Energy Group Labels Creators Of Video Game As 'Eco-Terrorists'

from the new-lows dept

The fever-pitch from those that claim that violent video games lead to real-life malicious activity is such that it produces some truly dumb diatribes and soundbites. Despite vast evidence that human beings are at least intelligent enough to separate digital violence from real-world violence, and given how rife with error and purposeful obfuscation the opposing research has been, we still get the silliness. Dr. Oz spouts off about the harm video games do to teenagers, forgetting to back it up with anything resembling evidence for his position. Dan Brown was sure video games lead to real-life violence, forgetting apparently that his own novels are stuffed with violent episodes. And Pat Robertson told his addled audiences that killing in a game is no different at all than killing someone in real life, indicating that we are a nation chock full of mass murderers that will be judged harshly by the Lord his god.

But it's something of a new low to see oil-business advocacy group Energy Builders attempt to label the creator of a video game an "eco-terrorist" because the game includes some mild violence against oil pipelines.

“Thunderbird Strike” is a Windows PC game that allows players to take the form of a thunderbird. The mythological creature, rooted in indigenous culture, flies from the Alberta’s tar sands to the Great Lakes, where environmentalists are currently challenging Enbridge’s Line 5, a 645-mile-long crude oil pipeline. Players use lightning strikes to gain points by destroying pipeline equipment, but they can also revive animal skeletons.

The game sends an obvious message in support of political activism, offering advice on its website for users who want to take action against fossil fuel extraction. That’s not pipeline-advocate Energy Builders’ apparent problem, though. Its issue it has is with users blowing up pipelines, according to a press release. Energy Builders considers this signature move “an act of domestic terrorism.”

First off, it's been quite nice to not hear form Energy Builders on all the other violent video games out there that allow you to perform actions much more insidious compared with fantasy-striking an oil pipeline with a lightning-bird. I guess all the fictional and virtual murder out there that got Pat Robertson's sin-detector humming is of no concern to Energy Builders, whereas virtual violence against some metal and plastic is a bridge too far. It's tempting to wave off these comments as simple oil industry silliness, except that calls for anything resembling eco-activism as terrorism have become a kind of sport for the industry, often with dire consequences at the federal level.

Linking environmentalists with terrorism is becoming a popular way of attacking activists. In Congress, 84 members (including four Texas Democrats) sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions a letter Monday asking him to label environmental activists as terrorists.

They don't use the term explicitly, but mention 18 U.S. Code 2331, which is all about defining international and domestic terrorism.

It's quite easy to see how an innocent game-maker might be "accidentally" lumped in with groups far more extreme in their actions. That's the real danger with an energy group happily throwing around words it knows are irresponsible.

Meanwhile, I imagine the game's creator might want to send a fruit basket to Energy Builders for propelling the game into the public consciousness with all of this silliness. This kind of Streisand Effect is almost classic in nature, with news coverage of the game so hated by Energy Builder supercharging the attention it is receiving.


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  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 3:56pm

    First it was rock & roll music.
    Then it was violent movies.
    Now it's violent video games...

    I'm waiting to see when they say breathing causes violence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 4:26pm

      Re:

      The next phase is to declare that violent VR games are pumping violence and hatred directly into our brains via VR headsets. It's coordinated mind control perpetrated by the video game industry against our Dear Corporate and Religious Leaders.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 4:48pm

      Re:

      You forgot RPGs.

      Yeah, the tabletop ones.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 5:04pm

        Re: Re:

        Also comics.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ShadowNinja (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 5:27am

        Re: Re:

        It's true!

        I played a majorly evil Chaotic Evil alignment bad guy in my D&D games. My character went around murdering peasants and raping women and children! My character even stabbed his own party members in the back and murdered them just to keep all the loot for his greedy self!

        And now look at me! I'm... a perfectly ordinary adult with no criminal record who hasn't raped or killed a single person...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 7:16pm

      IT'S ALL EVIL

      When there's mass hysteria about all these things (also trashy romance novels, also bicycles)...

      ...why should we believe it when they say guns are a problem?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 8:57am

        Re: IT'S ALL EVIL

        Because trashy romance novels, bicycles, video games, and D&D source books make poor murder weapons...though I suppose the latter could be a handy improvised bludgeoning weapon.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Kal Zekdor (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 9:59am

          Re: Re: IT'S ALL EVIL

          Yeah, but it only does 1d4 damage.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 1:37pm

          Re: Re: IT'S ALL EVIL

          Who needs a murder weapon? You just use the totally real spells in the AD&D players handbook to ensorcell the target's spouse to bludgeon him to death with the rolling pin.

          I shit you not, this is the argument made against Satanic role playing games and rock-&-roll in the seventies, and the public believed it.

          At any rate there are plenty of other objects that make dandy murder weapons (like rolling pins) that we don't criminalize on account of them being dandy murder weapons. Objects being dangerous has never been an excuse

          (or rather it always has, and a poorly asserted one.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeDetroit (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 9:47am

      Re:

      First it was dancing the Waltz.
      Then it was jazz.
      Then it was books, wait maybe books before jazz.. wait..
      Obviously blaming some outside influence on the corruption of our youth goes way back & can be found in our earliest recorded history.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Groaker (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      Before R&R there were Ice-cream sodas actually being sold to minors on the Sabbath. This led to the mocking of the law through the sale of the villainous Ice-cream sundae which continued the corruption of youth as well as the misspelling of Sunday.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 31 Oct 2017 @ 5:42pm

      Re:

      You left out Dungeons and Dragons, Halloween and feminism.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 7:19pm

      Re:

      Peaceniks and environmentalists cause violence. We've already been there a long time. FYI, cannabis causes both overly peaceful and also violent behavior. Whatever is handy at the moment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thad, 30 Oct 2017 @ 4:01pm

    Uh-oh. Nobody tell them about Sonic the Hedgehog.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 4:05pm

    Does...

    ...using solar and/or wind energy make me an environmental activist/terrorist? If yes, how does that not make the US Government both environmental activists AND terrorists (not that there are not other reasons to call the US Government terrorists)? Will Jeff Sessions go after both with equal enthusiasm?

    Or will we need to wait for the ISDS law suits from oil exporting nations to claim our electric cars violate their profits?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 6:40pm

      Re: Does...

      Absolutely! Companies are composed of many people, which means harming company profits like that is no different than setting off a bomb in a crowded venue, and advocating for an act which would be harmful to company profits is no different than telling people to go out and start lopping off heads.

      Whether it be protests, depictions that are anything less than gushing with praise or using an alternative, anything that doesn't put money in the bank of a major, politically minded(which is to say 'making donations') company is no less that terrorism of the highest order, and needs to be prosecuted as such in order to protect the freedoms this great country is based upon. Large, well funded corporations are the bedrock this great country is based upon, which means attacking them is nothing less than attacking the country, it's government, and all it's citizens directly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 7:22pm

        Re: Re: Does...

        When we get done claiming everybody else in the world as terrorists, and everybody else in the world has claimed we are terrorists, will the word have any meaning to the word left? Does it have any meaning left now?

        Other than that, Corporations are terrorists, one and all, but if they use ISDS, they are more terroristic than those that haven't yet, not that the other won't be cause joining the club is what one does, even in the corporate world.

        Here's to creating an international terrorist day, the one holiday that everyone, regardless of ideology, religion, politics, race, or any other identifier can celebrate because we have all been declared terrorists, everyone of us, the world over. No presents please.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 2:45am

        Re: Re: Does...

        Why thank for those inspiring words of encouragement and wisdom General Bullmoose.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 9:01am

          Re: Re: Re: Does...

          Just giving an answer to the question presented, though I forgot to add that if the law wasn't already sane enough to match my comment I strongly support a brave, patriotic legislator putting forth a modest proposal to achieve the needed change.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 4:35pm

    Labeling advocacy

    This is just more of the divisiveness in the current political environment. Advocates for my side are perfectly reasonable, peaceful, intelligent and well-informed demonstrators. Advocates for your side are completely irrational, terroristic, fake news spouting morons.

    The interesting thing is that so many people believe we can still hold meaningful political discourse under these conditions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Professor Ronny, 30 Oct 2017 @ 5:21pm

      Re: Labeling advocacy

      Of course we can. Or at least my side can.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 5:31pm

      Re: Labeling advocacy

      Yes, that sounds almost as bad as erroneous "both sides" nonsense.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 30 Oct 2017 @ 5:46pm

      Re: Labeling advocacy

      I'll bite.

      How is this story an example of that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 7:59pm

        Re: Re: Labeling advocacy

        In that the company ("my side", for some values of "me") is labeling those associated with the video game ("your side", similarly) as "terrorists", presumably thereby hoping to see them reflexively condemned, rather than seeking to have reasonable debate on fair basis.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 5:29am

      Re: Labeling advocacy

      Not to mention labeling environmental activists 'terrorists' while NOT labeling almost all the mass shootings in the US terrorism or domestic terrorism makes a mockery of the 'terrorist' label.

      Terrorism is about using fear and violence, or threats of violence, to accomplish your political goals. Most environmental activists don't fall under either category.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 10:18am

        Re: Re: Labeling advocacy

        Strangely enough, most police forces and unions DO fall under both those categories.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 1 Nov 2017 @ 6:05pm

        Fear and violence to accomplish political goals.

        That is a rather late 20th century / post-9/11 definition of Terrorism. Convenient as it excludes the crap the US does.

        In the old days, terrorism was attacking civilians rather than military or infrastructure.

        WWI Rail guns, buzz bombs, V2 rockets, Firebombing cities. Atomic Weapons...

        Oh and Drone Strikes and targeted killings. Totally terror.

        PS: Did anyone else notice how WMDs became strategic weapons again now that the US might need to nuke someone?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John, 30 Oct 2017 @ 5:48pm

    Hypocrisy?

    Pat Robertson asserts that killing in a game is no different at all than killing someone in real life and we'll all be judged for it?

    Is this the same Pat Robertson who advocated for assassinating a foreign leader?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 5:56pm

    kinda tangental

    Sadly I don't see the game on gog.com or an entry in winehq.com's appdb. Otherwise I might have considered it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 6:00pm

      Re: kinda tangental

      oh... it's a free game (web site had a dropbox link).
      Also it should be winehq.org (for the OCD, or people who might actually use copy&past)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 6:03pm

    Klan supporter and evil Keebler elf Jeff Sessions...

    ...is too busy working on killing immigrant children, supporting voter suppression and making sure police can summarily execute whoever they want to deal with this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 10:57am

      Re: Klan supporter and evil Keebler elf Jeff Sessions...

      Sounds like the video game our government is playing. Also, they have all the cheat codes while hiding same from the public.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 30 Oct 2017 @ 6:09pm

    Beware Of Claiming That A is As Bad As B ...

    ... because the flipside of that is that B is no worse than A. Do you really want to be claiming that committing actual acts of violence is no worse than merely fantasizing about them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 9:35am

      Re: Beware Of Claiming That A is As Bad As B ...

      Wrongthink is all around us, and thought crime is going unpunished.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 6:21pm

    In a few years anyone who disagrees with oil companies, banks, ISPs, Hollywood, lawmakers or any big corporations will be be eligible for "terrorist" status... Free speech strikes terror into the hearts of those who fear the truth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 1:22am

      Re:

      Actually, the problem may be the other way around. A person many people have heard of is getting away with complete fabrications and claiming opinion over evidence. It has a certain effect on people with non-evidence based opinions.

      As long as you can get away with zero-summing everything, both sides will always be wrong and opinions of volume and sufficient regurgitation will be of greater important than facts.

      Not saying that regulating speech is the answer. Just that the kind of speech we see so often today is pure emotion and that is an extremely bad basis for making politics.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 8:02pm

    Oh no - not this silliness again.

    They must be playing a video game called bullshit

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 30 Oct 2017 @ 8:22pm

    And Pat Robertson told his addled audiences that killing in a game is no different at all than killing someone in real life, indicating that we are a nation chock full of mass murderers that will be judged harshly by the Lord his god.

    Any chance of reversing that by killing demons in DOOM?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 8:55am

      Like I need another excuse to replay that game...

      Eh, I figure I've saved enough kingdoms/countries/planets/galaxies that any killing should be well balanced out.

      After all, if killing a character in a game is equivalent to killing someone in real life, then clearly saving someone in a game is equivalent to saving someone in real life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 10:23am

      Re:

      Samson vs the Palestinians. Just grab that jawbone and start crushing skulls left and right. Your heavenly credit is reflected by your kill count.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zem, 30 Oct 2017 @ 8:50pm

    Disappointed really. If only they had been labelled "ecoterrorist nazis" we could have had the Techdirt Daily Double. Godwin's followed by Streisand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 31 Oct 2017 @ 3:41am

    I get the feeling that 'terrorist' has been redefined...

    To mean "someone who, in a lawful manner, advocates against violent and/or destructive behaviour".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 8:22am

    On a side note - I find it humorous that some are getting upset at the video game Wolfenstein because you are encouraged to kill nazis.

    This is rich - lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 9:19am

    Complete own-goal

    My previous perception was that 'eco-terrorist' referred to those extremists that were willing to destroy property and even kill in "raise awareness" for their 'cause'. They do evil things like spike trees, burn down buildings and release ill-adapted animals to the wild.

    Now when I hear that phrase I'll just expect regular people with moderate views wanting reasonable constraints on companies that would otherwise destroy the environment to make money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2017 @ 9:38am

    I think we can safely ignore anything Pat Robertson says since he has openly come out in the past for raping children:

    http://uspoln.com/2017/06/10/pat-robertson-nothing-bible-says-pedophilia-bible/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 31 Oct 2017 @ 7:24pm

    Powerful and well-funded terrorist organizations always like to call mostly peaceful and loosely-knit groups who speak against them "terrorists".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wyrm, 31 Oct 2017 @ 7:55pm

    virtual? reality?

    Apparently, teenagers are more skilled at distinguishing reality from imagination than adults with a law degree.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 6:59pm

    Terrorism, again? Think of a better excuse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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