Meet The Progressives Defending GamerGate Critic Sarah Nyberg

Chris Kluwe
Tony Webster/Flickr

In most political movements, revelations about claims of self-professed pedophilia, tax evasion and white nationalist apologism would be enough to sink an activist forever. But in the case of Sarah Nyberg, leading online progressives seem determined to go down with the ship.

Celebrities, academics, and journalists have rallied around the self-described pedophile today after Breitbart’s report about Nyberg’s past, with some refusing to believe the facts of the story, and others seeking to portray Nyberg as a victim.

Nyberg is well connected to the online “social justice” community. In the past, she has been supported by former NFL player Chris Kluwe, who praised Nyberg for doing a “great job” compiling supposedly questionable remarks from GamerGate supporters. Comedian Graham Linehan praised Nyberg for her “tireless” work curating GamerGate tweets.

Washington Post reporter Michael E. Miller has also quoted Nyberg claiming that GamerGate supporters had taken advantage of a recent leak of user information from Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people, and used it to harass their opponents.

Nyberg can also be seen in conversation with prominent progressives on social media including Daily Beast contributor Arthur Chuacademic Katherine Cross, and Boing Boing contributor Jay Allen.

Feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, Guardian columnists Jess Zimmerman and Jessica Valenti, Motherboard editor Sarah Jeong, film critic Bob Chipman, and game designer Brianna Wu all agreed to appear alongside Nyberg on a deck of cards celebrating online feminists. The deck was created by activist Kiva Smith-Pearson, who raised over $30,000 for the project from 912 backers on Kickstarter.

When information about Nyberg’s past claims to pedophilia first emerged between December 2014 and January 2015, many of Nyberg’s allies did not distance themselves from her, but rather doubled down. Activist and online abuser Randi Harper urged her followers to add “butts” to their Twitter names in solidarity with Nyberg. (This was a reference to Nyberg’s Twitter handle, @srhbutts.)

Among the people who followed Harper’s request were:

In the wake of yesterday’s Breitbart exclusivewhich verified many of the claims swirling around Nyberg, the response was the same.

Chris Kluwe linked his Twitter followers to a piece defending Nyberg, written by Daily Kos contributor Margaret Pless. “I support [Nyberg]… Go drink bleach,” the former NFL player said.

British comedy writer Graham Linehan, the man behind TV hits like The IT Crowd and Father Ted, said that that the revelations of Nyberg’s history with pedophilia were a “smear.”

Tauriq Moosa, an academic who has contributed to Polygon, the Daily Beast, The Guardian and who questioned the wrongness of necrophilia in an essay for Big Think, also argued that Nyberg was a victim of “smears.”

Arthur Chu, a former Jeopardy! contestant and now a columnist for the Daily Beast and Salon said that Nyberg, who defended white nationalism and claimed to be a pedophile, was “better than all scumbags coming after you put together.”

Jay Allen, or Jared Goodwin, whose writing has appeared in the Guardian and Boing Boing, portrayed Nyberg as a victim, arguing she was “just a random woman.” Elsewhere, he said that Nyberg “isnt a pedophile”, that there is a “clear process of abuse” and that “Nyberg is its latest victim.” He tweeted once it became public knowledge that our report was in preparation.

Kiva Bay, an artist whose work has appeared in The Mary Sue and Polygon urged her followers to “pass kindness” to Nyberg, and to give no consideration to the claims against her.

Daily Kos contributor Margaret Pless had previously called accusations against Nyberg a “libellous meme.” After our article was published she urged her followers to report the present correspondent for “targeted harassment.”

Katherine Cross, an academic and employee of Feminist Frequency who has written for Kotaku, GamaSutra, Polygon and Feministing said that Nyberg’s critics were “viciously transphobic”, engaged in a “smear campaign,” and trying to “intimidate critics into silence.”

Ideological zeal can, of course, inspire myopia. But the extent to which Nyberg’s defenders seem willing to ignore reality is extraordinary to behold. It has led prominent figures on Twitter, all of whom have real jobs and reputations, all of whom are allegedly committed to social justice and feminism, to rally around someone who defended white nationalism and claimed to be a pedophile. In this kingdom of the blind, even one-eyed men are hard to come by.

Arthur Chu, Kiva Bay, Katherine Cross, Graham Linehan and Margaret Pless were all approached for comment. As we went to press, none had responded. Linehan acknowledged the questions but did not respond.

Chris Kluwe was the only supporter to respond. He sent the following, incomprehensible comment: “I have difficulty believing any claims from a journalist who sources not only from obvious satire sites as a primary source (ED), not only from hacked records of dubious provenance that have been shown to be recently altered, but also publishes stories based on unvetted information from terrorists. Your story is as much ‘news’ as the drunken ramblings of a street corner doomsayer.”

Kluwe’s response is telling. Like the others he brushes off the very serious allegations made against Nyberg with snark and solidarity. Not a single ally of Nyberg’s has addressed any of the facts in our story since publication, if you don’t count the nonsensical ramblings of illiterate half-wit Margaret Pless. (And you shouldn’t.) They simply don’t want to know. That’s their prerogative, of course. But history is likely to be an unkind judge.

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