Overwatch pro player sees career ended over racist diatribe

    
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It’s probably not the best idea to start shouting racial abuse in the middle of a live stream if you’re public figure with a pro gaming career.

That’s the lesson to learn from Toronto Esports player Matt “Dellor” Vaughn, who apparently started shrieking the N-word repeatedly (“for 26 uninterrupted seconds while his teammates sat in stunned silence,” PVP Live writes) over voice chat during an Overwatch stream, which one of his viewers then uploaded to YouTube for posterity.

The diatribe caused Toronto Esports to end Vaughn’s contract:

“Toronto Esports is an organization built on inclusivity, and we have always had a zero- tolerance policy for any forms of discrimination. Immediately upon learning of the incident, the player was interviewed, admitted to the offence, and was notified that his contract with the organization was being terminated.”

And then Twitch nuked his channel for violations of the terms of service.

Vaughn posted an apology to his team, admitting that he “fucked up” and “deserve[d] to be dropped” from Toronto Esports. While he says he won’t make excuses, he then lists what he believes motivated his rant (lag, enemies cheating, Twitch issues, and lack of sleep). “The only thing I can say is that despite me using that word, I am not a racist. I was extremely upset, and I was trying to make the person I was angry with upset as well, and so I said the most offensive thing that came to mind,” he writes. He’s said he’s “done with esports.”

Source: Kotaku, PVP Live
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Slim neb

I’m sorry but if the N word is your go to when you absolutely rage out like this guy did then there is absolutely something wrong with you. I mean F*** or C*** yes, but going for the N word? Definitely something up with you. There are so many more better suited options and you would only use it if was a word you used regularly.

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Valen Sinclair

Do people really get that pissed over video games…things that are supposed to be fun? It’s so far beyond my comprehension that my mind is numb.

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Josh

Take the word “video” out from that phrase and it shouldn’t be surprising. Humans get very caught up in games. As despicable as this kid’s actions were, much worse has been done because someone got upset over a game.

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John Mclain

Yes, quite easily in fact. I often have to take long breaks after competitive gaming to cool off. Only happens in competitive pvp games for me though, never singleplayer games… well I may yell at my computer every once in a while when I play a really buggy and poorly made single player game.

Some people are more prone to than others, I’m definitely on the heated side of the poll. I can recall a few times I would have physically harmed someone I was playing against, usually cheaters. Perhaps it’s for the best than LANs are a thing of the past. :P

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rafael12104

Hmm. Well, it’s not the first time or the last we see this sort of thing. The “I’m not a racist” is either ignorance, self deception, or just a blatant lie. If your first reflex is to do something racist then guess what? Yeah, you are one.

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Utakata

Now that cuts through all the baloney and apologetics, lol. :)

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Bývörðæįr mòr Vas´Ðrakken

Making jokes about someone you know in a game is one thing but some random person… in person hanging out I have made all kinds of offensive remarks but when you are playing a videogame you really have no idea how your comments are going to be perceived by the other people around you.

So calling your friend a donkey may be fine out side of game but in game of game it is easier to use stupid, moronic, idiot, clueless wonder, and other things that the person stops and says what… which stops the anger and makes people laugh. the donkey was a madlib word.

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Alex Willis

Kudos to the organizations involved for the swift action. Silver lining here is that accountability measures are in place.

But hoooboy, voice chat. Where to start? I hate it. Even with guildies, I prefer not to use it. The only time I regularly used VC was in EVE Online, where most of my corp mates would just have it on in the background while they quietly went about their business, only pinging it and speaking when necessary or if there was a social event. That was brilliant and I miss that.

The hyperactivity and nervous energy of Esports kind of encourages rapid-fire verbal bullshitting, though. I don’t think this is inherently bad — it’s just a byproduct of adrenaline. But why, why, why, WHY do we need to hear players talk while they game in this genre? It’s such a mistake. If people genuinely feel the need for narrative on top of their game viewing, I much prefer the notion of commentary from an impartial source, like color commentary or play-by-play. The stream-of-consciousness vomit from a twitchy player’s brain is the last thing I need to hear. (I would HATE for my brain to have a conduit to an audience when I am playing a shooter. It would be like giving my caveman ancestors a mouthpiece.)

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Bruno Brito

Oldest law in the world: If you have nothing smart/helpful to say, even as a harsh criticism, best if you say NOTHING AT ALL.

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Josh

I think the age of the internet has often encouraged the opposite of that, haha.

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D'Kho

I’m a straight, white, American dude in my 40s. I frequently get mad at people of varying nationalities/cultures (including my own) for all types of things (usually their driving…). When I get mad, I tend to say lots of things I don’t mean, because my passion for my beliefs frequently outweighs my better judgement. And yet, not once in my life has a racist, homophobic, or sexist slur even come to mind during a curse/rant/argument, much less pour from my mouth repeatedly for any length of time.

If you think slurs like that at other people, much less say them, you are a racist. There is no form of logic that can make that not true.

However, that’s not to say that humans can’t change. I have witnessed people close to me realize the truth of the ignorant, controlling construct which is “race” and move on from it forever. I hope this young’un takes some (obviously much needed) time for introspection and meditation and is able to do the same.

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Estranged

Would also help if people quit defining themselves based on this labels.

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Tobasco da Gama

Good riddance.

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Josh

Can we just drop the idea of someone simply *being* a racist? It really doesn’t matter if you think this term is part of your identity or not. If you do something racist, then you did something racist.
You may think you have the most pure, non-biased intentions, but at the end of the day, intentions don’t mean shit. Actions matter and you can either own up to that or make excuses like a little [xxx].

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Cypher

I’ve always said Racism is a state of mind, not what comes out of your mouth per se.

How you treat people, rather than what you say. Most racists never utter a single derogatory sentence in their lives, but will damn sure never say thankyou to an Asian, or never shake hands with a Black person, and would absolutely overcharge an Indian etc.
In Europe (especially Eastern Europe and the Balkans) they have more ‘races’ than they have appearances! That is to say, many “races” look the same to an outside observer, yet it’s enough to commit mass slaughter (i.e. Serbs killing bosnians killing Albanians in a second holocaust – this was in the 90’s!)

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kgptzac

Doesn’t change the fact this guy is more likely to be a racist than not. It’s like one of your friends who are all nice and friendly in person but will resort to toxic trolling and harassing other people online: they let their inner ugliness out when they feel they don’t have to wear a social mask. This guy’s mask just fell off because he got triggered, nothing more and nothing less tbh.

Ocho
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Ocho

Sorry, no. You are absolutely right that racist actions are significant, but the racist label is specifically for those who actively or knowingly commit these actions. And yes, intentions matter. Someone who does a racist act, but due to ignorance doesn’t realize the act is racist, I’m not going to immediately label. We all have done this at one time or another, and making these mistakes is how we learn, grow, and become better people. However, someone who knowingly and purposefully commits or supports racist actions is deserving of the label, and should be called out for it.

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Josh

Here’s the problem with that: Racist acts and race-based bias can be just as harmful and sometimes more so than intended racism. Everyone has some degree of bias and that doesn’t get handled when people just get to say “well, I’m not a racist!” When people get bucketed into either “racist” or “not racist”, then it just polarizes people to demonize the “racists” and give a free pass to anything the “not racist” people do and this is why race relations are in such a shitty state, here in 2017.
Good intending people still often are more likely to give jobs to people with white names. Black men are still more often to be seen and portrayed as aggressive and scary. The list goes on and it’s all backed up by scientific research (do a google search on unconscious bias to get started if you’re not familiar with it).
I don’t say that the idea of labeling “racists” as an identity should be dropped so that people who intend racism get a free pass. It’s the opposite of that. Everyone needs to be aware of how their perceptions can affect their actions. Sure, not intending to hurt someone from being racist isn’t shameful like intending it is, but that doesn’t make it ok either.

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Cypher

Just a thought, and I think this is a good opportunity to pick some American brains on this subject… when is it ok to use that word??
I know American culture is fairly removed from that of us Brits, but as a black Briton, I’m confused!
Is music ok (I don’t listen to hip-hop!) but only when sung by a black person??

Probably not the forum to tackle this issue but I really am confused…

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Darasimi Makinde

Mods, feel free to remove this comment if you don’t think it’s relevant or helpful, but @Cypher as someone who’s black british myself (south east London :) ) I wanted to understand this better too, so I’ve done my research and tbh I don’t think it’s ever really “Ok” to use the word. A rapper called Akala summed it up quite nicely in a talk he did at Oxford, I’d look it up :)

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Cypher

See that’s my point… The few times I heard that word growing up, someone lost a tooth (either me or the other guy) so to hear it all the time in one medium and being told that it’s OK to use that word, just don’t repeat it is, well just stupid and invites this sort of situation.
I don’t think it’s ok to use, but as someone who doesn’t fully understand US culture (I can only assume its an American thing as “Black” is not a culture!) I have to wonder how anyone can be offended by a word they use so liberally themselves!
Maybe Mr Akala can do the same talk on the other side of the pond as there are a fair few rappers over there that could do with a change of perspective.

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Josh

When trying to understand “American” culture, just remember that the US is a big place with a lot of different identities, perspectives, and beliefs. On top of that, individualism is often highly regarded, so you get a lot of contradictory perspectives.

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Cypher

True dude, didn’t mean that to come off as shallow minded.

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Godson69

I’ve always believed if someone finds a word offensive if someone else uses it, but believes that is ok for them to use it… that they are full of shit.

Now I know I’m going to take this all out of context, but I’ve also known people that were offended by about everything.

Pick and choose your battles wisely, and decide if the consequences are worth it.

Ocho
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Ocho

Don’t mean to call this very complex topic simple, but I’ve always seen it like this: If a term has been used to slander a specific group of people, and that group takes the term and reappropriates it for use in their own group, that’s okay. It was used against them, they’re allowed to use it however they see fit, as they’ve earned the right to do so. This doesn’t make it okay, though, for those outside the group to keep using it, intention or not.

Like the term nerd. Years ago, and still today, this is used as an insult. However, in recent years we have seen nerd reappropriated by passionate fans as a symbol of pride. And really, it’s only those who identify now as nerds as to the terms use and whether it’s okay if used by an outsider.

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John Bagnoli

Indeed. Never if you are a white person. People I know who thought they were tight with black people believed it safe to play in their reindeer games and it ended quite poorly. No matter your skin color, listening to black rappers who broadcast that language doesn’t cause the same offense. But if you are not black it is frowned upon even if you are just singing back the words.

There are reasons for this that touch on very sore racial and political discussions so I won’t elaborate here. Right or wrong, that is just the way it works.

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Josh

There’s no clear perfect borders for when it’s ok to use the word.
Some people think it’s ok to use the word if you’re describing what someone else said. Some don’t.
Some people think that black people can use it as a slang for describing other black people. Some black people don’t agree and think that it’s despicable, even when black people use the word.
A good, simple rule of thumb is to just avoid it unless you’re sure the people you’re talking to are comfortable with the use and setting in which you use it. Different people have had different experiences with the word, so it can have different effects, depending on who you talk to.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I generally approach it as “If I have to think whether it’s OK to the use the word, don’t use the world.” I use that for the ‘n’ word, and even as a gay guy I won’t use the ‘f’ word and will lay into anyone who uses it around me, verbosely and extensively (or insta-block and report if its used in-game). I have a zero tolerance policy for any word like that.

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Blood Ravens Gaming

It should NEVER be okay to use a word that the majority of Americans (at least) view as extremely offensive. It should not matter the color of your skin when it comes to such a divisive word…. period.

That said, I agree that the use of this word does not make you a racist. In America the term racist has become more a meme than what it actually means. If you disagree with someones viewpoint you are labeled a racist.

What the gentleman did as a public figure by using this term and allowing his frustration and anger to overtake his rational thought was not okay and he did deserve the actions taken, but we need to start to reign in the overblown reactions of “racist” rhetoric. If you want examples of real racism then take a look back at the actions of racist from our history.

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mysecretid

Big question, and my answer won’t be the only possible answer, Cypher.

How it was explained to me, growing up, was that if one is black, one has the right to use the word because one has suffered under the hate and insult of the word.

In the 1970s, legendary african-american comedian Richard Pryor said more than once that he used the word because “if I take it, and wear it in my lapel like a flower, then they can’t hurt me with it any more”.

I often wonder if Pryor’s notion of “taking back the word” started the trend of its increasing use among african-americans after his time, given his huge fame in his lifetime, but there’s no way to know, really.

BUT times change — and there’s a great speech spoken by the character of Luke Cage in the Netflix series of the same name about why he (Cage) doesn’t use the word, and why he doesn’t like it.

I’m inclined to agree with the writer of Cage’s speech — If you want my opinion, I’d say don’t bother with it in your own life. You may have the social right to use it, as a black Briton, but it still started as a term of hate and derision, and it still lives with many people that way today, unfortunately.

You’re already better than anything that word could ever bring you, by default. Better to carry on with your life without it, I think.

My take anyway,

Cheers,

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rafael12104

Well, it is a good question from someone on the outside looking in. As an American, I can tell you that it is never ok. Even when African Americans use it as slang, IMO, it isn’t ok. Some do use the term among themselves, but others wince when they do. Words have meaning and even the casual use of the word still brings to mind the inherent racism in the word.