PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has reportedly sent an internal email discussing the looming decision by the US Supreme Court on abortion rights, but where some game companies have made clear and hard stances on the issue, Ryan has upset staff with a non-committal middle ground statement and a lengthy ramble about cats and dogs.
Abortion rights are dominating the headlines after a draft ruling from the US Supreme Court was leaked to the press last week. In the draft, the court, with its 6-3 majority of Republican appointed judges, is seemingly now prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalised a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Should that ruling be overturned, abortions would immediately become illegal in 22 of the 50 US states, as Republican state governments have created laws that would come into effect as soon as they are possible. A final ruling is expected in June or July.
Per Bloomberg – who have seen the full leaked email – Ryan (a biological man living in the state of California where abortions will continue to be legal) told staff that they must “respect differences of opinion” on the topic. He then goes on to spend “five detailed paragraphs” talking about his two cats’ birthday and how he’d like to get a dog. This, apparently, was meant to be “something lighthearted to help inspire everyone to be mindful of having balance that can help ease the stress of uncertain world events.”
Seems that has backfired a bit… One employee said they have “never been so mad about a cat birthday before.”
On the one hand, I can respect the sentiment that Ryan is trying to convey, that this is an incredibly divisive political issue and that people need to be able to have constructive debates on this and countless other issues. He also said, “Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand.” Unfortunately that’s simply not how the incredibly polarised politics of the US work right now.
A huge part of the issue is the pending state laws and how far reaching they will be. They would force the victims of rape to bear their rapist’s children, they would endanger women’s lives by forcing non-viable pregnancies to go to term, they are even seeking to find ways to prosecute women for having abortions in states and countries where such procedures are legal. This ruling would have a huge impact on the lives of millions of women in the US, affecting healthcare, personal privacy, and even opening the door to further rulings that could overturn laws on same-sex marriage, trans rights and more.
Some other game companies have taken a firm public opinion on the matter. Bungie, which Sony is currently in the process of acquiring, came out strongly in favour of reproductive choice. “Bungie is committed to safeguarding the freedom and privacy of its employees and providing support to all employees affected by this decision,” they wrote in a blog post last week. Even Amazon, a company which is noted for harsh working conditions and its union-busting efforts to keep them in line, has announced that they will financially support employees needing to cross state lines to bypass abortion bans.
Not exactly a good look when Amazon is seemingly doing more to support its employees’ rights than PlayStation is.