On October 28, San Francisco police arrested a man for attacking Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer. Now it’s been reported that he may have been inspired by the far-right movement Gamergate.
David Depape was looking for U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi when he broke into her house over the weekend. He asked her husband Paul Pelosi where his wife was, and then attacked him with a hammer. Paul Pelosi is currently hospitalized for a skull fracture and hand injuries, but he’s expected to make a full recovery.
The attacker reportedly ran a now-deleted Wix blog where he posted conspiracy theories about QAnon, the Holocaust, sex rings run by the Democractic party, and coronavirus. “How did I get into all this” he allegedly wrote on August 23. “Gamer gate it was gamer gate.”
Gamergate was a hate movement that started in 2014, but still exists in various forms today. Its proponents claimed to champion “ethics in games journalism.” In practice, they harassed and threatened women who worked in games or wrote about them. Gamergate was not a legitimate criticism of journalistic objectivity, but a label that allowed small and sad individuals to weaponize their bigotry.
Gamergate didn’t invent right-wing extremism, but it taught a segment of internet conservatives that they could shut down the growing influence of feminism if they used targeted violence against individuals. Feminists such as Anita Sarkeesian, Felicia Day, and Brianna Wu have received death threats for criticizing the movement. For nearly a decade, women faced increasing scrutiny and harassment for daring to write about video games at all.
If you’re reading this in 2022, then you probably know that these culture warriors lost the battle. Gaming communities are more conscious about gender equality than they were a decade ago, and the industry has improved on diversity over time. But people who were radicalized through the movement would go on to support other extremist causes. Their tactics were so cohesive that Steve Bannon borrowed them for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Gamergate personalities were also key in organizing the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. The attack on Nancy Pelosi’s residence is not an anomaly, but part of a longer pattern in how Gamergaters use violence to intimidate those they disagree with politically.
“Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack on our Pop.” Nancy Pelosi wrote on her official website. “We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services, and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.”