There is truly no such thing as neutrality. I firmly believe that, despite what you hear from the nice people at the Swiss Consulate if you go for a visit. Failure to pick a side is a failure. This holds true in every segment of our lives, but holds especially true with the current climate of the ongoing culture wars taking place in the United States.
I believe that there is only one culture that matters in my life, and as a result, it is the culture that matters to me in my business, and my industry. That culture is summed up in one word, inclusive. I don't care about the color of your skin, the religion you practice, or don't, or who you choose to share your bed with, or don't.
We strive to be inclusive of all people, and all ideas, except for one.
Your hate is not welcome in the store. Your judgment of people based on the decisions they make that don't affect gaming, are not welcome in my store. Your conduct that makes people feel threatened or unwelcome are not welcome in my store.
Hate is not welcome within my walls, as it is not welcome within my heart, or my head. We are actively proactive about stomping out that hatred within the walls of our space. We regularly call out people in our play space for their behavior when it does not meet the needs of our business. Too many derogatory remarks about endangered groups of people are acceptable terms for something not going right in a game, and those terms are swiftly removed from the vocabulary of our customers.
No. We do not wait for another customer to complain about it. The truth is that many groups of people whose identity has been turned into a slur will not complain, they'll just leave and never come back, taking with them not only the money they may have spent in your location, but also the money of like-minded friends who may, or may not, be part of a minority group whose self-identifier was used in an inappropriate manner. It is my belief, and the belief that I have attempted to engender into my staff, that being a welcoming store requires a proactive approach to the elimination of things that make people feel unwelcome.
This extends outside my walls as well, and brings me to the thing I started writing about before I fell asleep and this went live today in a half completed state. (Sorry to those of you who read it that way.)
Recently, GenCon came under fire for the inclusion of Anita Sarkeesian in their Guests of Honor lists, and I wanted to take a moment to say "Bravo GenCon! Bravo!" For all the anger over her invitation, I believe that Ms. Sarkeesian is an important, dare I say vital, voice for inclusion in this industry. She is an influential, rightfully so, voice for equal rights, an important voice for us to better understand the horrid things said and done to women in both our industry and video gaming, and someone who everyone can learn a great deal from.
Yes, I am a FemFreq subscriber. Yes, I'm even a supporter, and yes, I believe we need her voice to better ourselves.
We can not be neutral in these culture wars. The decision to do anything is not a decision, it is cowardice.
Don't be a coward.
(I'm about to head off to Origins! See some of you there!)