CSGO streamer's homophobic slur stirs week-long debate
It’s no secret that esports are struggling to shake some of the negative stereotypes that are associated with it. Many popular titles still suffer from toxic communities, though many developers are doing their best to improve the situation where they can. Efforts such as Overwatch’s recent reward system that lets players reward others for friendly behaviour are a big step in the right direction…sadly one step isn’t enough to bridge the gap.
This was pointed out in Frankie Ward’s acceptance speech for ‘Presenter of the Year’ at the UK Esports Awards. She made a pledge in the speech: “There is no room for homophobic or racist or misogynist language in the esports industry.”
All three are known problems and sadly it’s not uncommon to encounter various types of slurs in some environments. Her proclamation wasn’t entirely out of nowhere though – she made it following a week-long debate among esports pros, commentators and stars regarding a slur made by a former CS:GO pro.
Mohamad ‘moE’ Assad, former pro CS:GO player and now Twitch streamer used the word ‘faggot’ during one of his streams. He got a temporary ban from Twitch for it, but the outrage over it had a much bigger impact. On a good day, the topics that have the esports world debating are pro team swaps, epic plays or even an unexpected underdog win – debates over the most recent homophobic or racist remark don’t show the best side of esports.
Well, following on the heels of moE’s remark, a week-long debate ensued about whether or not it was okay to use terms like that in the heat of anger. While to most people this doesn’t seem like an overly complicated question (no, it’s not okay, much like anger is no excuse for hitting someone or breaking something) a surprising number of people disagree with this.
Despite this, Twitch banned his account for 30 days citing ‘hateful conduct’ as the reason. His account has some 686.000 subscribers, though he likely lost a few through this. On the 1st of July, moE posted about his ban and suggested it may be because of a ‘reddit witch-hunt’ – though not entirely impossible, it seems more likely it was because of the homophobic slur he used, but then, what do we know.
Another streamer, Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields posted in moE’s defense: “the historical etymology of the word m0e used is not and has never been explicitly or solely homophobic in meaning,” adding that the word once meant “bundle of sticks” and “flighty woman.”
“It’s clearly a word you should avoid solely for the health of your own career,” he continued, “but the tyrants who try to tell you a word only has the meaning they decided, even if they’re making it up on the spot or ignoring cultural context and history, can still f*ck off.”
It’s easy to see that this issue has caused a lot of controversy. That so many spoke out in moE’s defence is quite surprising to many pro-players that find it unacceptable to defend homophobic slurs. Given that defences usually include arguments like ‘it used to mean something else’ and ‘he didn’t mean it, he was just angry’ makes it relatively easy for most people to pick a side in this conflict.