organization as unfit for this role, and my business.

“No idea is above scrutiny and no people are beneath dignity.”

- Maajid Nawaz

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Self-taught software developer & student of computer science.

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