… about the sorry little saga between themselves and Sage Gerard of Zen Men, LLC. And one wonders why not.
The objective of this piece is to record the facts and events as we understand them, to offer a speculative explanation of why not and to underscore, yet again, the threat that SJW nuttery poses to independent groups who, in the main, just want to be left alone to do what it is they do.
One delightful character, who goes by the name “Chef LuBu”, has been lurking in the background but may prove key to that explanation.
Also, I’d like to address a few points made by the owner of B&B who, for whatever reason, decided not to identify himself. Though I believe I know the identity of at least one of the owners, I’m not going to publicly mention it because there’s no reason to do so and is not why I looked into B&B’s ownership. I note this only because the man evidently has so much faith in his own words, he is not inclined to put his name to them.
Doubtless he would say it is to avoid harassment but there is not, so far as I am aware, a shred of evidence that B&B have been harassed, even by SJWs. (Hrmm… Where have we seen that tactic used before?)
The last email Nate sent began with the following:
I’ve spoken to our ownership and they’ve asked me to forward you this email. This will be our final contact with you and your associates. After all we have a business to run and we’ve spent far more time on this matter than I feel we should have.
which I interpret as a ‘no contact’ request with which I intend to comply, and I’d urge that nobody else contact anybody associated with B&B either. That pretty much leaves open, as an avenue for a right of response, only an AVfM article.
Incidentally, the reason I looked up B&B’s ownership was to verify Nate’s claim that there is an ownership from whom what followed in his email could have come. There is, and that’s enough for me.
Summary of events
Here is a summary of events as I understand them.
- Sage wanted an IRL meet-up of gamers who also happen to have a care about ethics and what SJWs are doing to their hobby, essentially, an Atlanta, GA version of GGinDC, to unwind and to escape the politics and fighting, if only just for an evening. Like GGinDC, there was never any intention of causing trouble or doing anything other than minding their own business.
- Sage made inquiries with the General Manager of Battle and Brew, Nate Sanders, about the prospect of holding his event there, since B&B is a gamer-themed bar and it would be a natural venue for this interest group. Sage, at the time, had a very high opinion of B&B and wanted to give them his business. Sage also made it clear that there could be political fall-out and mentioned the GGinDC fiasco which, at the time, seemed to bother Nate not in the slightest. Per Sage’s account, Nate assured Sage that B&B knew how to handle social media and would not permit any harassment of anybody within their walls.
Because a private reservation of space would reduce the space available to regular patrons, B&B necessarily had to have some minimum guarantee of numbers and also of expected revenue, so Nate asked Sage to get some numbers before any contract was executed. That is standard practice and an entirely reasonable request.
Sage therefore (publicly) advertised on Zen Men’s website (and also Reddit) both the potential for the event and a request to RSVP to get numbers to take back to Nate. I would have thought that was perfectly fair enough as well, though B&B’s owner claims that he should never have done so.
Then all hell broke loose. Per Sage’s article, Nate apparently emailed requesting a verbal meeting “ASAP” during which, per Sage’s recording, he proceeded to accuse Sage of misquoting “dramatically” and assert that [emphasis mine] “you’re making the bar look really bad” (because Nate interpreted Sage’s posts to imply that the B&B took some political stance in support of Sage and his group).
He repeatedly asserted that Sage claimed (or merely implied) support of Zen Men by B&B. This is completely untrue, but also highly significant because it was the only real basis on which to veto any contract with Zen Men, i.e. that any such association violated Nate’s neutrality. Absent that excuse, B&B would have no reason whatever not to proceed with hosting Sage’s event precisely because of the neutrality of which Nate is so protective.
Nate said that this was initially brought to his attention when his Community Manager sent Nate a link to a Reddit thread publicising the event. In that last phone call, he made a big deal about B&B’s political neutrality and taking zero political stance on anything. “I’m not okay with … being made to look like I support a political stance with ‘my’ business”.
He demanded that Sage take down all posts relating to B&B and informed Sage that the event would not be happening at B&B. Though Sage had no real incentive to do so, he complied out of good will and even posted a definitive statement (as well as on Reddit) that B&B were not in any way affiliated or supportive of Zen Men and, furthemore, the event would not be taking place at B&B.
Sage also explicitly requested that nobody badger or bully B&B for their decision and expressed sympathy for B&B for “feeling close to heat”.
Quite reasonably, Sage felt that he had been misrepresented and his reputation impugned by B&B, and posted his account of why his event won’t happen at B&B as previously advertised.
Soon after, Nate sent Sage an angry email accusing him of illegal activity (i.e. recording those phone calls without his consent), repeated his claim that he and his business were being attacked (though provided no evidence of it) and promised to pursue what legal action he could.
Three hours later, Nate followed up with another email to say that he was backing down, presumably because he was told that Sage had broken no law. He claimed that Sage and his associates have “ruined my name all over the internet”, that he believed he was seen as a “hate monger, a woman hater, a racist” amongst other things, and alleged that an “army of internet trolls would do everything [they] could to ruin me if I didn’t set up the event”. He then contradicted his earlier statement that Sage et al. were banned, and plead for the attack be called off.
The nasty names Nate has allegedly been called should tell him a great deal about the nature of those who would do so. If he knows it’s not true of him, why on earth would he assume it’s true of Sage or his group?
Enter Chef LuBu, whose Twitter bio describes him as the “Community Manager @battleandbrew”, presumably the same “community manager” Nate mentioned in the phone call.
Nate’s request for a non-existent attack to be called off rings rather hollow when two hours before he sent that email, LuBu sent this tweet (at 6:06pm EDT) and some time between then and 11pm EDT, Nate retweeted it:
(although Nate has since unretweeted it.)
The next day, I invited Nate to write a submission for publication on AVfM to present his own perspective (although I did not promise that it would be published) on the basis that such an article would have roughly equivalent page ranking as Sage’s piece, and it seemed only fair to give him the opportunity to give his side of the story and defend himself and his business.
I attached strings to that offer, however, saying that he’d need to be completely honest, open and forthcoming about his reasons for vetoing Sage’s event, and that he’d need to own the mistakes he made. I also said:
I think you would need to be quite explicit about the source and the nature of the heat that you received via social media. Names would be nice, of course, but we’d probably settle for just what was said, rather than who said it. Similarly, a public apology would be nice, but we’d probably settle for just the facts, from your perspective, of what led up to your decision not to proceed with a contract with Sage and his group.
I also said
Just to be clear: I’m not suggesting a public flogging or self flagellation here, I’m suggesting that you are (presumably) a rational person and made what you thought was a rational decision. The objective of any piece you submit would be in defence of your position and your business by demonstrating that you believed you acted in good faith by showing the detail of the fact that led you to act the way you did. From our point of view, we’d like to establish the manner in which these SJW goons continue intimidate business owners and operators like yourself. They’ve done it to plenty of other companies and individuals, and we’d like to see their hateful activities held to account.
and I reassured him that our moderators would not permit anybody to attack him or his business in the comments thread of such a submission. I went on to say:
Look. There is no army of “internet trolls” out to get you. Nobody is interested in or has any reason to ruin you, except to the extent that you give them one. The whole point about GamerGate was originally ethics in journalism and, latterly, censorship and bullying by the real thugs who wish to do your core constituency and clientele harm — viz. gamers. Even women geeks and gamers aren’t excepted from this sort of harassment.
You’re a gamer bar. However much you wanted to maintain a position of neutrality, you could not possibly be ignorant of the existence of such a phenomenon, even if you weren’t familiar with its detail. Sooner or later, it was inevitable that it would affect you, which is precisely why you should care about GG. As it turned out, that particular horse bolted as soon as you caved to whatever pressure that caused you to veto Sage’s event.
You’ve said that you don’t have time to familiarise yourself with the politics involved — yet you have already taken a political stance in respect of GG, Sage and his organisation, albeit (by your own admission) an uninformed one.
You now have but two choices: get informed and take a principled stand one way or the other (note that we are not telling you what your position should be), or let your uninformed actions be your legacy.
About three and a half hours later, B&B’s owner sent to Sage (via Nate, who made it clear that he wanted no further contact from or with us) a reply in an apparent attempt to draw a line under the whole affair. The next section of this post will deal with that reply.
Final contact from B&B and its owner
According to the owner of B&B (or his representative), the whole matter has been a misunderstanding of B&B’s policies and mission which is to “provide an establishment that would be accepting and respectful to all members of the gaming community” and to “provide a safe and welcoming environment for all gamers and to demonstrate to the community around them that everyone can be accepted for who they are and what they believe.”
Apparently, “all” does not include Sage, and certainly not anybody associated with #GamerGate. Indeed,
you are only a subset of the entire group and, frankly, in my opinion, you did not take into consideration the rest of that group when you considered the implications of your actions when you posted your intent to meet at Battle & Brew on Reddit.
We also expect and insist that our customers, all of them, show the same acceptance and respect for one another regardless of their personal differences.
Okay, fair enough, but it seems that Sage is unacceptable to you precisely because of his personal differences (or, potentially, those between him and certain B&B staff). There is absolutely no reason to suppose that, had Sage’s event gone ahead at B&B, that any disrespect would have been shown by Sage and his group to anybody else. They wanted to meet at B&B precisely because B&B would not tolerate such behaviour.
Any supposition to the contrary is prejudice on the part of B&B staff. So much for “inclusive”.
This anonymous representative then went on say that Sage should have made the booking and solicited interest for the event “privately”, even though an indication of numbers was required in order to secure that booking. Given the reasonable commercial constraints involved, how, precisely, does this guy expect Sage to find the requisite numbers without going public about it?
Worse, this anonymous representative accuses Sage of jeopardising the safety not only of his own group but that of B&B’s employees and other patrons — even of himself and his family! That’s a strong accusation to make considering no evidence of threats has ever been offered by B&B. And there was a great deal more of the usual threat narrative stuff besides.
It is all the more ironic, therefore, that the only possible threat comes from the feminists and SJWs that make up the anti-GamerGate crowd who, as I shall show in the next section, appear to be the very same people B&B are protecting.
In fairness, this individual did find his GM’s actions “unacceptable”, but excused them in terms of his youth, inexperience, and the GM’s perception of Sage’s public announcement as a direct attack on his character. He half-heartedly offered Sage allowance for his youth, but none for the attack on his character (or that on the reputation of his organisation, Zen Men, LLC). Apparently, some reputations are more worthy of protection than others.
This individual inevitably raised the question of recording calls though without any sense of irony given that B&B just demonstrated precisely why such practices are necessary. He accused Sage of being “disingenuous” and “lying” to Nate, presumably referring to Sage saying that his phone was dead. For all I know, it wasn’t, but I don’t think he has any evidence of that.
Then, this person returned to the matter of the public announcement. I suggest to B&B that, if public announcements are such a problem, that you include a prohibition of them in your Terms of Service and that you make it clear that they are not permitted on initial contact with prospective clients.
And he doubled down on Nate’s assertion that Sage’s public solicitations gave the impression that B&B sided with Sage.
No, indeed, Sir, “something doesn’t add up”, but I imagine that you did not have the following in mind when you said that.
The politics of the “apolitical”
It is evident that Chef LuBu, who describes himself as a feminist — the same man who evidently thinks that doing business with MRAs is akin to doing business with the KKK — is not fond of MRAs. In fact, he says that we shouldn’t exist. He’s evidently not very fond of #GamerGate, either.
If this is the same community manager (and how many could they have?) Nate said brought to his attention the Reddit post Sage later took down and with whom he said he was going to have spend all day doing PR and damage control, then it is reasonable to surmise that this whole sorry affair was political from the start because said community manager hated what Zen Men represented and was well motivated to sabotage Sage’s event.
It is also quite feasible that the reason B&B have not offered a shred of evidence that there has been any harassment of any sort is that there is none, and this LuBu chap made the whole story up precisely to get Sage’s event cancelled because he, personally, opposes Sage’s politics. That’s pure speculation, of course, and the truth will most likely never be known.
At no time did Battle and Brew disclose this conflict of interest or the personal politics of the one staff member apparently instrumental in getting the event vetoed. That makes you culpable, B&B. In my opinion, you misrepresented both your neutrality and your social media competence to Sage and the public at large, you have not been honest about your reasons for not wanting to do business with Sage and you still won’t own your part in any of this.
Why should AVfM, a Men’s Rights organisation, care about the policies and politics of one small bar in Georgia (who surely have the right to their own views and, to some extent, decide with whom they do business)?
It’s because — and this is the primary take-away from the whole episode — the driver of this sordid business is the same hatefulness that drives the anti-GamerGate lot, which is the same hatefulness with which much of our own activism is concerned. And, if my surmise about LuBu’s involvement is correct, then it is clear that Battle and Brew are already infected with the politics of hate, in which case B&B’s claims of inclusivity and protestations of apolitical neutrality are as disingenuous as B&B’s final communication to Sage.
It is clear, however, that Battle and Brew are anything but apolitical, and that the safe environment B&B hopes to provide is not such the two-way street as B&B, its GM or its owners claim it is.