Overthinking, Done Poorly and At Length

I don’t normally go out of my way to point people to incoherent rants about me on the Internet, but, I have to say, this 7,800-word screed with me as its focus is something very special indeed, and I feel I would be remiss in not sharing it with the world. It’s not everyone who gets their own Unibomber-grade manifesto about everything that is wrong with him.

Mind you, it’s not just about me; I am also used as a convenient springboard to kvetch about other people and things that are horrible and wrong, too. But I’m in the title, so there you are. I will say by the end of it you may come to realize, as I did, that the essay says far less about me than it does about the author. Bless his heart.

Update: The author has appended to the original screed a 4,300-word addendum, addressed to the commenters here. It is also very special.

Update 2: Aaaaand now it’s been taken down. Ah well.

Update 3: Appears to be back up again! Joy! The addendum has expanded by an additional 2,200 very special words as well.

268 Comments on “Overthinking, Done Poorly and At Length”

  1. My first thought was – why is James May from Top Gear writing this? Then I tried to read it. I couldn’t. I don’t mean I chose to stop, I mean I was incapable of following his thread…

  2. I’m pretty sure it’s not that James May. This one appears to be a photographer. However, there does also appear to be more than one James May, photographer.

  3. I do not think the word “bigot” means what he thinks it means.

    Also, the medication is not working, he should try a different mix. Seriously, the rant was unreadable.

  4. The problem with the mantle of white privilege is it comes with a hood but no eyeholes. Talk about missing the point by, oh, a few hundred miles or so.

  5. I would be really interested to see you link to a post that was critical of a political position you took that you viewed as not asinine. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not implying you have any obligation to do so. I just think it would be interesting.

    Picking people in the conjunction of “folks who disagree with me” and “folks who are stupid” is fun and self-fulfilling. Finding people in the conjunction of “folks who disagree with me” and “folks I really admire” is trickier and less fun, especially if you view the disagreement not as an aberration from your admiration of them, but as integral to it.

    I guess I just get a little sad when people post about politics (no matter what their politics) and spend the majority of the time they interact with opponents focused on the lowest common denominator. Seems like aiming high rather than low could improve the general tenor of the civic discourse.

    (Again, not your job. But, since you have such a big megaphone, it would be nice to see.)

  6. I’d be honored, too. But in your case I’d also be glad I live in rural Ohio with a big dog and Krissy The Destroyer as my wife.

    Some people have a lot of time on their hands. I think this cat needs to check his f-stop and lower his exposure.

  7. Peter Cashwell:

    I’m fine. It was pretty clear within the first three paragraphs what sort of screed it would be, so I was able to read it primarily for the entertainment value and to see how this particular fictional version of me matched up the actual one (spoiler: Not so much).

    Nathaniel Givens:

    I have in the past linked to people who I felt gave cogent and useful rebuttals to something I said, because I recognize that I can be wrong about things and/or someone can have a different perspective that I don’t necessarily agree with but is illuminating. In the last couple of years, it’s more frequent that I do it on Twitter than here, however, if for no other reason than it’s easier.

  8. He sounds like a disgruntled want-to-be writer who keeps getting rejected. Well, if this piece is any example of his skills, I can see why he is a reject.

  9. @Jeff L – me too, both for “why James May?” and dnr. Even if I agreed with whatever this man is trying to say (and I might, how can I know…?) I take Scalzi’s side simply because he knows how to state his argument clearly and concisely. It’s said that a picture can paint a thousand words; perhaps Mr May should just have taken 7.8 photos and then maybe we’d understand.

  10. This mind, it hurts… and I could only read about four paragraphs! It’s only when I read (= try to read) stuff like that that I realise I am spoiled here by the quality of both the posts and the comments.

  11. I do suspect the author may feel conflicted that the person sending the largest number of people to his site to read his screed is me. On one hand: Exposure! One the other hand: Heh.

  12. To clarify: I wasn’t worried about your blood pressure rising as your ire mounted–I was worried about the intense soporific effect of contact with that much turgid, incoherent prose. I lasted about two paragraphs before I thought, “This guy’s trying to beat me to death with cottage cheese. A LOT of cottage cheese.”

  13. John:

    I think I’ve only been following Whatever for about a year or two, so I guess I haven’t seen one yet. Not politically, anyway. I seem to recall an article or two where you highlighted folks who took a different view on the business of writing or some such, but nothing on a hot-button political issue. And it’s the hot-button political issues that are in direst need of having the level of conversation raised beyond warring parties of self-congratulatory in-groups.

    Yes: part of my wistful desire is that as someone who has different politics than you, I’d love to see someone who isn’t an idiot get a moment in the spotlight. But I’m sincere about the tone-raising aspect, too.

    In any case, I’ll check out Twitter. I’ve been meaning to try and grok it a little more, and this will be a useful exercise to delve a little deeper into it.


  14. Wow. “To politicized racialists, who love to claim race doesn’t matter”? Moving past the awesome neologism that is “racialist”, in my experience it’s not the folks he’s referring to with that word who claim that race doesn’t matter. It’s the ones on his side of the fence, the allegedly-“colorblind” individuals, who don’t seem to be able to grok that it is simultaneously true that race *shouldn’t* matter for most interactions, and yet we live in a society where it *does*, and therein lies a problem that doesn’t go away if you pretend it’s not there.

  15. Nathaniel Givens:

    I think in the case of politics, when people write about them on their various sites, they’re not usually writing in rebuttal to something I’m saying. With geek and/or writing matters, rebuttal pieces are more common.

  16. Unless I got it wrong, his main point is that anyone who complains about bigotry is a bigot.
    Was that it? I mean, it was a long dry haul to the end of the thing and my mind started to wander but I think that was the point. The list of prominent writers, columnists and commenters that he listed seemed to bolster that point.
    Honestly, I find it a bit funny especially after the “Big Green Jacket” conversation of yesterday.
    Erna @ 11:11 along with Chang, let me express my admiration for “a hood with no eyeholes” I’m totally using that. (with proper attribution of course)

  17. Gee, prof, this is kinda heavy-duty reading for a Sunday morning class.The other kids at Enclave Scalzi told me you graded on an easy curve.

    I can’t believe I read that thing all the way through. Part of my job is copy-editing, and my fingers just kept itching for my blue pen. But frankly, I think Mr May’s best bet for this thing is just to transform it into a list of people, places, organizations, and possibly snack goods against which he holds a grudge. I figure that’d get it down to about two thousand words.

  18. What amazes me is that even before the whole alpha male/gamma rabbit thing you started here is when some white male (I am a white male, by the way) feels slighted when people call white privilege and decides to set fingers to keys to right the perceived wrongs. They invariably end up sounding like the worst racists imaginable; greater, bigger, fatter babies shitting themselves and flinging it further than ever. If only they would learn to shut their mouths they might find that people would be less inclined to call them “bigots” or even “morons.”

  19. Gaah, I forgot a sentence. After “bolster that point.” It should continue with, “In his mind at least.”
    A guess it was a little to much for Sunday morning.

  20. I, too, got about half way through before I had to stop. He was using *words* to say *things*, but I’m not sure he knew what the words meant or what the things meant, or how to use English at all.

  21. 7800 words? i don’t think I was able to get through 780 so I don’t know what his point was, let alone get it.

    In May of 2012, science fiction writer and blogger John Scalzi featured a short article on his web site called “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is” The article is about how easy white men have it in America due to white privilege.

    anyone who read more than two sentences of that May 2012 post ought to realize that is the weakest, mimimalist summary of the point of that post.

  22. It sort of reminds me of the Twitter exchange I had the other day on the heels of Gaiman reposting your “lowest difficulty setting” essay. Some guy replied white men are the only ones it’s PC to still make fun of. I made some comment about how “making fun of” wasn’t the point of the essay, and then HE had to point out how a white guy in … certain, neighborhoods, could get shot, too. To which, I replied that women have had to watch their backs for millennia, and any danger he ever feels in is just a taste of that – “welcome to the club.” So he immediately accuses ME of racism and sexism – against him of course (!!!) – for simply pointing this out, and proceeds to suggest since women have a majority number that somehow this has something to do with that we should be plenty safe venturing outdoors. You know, ’cause you can vote rape away. Us silly girls just haven’t had the sense to do it yet, I guess. I really couldn’t go too far beyond that, because that’s the point at which it’s clear he’s not in it to debate, just to lecture. And that’s a waste of my time.

  23. I have no idea what this guy is talking about. If I had the patience to deal with his attempts to rationalize his argument, I’d do what I did to some white nationalists on YouTube a while back: ask for evidence. It shouldn’t surprise us that neither group can provide much more than rhetoric…

    Mr. Scalzi: For the record, I appreciate your take on things political. Keep doing it.

  24. Also: OMG, censorship is like totally ruining the Internet! HOW DARE YOU DELETES COMMENTSES, SCALZI! YOU ORWELLIAN BUFFOONEN!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist…

  25. I read about three or four paragraphs before I had to stop. Apparently he’s still one of those ppl who thinks your piece on “Straight White Male: Lowest Difficulty Setting” was you bragging about how easy you have it, and saying nanny-nannny-boo-boo to everyone else, when it was really about “yes, I get that I have it easy, but why? How is it fair that just because I’m a Straight White Male, I get things handed to me that other ppl have to work for?” When he started using words like “racialism”, the MEGO factor kicked in and I couldn’t read any more.

  26. My Ayn Rand Screed Aversion Response kicked in at paragraph three so I skimmed to the end, but there was no rough sex or industrialist swashbuckling.

  27. The real basis for the essay is here: http://www.jamesmaystock.com/BritetownRaces/BritetownRacesText.html. The guy fancies himself a Science Fiction writer. The fact that he is publishing his novels on his web site indicates that he has probably been rejected by at least Tor, which he clearly has a beef with. He’s a pissed off failed writer who is lashing out at the symbols of Science Fiction. Look at how much effort he puts into discussing the downfall of modern Science Fiction, which is nowhere near as good as a 1963 Outer Limits episode.

    As a side note, if I publish an incoherent essay insulting the whole Gamma Rabbit thing and put advertising popups and banners on it, would you link to it for me? I sure would appreciate it. I’m sure I can whip up something suitably moronic on demand. I may use a pseudonym, if you don’t mind. Just let me know and I’ll start right away.

  28. Oh, my head. I set out with full concentration and the best of intentions, but when I hit “The article is about how easy white men have it in America due to white privilege,” my eyes rolled so far they couldn’t return to the page. If he can’t read your writing with any comprehension, I’m not going to devote my energy to trying to comprehend his.

    And yes, Erna wins the Internet for today with that comment. Perfect.

  29. I started to read it but I had to stop. I don’t remember when I stopped, I just heard myself saying “cool story, bro” and then I was checking Google Plus for… something. I don’t remember what.

  30. Personally, I enjoyed his assertion that because John is president of the SFWA that his opinions are being “institutionalized and mainstreamed to a dangerous extent”.

    As I drank my morning coffee, I had a short reverie in which our culture considered science fiction “mainstream” and the SFWA was such a core institution of our democracy that the general populace not only knew what ‘SFWA’ stood for, but could name its president, and stories about his pronouncements ran on the front pages of major newspapers. It was like a quick 10-second alternate-universe story. Nice. Oh, and Tor had power like the Illuminati. Watch out, Turtledove. James May is out there.

  31. Charles:

    “As a side note, if I publish an incoherent essay insulting the whole Gamma Rabbit thing and put advertising popups and banners on it, would you link to it for me? I sure would appreciate it.”

    No, Charles. Your rant would have to made with a pure heart.

  32. Someone should give him a new dictionary. I think the one he’s using was written by naughty Hungarians paying us back for that Monty Python sketch. As in, “censorship by Tor” doesn’t mean what you think it means, sir.

  33. From the rather lengthy and meandering rant: Listening to such remarks, one would think white men comprise an informal and secret KKK and that white fantasy writers in particularly have colluded and conspired to maintain white centrality in their fiction for 100 years and more.

    This has to be one of the top-ten strawmen around discrimination: “You think we all belong to a secret sect of racists? You so silly!”

    Quoting myself because I don’t want to re-write this:


    Bias can be categorized as Individual or Systematic. Individual Bias can be categorizes as Implicit or Explicit. Implicit Bias occurs at the subconscious level. Explicit Bias occurs in the form of external actions that affects another person. Systemic Bias can be categorized as Top-Down or Bottom-Up. Top-Down Bias is Systemic Bias with some central organizing body of some sort. A government, some organization, a company, etc. Bias is directed from the organization down. Bottom-Up Bias is Systemic Bias that occurs without a top-down organizational center. Members of a population act in a systemically biased manner without organizing themselves to do so.

    Mr Mays seems to be under the delusion that the only way bias can manifest is systemic, top-down, explicit bias, such as, to use his own example, the KKK running around in white sheets, lynching people of color, organizing in secret, influencing the government.

    It shows an amazing lack of imagination on Mr May’s part.

    I do not define myself as conservative, or belong to the Republican Party, nor have I ever voted for a Republican candidate, nor am I a Libertarian.

    Oh god. He’s a special snowflake who rises above us masses.

    this remark in the comments section for the Bourke article: “I am glad to hear that Mr. May’s comments are being edited

    Ah, well that explains why he’s in rant mode.

    Had Zimmerman written a science fiction novel, that same community on the political Left and Tor.com would’ve loaded Zimmerman up as an Afro-Peruvian-American and an example of diversity

    Yes, because science fiction authors never get criticized for their behavior by other science ficiton authors. Uh huh. Sure.

    Where’s Mr. Spock when you need him and when did he essentially go from being the voice of reason to becoming the enemy? Make no mistake, Mr. Spock wouldn’t last a single day in the comments section at either Mr. Scaliz’s blog,

    I think this is the first time I’ve seen the “Mr. Spock supports me in emails” argument being made in ernest.

    Liberal progressives will defend the theory of white privilege

    Hm, the special snowflake who is neither conservative nor liberal certainly goes out of his way to attack “liberal” but never criticizes “conservative”.

    This is how Orwell’s fears come to life. Ironically and predictably, liberals, even with the blueprint of Orwell’s “1984” to guide them

    George Orwell also supports May in emails. Also, liberals are bad. No criticism from May towards conservatives, but do not mistake that as indicating May is conservative. He identifies as neither conservative nor liberal. May rises above such petty labels. May is neutral and you should listen to him.

    This is why 100% of mainstream institutions – law, web sites, awards shows, organizations – centered around race reside on the political Left.

    Did I mention just how neutral and not-on-the-right Mr May is? Pay no attention to all his criticism being aimed at the political Left. He is neutral I tell you. Do you hear me? NEUTRAL!

    how GLAAD can go after Kobe Bryant for uttering a gay slur during the heat of a basketball game yet two weeks later ignore the 30th annual Hunky Jesus Contest.

    I am at a loss to understand what he is trying to say here in any way. I am flummoxed to find sense here.

    Liberals despise success

    Don’t forget kids, Mr May is not a conservative or liberal. He rises above such silly categories and remains neutral in all matters. The fact that he only criticizes liberals and the Left in this article should be in no way used to divine that his politics leans to the Right. Oh NO. That would be quite prejudiced of you to jump to that conclusion. Because you aren’t taking into consideration Mr May’s own statements that he is not Left or Right. If he said it, it must be true, and anything you extract from your own observations of his ramblings is just your own bias getting laid down on poor, innocent, and entirely neutral Mr. May.

    In the end, Scalzi has advanced the principles if not the particulars of neo-Nazis and the KKK by years

    Gosh, if that doesn’t cut to the truth, I don’t know what does.

  34. Well that was the creepiest three paragraphs I’ve ever scanned before quickly killing the browser. The next time you state you’re linking to an “incoherent rant,” I will not bother following the link. Thing is, it’s not incoherent. It is coherently malevolent and I can only assume that you don’t recognize how foul it is because you’re exposed to evil vitriol like it on a daily basis.

  35. The most dangerous people are those in power operating under the veil of victimization. That’s all I read from this screed. Well, other than I hate the black guy in the White House.

  36. It’s interesting to note that Mr. May does *not* link to his ‘essays’ from his site’s front page, where he promotes his photographic work.

  37. “Mr. May does *not* link to his ‘essays’ from his site’s front page, where he promotes his photographic work”

    He evidently still retains some dim sense that his sanity has limits…

  38. Lemme try and boil this down: James May thinks there ought to be a Rule. And anyone who goes against the Rule is automatically wrong. James May will set the Rule, because he is clearly the only rational person on the internet. Thus, whenever James May says something, if someone else tells him he’s wrong, he can say, “Nuh-uh. I have followed the Rule. Therefore, you are wrong. Q.E.D.” Lots of other people are trying to set the Rule, but their versions are clearly wrong, because they make James May appear to be wrong, and that makes James May feel bad about himself. Also, James May is straight, and white. He really admires Ray Bradbury, whose life he sees as the ultimate rags-to-riches tale against a world out to get him (“him” ostensibly referring to Ray Bradbury, but possibly to James May). He doesn’t really understand George Orwell’s “1984”, viewing it as a collection of convenient clobber verses, and a justification to make up words.

  39. I got partway through it before getting distracted by the thought of “Scalzi’s deplorable limerick”. Please, tell me that such a limerick exists and where I can find it.

    Regardless, I nominate “Deplorable Limericks” as a potential band name.

  40. Oh, and I think the afterword to the Britetown Races page explains it all:

    The second part of the perceptual trap is more general and spread informally and in disorganized fashion throughout the novel. I can only say that there are things to see, if you will but see them. For those of you who do anyway, in a sense, one could say the only real perceptual trap is that which you bring to this novel. In that same sense then, there is no objective “trap.” For those of you not easily offended or quick to judge, there will be no puzzles to ferret out. There may then be no solution as such. You will simply enjoy what is offered. Any solution will reside in your reaction. Without that reaction, there is nothing to solve. The more accepting you are, the further you reside outside the perceptual trap.

    Got it?

  41. Oh, this is my favorite kind of wacky rant. This is what happened to those conservative guys that got a Bachelor’s in English during the height of critical theory.

    “I say to John Scalzi: instead of scouring out people you’ve never met as racists, heal thyself and the racist community you float in, because the intellectual thought processes of progressive liberals in America in the 21st century is the lowest setting there is when it comes to actual thinking.”

    Burn notice John, I think you just got *told*.

  42. Thanks Greg, for summarizing the screed so I didn’t have to read it.
    Does this mean that all the charities we pledged for earlier now will be getting their full amounts?

  43. You know how delighted I am to take second place in an incoherent internet rant, namechecked alongside the infamous John Scalzi? Really delighted! I mean, I must be doing something right!

    I seem to recall that this James May was verbally offensive/abusive in comments to one of the Tor.com articles and in consequence was thereafter banned, but I don’t really care enough to check. (I should be fired! Hah, in order to be fired, one has to have a contract of employment in the first place…)

  44. “Because of Mr. Scalzi’s position, when casual racism comes from him, it is being institutionalized and mainstreamed to a dangerous extent. Such influence could be put to better use, to put it lightly.”

    1) Casual Racism and Scalzi? Really? Has he read anything that you have written?
    2) Institutionalized? Is the writer arguing that racism increased in SF during your reign as president of SFWA
    3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_Fiction_and_Fantasy_Writers_of_America#Presidents
    WOW, I had no idea that you were ranked amongst such amazing authors. Now I am truly amazed at your greatness.

  45. I also experienced the moment of “OH JAMES MAY NO” where I thought it was the Top Gear guy. I relaxed after dude had made it abundantly clear he was American. I especially like the fact that he uses Scalzi’s essay for the shock value of its title, proceeds to give not the slightest hint that he actually read it, then outright states that he won’t address anything in it because it’s beneath him. He clearly has no interest in rescuing anyone from Scalzi’s Svengali-esque influence. It’s almost as though on some level he knows his argument depends on the reader not reading John’s actual words so he tries to subtly discourage them from even engaging enough to read the thing they’re supposed to deplore.

  46. Nathaniel Givens:

    You missed it if you think John does not give people fair shakes who disagree. V** D** himself used to be given space here, and you can probably find some old threads where he was allowed to try to make sense out of himself (He’s probably reading this right now). And then he crossed the lines, and got malleted, and then banned. And then he decided that a jihad was needed, and regularly sends tolls over to fight the power.

    Go back and read the threads where race and sexism are talked about. This is the internet. There are archives. You’ll find lots of give and take. And eventually, inevitably, someone on the Maystock side of things crosses a line of human decency and gets malleted, then banned.

  47. 1) I didn’t make it through the entire screed ( tried, but got only 40% or so through), but I got the feeling he didn’t read Lowest Difficulty Setting, only the title.
    2) I have students who test out at the 3rd grade reading level who can write better than that. Seriously.

  48. Grk. Someone does not have a handle on systematic thought organization, or for that matter, a handle on thought, period. Truly makes me appreciate the essays you post here, John, which not only have some serious thought given to them, but are presented in original forms and with highly readable real English (obviously this May character knows words in the dictionary, but not how to converse in English as a language that is meant to convey real meaning).

  49. I, sarcastically, love the idiots who think that minorities that are less then pleased with their tormentors are being discriminatory. sure in a technical sense they are being prejudiced, but its not like they have the social power, political power, or desire to oppress anyone. I’m queer in a small town high school; I fear for my safety regularly and hear and see slurs graffitied or spoken every day.
    I think straight white males don’t understand that discrimination isn’t just about insults and thinking someone is inferior. discrimination has very really very scary consequences. I don’t think that they understand the threat that companies a slur, or what its like to live with a constant background noise of threats. I’m afraid of being attacked by a mob, so when some grotesquely privileged straight white dude tells me that he has been discriminated against because he got his feelings hurt it makes me legitimately angry. No someone has, admittedly unfairly, made an insulting generalization of all privileged people being evil. boo hoo I’m so sorry that you were treated unfairly. Go to school or work and feel safe; I will be waiting for the jackasses who call me a fag while they drive by in a pickup, to pull over and murder me, but your cultural ego is more important.

  50. Oh, I think I can figure out what he’s saying. He begins by saying he’s sticking to a Principle, and the principle turns out to be to treat races, sexes, etc. as entirely commutative. That is, anything that’s wrong to say about blacks is wrong to say about whites, and vice versa in both respects. This might be nice in an ideal situation, but May’s flaw is that he’s deaf to nuance and seated prejudice, and since those points are exactly what John’s “Lowest Difficulty Setting” essay is about, he doesn’t get it.

  51. From my (limited, because there’s only so much incoherent racism and sexism one can stand) viewings of Alpha Bunny Froo Froo’s site, he’s one of the regulars there, and I think he might have been the one who made some comment a while back about how those who oppose him had a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving a debate with him. Given his mix of utter incomprehensibility and utter inability to recognize that incomprehensibility, he’s right; I can’t imagine anyone ever being able to convince him of anything he doesn’t already believe, which by his definition, would make him unbeatable.

    I’m also reasonably certain he’s not that James May. I’m pretty sure Jeremy Clarkson is the Top Gear person most likely to post a screed like this, although I suspect it would be better written, at the least.

  52. I read about three quarters through the thing, before my brain shut down. Was there any point where he said, White strait males do not have an advantage? Was there any point where he provided evidence, white strait males do not have an advantage?

    As a White strait male, from my perspective, I think I have had quite a bit of advantage.

    RE: someone being genetically tested on TV and being upset, she was 70% European, how would he feel if he found out, he was of 70% African origin? Everyone builds a world view of themselves, based partly on who they think their ancestors were. When you find out, you are not who you think you are, it can be a bit shocking.

    Most of my life, I have thought I was a talking anthropomorphic dog. Growing up, I ate and drank from the same dog bowls as (who I thought) were my brothers and sisters. I was always a bit confused, why my brothers and sisters never learned how to talk or walk on two feet. Just recently, I had genetic testing done and I am almost 98% human (2% unidentified). Finding this out, I was quit devastated. On the positive side, I no longer need to use my service dog costume, when going to Walmart.

  53. I tried to read it, I really did. Then I just skimmed.

    What strikes me is how anyone reads your blog post about being a white male is playing life on the easiest difficulty setting as being AGAINST white men?! At one point he says that you should be trying to educate white men, which is what you were doing!

    I thought it was a great metaphor then and still do. You also addressed that people playing on other difficulty settings can have better attributes to start out or can still be successful.

    He talks about Ray Bradbury educating himself at a library and questions what you would have said about some non-white non-male doing the same thing. Let me jump in and say, “IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HARDER FOR THE NON-WHITE NON-MALE TO DO THE SAME THING AND BECOME SUCCESSFUL!”

    It’s not the first time he wrote about this topic by the way. If you cut off the URL to just the part that ends with /essays/ you can see other essays he’s written. I started to read the one on a white supremacist convention, but he quickly got me turned around when I couldn’t figure out if he was saying the convention was bad for being white supremacist or saying it was bad for being anti-white under the guise of being white supremacist.

    How did you ever find that essay?

  54. Mr. Scalzi, Just out of curiosity, did you know, by providing a link back, you are improving this man’s Google Pagerank? Not that doing so is a bad thing. Sometimes, it is a good thing to give a moron a platform to show, he is a moron.

  55. @Nathaniel Givens:
    Sir, why don’t you post a cogent and useful rebuttal to Mr. Scalzi’s political views. Give him something of substance to link to, perhaps?
    Worth a shot…

  56. Well, talk about the example that proves the concept. It makes green coat wearing look good. Better than white robes anyway

  57. Arghh. //holding head
    So many big neo-words!
    I like his pictorial on India much, much better (the link is in his essays page). A bit too clean but did capture some interesting moments that reminded me of my home in Asia. He should just stick to photography.

  58. I started to read it, got as far as the subtitle, then decieded to come back here and just read the comments instead. Judging from the quotes and summaries, I think I made the right choice.

    I also think, “Mr. Spock supports me in email” would make for a great shirt.

  59. But think of all the talented people held back by our society, throughout history, simply because they were white men! …That didn’t take long, did it?

  60. Scalzi, I’m a social sciences teacher-in-training. I found my right hand itching for a red pen to correct the hideous grammar FAIL, and a few history books to pound some sense into this witless creature’s head. Too much on an otherwise-pleasant Sunday morning for a teacher-in-training!

  61. This reminds me of a clearly humorous graphic posted by George Takei that showed three brains: Black, white, and Asian, all the same size, and a fourth one labeled “Racist” that was half the size of the other three. A few people called the post racist.

    That, like this article, is just seven kinds of stupid. Seriously? I couldn’t get through more than a couple of paragraphs, and this idiot wrote the equivalent of the average crime short story essentially to say that intolerance of prejudice is intolerance.

    Hey, look, Jimmy! I summed it all up in one sentence.

    And it still sounds like drivel.

  62. I wanted to enjoy it in some way, but alas, the writing was too poor. I guess some people can’t play the game well even on the lowest difficulty setting.

  63. This man suffers from diarrhea of the mouth (fingers?). I have wonder how many times he went to the thesaurus for big words or just started making them up. The problem with people like this guy is they think that every word you say, every word you write, must be measured against the scale of their political agenda.

    Also, I am tired of hearing about how great my life is because I am a white male who’s into chicks. What ever happened to judging a person not by the color of their skin(or ethnic history), but of the content of their character? Good words to live by.

  64. The one post he linked to talking about how Tor moderates people was in reference to HIS OWN COMMENT BEING MODERATED!

    I miss details like names sometimes -_- Thank you comments for talking about Top Gear and making me acknowledge the name’s existence.

    Speaking of names, does Mr. Scalzi have a preference in how we address him? (apologies if I missed it!)

  65. I went back and counted; I got through seven paragraphs before I gave up. My commendations to those of you who got further, even if you were skimming. You’re sure you’re OK, Scalzi?

  66. @Jeff Fuller. This is what I’m talking about, you may be tired of hearing about it, but this isn’t about what makes you tired. It may be inconvenient to be reminded, not that your life is better, but that you have not had to deal with the same kind of nonsense.

  67. @Jeff: No one’s been saying how great our lives are (as I am a white heterosexual cisgender male as well), at least not here. Instead, what Mr. Scalzi has been saying is that it’s easier for us.

    This seems a major breaking point between reality and the linked essay as well. The linked essay jumps off from “white heterosexual males have it easier” to “white heterosexual males have it easy”. There’s a pretty big difference there.

  68. WTH? I couldn’t even read through that. He’s apparently finding article and blog titles he finds offensive and ranting about them without even reading the material first. *scratches head* Or so I assume, since he seems to assume that blog piece you wrote meant you thought it was JUST LOVELY to be entitled and wanted that to continue to be the norm, which was not at ALL what I brought away from it… Weird…

  69. I read the first ten paragraphs or so, got bored, and skimmed the rest. I think I get his point, which is the usual you-call-me-prejudiced-so-you’re-prejudiced-against-me crap. He’s clearly intelligent–but intelligent racists are the most tiresome, because they tend to go on at such very great length elaborating on a premise that you saw as bullshit from the first couple sentences.

    John, I question why you decided to give this loon’s post any more exposure than you would the usual hater’s rant. Although it might be entertaining to see his reaction, I personally like these people better when they’re left gnawing bones in the corner. Shining a light on them only annoys them and brings ugliness to the rest of us.

  70. Looks like this is pretty bog-standard ‘but, but, reverse racism’, just wordy. When you start off saying that we need an unambiguous standard for what hate speech is, when we have one, you can tell you’re dealing with someone blind to the power they get for free.

  71. Nobody has attempted to explain the quote in the middle of the essay:
    “When a woman combs her hair, she imitates the motion of the stars.”

    What does that mean? And what relevance does it have to the rest of the essay? He doesn’t seem to return to it (I admit I skimmed, but I was really looking for it)

  72. Also, thank you, Greg, for actually reading that and giving us a little help interpreting it. :-)

  73. Anyone who was active on the SFF boards on Amazon about 1-2 years ago is probably familiar with Mr. May. If you really want to rile him up, mention that Jack Vance couldn’t write his way out of a brown paper bag. Or mention what a seminal novel Ender’s Game is.

    I was surprised to find himself over on that other blog when that all went down. He didn’t really mention those views over at the ‘Zon.

  74. Apropos of something (though I cannot articulate what), when I activated the link in the OP, the filtering at my current AP (in a supermarket) intervened. Thus, I’m imagining that private parts are discussed, or perhaps f-bombs are dropped… unless there’s something I’m missing.

    One imagines from that one datum that whatever this guy was trying to say, as a purported writer he could have done so with more delicacy and clarity.

    Then again, the same thing happens at my Tumblr, but I… ohwaitaminute.

    (…Must get in the habit of what I’m going to say before I say it.)

  75. I am slow in certain things, I know this. But I cannot figure out what this guy’s beef is, or what this very long screed is about. Other than he’s really po-ed about something that mixes up women, men, white men, not-white people and science fiction.

    And — what does The Root have to do with whatever it is? Sure, Skip is a nerdy guy, and he does gets thing wrong sometimes, particularly when it comes to the Caribbean and South America and Hispanic peoples and cultures (as does Pres. Obama, who is remarkably ignorant of these matters), but still — wot? For instance if you do read Root columns like “Black History Facts,” fiction writers, of color or not of color, wouldn’t make the egregious errors so many make when writing about the Underground Railroad.

    It’s all beyond my capacity, especially today when we didn’t get home from the Galactic-Toots and the Maytalls show until 4 AM.

  76. @Minervose (and I’m sorry for the comments; I don’t always read them all before posting): If you need support, please track me down. I hate to see someone living in fear in a small town. I know the feeling.

  77. Has anyone read about the test for hidden racial bias? The link is here: http://www.tolerance.org/activity/test-yourself-hidden-bias

    If I remember the artical on it correctly you are shown a picture and asked to type in a descriptive word. The program measures how long it takes you to type in the word. If you consider blacks or people in turbans “bad, sneaky, dishonest it takes you longer to type the words good forthright or honest rather than bad sneaky or dishonest.

    I believe a lot of us hold unconcious biases. The ability to consider that possibility and examine your actions is the hallmark of an enlightened person. More people should take this test and face reality.

    I would like to see this set up for other types of bias such as political subjects, and religions.

  78. I went back to the front page of his site and saw examples of a man who goes to places all over the world to photograph people in extremely stereotypical settings, poses and costumes. There must be a lucrative market for that kind of racist iconography, just to cover his travel expenses.

    For a man with a ‘photographer’s eye’, he is clearly blind to the fact that the vast majority of “Political Correctness” is the work of racist non-liberals, just trying to cover up their bigotry.

  79. If this was a test of our reading comprehension, I failed. I gave up & started skimming the essay. It didn’t help.

  80. @Lucy Kemnitzer Perhaps his quote about combing hair and the motion of stars is a clever reference to Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Or perhaps I’m being a troll and giving this nutjob far too much credit?

    I think it’s decent we give this man a platform, if only to remember to avoid his site in the future.

  81. John,
    Can I formally request that you never do anything like this again? I like your site and read your blog regularly, but this is the internet equivalent of rubbernecking. Metaphorically speaking, if we were neighbors and I dropped by your house one day, and you said, “Hey Gary! There’s a horrible train wreck that just happened a couple of miles away and there are a lot of grisly injuries. Wanna check it out?” and I said “Yeah, sure!”, we would both be horrible people. Of course I clicked on the link, and now I feel like a bad person because you said it was a train wreck and I went gawking anyway. I know, it’s my fault. I’m a grown man and I can make my own choices. But it would be mighty neighborly of you to not invite me along on these excursions

  82. @Zero: Even though I am older than he is, I refer to him as Mister Scalzi. Primarily because I hear it in my head in Ozzy Osbourne’s voice to the tune of “Mister Crowley.” It’s awesome.

  83. @Jeff – “Also, I am tired of hearing about how great my life is because I am a white male who’s into chicks. What ever happened to judging a person not by the color of their skin(or ethnic history), but of the content of their character? Good words to live by.”

    Pointing out how being a white, hetero, cisgendered male means that because of how there’s a plethora of societal advantages built into the system in such a way that 90% of the time, you’re not even aware that you have them isn’t about telling Straight White Dudes how “great their lives are.” It is about hopefully getting the SWDs to realize how their experiences of how easy or difficult it may be to do XYZ may be skewed due to said unexamined privilege.

    Not judging people by the color of their skin but by their character is only one part of addressing racism . It addresses the individual interaction aspect but also acknowledging systemic issues of discrimination *that still exist* and moving to dismantle them is also important. Because while individuals can be convinced to change their behaviors and viewpoints, it takes time – and getting institutions and culture to do the same takes even longer.

  84. @Nathaniel Givens – ever consider the possibility that everybody on the Right IS stupid? And vindictive? And evil?

    I have.

  85. I tried to read it, I really did. I got through about a thousand words and then my brain just shut down in protest. Even putting his views aside, it’s simply some of the worst and most incomprehensible writing I’ve ever read. I hope for his sake his fiction is better but I doubt it. If he was rejected by Tor maybe that would explain a lot of his vitriol. I’d feel very sorry for whoever had to read his submission though.

    It never ceases to amaze me how people can read your post and get the exact opposite from it. I did enjoy his assertion though that he in no way sees himself as conservative while he kept criticizing the Left again and again. Yeah, right, pull the other one.

    His photography was impressive though. Maybe he should just stick to that.

  86. Susan, I barely made it through the first sentence of that novel. How on earth did you make it all the way to the end?

    Greg, the “Spock supports me in email” line wins an Internet.

  87. @Will McLean – there’s not any rough sex or Industrialist Swashbuckling? But that’s what makes Ayn Rand’s books worth reading! Especially when she combines them –

    No, wait – I’m thinking of J.D. Robb.

  88. Hmmm I must admit, when I read your original commentary, my gut reaction was that you were painting with too broad a brush. I think matters are more nuanced than said broad-brush interpretation.

    That said, it’s nearly useless presenting one’s own opinion when confronting name recognition, possibly running afoul of a host of minions, etc.

    Not that I’m saying you didn’t have a point . . . just saying that it’s not as simple as you presented it, and your original piece did, in fact, minimize the struggles of many.

    When writing opinions you admit you cannot possibly be right in everything you say and write, and yes, in many instances you remind others of that very thing . . . “it’s just my opinion”. Perhaps you are naive about the influence you have, or casually dismiss it by advising others to do their own research.

    So, in reading your original piece, while ostensibly written to raise awareness, I did also come away with the impression that I should be almost ashamed of who I am, not take credit for anything I have accomplished, and, to an extent, join in inciting disgust toward “the white man”.

    That you followed up with the proverbial “Well, that’s your problem, ain’t it?” or the similar “Well, then, you just missed the point!” does not change the fact . . . and having you say that reaction proves your point seemed a tad condescending.

    Of course, as a member of that odious group, I could not possibly have a relevant opinion worth sharing . . . so I did not.

    So it is with this piece . . . I am reluctant to comment for it seems my only options are to wholly accept one, and condemn the other. Surely it’s useless to say you had some good points, and so did this May character (although fewer), and it’s then especially useless to discuss the matter. For there is one thing I know about opinions . . . they are deeply entrenched.

  89. How many minions make up a host, anyway?

    Mr. May seems to be confused and confusing. I went off to look for a cat playing a piano after about 200 words.

    Things are always more nuanced than can be presented in even a fairly long piece. I’m not convinced that you can realistically argue with the central thrust of our hosts’ original piece, however. Is there another group that has most favoured status above white straight males? I’ll be waiting when you come up with one. I think I’ll be waiting for some time…

  90. I saw the name of the author as James May and was dismayed that it was the BBC presenter, then discovered it wasn’t and sighed in relief.

    I agree with Adam Lipkin at 12:57 that if any of the TG guys wrote this Jezza is the most likely suspect.

  91. I, too, could only make it about halfway through. It’s just such a poorly written screed, poking at one of my particular buttons. I made it past the first bit, where he’s declaring you, your writings, Tor, their bloggers, etc., etc., to be every -ism and -ist in the book. Not explaining how mind you, and that’s bad enough. You don’t spend that much of your screed making allegations without explaining what they even mean.

    But where he loses me. Where he really pushes my buttons, comes towards the middle where he starts asking me to do my work for him! “Look at this article, see how [-ism] it is? Check out this forum thread, see how [-ist] it is?” NO! I’m not going to other places, to read other articles/blogposts/forum threads/whatever to do your work for you. The bibliography is something you put at the end of your paper, it’s not your paper!

    Take that out, he’s just throwing labels on people and things, decrying the fall of civilization, and generally whinging about how much it sucks to be him (and isn’t it just everyone elses fault?). I’ll grant you, it is probably more words strung together on the subject than I’ve previously seen before. I just wish any of them made sense.

  92. I had a little time to kill, this morning, so I labored through the whole thing. (Mr May badly needs an editor and a fact-checker.) I believe, buried in the whimsical flailings of self-righteousness, I have found the gem in the heart of this particular screed: Mr Scalzi mallets assholes, and Tor apparently (I don’t read that blog, so I’m actually taking Mr May’s word on this) edits comments which violate their editorial policy. I have to wonder how many times Mr May has been malleted or edited.

    Or… Perhaps he’s never submitted a comment to either, fearing that legions of Lefties would promptly descend on his home and burn his books, then force him to watch The Celluloid Closet, and celebrate Kwanzaa. We may never know. What I do know is that Mr May spends a lot more time thinking about Scalzi, women, and minorities than any of those parties have spent thinking about him. I suspect that may contribute to Mr May’s feelings of offense, but I am speculating there, obviously.

  93. John you being a writer & a bit of an expert on the subject; If you were to grade his essay, in an academic sense, what feedback would you give him? My thoughts go more towards, if this guy wants to be a writer of essays….then maybe we should give him some feedback to be sure next time he can write something coherent. I’m curious to see how you’d “grade” this if it ever came across your desk.

  94. Mintwich:

    I don’t believe he’s ever commented here; at least I can’t remember that he has.


    I would have given the essay a “D” for lousy structure and recommended he take a class in composition. The subject matter is immaterial in the grade, since with this structure it’d be incomprehensible anyway.

  95. @disperser :: For there is one thing I know about opinions . . . they are deeply entrenched.::

    Now, you see, that’s just a weaselly way to say “I agree with the Poor Persecuted Straight White Male Because I Too Am a Poor Persecuted Straight White Male and Why Don’t You Stop Picking On My Inherent White Male Privilege WAAAAH!!!! – But I Don’t Have The Stones To Let My Freak Flag Fly!” (It’s the one that comes out of your zipper, in case you’re looking for it….) Not-Captain Slow at least has the courage of his own wrongheaded convictions – there’s something almost admirable about that. Almost.

    Look, I’m a Middle-Aged Straight White Male myself, and Lord knows I sometimes feels “I’m the only one who can be picked on any more!” ::sticks out lower lip:: Then I go on Facebook or a discussion board or happen to catch Fox News at the gym, and I see the landslide of horrible barely-coded, when not downright uncoded, bigoted things people feel free to say about the President of the United States (who happens to be part-Negro, in case you missed that) – and use that as a springboard to gleefully be bigoted against every person who is not a heterosexual Christian White Male or apologist for same. And I think, “Gee – as unpopular as George W. Bush was and is, I don’t remember any of us saying a fraction of the things they’re brazenly saying now – so maybe that Persecution Complex I’m feeling isn’t the world’s fault, but my own fish tank of White Male Privilege’s fault.”

    All of this is a very roundabout way to say – you’re right opinions are deeply entrenched, and while I don’t really know who you are, from your comments I have deeply entrenched opinions about what you are. You are that side of myself that, when I stop pouting and start looking outside my own self-interest, I feel deeply ashamed still exists – and more determined than I was before to resist….

  96. ***I came into this thinking that I would be clear, evenhanded, and that I might be able to fight for both Scalzi and May***

    I find it strange that he is displeased by being “place[d] ….on the Conservative Right by default” and that he implies that all Republicans are Richard Nixon and Ken Starr. He does not to be lumped into one group by people that do not know him, but he places the Republican party under one category. Not all Republicans are evil people, and many of them are wonderful.

    I do see what this gentleman means when he says that now people are being a bit racist towards the white males, but he also needs to realize that HE MAKES NO SENSE IN HIS OTHER ARGUMENTS. He references Orwell many times in the “editorial” and yet he never actually SAYS anything about Orwell’s books. He gave 1-2 examples to his 14-15 mention of Orwell and 1984. about 7 of those mentions also include the word “doublethink” and nothing but, so if I may be so bold as to suggest it, I don’t think he even read the book. Spark notes, maybe. Overview, maybe. The entire end of the book, probably not. (I HAVE read the book, so don’t go claiming that I don’t know what I’m talking about, trolls) He also used the word “bigot” and “bigotry” 19 times. I wish he would have reread his editorial several times over just to make sure that maybe, just maybe, it was coherent.

    “To suggest Scalzi’s imaginary “Gay Minority Female”[GMF] would not benefit from such discipline due to 21st century white male racism in America from coast to coast is absurd bigotry, especially when Scalzi posits some mechanism that is measurable but which he cannot in the least way measure.” “When a person like Scalzi writes that the most difficult societal setting is for a “Gay Minority Female,” there is no explanation for why, it is simply assumed to be correct.”— Speaking as the emotional dump of my best friend, a Gay (White) Female, it might just be a teensy bit harder to be that GMF as opposed to a Straight White Male (SWM). She is the product of highly conservative white parents. FUN. She can’t talk to them without them being controversial, and she has to be secretive about her lesbianism because they might kick her out of the house. She MIGHT tell her parents after she graduates, but who wants to tell their parents that they are gay when their parents go around saying how satanic gays are, and that they don’t deserve rights. That’s a pretty hard base setting, even for being born into mild privilege.

    “Making racist comments about white people in the 21st century is like slapping a German or Japanese tourist for World War II” —Ummmm…… I don’t even know what to say to this.

    “Only skin and gender is used, the skin and gender of 100 million white Americans”— And sexual orientation…. (did you even read the title?!?!) Also, the word America was never stated in the article. the first time it shows up is in a comment about African Americans.

    “This is why 100% of mainstream institutions – law, web sites, awards shows, organizations – centered around race reside on the political Left”— What about the Republican’s website? Or the bit of the SCOTUS that is politically Right? Hmmm?

    Thanks for reading my absurdly long comment, I need to go have fun on my mild difficulty setting, Straight Latina Female (who looks white).
    Thank you Mr. Scalzi, for opening my eyes to the world of great sci-fi and editing idiots on the internet! :)

    @Greg, I salute you sir! @Adam_Lipkin, nice description! @Erna XD!!

    HIT PREVIEW EVERY FEW SENTENCES! it will “save” your work just in case you accidentally delete your entire argument!

  97. If you just read the first paragraph, I think you might also conclude that Mr. May’s text was about how Scalzi relates to, contributes toward, or maybe serves as the icon for hate-speech and racism. May then goes off on what a tangent for a few hundred words before returning to Scalzi. In particular, he links to the “Straight White Male” piece and describes it as being “about how easy white men have it in America due to white privilege.” So within the first five hundred or so words, May is telegraphing that “Straight White Male” is the rosetta stone for Scalzi’s racism. And though it took a little while to get there, I was excited to read about how my May thinks favorite author is emblematic of the worst of society.

    May then spends roughly 1600 words editorializing without reference or support on several related topics before we hit this nugget: “I’m not going to address the points Scalzi’s article makes because they are skimpy to non-existent …” May then spent 5600 words not addressing Scalzi’s points. I have to say, I’m a bit perplexed. But as Scalzi pointed out, the article was more about May than Scalzi.

  98. @Patrick V. – no, Clarkson at least has a sense of humor about himself, and is willing to admit when he’s caught with his butt hanging in the breeze. Maybe it’s a small thing, but after three decades of American Right Wing “pundits” ::Hah!:: going on the offensive whenever they’re proven wrong, it’s oddly endearing to see someone who will himself admit that yes, he made a mistake. True, his whole War on Global Warming is still kind of odious – at the same time, he’s used that stance to do a lot about more helpful ways to reduce your carbon footprint than “Buy a Prius!”

    Maybe the BBC makes him do it or maybe he just sees it as a chance to be funny – but the fact is, TOP GEAR UK’s long segments showing how you can drive over 800 miles on a single tank of fuel in a Jaguar(!) or the economy cars they like (Honda Civics and Jazz/Fits in the US, or Toyota Yarises) is really helpful.

  99. Oh, good gourd. TL; DidR.

    Orwell Bradbury!
    Sci Fi no good, so racist! I read 2 required books in high school ORWELL BRADBURY! Saw 2 TV shows in the 1960s. Read one EC comic in 1953. Note well; these will be repeated.
    NOOOOO, you the RACIST
    ORWELL ORWELL ORWELL (repeat until end of shriek)
    Also, Spock love me. You hate Spock. Racist you!
    WAAAH Nurse, my Depends is full again
    In every run-on paragraph, I will repeatedly make assumptions that will be cancelled out by my next sentence; also, GOEBBELS!!
    Nurse, are we having Jello tonight? No?! Then I AM LIKE JEW IN HOLOCAUST YOU WHITE RACIALIST
    And, in summation:
    “Beware of Nazis in pig-tails allergic to scented products bearing flowers and wheel chair access I always say.”

    Yeah. I’m willing to bet that you always say that. Probably while screaming at the uppity minorities at the 7-11.

    “Unibomber manifesto” is right. That guy’s one turnip dinner away from hand-carving a wooden bomb.

  100. I also like how he rants about comments being censored being ORWELL GOEBBELS–and doesn’t allow comments on his tantrum.

  101. Also, LOL at how he accuses Nora Jemisin’s avowed fondness for Octavia Butler as obvious racism… while of course there’s nothing-to-see-here in his endless rhetorical fellatio of exclusively white male authors.

  102. @timeliebe . . . thank you for your thoughtful response, and the generous assumptions you make about me, especially comparing me to your worse nature.

  103. React all you like. Dude made a cogent, non-racist argument from an intellectual perspective, without indulging in base rhetoric, when that would have been perfectly acceptable for the form. It is particularly devastating if you happen to know a lot about academic science fiction. Your readers who “couldn’t get past . . .” whatever section reveal themselves. While not rocket science, it does take some education and intellectual fortitude to see the point that the author is making . . . but once you do, it’s pretty accurate. Or at least arguable, if you have the cognitive ability and wit to understand it.

    I’ll summarize it: Scalzi got schooled.

  104. As a graduate student I had to read an article entitled “Can the subaltern speak” by a post-colonial, post-modern, anti-essentialist author whose writing was described as “Be as obscurantist as you can decently get away with.” – it was easier to figure out than the first 6 or 7 paragraphs of that post.

  105. Hi ianironwood. I was hoping you could help me. It seemed like May referenced Scalzi’s paper (“Straight White Male”), but then he never addressed the content of the paper. In fact, May even pointed out that “I’m not going to address the points Scalzi’s article makes … “. It sounds like you have a good grasp of the material; would you please help me understand how May schooled Scalzi when he didn’t address the content of his paper?


  106. @ianironwood – those of use who have completed PhDs who “couldn’t get past …” did not report that because we were unable to understand May’s atrocious writing but because we recognized it as atrocious writing and, being good writers and used to reading good writing, could not be bothered to waste our time reading something what badly written. As a written document designed to present an argument, if failed on some many levels that it was painful to read.

  107. I guess I should do a better job of proofing a post that brags about being a good writer :). Wish there was an edit option.

  108. Lucy: the only thing I got is that men apparently don’t comb their hair. Well, and the relationship between “comb” and “cosmos.” (That is, our word “comb” doesn’t come from “cosmos,” but “cosmos” in Greek originally meant “comb.”)

  109. ianironwood, you appear to not understand the following words: “cogent,” “racist,” and “schooled.” I’m also not really sure about your grasp of basic concepts, either (“academic science fiction” and “see the point”), although I suppose it’s possible you just went to the wrong tab and read an entirely different article than the rest of us did.

  110. Ian: The question is, what was his argument? Personally, I was compelled and constrained to believe that Mr May is intellectually disorganized and fundamentally vacuous. As a piece of pertinent evidence in support of that argument, the essay is in fact very strong. And you are correct, it takes a great deal of fortitude to wade through Mr May’s disorganized and tangential prose, as well as a certain amount education to extract some modicum of sense from his grammatical and syntactical errata. I agree completely with your assessment that Mr May has proven that he is a nitwit.

    I am less sure of your proposition that Mr May’s self-portrait somehow constitutes a rebuke to our host.

  111. The hell, John. I just spent three days cramming for an IT exam thingie and you want me to read that? No, no and NO. Well, not all of it anyway.

    Bias is a funny thing. We all possess it as part of the intellectual package. My perspective is my own, a collection of experiences uniquely ‘colored’ with a cocktail of chemicals. And so it goes for every single, thinking, biological thing on this planet.

    Bias is a fact of life, so I hope it’s not a bad thing. The trick is in being aware of bias, recognizing it for what it is. Humans are intelligent creatures. We can make that leap, looking outside the envelope, as it were.

    Unfortunately, there are people who are so lost into their perspective they no longer see it as unique. For them, there is only one way, period. For others, the idea of bias becomes so unattractive that it is replaced with varying shades of Principle. The end result here is someone who will do just about anything to validate whatever concept gives meaning to their life.

    I’m not sure where your ranter fits in there, since I will not read the whole thing. It made my eyes hurt. No doubt, though, he fits in there somewhere.

  112. Ian Ironwood:

    “I’ll summarize it: Scalzi got schooled.”

    That particular school needs to have its accreditation pulled.

    I did read it, mind you, nor am I unschooled in the use of language, rhetoric and logic (indeed, that’s specifically what my degree is in: The philosophy of language). This particular piece is in fact a terrible mess; whatever his point was (and its particular truth value) is lost in inchoate structure and the piece’s inability to focus.

    That you appear to think it’s cogent argument, Ian Ironwood, suggests not much good about your critical faculties, I’m afraid. I do agree, however, that it is overall remarkably similar in form to all other manner of inchoate, unfocused rantings that I’ve seen in the scared-white-manosphere, and I would allow that if you spend enough time reading that sort of crap, then you might be able to follow it better, if only by habituation of what passes as “thinking” over there. I’m not going to volunteer for that duty, however.


    If you want to have that particular discussion with Ian Ironwood, I suggest you two set it up through e-mail.

  113. Hi drmeow. I’m concerned you may have lost the persuasive moment of your response to ianironwood. It sounded like you suggested that you didn’t understand May’s writing. And while that doesn’t disqualify you from critiquing his style, it potentially deflates your commentary on his content.

  114. @Scalzi: Mr May is not the dipshit, himself, but he’s been outed as a Friend of Dipshit. Does this mean that his post counts towards the fundraiser? I’m currently at a place where I can contribute, so I’m going to send my proverbial nickel for the cause of human betterment in honor of Mr May. If Mr May’s essay qualifies, please add $100 to your tally.

  115. Excuse me, could someone kindly point me toward the “Hunky Jesus Contest?” I totally missed it this year and I think I’d like to reserve my ticket early for next year.

  116. Jordan:

    Drmeow’s argument doesn’t suggest (s)he was not able to understand it, but that it was poorly written enough to preclude reading it all the way through, and that as a piece of persuasive writing to the point (s)he stopped, it failed utterly.


    No, we have to keep focus. If we had to credit every dude in the dipshit’s coterie every time one of them blathered about me, the fundraiser would already be over.

  117. ULeague: Dolores Park, San Francisco CA, every Easter Sunday. No ticket required. The event is free. Frankly, I’m shocked that Mr May is not a supporter. The expressed intent of the contest is, per the Sisters, that “We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

  118. Yes, it’s a badly written, long-winded screed of muddy thinking and illogical argumentaton which can bets be summed up as, “raising the subject of racism makes YOU a racist! Hah!”

    But what I mostly notice about this piece is the DATE it was posted: Feb 27.

    No, not because it apparently took John 6 weeks to hear about it (which, given the apparent obscurity of the author and his website, probably isn’t surprising.)

    Rather because of what came before Feb 27. In mid-January, John posted here about an internet troll who’d written an attack piece about him. In the weeks that followed, an enormous amount of traffic was driven to the troll’s website by people who’d never before heard of him, due to his attacks on Scalzi. Initial traffic came from Whatever readers, but as news of the incident spread virally around social media, still more people went to the troll’s website. As the troll persisted, Scalzi decided to launch his fundraising campaign, which wound up getting covered in the media–including leading to this troll being interviewed by the media, too.

    So attacking Scalzi on his blog drew a LOT of traffic and attention to this person whom no one (if you ask around in sf/f) had ever heard of before this.

    And so… in the midst of that hoopla, the unknown author of one self-published sf novel writes a screen on his website attacking John Scalzi?

    Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m skeptical. The Scalzi blog that May criticizes in his piece was 9 months old by then; but while May was writing this piece, the spotlight had been glaring for weeks on an obscure scroll due to getting noticed for attacking Scalzi. But the May piece didn’t even get noticed by Scalzi for 6 weeks, and it’s very long and hard to slog through, so this screed hasn’t replicated the effects of the other incident.

  119. tl;dr. I think you’re doing him a favor by sending a bunch of traffic his way. I’ll take your word for it that it’s a screed.

  120. Laura Resnick:

    Man, I’ve really let this dude down! I feel bad about it now.

    More seriously, as noted above, I suspect this fellow will feel conflicted about the traffic. On one hand, yay! Traffic! On the other hand, it’s not traffic that overall will be notably sympathetic to his argument (such as it is), so its value is of limited use to him. “No such thing as bad publicity” is an argument from people who have never had lots of bad publicity.

  121. Mintwich: Thank you.

    I suspect that if a Deity were to incarnate in present-day America as the offspring of an unwed mother, a park in San Francisco in spring would be where said incarnate being would Come Out.

    As it were.

    Definitely a don’t-miss event and I certainly hope that the female Jesus element is well-represented. (Although “hunky” may not be the appropriate adjective. Do you think the event organizers would be open to a humble suggestion that the non-gender-connoted “dishy” might be a better choice?)

  122. It is a basic standard ‘let’s only look at individuals’ rant, with the sprinkling of ‘groups do not exist’ and added ‘identifying as a group is dangerous, the others will get you’ (don’t think I’ve seen that before). All covered in the sauce of someone sheltered from all the things that define the life of others, and a big wave of nostalgia.

    The author did comment on tor.com, I remember him posting in the thread he mentioned.

  123. I don’t use the phrase “too long; didn’t read”. I’m perfectly willing to read something that’s long if it’s well-written and the first few paragraphs indicate that the author has something interesting and novel to say.

    That certainly wasn’t the case with this screed.

    I think Mr. Ironwood’s comment that

    While not rocket science, it does take some education and intellectual fortitude to see the point that the author is making

    was particularly funny. Some material is hard to read because the subject (e.g. “rocket science”) is complicated and technical. However, this article was hard to read–or at least the first few paragraphs were hard to read–because it’s just incredibly poorly written. I don’t see why I should make the effort to apply my “education and intellectual fortitude” to an article when the author can’t be arsed to write coherently, especially when the article appears to make the same points that I’ve heard countless times before.

  124. CLP: One of my all-time favorite books is about rocket science, and it’s a very easy read. Technical in parts, but the equations and models are all clearly explained. I highly recommend “Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants” by John D Clark. It’s also quite funny.

    IMO, clarity is what most surely signals intelligence and education, not abstruse obfuscation. The latter is just someone trying to baffle you with bullshit. Especially when followed by the sniffy declaration that you are just not smart enough to “get it.” That’s a sure sign of a quack or a fraud.

  125. On intellectual fortitude and word salad:

    We have gone far past the time in this country where we need to agree on a definition of what comprises hate-speech that is free of caveats or mitigation… If we can have anti-harassment policies, surely we can get blogs, conventions, and commercial sites to agree on what they will and will not tolerate that doesn’t spare one identity or set of politics in favor of another.

    Typically when we go far past the time when something is needed, it’s no longer needed. (But I don’t think the author means that.) And sparing one identity in favor of another simply doesn’t make sense.

  126. @ John: ““No such thing as bad publicity” is an argument from people who have never had lots of bad publicity. ”

    That’s probably true for everyone once you reach a level of negative publicity that makes it impossible to live your life in safety. But prior to that point, there are people who actively solicit and encourage negative attention (as well as positive), as long as it’s ATTENTION. And given how much attention an an obscure blogger was getting right at that time for his attacks on you, I find the timing of May’s essay suggestive.

    But, to be clear, I’m not saying “you shouldn’t notice” these people, let alone that you “give them what they want” want if you notice them. I don’t believe there’s a handy “right” or reliable answer about how to deal with this sort of thing (though I think your fundraiser is a brilliant solution with a lot of fantastic possible permutations for such problems) and I think it’s pointlessly crazy-making to try to make any choices on the basis of what we think or imagine or fear an irrational stranger’s motives may be.

  127. I love that “white people have it easy” translates, for him, into “you’re being mean to white people!”. He probably also thinks saying “rich people have to easy” translates into “you’re picking on rich people!”

  128. It’s been a bad day; I have struggled with the joys of online visa applications, and watched two of ’em disappear into the cyber void after hours of work, notwithstanding my dutifully writing down the temporary references, neither of which did work.

    And then my holiday company managed to lose my personal reservation page, in between them sending me the email and me clicking on the link.

    About the only good thing today was that my dog didn’t eat my homework, probably because I don’t have a dog .

    I think you’ve got the drift; I can’t face reading the dreadful stuff and hope you will forgive me…

  129. John, I didn’t realize you were such a bigot. It had never crossed my mind before. I’m glad someone have finally opened my eyes to your obvious racism, especially in such a well-worded essay.

  130. John

    Thank you. And may I add that I am starting work on the next quarterly charity donation; I was never good at deferred gratification, so I’m doing research on which donations will really piss them off..

  131. [Deleted because once again Human TechGet is off topic, with the same thing that he was off topic before. Dude, no matter how many times you try to post that thing, if you’re aggressively off topic — and you are — you’re going to get deleted. Indeed, looking at your comment history, you are so frequently off-topic and/or deleted that I think I’m just going to put you in the moderation queue from now on and save myself the trouble — JS]

  132. @Studer 2:45pm:
    I didn’t make it through the novel. I skipped to the end after the first screen or so.

    My real concern is: where oh where is the deplorable limerick?

  133. ” The positions I criticize are indefensible.”

    “I am not a rock; I can be moved by argument and reason.”


  134. … the essay says far less about me than it does about the author. Bless his heart.
    *imagines hearing that “Bless his heart” in the voice of a southern-raised friend, and collapses in a fit of giggles*

    Also, I’m impressed that you could read the whole thing. After a few paragraphs, I started skimming, then couldn’t even manage that.

    The problem with the mantle of white privilege is it comes with a hood but no eyeholes.
    *wordless appreciation*

    @Fred Kiesche:
    I don’t think there’s enough coffee in the universe.

    I think this is the first time I’ve seen the “Mr. Spock supports me in emails” argument being made in ernest.
    *another gigglefit, which triggered a bout of coughing, but was worth it*

  135. I just keep coming back to the idea that if Gay Minority Female would just spend two decades at the library like (Straight White Dude) Ray Bradbury did, she wouldn’t have any issues with anything! See, he is totally not a conservative; he supports public libraries.

  136. @cjlevinson: “I’d feel very sorry for whoever had to read his submission though.” I doubt it took much of their time. Even the newest slush reader knows enough to cut their losses and round-file writing like May’s. No one’s requiring anyone to eat the entire shit sandwich before declaring that it tastes bad.

  137. My impression is that May made a mistake I’ve seen many times in writing classes and workshops: He knows what he’s trying to say, but he hasn’t truly grasped that the reader doesn’t have the benefit of knowing what he knows inside his head. He wanders all over, fails to connect the dots, and doesn’t bother to support his arguments because he already knows what he’s basing them on. But the reader who comes to his post cold, interested, even intrigued to find out how May will explain his stance, is left stumbling around trying to find the links between one thought and another without the benefit of his interior knowledge. He can’t seem to see from outside himself, where his readers are and must be.

    I suppose if you know him or have read his ideas before, you might have enough prior knowledge to fill in some of the blanks. But as someone who never heard of him before and was genuinely curious, I found his train of half-expressed thoughts frustrating to try to follow.

  138. Speaking of creepy, I just realized that it isn’t a smudge on my laptop screen when I scroll the green Scalzi comment boxes. No, someone is peering out at me. Twice, at least. Maybe there’s something to be said for all the Scalzi anti-enthusiasts.

  139. I think I know why the guy’s never been published. The average college grad could sneeze letters into a Kleenex and write something more coherent than that.

  140. I managed to read about a third of it before skimming the rest, and the impression I got was that he really thinks the statement “white privilege exists” is casual racism.

    Now, I’m not sure that was his point, but if it was: …I don’t think you can argue against that point, because I think the fact that he’s trying to say that implies that he doesn’t know what at least one of those words mean. Not only can you not use logic against someone who has clearly abandoned it, you can’t use the English language against someone who has abandoned it either.

    Ken from Popehat puts it another way: Fascism Is Not “That Which Hurts My Feelings”

  141. TL;DR version “I’m NOT playing on the Easy Setting! Not not NOT! You Meanies!”

  142. @Erna, who said The problem with the mantle of white privilege is it comes with a hood but no eyeholes. I love you, in a strictly platonic fashion.

    @Will MacLean: you made me snerk.

    @timeliebe: hellz ya. Roarke N Dallas 4 EVA!

    Now, are we sure this wasn’t written by The Stig?

  143. Something something something racist something I’m white something something.

    I wasn’t going to comment but I went through parts 2 & 3 and caught quite a few complaints about NK Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed and the supposed racism of these two authors. Overall theme: May didn’t get published and is really sore at non-WASP authors??? Sorry, I’m confused.

  144. Ian: React all you like.

    Yes. We’re all an incoherent mass of emotional synapses right now, eh?

    Dude made a cogent, non-racist argument from an intellectual perspective,

    Nope, nope, and nope.

    without indulging in base rhetoric,

    He mentions Scalzi and then 3 paragraphs later he’s comparing him to George Orwell’s “1984”? Moderating comments is not censorship. In that same paragraph, he’s invoking David Duke.

    He takes people pointing out racism and turns it into this beautiful little nugget of a strawman: Listening to such remarks, one would think white men comprise an informal and secret KKK and that white fantasy writers in particularly have colluded and conspired to maintain white centrality in their fiction for 100 years and more.

    Yes, yes, that’s exactly what anyone is ever saying when they say sexism or racism or homophobia exists in the world: That it’s a branch of the KKK at work.

    Later on, he says an even more awesome nugget: the fact that Tor is owned by the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, who have expressed a desire to distance themselves from their uncertain provenance to the Nazi Party which has never been satisfactorily settled..

    So, Tor is owned by someone who secretly(?) worked for the Nazis? And therefore employees of Tor are themselves Nazis, therefore Scalzi is a Nazi?

    So, in 8,000 words, this guy connects Scalzi to George Orwell’s “1984” distopian world, David Duke, the KKK, and the Nazis.

    And you want to say he isn’t indulging in base rhetoric???

    That’s hilarious.

    It is particularly devastating if you happen to know a lot about academic science fiction.

    It is particularly devestating only if you happen to believe a bunch of made up bullshit about science fiction, like there is some perverted connection between Tor and the Nazi party.

    Your readers who “couldn’t get past . . .” whatever section reveal themselves.

    Yes, we reveal our inability to get beyond tinfoil hattery. The man rambled for 8,000 words without once pointing to any specific action or statement that proved his accused “crime”. The “easiest difficulty setting” isn’t racist, nazi, or KKK inspired. The only other specific action he refers to, and then only indirectly, is that some of his comments were moderated. And given his invocation of Orwell, 1984, David Duke, the KKK, and WW2 Nazis, I’m not surprised. This guy is a first rate, best in class, conspiracy theory nutjob.

    While not rocket science, it does take some education and intellectual fortitude to see the point that the author is making

    I was a rocket scientist. This guy is an idiot.

    but once you do, it’s pretty accurate.

    He never makes any point. There is no point he is making. Oh, sorry, he does have a point, and that point is this:

    Liberals despise success

    Yes, yes, that’s indeed 100% accurate. All liberals despise and hate all success.

    Or at least arguable,

    Dude. Study after study shows systemic racism in America. If you are born white, you don’t have to worry about any of that ssystemic racism. That’s what Scalzi’s “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is” article is saying.

    This nitwit wants to say that article is nothing but racism???

    It’s not racism. It’s statistics. It’s only “arguable” if you think statistics don’t matter.

    if you have the cognitive ability and wit to understand it.

    Ah, so we’re dumb AND we have no sense of humor.

    I’ll summarize it: Scalzi got schooled.

    This guy made a clueless comment somewhere sometime that reflected some kind of unconscious racism on his part. His comment got moderated. And as a result, he wrote this nonsensical, rambling, zero point, zero proof, zero evidence screed, that accuses everyone of everything from being nazis, to despising anyone who is successful.

    I’ll summarize: This guy is throwing a 13-year-old level tantrum.

  145. I tried to read the screeds. Frankly, they sounded like someone with intellectual pretensions but not much intellect. Then I tried to read his science fiction, and couldn’t make it past the first paragraph. Perhaps the worst first paragraph I’ve ever read. John, you literally couldn’t write that poorly if you tried. And his “nonfiction” ideas are even worse. The length of the bus he’s riding is inversely proportional to his screeds.

  146. MY summary: When someone opposes something, then titles a blog post how that something helped him; he is, in principle, supporting that which he has publicly opposed. i.e., he is one of those who support that which he opposes.

    Yes, is not reality and overly obtuse. But, having read the whole thing and thought about what the essay contained, I think the essence of the essay is as I have stated above.

    And it doesn’t really matter that the blog post (which I also read in it’s entirety) itself didn’t support that accusation. The blog title alone supports the accusation.

  147. I think I probably could have read that piece. It can’t be much worse than some of the programmer-written “documentation” I’ve had to rewrite into coherent English.

    But I was paid for that. This one isn’t worth it. Its convoluted syntax makes me think the author may have been intoxicated (with alcohol, or just rage) when he wrote it.

    Have you noticed that he’s now posted another several pages of screedage addressed to the commenters here? It’s no better than the rest.

    I think if Teresa were here, she’d ask James May if he’s quite all right.

    Erna – I’m going to be quoting that a lot.

    ianironwood – If I ever had any respect for you, it’s now gone.

    Greg – This guy is throwing a 13-year-old level tantrum.

    Do you know any 13-year-olds? The ones I know/have known are more mature than May. Maybe they’re unusual. I don’t disagree with anything else in that particular comment of yours.

    Marty – You’re not making sense. Saying that something gave you an unfair advantage isn’t the same as supporting that thing. You’re assuming everyone is selfish and without conscience. This is Randian* (she herself was so selfish and conscience-free that when, at length, someone convinced her that some people weren’t, she had nothing but contempt for them).

    *And yes, I do consider that a bad thing.

  148. Brian: from another one of his essays, Mr May repeats one of his badly formed arguments that is in the post linked above:

    the Congressional Black Caucus, the organization of black mayors, black police chiefs, black journalists and on and on. There’s nothing like a group of professionals who self-segregate themselves and network by skin color and not only suggest that they are forced into such associations but then have the nerve to call white Americans racists if white Americans associate by skin color. Can you imagine a “White Association of Journalists”?

    Ah. Gotta love it. Mr May can’t abide the disenfranchised organizing amongst themselves. If people of color are held by systemic racism at a disadvantage, they must not organize among themselves to lift themselves up against racism. To do so, according to Mr May, can only be an expression of reverse racism.

    Later on, May says in frustration:

    white presidents can be depicted as monkeys and black presidents cannot and evidently it is as simple as that.

    He says this with a straight face, with no notion whatsoever of history of blacks being portrayed over and over as monkeys by racists.

    And history? Mr. May won’t have any history:

    [Eric] Holder says, “One cannot truly understand America without understanding the historical experience of black people in this nation. Simply put, to get to the heart of this country, one must examine it’s racial soul.” To me, this is a perfect example of Afrocentric self-aggrandizement wherein the entire complex history of the United States can only be understood by looking at it the way black Americans do. It is sheer arrogance to put 12% of the country’s population on a pedestal out of all proportion to the true nature of the black community’s real role in the history of this nation.

    Slavery was written into the fabric of the US Constitution in the three-fifths compromise, was “officially” excised a century later in a little thing called the civil-war, and equality wasn’t achieved by any real measure until yet another century more when civil rights and desgregation occurred 1960’s and 1970’s. and it was another half-century more before a black president was elected to the US. And Mr. May thinks this is taking history “out of all proportion”.

  149. Well that was a lot of unstructured prose. I stopped reading after he said he wasn’t actually going to reply to the arguments made in the original Scalzi piece. I decided to skip ahead to his rebuttal to Whatever commenters to see if he made an actual point anywhere.

    I guess I will respond here to what he said, but only in brief.

    1) To me, the most telling thing is that not one commenter squarely disputed the main point of this essay. That is because they can’t.

    No, the issue is that you have the burden of proof here. You are accusing Scalzi, Tor, and others of some sort of reverse racism and you completely failed to offer anything to back this up. Or at least, you failed to offer anything relevant in the first 10 paragraphs. The critiques of your writing style are extensions of the complete failure of you to make your argument.

    2) If you wish to group together people as whites, a thing I detest, then it is whites who have created the very laws that protect minorities in America today.

    I think there is a confusion in your mind between racism and predjudice. Prejudice is making judgements about someone based on some quality they have be it gender, race, religion, etc. Racism, at least institutionally, is enshrining those prejudices into law. It’s the reason why black people weren’t allowed to vote or hold political office in many parts of the country for 70% or more of our country’s history. The same for women for 50% or more of that time.

    White men have certainly worked to undo a lot of the wrongs put in place by other white men, but they didn’t do it in a vacuum. Less privileged people worked hard to win those rights that were wrongly withheld from them. To ignore any of that history because you don’t like the fact that it makes your group look ugly is a sign of both intellectual and moral weakness. And I say this as one of those “privileged” White guys.

  150. It never ceases to amaze me – or is that “amuse”? – that so many people read the phrase “easiest difficulty setting” and came away ranting, “What do you mean, I have it easy? Let me tell you how easy I DON’T have it, you white-hating man-hating so-n-so!” I visualize an XKCD-style graphic response: a horizontal line with points on it labeled, from left to right, as “Hard”, “Really Hard”, “I’m Sorry, But No”, and “Are You Fucking Kidding Me?” Then there’s an arrow pointing at the leftmost point (“Hard”) with the comment, “Easiest setting.”

    How can people who have actually played particularly hard games on their easiest settings not get this? How can they never have thought, “Damn, Yar’s Revenge* is really tough – and this little switch on my Atari would make it harder? Shit, man, some people are masochists!”

    Actually, I can’t tell whether our guest writer is accusing Scalzi of racism against white people – “You are generalizing about the effect of having a Caucasian appearance, you racist!” – or against non-white people by a fatal misreading of the idea of white privilege, such that the writer thinks Scalzi and other liberals think that it is some inherent lack of capability that makes everything harder for a person of color.

    *It’s not really that tough once you get the hang of it. Not on the easy setting. But it’s an odd interface with a steep learning curve. Took me forever to stop shooting myself with my own missile.

  151. Xopher, I think Marty wasn’t so much describing his own opinion but rather paraphrasing the jist of Mr. Overthinking It’s article. (To be fair, any attempt to represent Mr. Overthinking It’s logic would come out sounding tortured in proportion to its accuracy, because Mr. Overthinking It tortures logic.)

  152. Yoiks! May’s response is a repeat of all his earlier mistakes:

    There clearly exists a community within SF that has relegated hate speech to men with monocles and hoods who believe no one else is capable of it.

    The only people who are racist in America, according to May, are (1) the KKK and (2) anyone who reads Whatever, reads Tor books, reads anything by MacMillian, believes that blacks are discriminated against in America today, or belongs to the political Left or considers themselves Liberal.

    In short, May believes (1) white racists against blacks are limited to the KKK but (2) reverse racists, people who discriminate against whites include… everyone on the Left, apparently.

    (1) Racism against blacks requires white sheets and cross burnings.

    (2) Racism against whites merely requires that you delete a comment on Tor, or to say that any sort of white-on-black racism exists beyond the KKK, or call yourself a Democrat.

    Remember folks: The only racist-against-black people are KKK members. But anyone can be a reverse-racist against whites, just by saying something May doesn’t approve of.

    If you draw a comic depicting the President as a monkey, then May insists that the only possible way to interpret that is that it must NOT be interpreted as racially motivated. It is IMPOSSIBLE for someone to be racist-against-whites in print that way. Unless they are a member of the KKK, we must always give them the benefite of the doubt.

    If, on the other hand, you think blacks are racially profiled by police, or suffer discrimination of any kind whatsoever by anyone OTHER THAN the KKK, then you must be a white-hating reverse-racist, end of story, goodbye, see you later.

    Why? Because May said so. Because May has defined racism-against-blacks as requiring white hoods and a burning cross. ANything less than that can NOT possibly be racist. And to suggest otherwise means you MUST BE a REVERSE RACIST.

    the racism and bigotry in his own essays about white or geek men is stunning. Women are innately superior morally? Wow.

    I don’t know where Scalzi said “Women are innately superior morally”. I assume May has manufactured this invention entirely in his mind with zero evidence and zero connection to reality. I assume its May’s tinfoil hattery coming through loud and clear.

    They arrested a guy in the U.K. just for singing “Kung Fu Fighting.” You created that atmosphere and eventually petards get hoisted and doors closed.

    I’m not sure what May is trying to say here, but it appears to be nothing but a smoke screen to pretend that hate crimes and active discrimination don’t happen in the world and the only problem with racism today is reverse-racism.

    It’s an interesting world Mr. May lives in, that’s for sure, one where bigots and racists don’t exist unless they’re black and hate whites. The rest of us are stuck in the real world.



  153. I read about halfway through it before I got bored. It’s not as bad as Scalzi and you all make it out to be.

    The TL;DR of it is that he thinks Scalzi’s “Difficulty Setting” argument is nonsense, which – let’s be fair – it is. As someone who works with stats in education, I call tell you that it is far more important if you are born rich or poor, in Manhattan or Fresno, than if you are born white or black. Scalzi’s essay was overly reductionistic, and he even admitted so (“Metaphors are not perfect”).

  154. @BillK: from your response, you don’t appear to have read through the ‘Difficulty Setting’ essay either. (If you had, you’d have caught that it’s not simply about being white or black, and explicitly talks about wealth as well as a number of other factors.)

    I don’t particularly want to pile on Overthinking Guy; he’s just a longer and angrier version of the problem Nicole describes above.

  155. I’m disappointed in almost everyone on this thread. It’s shameful to make fun of the handicapped, even the ones that are only perceptible as such when they try to express themselves.

  156. @Yet Another Anonymous Coward – I know you’re trying to be funny, but can we please not? I’m disabled. I don’t particularly enjoy it when people use my identity as mockery.

  157. Nicole, XKCD should definitely do that comic. I would keep it with the “Someone on the Internet is wrong!” one as excellent and useful visual shorthand.

  158. After reading the update, I’m reasonably certain he’s at least part of the inspiration for Bobby Moynahan’s “Drunk Uncle” character on SNL.

  159. I think I strained my eyebrows after reading less than a quarter of that. They kept wanting to rise higher from the sheer incredulity I felt, to the point I thought they were going to fly off my face and hit the ceiling.

  160. Oh my. That is the best example of mental diarrhea splashed on a page I have ever seen.

    White peoples problems, what ya gonna do?

  161. I certainly do not agree with May on anything he has to say about white male privilege — he is wrong from start to finish — but I have to admit that after reading most comments here I get the whiff of a schoolyard gang picking on the victim of the day. I fail to see how attacking his writing style (or lack thereof), the personal attacks, the slurs, &c, can enhance the fight against the ideas and prejudices he espouses.

    The article was long, difficult, and boring to get through but the comments here much more so, in my opinion.

  162. MDSL, I’m not sure how you failed to notice that May and his ilk are the school yard bullies of our society, not those who oppose them. I suppose if an entire classroom full of kids got sick of their bully and spoke up to resist him, you’d think they were being mean?

    May chose to post his ignorance (and his inability to write intelligently) on the internet for the entire world to see. By doing so he invited critique, just like John and anyone else who posts an opinion online. If the responses here, which he invited by his own actions, really bother you so much more than his post you may want to rethink the priority of your sympathies.

  163. MDSL, it’s not a binary choice situation. It’s quite possible to take positive action to fight against the prejudice Mr. May espouses *and* critique poor writing *and* taunt the tauntable. Mr. Scalzi is capable of doing all three–and more. Many of the people who have commented here have similarly done much to advance the cause of eliminating or at least marginalizing prejudices like Mr. May’s. I’m not sure why staying silent would be desirable in this case. Maybe you can say more about what you’re doing to enhance the fight. Provide a good role model, since you seem to be a fan of doing something positive and not just criticizing.

  164. @Kaz What makes you think I’m trying to be funny? The fellow’s confused, meandering text is hardly consistent with mental health. He comes across as being in the same sort of confused state as the people who hang out in public places mumbling to themselves and verbally abusing passers by. Do you think it’s right and proper to seek those people out to get material to amuse your friends? That’s pretty much how I see what’s been happening here.

  165. Yet Another Anonymous Coward:

    I think we may believe that someone can be entirely sane and also a very poor writer.

    Let’s end this particular conversational thread here, please.

  166. I looked at this yesterday at home, but wanted to look again to see the addendum. Alas, blocked by the firewall. Now that _is_ special. Usually it only blocks innocuous sites like Circlet Press.

  167. MDSL: I certainly do not agree with May on anything he has to say about white male privilege — he is wrong from start to finish — but I have to admit that after reading most comments here I get the whiff of a schoolyard gang picking on the victim of the day.

    Oh good grief.

    Let’s just put this in perspective. May cannot stand the idea of people in an oppressed category organizing themselves as a counterweight to systemic prejudice. May requires that any charge of racism have proof in the form of white sheeted KKK members and burning crosses, or it ins’t real racism. But his accusations of reverse racism require not only no evidence, but no logic as well. Reverse racism, according to May, is everywhere. It is rampant in everything Scalzi writes. It is rampant in the SciFi community, it is rampant among everyone on the Left, it is rampant among Liberals. And his “proof” for this carpet bombing campaign of his? Nada. Zip. Zero.

    This guy is a flaming racist. And you think he’s the one being picked on?

  168. Josh Cochran — no, but it depends on how that would be done, don’t you think? As far as critique is concerned, criticizing the container rather than the content does not make for a strong impression. May’s straw-man arguments are not usefully countered by ad-hominem attacks. Finally, I have no sympathy for May or his position; I don’t like the manner with which his position is attacked here in the comments, generally.

    BW — I don’t get where you think I have advocated for silence on the issue. I do what I can in my life to counter prejudice, both within and without, and that’s enough for me; I am happy to learn that some, perhaps all, of the commenters above take a more active role in that fight. However, the string of one-upmanship in denigrating May is off-putting and is not going to sway anyone to the right side of the argument. Pieces like Mr. Scalzi’s about white privilege, do.

  169. I think what’s going on in this screed is pretty straightforward. It boils down to this line of thought:

    1. If Mr. Scalzi is correct, then I am living life at the easiest setting.

    2. But I am not having success in my most preciousest metier, i.e. SF, even thought I’m really smart. (Mind you: liberals hate success. Wait, what does that mean for me? I am not having success. Maybe I hate myself? No wait. Back to my main point.)

    3. So Mr. Scalzi must be all wrong about this “easiest setting” thing, otherwise my wonderful work would be received with rapture and joy and great fanfare.

    4. And furthermore, there must be an active conspiracy against talented, clear-thinking, righteous persons such as myself because otherwise I would be having success, which liberals would hate.

    5. Besides, there are examples of those people who are NOT LIKE ME who ARE having success (which liberals hate) and who are supposedly on a harder life setting than me but can’t possibly be any more talented, intelligent or creative than I, so Scalzi is all wrong and racist too.

    6. Only self-hating white males get to be successful in this racist society. QED.

    Someone probably once told Mr. May that he was very, very intelligent indeed. And it’s entirely possible that he is intellectual gifted in some way—although the evidence from this essay suggests it’s not in verbal communication, structured argumentation, or empathetic imagination. And because Mr. May knows that intelligence is the single most significant and magic key to success (which liberals hate) and victory, he is completely baffled as to why he is not a world-beater in any field in which he chooses to compete.

  170. Ugh, misplaced comma in point 6. Make it go away. Or could we please be able to edit within a short period of posting?

    [NT: fixed it for you. There is a preview button for the comments, I would note. – JS]

  171. Greg — I’m not defending May or his delusions; I think he is wrong across the board. I would however like counter-arguments to be more effective than name-calling.

    It seems that I’m in the minority here, so I’ll leave you to it. Have fun. See you all in another thread.

  172. I really have to admit that while the writing is good on the sentence level, I’m having a terribly difficult time understanding the logical connections of May’s argument. There’s just not a whole lot of “there” there, in terms of actual depth of points. Truly, as many of you have said, it’s basically unintelligible–and this comes from someone who has made a living for the past three years reading freshman English papers.

    What I *think* May is trying to do is invoke something similar to Judith Butler’s feminist concept of “citationality.” Butler posits that any performance of or critique of gender (or race, a lot of concepts of feminist theory can apply to race because it involves a similar power paradigm), even if it supposedly goes against the “norm,” will also face the conundrum of necessarily re-enforcing the norm because it must re-cite the norm. Essentially, every time you go against or critique tradition, even as you attempt to shift people’s understanding of it, you’re also reminding them of the status quo. (This is why people get so mad about people making a big deal about, say, a girl who is a scientist. Simply making a big deal reinforces the old concept that girls can’t be scientists.)

    Unfortunately, what May seems to be doing is, as Scalzi notes, seriously overthinking the issue. Yes, citationality exists, but we are ALL going to be bound by it, and being bound by it doesn’t mean we can’t still effectively critique a status quo by pointing out its unequal power paradigm. This is especially true when the critique is qualified by a recognition that not all people are the same, which Scalzi absolutely did in his analysis of the white cis-gendered male as being the “lowest difficulty setting.” Such acknowledgment allows a writer to stay out of the trap of reifying the same type of narrow thinking displayed by the original stereotypical tradition (i.e. “reverse racism”).

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit. Mostly I just think he doesn’t really understand the theory he’s trying to use to back his logic.

    As far as what May seems to be arguing about reverse racism in terms of white cis-gendered males being somehow a victim now, or something (I really mean it, I can’t follow his argument at all), I must admit it just seems like the normal falderal that popped up at the time of the original posting of “Lowest Difficulty Setting.” I think there have been enough recent events that have highlighted the white male power paradigm in this country to indicate that even though a lot of progress has been made in terms of equality, by no means are white cis-gendered males suddenly some underprivileged, downtrodden group. That concept is simply laughable.

  173. MDSL: I would however like counter-arguments to be more effective than name-calling.

    Yes, yes, of course, no one here has done anything to properly, logically, analytically rebut Mr. May’s arguments.


    Meanwhile, in 8,000 words, Mr May connects Scalzi, the SF community at large, and anyone on the political Left, to George Orwell’s “1984″ distopian world, David Duke, the KKK, and the Nazis.

    Dude. Seriously? May’s rant is nothing but name calling.

    I pulled out a number of his specific sentences to highlight just how bad his writing is. But in the end, Mr May makes no arguments to be countered. And he has several posts like this, with something like 50k words total of rants against Scalzi and SF and the Left and Liberals. 50k words of rants and not a single argument grounded in evidence and logical argument. The “big picture” assessment of Mr May’s posts is that they ramble, make no point, provide zero evidence, fail to make even a single logical argument from sound premises, and amount to little more than saying everyone is a reverse-racist because May says so. His posts are overthinking, poorly done, at length.

    That isn’t name calling. That’s assessing his words based on their merit, or in this case, lack of merit.

  174. And of course I just found another typo in my post (it should be “intellectually gifted” not “intellectual gifted”). FWIW, in my browser (Safari) the post preview appears in tiny type, improperly formatted. It’s not ideal for proofreading.

    But I’ll strive to get it right the first time, next time. :)

  175. Dear John,
    Your explanation above to Peter Cashwell, who questioned how you managed to read the entire thing, is entirely unsatisfactory. We must have the precise combination of medications, hallucinogens or other devices used to get you through it.
    Did you put it through a Samuel-Jackson-voice-reading program or something? How in the world did you manage to get past the first 3 paragraphs? I could barely speedread the occasional line throughout the rest of it.
    And his entire point is that paying any attention to color is racism? Did I miss anything? As the Yiddish say, Nebach.

  176. MDSL:
    Of what little I read of May’s rant the thing that stood out almost immediately was a contradiction. May appears to disparage liberals in general and John in particular, based on the fact that they manifested a perspective. This is bad, in his way of thinking, because conservatives do it too. Thus, liberals, and John, are hypocrites. At least on the subject of … well, that depends, I guess, but May does highlight the white male thingie with respect to John.

    My question is how does anyone express anything if not without bias? And, no, I don’t mean excessive bias to the degree of bigotry. I’m talking about having a perspective, and therefore an opinion. Beyond that, I had no interest in what May was building his argument on, since it basically had weak logical structure and poor focus.

  177. I tried to read his essay. I really did. I’m a patient person, but… As I scanned down, I tried to read his response to Whatever commentors.

    “Of course those this is aimed at will not be able to understand it. Why should they?”

    It seems to me that if you’re going to aim something at a target, said target should know when grenade hits the ground or the pie hits the face. They should at least FEEL something upon impact. If your target is clueless or otherwise unaffected, well, that is also known as a failure to communicate.

    I would like to point out, though, that a failure to communicate does not make him of superior intellect to those reading his essay. Boiled down, it means he’d prefer to communicate only with himself.

    In this case, the only helpful suggestion I can think of is to say, “Mr. May, if you want me to understand all of your thoughts, please pare them down to essentials and stick to a theme. Even if I disagree with you, I will read it if it is coherent.”

    I do not always agree with our host, Mr. Scalzi, but I enjoy reading what he writes, and I have no problems understanding him.

  178. Scalzi: Your sarcasm to other commenters here comes across as anger.

    When I wrote:

    Yes, yes, of course, no one here has done anything to properly, logically, analytically rebut Mr. May’s arguments.

    I heard it in my mind with about the same tone that I read this:

    It is also very special.

    Which is to say, not angry, more like it’s just so obviously false.

    Hm. That’s a bit of a bummer.

  179. MDSL, I’m an old Usenetter, and what applied there applies on Web forums and in blog comments, IMO. If you don’t like the posts you’re reading, post the kind of thing you would want to read. I get that you’re not defending Mr. May. Neither are you providing any of the kind of counter-arguments you’ve complained that other people aren’t providing. You aren’t required to. Nor is anyone else. We’ve pretty much posted about the things that struck us: the terrible organization and meandering length of his “essay” (in form, it really is not an essay), the lack of support for his ideas, the nonsensical-seeming connection between Mr. Scalzi and George Orwell, etc. Speaking only for myself, there wasn’t enough meat in that stew of verbiage to make it interesting or intellectually fruitful to try to tease out what he was so passionately but ineptly trying to say such that a cogent rebuttal might be possible.

    Also, please note that the many people who crticized or mocked Mr. May’s piece had varying reactions to it. I don’t agree with all of them. I merely commented on what struck me about the piece, as did others. I saw a great deal more than name-calling, though there was some of that too.

  180. Thanks for pointing out that essay Mr. Scalzi. It’s impressive to see that kind of bravery every so often. The essay pretty much nailed your behavior straight on the head.

  181. Not Going To Get Crucified:

    The only thing brave about it was that he let it out into the world unedited. Unless that IS the edited version. What a horrible thought that is.

  182. gleonguerro — you are right, it’s very hard to do. Some can, and when they do, they become that much more convincing. That’s not to say that opinion and humor is not effective — I come to this site regularly because I find the blend just right most of the time. Since May conveniently points back to Mr. Scalzi’s article, it’s the perfect opportunity for intellectually honest readers to get a better understanding of the issue at hand. I suspect many will come around, just as I did a year or so ago.

  183. Like most commenters here, I stopped reading the linked essay shortly after my attempt to read it. I’m sure Mr. May was attempting to make a point, or perhaps thought he had, but his writing was so disjointed and unfocused, I certainly couldn’t find much in the way of a point. Maybe it’s been a bit too long since I’ve been in a high-school English class, but I seem to recall that being able to make clear assertions and provide clear proof for them was, in fact, the best way to make an argument for any position. I understand that things may have changed since I attended school last.

    I did take a crack at reading his science-fiction “novel” after giving up on his critical essay, however. I find it somewhat odd, but strangely amusing, that someone who went on at length about race and gender politics in science-fiction presented such two-dimensional female characters. It would seem to contradict Mr. May’s strongly held beliefs on the subject.
    Also? It was just bad. The novel, I mean. It was just terrible writing. Something the author seems to think is unimportant in telling an actual story. I wonder if he feels that sharpening one’s photographic skills contribute to better photographs, or if there’s no correlation between the two examples at all.

    Also, as a side-note, I have got to start irritating more people on the internet, as it certainly seems like a great way to come up with blog posts and group-building exercises! Besides, it’s clearly an amusing hobby. Mr. Scalzi, you are truly living the life!

  184. Oh, we done it now. We done gone pissed James off. Not only is he calling out this entire comment thread, he’s written an open letter to the SFWA (I wonder if he remembered to send a copy to anyone actually at the SFWA) calling for Scalzi’s resignation… 3 months before the end of Scalzi’s final term. He also wants the SFWA to set a clear policy regarding “hate speech”. Although, I wonder how he figures his boy the RSHD is going to pass muster with any such ruling. Something tells me he hasn’t thought his cunning plan all the way through. But I guess there’s no anger like impotent anger.

  185. “Petards will be hoisted”? He couldn’t even be troubled to look up the definition of petard or the meaning of the Shakespearean phrase regarding them?

  186. Doc Rocketscientist:

    “He also wants the SFWA to set a clear policy regarding ‘hate speech’. Although, I wonder how he figures his boy the RSHD is going to pass muster with any such ruling.”

    SFWA in fact has a moderation policy on its own site. I don’t plan on resigning, although SFWA members may remove me from office if they like; there’s a process in the bylaws. I will note at this point it seems unlikely they will do so.

  187. I’ve suspected for some time that anyone who uses the word “racialist” unironically can be dismissed out of hand as yet another whiner who, faced with the hard work of checking his privilege, would rather try to derail any discussion or critique of institutionalized racism with the spectre of “reverse racism.” With this latest addition to the body of evidence, suspicion has graduated to certainty.

  188. Ian Ironwood, please do not presume to lecture anyone on critical thinking or arguments. We have all seen those “motivational posters” you created; it is abundantly clear that clear thought and good presentation are not your strong suits.

  189. when I started to read May’s piece (after I figured out he wasn’t the guy from Top Gear) I thought is was a joke. I theatre piece critisizing that Brad Paisley song. Then I saw in comments here WHEN May’s piece was posted -nope – it’s just a co-incidence that May shares the attitude that if you walk into a Starbucks in Indiana wearing a confederate flag on your shirt, and the African-American Barista (Baristo?) looks at you funny- it’s the Barista who’s being racist.

    May seems to (if I am deciphering his word salad correctly) jave a problem with context. The Black Congressional caucus is not racist (for excluding Whites from the group) because of the historical context of African Americans being excluded FROM CONGRESS. And a waering confederate flag to show your “southern pride” or that you’re a fan of Lynard Skynard IS racist because that symbol has meaning beyound the context of your t-shirt, and yes everyone who sees that shirt will form an opinion about the wearer.

  190. also delicious irony -“petards will be hoisted”
    to be hoisted by one’s own petard = being a blowhard- full of hot air etc.
    literally it means (alternately) to be knocked over by your own fart
    or lifted off you feet by a small flag (a petard is one of those little triangular flags- like a pennant, use on ships, or in old French, IIRC, = fart)

    to be “hoisted by your own petard” = lots of noise but no substance if something so small as a tiny flag, or a fart, cound knock you off your feet. Kind of like if you type a 12,000 word screed that really doesn’t say anything much.

  191. Jonjasonmitchell,
    A petard is also an explosive device used for breaching gates, back in the days of black powder. The story I was told is that an engineer whose petard exploded early was hoist (flung through the air) by his own petard.

    If the version I’m familiar with is correct, a useful modern-day translation would be “shot himself in the foot.”

  192. I read all 7,800 + words (including his response to Whatever commenters). All I got from his screed was that White, Christian, heterosexual men are being heavily and relentlessly oppressed.

    And who are the evil people oppressing White, Christian, heterosexual men? Black people (probably all minorities, but especially Black people) — particularly those who speak out against White racism. Also, all liberals. And a special mention goes to John Scalzi, who wrote an outrageous article which attacked White men by pointing out that they are more privileged than other groups (the horror!).

    May is absolutely pathetic. And racist to boot. I had to laugh at his use of “hahahaha” in his response to Whatever commenters and his gleeful gloating at getting under people’s skin.

    Funny that he condemned a Black female for praising Octavia Butler’s novels, but spent many words praising the works of White males. I guess he can praise White folks all day long, but if Black folks praise other Black folks, that’s the highest form of racism. Similar to Republicans/Conservatives claiming that Black folks voting for President Obama was somehow evidence of Black racism, while ironically ignoring the fact that White people by and large vote for White male Presidents all the dang time.

    Also made me laugh when he insinuated that President Obama is himself a racist. I guess Glenn Beck told him that.

    And of course, only those on the Left who speak out against White racism are actually the racists.

    Alas, he may need to form a group to help out the oppressed White, Christian, heterosexual males. What should he call it? The US Congress, for starters. I mean when have White men ever been the victim of systemic, organized longterm discrimination/racism anywhere on the planet earth? Please!

  193. Honestly, if you need over 7,000 words to make your point, you ought to consider whether you’ve really thought out the point you’re trying to make. By the end this sounds like the last page of Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls,” when the narrator just goes crazy on the page.

  194. Anything that starts with “It’s Jules Verne Was A Racist Month!!! ”
    can have a nice day.
    I mean, oh, whatever!

  195. MDSL: I have to admit that after reading most comments here I get the whiff of a schoolyard gang picking on the victim of the day.

    When it’s entirely deserved and appropriate, we call it a piñata. That would be more obviously justified if he were here commenting, but I still think it fits this case.

    Josh Cochran: Certain scenes toward the end of Matilda come to mind.

    Peter Eng: That’s my understanding as well. Though I have been known to say “I’m hoist with my own petard” after farting so massively that I’m actually lifted from my seat for a moment.

    But only very late at night, among friends in an equally silly mood.

  196. It’s hilarious and telling that he decided to take you on not to your face and in an arena where he can’t get malleted. I would have read the entire thing but I decided it would feel better if I beat my own head against a wall. The comment addendum was the most psychologically compelling for me to start to read before his prose made me want to stab myself in the face instead; it was equal parts rage-filled and kind of “No hey come on you guys!” sad.

  197. BeyondPaisley:

    To be fair to the fellow, I think it’s fine he does it over there and not here. It’s the very essence of having one’s own printing press. And saves me the Malleting.

  198. I am sure he could take on John in a debate. Everyone would leave before he finished his five hour opening statement, then he could declare himself the victor. (And if you gently suggest he cannot take five hours to make his opening statement, you’re one of them.)

  199. I am seriously disappointed that I got in after he pulled his insane ramblings down. :( Did anybody have the foresight to make a mirror so that I can break my brain?

  200. I don’t normally comment here because I don’t have anything to add to the debate, but I feel compelled to comment on this. For someone who claims no political affiliation he can sure rant like a Randian Objectivist. It’s kind of like reading John Galt’s blog, but longer, and possibly less coherent.

  201. I usually don’t leave comments, because I tend to read my blogs in a big lump at the end of the week, so by the time I get here the comments are…. well, this long, actually, and I’m lazy.

    But this once I want to say that I have whiled away many enjoyable minutes perusing by the main contents of Whatever and the comments, and the people here are awesome. Thanks for making my day.

    Also, brain hurt. How they hell did you read all of that and not have your brain explode? The grammar fail, the logic fail, the… just the fail…

  202. Well he certainly is verbose, isn’t he.

    /ponders the amount of free time required for such an endeavor

  203. He pulled it? Awwwwww…

    Perhaps I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he got a notice from his host service that he was exceeding his bandwidth due to all the traffic this post was generating.


  204. Actually, Doc, I think it would be giving him the benefit of the doubt to assume he pulled it because it was wrong, badly written, and too long.

  205. Look, Xopher, there are limits to my generosity. ;-) Also, I don’t think one could possibly overestimate May’s ego. I think he thinks the essays are exactly the way he intended them.

  206. @Doc Rocketscience: Reminds me of one comic-book writer’s opinion of another’s self-opinion, demonstrated at the bar one convention evening:


    (repeat ad nauseum.)

  207. Oh, wait, no, it’s all back. Looks like he just messed up his site redesign.

  208. Wait. Wait wait wait.

    This… person…

    …Is claiming to be a Jack Vance fan? /readies flamethrower and sets it to flambé.

    Git offa my silver-age science-fantasy.

  209. tribalism. he’s got it.

    logic, not so much.

    I imagine he’s got a severely bruised chest from all the thumping he’s doing over there.

  210. While after deliberation I ultimately disagree with John’s original essay, at least it had the merits of being well thought out, formed of cogent arguments framed around an accessible controlling metaphor, and easy to read, whereas May’s jeremiad contrastingly fails in every aspect.

    Having read the whole scattershot turgidity, May would have been better served had he simply written, “Being born on third base offers no advantage in a football game.”

    I confess to being unduly influenced by my training in genetics: environment selects and environments are mutable. Mea culpa.


  211. “Jeremiad” is a good word for it. It’s not an essay, as Mr. May likes to call it, but I couldn’t come up with a better word than “screed,” which I don’t think does it justice.

  212. Please forgive the thread necromancy, but I would just like to express my horror that May’s “The Lowest Principal There Is” goes on for five parts, y’all. FIVE. Not three as I originally thought. FIVE. All of them handily listed on the page you get if you remove everything past “essays/” in the original link provided in the OP here.

    It is possible that I will be unable to stop myself attempting to read them all. Did someone mention rats in the walls before? I CAN HEAR THEM SCRATCHING.

  213. Anybody can write incoherent five-part “essays.” Just go to Scott Pakin’s complaint generator (wow, blast from the past for me!) and generate complaints over and over until you fill your desired number of pages:


    I whipped up ten paragraphs about John Scalzi with the touch of a couple of buttons:


    Doesn’t this sound like something that Mr. May might have written?

    “Mr. Scalzi’s tender and delicate adjustments and readjustments of his convictions may succeed at convincing a few untoward, disaffected cheapjacks that space aliens are out to lay eggs in our innards or ooze their alien hell-slime all over us. Nevertheless, I, hardheaded cynic that I am, hate it when people get their facts wrong. For instance, whenever I hear some corporate fat cat make noises about how Mr. Scalzi is morally obligated to dilute the nation’s sense of common purpose and shared sacrifice, I can’t help but think that mankind needs to do more to criticize his adages publicly for their formalistic categories, their spurious claims of neutrality, and their blindness to the abuse of private power. Understand, I am not condemning mankind for not doing enough; I am merely stating that if you want to hide something from Mr. Scalzi, you just have to put it in a book. Maybe as soon as our backs are turned, Mr. Scalzi will sacrifice children on the twin altars of immoralism and greed. Base-minded predictions aside, this would not be an impossible scenario if his uneducated antics were to gain ascendancy in our society.”

    Maybe we’ve discovered his dirty little secret.

  214. I am so happy to see the word “jeremiad” used, and properly, to boot! Also, the complaint generator produced better copy than Mr May. That’s just sad.

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