Apr 262016

cincinnatusI would like to see the community come together to defend themselves. But I am a very small minority, and that won’t happen. I will, of course, go along with the majority consensus, because I like my community and I’m not an asshole. I will go to WorldCon and enjoy myself. This year can be grand in the style of David Gerrold again.

But that doesn’t change that I wish the community WOULD unite to defend itself, and that’s why I’m putting forth the proposition that we should do so. I think the biggest thing we have to fear right now is Fear Itself. Literally.

Friends ask how I’m different from the strong-man supporters, who currently are rallying behind Trump. There’s a reason people like Trump gain supporters. It’s the same reason Rome gave emergency powers of absolute power to one man during times of crisis, until the crisis was dealt with. Authoritarianism is actually good at dealing with a certain subset of problems.

Thing is, for limited engagements, and if you can empower a trustworthy dictator, Dictatorial Powers are often a great idea. It’s why we have various “Czar of X” positions in the govt as well. The fear of the temporary emergency powers becoming permanent (or being used in a terrible way) are completely legit, and as a country we’ve done a passable job of avoiding them for a few centuries. But I think the fear has led to sometimes us going too far in the opposite direction, and led us to avoid simple, effective solutions to small, short-term problems. Like neutering the Rabid Pups for one year. Our fear is a greater threat to our well-being than the proposed tyrannical act

Of course, the rank and file are NOT united in thinking this is a good idea. From what I can tell, it’s just me. So obviously we are not in a positions where this is something we can accomplish.

And when a society is so paralyzed of fear of effective action, that they can’t even defend themselves against a few hundred coordinated people, it makes me worry that they won’t last very long. In this sort of voluntary community, if a few people can ruin the place for everyone, people will drift away. It’s like those people so afraid of censorship that no one can ever say anything, because those crazies who hate them, and scream at the top of their lungs to drown out all effective communication, are never removed.

Yes, yes, I see your Hitler, and I raise you a Cincinnatus.

Anyway, it’s not the awards themselves that upsets me, it’s the community’s willingness to lie down and take it. I wish we could just see, unofficially, what the finalist list would have been without Rabid interference. :/

  6 Responses to “In response”

  1. “it’s the community’s willingness to lie down and take it”

    Does this not ultimately sum up all of what everyone does though? (from a distance rather than covering every single thing everyone does of course). We could have nice things. We are more interested in not being “that guy” (idk if you remember your old blog post about how your workplace donated a day of everybodies time to charity and you didnt want to be ‘that guy’) and more interested in making that “that guy” doesn’t have any success than anything else.

    The life of anyone who goes about actually agitating for positive change is bound in misery

  2. “I would like to see the community come together to defend themselves.” Really?
    The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when it libelled the Puppies in newspapers around the world (“racist” Brad Torgersen!)?
    The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when Mary Robinette Kowal went on a vote buying spree?
    The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when it No-Awarded works and people – not because of the quality of the work, not even because of the character of the nominee, but because of who nominated it?
    The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when when it cheered the humiliation of nominees who were in the room? Egged on by the MC? As punishment for their work having been liked by the wrong people?

    The community “defending itself” turned me from being Sad-curious to being a Rabid fellow traveller.

    All you had to do last year was shrug and vote on the nominees as normal. The Sads would have felt included, the Rabids would have been discredited, and this year we would have been talking about science fiction. But, like HJPEV’s dark side, the community escalated, and escalated, and escalated, and now here we are with a Space Raptor Butt Invasion.

    Think carefully about your next move, because the community “defending itself” is Vox Day’s best recruiting agent. If you want to make VD weaker, stop making him stronger.

    • > The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when it libelled the Puppies in newspapers around the world (“racist” Brad Torgersen!)?

      I’d like to point out that the people who called Brad racist/etc were a minority, and were amplified by the same media forces that always look for the most outrage-producing idiots on either side that they can find, in order to get attention and clicks. Brad was a spite-filled rage-peddler, but he wasn’t a racist.

      That being said, he didn’t do himself any favors by embracing and empowering Vox Day, who really is that bad.

      >The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when Mary Robinette Kowal went on a vote buying spree?

      I’m unfamiliar with that, and can’t comment on it.

      >The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when it No-Awarded works and people – not because of the quality of the work, not even because of the character of the nominee, but because of who nominated it?

      They totally were. I was among them, and I applaud them. Last year it was the appropriate defense. This year I think it isn’t enough, partly due to Vox’s spiking of his slate, and partly because *we saw this coming and can stop it pre-emptively*!

      >The community wasn’t “defending itself” last year when when it cheered the humiliation of nominees who were in the room? Egged on by the MC? As punishment for their work having been liked by the wrong people?

      a) the cheering wasn’t for anyone’s humiliation, it was for the refutation of a hostile attack
      b) the nominees who bothered to show up knew what they were getting into, and were spoiling for that fight. Not to name names, but a number of them deserved to have their No-Awarding cheered. Do you cheer when a criminal is stopped mid-crime, or do you tutt about how humiliating it must be for them to be thwarted?
      c) I was in the room that night, the MC never egged on anyone.
      d) not for “being liked by the wrong people”. You are making this weirdly personal. No one minds if you like Work X. No one cheers if your Work X doesn’t get an award (and certainly not because it has anything to do with YOU, the reader!) This isn’t about you. This is about a hostile force, riding on spite and hate, vandalizing the awards of a group they’ve decided embody everything they hate about society, being denied their victory lap. That is worth cheering.

      By way of comparison – see Sad Puppies 4. No one is complaining (much) about Sad Puppies 4. They are assimilating into normalcy, voting based on what they like, rather than on what they hate.

      To quote Aaron Pound at length:
      “Fans will still be fans of things that they love, and will still not care about most of the things that the Pups push onto the Hugo ballot with block voting. Both of the Puppy campaigns were built on spite – Larry Correia has openly admitted that he started the Sad Puppy campaign out of spite. Throughout the existence of the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns, the barely suppressed rage of its adherents has been readily apparent, and in some cases (such as during Brad Torgersen’s not infrequent frothing meltdowns over the last year or so), the rage has been quite openly expressed. Because their motivation for participating is based on anger and hate, the Pups will always fundamentally misunderstand actual fans, who love what they love not out of a desire to spite someone else, but out of actual love for the thing in question. In the end, the Pups will fail because they are founded on the false premise that they can use their anger to change what people love about genre fiction by force.”

      • OK. Lots to respond to here.

        (1a) I have a different take on Brad, I’ve read his blog for a year of so before it all kicked off and seen him comment on various forums. He strikes me as a decent guy who, when placed under immense pressure by the media hatestorm, responded very poorly.
        I’m not going to condemn him because I’ve no idea how I’d react if I were the object of such hate.
        (1b) Focusing solely on the claim that Brad was racist ignores the rest of the anti-Puppy media hatestorm, such as the articles in the Guardian and Entertainment Weekly.
        (1c) Brad did a better job of renouncing VD than the Worldcon establishment did of renouncing the hate seen in the media.

        (2) e.g. see Shetterly: here

        Generally, you seem to be very good at identifying motes in Puppies eyes, but not any beams in anti-puppy eyes. Admittedly, this is probably just selection bias.

        (3) Covered below.
        (4a) If the response was solemnity rather than triumphalism it would have been so much better.
        (4b) Given the atmosphere surrounding the event such as the articles in the media and comments by Worldcon establishment figures, their choices were show up for a fight or stay at home. I remember seeing (was it you?) saying that they were disappointed that few puppies showed up.
        (4c) To Paraphrase: You can cheer No Award, but you can’t boo it.

        (4d) * As a reader, I agree. However, as a member of Worldcon, I beg to differ. I saw members of Worldcon, an organisation I am a member of, behaving utterly reprehensibly, and I am angry about it. Why should I not be? If Worldcon was some private members club, I could understand your position. But it’s not: it’s the body that votes on the Hugo awards, voted for by the fans of SF&F.

        (3) Cultural Vandalism is an interesting concept to introduce. What do you propose to do about those vandals who think that “the Water that falls on you from nowhere” is a worthy successor to “The Star”? While last year’s stories were average at best, they were still stories of the SF & F genres, rather than a (rather touching in fairness) coming out story covered in Fantasy sprinkles.

        The Sad Puppies are first and foremost science fiction fans. Fans who oppose such vandalism. They believed they could reform the Hugos, they got organised and succeeded beyond their wildest nightmares.

        The Rabids (to the extent they are SF&F fans) believe that the Worldcon establishment only cares about preserving it’s hold over the Hugos to vandalise it further. Reform is impossible. The only way they can see to prevent further vandalism is to burn it down.

        The Worldcon establishment could have acted with tolerance and diversity and welcomed the Sads, but they didn’t. They could have No Awarded everything by John Wright but still awarded a Best Editor to Toni or Shiela and rank Jim Butcher above No Award in best novel. But no, they went full on I can tolerate anything except the outgroup .

        The some Sads saw this, and thought that VD was right. Thus some Sads became Rabid. Vox Day becomes stronger, not weaker. If the Worldcon establishment had embraced the Sads, then instead of, say, 200 Sads becoming Rabid, 100 Rabids would have become Sad – and the Sads are assimilating, as you said.

        In my view, as a Worldcon member, the leadership dropped the ball massively last summer. Now, tell me, would your proposals be counted as evidence for the “reform is possible” hypothesis or against it?

        While we’re disagreeing over the events last summer, remember I don’t want the Hugos to catch VD either. If you want to stop Vox Day, read Killing Vox Day and its sequels. The comments are also very interesting.

        * I had trouble with point (d). Did you mean “Why are you commenting *here* of all places?”. I snipped that for much needed brevity. I’ll tell, if you’re interested.

        • (1a) I haven’t mentioned this before, as it seems pretty unrelated, but a member of my book club and writer’s workshop was a Writers of the Future finalist the same year as Brad, and the two of them got to be friends. They shared a room at the 2012 Chicago WorldCon (where the “establishment” had nominated Brad for Best Novelette and Best New Writer, and he took 2nd place in both!). My friend described Brad as a great person, and very nice. He was flabbergasted by his turn into Puppydom, and it drove a heck of a wedge between them, because he held the Hugos in high esteem and loved the fan community. Based on his descriptions, I assume that Brad got infected with the Toxoplasma of Rage.

          That REALLY sucks. I’ve had it happen to me once in the recent past, and it is a CRAZY awful feeling, and you can’t stop. And I even knew what was happening! I managed to block communication with the person who was enraging me, and calm down after two days, and then I had to do damage control for all the people who saw me lose it. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to suddenly be facing hundreds of triggering people that you can’t block, while also having hundreds on your own side cheering you on and telling you that you’re right. It would be an inescapable death spiral, and I know I wouldn’t have survived it. :( I’m sorry that happened to Brad. But it doesn’t change the basic facts that for most of Sad Puppies 3 he took on the role of rage-peddler and hate-monger. I can feel bad for him, but I still condemn him.

          (1b) There was a lot to dislike about the Puppies.

          (1c) Brad had the advantage of being the leader & spokesperson of a defined group. The “worldcon establishment” has no such person, or group. It’s literally just a bunch of SF fans blogging and tweeting (much like I’m doing), and so it’s really hard to say there was any sort of official stance, and likewise any sort of official renunciation. I was horrified by what some media outlets were saying, which was generally non-representative of *either* side. For what it’s worth, a lot of thought-leaders (GRRM, Scalzi, etc) did indeed disavow the media hit-jobs.

          That being said… I don’t think Brad did a very good job of distancing himself from Vox at all. He and Larry basically invited him in initially, waited far too long to finally listen to all the people pointing out what a reprehensible idea this was and back off, and then didn’t really do it very much or very convincingly.

          (2) Oh, yes, I do recall that now. Ugh. I will admit, that is distasteful. :/

          (4a) When Best Related Work came up (the first real test), it was a very emotionally tense moment. I know (and sat by) several people who didn’t cheer (all non-pups). One of them cried (out of combined relief and remorse). Insofar as cheering was a show of support and praise for a community refusing to give in to the demands of their attackers, I support it. It’s why I cheered.
          (4b) It was me that was disappointed that so few pups showed up, but I meant the voters who supported the slate, not necessarily the nominees. The fact that they stayed home said to me that they weren’t interested in actually participating in and changing the con, they only wanted to destroy it. It would be unfair to say all the nominees were in the same boat, but many of them were, and they are the ones who I feel were justified in being cheered against.
          (4c) I don’t think that counts as egging-on.
          (4d) By ‘acting reprehensibly’ do you mean voting No Award? Cuz that’s a defensive tactic against people who actually did ‘act reprehensibly’ by spreading lies about a group in order to embroil an award in a culture war. Peddling hate by spreading falsehoods, to further one’s culture-war agenda and vandalizing an institution, is a lot more reprehensible than voting (and urging others to vote) No Award. IMHO.

          (3) I would join the community, and do my best to let people know why I thought Water was crap. Which I did. But the people who nominated Water were doing so because they have bad taste. They weren’t doing it out of spite because they want to see WorldCon trashed.

          I do believe a significant fraction of the Sad Puppies 3 fans are just what you describe. It is unfortunate that their leadership started out motivated by spite, and that these bitter seeds led to further radicalization and embracing of toxic tactics. I view Sad Puppies 4 as much closer to what you are describing, which is why I don’t hold them much animosity (aside from their occasional frothing, but we all get that way sometimes). Sadly, due to Brad’s infection (and Vox’s influence), Sad Puppies 3 was much more akin to the Rabid Puppies than to fans concerned about crappy Lit Fic.

          The reason that the overwhelming majority of non-Puppies voted as they did was precisely because the Sad and Rabid Puppies were so hard to distinguish. You say it would be possible to “welcome the Sads” while “rejecting the Rabids” which is a ludicrous statement. Their slates were *nearly identical*. Toni, Sheila, and Butcher were all on the Rabid slate. How, exactly, does one welcome the Sads while rejecting the Rabids in this case?

          My proposal would leave the Sad Puppies 4 ballots untouched. It is tolerant and welcoming of them, and assumes reform is possible and happening on both sides. It only rejects the Rabid Puppies, who we both know are bad actors and who I don’t care to even try reforming, because I think that’s a fool’s errand.

          *no no, you’re free to comment here. :) I just found it weird that you were framing the No Award votes as a punishment aimed at you.

        • Also, I’m loving the hell out of the Killing Vox Day posts! Thank you!

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