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Oni Press Stands Up for Marriage Equality

In an open letter posted to their Twitter account, comic publisher Oni Press “fired” their office and shipping supply company ULine over the issue of marriage equality. ULine’s CEO has been helping fund Family-PAC, an organization that describes itself as “pro-family, anti-tax political action committee in Illinois.”

The organization has been campaigning against SB10, which legalizes same sex marriage in Illinois. The legislation has passed and the hatemongers PAC have vowed to continue to fight for “Christian values” and against marriage equality as it says on their site, much like the fight against abortion has continued even after the Supreme Court’s decision (their comparison).

Sigh…

Congrats to Oni for doing the right thing and speaking with their dollars. Hopefully comic fans will reword them by speaking with theirs and purchasing a few more of their comics.

Vampire LARPing Congressional Candidate Embraces his Gaming Past

rush and wife cosplayYesterday we brought you the story of Jacob (Jake) A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff’s deputy is running for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, the Gainesville area. The story became such news that the campaign was forced to respond with a press release and in a bit of a shocker, embraces his gaming past. In fact Rush and his campaign not only embraces it, he points out the positive aspects of his LARPing group (live action roleplaying), and goes on a bit of an attack towards his opponent.

As a straight shooter, yes, I play and have played video games, role playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue,and I have acted in dozens of theatre productions.

In the release, Rush owns up to his hobbies and intelligently in the statement above connects activities like LARPing and video games, which have a negative connotation, with positive ones that individuals might be more familiar with like Yahtzee and Clue.

All my life, I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination from playing George Washington in elementary school to dressing up as a super hero last Halloween for trick or treaters. Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains … I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities. When I was hired at the Sheriff’s office, I fully disclosed my gaming and theatre background on the application, and these hobbies posed absolutely no problem or raised any flags. In fact, when applying for undercover work, these hobbies were considered an advantage, so much so my shift lieutenant nicknamed me ‘Shakespeare.’

The Rush campaign accused his opponents of game playing with their false characterization of what LARPing is, but even says it’s a deflection of his opponents failings.

Bottom line-There is nothing wrong with being a gamer. It’s kinda nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho’s usual sideshow distractions.

In the release Rush and his campaign promote the positive community aspects of the Minds Eye Society (the LARPing organization) and the charities they’ve helped including:

  • Wounded Warrior
  • Houston Area Women and Children’s Shelter
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation
  • Redwood Rehabilitation
  • Operation Homefront
  • ALSAC/St. Jude
  • Child’s Play
  • Sanctuary for Families
  • American Diabetes Association

While we have no issues with Rush’s past, and in fact thing we need more gamers as elected officials, our only question was about comments made on a message board by Rush’s game character. We actually have an answer to that as well. According to the Washington Post:

Another LARPer, Lee Snyder, emailed the Rush campaign and said he had made the comments while gaming as one of Rush’s preferred characters.

Well that answers that question.

There has been numerous recent attacks on gamers seeking office, including a World of Warcraft player who ran for State Senate in Maine, and won. Expect more as the next generation steps up and runs for office.

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Comic Fans and Politics

Work is underway for the 2014 elections for the Senate, House and more. We’ll be tracking how comic fans break down in the political spectrum throughout this election year. It’s the first of the month so I again dove into Facebook to figure out how it all shakes out and what has changed since last month’s statistics.

For these stats, I used the terms I’d normally use to determine other demographic breakdowns of comic fans. Facebook also provides the ability to break down those stats into convenient groups as far as politics which I have used. However, Facebook is now providing even more data including voter registration and donation habits.

According to Facebook 9.2 million “comic fans” are “active” politically in the United States, that’s 600,000 more than the previous month. This breaks down further into 5 million men (53.35%), and 4 million women (46.65%). Women have increased slightly from the previous month. That also makes political active “comic fans” 18.55% of the individuals active politically which account for just under 50 million of the 180 million individuals in the United States.

political active 4.1.14

Party affiliation is pretty clear as folks can indicate a party or none (which I assume is what the non-partisan stat is). The non-partisans make up the majority of comic fans with 51.80%, liberals are 25.18% of comic fans and 23.02% of comic fans or conservative. Both conservatives and non-partisans gained percentage wise from the previous month, but only slightly.

political party 4.1.14

Further breakdown of gender when it comes to party affiliation:

  • Conservative: 56.25% men, 46.88% women
  • Liberal: 51.43% men, 45.71% women
  • Non-Partisan: 56.94% men, 43.06% women

What’s new though is voter registration as well as donation data. The voter registration is based on the current voter registration databases and must be verified by two sources. The donation data is based on surveys and the donations themselves. Lets look up the donors first.

According to Facebook, just under 1 million comic fans  have donated to a liberal or conservative cause and there even is some overlap of about 80,000 individuals. For “comic fans” the conservative are a bit more likely to donate than those interested in liberal causes.

political donations 4.1.14

Next up is voter registration. Not shockingly Democrats have a slight edge (voter registration is a strong point of the party) and make up 50.22% of those registered, only a few percentage points more than Republicans who account for 47.27%. Below is the raw data for these stats.

political voter registration 4.1.14

We’ll keep watching to see how the political winds might be reflected through this.

Congressional Candidate Comes Under Fire for Vampire LARPing Past

jake rushIt’s April Fools Day, so I did a double take on this one before reporting, but it’s also news out of Florida, so this shouldn’t be a shock at all. Jacob (Jake) A. Rush, a 35-year-old attorney and former sheriff’s deputy is running for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, the Gainesville area. He’s hoping to unseat Representative Ted Yoho, a first-term Tea Party member, in the Republican primary.

While Rush, in his announcement, touted his Constitutional conservative credentials, even with his hand on a Bible in his announcement video, what he didn’t mention is his time as “Chazz Darling” among other persona during his time as a member of the Mind’s Eye Society, you might know them as Vampire/Werewolf/Changeling/Mage LARPers. Larping, Live Action Role Playing, takes the table top game experience and has members act out the story through real actions such as actual sword fights (with foam swords) and play acting. Think of it as a live story that’s made up on the go.

Vampire became a popular roleplaying game when it launched in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing, and has since lived on as a popular LARPing choice with events being held regularly throughout the country. Rush was active in this as of last year and is a founding member and “main staff member” of the Gainesville chapter. The chapter’s name is the “Covenant of the Poisoned Absinthe.” Rush has done his best to scrub online evidence of his past, but nothing ever really goes away on the internet leading to numerous news sites dredging up photos of him in his various characters as well as throwing in more incendiary (to conservatives) imagery.

Though some of Rush’s writing is disturbing (including stories about rape and drugs), Florida news articles have wasted no time painting the game as part of the “occult,” “Satan,” and “witchcraft,” mimicking the moral panic of Dungeons & Dragons decades ago.

While Rush hasn’t responded to various media inquiries, his father did equating the hobby with dressing up for Halloween. Since the initial stories hinted that they found out about Rush’s history through anonymous tips, it’s likely either attacks from his opponents, or someone with personal issues with Rush. The campaign said they would issue a statement, but haven’t yet done so as of this article.

While I’ll admit his writings are a bit over the top, even for Vampire LARPing, should his extracurricular activity be held against him? Sound off below with your thoughts.

(via SaintPetersBlog)

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Comic Fans and Politics

Work is underway for the 2014 elections for the Senate, House and more. We’ll be tracking how comic fans break down in the political spectrum throughout this election year. Again, I dove into Facebook to figure out how it all shakes out.

For these stats, I used the terms I’d normally use to determine other demographic breakdowns of comic fans. Facebook also provides the ability to break down those stats into convenient groups as far as politics which I have used.

According to Facebook 35.83% or 8.6 million comic fans are “active” politically in the United States, that’s 200,000 more than the previous month. This breaks down further into 4.6 million men (53.49%), and 4 million women (46.51%).

political active 2.28.14

Party affiliation is pretty clear as folks can indicate a party or none (which I assume is the non-partisan stat). The non-partisans make up the majority of comic fans with 51.15%, liberals are 25.95% of comic fans and 22.90% of comic fans or conservative. Conservatives gained 0.07 percentage points from the previous month while the percentage of the other two shrank.

party 2.28.14

Further breakdown of gender when it comes to party affiliation:

  • Conservative: 53.33% men, 46.67% women
  • Liberal: 52.94% men, 47.06% women
  • Non-Partisan: 55.22% men, 44.78% women

We’ll keep watching to see how the political winds might be reflected through this.

Superheroes@State. The US Department of State & Islamic Superheroes

Batman, Superman and… Jabbar the Powerful? These superheroes may have more in common than you think. Check out this webchat featuring David Glanzer, Director of Marketing for Comic-Con International, and Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, exchange alumnus and creator of THE 99 — the world’s first superheroes based on Islamic culture and society.

The U.S. Department of State has turned to digital diplomacy in the form of their Co.Nx web portal which features video, audio, Twitter and more. It’s a space for an “interactive exchange of ideas” like the above that brought together members of the State Department and some one of the creators of the Mulsim superhero team The 99.

Poplitico: SC Legislators Want to Punish Colleges for Fun Home

fun home coverSouth Carolina legislators are trying to punish two public colleges for assigning Alison Bechdel‘s praised graphic novel Fun Home. The story deals with Bechdel’s childhood and her closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian.

The state’s House budget-writing committee approved cuts on Wednesday of $52,000 to the College of Charleston and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Those reductions is about what each college spent on their programs that involved the graphic novel as well as other selections on homosexuality. In USC Upstate’s case, they assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio for a required course for all freshmen. The course also featured lectures and other activities.

Rep. Garry Smith said:

I understand diversity and academic freedom. This is purely promotion of a lifestyle with no academic debate.

The House Ways and Means Committee defeated by a vote of 13-10 an effort by Republican Rep. B.R. Skelton to restore the money. Skelton felt this sort of retribution was inappropriate action from the elected officials.

Skelton is a retired Clemson University professor and said:

If we’re going to begin funding institutions on the basis of books they’ve assigned, we’re going down a road we don’t need to go down.

Rep. Jim Merrill, a Republican felt the whole thing was “stupid” and only to make them “feel better.” That didn’t stop him from voting down Skelton’s attempt to restore the funding.

Skelton felt he wanted to make a point and offered an amendment to force the legislators to approve every book on a college reading list. He then pulled the amendment before a vote took place.

Facebook Fandom Spotlight: Comic Fans and Politics

You might not know it yet, but work is underway for the 2014 elections for the Senate, House and more. I thought it might be fun to track how comic fans break down in the political spectrum throughout the year. Again, I dove into Facebook to figure out how it all shakes out.

For these stats, I used the terms I’d normally use to determine other demographic breakdowns of comic fans. Facebook also provides the ability to break down those stats into convenient groups as far as politics which I have used.

According to Facebook 35% or 8.4 million comic fans are “active” politically in the United States. This breaks down further into 4.6 million men (54.76%), and 4 million women (47.62%). That’s more than 100%, a quirk of the Facebook system. What “active” exactly is, isn’t to clear though.

political active 2.1.14

Party affiliation is pretty clear as folks can indicate a party or none (which I assume is the non-partisan stat). The non-partisans make up the majority of comic fans with 51.18%, liberals are 25.98% of comic fans and 22.83% of comic fans or conservative. Non-partisan fans grew to a majority, shrinking the percentage of the pie for liberals and conservatives.

party affiliation 2.1.14

Further breakdown of gender when it comes to party affiliation:

  • Conservative: 55.17% men, 48.28% women
  • Liberal: 51.52% men, 48.48% women
  • Non-Partisan: 55.38% men, 44.62% women

In each of the above, women made gains. It’ll be interesting over the next year to see how these statistics shift.

Help Save Net Neutrality

take actionOn Tuesday January 14th, advocates of free speech and an open internet were delivered a blow when the Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net Neutrality rules in Verizon v. FCC.

There are many different definitions of what exactly Net Neutrality is, but it’s basically the ability to the go where you want and do what you want on the internet without extra charges, artificially slow accessibilities or blockages.

Net Neutrality protects us the consumer. It stops internet providers from slowing down, degrading, or even blocking content or access to online content. When over 70% of Americans have only one option for internet providers in their area, this is a big deal.

But here’s possible scenarios in a world without Net Neutrality, and outlines why this is important:

  • Your internet provider provides you the option to buy voice over internet from them, so they decide to degrade or block the competition, making them the only real option,
  • Your internet provider owns some of the content it delivers (for example Comcast and NBC) and block other services to watch the same or similar content so you have to use their video on demand service,
  • An exclusive deal is struck where a service, say a video game platform or digital comics platform, pay and become the only distributor or platform of that content through your internet provider,
  • Business pay, or people have to pay, to have their content delivered quicker, in an age where ever millisecond counts (think stock trading or online ticket buying). The haves can outpace the have-nots when it comes to online activities.

Internet1I can go on and on with these types of scenarios, and AT&T is already trying to cut deals to deliver some content quicker (that destroys their entire claims for the need of data caps, but that’s another issue). The idea of Net Neutrality is to keep the internet a free and open platform for innovation and expression.

But even though the DC court has said that the FCC cannot enforce network neutrality as it has in the past, it did say it is their job to regulate the internet and protect consumers. Net Neutrality is in the interest of websites, consumers, and the internet as a whole.

The Entertainment Consumers Association has set up a simple form where you can write your Congressmen, the President and the FCC and ask them to enshrine these rules that will past the test of court.

Full disclosure: I act as the Advocacy Director for the Entertainment Consumers Association

501st Legion Nemesis, Senator Tom Coburn Announces His Retirement

wastebook_2013Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has announced his retirement. While we don’t usually cover that sort of news, there is an impact to geekdom because of that. The fiscally conservative Senator each year produces his Wastebook which lists things he deems government waste. We’ve covered this for the last two years as he listed the charitable organization the 501st Legion and this year numerous geeky things like video games and tie-ins to the Man of Steel.

In 2012, the Senator listed the 501st Legion as part of his Wastebook due to $365 of federal funds paid out to the organization for an event. That event was held by a Massachusetts library to get children excited about reading and learning. The Senator seemed to incorrectly think the charity organization somehow gets paid by Lucasfilm, ignoring the fact that its average citizens getting together to do good things.

For his 2013 Wastebook, Coburn took on video games, toy museums, superheroes and the Man of Steel. I’m sure that was the edition that certified that Coburn wanted to stamp out all fun.

The Senator did reveal health issues recently and we wish him good health in his retirement. But, the geek world can rest a little bit better due to it.

(via the Washington Post)

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