I apologize in advance for the politically charged tone of this article.
PretendRaceCars.net was originally intended to be an alternative news source for a very specific set of auto racing simulators, operating in a completely different manner compared to the traditional lineup of websites regurgitating generic press releases. A hybrid of sorts between the personal thoughts of three extremely passionate sim racers, with the occasional pieces of news thrown into the mix, I’ve done my best to keep some of my admittedly abrasive personal views far away from a surprisingly large group of readers that quite frankly aren’t interested in hearing about them. Jokes regarding Justin Trudeau’s ineptitude in serving as the Prime Minister of Canada, or comparing developers to the fathers of promiscuous teenage daughters are merely punchlines to ridiculously long-winded articles ripping apart the finer technical aspects of modern consumer racing simulators. The idea was to never stray too far off-topic.
But with how ridiculously absurd the individuals which populate our community can be, it eventually led to the creation of the Internet Safety category here on PRC.net – a largely off-topic collection of articles just barely relating to sim racing. Online stalking, convicted rapists covering iRacing events, and developers bombarding my inbox begging for my phone number are just some of the topics I’ve had to cover, yet I was sort of hoping this aspect of running PRC would remain a bit stagnant, and never progress into much more serious shit. Honestly, I just want to sit here and bitch about virtual race cars because a lot of you guys seem to enjoy the content we put out. I am a shitty amateur race car driver working full time for a very prominent rental car company, and I’m not equipped nor educated enough to lecture y’all on world events.
Unfortunately, now I have to. Big Brother loves sim racing.
Let’s not kid ourselves here – away from the plastic steering wheels and triple monitor setups that serve as the symbols of our favorite hobby, the world is not in a good place as we enter the second half of 2016. Acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam are now a common occurrence, and it is extremely difficult to keep up with the sheer number of profile filters Facebook hands out in the days following each attack as a way to show solidarity with the victims. Paris, San Bernadino, Brussels, the EgyptAir crash outside of Cairo, and now Orlando have now become mere tour dates on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s eternal quest for senseless destruction – with several more not large enough to warrant the paranoid obsession known as around the clock mainstream media coverage. I am no longer waking up to a Facebook feed full of Eddie Van Halen interviews and silly Instagram photos from Travis Pastrana, but instead graphic reports of a Radiohead listening party in Turkey ambushed by Islamic thugs, upset that people who didn’t share the same faith as them were simply existing and enjoying shitty indie rock during their own religious holiday.
As many people around the world are beginning to figure out for themselves, all of these violent and disgusting displays of humanity at its worst feature one very specific common denominator. However, due to how touchy of a subject one’s personal beliefs can be, world leaders, law enforcement, and even social media websites are bending over backwards to silence people who question the teachings of the Islamic faith. Truth be told, there are radical teachings in every book of faith, but none draw more justified criticism and are still accepted by most followers than the contents of the Qu’ran. As a result, rather than confront the very real issue regarding a particular religion’s outright incompatibility with modern society, most social media giants are basically opting to ban people and call them xenophobic for suggesting there’s a problem in the first place. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all signed an agreement with the European Union to crack down on what they consider “hate speech,” which is really just individuals questioning the teachings of the Islamic faith in the same manner we question how any sane person actually enjoyed Project CARS.
Sometimes, this is done out in the open, such as right in the middle of a prominent Breitbart editor’s public speaking tour, and sometimes, this is done in private sim racing forums – among the closest of friends, and away from the public eye.
So if you’re new to the sim racing scene, or only really understand the community of dynamics of just one game, I’ll do my best to paint a clear picture for you. Before iRacing became this great monolithic entity in our little genre, Formula Sim Racing was the absolute pinnacle of virtual motorsport competition, running on the original rFactor platform created by Image Space Incorporated. And yes, in previous years it has regressed a bit after making the jump to rFactor 2 – the talented drivers flock to bigger platforms offering a higher prize purse – but the championship still exists, and continues to operate on a slightly smaller scale. And as a result, there are still rivalries between drivers, poor officiating decisions, and private discussion groups that treat this particular online racing league like a daytime soap opera.
FSR Honestly Discussed is a closed Facebook group operating as a bathroom wall of sorts for Formula Sim Racing. The group contains just over one hundred sim racers, and is a random mix of shit talking the day-to-day operation of the series, and a collection of off-topic posts, not always pertaining to sim racing in the slightest. For the purpose of this article, it’s this completely random hole-in-the-wall sim racing community that nobody can even see unless you’ve been invited into it. As the content and writing style of PRC resembles the way Formula Sim Racing is discussed in this group, I was invited to join in on the action sometime last year. There isn’t much juicy gossip I can report on, aside from the generic banter that happens in every online racing league, and some off-topic posts that blend in with the rest of my Facebook feed.
Until I saw this:
Precision Motorsports manager [REDACTED] returned to the Facebook group after a suspicious one-week period of inactivity, with a rather shocking revaluation: Comments [REDACTED] had made about the Islamic terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida a week prior – comments written within the confines of the private Facebook group created to talk shit about some random rFactor 2 league – had caught the eye of Big Brother, who promptly issued him a one-week suspension from the popular social media network. This is quite terrifying, as the global popularity of Facebook – and sometimes demands from your employer – essentially require you to maintain an active presence on the network.
It’s obviously not a good idea to make extremely harsh anti-Islamic statements on the Facebook page of your local news station – as you’ll piss off the middle-aged moms who live in the comments section of each article, but [REDACTED] had expressed his views far away from the eyes of the public. This is a guy who went to his close online racing friends about a very real and imminent problem the world is facing, one we all have to face when we put our plastic steering wheels away from the evening, and was promptly given a nice big slap by his own government.
George Orwell’s 1984 was intended to be a warning, not an instruction manual. If the European Union will dive into private Facebook pages dedicated to shit talking rFactor 2 leagues in an effort to silence those critical of the teachings of Islam, is it really the Islamic terrorists we should be worried about?