Hey, Looks Like It’s Time Once Again For Me to Talk About Writing On Politics

Because of the election and all, I’ve gotten a few people griping to me about the fact I write about politics here and in other places. It’s been a while since I talked extensively about me writing about politics, and also, about the more general topic of entertainers and creative people who talk about politics, and the people who tell them to shut up about it. So let’s talk about these things, shall we.

For ease of discussion, I’ve broken this up into ten points. The first five are about me specifically, and are short. The second five are more general, and rather longer. Ready? Let’s get to it.

I. The Short Points About Me Writing On Politics

1. If you tell me you’re tired of me talking about politics, or tell me to shut up about them, I’ll tell you to kiss my ass. I’ll write about what I want, when I want, where I want, which in this case happens to be about politics, now, here.

2. If you don’t want to read me opining on politics, you are presumably a grown human being with free will and the ability not to read things. Skip over the piece or stop reading the site entirely.

3. If you complain to me about my expressing political opinions in areas under my own control that you are not actually being forced to read, there’s a very good chance I’m going to be rude to you. This is actually covered in the site disclaimer, which has been up for years, on every page of the blog.

4. I don’t give a shit if you become unhappy with me for being rude to you.

5. Likewise, I don’t care if your dislike of my writing about politics and/or your being upset that I was rude to you when you complained about it means you no longer choose to read my books. Stop reading my books, then.

II. The Longer Points About Creators and Entertainers, Including Me, Opining On Politics

6. For the occasional jackass who opines that entertainers like myself should stick to entertaining and not write about politics or anything else that might possibly offend someone, a) fuck you, b) you’re wrong, c) independent of either of those points, long before I was an author I got paid to write about politics, and still do from time to time (as recently as last month, in fact, in one of the largest newspapers in the nation). So, yeah, actually, writing about politics is a thing I do professionally, thanks so much for asking.

Now, here’s a hot take for you: “Entertainers” are fully-dimensional human beings who don’t exist solely to entertain you, writers in particular write professionally and/or critically about many things over the course of their career, and you suggesting that people not express themselves about politics (or anything else) because they are an “entertainer” makes you the asshole in that scenario, not them. So maybe don’t be shocked when they tell you to sod off.

7. Likewise, this blog existed before I was a published author, and before I was a published novelist. I’ve been writing about politics here literally since the very first week it was up (that week I also wrote about baseball, journalism, my pets, tech stuff and sending out invoices. The site lived up to its name even then). The blog isn’t here to sell my books, although it’s done that incidentally, which makes me happy. It’s here for me to write about whatever I want to write about, when I feel like writing about it, and has been since 1998. Sometimes I will write about politics! And sometimes I won’t — there are entire years (see: 2014) where I pretty much didn’t, because I didn’t want to.

Which again is the point of the blog: It’s about me, writing about what interests me, when it interests me. It’s not about you, or what you want me to write about, or to not write about. Likewise, my Twitter feed, or anything else I control that I put my words out on. If you’re confused about the vector of impetus and control regarding these outlets, for any reason, you’re likely to have a bad time. Especially if you complain to me about it. Other entertainers and creative people may feel similarly about their own spaces, which is a thing you should consider as well.

8. With that said, if my politics make you itchy, then actually, you should probably consider skipping out on the next four years here. I can’t imagine I’m not going to write about politics on a regular basis. I mean, come on: whatever one thinks about Trump, that asshole isn’t boring. Nor are American politics or social issues going to be anything but a bumpy ride the next few years. I’m not going to say it’s going to be fun. But it’s not going to be something I’m likely to take a pass on as a writing topic. If you want a spoiler alert on the matter, this is it. Don’t expect me not to go off on politics, folks. And don’t expect other creative/entertaining folks to be quiet about politics either, the next four years. That’s just not gonna happen.

9. Why, yes, I’m cranky on the subject of people trying to tell me — or other writers, creators and entertainers — to stop expressing opinions on politics and other social issues. People have been trying to do this for my entire professional writing life, which is 26 years now, and much of which has consisted of me being paid to have a goddamned opinion on things. I imagine it will continue, as people with fragile worldviews and/or monstrous senses of entitlement and/or a wildly misplaced sense of my desire for their input and/or simple, virulent passive-aggressiveness decide they need to tell me what and how and when to write, or not write.

And, folks. One: Are you my spouse or my editor? No? Then feel free to fuck right off. Two: You may have noticed I’m doing pretty well for myself with this whole writing thing. One secret to that is not listening to various randos telling me what to do, or what not to do, with my writing career. Three: Do you understand how boring and exasperating it is for me — or any writer, creator or entertainer — to have to deal with various randos telling us what to do or not to do? It’s really goddamn boring and exasperating! And maybe other folks who have to deal with this bullshit choose to be patient or quiet about this because they’re earlier along in their career, or they’re still under the impression that their career can be hurt by some rando telling them to shut up or else, or because they’re nicer than me, or because they’re not, like me, a well-off straight white dude so they actually have to worry about their randos being terrifying stalkery bigot assholes, especially now, when actual fucking Nazis are cracking off salutes like it’s 1933. All of those are fine reasons for them to be quiet about this shit.

But I am not them, so I’m pretty comfortable saying the following: Piss off, rando yutz, you’re boring me. After 26 years, you’re not going to find a way to tell me to shut up that I haven’t heard before and haven’t already offered a middle finger to. And after 26 years, I’ve run out of fucks to give on the matter. Tell me to stop writing about politics? Fuck you. Suggest that I shouldn’t write about politics? Fuck you again. Whine to me that you’re tired about me writing about politics? Fuck you a third time. There’s the door. Go.

10. Seriously, people, what do you think you’re doing when you tell a writer (or musician, or actor, or whomever) that they shouldn’t talk about politics, or social issues, or whatever? Do you believe they will genuinely think, “My god, this random person I don’t know has entirely changed my mind about expressing an opinion in public! I am so grateful”? I can’t speak for all creators everywhere, but anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that most of the creators I know do not think oh wow, this random person is so right. They think, what an asshole.

And maybe you are an asshole! Certainly there are any number of people who send me notes along the line lol shut up dude no one cares what you think, which aren’t meant to persuade, but just to try to insult or belittle me, and, well. That’s adorable. But if you didn’t intend to be an asshole, maybe consider a different strategy.

For example, a couple of years ago there was a Scottish entertainer I admired, so I followed their Twitter account, which turned out to be nothing but blathering about Scottish independence. Did I tell this entertainer to oh my God will you just stop talking about Scottish independence I don’t even care? No, I just stopped following their Twitter account. Because you can do that! There are whole swaths of creators and entertainers whose work I admire who I don’t follow on social media, or read their blogs, or otherwise track their lives because I know they care about things I don’t, or that I disagree with. There are other swaths of entertainers who I do follow, but when they get a bug up their ass about something I don’t care about, I skip over those topics. A writer I admire has gone on for years about vaping. I couldn’t give a shit about vaping; I think it’s a dumb thing to invest any brain cycles on. But they disagree! Good for them. I skip over the vaping rants. It’s really just that simple.

It’s okay to disagree, sometimes vehemently, with people whose work you admire. It’s all right to think they spend too much time on things you don’t care about. It’s fine to think to yourself or to tell others ugh why can’t they just get over that dumb thing I don’t care about. But the minute you go out of your way to tell them to shut up, no matter how “politely” you put it, you’re the asshole. Yes you are. And some of the people you’ve told to shut up will treat you like the asshole you’ve become.

I will, in any event. Fair warning.

181 thoughts on “Hey, Looks Like It’s Time Once Again For Me to Talk About Writing On Politics

  1. Notes:

    1. Politics thread! And one where the entry is a profanity-laced rant! Even so, please be polite to each other and stick to the topic rather than wandering off on a general political discussion. Thanks.

    2. Allow me to be clear that it’s not just creative types who are entitled to have a public opinion about politics — everyone is.

    3. Let me also stipulate that it’s all right to point out when creative points say stupid/ignorant things relating to politics, as they do, roughly as frequently as anyone else. My issue is not that. My issue is telling someone (explicitly or implicitly) to shut up on politics at all because the output of their work amuses you in some way.

  2. Guy living in his moms basement tells succesful author that his opinion doesnt matter.

    Whats not to love.

  3. Preach! Keep the good stuff coming John. Although, can we get a mash up? How about an explanation of why the Pegasus Unicorn Kitten would be a far better President than the president elect?

  4. OK then. Please go ahead and exercise your First Amendment rights, as stridently or quietly as you choose.

    I am with you there.

  5. Wow, look at you defending your right to speak your mind almost like you’re an actual person or something.

    I’ve never got that whole “shut up and dance for me monkey” attitude, at least not actually saying it. I’ve found myself thinking it in the direction of certain people I disagree with (Card comes to mind) but I’d never be rude enough to actually say it and I try pretty hard to avoid the mindset that says they shouldn’t have an opinion on the matter. Disagreeing with an opinion is fine, trying deny someone the right to speak their opinion, not so much.

  6. I just wish you’d write something that I can disagree with so that the comments are more engaging that just a bunch of “hear, hears”. What are your feelings on the waffles v. pancakes debate that fills my house every single Sunday morning.

  7. this sentiment is pretty universal, regardless of whether you’re an artist/entertainer/celebrity of any sort. i know that i show people the door (even when they’re related to me) if they start whining about what i do in my own internet spaces.

  8. Shaun, I can explain that in three simple points:
    1) Pegasus
    2) Unicorn
    3) Kitten
    All of these things individually are better than Casino Mussolini could ever be; united, they are transcendent.

  9. I’m guessing this has become more of a problem lately than it used to be…? Another writer I like to read (Jen Foehner Wells, to name names) was commenting on this also. Seems bizarre to me.

  10. If only I could be witty and supportive in the same sentence. Oh well.

    Supportive: I like this blog.

    Witty: What did one wall say to another wall? Let’s meet at the corner.

  11. I’m disappointed in this blog post; I was hoping you’d tell us how you *really* feel!

    But seriously, keep on keeping on. Consider me a Rando On The Internet suggesting that you never stop writing about whatever the hell you want.

  12. “2. Allow me to be clear that it’s not just creative types who are entitled to have a public opinion about politics — everyone is.”

    Thanks. I was going to ask specifically about sports figures because it seems if they keep their mouths shut, the get criticized for not using their position/popularity. But if they say something that someone will disagree with (spoiler alert: probably 50% of their audience) they are told to be quite because they are millionaires playing a kids sport.

  13. Not to mention that a lot of really good literature is itself commentary on politics. (Not all of it, but when it happens, it’s a feature, not a bug.)

    (I’m hoping you’ll post something related to the last politics post so I can ask you, “so are you saying we should just give up?” But I would never do that in an unrelated thread. Not on this website. No, sir.)

  14. It used to be the case that it was considered the *responsibility* of authors and writers in general to write about politics. Why? Well, because they can. That’s their unique talent they can use to make their society a better place.

    The first post-Soviet president of Estonia was an enormously-respected author; the first post-Cold War president of Czechoslovakia likewise.

    The idea of writers as voiceless non-citizens is dangerous and should be opposed loudly. The way you do.

  15. Thanks for saying this…it has sparked thinky thoughts on this topic of how people treat public figures like they are simply entertainment machines and not actual people. Will probably think more on it and write a Medium thing once I’m done flying today.

  16. Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, malodorous, pervert!!!

    (From the classic “Argument Clinic” bit.)

  17. The excuse I most often hear as to why celebrities shouldn’t express their opinion is because their notoriety gives them an unfair platform. Oh you poor little babies who didn’t have the talent to become famous. Boo-hoo!

  18. Riffing off your point 6, it’s not just entertainers who have a right and even a duty to opine about politics. Anyone who has something to offer the conversation should do so. The complainers probably don’t hesitate themselves, even though very few of them are professional politicians or political commentators either, so it’s a bit hypocritical of them to apply a special gag order to entertainers. That’s discrimination, and it’s bullshit. Being in $profession doesn’t give anyone more or less right to participate in democracy.

  19. People only seem to care when it is politics they disagree with. Still, I do find myself rolling my eyes at some people, and angry at others.

    If someone thinks an entertainer’s opinion isn’t worth any more than theirs and the entertainer shouldn’t be talking, then why do those same people post on social media and talk to their friends about politics?

    While we can certainly prefer the opinion of experts, and maybe should, a lot of people on the right and left disdain expertise and education. This election voters decided knowing what you are doing and talking about was not important whatsoever.

    I guess it’s not actually because they think the entertainer is likely “ignorant” of facts, but entertainment is their “safe space” to get away from the world, and that is why they are upset, you are making them think and feel. If they want mere escape, they should read Scalzi’s fiction not come to his blog. Same goes for any actor or writer.

  20. I’m very glad you ignore anyone who tells you not to write about, well, anything you want – but politics in particular, since I find those some of the most entertaining of your posts.

  21. I really don’t get the “shut up & sing” thing. People are people, and they get to have opinions no matter what their job is. Saying someone shouldn’t voice their opinions just because they’re an artist is nonsense. Why not say a cook should “shut up & cook”?

  22. As a firm libertarian who will continue to read your books until you stop publishing them, I’ll say I enjoy your political posts because I have found it to be a voice of “the other side” and gives me things to consider from time to time. We all need the other viewpoint. I often don’t agree, but I usually think.

    I’ve done #2 before (to others), I’ve done it recently, and I’ll do it again. But Whatever is pretty good, even for a lefty liberal.

  23. You know what I’ve never seen?

    I’ve never seen someone say “stop writing about politics” to an entertainer, or sports star, or whoever else, whom they agreed with.

    Heck of a coincidence.

  24. If Dickens had only kept his mouth shut, we could still be enjoying the benefits of debtors prisons and the workhouse.
    Thanks Mr Dickens!

  25. Because I have an extremely active Worst Case Generator in my head, it occurred to me that given the governing line-up about to be installed in the US, this…

    “… because they’re not, like me, a well-off straight white dude so they actually have to worry about their randos being terrifying stalkery bigot assholes, especially now, when actual fucking Nazis are cracking off salutes like it’s 1933. ”

    …might be something you’d want to keep an eye on, well-off straight white dude or no; actual fucking Nazis are apparently equal-opportunists in their jackboot-powered thuggery.

    Since that WCG lives under a fetching tin-foil hat, I also have some nebulous fears of a suspension of your constitution following an “assassination attempt” on President Littlehands, a sort of PATRIOT act fed up on Boomfood. Unless and until that happens, though, please opine away– you are one of the elements that helps to reassure the outside world that the US hasn’t gone nuts from top to bottom.

  26. Yeah, but why don’t you write about me? You, you, you; everything about you, but I gots feelings too, you know! I’m a headbanging retiree, for crissakes! That’s got to be worth a line or two. Plus, when I’m playing Fallout 4 and Valentine the synth asks me to “Hold on while I run some diagnostics” then two seconds later says, “all done; what’d I miss”, I never fail to retort, “Other than my finger up your ass, not much”, and my dogs seem to get a kick out of that every time I say it, if I give them a treat immediately afterward.

    So, more about me, and that’ll cure those who blather on about politics.

  27. I don’t just see these comments from jerks. I also see these “don’t write about politics” from people, generally other women, who believe they are being “polite”. It’s the “Oh, talking about politics is so distasteful. Why can’t you just talk about good things like your children/pets/pretty pictures?”

    I can understand the urge to do the ostrich thing and try to hide for the next four years, but the internet is not Thanksgiving dinner, where the best thing to do is not to talk about politics. The internet is more like a lunch room, where you can go up to a group of people sitting at the table and join the conversation. If they are talking about something you don’t walk to talk about, then leave. Nobody has the right to join a conversation and then try to shut it down.

    If you want to play ostrich and still want to be on social media, there are huge swathes of it devoted to cute animals. Have fun.

    Side note on the ostriches, especially women. Anne Helen Peterson has an excellent article on Buzzfeed about the “Ivanka Voter”. She wrote it after attending a Melania rally filled with white, suburban women, who see themselves far more in Ivanka than they ever could in Hillary. Very interesting. (And as a white, suburban woman myself, I “saw” many of my friends and neighbors in that mindset.) And I also bet a lot of the “Can’t you just be pleasant?” comments come from that segment.

  28. I used to be one of the folks who avoided discussing politics because I didn’t want to offend people (well, I still talked politics here, with all the verve of a college student with big opinions and papers to write, but I tried to keep it off social media). But the thing is that silencing political discussion isn’t about creating a ‘neutral’ space. It’s about supporting the status quo. That, too, is political.

    Regarding point 10, on how people react to randos telling them what to write with “wow, what an asshole:” that’s true but it also doesn’t mean the randos are ineffective. As you note in point 9, Scalzi, not everyone has the luxury of writing off their haters. For many of us, “what an asshole” and “should I stop writing about this?” are concurrent thoughts. A lot of these randos hide behind the fiction that they’re “just voicing their opinion” as if they’re wholly unaware that the target of that opinion is going to have to waste braincycles on the mental calculus of determining whether they are in danger.

    This can effect folks even if they don’t already have active stalkers or hate groups sniffing around–I know somebody who makes huge contributions to fandom who’s been hearing so much “you’re too political” (and also “you’re not political enough”) that it’s affecting his mental health and his ability to continue contributing to a community that he loves.

    As a silencing tactic, it can be devastatingly effective. It’s just when they try it against someone like you who’s not particularly vulnerable to it, they end up looking like a goddamn joke.

  29. @Seebs The other thing I never seem to see is people telling plumbers and truck drivers that they’re not qualified to have a political opinion. For all the talk of intellectual elitism, *blue collar* elitism has become the dominant kind in America. You know, the attitude that only those who do manual labor are “authentic” and moral and patriotic, so they should get first say in how everything is run. People who use their minds instead of their bodies to earn an income can’t be trusted, y’know.

  30. Chris Turnbow: I of course don’t know what John’s impetus is here, but I’ve seen a few others specifically point to the President-elect complaining about the performers at a politico-historical musical expressing a political opinion.

  31. I was going to (jokingly) come in here and just ask you to shut up about politics, already.

    But Wiredog already beat me to it, and did it better than I was going to anyway. So…

    To be honest, I’m really surprised that more people didn’t take that approach.

    (But really, I was kidding, love your stuff. Politics AND fiction.)

  32. Wait, wait, wait. This site isn’t about me? Whoa. I’ve got to rethink the past decade then.

    Seriously, though, excellent, excellent rant. I always find it ironic that people who won’t shut up about politics are upset that a celebrity/whatever is talking about politics. It’s clearly jealousy over the size of the audience.

  33. *stands up and claps* I need to internalize this whole list for the next four years and possibly the rest of my life. Sometimes it’s hard remembering my IDGAF mode when people are yelling in my face and being generally threatening. Women on the internet get this a lot. But I’m going to bookmark this post and come back to it often. Thank you!

  34. I’d also extend this to everyone who says to me a variation of “You are being fooled! Stop focusing and even talking about [what I wrote about or said on social media] and focus on the real issue [insert other random idea].”

    The answer I wish I had the courage to say to those friends is: “I can think of multiple things at once. I do it fairly well.”

  35. My thinky bits? The more I read, the better I like you, John.

    Also, except for the published professionally bits, this is a rant I’d be proud to have authored.

  36. Jeez, you just had to go ahead and write about your write to write about people writing about write politics of left politics. Am so tired of your single-minded approach to everything! And to punish you, I am going to read your blog almost every day and yes, even attempt to post something here from time to time just to keep you honest and annoyed with me!

    So there! Take THAT!

  37. This is hardly a new phenomenon. John Cusack and Wil Wheaton are both very liberal and politically vocal. I don’t agree with either 100% of the time (much more often than I would have in high school, however) and they both get constant barrages of “shut up and act.”

    As these calls (in these examples) come from conservatives, I wonder how they feel about the elections of Ronald Regan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, or the political voices of Orson Scott Card, Clint Eastwood, and Charlton Heston.

    “Shut up and entertain” is not so much a position as it is the last resort of someone unable to come up with cogent arguments against their target’s position.

    I don’t agree always with Cusack, Wheaton, or Scalzi (or anyone) but I read them because a) avoid the echo chamber and b) they are entertaining and generally rational. There are those I don’t read even when I do agree, because they’re assholes about it. But those are decisions I make for myself. It’s not something I tell them how to do what they do. I vote with my eyeballs. If they lose enough eyeballs, they’ll change. If they don’t lose those eyes, well, why would they change?

  38. I am charmed by your creative use of fuck. I’ll add some to my repertoire as I need more ways to invite criticism for my un-ladylike vocabulary. Grin…

    Great rant.

  39. I deeply enjoy the fact that most of the people who are inclined to tell entertainers not to have opinions… just elected a patently unqualified president precisely because he is an entertainer.

  40. I’m not reading anymore posts about why you can post whatever you want.
    (to me it’s boring… give us some meat to chew on!)
    (oh sorry, I shouldn’t be telling you what to write.. :^)

  41. Applause!

    I’m not a popular writer with a widely-read blog, and I am one of those people who might have to worry about my randos being stalkery bigots, although since I am in the UK, the risk of armed violence is somewhat less. And I’ve only ever had one death threat. That said, I’d like to share with you my response to someone trying to shut me up. I still grin about it.

    I’m studying creative writing right now at a venerable institution with a good name (really! I’m having a great time). At a social event early on the semester, one of my classmates suggested to me that I should set aside my ‘agenda’ for the duration of the course; that I’d be wasting the opportunity by limiting myself. My agenda being my existence as a transgender person and the experiences and opinions that come with it.

    After I caught and stopped myself from justifying my writing and choice of opinions to her, I pointed out firmly and politely just what position she had put me in and why I was upset (again, really – last thing I want to do is to antagonise people; at least, not by accident). However this preyed on my mind to the point where I posted a rant on facebook, “But seriously, the unthinking arrogance – to tell anyone on a few days’ acquaintance, what they should be doing with their work. To tell me that my own concerns, beliefs, experiences and life are an ‘agenda’ that I should drop.” That got me an apology from the faculty, and they wanted me to be clear that that was not the attitude of the department.

    But still, I was stewing, and I had a poetry gig coming up, so I wrote a poem. And afterwards sent it to the Dangerous Women Project, who accepted it! And the picture that I sent to go with it, which also makes me chuckle.

    Here it is – http://dangerouswomenproject.org/2016/11/08/agendas/

    I got £50 for that, more than anyone’s given me before for any piece of writing. And yeah, anyone who wants to stop me from writing what I like can kiss my ass.

  42. Politics is what we invented so we did not have to keep hitting each other with clubs. (I think I’m paraphrasing either Twain or Heinlein here?) Go to it, John. And you know what? Go to it a**holes! Find your own forum and rant/whine. Anything that keeps you off the streets…

  43. Thank you for speaking out, Mr. Scalzi. I view your political posts here as the verbal equivalent of wearing a safety pin, and I appreciate them immensely. I am not able to comment about political matters in any forum in which I am not anonymous (I could get fired if I did) so I am deeply grateful to you and others who speak up for those of us who must remain silent.

  44. The folks telling Dems they’re tired of talking politics now ( to shut up the protests and critics) while at the same time posting racist, sexist, and islamophobic nonsense, which is fundamentally political, that takes a special kind of someone…

  45. No, this is not a politics thread. It’s a bitching thread, which I can imagine is justified.

    As a consumer of entertainment, you need to realize that you’re going to miss out on a bunch of great stuff if you boycott everyone who holds opinions contrary to yours.

  46. The worder ‘entertainer’ as used by your notional critic is (in context) a snarl-word; ‘entertainment’ is thought of as inherently light, emotion-centric, unmasculine (and so, to a sexist, unserious) and so one who purveys it—for example, a singer or an ice-dancer or the star of a TV ‘reality’ show—a person not fit to express ideas. I must admit to a certain bias of my own in that direction, though I try (indicating some failure) to remind myself that an entertainer should not be given any less weight than an average person. (I also believe that actors should be allowed burial in hallowed ground, not having lost their souls to any unusual extent.)

    But though you entertain, as indicated by your success, that is not all you do, as you are a writer who wrestles with ideas in a genre where those are given weight. (…as opposed to, I gather, most modern pornography, of sex and of Action and of Romance, which could wrestle with ideas but evidently usually doesn’t.) (Simply stating and showing that ‘Prudes/{Terrorists and libruls}/{Mean people who don’t love the hero[ïne]} are BAD.’ doesn’t count.)

    Even if you had never been a political writer before, it would be important for you to write about politics because you are a writer who deals partially in ideas, and so have a leg-up on doing political writing well. There are surely many who broadly share your obervations and reasoning but who cannot, by nature or training, express them as cogently, reasonably, and decently. (I refer to Orwell’s last rule.) In your absence and that of anyone else similar, those ideas &c. would then appear to be on an equal footing with those that can’t be so expressed because they are fundamentally incoherent, unreasonable, and barbaric.

    And, though the Right has been hijacked by people who prefer their gut to their eyes and think passion a valid argument, and there are even a few on the Left who (disastrously) reject the attempt at objectivity and reason as fundamentally European and/or masculine, I think that the extent to which a set of ideas passes muster with people who can observe with relative dispassion, reason well, and express themselves cogently speaks to the quality of those ideas.

  47. Hey, John.

    Fully aware I’m a rando you don’t even know, so consider it as read that I know I’m to fuck off.

    That said . . . there’s a little bit of a difference between what you do here on your blog and what you do in a book I pay for. When I buy a science fiction novel, I expect to get science fiction.

    Now, that may or may not include ideas about politics. Depends on the author’s themes and purpose. If you design a culture, politics are going to be part of the nature of that culture. And I won’t be disappointed if you explore themes of liberty, popular opinion and peril, et cetera.

    But f I buy a 400 page novel to enjoy on the flight, and then discover that 40+ pages are your rant about them conservatives or them liberals in American politics today, I’m going to be a bit annoyed. My inclination would be to tell you [the book in my hands, more or less] to shut up and get back to telling me a story.

    I have no problem with entertainers having political opinions. I have them, and I get to express them, so why shouldn’t others have the same freedoms?

    But if I decide I want to get away from the political nonsense going on around us, and I decide to go the a country music show to escape, and the performer WHOM I AM PAYING TO ENTERTAIN ME WITH MUSIC devotes a good part of the “show” to a political screed, I’m going to be fairly annoyed.

    I suspect it is this distinction that annoys people. The Dixie Chicks have every right to their political opinions about George Bush. But if I have paid to come and hear their music, why must I endure their political opinions? If I wanted *that*, I could turn of NPR or Rush Limbaugh. I didn’t need to buy an expensive concert ticket to have someone tell me why I should think differently than I do.

    On your blog, on your Twitter . . . you are perfectly correct to tell people who object to your opinions to fuck off. But when I follow you behind the paywall . . . well . . . I won’t go so far as to say there should be NO politics or political themes, as that would be absurd. But when I have followed you behind the paywall, I hope you would keep in mind what I paid to get back there, and what was advertised as to what I would be getting after I paid.

    It’s a somewhat different thing.

  48. “For example, a couple of years ago there was a Scottish entertainer I admired, so I followed their Twitter account, which turned out to be noting but blathering about Scottish independence.”

    Groundskeeper Willy has his own Twitter Account?

  49. Greg:
    0.) It’s completely expectable that humans will throw the first punch (or the latest) and then say ‘Let’s stop fighting.’.
    1.) To people who believe firmly but thoughtlessly in an ideology, that ideology and its supporting constructs are not ‘politics’ but simple fact. The opinion `Vampires control the blood banks*, let’s sharpen some stakes!’ is, to such, on an equal footing with a photo of their breakfast.

    *`…and the Media!’—thank-you, “Ugly Americans” c.2010 C.E..

  50. @Kilroy: pancake batter cooked in the waffle iron is also good.

    @Chris Turnbow: It’s always been there, but mostly off line. It’s most often called “An Unhealthy Sense of Entitlement” and social media makes it really easy to take it out of the mind, and put it on line and right in the creator’s face.

    @Becky: “Shut up and Sing” (AKA:shut up and write), (AKA: dance, monkey, dance) is all about an audience member’s sense of arrogance and/or entitlement. “I give you money, you give me satisfaction. You’re not giving me what I want so I, as a consumer of entertainment, demand you give me what i want Because The Customer Is Always Right!” The Entitled Ones (TEO)don’t know or realize that the first and last person the entertainer/singer/author/etc must please are themselves. TEO don’t realize that creative efforts aren’t like ordering a Big Mac — or buying something at Wal-Mart where you can return a purchase for full money back. For the creators, it’s all about creating something. The money is just some really nice gravy. Also, I don’t think Scalzi has to put with as many death threats and/or rape threats as the Dixie Chicks got from TEO. (which I where I first encountered the “Shut up and __________” demand.) I listened to the album they made after they were blackballed by country music fandom and industry.

    @HarpersGhost: You don’t just get that from the “can’t we all just get along” brigade. I’ve seen/read/heard advice that says “if you want to damage your entertainment brand, talk about politics. People go to entertainers to be entertained. Don’t piss off your audience if you want to make money.” See also: Dixie Chicks. They went from top earners in the industry to barely able to get a record contract because of one statement. But that’s something else because what happened to the Dixie Chicks was also impacted by their status as sex objects — something that Scalzi is not (except to his wife).

  51. Not that it matters, Mr. Scalzi, but I personally am glad you write about politics, and not just brcause I usually find myself in agreement with you. I like reading other people’s political opinions.

    Of course the fact that I agree with you politically lets me buy your books without that note of guilt and anger that thr thought of, say, buying an Orson Scott Card book does. That’s nice too.

    (And before anyone goes off on me making purchaces based off the personal political beliefs of authors, let me note that Mr. Card believes that the potential act of my marrying my (now ex, but still) boyfriend was so heinous that it justifed armed overthrow of the United States government. It’s easy to say don’t judge authors or producers or musicians by their personal politics when those personal politics don’t directly impinge on your rights and status as a human being and full citizen. It’s easy to see politics as irrelevant when you those politics aren’t aimed at you.)

  52. I totally agree. I actually got a book of essays written by that same first President of Czechoslovakia for Christmas one year and it’s brilliant the way he discusses life under a totalitarian regime. Thank goodness writers like him spoke up.

  53. Robert Dye:

    Well, see. You take your chances “behind the firewall” too, however. There are lots of science fiction books that have identifiable politics in them, based on the politics of their authors — not just liberal but conservative as well — and sometimes the politics will seep in whether the writer was intending them to or not. Your tolerance for them may be different than the tolerances of others, depending on your own politics.

    Personally speaking, I don’t try to do any overt 1:1 political screeding in my novels, because I don’t usually build my universes to compare to the real world; they have different political tensions. Also, when I want to screed, I tend to do it here, so I don’t need to do it in my fiction. Nevertheless, some people will tell you they can see my personal politics in my writing, which is entirely possible. One irony of this is that when Old Man’s War came out, many people declared they could see my personal politics in it, and that I was a conservative.

    I definitely think you can sense themes in my work which speak to the core of my own personal philosophy. But I don’t know how accurately those themes track precisely to current major political modes of discourse here in the US — or alternately, how much any one reader will feel determined to stick them into one or another political mode, depending on their own inclinations.

    So, basically, I don’t worry about it too much. I write what I want to write, when it comes to the novels. If you (or anyone else) sees politics in them that bug you, it’s okay to put the book down and move on. I think that’s totally fair.

  54. First of all, I love this.
    Secondly, how did I miss that you used to write about politics professionally before this? My own tunnel vision amazes me sometimes, but it does explain why I like reading your thoughts on politics, even when we may disagree on some of the finer points. (Though, the older we both get, the fewer those points are!)
    Thirdly, I love your site disclaimer, especially the reminder about how free speech actually works in the world. I often like to remind people that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences about the things said. It’s one reason I don’t post every thought that pops into my pointy, little head.
    Fourth, while an individual may choose to avoid expressing certain opinions and thoughts for themselves, that’s a personal choice that no one else gets to dictate. It is one reason, though, that I’ve stayed off social media for months. I’m pretty tired of hearing about some of this, how it makes me feel, and the responses I want to make that, frankly, aren’t helpful. But I look forward to four years of your writing on it, even if I may not read everything you write about it.

  55. You even preface your political posts by stating “Caution, Political Post”. How many people out there are being forced at gunpoint to read anyway? The entitlement of people is beyond galling.

  56. A note to Wiredog: That’s “toffee-nosed, malodorous pervert” to you, buster. Now ‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.

  57. So here is maybe a way to understand the motivation of (at least some) people who ask you to not talk about politics. They like your work a lot, so they *really* want to like you as a person, as well. But when they read your opinions, which they really disagree with, it becomes difficult for them to do that. So, in an attempt to be able to both like your work, and like you as well, they try to get you to stop doing the thing that makes that impossible.

    I’m not saying that’s appropriate, just that one can see how trying to get you to talk politics springs from human frailty.

  58. Robert Dye:
    For me, the distinguishing moment is when the plot or expression of a character is drowned-out by the sound of an axe being sharpened.

    I’ve a problem when plot and/or character become completely captive to ideology, so that (for example) there are no good-guy (to be crude) or intelligent or competent characters who disagree with the author and no bad guys or idiots or screw-ups who agree. I’ve a little less of a problem when the world works in such a way as seems realistic to the author but not to me, as that could just be my own ideology intruding and I can enjoy thinking in ways I normally don’t, but (almost by definition) if it seems so greatly at variance with observable reality that I can’t suspend disbelief….

    Singers, well: some people in some circumstances care only about the music—I don’t care what the performers of “The Magic Flute” think of Freemasonry. In other cases, particularly singer-songwriters who market both their music and their personæ, a rant, political or otherwise, set to music or not, may be entirely appropriate, part of the whole package you can buy or not, though I can see how an unwelcome and completely unexpected such might combine with high ticket prices to annoy.

  59. s/axe being sharpened/axe being ground/1
    I knew I had got that idiom wrong,then forgot to go back to correct it.

    (Actually, I also really don’t like the sound of an axe being sharpened, that is to say a warrant for genocide or other murder, but that’s been in my experience a much less frequent incident…so far.)

  60. thanks for the post. I think with how easy it is for people to comment on things, it is too easy for people to say whatever they want to people. Which a lot of it seems like its about just shutting people down. Though I had not thought this stretched out to people who were ‘entertainers’ as you put it.
    I do agree, I like to hear different peoples opinions on subjects, even ones I don’t agree with, in the hopes that I can have rounded out my own perspective on things a little. That is I think one of the great advantages of having a society where we can freely talk about politics, is it offers a chance to learn new things we may not have thought about, or in a way we wouldn’t have with just the main media alone.
    And finally i have very little respect for people who say things that are just plain rude. If they want to argue in an intelligent fashion on an issue, that is great. But this bashing of people cause they don’t share someones thoughts, or whatever around this, there is nothing positive about this at all.
    Thanks for the post.

  61. Bill Longabaugh:

    I understand that many people often do not intend malice behind their statement, just as people who tell writers or others “now, get back to work!” intend it to be proof of their enthusiasm. In both cases, however, the an underlying current of “you are only your work and have no value or identity outside of it” that gets on the nerve of a lot of creative folks, because in fact they’re not just their work.

    Note also that part of the reason I write pieces like this is to make people who haven’t any nonsense like this aware of how these things are taken by the people at whom they are aimed.

  62. it seems to me the height of irony to have a person get so incensed about what entertainers write about their personal politics (or other “non-entertainery” things) that they take time out of their days to shout at them on the internet (or other media) about how nobody cares what they think…

    methinks the lady doth protest too much…

  63. I’ve always been baffled by people who tell famous entertainers to shut the fuck up about politics or any kind of social issue. It goes all the way back to the Dixie Chicks and their not-really-all-that-incendiary comment about Dubya and Texas. Seriously, who gives a shit? I’ve been reading your blog off and on for years now and will probably continue to do so for a while longer. I don’t always agree with you (imagine that!), but I think you make sense often enough that I can appreciate the parts where we do see eye to eye and skip over or shrug off the other stuff. Which, you know, is what responsible adults do, and what more people in this polarized country need to do.

  64. One of the best reviews I got as an author after someone read my erotic shapeshifting romance that dealt with Alaskan oil drilling was, “the author clearly has a point of view on the subject but didn’t ram it down our throats.” (Which now that I think about it, probably made for some pun not intended giggles, but anyway….)

    As an author, what I believe in is so much a part of the worlds I create and what I write that I can’t NOT be political. As a reader, I also in many ways can tell where someone’s politics are slipping into their story. If I feel it’s getting “preachy” and not in alignment with my views, there are other authors to read.

    Everyone has a right to their own opinion and anyone who believes that people shouldn’t express an opinion because of what they do ought to go pound sand.

  65. I find your political writing entertaining and informative. But even if I didn’t, it would be easy enough to not read those posts. Keep on keeping on, and I’ll keep on reading what you have to say.

  66. The flip side of this, of course, is when people give too much weight to the opinions of celebrities, especially when it’s clearly something the celeb. in question has not given any thought to.

    OK, celebs are entitled to their opinions. But it’s also important to remember that they put their pants on one leg at a time like everyone else – and they may not have done the required reading (in some cases, there is clear evidence to suggest they’ve not done any reading at all for some time, except perhaps for contracts – and even that, they probably outsource).

  67. People tend to think that if they can get others to shut up, it’s the same as if they’d proved the validity of their own opinion. Telling someone to shut up doesn’t make them wrong, it just makes you an asshole. Don’t do it. Unless, of course, being an asshole IS the point.

  68. If you’re of a mind to go to a Nugent concert (BTW, Auto-correct does not recognize that name and changed it to Burnt! I find that amusing…), you can expect flag and appendage waving and such. If you went to a Yoyo Ma concert and got that, it would be unexpected and you might even gripe afterward.

    If you go to a Denney’s and the waitress brings you your lingonberry pancakes and tells you Trump is fabulous, that might be intrusive.

    Personally, it’s not a draw to me to find a Jesus fish decal on a window of a car parts dealer. Might even be a deterrent because I know going I may expect gospel music or Limbaugh to be playing.

    I won’t drop a dime on a Rand book. I will happily buy a Heinlein book, knowing he will wander into some Libertarian territory (probably with a slightly underage girl in tow cuz that’s sort of Heinlein). I will skip ahead of such passages bother me. I will eagerly purchase a Scalzi novel.

    Free will is awesome, ain’t it!

  69. “2. If you don’t want to read me opining on politics, you are presumably a grown human being with free will and the ability not to read things. Skip over the piece or stop reading the site entirely.”

    I am possibly not an adult with free will given that I have read the care instruction for my shower curtain several hundred times.

    But I will say that I not only read whatever passes in front of my face I also I deliberately go out of my way to read the opinions of people I disagree with and wouldn’t dream of telling them to shut up, though it helps if such people write well.

  70. @leeflower wrote: “silencing political discussion isn’t about creating a ‘neutral’ space. It’s about supporting the status quo. That, too, is political”

    Awesome succinct quote. i am saving this! :)

  71. @znepj: I often put my pants on both legs at a time. It’s easy.

    John, you go guy. My favorite posts of yours are the political ones.

  72. For what it’s worth, I’m with Robert Dye on this. I don’t mind books (or songs or plays) about politics, but if the performer stops performing to offer his/her opinion on politics to a paying audience, I think it’s rude. The obvious example (certainly here in New York) is Barbra Streisand. She is absolutely entitled to her opinion, and she has certainly earned the giant microphone she has access to, but when tix go for hundreds of dollars a piece and most people who want to hear her sing can’t even get in to do so, pontificating from the stage strikes me as taking advantage of the situation. She can express her opinion in dozens of other forums where she isn’t distracting from what folks came to see/hear. This, I feel, is where “shut up and sing” comes from.

    The other piece of this is about being informed. I don’t believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion – I think everyone is entitled to an *informed* opinion, and that the stakes increase when you go from “rando on the internet” to “celebrity.” If I comment on Whatever that Donald Trump is the greatest political mind of our generation, I may (rightly) earn some laughs/derision, but the world keeps on spinning and no one is harmed – I’m just a rando on the internet. But when Jenny McCarthy, for example, speaks publicly, to an audience of many thousands, about health policy and does so without a knowledge (or acceptance) of prevailing medical research, she creates a dangerous situation. Ironically, the same can be said of a celebrity named Donald Trump, although the time to demand he stop talking about politics seems to have passed us by.

    You tend to be well-informed, and you speak in forums that don’t interfere with your art (I can read one of your books and get lost in your stories, and then come to the blog or the twitter feed for your personal opinions on things). I think that’s an excellent model, and I fully understand why it would annoy you when folks ask (demand?) that you stop. But there are others who act differently, and I can see the complaint from that side too.

  73. Of course I will support you saying whatever you want when you agree with me. Then you are just being a responsible citizen. But when you start spouting clear nonsense (something that disagrees with me), then it is my civic responsibility to tell you to shut the hell up. It is also obvious to the casual observer that I get to say whatever I want to you, whether you agree with me or not. After all, I’m not here to entertain you, you are here to entertain me. And if you aren’t entertaining me , then what is your reason for existence?

    </sarcasm>

  74. I have a sincere question about point number 9 . . .

    Because I am a creator who does have reason to worry about my “randos being terrifying stalkery bigot assholes,” would you be open to allowing me to communicate with you when I run across these situations? I am working hard on being braver than I have been, but I have been a target in the past and I am in a vulnerable population.

    I am not in any known danger at the moment, but I am beginning to speak out more. Your blog posts have been no small influence there, and I thank you for that. I’m not asking you to be my or anyone else’s champion, but I wonder if it might not be helpful to have someone else occasionally weigh in to encourage me to go for it or to advise when it’s just not worth the risk. With luck, I’d have no reason to consult you at all.

    (If it helps to place me, I’m the person you were “staring awkwardly” at by the hotel restaurant at Westercon this past July.)

  75. I actually like that you write about politics. I’ve been reading your books since high school years ago and reading Whatever for about 6(ish) years, and in all that time your political posts have given me moments to re-evaluate what I believe politically. I come from a religiously conservative background and never really questioned it until I was in my early 20’s. Since then I’ve consistently slid left a little bit at a time as I re-evaluate each issue. And while I may not entirely agree with everything you believe, you’ve challenged me to learn and decide for myself what I believe and not to take what my parents said as truth. So for that, thank you.

  76. Wait, this blog is all about you? Why are you so keen on disproving my extremely elegant Special Anthropic Principle?

  77. For those of you who have implied (however unintentionally) that the habit of telling performers/creators to “shut up and sing” dates from the Dixie Chicks . . . might be worth googling “Paul Robeson” for just one example from the 1930s. (And after, of course–Robeson’s career wasn’t confined to that decade. But the activism and the criticism of the activism does seem to have started then.)

  78. Mr. Scalzi,
    As a lady person, I sometimes find that some men are somewhat deaf to certain things I might say, particularly in the realm of politics.

    As it happens, you have often written a post on just the point I’m trying to get across. Sometimes that post is eloquent, other times it is delightfully ranty and full of swears.

    Either way, I often share your posts with my male friends in the hopes that reading these things from another straight white man will be persuasive, when their (probably unexamined) biases prevent my words from being so.

    I truly hope you keep writing on politics and social issues.

  79. First of all, I totally agree with everything you said in the post.

    The only time when I get uncomfortable about famous people talking about political issues is when it is part of dumbing down culture/news: the actor who gets invited to speak about some medical issue to a Congress panel, because said actor played a doctor on TV. In cases like that I’d rather hear from a real doctor.

    So obviously anyone can (and I’d say should) have opinions about important issues and feel free to opine. Still, I rather hear from a person who has studied the subject or who is on the receiving end of some government policy than watch a celeb going through the motions because a Senator or TV producer thinks celebs* give better rating.

    *That doesn’t at all mean that very famous people can’t have a wide knowledge of and honest interest in a mountainous range of matters – but I think it’s fair to ask whether they are asked to give Prime Time TV soundbites because of their knowledge or because of their fame.

  80. This is me giving you a fucking standing ovation. Not that you need it, but i need to give it. Bravo.

  81. Why do you close your threads after 2 days . . . It’s obvious your views are flaming liberal and out of touch with America. Maybe you’re the asshole? (Section 2, #8) Whatever!

  82. As a writer who writes about video games professionally, and politics because I’m human and intelligent and know how to research, and actually care about what happens to me and the others I share this planet with, I appreciate this post. Thank you.

  83. By the evidence, John, you still have quite a few fucks to give. *G* (I speculate that they breed in the pantry when nobody’s watching.) Keep on with the giving, and may you not run out of fucks to give for another 18 years of bloggery. (By then, well… keep the pantry stocked and you’ll never run out.)

  84. John, you have such a thorough way of explaining topics like this that I really admire. I thought maybe it’s just something you do in writing, because it’s really easy to edit before you hit “Publish” on your post. Yet, during one of your book signings, I asked you about the similarities between Lock In and the contemporary ALS awareness trend, and you systematically answered not just my question, but any follow-on questions I thought of as you were answering.

    How do you do that?

  85. Celebrity/sports figure/entertainer in the news for a sex/drug scandal: “OMG, these people are supposed to be role models! How dare they not use their position of influence to be positive examples for children!”

    Celebrity/sports figure/entertainer in the news for speaking his/her mind about a social issue about which they have first-hand knowledge and are advocating for awareness and change: “OMG, these people need to shut up! How dare they use their position of influence to say things I don’t agree with because my anecdotal experience/echo chamber says otherwise!”

  86. People died to defend your right to free speech. The least you can do to honor their memories is not use it.

  87. @Jeff Darcy wrote “The complainers probably don’t hesitate themselves, even though very few of them are professional politicians or political commentators either, so it’s a bit hypocritical of them to apply a special gag order to entertainers.”

    It might be amusing to parrot their own exact words back to them, requesting that they stop talking about politics themselves, then calling out their hypocrisy when they protest that you’re violating their First Amendment rights.

  88. I think it goes with the first rule of being an adult that nobody seems to get… “If you don’t like something, and it doesn’t harm you, then fuck off and ignore it”

    World would be a better place if that was common sense.

  89. Sounds like a nerve has been touched once too often.
    attempting wit:
    Down boy! Quiet. Good dog. Oh, now I see the pesky varmint. See ‘m? OK. Sic ‘m!

  90. It’s been an interesting artifact of this political season that as the politics get more heated, and the potential consequences of speaking up about politics have gone up, I’ve gone from extremely reticent about my political views to much more outspoken. I’m about to become a massage therapist with my own business, and theoretically it would be bad business to alienate potential clientele, but as we progressed through the election season, I discovered that it was highly unpleasant to be subjected to political rants by clients, while in a position where I, in good conscience, could not answer them back – being that I’m not unprofessional enough to ruin somebody’s relaxing massage so I can argue with them. So I ended up deciding that if I make my stronger political views obvious up front, the obnoxious clients who would subject me to that are likely to not walk in the door in the first place. I’d rather build my business more slowly than have a client base who stresses me out on a daily basis.

    If I ever get published beyond small popular science articles, I suspect the more outspoken attitude will continue.

  91. @Robert Dye:

    “But if I have paid to come and hear their music, why must I endure their political opinions? If I wanted *that*, I could turn of NPR or Rush Limbaugh. I didn’t need to buy an expensive concert ticket to have someone tell me why I should think differently than I do.”

    Because people are a package deal — and entertainers are often being paid *for their creativity and opinions*. To you, that political opinion may be unwanted. To the person next to you, that may be just what they needed to hear that day and redeemed the whole price of the ticket. To pretend that art and politics aren’t inextricably intertwined is terribly ingenuous at best. It’s part of the territory. If an entertainer does something that you don’t like, then don’t support them in the future. (I won’t ever buy another Orson Scott Card work again and gave away several that I did have. Am I pissed I spent so much money on his books before? Nope. I ditched everything I owned by John Ringo when a particular novel got to be more than I was comfortable with. Again, am I pissed? Nope — I enjoyed the previous novels.)

    If you are having trouble figuring out if an entertainer’s politics are going to bother you, use the library/internet/streaming service to read their books/watch their shows and get an idea of what you’re wandering into before plopping money down. You pay money not to buy a level of control over that person’s output, but to compensate them for the effort. Payment does not guarantee contentment, unless you have a successfully executed contract up-front.

    @Brian Greenberg:
    “The other piece of this is about being informed. I don’t believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion – I think everyone is entitled to an *informed* opinion”

    That’s a “should” kind of situation. Everyone *should* be informed. But the thing about “should” is that it’s rarely enforceable, and when it is, it’s almost certainly abusable (and being abused). There are people who have little formal education who know more about a particular topic than almost everyone who has a lot of formal education (unless it is their specialty). There’s also the pesky truth that merely being informed about a topic doesn’t mean your viewpoint automatically snaps to one opinion or another. There are a lot of well-educated and informed people who have opinions all over the map. Who gets to decide whose opinions are informed?

    Fact of the matter is, everyone gets opinions about anything they want to have. The fact that some opinions are solicited for the “wrong” reasons says more about the priorities of the people consuming those opinions, and telling those people they’re wrong to consume those opinions is pretty damn arrogant unless they have reason to know you and trust you.

  92. And after 26 years, I’ve run out of fucks to give on the matter.

    Insert fake Bayeux Tapestry-type image of field where Scalzi grows his fvcks. And lo! it is barren…

  93. Up against the wall Entertainer.

    You have the right to remain controversial.

    Anything you say can and will be taken in or out of context and used against you in the Court of Public Opinion.

    If you cannot afford a Publicist, tough.

  94. Pedro:

    I think anyone who has to create censored versions of films should be handed your opener; I want to hear Samuel Jackson forcefully state ‘I am tired of these ENTERTAINING snakes on this ENTERTAINING plane!’ —great as ‘monkey-fighting’ and ‘Monday-to-Friday’ were….

  95. I read Jim Wright’s stuff (StoneKettle Station) regularly. In fact, I spend way too much time on it. He mentioned this post on Facebook, and so I came to read it. You sound like a really interesting person to follow, and dammit, I don’t *need* another person to follow.

    So I demand that you stop writing about politics, and anything else interesting, so that I don’t get sucked into yet another blog. If you don’t stop immediately, I’m going to call the Government and tell them to make you stop. So there!

  96. I am now wishing for Paul & Storm to convert some or all of this perfectly-justified rant into musical form…

  97. I’ve always found it a bit funny how some “news” outlets(let’s just say that it rhymes with Ox) say that an actor or actress that disagrees with their point of view is just an “actor” and what do “actors” know? But, when an actor or actress agrees with their side, they’re “well informed” on the issue.

  98. I had a strong sense of what this post would be about. I just read it to see how many ways you would tell the assholes to ‘fuck off’. I was not disappointed.

  99. Thank you for writing about politics, Scalzi. If I do survive the next four years, it will be in no small part due to reading these posts.

  100. After a prolonged bout of grieving and terror post-election, I finally posted yesterday about the election. I didn’t talk about people who voted for that guy, only how I’m going to respond to the emerging agenda. Second comment was someone threatening not to buy my books anymore, she’d voted for that guy and I should stop whining, who did I think I was?

    Life’s too short – blocked and deleted.

    But what I thought was, “You voted for that guy and his Veep, that Veep who would censor what I write if he could, not to mention make me not exist if he could. You don’t DESERVE to read my books anymore. Go.”

    So right there with you. I don’t need to sell anyone a book that much.

  101. Yep. I’m going back to reading your blog more often. Going to pick up the last couple of OMW books too.

  102. Bravo! I’ve been told so many times that as writers, we should keep our opinions on politics, religion, and other potentially contentious issues to ourselves, lest we lose or alienate readers. I shamefully admit I’ve counselled the same to other writers, because it’s what I was taught.

    And then 2016 happened. Ah, 2016. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore. And I realized, aren’t we supposed to be finding “our” people? Those who believe the only people deserving of rights are white, cis-straight males, are not my people. Do I care if they don’t read my books? No. And considering my upcoming release is about a black man who discovers a great injustice committed against women in China, they probably wouldn’t be interested anyway. :D

    I get that we don’t need to alienate our readers by being assholes. But to say we shouldn’t even express our minds is ludicrous, and yet I hear it all the time.

  103. Much as I enjoy reading these rants, and this is a magnificent one, I’m sorry that people keep being assholes to you. I’m sorry that you had the experiences that inspired this rant, even though I enjoyed reading it and kept saying “YEAH” as I did.

    Editing, gerunds, death!

  104. I like your political posts. And if I didn’t like them, I’d unfollow you on twitter and not read those posts on your blog when they came up.

    I also think we need more political commentary like yours – informed, not just knee-jerk parroting of talking points or slogans and memes.

    I really appreciated your week three post. It sums up so many of my frustrations with the current RNC, btw.

    I will say that this election got me to stop reading anything scott adams does. His blog posts on why he was voting for trump were so dumb (namely he wants tax breaks and was worried that hillary was corrupt and unwell) that I immediately lost any respect for him.

  105. I also come here for the political posts. Some other posts I skip over. I do give the limited glimpses of your personal/home/family/professional life a glance. They satisfy whatever I interest I have in how a successful author whom I don’t know personally but whose work I enjoy might live his life.

    I also come here because you let me add my thinky bits. It’s becoming less and less common. I guess I want the opportunity to vent in context if what you write provokes or inspires me. If you decided to do away with comments altogether, I’d probably miss reading what you have to say but I’d move on, rather than risk the frustration.

  106. Hello, John Scalzi, for another irresistible topic(s).

    Due to matters beyond my control, I do not get to respond to many interesting blogs or political matters; such as now. But I must toss in my two bits here (before the discussion closes) even though I do not have time.

    Here goes:

    Part 1: 1-5

    Amen, Amen, Amen! You can remain so calm while attempting to reach out to an ungrateful, ethnocentric, and deceased public. Although I am unaware of the political posts that prompted this discussion, it is still up this ally, and here I am, in the ally.

    ‘Truth’ be told, “we the people” are in denial, we pertain to be concerned with our ‘state-of-affairs’ when all we really care about is what we don’t have, or maintain what we think we have. People say they want a better life when all they really want is just more material gain. It is difficult to tell the difference when one is too uninformed to realize he/she is not.

    Oh, how many times I want to say what you say, “kiss my ass” you, and that goes for the ‘horse’ you rode in on too. But I refrain since I am attempting to be a better person with the capability of expression beyond demeaning language. As the song go, “It’s Your Party” and you can laugh, cry or crap “If You Want To.” Enough of that.

    Part II

    6. “For the occasional jackass who opines … “WOW! Someone really got to you pal. You see, John, these guys don’t have a plan of their own, they dance to a music of their imagination. In fact, the song they hear is just a recurring sound of something they heard from someone else. I call them ‘WWW tag teams’ they usually receive a free phone and or cable television (internet) and hit the keyboard whenever someone else wants to interrupt a conversation or position in order to influence. All they really do is piss people off, however.

    6-10. I must say, it is really refreshing to see someone stand up the damn bullying public. I am affiliated with the Social Sciences (concertation in Social Psychology), and Journalism & Public Communications, while I hope no-one reads how disdainful I am of humankind, I am confident that the thing we deserve most is upon us. And, as misery loves company, the very people who criticize you are critical of themselves, as well as of you. They know they screwed up in life and now they want misery from whoever will listen to them.

    You must remember, our social norms are enforced and monitored by ‘yo-yos’ who believe they are right and everyone else is wrong, a bunch of ethnocentrisms who calls being informed is having a principle to believe in. Please be patient with them, their follies are choking them.

    And thanks for an interesting blog site!

  107. Years ago, I started following PopeHat on twitter, initially because of the Prenda lawsuits, but then to here about other interesting law stuff. Then, something changed, I think the initial writer had personal/family issues to deal with, but the twitter got passed off to another person who wrote more about pop culture and stuff. Yes I was annoyed that the interesting stuff went away, but ultimately the account, and people behind it, weren’t there for me. So I stopped following them on twitter. “Super simple stuff.”

  108. I was present at a pretty impressive display of response to this sort of attitude…

    People in around the Toronto area and interested in film history are likely to be familiar with Reg Hartt. He’s a film archivist and historian; he is also absolutely not shy about his political opinions. (As for said political opinions, just note the fact that he was Director of Cinema Studies at Rochdale College, a co-operative College in Toronto that also included Dennis Lee and Judith Merril as members. He’s got a better claim to )

    He’s toured around in the past with the ‘Sex and Violence Cartoon Festival’, showcasing original versions of old cartoons that are no censored, intercut with him on stage discussing the hows and whys of the time. (Such as a talk about Mickey chasing Minnie in ‘Plane Crazy’ being pretty much date rape.) I saw him at such a show a few times while I was in University, at the Princess Cinema at Waterloo. His stories were fun, and while I can’t vouch for the accuracy of all of them, they were generally informative.

    At one show in Waterloo, one person in the audience decided to tell Reg Hartt to shut up and show the cartoons.

    To the surprise of probably nobody else in the audience, this resulted in at least a half hour rant involving topics of creative output being censored, the need for charity, understanding other people, and why everybody should to learn from history. It was actually pretty glorious.

  109. Much praise heaped on you; keep on saying the sort of stuff you’ve been saying, and I and my family and friends will happily read this blog until the last dying word. Sometimes it’s easy to slip into a mindset that the world is populated only with assholes. Then I come here and it can be like somebody turned the oxygen back on.

  110. Well said.

    You have a right to be you. Your job is not to perform for anyone on Twitter or on your blog or anywhere else. Your job is to write whatever books you are contractually obligated to write for your publisher (full disclosure, I have no idea what your relationship with your publisher is). Likewise, other entertainers’ jobs are to act on a tv show or movie or sing or whatever. The point is, you, and everyone else, has a right to write about whatever the fuck you want.

    If someone doesn’t like it, they have options…don’t read it. Probably the easiest. Or, they can voice a counter-opinion, to which you have the right to ignore or respond to. That’s kinda how free speech works. You have the right to say what you want, other people get to choose whether or not they want to listen.

    Honestly, I find the people who tell you not to write about politics to be dangerous. Why? Because its all about dehumanizing the celebrity. You are not a person, you are an entertainer. You exist to keep them entertained. It’s this kind of rationale that leads to things like hacked photos being passed around or stalking. Obviously, not everyone who tells you not to write about politics would do that kind of thing, but it comes from the same place. A feeling that celebrities/entertainers “owe” something to everyone else, that they exist solely to be entertainers, that their feelings don’t matter, only what the public can get from them.

  111. Hear, hear.

    As far as politics, consider people’s responses to Ayn Rand’s fiction. Then there’s the Ancilliary Justice/Sword/Mercy series. It depends both on how smoothly you do it, and how much the reader agrees with your (character’s) agenda.

  112. Just want say, John, that while I have been moderately disagreeing with you politically more often than not lately, I greatly respect your opinion. That said, when you opine that those who chafe at your political opinions should probably just not read them, I think not. I think it’s counterproductive to the modicum of decent society we hold on to to disengage someone just because they think differently than I do. If we respect a guy we should engage him especially when we disagree, to learn how to think critically about what people say, to learn how to poke holes in it when we can, to learn how to accept it when we can’t and they’re right. Granted, if I’m an asshole about disagreeing I should be called out on that, but I don’t want to live in an echo chamber.

  113. Phil Plait gets that crap too, with people insisting that he must use his great Bad Astronomy blog to talk about astronomy and nothing else.

    I’m still enjoying the whole “free speech” thing while it lasts.

  114. I think there is an additional element in people doing their best to dissuade you from writing about politics; it’s because you are good at it. If you weren’t good at it then nobody is going to worry about you skewering some nitwit who really needs to be skewered because nobody would notice.

    On this side of the pond everyone who voted to remain in the EU is constantly being told that we should just shut about it; there are swathes of the gutter press claiming ad nauseam that we are unpatriotic traitors who should just shut up, and that Judges who rule on the law are enemies of the people who, you’ve guessed it, should just shut up about it.

    So, please do carry on not shutting up about it; we are treading a dangerous path, on both sides of the pond, and we need more, not less, discussion about it…

  115. A writer I admire has gone on for years about vaping. I couldn’t give a shit about vaping; I think it’s a dumb thing to invest any brain cycles on. But they disagree! Good for them. I skip over the vaping rants. It’s really just that simple.

    I wonder if the writer in question is Ken McLeod? Not that I expect Mr. Scalzi to confirm or deny. It’s just that I like McLeod’s work, but have noticed his vaping rants on Twitter and have much the same reaction.

  116. Best thing I’ve ready all week, thank you!

    This doesn’t have a lot to do with your post beyond the phrase “Asshole,” but your post brought it to mind and it’s one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite shows, so I’m going to just leave it here.

    Says Raylan Givens: “you ever hear the saying: you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, YOU’RE the asshole.”

  117. I do agree with you, Mr Scalzi, but I think there’s one objection that is worthy of due consideration and proper disposal. The critic might say, “if entertainer X has a fan base due to non-political work output, they are unfairly leveraging that fan base to gain an advantage not available to other citizens, who may have a similarly worthy and valuable job, albeit in a field that does not provide fan bases to leverage.” How would you respond?

  118. This is all just common sense. If there were an author I liked with whom I disagreed on *everything* (i.e., (s)he’s both a fundamentalist Christian/religious right and an economic communist), I simply wouldn’t read their blog. The closest real life example is Orson Scott Card, who seems to take the authoritarian position on any given issue, no matter if it’s more in line with the Republicans or Democrats. (Yes, I’m sure one could find a [small l] libertarian position he’s taken.) He’s what I think of as a Nixon Democrat. I know he has a blog somewhere, but I don’t read it. I read his books, and I’m happy.

    Just common effing sense… :/

  119. I would like to say: Please Write About Politics More. You, Brad Delong, Charlie Pierce, and Robert Reich have made it tolerable, though barely, to endure the grueling turn toward thinking about George W. Bush as “the good old days.” I largely support your philosophy, and I very much support you personally (in paperback form, generally). So keep up the general mouthiness.

  120. “Allow me to be clear that it’s not just creative types who are entitled to have a public opinion about politics — everyone is.”

    I think that’s the most important thing you said regarding this subject. Lately, when anyone who isn’t a political pundit expresses an opinion on politics, everybody jumps on the “shut the hell up and stick to what you usually do” bandwagon, and I just don’t get it.

    We all think. We all have opinions. Professions don’t determine what you can and can’t say. I wish more people understood that.

  121. No real comment, except to note that I’ve never before heard the term “rando.” Looked it up. I guess I sort of know what it means now. Perpetually behind the times I am, but it works for me.

  122. @Gerald Fnord: “I think anyone who has to create censored versions of films should be handed your opener . . . ”

    I grok.

  123. Not that you need my permission or approval, but I’d be very happy to see a steady stream of political articles from you in the future. And books, too, of course.

  124. Lots of people have audiences, though – lots of people try to leverage their popularity or capability at something else into justification for their own beliefs and endorsement for them. The relevant question is “do they have reasonable arguments and evidence for what they say?”. If they do, then the audience is probably helpful, since people will most likely walk away better than before they came. If they don’t, then people can learn to stay away to preserve their brain cells.

    If we were less focused on team identity and more on quality of argument and nature of evidence, then having an audience for politics based on some other qualification wouldn’t be a problem. Substance should trump volume or flag color or anything else (I know it doesn’t always, but maybe this is something that we should change).

    I think the “shut up and write” comes from a desire for isolation from people that don’t agree with you, and possibly a world that doesn’t either. While I don’t want to fight all the time, if I hold views that are based on falsehoods, sooner or later reality is going to beat down my door. Nature has a veto on everyone’s beliefs. If the awareness that lots of people don’t like what you believe, you need to secure your beliefs for yourself so that you can believe them without caring what others think, or you need to change your beliefs to fit the reality you can observe. Refusing to observe ideas that trouble you isn’t going to make them cease to exist.

  125. After Rick looked up “rando,” I thought to look up last day’s “I don’t even” Like rando, it’s on the urban dictionary on the web. As it happens, nobody I know says that. I live in the wheat belt.

    I guess that just as people have a greater written vocabulary than spoken, they can have a greater computer vocabulary than when talking on the street.

  126. Scalzi: “One irony of this is that when Old Man’s War came out, many people declared they could see my personal politics in it, and that I was a conservative.”

    Well, the cinemax theory of racism comes to mind. Whether you are conservative or not, if you write a story that forwards conservative politics, then it’s part of the package deal.

    In OMW, for example, you put John Galt fantasy in a positive light. The Colonial Defense Forces refuse to be regulated, and attempts to regulate them result in the CDF pulling out completely until Earth agrees to let them operate unregulated. And its a positive light because they are effective and they are right. Earth naively wants to regulate CDF, but attempts to do so cause CDF to withdraw from Earth until Earth allows them to operate unregulated. Earth is naively worried about regulating CDF. CDF is engaged in an existential war with numerous alien races bent on wiping us out and eating us. Standard conservative propaganda is that bleeding heart liberals are naive and dont know how easy they have it nor do they realize how hard the “real” world is.

    And the real world of the CDF is fucking brutal. I remember doing the math based on the numbers you gave in your book. Given how many people came up the space elevator and put on a ship, and how often a ship is loaded, and the fact that the opening speech by CDF to recruits after they get their new bodies is “enjoy, most of you will be dead in 3 years”, I think I calculated an overall casualty rate on par with America’s involvement in WW2. Earth is blindly naive about all the threats about to wipe it out, and the CDF knows the truth that the universe is a brutal fucking blood bath. Bog standard conservative worldview.

    The aliens are almost comically Evil. They brought in a celebrity chef to cook and eat human prisoners? Standard conservative playbook to portray everything as black and white, pure good versus pure evil. No shades of grey. No shared fault.

    That’s the worldview of OMW. It’s a conservative worldview. And it portrays the conservative worldview as true. A worldview of violence, tribal associations, and scarcity. Its not like, for example, “1984” where we hear the conservative worldview from mouthpiece characters, but that worldview is shown to be brutal and inhumane. And its not like, say, “Catch 22”, where the conservative worldview is portrayed with all its associated insanity. No. In OMW, the conservative worldview is portrayed sympathetically.

    In OMW, there is exactly one scene where you could have laid bare the lies of that worldview of violence, tribe, and scarcity, when the main character starts to have doubts regarding the morality of his actions, stomping on tiny aliens like godzilla. But he doesn’t look inward. He looks outward, sees that there are humans who are morally evil, decides he isn’t as evil as that, shrugs, and continues on. That only reinforces a sympathetic view of the conservative worldview. A shallow glance in the mirror, moral relativism to say “I’m not as bad as the worst”, and then immediately back to an outward view.

    OMW practically celebrates the libertarian worldview with CDF going Galt whenever Earth tries to regulate them. And it embraces sympathetically the conservative worldview that the world is nasty, brutish, and short.

    Whether in your heart of hearts you are a conservative or not, is sort of irrelevant. It’s the worldview that the book embraces and lifts up. It was part of the package.

  127. As far as I’m concerned, the ONLY positive from the Trump campaign was the return of “Bloom County.” And the only positive from an actual Trump presidency (I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around that phrase) is the fact that John Scalzi will be writing more about politics. Looking for a bright side, people…

  128. In my opinion, the only time someone gets to tell a creative person what to write is when they’re commissioning the writing and have paid in advance. At which point they’ve purchased X words worth of writing on topic Y at Z cents per word. (And if the creative person then turns around and gives you something which says the exact opposite of what you wanted to hear, well… should have specified the topic more carefully, shouldn’t you?) Even then, the creative person still has the option of refusing the job.

    But on a private website, where no money is being solicited, and nobody is forcing you to read the wretched thing in the first place… This is rather like someone bitching me out for what I’m wearing (or not wearing) while I’m working in the back vegetable garden. Firstly, it’s me doing something I enjoy in a space I enjoy doing it in, and I’m doing it for my benefit. Second, you had to put yourself deliberately in a position where it was visible, and third, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to look. Entirely self-inflicted, doncherknow, old boy.

  129. If all your writing is like this (and I’ll bet it’s not) I think I’ll start reading your blog. Whatever.

  130. I don’t know about that, Greg; I would agree with you about OMW if Scalzi didn’t slowly complicate our perception of the CDF over the course of the book and the rest of the series. By the end of END OF ALL THINGS, you got CDF soldiers deserting, revolutions on planet after planet, and a radical fracture in the human body-politic. That stuff wouldn’t be happening if the series didn’t want you to question whether something’s wrong with the Colonial Union.

  131. why yes, everyone including entertainers, sports stars, politicians, etc are allowed to express their opinions. Hopefully many have learned to not idolize or look too closely into the personal lives and opinions of those who entertain them as they may not like what they see. Or they may be very happy but the risk is there. If upon realizing their media hero is a asshole or just a nasty person they should choose to not expose themselves to it in the future and if terribly offended by them then no longer support or consume their product. Many times you cannot have your cake and eat it too. People are people and they can often times disappoint. People have to have a place to cheer or whine about politics, world issues etc. You have chosen to invite and allow like minded folks to have a place to go which is what freedom is all about eh?

  132. Anytime I see someone pull the ‘You’re a(n) (author, musician, interpretive pudding whisperer, whatever), shut up and amuse me instead of acting like a real person!’ I’m reminded of Tucker Carlson on Crossfire petulantly whining at Jon Stewart and telling him to be funny instead of (and I paraphrase here) tearing him and his show a bakers dozen of new assholes. Jon’s response was ‘No, I’m not your monkey.’ I honestly think that it neatly encapsulates the topic, from the bowtie wearing jackass on down.

    I own a number of your books, and precisely zero percent of John Scalzi, and I cannot understand why anyone would presume to behave as though the opposite were true.

  133. “@jdrhodes: People died to defend your right to free speech. The least you can do to honor their memories is not use it.”

    I can’t tell from context if this was meant to be sarcastic, but on the off chance it isn’t: you’re right, if someone died to protect your rights, not taking responsible advantage of those rights is the *least* someone can do to honor them short of just desecrating their graves. People fought for my right to speak, so I should be silent? I think not sir.

  134. @Branewave:

    If you are famous, people pay attention to you. That’s what being famous means.

    Garry Kasparov became famous by playing chess. He’s also an outspoken political opponent of Vladimir Putin.

    Is it unfair that Kasparov receives more attention than other activists, who may be wiser and better informed than he is? Maybe so. It’s not a fair universe. But demanding that Kasparov shut up about politics is grossly unfair to Kasparov. He didn’t give up his opinions or his moral responsibility when he became famous for playing chess.

    The word responsibility is key here. It’s reasonable to argue that Kasparov’s fame confers power, which in turn gives him a responsibility to be careful and measured in what he says. It’s not at all reasonable to tell him to shut up altogether.

  135. Long-time reader, possibly first time commenter, logging in to address the question of whether you get what you paid for when you buy a book, or a concert ticket, etc. So, with a book, a great deal of what you are actually paying for is convenience. All book purchases are taking a chance that you won’t like the book, and there a million reasons to not like a book. Politics is not a special exception here. If you don’t want to risk money on that chance, then use the library. (I’m not endorsing a 40pp screed on politics, but the issue there seems to be bad writing/editing, not the insertion of politics.)

    Live performances–I would argue that part of what you are paying for IS the “extra”–the brief introductory comments that singers make before/after a song, the chit-chat to the audience, and so forth, as well as the crowd energy, all singing along, etc. If some singers choose to take that “extra” political, that is their right. (I’m not endorsing 30-minute rants by Kanye, but the Dixie Chick made a 2-sentence comment on war introducing a song about a soldier). Erykah Badu introduced a song with some spiritual discussion of what 360 degrees means–it struck me as nonsense, but it was her, and it was a key part of my concert experience. These internal asides are less common with theater, but post-play statements, or talkback panels, are standard enough. In particular, Hamilton did Let’s Go Crazy on stage after Prince died, so they have established a possibility of a post-play reaction to current events–no trickery there.

  136. PS, sorry. I’m responding to a WAY-upthread post from Robert Dye, who takes the tack that people didn’t expect politics when they put down their money. Devin Granger also responds to this point.

  137. I love your political thoughts – even when you are wrongly predicting the future. Oh God. How I wish your prediction of a Bush-Clinton race had panned out. If Bush had won I would have felt mildly disappointed and moved on.
    Although, now I read your predictions and feel uneasy when you predict some rational future. Because you were wrong before and I assume past results predict future results on your prognostications. (despite claiming a rational thought process, my brain is mighty irrational).

  138. They don’t like what you are saying and they are worried that others will listen to you because your books are well known, so they want you to shut up. All the rest is dog whistles and blackmail threats. Blackmail threats that usually show the person has no idea how the fiction market actually works and what most fiction readers pay attention to.

  139. A tangential question re:
    “And, folks. One: Are you my spouse or my editor? No? Then feel free to fuck right off.”
    This got me wondering what input Athena has on your political writing and outlook.

  140. Anyone who buys a ticket to a Barbra Streisand concert and then is shocked, SHOCKED! by her political views is as clueless as someone who goes to a Ted Nugent concert not knowing he’s going to be as much of a conservative dickhead as it’s possible to be. And anyone who comes to this blog only to be surprised by the political posts is similarly clueless and probably should be encased in bubble wrap for their own safety.

    This blog will be one of my strategies for staying sane for the next 2-8 years. Thanks for hosting, JS.

  141. Dawn Weirauch:

    Being a parent definitely has an impact on my worldview. That said, Athena doesn’t generally offer opinions on my writing. If she did, however, I would listen.

  142. Seems to me Amanda Palmer just posted something in this exact tone.

    Silencing writers, yeah, that’s a classic prelude to evil. Ref: every totalitarian state ever.

  143. Entertainers/sportsball players/etc. can SAY what they like, but I will hold them to the same standard I hold anyone else. If you want to tell me that you BELIEVE vaccines cause austism ’cause you heard a story once, I get to make fun of you for believing the snake oils salesman….

  144. @ianrobertsblog:

    Agreed that we shouldn’t tell a famous person to shut up as a way of rectifying the unfairness. But consider something a little less absolute than “shut up”. Consider the sorts of regulations that come into play during election season, when it comes to advocating for a particular candidate. I.e., the sort of regulations that get proposed to keep money from unduly influencing elections. The devil’s advocate inside of me wonders: if it is morally and/or legally legitimate to regulate the rich person and their riches, then why not the famous person and their fame? Is there a valid distinction to be made? Is it consistent to defend campaign finance laws while simultaneously pushing a maximalist first-amendment interpretation for famous people leveraging their fame? In other words, does “fame = speech” imply “money = speech”? Or in reverse, does “money is not speech” imply “fame is not speech”? Can we have it both ways? (Imagine a dystopian future in which we have successfully driven money out of politics, only to find it replaced by quid pro quo between politicians and famous people leveraging their reach.)

  145. Of course you should write on politics all you want. It’s those oppressive cat pictures you should not post!

    (forgive me, kitties, you know I don’t mean it)

  146. I think your political blog posts are better than an awful lot of paid punditry. It’s also the main reason I subscribe to your feed.
    The people who say they just want to be entertained really mean that they just want to continue living unchallenged in their own Facebook-feed bubble, and they always seem to be of a particular political ilk. In my view, that makes *them* the snowflakes.

  147. Scalzi, what makes you think that we want to you stop writing about politics? Oh hell no, we want you to write more.

  148. Reginald Hall , I was replying to Scalzis comment that said “when Old Man’s War came out, many people declared they could see my personal politics in it, and that I was a conservative.”

    Specifically, “when OMW came out”, not when later books in the series came out. The first book embraces a conserative worldview. And whether scalzi was actually liberal or whether later books embrace a different worldview, the first book comes with Cinemax.

  149. @Greg

    I see your point but don’t think it’s nearly as clear cut as you have described. My first reading of Old Man’s War tripped over spidey senses pretty early on in the story with how CDF treated Earth (so, is this an abusive relationship?), and how CDF descriptions of aliens and history were rather close to propaganda (tightly controlled, no way for characters to verify facts, all very good speak). By the end of the story, it’s pretty clear something is wrong with the CDF, even if we don’t have a lot of concrete details on its judgement or corruption. Even in later stories, it’s not clear if it’s corrupt so much as flawed.

    Maybe you have to be a cynic about human nature, but OMW didn’t seem to be any more an endorsement for conservatism (or the CDF) than the Forever War. It’s pretty clear in OMW alone that CDF’s “plan”, if you can call it anything so grand, basically can’t end better, and maybe ends a lot worse, than the Forever War.

    Maybe Scalzi endorses the Leviathan. Maybe he doesn’t. It is however totally discredited in any form of modern economic, scientific, or social advancement. Cooperation and specialization make money. Money makes modern weaponry and the logistics to power armies. Conservatism is lost in its own navel gazing about lost never-were glories of battle. Industrial and modern war is economics, and war of all against all is bad economics.

  150. Good thing this on a page about fiction, as the truth hurts. Votes count good or bad. the Democrats lost, the Repulicans won. Deal with it.

  151. Dear Brian,

    In my opinion (as one of those Creator people), you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the creator and the audience. Unless you hire me to provide a specific form of entertainment (and, of course, I agree to be hired with those conditions), you have no say in what I create or present. You can only decide whether or not you wish to partake of it. Beyond that, I am not only not obligated to entertain (the other kind) your opinion of what I should be presenting, I will resolutely ignore it. You don’t get to decide.

    If I am not entertaining to a sufficient number of people, I will starve. If I am, I’ll do okay whether or not you (any particular you, not just the “you” you [smile]) like what I’m doing.

    For the sake of discussion I’ll assume your characterization of the Streisand performance in New York is correct. (I have no idea, but it works as a talking point so let’s run with it.) In that case, when tickets go for hundreds of dollars apiece and they are instantly sold-out, why should she care whether or not you, in particular, want to hear what she does on the stage. If her behavior is that well known and obvious, then anyone buying a ticket to her performance knows it is going to include pontificating.

    Your assertion that she is automatically distracting from what they bought the tickets for is rather emphatically refuted by the economic success. At the very least, they’re willing to tolerate the pontificating for the singing; at the most, they enjoy the pontificating. They’re happy to buy the ticket, so what is the problem?! That YOU don’t want to hear the pontificating, you just want to hear her sing? Then go buy an album. You want to hear her do it live? Then hire a hall and contract with her to do just that.

    Anything other than that, and you are demanding, as some individual random potential audience member, that she perform in a fashion that conforms to how you want her to perform.

    I won’t say you don’t get to do that, because you can do it until you’re blue in the face. But nobody’s going to pay you any mind, least of all Streisand (or me). She can sell out a hall to people who are happy with the way she performs. Why should she change her performance just to please you?

    ~~~~

    Yes it would be lovely to live in a magical utopia where the only opinions that people expressed were informed ones. When you find the mystical portal that leads there, do send me an invite and I will happily join you. Really!

    In the meantime, bucko, get real.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
    ======================================

  152. David, funny system you have where “not as many voters chose my candidate” means he “won.” He may have played the demographic game better, but it sure doesn’t seem like his message was the more popular one by any non-electoral-wankery sense of the word. Going to be very amusing to see the wrath of the party that he supposedly represented when they realize he doesn’t actually care about anyone but himself — not his family, not his “friends,” not his cronies, and CERTAINLY not the misguided idiots who voted for him.

    I fear that once the Repubs in Congress realize that Mike Pence actually IS their kind of guy — a fiscal “conservative” in the sense that he wants the money to continue to flow upward; a social “conservative” in the sense that he thinks government should stay out of people’s lives as long as those people are white, Christian, straight, and male; and generally pretty repugnant overall — they won’t be able to impeach Trump fast enough. The only question is whether he resigns before they get to that point or whether the Dems recognize that having Trump at 1600 Penn is, although very bad indeed, still better than having a dominionist bigot there.

  153. Speaking of telling people to shut up about politics:

    A celebrity making a political statement telling other celebrities to shut up about political statements,

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mark-wahlberg-celebrities-politics_us_5841e0f1e4b017f37fe498c3?ir=Entertainment&

    Once again, idiots define “politics” to mean “that which I disagree with”, and political things they agree with is just “homey wisdom”.

    Fuck you, Wahlberg, you fucking douchebag hypocrite.

  154. Mine Host, I am guessing that you cop flak for your political commentary to the exact degree that you’re perceived to be effective by those who oppose you.

    I too have noticed on social media the more subtle forms of chill, which go something like, “Decision’s been made, now why can’t everybody calm the fuck down and stop stressing about it and go back to whatever they were doing before?” Thing is, see, I don’t *want* to be told how to think & feel & act. I like to decide for myself, based on information available at the time. I sneeze reflexively at all sentences that begin with “You should…”. Coercion tastes bad, even when it’s sugar-coated.

  155. David, he did win, sure enough. Deal with it? Yup, that too…. By making damn sure he and his asshole followers have as little room to move as possible. Fuck him and fuck the attitudes of the people who elected him. Fuck you.

  156. Guys like Dave are going to have to come up with a better response to the many criticisms of Trump in the years ahead. Simply repeating “deal with it” is silly – criticizing Trump’s actions is dealing with it in the time-honored, Founder-approved way.

    Also: Dave, learn to spell. It helps you get promoted to a job at the counter and away from the deep-fryer.

  157. One flaw in our current electoral setup is that the Electoral College distorts the degree of popular support a candidate does/does not have. Dave isn’t the first Trump supporter I’ve encountered who is mistaking a majority of EC electors for a popular mandate.

    Mind you, I don’t think Trump ever _will_ figure out that most Americans don’t want him in the Oval Office. But if there’s any chance other politicians will figure out that their constituents don’t want them rubberstamping anything Trump wants, I’m for it.

    (And can we really say the EC is flawed for not representing popular support when that was never its purpose in the first place?)

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