The practice of publicly attacking a political opponent in order to make yourself and your colleagues look superior by comparison is as old as politics themselves. You need look no further than your own television to see Mitt Romney and Barack Obama trading barbs on topics like healthcare reform, education and the general state of our modern economy. However, Republicans in Maine have found a new vector of ad hominem assault in the world of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games.
Colleen Lachowicz is a Democrat currently running for a seat in Maine’s state senate. Her official site portrays her as a fiscally conservative liberal who believes in “the right of equal access to marriage for everyone” as well as reducing Maine’s dependence on government organizations to create jobs in the currently turbulent economy. Honestly she seems pretty moderate, despite the “D” affixed to her name, so in an effort to discredit her in any way possible, the Maine Republican Party has launched a website dubbed “Colleen’s World” that cherrypicks out of context quotes taken from Lachowicz’ online existence to paint her as some kind of morally reprehensible monster. Most crucially, given that we’re paid to write about games, the Republicans seem particularly fond of things Lachowicz has written online about her experience playing an Orc rogue in Blizzard’s wildly successful World Of Warcraft.
The Republicans even went so far as to issue a press release (and flyers akin to the image seen above) collecting the highlights of the baffling smear campaign. While we’re not about to reprint the release verbatim, we will share with you a few choice quotations that the Republicans seem particularly fond of:
- So I’m a level 68 orc rogue girl. That means I stab things . . . a lot. Who would have thought that a peace-lovin’, social worker and democrat would enjoy that?!
- I like to stab things and I’m originally from NJ…. what’s your f***ing point?!
- Yes, join us! We’re progressive… in fact we joke about being a socialist guild.
In fairness, some of the highlights collected by the Republicans are actually politically relevant:
- Now if you’ll excuse me, I may have to go and hunt down Grover Norquist and drown him in my bath tub.
- Or my dream from election season last year where John McCain sat at my childhood dining room table and I reamed him a new a**hole about Sarah Palin.
“These are some very bizarre and offensive comments, and they certainly raise questions about Lachowicz’s maturity and her ability to make serious decisions for the people of Senate District 25,” writes Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen at the end of the PR blast.
For her part, Lachowicz has responded to the Republican allegations
with the kind of bewildered disbelief that many of you are no doubt currently experiencing. “I think it’s weird that I’m being targeted for playing online games. Apparently I’m in good company since there are 183 million other Americans who also enjoy online games. What’s next? Will I be ostracized for playing Angry Birds
or Words with Friends
? If so, guilty as charged,” Lachowicz wrote on her website.
“What’s really weird is that the Republicans are going after my hobbies instead of talking about their record while they’ve been running Augusta for the last two years,” she adds. “Instead of talking about what they’re doing for Maine people, they’re making fun of me for playing video games. Did you know that more people over the age of 50 play video games than under the age of 18? As a gamer, I’m in good company with folks like Jodie Foster, Vin Diesel, Mike Myers, and Robin Williams. Maybe it’s the Republican Party that is out of touch.” Lachowicz then proceeds to quote statistics from both the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and the Christian Science Monitor that support her claims.
Now, normally we’d hate to take sides in such an obliquely political argument as this — we write about video games, so who wants to hear our thoughts on governmental propriety? — but our ability to reason logically and read through biases forces us to point out the absurdity of this attack. Any of you who have you played World Of Warcraft (or any MMO for that matter) likely read Lachowicz’ above quotes with a knowing shrug. If you play as a rogue in these games, stabbing and poisoning virtual enemies is simply what you do. It’s like playing Super Mario Bros. and claiming that you spend your free time lighting turtles on fire and collecting cash left lying around by giant anthropormorphic lizards.
As Lachowicz points out, this campaign against her paints the Maine Republican Party as utterly out of touch, though unfortunately for Lachowicz the Republicans often rely on voters equally as out of touch with modern trends as they are to flood the polls and drown out the comparatively small number of young, “hip” voters who are statistically more likely to lean toward the liberal side of the aisle. While we wish Lachowicz all the luck in the world in impressing upon the people of Maine that her gaming
hobby has nothing to do with her abilities as a senatorial candidate, our cynicism toward politics as a whole has us worried that the Republican attacks might be as effective as they are silly.