Chris Kluwe: Kick Ass
By Cyd Zeigler
Kluwe’s voracious appetite for reading was also instrumental. He displays an old-fashioned ability to quote Voltaire or Ralph Waldo Emerson and reads so much sci-fi and fantasy that he jokes that Barnes & Noble can’t keep up. On his active Twitter account, he’ll solicit suggestions for his book list. A recent post reads, “This Vonnegut guy, I like the cut of his jib.” A few hours later, he’d already updated it: “Damn. Slaughterhouse 5 makes me want to simultaneously punch and hug the entire human race. The same stupid cycle over and over.”
It’s easy to trace Kluwe, the outspoken gay rights advocate, through his childhood obsessions with gaming and sci-fi. The thrust and parry of video-game discussion boards, he says, helped to hone his debating skills; his love of books expanded his vocabulary. At the same time, his immersion into the worlds of Terry Pratchett and Iain M. Banks -- two of his favorite writers -- has merely served to accentuate the flaws and injustices of the real world.
“It’s definitely influenced the way I think,” he admits. “You look at all the sci-fi utopias, and, pretty much in every single one, the basic underlying philosophy is that people treat each other the way they want to be treated and there’s freedom to be who you are. What brings these utopias crashing down is the fact that one group tries to take control of another, and I think that’s very applicable to any sort of human or civil rights campaign.”
It’s no surprise that Kluwe is an avid fan of the role-playing game World of Warcraft (his avatar is a troll called Loate), so much so that his Twitter handle is @ChrisWarcraft. Among the things he loves most about such games are the parallels they offer to our culture’s battle over freedom. In World of Warcraft, he becomes a champion against evil oppressive forces. Losing isn’t an option.
While World of Warcraft forums don’t allow much space for dissecting Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Kluwe carved a space for himself by learning how to push the right buttons to get into other gamers’ heads. “I’ve found one of the most devastating ways to get a point across was to mix factual information with clever insults,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of training on how to get people riled up.”