Thin-Skinned Chinese Government Busy Making American Sports Orgs Look Silly On Free Speech Issues

from the villains-of-the-storm dept

It's no secret that the Chinese government is no friend to free speech. While that statement must seem painfully obvious, the entire world is getting an education into just how thin-skinned Beijing is with the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. While those protesters are chiefly demonstrating for their own civil rights, the Chinese government has apparently made it its business to police the rest of the world's speech while holding the second largest economy on the planet as a hostage to its own hurt feelings.

And American sporting companies are failing this values test. And failing it badly. We'll start with the NBA. Days ago, Daryl Morey, the GM for the Houston Rockets, tweeted out an image that included the text, "Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong." It's the kind of thing literally anyone could have sent, except that the NBA, and the Rockets in particular, are insanely popular in China. Much of that has to do with Yao Ming having played for the Rockets years ago. Ming now runs the Chinese Basketball Association.

The reaction to all of this was swift. The CBA cut ties with the Rockets. Chinese broadcasters announced they would no longer broadcast NBA pre-season games. A pre-season game that is supposed to be played in China in mere days is up in the air as to whether the game will even be played. And Chinese run media ran with it all, with one article stating:

Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA team the Houston Rockets, has obviously gotten himself into trouble. He tweeted a photo saying “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” on Saturday while accompanying his team in Tokyo. The tweet soon set the team’s Chinese fans ablaze. It can be imagined how Morey’s tweet made them disappointed and furious. Shortly afterward, CCTV sports channel and Tencent sports channel both announced they would suspend broadcasting Rockets’ games. Some of the team’s Chinese sponsors and business partners also started to suspend cooperation with the Rockets.

Here's the thing: Twitter isn't officially available in China. It's therefore tough to understand just how these Chinese fans became "ablaze" and "furious" without ever being able to see the tweet, had the Chinese government not decided to feed this whole thing through its well-developed outrage machine. Between that and the simple fact that Morey's tweet was about as anodyne as one could be on the topic of Hong Kong, you would have thought the NBA would be willing to show at least a little spine. Instead, it issued an apology for offending its Chinese fans, while Morey deleted the tweet entirely.

The NBA issued a statement in English on Sunday, saying it was “regrettable” that Morey’s tweet “deeply offended” legions of Chinese fans.

There are reports that the Chinese version of the apology went much, much further in its groveling. This set off a public firestorm in America and elsewhere, with the NBA appearing to bow at the altar of Beijing's manufactured hurt feelings. It got bad enough that Commissioner Adam Silver finally came out and issued the statement he should have issued to begin with.

Values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA — and will continue to do so. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game¬

It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences. However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.

The statement led to even more backlash from China, with sponsorships being pulled, and the broadcast and hosting of NBA games now in serious perpetual doubt. Still, it's worth noting that it took a severe public backlash to get the NBA to the proper stance, in which it protects and backs the speech rights of its employees.

Whereas Blizzard fully rolled over for Beijing when it yanked the prize money and banned a professional Hearthstone player for making statements similar to Morey's.

Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, a pro Hearthstone player from Hong Kong, ended a stream earlier this week with a statement of support for those engaged in months-long protests against local police and government. As a result of this, Blizzard has ruled that he violated competition rules, and have handed out a heavy punishment.

In the stream, part of the broadcast of the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters, Blitzchung wore a mask (similar to those worn by protesters) and said “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!”

As with the NBA, the Chinese government complained. Unlike the NBA, however, Blizzard seems to have permanently misplaced its spine. The company claimed that the official competition rules were violated, specifically:

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.

It feels easy to argue that Blizzard's "sole discretion" has been severely miscalculated. The rather tame voice of support by Blitzchung for Hong Kong protests are absolutely the sort of thing the thin-skinned Chinese government deems a problem, but that same analysis should not be reached by an American company. Banning and taking prize money from the competitor in this way is about as stupid as it gets. For one, the American market is important to Blizzard as well, and this sure as hell is not going to play well here. For another, the precedent has now been etched into stone and you can bank that the Chinese government, and others, will see just how far they can slam open this door that Blizzard decided to crack.

It would be better if Blizzard, now as much an eSports company as anything else, along with the NBA, could simply stand up for some basic civil rights and values. Money is good, sure. But selling your soul to an authoritarian government doesn't seem like a good long term strategy.

Filed Under: basketball, blitzchung, china, daryl morey, free speech, hearthstone, hong kong, sports
Companies: blizzard, houston rockets, nba


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:10pm

    Miscalculated?

    It feels easy to argue that Blizzard's "sole discretion" has been severely miscalculated.

    How so? It's obvious that a political statement like that will offend a portion of the public. Anything will offend a portion of the public.

    The contract simply contains a ridiculously overbroad clause that negates the whole thing. "We'll pay you unless we don't want to." It should be considered fraud to characterize something as a competition, with a term like that.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:11pm

    Blizzard went farther than that

    A number of blizzard employees have started protesting this as well. It is rumored to not have gone well for them

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

  3. icon
    Spaceboy (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:21pm

    Blizzcon is going to be lit!

    At least this year Blizzard has advance notice of their fuckup.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Blizzcon is going to be lit!

    hey, everyone has phones!

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

  5. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:33pm

    Anyone in Blizzard who has anything to do with BlizzCon — which starts in about three weeks — must be sweating bullets (and maybe typing up résumés) right about now. The timing of this decision could not be worse…or better, depending on how you feel about Blizzard.

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

  6. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:36pm

    Fans are also drawing fan art of and repurposing official art of Overwatch character Mei-Ling Zhou (who is canonically Chinese) to make her a supporter of the Hong Kong protestors. It’s a hell of a move, really.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:40pm

    How is it, after all of this bullshit that has come to light over the last several years, that people in the public eye still do or say stupid things in public channels? Whether you agree or disagree with what was said (I lean toward "agree" in this case) publicly saying things that could incite people is a dumb thing for a public personality to do. I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for them no matter how true, empathetic or supportive their messages may have been.

    People, all people, need to learn to engage their brains before their thumbs. Free Speech does not mean free of consequences.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:44pm

    Re:

    Blizzard needs to be knocked down a few notches. The moment they decided their fans don't matter (back around 2007) was the beginning of the end for them. They're not as awesome as they think they are and it's about time they got a reality check.

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

  9. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:49pm

    How does showing solidarity with Hong Kong’s protestors and their fight against the authoritarian Chinese government count as a “stupid thing”?

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:49pm

    Really, at this point, any "China is authoritarian" type group can just point to these items and say "Thanks China, you just made my point better than I ever could."

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:52pm

    Reality check

    It would be better if Blizzard, now as much an eSports company as anything else, along with the NBA, could simply stand up for some basic civil rights and values. Money is good, sure. But selling your soul to an authoritarian government doesn't seem like a good long term strategy.

    Isn't the reality here that these things are available in China only with the consent of the PRC? These companies surely don't have the political or diplomatic muscle to change the actions of this government, that's a job for nations not companies, and by keeping access to the Chinese people they also help to spread culture and ideas.

    I suppose my instinctive feeling is that keeping China talking to them may have been the best move for these companies and the fans of their products. A grand gesture is nice to see but if it comes at the expense of continued dialogue, cooperation and consensus building I don't see things actually getting better any time soon.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    Isn't a statement of support for the protests actually illegal right now? Doing something illegal while being a representative of a benefactor's product isn't that smart.

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

  13. icon
    rkhalloran (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    In the NBA case, this was an team 'employee' using their public position to advertise their opinion, and the employer then choosing to placate an offended group of customers despite its stated posture of supporting US free-speech values. In the Blizzard case, it was leveraging a "don't offend others" clause no doubt way down in the EULA against one customer against another customer-group, again in spite of US conventions and triggering a counter-response supporting the original poster. It's about impossible to make an utterly neutral statement that doesn't push someone's buttons, somewhere, so this is a much more questionable move, and may backfire on them to some degree.

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

  14. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 12:59pm

    Isn't a statement of support for the protests actually illegal right now?

    In Hong Kong, maybe, and only because China is working with the HK government to crack down on the protests. But here in the United States, which has the goddamned First Amendment, it is 100% legal.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:04pm

    Re:

    But Ng Wai Chung was in Hong Kong. So he was definitely committing a crime while associating himself with the tournament. I'm not sure Blizzard being headquartered in California is going to hold much weight with the authorities.

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

  16. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:05pm

    by keeping access to the Chinese people they also help to spread culture and ideas

    But they’re only spreading the culture and ideas that are pre-approved by the Chinese government. And they’re only doing that because China has a billion people, which makes it a huge market for raking in cash. Hell, Hollywood censors films (e.g., the Red Dawn remake was digitally altered to turn the enemy force from China to North Korea) so they can get the films into Chinese theaters and make more money.

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

  17. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:08pm

    And if he believed standing up for his beliefs and principles in such a public way outweighed any potential consequences (legal, social, or especially financial), what right do you have to call him an idiot?

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:14pm

    Re:

    But they’re only spreading the culture and ideas that are pre-approved by the Chinese government.

    It's more that specific ideas are rejected than that all ideas are approved. That leaves quite a lot of room for expression and communication. A lot of ways to reach people and give them something good or useful or soul-nourishing.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re:

    That's sort of the point. Someone said something in a different country, and China said to the US company "Delete this, fire the broadcasters" and Blizzard, a non Chinese company, listened and acquiesced to their demands.

    Also their protestations aren't illegal. The problem is China doesn't really care about the law.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Blizzcon is going to be lit!

    Advance tickets get to flash mob for Hong Kong early!

    (Please don’t blame me for if it actually happens I still feel for Area 51 man)

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    Idiot has overtly negative connotations, I would never use that epithet. People act emotionally, this is normal and not considered idiotic. But it isn't necessarily smart either. As for my right, I've claimed none, he is clearly free to his choices, triumphs and mistakes. But moral certitude does not make your actions the best possible actions. Exploiting Blizzard's platform to make his point is also questionable, and his stunt damaged the careers of the casters as well. Make of that what you will.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:30pm

    Re:

    what right do you have to call him an idiot?

    As you wrote two messages above: "here in the United States, which has the goddamned First Amendment, it is 100% legal."

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:30pm

    Re: corporate stuff

    they are just worried about their offices overseas there getting shut down/raided/enemy of the state pressure type stuff. it’s understandable I doubt it comes from any real sympathetic views towards the Chinese government.

    There are ways to handle these things better though. I still follow things there every now and then but China does not look like it’s ready to start arresting foreigners of those companies stationed there or citizens and if that happens the shits probably hit the fan or heading into it.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    But Ng Wai Chung was in Hong Kong. So he was definitely committing a crime while associating himself with the tournament.

    And if he happened to be standing in a McDonalds when he said it, would he be "associating" with McDonalds?

    I don't see how Blizzard is in any way "responsible" for a statement made by someone who happens to be competing in one of their tournaments. That they rolled over at the slightest frown from China is reprehensible.

    According to cnet though, Tencent owns about a 5% stake in Blizzard, so that might explain things a bit more.

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re:

    What I make of your statement is that you like the taste of boot polish.

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

  26. identicon
    hausjam, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:35pm

    Why is America capitulating to China? We are the customer. They should be capitulating to us. We are already pulling more and more manufacturing from them. You would think they would be nervous about that.

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

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:38pm

    Re:

    It doesn't even matter whether it's "stupid". By Blizzard's rules, saying or doing anything that offends one person is forbidden. Just entering the tournament is likely to offend somebody.

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

  28. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: corporate stuff

    And that's why you don't open offices in countries like that. They sold their soul for some extra money, like many other big game companies today. They have no moral high ground to stand on at all, and are quickly losing the low ground as well.

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

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re:

    Simply that he was using Blizzard’s platform (the tournament and the stream) to widen his reach. That’s all I meant.

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

  30. icon
    crade (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Reality check

    It's extortion. Every time someone capitulates they send the message that the extortion works and are asking for more of it.

    China is saying they want to control speech in other countries and these companies are saying they will totally help them do that. That's your dialogue.

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

  31. identicon
    bob, 9 Oct 2019 @ 1:55pm

    Re:

    Don't believe all that hype about "winning" our trade war. But if you have actual numbers showing how much manufacturing we are taking then please share it.

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

  32. identicon
    bob, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    I liked the response from Blitzchung. He cares more about freedom than playing a game.

    This has even garnered the attention of several US congressmen.

    https://gamasutra.com/view/news/351838/Blizzard_bans_Hearthstone_esports_pro_over_liber ate_Hong_Kong_interview.php

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

  33. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:09pm

    Exploiting Blizzard's platform to make his point is also questionable, and his stunt damaged the careers of the casters as well.

    His stunt didn’t damage the careers of the casters. Blizzard being in the pocket of Chinese interests did that. Hell, Epic Games is handing Blizzard an L over this situation, which is entirely of Blizzard’s own making. It could’ve done nothing, or it could’ve stood up to its Chinese backers/the Chinese government. Instead, it chose profits over principles — and damaged not only itself, but the lives of three other people in the process.

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

  34. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:11pm

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

  35. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re:

    The underlying problem is national debt and maintaining industrial capacity for national security reasons. If Congress stops growing the debt faster than the economy and the industrial base grows some we will have "won".

    The problem is Trumps main adversary is Congressional attitudes about the national debt more than industrial capacity right now.

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

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:13pm

    Re:

    Because he's a public figure and has to know, if he has any smarts at all, that saying something like that could affect other areas of his life, to wit: his participation and winnings in Hearthstone. I agree with his support of Hong Kong but his tweeting that out to the world was never going to go without consequence. He should have known that.

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

  37. identicon
    bob, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re:

    Sorry meant members of Congress. It was two senators Rubio and Wyden

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

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Reality check

    Can you honestly say, if you were the CEO of Blizzard, a publicly traded company, and a huge percentage of your profits come from the massive Chinese market, that you would have told China to go piss up a rope?

    Everyone's morals have a price, without exception.

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

  39. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    LOL

    That's one backhanded way to call the Congressmen women.

    LMAO

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

  40. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:20pm

    Trumps main adversary is

    …his own deteriorating brain.

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

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Reality check

    Everyone's morals have a price, without exception.

    Then they aren't morals. They're attitudes of convenience, to be modified or abandoned when no longer convenient.

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

  42. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    I invited you to make of it what you will and you did. Well done. But the positions of the casters were in Blizzard's gift (subject to existing contracts) and not Ng Wai Chung's. Still, it would not have been a likely predicted outcome so he can't be seriously faulted. If it were me I would certainly feel a little guilty about it.

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

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Sure, and I'd expect a reaction from China condemning his statement, possibly going after any assets he might have had in China, even arresting him in Hong Kong. I wouldn't expect a US company to kowtow to China and torpedo his career to stay in their good graces.

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

  44. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:53pm

    Re:

    I'd actually move the problem from his brain to the link between it and his mouth, paired with his ego. Someone's brain could be completely shot such that it comes up with the most ridiculous and/or stupid ideas, but so long as those ideas stay in their brain it's not really that big of a problem.

    On the other hand if anything that pops up in their brain makes it to their mouth no matter what then it becomes a significant problem, all the more so if their ego makes them incapable of admitting that they made a mistake/said something stupid, and therefore they must defend whatever it was at all costs.

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

  45. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That may be true, but all Blizzard really had to say at that point to cover themselves would have been something like "The opinions of the people on this stream are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Blizzard."

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

  46. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 2:58pm

    'You can say anything you want... so long as it praises me.'

    'A lot of room' doesn't mean much as long as it's restricted to only that which is acceptable to those in power.

    Might as well say that you can travel as far as you want, but only as long as you stay on the path that has been marked out for you, no deviations allowed without punishment. Under that setup while you may be able to go in one directed plenty, your ability to actually travel and explore is essentially non-existent.

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

  47. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:01pm

    China is a huge market and wields an absurd amount of clout by gating access to said market. However, they're not an island, and require foreign companies' trade if only because their populace demand it.

    If foreign companies were to somehow band together and collectively tell China to fuck off, China would have to come to the table... If only there were some way to organize, combine their bargaining power, form some kind of... union, say...

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

  48. identicon
    bob, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not quite seeing the joke but you have congressmen/women and senators. Members of the legistature or Congress is completely fine for refering to the body of members from either or both houses.

    So I don't see how it was referring to anyone as a woman.

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

  49. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:05pm

    'You can say anything you want... so long as it won't harm me.'

    Again it's more that specific options are not allowed than only specific options are allowed. I agree that's a subtle distinction but I suspect it does create a lot of room. In this case you are only seeing one specific violation.

    Maybe I'm wrong. I'm guessing some of this based simply on theories about practicality and anecdotal evidence. Perhaps you know more of situation? I've never tried to publish anything in China myself.

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

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem is Trumps main adversary is Congressional attitudes about the national debt more than industrial capacity right now.

    Well, that's easy to fix.

    Trump just needs to veto any budget bill that raises spending and/or lowers tax revenues. Like he did with the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017."

    Man, imagine how embarrassed people would be about claiming that Trump's attitudes towards the debt were adversarial to Congress's if, rather than vetoing that, he'd not just signed it, but gone out, endorsed, and promoted that bill.

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

  51. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Congressman/Congresswoman=either house

    Senator=Upper house

    Representative=Lower house

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

  52. identicon
    Bobo, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re:

    So, he did a good thing knowing that it might hurt him. And you're insulting him for it. You should examine why you have this petty need to blame the victim.

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

  53. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The positive aspect of that bill is lowering the corporate tax rate to be in line with foreign competitors so they are not at a disadvantage in the market place. If that bill also increased spending then it may or may not have been wise. Trump is fine with unnecessary spending. He expects the Congress to back fill all the defense department money he took for the wall.

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

  54. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That may be true,

    It is.

    but all Blizzard really had to say at that point to cover themselves would have been something like "The opinions of the people on this stream are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Blizzard."

    I wasn't interpreting Blizzard's behaviour originally, only Ng Wai Chung's. The point being that he made a clear (probably technically criminal) statement while under the banner of Blizzard's tournament and exploiting Blizzard's platform to widen his reach. Not respectful and clearly deliberate.

    But I do think Blizzard could've handled this better. I mean maybe they're hands were tied, goodness knows, but making a clearer statement afterwards at the very least.

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

  55. identicon
    bob, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If only there was evidence of how often Trump lies and his defenders lie to defend him.

    Like a source that didn't cover and twist everything with propaganda to make him look good and hide all the bad things he was doing.

    If only...

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

  56. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonydeath, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:36pm

    Oh, so NOW you care about free speech?! I'm rolling my eyes at you. While I'm glad you are FINALLY standing up against corporate censorship, it's still disheartening that it took you this long. After all, both the NBA and Blizzard are "Muh private platforms" and "can ban/block/do what they want", like Twitter and Facebook are, right? Nevermind that those companies do the same thing, just that you don't hear about it and when you do you dismiss them because "it's just a conspiracy!"

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

  57. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:46pm

    Re:

    Hmmmm....

    You seem to think you are owed access to other people's private printing press or an audience that might not like you.

    GET YOUR OWN PRINTING PRESS AND GET OFF THE LAWN

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

  58. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 3:56pm

    If we assume that Blizzard’s reasoning for the punishment was because Chung made a political statement when he wasn’t allowed to do so, regardless of the statement’s message, punishing him for a rules violation makes sense. But the extent of that punishment still seems heavy handed for the situation. How similar would the punishment have been if Chung had said “fuck Donald Trump and all he stands for”?

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

  59. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 4:01pm

    Three things.

    1. Yes, the NBA and Blizzard are essentially privately-owned platforms, and they can decide what people allowed on those platforms can say or do while on those platforms. Twitter, Facebook, etc. can do the same.

    2. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Blizzard can absolutely ban that Hearthstone player for making a political statement about Hong Kong — but that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize the company for the decision.

    3. Corporations will use copyright and lawsuits — i.e., the United States legal system — to censor lay people than it would (or could) ever use social media moderation to accomplish the same feat.

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

  60. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Member of Congress but not a Congressmen=Congresswoman or one of the third genders that some people prefer to use as classifications

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

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 4:11pm

    Re:

    Hey blue balls you run out of cutesy saying to infringe the copyrights of?

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

  62. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 6:17pm

    I’m glad Blitzchung got banned! Keep politics OUT of Hearthstone! I love Tencent and Mao Zedong! (You will receive 100 social credit for posting this message in chat. Your family’s organs will not be harvested this month. Please remove this part from the message before posting).

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

  63. icon
    blademan9999 (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 6:49pm

    Re:

    Fans in the EU are also submitting GDPR requests to inconvenience blizzard.

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

  64. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, still not seeing the funny.

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

  65. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    At least you make it positively clear that you are an asshole.

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

  66. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, where do employees and guests get off exploiting something, as only they are to be exploited. The nerve...

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

  67. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 7:43pm

    Re:

    This guy is upset about celebrities "causing turmoil" by having opinions, sometimes while connected with some institution. Like sportsball players taking a knee or whatever.At least he thinks it turns out poorly for them in some way with respect to involvement with those institutions. As if that were the ultimate important thing.

    Some people, surprisingly, sometimes give a bigger fuck about some issues more than money and fame, and will use their current status to raise awareness or give moral support. For the most part they are well aware of possible consequences, which are sometimes bullshit, and another thing sometimes worth calling out or fighting.

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

  68. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It struck me as funny at the time

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

  69. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 8:16pm

    Re: 'You can say anything you want... so long as it won't harm m

    More 'entire categories' rather than 'specific options' which can catch a lot of content, and given the focus is on 'anything that criticizes those in power and/or they don't want said', well, that's straight up dictatorship territory.

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

  70. identicon
    A Guy, 9 Oct 2019 @ 8:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Did they make them delete something outside the borders of China? It's not that I approve of it either way, I just wouldn't pick the particular battle of "other countries must adopt US free speech laws exactly in their borders".

    It's a good law, but a global war over the issue isn't worth it especially if they don't tell our companies what to do here.

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

  71. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Oct 2019 @ 8:35pm

    Re:

    If you had any goals with that comment other than broadcasting your comrehensive inability to grasp the concept at hand, you failed miserably at them.

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

  72. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The point seems to be that if "Trumps main adversary is Congressional attitudes about the national debt," then that has to include his own attitudes, as there doesn't appear to be any daylight between the two (and, given the opportunity to rein Congress's "spend but don't tax" tendencies in, he didn't).

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

  73. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2019 @ 9:10pm

    Re:

    I don't think they care to deny it; they seem more proud of it.

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

  74. identicon
    NFL Here, 9 Oct 2019 @ 11:29pm

    Just do we don't get this uproar entirely out of context: there was this guy, Colin Kapernick, who once protested against racism silently by taking a knee during the national anthem here in the land of the free. He lost a few contracts as well, as I recall. And there wasn't even any civil disturbance going on that I noticed. And nowadays, NFL players know to keep from even making silent gestures that hurt the feelings of so many of the games fans....

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

  75. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Oct 2019 @ 1:07am

    Re: Re:

    "The moment they decided their fans don't matter (back around 2007) was the beginning of the end for them"

    The beginning of the end was 12 years ago, before they released several of their best selling franchises?

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

  76. identicon
    A Guy, 10 Oct 2019 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Congress is responsible for the debt not the President.

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

  77. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 4:43am

    I company is a private platform, they don't owe you freedom of speech, as I've been told these past few years, they can show you the door and they did.

    Now stop whining.

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

  78. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Congress is responsible for the debt not the President."

    LOL, wait a sec ... congress and responsible in the same sentence?

    The people are responsible, government not so much. Not sure why so many do not realize this.

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

  79. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    what the fuck?

    Dude literally explains to you what is already written in plain English above that China told an American country what to do and you write

    " ...the issue isn't worth it especially if they don't tell our companies what to do here."

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

  80. identicon
    TFG, 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:25am

    Re:

    A company is a private platform, and they don't owe you freedom of speech ... but we don't owe anyone our silence, either. When a company fucks up (even if they are in their rights to do so), they deserve all the lambasting that comes along.

    I suggest you stop whining about people giving companies that do stupid things the mickey. You come across as petulant, and it's a bad look.

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

  81. identicon
    Bruce C., 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:48am

    To be fair...

    Epic's promises on free speech haven't been put to the test of TenCent threatening to sell their stake yet.

    And we already know that their talk about how their exclusivity deals are better for everyone was pure PR BS.

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

  82. identicon
    Bruce C., 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, he's talking about the "true fans" that played old school Warcraft and WoW, not those latecomers. Even if the latecomers outnumber the "true fans" by an order of magnitude.

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

  83. identicon
    Bruce C., 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:55am

    "Money is good, sure. But selling your soul to an authoritarian government doesn't seem like a good long term strategy. "

    Insert Donald Trump joke here.

    Note to the thin-skinned:
    1) There's a reason I use the word "joke" here. Comparing DT and the US presidency to an authoritarian government has some elements of truth, but in the end is a gross exaggeration for humorous intent.

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

  84. icon
    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 10 Oct 2019 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re:

    Because he's a public figure and has to know, if he has any smarts at all, that saying something like that could affect other areas of his life, to wit: his participation and winnings in Hearthstone. I agree with his support of Hong Kong but his tweeting that out to the world was never going to go without consequence. He should have known that.

    I'm certain he did.

    ***First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.***

    The man was willing to speak for Hong Kong. In his position, you wouldn't be.

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

  85. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Oct 2019 @ 6:03am

    Re:

    "they can show you the door and they did"

    Yes, and the rest of us are free to criticise their decisions as we see fit. We just don't get to force other people to host our reactions.

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

  86. identicon
    tegridy, 10 Oct 2019 @ 6:05am

    At least South Park had the tegridy to give China the finger. They got banned there last week, and said "Fuck the Chinese government" in this week's episode.

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

  87. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 6:17am

    I'm sure Blizzard would retaliate the same way against someone advocating feminism or LGBT issues or similar. After all, rules against political speech. LOL. And there will be people offended by it. I'm sure Blizzard would really be willing to incite that shitstorm, amirite? Idiots.

    This is motivated by pure naked greed and lack of integrity. These actions, and the comments defending them only prove that there is no action too reprehensible when profit is the motive. Which is why your government sells billions in weapons to oppressive states around the world.

    So lets hope that this really hurts them in the only place they care about, their wallets.

    And it's pretty ironic that unregulated capitalism is funding communism. Which is what these far right conservatives will call anyone who suggests any kind of regulations.

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

  88. identicon
    A Guy, 10 Oct 2019 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The question is whether they told them to do something with their servers in china or if they told them to do something with their servers in the US.

    If the chinese police tell me to do something if I'm standing in Beijing I will probably listen. If they Chinese police tell me to do something while I'm standing in Washington DC I will probably tell them to fuck off unless they say please and it's reasonable/legal.

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

  89. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "If they Chinese police tell me to do something while I'm standing in Washington DC I will probably tell them to fuck off"

    Yeah - except that is not how they will be twisting your arm now is it?

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

  90. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Reality check

    Corporation's morals have a price, without exception.

    ftfy

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

  91. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    How can something be concurrently both truthful and an exaggeration?

    Why do some people say it was a joke after the fact when obviously it was not?

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

  92. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Then whose signature is this (the third one, in the middle of the page)?

    http://www.lintelligencer.com/trump-signs-tax-government-spending-bills-into-law-236-2017/

    Yo u are responsible for the choices you make, and the choice of a President to sign a bill rather than veto it is no exception.

    If Donald Trump didn't want to tie himself to "Congressional attitudes about the national debt" all he had to do was not pick up the pen. The bill wouldn't have survived a veto.

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

  93. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Reality check

    Exactly and very similar to what is happening to social media companies here, they are being extorted. Soon, no one will be offended ever again, on-line.

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

  94. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Oct 2019 @ 7:24am

    Re:

    Good on them, but I'm going to hazard a guess that the number of potential Chinese South Park viewers is a lot lower than the potential number of gamers playing Blizzard properties.

    Not that this makes Blizzard right in any way, of course, but it's the reason why they're doing what they're doing. Hopefully the backlash at home will make them reconsider.

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

  95. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2019 @ 7:31am

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

  96. identicon
    A Guy, 10 Oct 2019 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The President is banned from proposing spending bills

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

  97. icon
    PaulT (profile), 10 Oct 2019 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But he is tasked with approving them, which he did.

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

  98. identicon
    bob, 10 Oct 2019 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He still supplies a budget request to congress which is generated from the departments of the executive branch. Congress can accept and use the request or realign those funding levels however congress wants. Then when they supply a bill for the president to sign, the pres can sign or veto or do nothing. Trump had options.

    Unfortunately the president (as well as the majority in congress) have shown they care more about money for themselves and those that consider as peers than the long term effects of national debt on the nation. This is evident by just looking at who signed and voted on each bill.

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

  99. identicon
    bob, 10 Oct 2019 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    Nice. I've also seen several other Blizzard characters be reused as supporting HK.

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

  100. identicon
    Wilhelm Arcturus, 11 Oct 2019 @ 9:58am

    NBA Statement

    Adam Silver's statement about the NBA not regulating speech sounded very nice, but the behavior of the league, players, and team officials since then doesn't exactly bear it out as true.

    Given the response we've seen, it sure feels like players were told to say nothing. I'm not sure what message Steve Kerr got, but he sure went all out on equating US problems with China's behavior.

    At worse, the NBA is regulating speech despite that statement, at best nobody involved believes the NBA statement so are self-censoring. And if they don't believe I am not sure we should.

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


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