The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris on January 7 brings into focus a common theme pervading our culture…the “right” to not be offended. The jihadists who gunned down a dozen people for publishing offensive cartoons may have used the most extreme measure to intimidate, but the impetus—“thou shalt not offend me”—infects almost every line of discourse in society today.
When we begin to talk about free speech, people often retreat to a defensive argument that it’s not a violation of free speech unless the government inhibits speech. But, free speech is more than just freedom from government interference. If people do not feel free to speak their mind due to the threat of retaliation, then speech cannot possibly be said to be “free” regardless of whether or not a law has been passed.
It must be pointed out that being “offended” is an emotion, and we are (or should be) in control of our emotions. The hurtful impact of words comes from within YOU, not from the external source of those words. When your mother told you, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” she wasn’t lying to you. She was describing how an adult SHOULD handle hateful speech in a mature and reasonable nature.
Have words ever made me angry? Yes. Have I sometimes lashed back in anger? Yes. Getting angry was not wrong; letting my anger affect my response was wrong. It is still wrong.
Should people generally try to be civil and not “give offense” to others? Absolutely. The world would be a better place if we all treated each other with more respect. HOWEVER, we can go a long way toward making the world a better place if we refuse to allow other people’s words to cause us to lash out—especially to the point of hunting down and killing those who offended us.
Is it permissible to condemn hateful speech? Of course! The same freedom of speech exercised by someone to utter hateful speech gives us the right to tell those people they are being hateful. Or, to put it another way, the freedom that someone has to call you a bootlicker is the freedom you have to call them a whingy coward.
This applies to discussions of religion, video games, political causes, the environment, race relations…everything. We must be free to speak our mind about anything, or we are free to speak our mind about nothing.
 Of course, there are more and more people calling for government inhibition of free speech through hate speech laws, hate crime laws, etc. My position on that argument should be made abundantly clear through this post.
 I’m trying to keep this post PG. The insults hurled around on Twitter and other places are much, much worse.
Predicting the future is a facetious endeavor, but, since everyone does it and I don’t want to be left out, here’s my list of predictions for A.D. 2015. Some are jokes, some are actual attempts at foretelling the future, but, since such activity is laughable anyway, perhaps they’re all just jokes.
- Uncharted 4 will be delayed into 2016. It won’t be the only game that is “pushed back.”
- Bonuses for Nintendo’s executives will also be delayed into 2016.
- Twitter will change its name to Bitter to better reflect the attitude of its users. “Tweets” will become “Bites.”
- Inside Out, Pixar’s first movie in two years, will be the first financial flop for the company.
- Microsoft will offer an Xbox One with Kinect but no standard controller. It will be called the Wee One.
- Pillars of Eternity, Kickstarter project from Obsidian, will finally be released, over a year late. It will still be a bug-ridden mess.
- Mel Kiper, Jr. will say “lig” (league) 562 times during the first round of the NFL draft.
- North Korea will hack the BBC. No one will notice until “Sherlock” doesn’t air.
- Bethesda will announce Fallout 4.
- Bethesda plays a clip of Ron Perlman saying, “War. War never changes.” The LA Convention center explodes from the mass outburst of the attendees.
- Steam sales will hit the tipping point and Valve will start paying people to download games.
- As a result, Valve’s stock will go up.
- Somebody will sue Valve over a line of copyrighted code in their Steam OS.
- Valve’s stock will go up again.
- May 1, 2015, will be the largest absentee day in the history of the United States.
- Peter Jackson will announce a fifteen-part film of The Silmarillion.
- Despite extensive writing about how much I hate the luck involved in fantasy football, I will still play at least two leagues come next season.
- Tom Brady will retire from New England and sign with an SEC school, saying he wants to go out facing tougher competition than the AFC East.
- The first game between Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston is cancelled for lack of effort.
- The rate of poorly-sourced, false “news” stories outnumbers true stories at the rate of 1.2 to 1. People don’t care.
- Andrew Luck shaves off his beard and can no longer find a helmet small enough for his head.
- “Petspreading” becomes the next big controversy as people complain the sheer volume of animal pictures is going to shut down the Internet.
- The Catholic Church sues New Orleans for associating football violence with the saints. Until people point out there’s nothing particularly violent about the New Orleans Saints.
- The number of people who play video games will increase.
- The number of people complaining about the “casual” players ruining gaming will also increase.
- A teen programmer will release a simple game that is widely derided as being the worst example of gaming in existence. It will be downloaded 50,000,000 times and the teen will retire rich.
- Thus leading to even more nasty blogs about the teen, the game, and the 50,000,000 people who play the game.
- Some of whom will be the people writing the nasty blogs.
- Amazon will introduce Prime Plus, which will examine your purchase history and deliver products you want before you order them.
- I will finally finish my next Betty Sterling novel.
Happy New Year! Remember, you only have 365 days until 2016.
10. Everything is designed for touchscreens. Hey! I still like to use a keyboard and mouse once-in-a-while!
9. Internet memes. Especially how they are obsolete so quickly. I’m just now starting to get the hang of the “One does not simply…” meme and my son looks at me cross-eyed when I use it.
8. Switching “alternate” functions on the function keys. I use F2, F3, F4, etc. all the time, but now on many laptops they change the brightness or turn off my wireless instead of their correct functions. Drives me nuts.
7. Cloud services. Let’s see, I’ve got Dropbox, and Google Drive, and OneDrive… All our data lives online now and people wonder why we don’t have any privacy. Well, it’s because…
6. Hacking. Seriously, if the average person understood how often Web sites and online databases get hacked, the Internet would shut down from so many people disconnecting.
5. Pace of change. I got a relatively new model phone less than a year ago and it’s already antique. :sigh: Now I have to slog through using such an obviously cheap piece of junk for another year before I can upgrade.
4. One-button interfaces. Thanks, Apple, for your “click-wheel.” Now “easy-to-use” interfaces are infecting everything from my digital thermometer, to my electric toothbrush, and even my car.
3. Click-bait Web sites. And the celebrities who share them.
2. Anonymity on the Internet is making “social” media very anti-social. Some of the stuff that pops up on Twitter would never be said to someone else’s face because you’d get punched.
1. Our reliance on the Internet. If the WiFi goes out in the house, it’s a national emergency. Thank goodness we get good cell tower coverage…
 OK, some of these are funny.
 Let’s be honest, the click-wheel wasn’t that great a control scheme anyway.
10. Replayability. Really, if the game is short, it’s probably not interesting enough to play again. If it’s long enough to be interesting, it’s too long to keep playing it over and over. Make the game so I can do everything the first time. And, really, do game devs want us to play one game over and over? Don’t they want to sell us new games?
9. Epic plots. “There’s a giant hole in the sky spitting out demons! Can you please find my lost cow?” The best games have more personal stories.
8. YouTube walkthroughs. Edit. We do not need to watch you “walk through” cutscenes and endless meandering about looking for stuff. EDIT!
7. Delays. Companies have been making video games for 40+ years. You would think by now they would have figured out how to make reasonable estimates of how long it takes. On the other hand, delays are better than…
6. Bug-ridden messes. I can live with a Day 1 Patch. But it had better work after that Day 1 Patch…
5. 1080p. Apparently, if we actually want to read text in a game, we have to own 60”+ televisions. Speaking of which…
4. Text. If I want to read a book, I’ll read a book. Please don’t throw tens-of-thousands of words of text at me in the game, and expect me to read it to understand everything.
3. Nintendo 2DS. I know, I should have sprung the extra $60 for a 3DS, but, seriously, Nintendo? This hardware is cheap. You can do better than this. You had best do better than this or your quarterly losses are going to continue mounting.
2. #Gamergate However, GG is doing one good thing in trying to fight…
1. Censorship. If I don’t like the content of the game, I won’t buy the game. I may even tell other people my negative opinion of the game. But don’t try to block the game being made or sold; that way lies madness.
Actual side quest in Dragon Age: Inquisition
No, I’m not going to even try. GG is the consumer-side of gaming eating itself.