Wrapping Up 2015: A Hugo Awards Open Thread
Posted on September 2, 2015 Posted by John Scalzi 190 Comments
I’ve had a few people express a desire for an open thread here to discuss this year’s Hugo Awards, to touch on some topics I haven’t specifically addressed; separately, Charles Gannon, who was nominated for the Nebula year, and was just below the cutoff for the Hugo Best Novel award this year, noted something I said in a previous entry about his work and had some thoughts he wanted to post. In both cases I thought it would be useful to give space for folks to comment and discuss, before we (quite properly!) put the Hugos to bed for another season.
So: Here you are, an open thread for discussion whatever you like about the Hugo Awards this year, with Gannon’s long-but-worth-the-read piece in the lead-off comment position. Agree, disagree, add your own thoughts, careen off the thoughts of others, it’s all good.
That said: Remember the comment policy here and keep it wholly; while my plan is to keep my own commenting to a bare minimum in order to let folks have room to discuss, I won’t hesitate to wade in to Mallet people getting out of line. Be polite and respectful to each other and keep the frothing down to a bare minimum, please. I thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Now then. Last call for Hugo Award 2015 thoughts and feelings. Don’t be shy, step up and let’s hear what you have to say.
[Note: I’m posting this because it was sent to me as a Word document; it should be understood that Mr. Gannon’s views are his own. There’s some stuff here I like, some I have questions about, and some I need to think about more.
Also, Charles wishes me to note he’ll be at Dragon*Con the next several days so responses and comments from him may be limited and/or delayed. — JS]
Ends, Means, and Arsonists
The Importance of Saying “Yes” to Civility While Saying “No” to Passivity
Dr. Charles E. Gannon
I contacted my host, John Scalzi, a few days ago, just after he mentioned one of my books here in the following manner: “Also, I think it’s possible that some Puppy nominees could have gotten onto the ballot on their own steam — in the novel category Chuck Gannon has been nominated for a Nebula two times running, so I think he could have had a decent chance at the Hugo.”
This was indeed a kind mention because (and here’s the part where I slit my own throat) I can’t fully agree with John’s generous assessment. Don’t get me wrong: I wish I could agree—but I suspect that it was the Sad Puppy listing which put me on enough folks’ radars so that my novel Trial By Fire wound up just 11 votes behind Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem in the total number of Hugo nominations. This is not a comment on the relative merits of my (or any other) Hugo-eligible novel. I simply observe that the odds are good that Trial By Fire did not have enough widespread buzz to climb that high all by itself. On the other hand, Trial by Fire was the only SP-recommended novel that did not make the Hugo ballot. It was also the only SP-recommended novel not included on Vox Day’s authoritarian slate. I will let you decide if there might be some relationship between those two data points…
As many know, my presence on the SP recommendation list came as a surprise; I did not learn about it until a few days (a week?) later, when someone commented on it on my FB account. Perceiving it as a list akin to dozens I’d seen floated during Hugo and Nebula seasons since I first became an SFWA member in 1990 (I think), the one concern I voiced to Brad (Torgerson) was that I was only comfortable being included if Vox Day (whose proclivities were known to me only via general third-hand report) was not on the list. Which he wasn’t. So then I went back to work (I’m fortunate to have a number of novels under contract) and pretty much stopped following the Hugo process. (I’m the parent-on-call for four kids, so I don’t browse FB feed much and sometimes wonder why I even have a Twitter account…)
When I learned about the Rabid Puppies and Vox Day’s activities (which prompted my research into the details of his prior commentaries upon race, women, and more), I contacted Brad and we agreed that everyone must follow their own conscience if push came to shove. I should add, for the record, that I not only respect fellow-novelist Marko Kloos immensely for the choice he made, but I also understand what may have been his instinct not to add to the unfortunate spectacle until and unless circumstances made it incumbent upon him to do so.
However, although my inclusion on the original Sad Puppy list probably brought votes my way, a countervailing trend among another discernible (if non-collectivized) group of readers probably took as many (or more) away. Specifically, during both the Hugo and Nebula process, many blog posts, or comments thereupon, explicitly proclaimed their decision to ignore my novel for a reason expressed with admirable economy by one of their number: “Because: Baen.”
In response to all of this, I can only repeat what I have said about awards from the very start, thus echoing what my host John Scalzi penned here not so long ago: “Vote for what you like.” And, I might add: “Don’t judge books by their covers or publishers.” Most of the major spokespersons in this debate have said just this or something quite similar.
Happily, most people consider these admirable sentiments, but almost as many will wonder, “Yeah, sure, but how the hell do we get to that reality from where we are now?” Or, to use Chernechevsky’s SFnal title (which Lenin appropriated for his famous essay), “What is to be done?” The context of that query invokes, of course, a challenge to discover, articulate, and strategize the attainment of the ends one seeks. I, on the other hand, have come to suspect that in our present quandary, our first agenda item must be to explore the means whereby we may communicate effectively about those challenges. In short, my concern is best titled “How is it to be done?”
Methods and Means
If you can’t communicate effectively, you can’t solve problems—not unless your “problem” is waging a war to utterly exterminate your opponent. So, if you do want to communicate, then as long as words are being wielded as weapons, the downward spiral—of this conflict and of our genre—will continue.
So my focus has been, and remains, on behavior not politics. That may sound like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but I see it as making sure the rudder works. By which I mean: at some point, people have to talk if they wish to end, limit, or deal with the aftermath of a conflict. Right now, the capacity for genuine communication is crashing in a dizzying tailspin, while attitude polarization is on an inversely proportional rise.
Let me be perfectly clear, I’m neither “puppy” nor “anti-puppy.” My own beliefs are so darn eclectic that I doubt any group would have me. But beyond that, there is this purely functional consideration: any resolution to a conflict (short of unilateral annihilation) cannot be achieved through strident advocacy for or by any one side.
Why? The answer is one of the most consistent and simple phenomena of social dynamics, one as old as history itself. You cannot be primarily committed to facilitating equable and balanced communication and be a partisan leader.
I am a communication specialist, have worked in that role in various capacities for over 30 years, and have seen (and been asked to help manage) this phenomena in many different scenarios. And here’s the relevant challenge that arises: partisans have the luxury to remain absorbed by (and locked into) their conflicts of the moment. So, they cannot become change-agents for better bilateral discourse; their prior role precludes opponents from believing that they are doing anything but surreptitiously supporting their own agenda. So it is necessary to preserve and/or create a communications channel for moving beyond the conflicts in which those partisans are still engaged. A truly multilateral discursive arena—for which civility is both the bedrock and cornerstone—is the foundation and lynchpin of that eventual need.
I do care about hurt feelings, but that’s simply not my reason for emphasizing the issue of civility and respect in discourse. Indeed, feelings are not merely important but operationally relevant because, when people’s feelings are hurt, they are primed to strike back–and so, the possibility of increasing civility remains near or at zero. But this is not a hand-wringing, mewling appeal for “oh, can’t we all just be nice to each other?” This is more of a “Look: when everyone is done thumping their chests and mixing up their genuine beliefs, their admitted and unadmitted ego involvement, and all the rest of the emotional and rhetorical baggage, we’re all still going to be here. If this was a literal war, you might decide to exterminate each other. But since it’s not, you’re going to have to coexist, because you can’t steer around each other far enough to create total mutual avoidance. So some people have to keep saying: ‘when all of you are ready to clean up the mess, remember how to talk to each other. Because that is the only way the mess is going to be cleaned up. No matter who declares victory and goes home.'”
To reprise a theme that I’ve seen on posts from commentators as diverse as David Gerrold, Brad Torgerson, and Eric Flint, the descent into personal invective always portends a downward spiral that carries us away from ideas and understanding and straight into a cesspool of inane and profitless rock throwing. And “but they started it first” is no excuse for any side to maintain their vituperation level at Defcon 2. Indeed, there is every reason not to.
Firstly, it’s rarely a good idea to let the actions of another dictate the manner in which we respond. To do otherwise is to essentially say, “I accept that I do not define the means by which I engage in conflicts; I cede that initiative and authority to my opponent.” As we all know, it’s not a good idea to let anyone else drive your life-bus or set the pace—least of all someone you perceive as an opponent.
Secondly, when it comes to the notion of matching your opponent’s dirty tactics or railery with your own, … Well, departing from your own game plan or ethical rules of engagement is only worth considering when the stakes are so high that the benefits strongly outweigh the deficits. I can think of real wars (Cold and otherwise) where matching escalation was essential to maintain whatever balance remained in the conflict. But are the desperate, end-of-the-world cost-to-benefit ratios which informed those scenarios really present here?
Lastly, since mutual name-calling only achieves mutual mud-wallowing, there is no argumentative advantage to be gained by it. At most, invective and mockery might incense your adversary (i.e.; if they’re stupid and easily distracted). But unless you firmly believe that their rage will cause them to a ) act rashly, and that b) you will be able to decisively exploit that intemperance, it’s not a worthwhile tactic.
But let’s be honest. None of these “reasons” explain the verbal vitriol that has been fuming like Old Faithful (Old Fateful?), lo these many months. Name calling is usually just a way of venting one’s overloaded spleen. It’s a verbal smack in a childish slapping war, like the ones waged between testy siblings in the back seat during a roadtrip to some hated destination (an analogy employed to great effect by Eric Flint during one if his epic excurses on this very topic).
So that’s why my concern is with how the discourse is conducted. Yes, there are always going to be arguments and debates, some more ferocious than others. And some burn themselves out. But some go on for longer, and do far more damage, than they must. And that typically happens when a debate starts falling under the real (or perceived) rhetorical influence of radical extremists like Vox Day or Requires Hate. Because although they might sound like they are deeply invested in the debate, their involvement is motivated by other objectives.
Specifically, lots of people have been shouting loudly on either side of this issue, most of them very impassioned about protecting the enjoyment they derive from our genre. But the radical extremist has a different objective, which often betrays itself in their subtly different modus operandi. Whereas the impassioned partisans want their side to win, the extremist wants to effect change by burning the extant structures to the ground.
I worry that the state of discourse in our genre could easily play into that long term result. Not because of the differing opinions among our genre’s various partisans but because of the lack of civility, which undermines fair and clear communication. Invective and insult has greased the slide down into today’s growing midden heap of rhetorical excesses, sloppy evidence gathering, and hasty presumptions of guilt-by-association. And these cascading failures in reasonable discourse are the tinder with which radical extremists may easily fuel the conflagrations whereby our genre’s structures might consume themselves.
Arsonists Among Us
I offer you this conceptual equation as the formulae whereby cultural pyromaniacs have historically created group- (or nation-) consuming infernos:
+ incivility ->
+ dehumanization ->
+permission for violent response ->
+radicalization and extremism
This is a proven recipe for quickening passionate partisans into aggressive zealots. When advocates forsake their initial behavioral limits, they have started down a path in which their ends have begun to justify means they would not have countenanced earlier. And so they are on their way to becoming radicalized extremists.
We are familiar enough with the early warning signs of this dynamic at work, and which, cast in the taxonomies of our genre, equate to:
1) increasing numbers of SF & F readers becoming infected with the same virus of polarization now endemic in so many other parts of our culturescape;
2) name-calling, mockery, and personal invective that becomes so ubiquitous that it no longer stands out as arresting or unusual;
3) increasingly strident and absolutist rhetoric, often accompanied by a reflex to screen for “correct think vs. wrong think” semantics.
I don’t propose to have any sweeping answer for how to reverse this trend. (That would make me yet another strident advocate, wouldn’t it?). Rather, I perceive the answer to be ultimately personal: a conscience-informed attempt to balance what one intended to convey with how it was received. In short, to temper oneself without muzzling oneself.
My own answer is to keep talking amiably with people from all over the spectrum, regardless of however different (or not) our opinions may be. Consequently, lots of the folks I’ve spoken with over the last six months will not find the content of this post surprising and have expressed sympathy for larger or smaller parts of it. The list includes people such as Larry Correia, David Gerrold, Brad Torgerson, John Scalzi, Rachel Swirsky, and Eric Flint, just to name a few. And if anything strikes me as even more prevalent than the differences of opinion and perception among the dozens of people with whom I’ve chatted, it is the degree to which the “sides” do not understand each other. Which, given America’s contemporary culturescape, is not really surprising.
Specifically, there is an increasing paucity of shared experience in America. The present cultural volatility and churn, which goes well beyond the demographic reshuffling of relative measures of social power, produces a situation in which persons from different outlooks and experiences are likely to attach subtly or even significantly different meanings to many of the same words and labels.
What place does this thumbnail comparative cultural analysis have in this post about civility in rhetoric? It may not be as tangential as it seems, because these underlying cultural divides aid and abet the reflex toward Othering. When it comes to forming opinions about persons from an opposing set of experiences and values, it requires much less of a push to tip us over into negativity and dehumanization. So when “the American experience” is as howlingly different for two groups as it is for what media pundits now often refer to as the urbanite vs. fly-over dyad, frictions are primed.
So, if there are indeed significant cultural differences that are informing the underlying topography of the friction in our genre, that also explains why neither side needs to employ conspiracies or complicated plotting to achieve what might seem like a monolithic consensus. After all, each group already speaks its own language, has its own behavioral codes and cues, and its own sense what constitutes praiseworthy cultural products. It’s hardly surprising that their aesthetic preferences and values are. in so many ways. almost wholly misunderstood by each other.
Yet here’s the challenge this puts before us: when you meet a person from a different culture, you have to be more civil and you have to listen harder and more carefully, if (a big if) you want to understand and be understood. And you must also be prepared to step back enough from your own cultural values to see that many of them are not objectively correct, but conditional to the experience that gave rise to them. Then, when you turn that same dispassionate lens upon the Other, you may begin to see the world as they do through their eyes. (I think I’m starting to channel Margaret Mead.)
Unfortunately, no single act is so likely to result in one’s being ejected from one’s own group as the process I outlined above, because few things threaten group cohesion as much as questioning its self-defining narratives. Which of course include the narrative of the Evil Other. Yet somewhere between excessive and insufficient empathy, somewhere between unacceptable gradualism and insupportably rapid transformation, there is a happy medium…which will paradoxically not make anyone truly happy.
But that is in the nature of compromise and coexistence. And as long as we’re arguing over transformation, we’re still engaging worthwhile issues. Every genuine conflict that ends in something other than absolute expulsion or extermination of one side means that we have affirmed our ability to move back from the pendulum swings of vituperation, anger and rage into a modus vivendi where two parties can speak to each other and resolve (or at least reduce) the aggression and animus dominating the situation. If this were not possible, discussion and negotiation would be delusionally pointless activities. And if you already hold that grim belief, then I am sorry for having wasted your time with these words.
Some Closing Words About Words
Many people have uttered or asserted many questionable things throughout the entirety of the 2015 Hugo process. Some people have uttered or asserted some arresting ideas and personal attacks. Only a very few have routinely employed the radicalized extremist’s cant to frequently advance propositions or characterizations that are outrageous or horrific. But to the extent that our genre’s discourse tolerates the articulation of atrocity, or continues to wallow in the vitriol that greases the slide toward greater dehumanization and Othering, the social arsonists can hope for new recruits, new zealots. That’s what makes voices like those of Vox Day and Requires Hate so dangerous: their objective is to use our own worst impulses as the means to bring about the destruction of the SF&F community and many of its institutions.
I appreciate being given this space, and you having taken the time to navigate this conceptual slalom. By way of offering a quick, value-neutral take-away, the spirit of these comments were synopsized in a recent, much-shared post of mine on Facebook. It is simply a conceptual barometer whereby we may assess our discursive behaviors:
A thought for the day:
Choose your battles carefully.
If you find yourself constantly in combat, you’re not being choosy enough.
Or you’ve decided that you are actually at war. Which means that you are now committed to destruction, not discourse.
I believe that if we insist on civility (as distinct from passivity), we will hasten our climb out of this discursive tailspin and enhance our collective ability to celebrate SF & F, regardless of its source or style.
Seems to me most people opposed to this year’s puppy slates have moved on while puppy supporters are still moving through the five stages of grief. As for myself, I’m glad we have until 2016 to simply enjoy science fiction and fantasy before the words puppies and Hugos again combine to slap everyone silly.
I wrote a whole post on it, right after the awards, but what I didn’t emphasize enough was how tired I am of the notion that the “politics” of a work are not part of the quality of it. “Keep the politics out and let the work stand for itself,” as the *-Puppies / Gaters / etc. cry.
Surely I’m not the only one who genuinely *likes* to consider the political aspects of a book or story consciously, and happily includes that consideration in their assessment of the merit of a work? This is besides the simple and fairly neutral recognition that Everything Is Political, incl. the adoption of an apolitical stance. I like thinking about how a work is not only compelling as a story filled with characters, but also how it may affect other people reading it, how it may inspire certain (groups of) people who might have otherwise not been inspired by it, had the author decided to go with X instead of Y, or somesuch.
My hope is that this year’s Hugo showings are indicative that, no, I’m not the only one who likes considering these political meanings specifically as part of valuing a work. But even if not that, they are happily a clear sign that as a community we vehemently reject the jerk behavior of slating (and all the other 9 things you previously posted about), and that’s enough to make me happy with how things ended up.
It will be nice to not have to hear about the Hugo’s or anything relating to them for quite some time. And it seems likely that by this time next year many people who were very interested in this years awards will have moved on.
Can we think about the construction Puppy and Anti-Puppy? It buys into Puppy framing and many of us were defined out of Puppyhood from the get-go. It’s Puppies and people who aren’t Puppies and definitely some folks who are anti-Puppy because the Puppies piddled on all the carpets, but really technically FOR things Puppies were against. I feel like my position is less defined by being against the Puppies and more about the things I’m for.
In any case, think about if you said the world was Catholics and Anti-Catholics. Clearly, that’s not true. Lots of people don’t believe in Catholic dogma but aren’t necessarily Anti-Catholic.
I just want to say I’ve always found Chuck Gannon to be kind, thoughtful and considerate in every interaction I’ve had with and observed of him, on- and off-line.
Thanks for those thoughts. I know I was genuinely conflicted by what was going on in a lot of ways. By US standards I’m a flaming liberal, but I also honestly prefer many of the authors on the Sad Puppy slate to many who suffered from the whole debacle.
At the same time, despite my own reading preferences, I disagreed with both the reasoning behind the slates and the whole concept of a Hugo voting slate.
I agree a lot with some of Gannon’s points there. I know a number of people who have various and diverse experiences with or opinions on the Gamergate thing, and what I’ve mostly found is that the “all X are Y” language on both sides is consistently toxic and harmful. Yeah, there’s some horrible people, but “anyone who associates with this name is supporting the horrible people” is … actually pretty bad, and ends up contributing to the same essential view that it’s okay to dehumanize people as long as you dehumanize people associated with a label you dislike.
On this topic, I was once privileged to watch a pair of straight white cis dudes lecturing two trans women about how misogyny is a real problem. The impact of the tribal boundaries on discourse is pretty horrible, really.
And I’ve definitely seen some similar things here, although I think in the Hugo/Puppies case, it’s been somewhat better, in that a lot more of the people who are dismissive of the puppies are nonetheless willing to at least let individual people express differing opinions, rather than asserting that by definition anyone remotely affiliated in any way is part of a hivemind.
My thoughts on the nature of aggression and civility in this debate are well expressed by Laura Mixon:
“Bullies and abusers rely on the larger community’s desire for comity—our willingness to live and let live—to impose their will and silence dissent. In such a case, it’s incumbent on people with standing in the community to speak up against them, providing a counterweight to their destructive ideas. By speaking when she did, in my view, Irene was doing what other thought leaders in our field like N. K. Jemisin, John Scalzi, and the Nielsen Haydens have done: guarding the health and well-being of our SFF community by standing up against hate speech.”
Nicely written; on first read, I agree with everything you’ve said. I think the bottom line for me should be “we’re all in this field because we love the ferment of debating challenging topics and expanding our horizons, so let’s promote a debate in which we treat each other with politeness, even if we don’t respect each other’s tastes or positions on an issue.” I don’t always live up to that standard myself (some trolls need to have more sunlight shone on their lives), but do strive for it.
I wonder if it might be wise of the Hugo organizers to provide a forum in which each nominee is asked to provide 200 words (no more) to provide any disclaimers or other relevant statements in their own defence. This would allow people who withdrew their writing this year after being nominated by a puppy to state clearly (for example) “I am in no way associated with any slate; please read my writing and evaluate it on its own merits”. This would reduce the risk that puppies could eliminate such people from winning just by adding them to the puppy slate and alienating the anti-puppy voters. That’s the obvious way for them to game the system next year.
I don’t think it’s a perfect solution, but perhaps it’s one component thereof.
While I agree with everything you wrote otherwise, this detail is something I do not: “…ends up contributing to the same essential view”
I think it’s very much possible, common even, to say “anyone who associates with GG is supporting the horrible people within GG, but despite that, none of them deserve to be harassed in response.” Maybe most people don’t explicitly state or clarify the second half, and that is becoming something worth addressing for sure, but I don’t think that the omission means most people are invariably justifying abuse against those associators. (and if and when they are, I know I’m happy to call them out for that, because abuse/harassment is not okay no matter who the target is)
I’ve been feeling very guilty about the whole thing. I didn’t nominate, although there were several books I’d read that I’d have liked to see on the ballot. (Including Locked In.)
Then when the nominations came out, the only “Best Novel” ones I wanted to read were either books I’d already gotten from the library or books (book: the Anne Leckie) that I would probably have to get from the library anyway. (Because last year, Anne Leckie’s book was only included in the Hugo Voter Packet as an excerpt, so to vote, I had to get it from the library.)
So I didn’t become a member in order to vote, so I felt really nervous about what was going to happen, because I really am against there being slates instead of fans voting for books they have read and liked.
So next year, I’ll do better. I’ll nominate anything I’ve read and liked, and get the packet (and any library books necessary) and vote for the ones I like best. And maybe there won’t be puppies trying to trip anyone up, but if there are, it looks from the voting results this year like they won’t succeed.
Seems like a fair amount of false equivalence.
“Don’t judge books by their covers or publishers.”
My route to avoiding Baen is somewhat different:
1: I won’t read work by anyone knowingly on a slate.
2: Toni Weisskopf was knowingly on a slate.
3: Her work is her work as editor and there’s no way to tell which books at Baen she edited and which ones she did not because she declined to supply that information for the Hugo Package.
4: Also, she’s Baen’s publisher so in that sense it’s all her work.
5: Therefore I cannot read anything from Baen without breaking rule one.
It was enormously inconvenient for me because until April I was regularly buying Baen reprints of older books but oh well. There’s lots of other publishers out there who aren’t part of the War on Heinlein*, and I can read them.
* To the extent the Puppies kept the second part of the Heinlein bio off the ballot.
Also I agree with PixelFish, can we please think about not buying into Puppy framing? I can (and do) say please don’t game Hugos and ally with abusive bigots without also signing up to hate military SF or Baen or whatever else. It’s not actually a great schism. We don’t all have to choose sides.
Interesting discussion . . . then again, I look at the Hugos the same way I look at the Oscars. It’s of interest to invested individuals, but usually not in step with my own likes or dislikes.
Perhaps I will feel different if I ever get published, but I doubt it.
Well said, as usual, Chuck. We need more, and more thoughtful, talk.
Lost internet during posting, so I apologize if this is a repeat.
@Charles – Just finished reading your “comment.” I’m not sure how to respond in a meaningful fashion except to say thank you. That was incredibly thoughtful and I’ll be reading through it multiple times.
I have a hard time with a narrative that seems trying hard to be “both sides do it.” I also see the temptation to look at this from a distance and criticize personal invective as a ramp-up of hostility, but the puppy crowd’s attacks – and there’s no shortage of legitimate, unarguable ATTACKS there – on other groups entire identities is not an impersonal thing to many.
The entire puppy premise is that some sort of collusion is keeping out The Wrong Sort from a contest that judged by anyone who wants to put their $40 on the barrelhead. I think that’s irrational, but if we call it true then we have discovered this: that collusion is practiced by a group that far outnumbers them, as they couldn’t pull off their revolt by participation. The Cabal, if it exists, has a membership that exceeds their own.
I guess maybe they can pivot into now claiming they’re a persecuted minority but they can’t complain that the popularity contest, as it’s practiced by an award handed out by people who sign up to participate, doesn’t reflect actual popularity. So when we talk about this idea of keeping channels open for a coming together, exactly what are those channels supposed to be for the accused “Social Justice Warriors” who aren’t keeping them out?
It seems to me the opportunity for them to be welcomed back into the fold is the same as it has ever been: come in the door, sit down, and participate. Nobody ever tried to keep them out. They just didn’t get to be Prom King and gatekeeper even though they were sure that was their rightful role.
So looking at this, I wonder how we gatekeeper whose assumption we let in, and whose we keep out for the crime of being “too political.” For one, we have the nomenclature of “Puppy” and “Anti-Puppy.” The first label was very narrow – quite narrow indeed, as Katy English among others found out. The second was huge. It described a broad range of people, from dedicated lefties to hardcore conservatives who just thought that most of the Puppy works that made it ranged from mediocre to awful, to apolitical types who loathe nominating slates. Going with Puppy and Anti-Puppy shoehorns a huge group into a tiny label.
It would also seem to tacitly accept the narrative of the Vast SMOFish Conspiracy To Deny Larry A Hugo that animated a lot of the Sad Puppies. To be civil, must we avoid mentioning that for every Hugo winner there will be four (possibly only three) Hugo Losers? Also, does avoiding polarization mean we have to ignore that the lion’s share of the Puppy works don’t get there without Vox Day? Or that the the Puppy works that made it this time around were largely the ones that wouldn’t have had legs without the puppy slate, and not ones like M. Gannon’s which might well have made it without? These are all big things to ignore in the name of civility. Particularly the make or break nature of M. Beale’s support for the slates.
I am highly sympathetic to M. Ates points above, because it seems like here that being civil would require somewhat accepting the Puppy narrative of The Conspiracy being behind some recent Hugo wins; completely ignoring Beale as the horse the slated works rode in on; and presenting works like Three Body, Ancillary Sword, and Goblin Emperor, that got there on the merits, as equivalent to the Wisdom from My Internet et. al.; and just accepting the slander that a huge chunk of fandom don’t really do sci-fi and just vote from some prog-y checklist.
Heck, it involves tacitly accepting the Puppy narrative of Ancillary Justice and a few others only being there as some kind of affirmative action. What about the tastes of us who thought it was damn fine space opera? Or who think N. K. Jemisin is good because Dreamblood were good books? Do we have to shut up and and not address some of the core points of the Puppy platform, that these works were just aff. acc. cases, all in the name of civility?
I certainly agree in taking the high road, if only because it allows you the moral high ground and sharply illuminates the contrast with those who are not.
Having said that, with all due respect to Mr. Gannon, who clearly is trying to reach out to everyone, there is a clear starting point for this argument, which is the deliberate abuse of the Hugo nomination process to force a slate on the voting population, regardless of the reasons behind it or stated for it.
Is it appropriate to respond in kind or with equal viciousness? No. But let’s not create false equivalencies, or at least let’s focus on the core issue here: proposing a slate. After various people have experienced fusion-power-plant levels of heartburn, we now know that:
1. Hugo voters will come out in droves to vote down a slate. Period.
That’s all we really know. The rest is interpretation, reaction, confabulation, irritation, provocation, speculation, and obfuscation. Just because the slate came from one particular clique doesn’t mean a different clique’s slate wouldn’t get stomped upon equally. I would certainly join in.
So I suggest, in the spirit of civility, that we learn from this lesson and change the Hugo voting rules, so this can’t happen again, and move on. For anyone who genuinely feels the VOTERS must judge, it is really the only position one can legitimately take, even if one objects to what the voters actually chose, because that’s the risk you take with a democratic process.
I was less than moved by the idea that how one says something is more important than what one says. I am afraid that the Sad Puppies thing was inevitable just like Donald Trump is inevitable…. entropy pretty much decides things go from bad to worse. I think we have a complicated relationship with anger with a tremendous ability to forgive it when it is our best interests (US founding fathers destroying property like tea and exploiting slaves… freedom fighters… people burning buildings in a town whose economy is based on the fines of questionable racially based police actions… thugs and terrorists! Passion is untidy; there was no path that would have pleased anyone that could have been reached politely.
I did not nominate the Gannon book because I hadn’t read it or any of his works. (So many books, so little time….). Based on his post above, I will definitely make time to try his work. Just about every nomination that I made was wasted this year- pushed off the final ballot by the slates. (Many of my nominations wound up in 6th-10th place in the final count.)
I was one of those who no-awarded just about all of the Puppy slates. I did vote some of the long-form editors above no award, due to my knowledge of their work, and that they were more likely to be victims of the slating rather than slaters themselves. That being said, I was not unhappy to see that every single puppy slate on the book side was rejected. I think that slates are unethically taking advantage of the rules, and this attempt deserved to be slapped down. My side is not ‘anti-Baen’, it’s ‘anti-obnoxious jerks screwing with the system.’
Going forward, I will see how (and if) the Sad/Rabid Puppies continue to play before making decisions on my voting strategy.
@James Davis Nicoll: I believe that the Heinlein Bio would not have made the final ballot even if the Puppy slates never existed. In terms of number of nominations, it came in 11th place overall, and 6th place below the cut. If you threw out the top five (all Puppy) nominations, only those 5th through 10th would replace them. #10 Tropes vs Women: Women as Background Decoration by Anita Sarkeesian received 77 votes; William Patterson’s Heinlein bio only 62, fifteen votes behind.
Not a direct reply to Dr. Gannon’s excellent post, but since we’re talking about the Hugos in general, I’m taking this opportunity to announce my personal campaign to get Eric Flint’s blog nominated for next year’s “Best Related Work” Hugo. The series of long essays he wrote on this whole mess were sane, fair, practical, informative, and fascinating. What’s more, he did it without taking sides himself but without hiding his own opinions and without excusing what he saw as bad behavior by anyone.
And there’s also the fact that when a man says with utter sincerity “I never got a Hugo and that’s completely OK”, to give him a Hugo for that would be hilarious.
While I completely agree that we have to find ways to dialogue, and civility and de-escalation aren’t just virtues they’re necessary to keep us from descent into othering/dehumanization/hyperbolic-war etc… it does feel like this piece engages in some false-equivalence. There aren’t exactly two equal sides with equally valid perspectives to every issue. There are dozens of perspectives and overlapping allegiances and some perspectives are more credible than others. Even buying into the idea that this is about two different sides needing to set aside blame and recrimination and enter into dialogue is buying into a narrative which was false from the beginning. There never was an SJW cabal. There was no conspiracy to exclude Baen or to punish Larry Correia. There’s no secretive literary illuminati that hates so-called “blue-collar” sci-fi. Of course there are politics involved, as there are in every human endeavor, but it was the diffuse individualized politics of most art, not the party politics the Puppies injected into the process.
I had a really good conversation with Phil Sandifer who is way to Scalzi’s left and who pushed for “No Award” https://youtu.be/HE4gODOkFD4. This was the first year he voted in the Hugos. It was the closest I’ve paid attention to the awards too, and judging by the numbers that is true of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people. This isn’t a debate between two equal opposites. This is a small group of trolls accidentally causing a diverse, and much larger, coalition of other folks to temporarily cooperate to shut them down.
*5th through 10th
Civility’s great and it’s something we should practice more of in modern society. It also requires everyone to be acting in good faith. When someone or some group isn’t acting in good faith, how far should those who are go in remaining civil?
Let’s say you’re in a parking lot, about to get into your car, when a stranger walks up to you and says, “Hey, nice car.” You’re civil, of course. You say, “Thanks! It is indeed super-sweet!” The stranger looks a little agitated and says, “I’d really like to have that car.” Maybe you’re a little uncomfortable, but you’re still fumbling for the keys/fob/whatever, so you say, “I got a great deal on it from John Perry over at Huckleberry Motors. You should go see him.” The stranger’s getting pretty wild-eyed now, and says a little more forcefully, “That should have been my car.” You don’t know what the heck they’re talking about. You worked hard to pay for the car. When you don’t say anything this time, the stranger shouts at you, “I would have this car if it wasn’t for you!” You’ve stopped fumbling for your keys and now you’re trying to unlock your phone to call the police. The stranger pulls out a knife and screams at you, “Give me my car right now, you son of a bitch! It’s mine and you don’t deserve it and I want it right now!”
Are you still supposed to be civil to them? Calmly explain why you feel that your legitimate purchase of the car gives you the better claim to it, and hear why they disagree? Or have you maybe already given them all the civility they deserve?
Well-written and thoughtful, Dr. Gannon. Thanks for sharing, and thanks John for posting–My knowledge of this whole kerfuffle is limited to what shows up in my RSS feed from John’s posts. To me, it’s just been an interesting peek into someone else’s industry, much like John’s posts about publishing and so forth; this has clearly been a much more passionate topic for some others.
So to this outsider, it is interesting to hear comments out there along the lines of, “We’ve moved on, but They haven’t!” That seems paradoxical. If one is still “Othering” (as he puts it), then I don’t think one has moved on. Yes, it is entirely possible to have individuals that you can’t negotiate with (and it sounds like there’s general agreement about that one guy); but if there is a whole class of people you can’t talk to simply because they belong to the class, then the problem may be on your end.
Likewise, there is a difference between “we need to fix this process” and “we’ll make sure They can’t do this again!” It would be very easy to address B without really fixing A.
I participated extensively in the WSFS Business Meetings at Sasquan – we ran into each other briefly Saturday night, I didn’t even realise who you were, I just saw you had voting numbers I hadn’t yet seen – and have written about the two reform proposals:
Part 1, mostly about “4 and 6” but also a few other topics, and:
Part 2: E Pluribus Hugo, which discusses the solution I think actually would work.
Seriously, EPH is … it’s such elegant, simple math, and yet so effective. The best part? It doesn’t know or care about slates. It doesn’t need to be told. No judgement call, no special handling of some nominees or voters, no “this is a slate, discount it” – it winnows a slate’s nomination count down to reflect their actual voting popularity solely through numeric process. It’s like a normalisation equation for nominations. I’m really impressed by the EPH team’s work.
I haven’t been involved in any of the Hugo business, save spectating and perhaps commenting a bit, but as a consumer who both enjoys a rollicking tale of laser swords and exploding rocketships and has no problem at all with complex characters and using imaginary worlds to explore social issues, I do find Baen rather icky. This is something I arrived at not because of propaganda but on the basis of decades of reading rather a lot of F/SF, including a lot published by Baen. Eventually, as I became less callow or at least less young, I began to notice that no few Baen books were beyond slapdash in their attention to having believable or complex characters, with a consistency I didn’t identify with any other publishers. Add to this the frequent attempts in Baen books to force down the reader’s throat a particular, Conservative-inclined view on contemporary politics and the history of the Enlightenment, plus the garish house style for artwork, and I would both immediately recognize any Baen book on the shelf and automatically suspect it of being lower quality than everything else there.
Again: this is purely my own personal experience, not influenced by anyone else. And I recognize it to be obviously unfair to individual Baen authors. But whether for ideological or marketing reasons Baen really has assiduously cultivated the impression I was left with – and it’s one that disinclines me to give their authors a fair shake. So, yes, I can totally understand why someone would write “Because: Baen”.
I wrote a number of longish Puppy-related posts on FB which I’m not going back to retrieve, but I’ll try and remember part of what I said, just to get it down here. First of all, yes, the side I naturally view as mine did behave as badly as the side I view as the other, and it doesn’t matter a curse who did it first or who did it worst. We stooped, and we got just as muddy, and we need to own that if we are to be true to ourselves.
Secondly, there is a mental disjunct between the side I think of as mine and the side I think of as the other which I don’t think my side took into account at any time. Bear with me and correct me if I’m wrong on any point.
If you happen to be of a conservative or libertarian persuasion, especially as it is practised in the US, you are, as I understand it, all about personal and individual responsibility. You do what you do, the other guy does what the other guy does, and neither of you interferes with the other as long as you’re not actually violating each other’s space. What your neighbour thinks or believes is his own business; what church your buddies go to is theirs. They’re not any less your buddies if they disagree with you on religious or political matters. They’re not barred from being your neighbour if they have extreme beliefs or obnoxious philosophies. Live and let live.
In this light, the repeated calls made by some on my side for the Sad Puppies to “dissociate” themselves from the Rabid Puppies can only have seemed incomprehensible. In their minds, the only association they had with Vox Day and his supporters was that they had been involved together in a previous Hugo slate, and they were now running parallel slates. There would be no reason, in their eyes, why we should assume that their politics were the same purely on that basis. That would be like assuming that because the guy who worked next to me was a Trotskyite, I must be a Trotskyite too. Our calls to them to, as it were, police their community were always bound to fall on deaf ears, because they just don’t see it that way.
This is important for the future too, because any subsequent Puppy movement will almost certainly be likewise composed of people of widely differing political shades, and will very probably include some extremists. I’m hoping that we, who are liberal and who do believe in policing our communities, will do better at moderating our more extreme and vituperative voices, and will try to keep the conversation civil…but there is no logical reason why we should expect the other side to do the same, because to them, what anyone says is their own business and their own responsibility, and it’s not for any one of them to ride herd on all the others. And if Vox Day joins in to add his own unique brand of chaos to the mix…well, that’s just Vox being Vox, as somebody actually said this year. What are they supposed to do? Censor him?
I don’t know if a conversation of any kind is possible under those conditions. I hope I’m wrong. But if I’m not, I hope we have the sense not to let it escalate this year. There is such a thing as bad publicity, and we helped ourselves to a shedload of it by responding in kind to the Puppies. I’d much rather that didn’t happen again.
Who said to ignore Chuck Gannon’s book because its Baen? I see on file770 there are a few people who just don’t like Baen books and/or decide they don’t like Baen books because alot of conservatives post there?
Nebulas are exclusively handled by SFWA members. Did any authors or editors say to ignore Chucks book because its Baen?
I don’t get the morale stand of ‘I won’t read a book because its on a slate’. If its something you might like why deny yourself? I personally won’t VOTE for a book because its on a slate, but if it looks like something I like… why not?
Referring to this:
” Specifically, during both the Hugo and Nebula process, many blog posts, or comments thereupon, explicitly proclaimed their decision to ignore my novel for a reason expressed with admirable economy by one of their number: “Because: Baen.” “
Much to the chagrin of a few commenters above, I’m actually pushing to talk about the 2016 Hugos nice and early – but only about the works themselves. I know I’ve spammed this on a few blogs, and for that I apologize, but this can only work if plenty of people actually participate. I’m hoping to get as many fans as possible to participate in a Hugo Recommendation Season from November to February, and discuss what work they enjoyed and, most importantly, why.
It may be naive and it may fizzle from lack of interest (or more likely from a greater interest in reading recommendations than in writing them), but it would be great if we had a place where the conversation was entirely about the works themselves. Fresh start, no talk of Puppies or politics, nor terrible things that “the other side” has done, nor what is wrong with the Hugos, and so on. Just fans talking about the work.
Plus, by having a Focus Week on each category, we can give far more than just Best Novel a turn in the spotlight. Imagine a week where blogs all over the place (Sad Puppy, non-Puppy, pro, fan, anyone) talked about Best Fanzines, or Best Professional Artists, or dozens of blogs/Facebook posts all about Best Novelettes, etc. Personally, I would really enjoy that and find it extremely helpful come nominating time. But that’s only if people actually participate! :)
My proposed schedule after talking with some others is:
Nov 1 – Best Semiprozine
Nov 8 – Best Fan Writer
Nov 15 – Best Professional Artist
Nov 22 – Best Fancast
Nov 29 – Best Editor (Short Form)
Dec 6 – Best Fanzine
Dec 13 – Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
Dec 20 – Break
Dec 27 – Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Jan 3 – Best Fan Artist
Jan 10 – Best Novel
Jan 17 – Best Short Story
Jan 24 – Best Related Work
Jan 31 – Best Editor (Long Form)
Feb 7 – Best Novella
Feb 14 – Best Graphic Story
Feb 21 – Best Novelette
Feb 28 – The John W. Campbell Award
Mar 6 – Late Arrivals
and more details can be found at https://hugorecommend.wordpress.com/.
I’ve been following the whole thing since it blew up with the nominations. I agree that civility is called for, but I will not fall into the ‘both sides do it’ trap. There are things that are objectively better or worse than other things.
Having said that, I read a lot of Baen authors. Lois McMaster Bujold is a Baen author. David Weber, although he also publishes with that hive of scum and villainy, Tor. Hell, I even read John Ringo, although I dropped his “Ghost” series with a big fat ‘ewwwww’ after the first book. I confess to reading Kratman. Now THERE’S message fiction for you! I tend to laugh out loud at his screeds against tranzis, though.
TB/VD is a poor excuse for a human being. Sorry, if you let him in your tent, you take responsibility for the messes he makes on the floor. His latest effort, which apparently Amazon has taken down, just proves this whole mess is nothing more than an orchestrated attempt to continue his ten year old feud with our host and SFWA. Not sure why people keep falling for it, though.
Dr. Gannon, that was thoughtful. But long. And ultimately, unpersuasive.
I don’t see much of an analogy between making war on a hated group, and the Hugo controversy. Nor, as others have pointed out, are each “side” of this argument, equivalent. For the TL:DR crowd, the Puppies tried to hijack a supposedly unfair voting process by making the process more unfair. Opponents called the Puppies out on their bullshit, along with the racist and sexist garbage that was tagging along. It’s not that complicated.
And honestly, as a consumer of science fiction, I find an appeal to civility tiresome. I only care about the whole kerfluffle to the extent that it stops quality sci-fi from getting a nomination. I rely on the nomination process to highlight the best sci-fi.. When something like the Puppies clearly hijacks that, I get irritated. It’s selfish, but that’s my role as a potential book buyer.
Outline a clear process to stop slate hijacking in future years. That’s what I care about now. Not some sort of reconciliation that does not need to happen.
Guess: My supply of interesting new books to read and interesting old books to reread grossly outstrips my time to do so (even though reading is basically my life) so it’s very easy for a book to end up on the discard pile.
“In this light, the repeated calls made by some on my side for the Sad Puppies to “dissociate” themselves from the Rabid Puppies can only have seemed incomprehensible. In their minds, the only association they had with Vox Day and his supporters was that they had been involved together in a previous Hugo slate, and they were now running parallel slates. There would be no reason, in their eyes, why we should assume that their politics were the same purely on that basis.”
But when Beale and Torgersen are running slates in which Beale is running a great many candidates in common with Torgersen, apparently copied directly from him, so that Beale’s support necessarily IS helping many of Torgersen’s candidates win, their Hugo politics ARE the same purely on that basis. IMO, Torgersen cannot reap the political benefits of Rabid Puppy votes while claiming to be strictly apolitical about where his support is coming from.
And when Brad refuses to express any condemnation about Beale’s racist, misogynist, and et cetera statements, and attributes his refusal to his noble desire to abstain from “unpersoning” poor VD, because apparently calling someone’s statements racist, misogynist, etc. is a FAR WORSE crime in Brad’s eyes than actually saying racist et cetera things…then Torgersen WILL be suspected of soft-pedaling his criticism of Beale so as not to lose Beale’s precious Puppy votes. And his soft-pedaling stands out more because of the generosity of invective to everyone who’s NOT helping Brad with votes. And that’s on Brad.
Just a few comments.
Firstly, thanks for giving this post a serious read, no matter your final opinion on it.
Secondly, my only reference to “sides” in this matter was to illustrate the dynamics involved. If I gave the impression that I was privileging either side in this debate, or implicitly or explicitly suggesting relative “measures of responsibility, then I have either made a terrible rhetorical error somewhere, or it may reflect more about that reader’s perceptual reflexes than the post’s content. This is a PURELY functional analysis. I am not saying that measures of responsibility are not important, any more than I am making any statement quantifying or equating them. There is simply no such intent or measure in this piece. Its approach is strictly from the standpoint of, “if you have two sides (or more) in conflict, and the conflict cannot end in annihilation, expulsion, or silencing of either side, then which behaviors will create a productive discursive arena for the inevitable endgame, and which will erode it?” There is an intentional footnote about radicalized extremist participation because it is a special variable: their actions are as gasoline to a fire.
Lastly, I do not know how I could have been more explicit about indicating that I perceive no significant evidence for accusations of specially convened “Hugo conspiracies and star chambers” (unless we are talking about the radicalized extremists, but wait: they are not actually very secretive!). To underscore this, I reemphasize this passage:
“(N)either side needs to employ conspiracies or complicated plotting to achieve what might seem like a monolithic consensus.”
IOW, Ockham’s/Occam’s razor cuts AGAINST the arguments of conspiracy. However, it is contrary to my purpose to assert this in any definitive fashion, nor assess who did what covertly to whom. The issue of in-group opinion formation as trending toward blocs (which may have different levels of transparency to outsiders) is a matter I touch upon tenatively, with only the suggeston that these may merely arise from innate cultural affinities. Because that is not central to a functional analysis. I am not interested in blame or degrees thereof. That is partisanry. This post was strictly about analyzing the next steps in communication (including “none”), and what those choices entail. And how, in the case of radical influence, they may be forced upon us if we are not careful.
This is why leaders from rival nations often give their diplomatic staffs MONTHS to prepare the ground for a summit meeting–because without assessing and defining the grounds of discourse and ensuring civility, such meetings are more likely to worsen international conditions than improve them. That is the species of analysis I am trying to encourage here. I regret it very much if I have failed to clearly establish that.
I do appreciate all your comments and am perusing them with care when I have free moments. Having shared some insights of mine, now I happily look to be educated and expanded by yours.
My biggest problem with your call for civility is that I have been civil. But when I post civil comments on Brad Torgersen’s blog, I get at best called nasty names or at worst my comment is replaced by Brad’s BS idea of what he wishes I said. As was written up-thread, when somebody is stealing your car, civil discourse about the rights of ownership is a bit late.
Regarding whether or not you could have made the Hugo ballot without the Puppies – *i* nominated you because I read your Nebula-nominated book. There are some people who won’t read Baen books. They are not the typical Hugo voter, as evidenced by Bujold’s recent appearances on the ballot. Nor is Tor especially dominant – 3 of 5 best novels may be a lot but then they do release half of all SF novels published.
I’ve spent plenty of time being snarky about the puppies, but I’ve also got back into reading short SF with a vengeance, so I can nominate for next year with confidence. There’s some great SF out there for free on the sites of various magazines, such as Hugo winner Lightspeed (and if you like a story or two you could then buy the issue…), so you don’t even have to make much investment to find great stories.
SP4 is being designed for next year in such a way as to give them an advantage over ordinary voters again, and EPH can’t come into until the year after next, so I’d encourage everyone to read and nominate next year, because participation is the only way to avoid slate-dominated categories again.
@kenmarable, I just bookmarked your “Hugo Recommendation Season” blog. See you there once the season starts :) .
I think Gannon is mischaracterizing the issue a bit. At Sasquan I felt there was overwhelming consensus that the Puppies had done something terrible. There really isn’t much of a controversy outside of the heads of the handful of Puppy ‘patriots’, many of whom have already explicitly cut themselves out of capital-F Fandom.
Thanks for this opportunity, Scalzi, and for a useful guide to courteous interaction, Dr Gannon. I’m one of the many fans who ended up voting for the Hugos for the first time as a result of the kerfuffle, so the silver lining of this sad situation is the huge pleasure I have gotten from returning to more and wider SFF reading.
Echoing many commenters above, I disagree with the puppies that all who opposed either their slates or their public statements formed a unified opposing side. Several puppies, particularly Beale, loudly proclaimed a desire for “war”, but I feel no need to oblige them. Those who analyzed the Hugo votes identified 3-4 different voting patterns outside the puppies’. I was among those who read the works in the packet and voted on the merits as I saw them. This included voting No Award in several categories. I also cast no vote in categories about which I felt unqualified to make a choice.
Even without the existence of two sides, Dr Gannon rightly notes the capacity of hateful language to escalate conflict, and certainly a good deal of hateful language was used, even if the puppies seem uniquely devoted to making up nasty names for those they have chosen as their “enemies”. I believe the only way to defeat an outrage merchant is to decline their invitations to fight (the wisdom of that old joke about avoiding fighting with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it). Vitriol only serves to deepen the conflict, as Beale wishes for his profit. Nobody can change puppies’ minds for them and nobody is required to agree with them, but calm, factual interaction, as shown by, for example, George RR Martin, Eric Flint, Mike Glyer and Melinda Snodgrass, can keep communication lines open without adding fuel to the fire.
like other commenters, I also think that Dr Gannon has drawn some false equivalence, particularly in pairing Mr Beale with Requires Hate (sorry I can’t spell her name, so cannot use it). mr Beale led the more successful of the 2 slating efforts that kept many good works of the Hugo ballot and has the stated goal of harming the Hugos and SFF fandom as much as he can, as a right-winger attacking left-wingers. And he has clearly stated his intention to keep right on doing what he has done.Ms Hate’s disruption was aimed at individuals, not institutions, on her own “side”, accusing them of not being left-wing enough. While she was able to severely harm some people, and some parts of the SFF community, she was publicly condemned and unmasked by members of her “side”, actions culminating in Laura Mixon’s well deserved Hugo for her report exposing Hate’s actions. Hate then seems largely neutralized, although the struggle continues. APart from having hateful aims and methods, therefore, these people seem to differ widely in the type of harm they do, their standing in “their” parts of fandom and their potential for continued harm.
He’s saying “both sides do it” only with regard to one particular but important issue: incivility. And of course he’s right. It may be (I think it is) true that there’s a bit MORE of that on the puppy side, especially the rabids, but there was plenty on the non-puppy side as well.
That said, part of the problem is that the leadership on the puppy side seem a LOT more invested in invective than on the non-puppy “side.” Beale obviously especially, but Torgerson and Corria as well. In both cases, The former obviously won’t change; with the other twoI think there’s a kind of victim’s complex going on which makes it unlikely that either of them will change.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the non-puppy “side” should ignore calls for civility. Even if it won’t “work” in terms of leading to any kind of rapprochement, it’s the right thing to do (and IMO also the strategically correct choice),
I only contend that Vox Day and Requires Hate are both examples of radical extremists and that their discursive tactics have diagnostically-significant parallels. Again, their respective measure of impact, or the spheres in which it was felt/exercised, are beyond the scope of my comments and intent. But I am glad for the prompt to clarify that, if clarification was needed (as is perhaps the case).
It would indeed be nice for the Pups to sit down with the everybody-else ‘side’ of this conflict, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Because when one side of an issue holds a position which is not based on reality, and said side vehemently rejects any and all attempts to make their position a little more reality-compliant, how the heck is communication possible? And yes, it’s the Pups whose position is not reality-based.
Consider: One of the major Pup talking points is that real SF doesn’t do social justice stuff… and in support of this alleged thesis (if you’ll pardon my abuse of the word), lead Pup Torgersen actually cited Star Trek.
Star Trek—the TV series which gave the world such episodes as Day of the Dove, Let That Be Your Last Battleground, and City on the Edge of Forever.
And that series is an example of SF which doesn’t focus on social justice issues? Yyyyyyeah. Sure. You bet, Pups.
Consider: Torgersen literally argued that it is is a Bad Thing™ that it’s no longer possible to judge books by their covers.
Say what!?!? Since when has it ever been possible to judge books by their covers? Since when has the presence of a spaceship on a book’s cover ever been a truly reliable indicator of the content of said book?
Consider the whole Puppish song-and-dance about how some clandestine cabal has been actively preventing the Pup-friendly kind of SF from receiving awards. Hm. If that were true, where in the name of Klono’s curving carballoy claws was that cabal when the Pups were successfully working to ensure that Puppish works occupied three quarters of this year’s entire friggin’ Hugo ballot!? Puppies. Dudes. We’ve seen what an effective slating campaign can do, because you Pups have just showed us what an effective slating campaign can do.
I am willing to be civil to Pups. But when the Pups disgorge preposterous conspiracy theories which are dispelled on contact with factual information, I reserve the right to call bullshit on their transparent bullshit.
I have noticed a lot of people opining that failure to give Toni Weisskopf “the Hugo she deserves” somehow proves something.
I have to say that even if we were to ignore Baen’s publishing history of the last decade, the editorial quality that some of their published items have displayed, or the over-all tone towards modern fandom that has been publicly expressed by Weisskopf in published articles… Surely, the simple issue of gambling her firm’s good will by participating in a slate to game an award’s nomination process is in it’s self sufficient disqualification for consideration.
Brad Torgersen has in fact edited comments left on his blog by people he doesn’t like, and posted his own comments in their place. He used a rubber stamp, so it was obvious what he was doing, but that doesn’t signify anyone willing to engage in a civil conversation. So, no, both sides DON’T do it.
> “I see on file770 there are a few people who just don’t like Baen books and/or decide they don’t like Baen books because alot of conservatives post there?”
I have to say I don’t recall seeing much if any of this sentiment on file770. P. C. Hodgell, a Baen author, is so beloved by a number of file770 posters that the title of one of her books is used as a catchphrase there, Baen author Lois McMaster Bujold is someone whose works I’ve seen enthusiastically praised there by many many people, and so on.
We don’t communicate our way out of this. When EPH goes into effect, the Puppy movement loses their ability to kick the rest of fandom off the ballot. At that point, the No Awarding mostly stops, and with it, the controversy. (Puppy nominees raised eyebrows in 2014, but after what we’ve seen this year and maybe the next, nobody will bat an eye if a Vox Day can, year after year, get a bunch of gullible gamergaters to buy him a sixth-of-five finish.)
The lesson of 2015 is clear: Anything that’s capable of winning is capable of getting on the ballot without slating. So slates are, in the long term, either ineffective or unnecessary. Puppy isn’t in one’s DNA. You’re not born a Puppy. Puppy is a tactic, and when you stop employing that tactic, you stop being a Puppy. If you remain within Fandom then you’re a Fan. If you don’t then you lie outside the scope of our discussion.
Puppyism fades away. Not because The leaders of “both sides” get together and negotiate a peace, but because the tactic at the core of the dispute will rapidly become irrelevant.
>>Chuck Gannon says:
September 2, 2015 at 5:25 pm
I only contend that Vox Day and Requires Hate are both examples of radical extremists and that their discursive tactics have diagnostically-significant parallels. Again, their respective measure of impact, or the spheres in which it was felt/exercised, are beyond the scope of my comments and intent. But I am glad for the prompt to clarify that, if clarification was needed (as is perhaps the case).<<
Dr. Gannon, I very much appreciate your post. May I comment that one difference between the 'sides' is that RH has been thoroughly called out and discredited by her own 'side', and VD/TB has not. (I use 'sides' in quotes because the Venn diagram of 'Puppies' and 'Not Puppies' is a circle. Just one circle. And the circle is labeled 'Puppies'.)
If there was one post/blog/article/tweet/FB post calling out VD/TB that was even weak tea compared to what Laura Mixon did, I would accept that the Sads were unhappy with the Rabids. No such evidence exists.
I’ve written almost nothing about this year’s Hugos, in no small part because I’m not a Hugo voter and haven’t been in nearly 20 years.
I stopped voting for the Hugos for two reasons. One is that my tastes have changed over time such that the Nebula nominees are a much better recommendation than the Hugos. The other is that I won’t vote without having read most of the nominations, and that became more chore than pleasure some years ago.
When this years duology of puppies managed to kick up such a fuss, I was interested but quickly started keeping the whole thing at arm’s length. I considered buying a Sasquan supporting membership, but decided that it wasn’t worth the financial or emotional investment. Based on the voting results, that was the right decision.
We’re going to have another year of slatemanship before any new rules throw a spanner in the puppyworks. So I’m likely going to hold to my decision. There are far too many good books and good people both inside and outside of fandom to waste time on politics over an award that, except when one of my friends wins one, just doesn’t mean anything to me.
While I think it would be great to have a civil discourse I think that ignores how Sad Puppies 3 was even announced. A slate is bad enough and would’ve riled the fan community against it in general for being a bad idea, however the reasoning behind the slate was entrenched in rhetoric and insult. It flat out claimed that voters weren’t voting because they actually liked books but because the author or characters within the stories were minorities or women. Which is equally insulting to suggest those previously nominated in the last decade did not get there on merit but because of Affirmative Action. That there was a secret cabal keeping the awards from more deserving authors than the ones being voted for.
Discussion would require a complaint that could be discussed rationally, and if there are categories or rules they felt should be added or changed there’s ways to go about doing so. There’s no disproving an imaginary conspiracy. The idea that all the individual WorldCon members just decided that they would only nominate boring books that nobody enjoyed but they would just pretend to is so ridiculous that it’s not possible to take seriously, nor would it be possible to prove otherwise because it would be trying to prove a negative.
How would it be possible to civilly discuss how to resolve what the Sad Puppies problems are with the state of Sci-Fi when that’s how they announced what they stood for? Not to mention you would have to assume that they were acting in good faith when all evidence of such proves otherwise. Any time their points are questioned the person is labelled an SJW, Anti-Puppy or Puppy Kicker or whatever term of endearment they’ve decided on this week.
They’ve spent months writing constantly about the SJW boogeyman that’s holding them down, when they could’ve spent that same amount of time and work promoting, increasing awareness, reviewing and discussing the authors they feel are being unjustly ignored by current fandom. Instead of working to try and help those authors Brad Torgersen instead felt that the best way was to disrespect the fans, volunteers, prior award winners and voters of WorldCon.
You say that the discussion hasn’t been civil enough. I wonder how a discussion can be civil when a person spits and your face and then demands the respect and accord they haven’t earned.
Baen is… an interesting anthropological situation. It exists as both a publishing company, and a community centred around the “Baen’s Bar” web-forum. This community grew into a rather loud and very insular microfandom, with what would be very toxic behaviour patterns and traditions to many of us in the wider fandom. As an example discussion of “Climate Change Science” was banned from the politics forum, but discussion of “Climate Change Politics” specifically without any reference to science or technology was allowed. There’s a whole dissertation for some anthropologist with a sturdy enough constitution in the behaviours within Baen’s Bar.
On it’s own, that wouldn’t be too bad. They’d be in their own little section of the web not bothering anyone outside of it. Every so often an unsuspecting outsider might stumble in, and very quickly be shown the door when they fail to “fit in”. Possibly it could have just been a mild source of occasional PR problems…
But there seems to have been a level of “cultural capture” occurring, where Baen the Publishing Company stopped listening to the world outside of Baen the Community. Pre-existing contracts are now the only remaining trace of the 1990s Baen, with the new Baen being almost exclusively focused on catering to and recruiting from its own microfandom.
This may not be a sustainable business practice.
The contrast between Vox Day and Requires Hate is instructive. The puppy side voted to give Vox Day a Hugo. The People Who Aren’t Puppies voted to give a Hugo to the nemesis of Requires Hate.
A tiny hateful faction proudly embraces their hateful master. The broader fan community loudly rejects hateful extremists of every kind.
Anyone who wants to promote the puppy narrative that RH is the non-puppy counterpart of VD has got a tall hill to climb.
Laertes, please note my prior post. The comparison is only–ONLY–in their discursive method. Not their outcomes, not their targets, and not how any community did/did not handle them. To expand into any of those areas would depart from the strict functional boundaries of my original post.
On the whole, I’m a peaceable sort who agrees, in principle, with almost everything M. Gannon observes, about the nature of communication, Othering, the “implacable divide” game theory, etc.
But two things occur to me that jar with that measured, magisterial plea for comity:
One is the assumption that both sides pursued their aims with a similar level of passionate engagement and groupthink-fueled calculation throughout, escalating in direct response to one another.
Admittedly, I didn’t follow every blog post, story, article, etc., discussing the process. But I made an effort to educate myself and follow a fair number. And while there were some passionate extremists on each side, and some vituperative and possibly over-the-top rhetoric tossed around, and *certainly* some deliberate provocation (I’m looking at YOU, Gracious Host who can’t resist taunting the tauntable,) there is really no equivalency between those who wanted to see the Puppy goals achieved, and those who didn’t want that.
And that, right there, is a summation of what the process looked like to me: There was a group of unknown size but considerable cohesion, who were able to organized around shared goals, and attempted to meet those goals in the context of a global community, pushing that community in the direction of conformity with, or at least acquiescence to, those goals. And then there were a whole lot of people from that larger global community who responded negatively to that effort, who, in fact, resisted.
This was not two groups of equal passion, cohesion, and dedication to mutually incompatible goals.
This was a group saying “We need to change this global community according to what WE WANT,” and a great many other people from that community saying “No, don’t do that.” And those people, saying “No, don’t do that,” had a surprisingly wide range of reasons for resisting. Some of them even agreed conceptually with some of the goals, but disagreed with what the process might do to the community. Some disagreed vehemently with the goals. Some made the equation “If person X wants this, it must be bad so I don’t want it,” and some made the equation “If person Y is resisting this, I should resist it.”
So, the whole “two houses, both alike in dignity” argument fails to apply, here, in my opinion.
And secondly, there’s an element of the plea “Okay, but now in order to be fair to all sides, shouldn’t we allow exactly the same amount of airtime to spokespeople for ISIS?” in the notion that people whose grievances and goals are cloaked in virtually transparent rhetoric about “quality storytelling” but devolve clearly to the perpetuation of historical privilege.
No, sorry. I don’t want to “exterminate” any person, I want no violence, I want no “othering” of human beings. But I want, and will pursue, the total extirpation and complete conceptual othering of ideas and concepts that promote inequity.
Sometimes that makes for strange gymnastics of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” order, and I admit that road includes more than one byway to madness. Nevertheless, the road itself is towards justice and a better humanity, so it’s worth walking, to me.
In re: civil discussions:
I’m quite happy to have a civil discussion with anyone who really and truly just likes more straightforward action stuff and would like to see it get an award more often. That conversation will probably include the phrase “except this isn’t how you do it and also stop hanging out with bigots.” But I’m willing to have the conversation.
This lets out Torgersen, Hoyt, Correia, all the RPs, and basically anyone who’s used the acronym “SJW” as an insult, or complained about the Godawful PCness of having major characters of color, non-hetero sexualities, etc.
I’ve no interest whatsoever in communication with people who think my friends and I aren’t fully human, with the associated rights. I don’t sit down and have a long talk with my hypothetical Racist Uncle Earl–I smile and exchange two sentences about sports at Thanksgiving and I avoid him the rest of the time.
Coming late to the conversation, I very much appreciate the general tone, and that everyone is not only being civil, but making salient points and supporting them well. Thank you to all, and to Mr. Scalzi for providing the forum. I will state my own bias up front: I very much agree with Solarbird, strongly support the E Pluribus Hugo, and hope to see it pass in Kansas City. Now, what can I add?
From my perspective, sometimes the middle ground is either imaginary or an area filled with land mines. I do absolutely acknowledge everyone’s right to vote in the Hugos, and I like that the EPH preserves that while making adjustments for tampering, and that (I hear) there’s an expiration on it in case it isn’t working out. However, I think an attempt by one group, for any reason, to unfairly manipulate the awards, is deplorable. I can look through the past awards and find works I’ve loved, works I couldn’t stand, books that should have won but didn’t (Cat’s Cradle), and this is not a unique experience. However, the thing to do when your favorite authors don’t win is most certainly not what either of the puppy groups did, and the backlash is something that was, in my opinion, neither unexpected nor inappropriate. My hope is that the EPH will find that middle ground and accommodate all voters, either resolving or avoiding the kind of conflict we had this year. I like the EPH because it is a compromise I can live with, something I would not have thought possible a few weeks ago. If only our government were controlled by SMOF geeks from fandom, perhaps conflicts would not be so pronounced.
I do appreciate all the people on both sides who purchased supporting memberships to vote. The cuisine in the Sasquan con suite was wonderful this year. Thank you, all of you.
Finally, a message as to why all fans who read and care about current science fiction should buy a supporting membership in Worldcon: In the Hugo Packet, you get all kinds of great reading, which would probably cost way more than $40 if you went to buy all the books. It is a bargain. Next, you get to vote and your voice is heard. If you decide to attend Worldcon (I recommend it), the money applies to your attending membership. You get a Worldcon program book, which is usually quite nice and filled with good things to read. Finally, you have an opportunity to vote on site selection, which can be instrumental in bringing a Worldcon to a place you want to travel to.
Dr Gannon – Thank you, the essay was interesting. I have one quibble and one question on it.
First, I feel that ‘everybody else’ is a more accurate description than ‘Anti Puppies’. We aren’t a side, we don’t have leaders or a coherent movement. While there probably are people out there somewhere who would qualify as Antis, the rest of us are only united by the facts that we are against slating and that Brad declared us enemies of all that is right and good.
The question is- what kind of negotiation can there be? What does everybody else have that we could make concessions on? We can’t stop imaginary SJW conspiracies, because they already don’t exist. We can’t stop people pointing out when a Puppy leader says something silly or offensive because we have absolutely zero movement discipline (from not being a movement). What would our compromise look like?
PS – I enjoyed Trial By Fire, thank you!
I had several thoughts after the Hugo awards (in no particular order)
1) There are those (Vox Day being the prime example) that had two distinct goals: get the books they like to win, and make sure that the books (and authors and publishers) they don’t like don’t win. Given this starting place, either case is a win condition. No wonder Day feels like he won. He’d already pretty much achieved one of his goals once the nominations came out.
2) The night of the Hugo ceremony, I felt bad for the authors that learned how close they came to the nomination cut-off only to be pushed out by the Puppy nominees. Then I read about the Alfies and realized that GRRM had the same thought, and actually did something about it. Good man.
3) I was somewhat happy to see No Award in the fiction categories (novella, in particular) not because the nominees were Puppy picks, but because I felt that the nominees just weren’t very good. There was one of the novellas that I spent nearly a week trying to read, never being able to stay awake for more than 3-4 paragraphs at a time. It took me that long to remember that I read for fun, and if the story is that much work for me, I have better things to do with my time.
Dr Gannon, thank you for your post. I think you make some very important points about how communication will (eventually) need to proceed, if it is to do so at all. It is a helpful reminder that sometimes hurts have to be let go of, if one is to move forward at all. I do have one question though (and I do mean this as a question, not as snark or a gotcha).
By posting here, you can be reasonably assured of reaching a significant number of people who are not part of any Puppy faction. However, this very venue makes it unlikely that Puppy partisans will participate in conversation here. I wonder if you will be offering this comment to any of the major Puppy leaders to run as is. I, for one, would love to see it on the site of either of the leaders for next year (one of whom calls anyone who disagrees with her a Marxist, the other whose response to the No Awards was to call anyone who voted that way a Nazi).
My reasons for how I voted, in more or less chronological order:
1. The mistaken concept that Worldcon owes Larry and Brad Hugos.
2. The mistaken concept that good fiction wasn’t on the ballot.
3. The telling me that I don’t actually like things I read and vote for, but only vote in some lockstep imaginary conspiracy.
4. SJW as an insult (Bwuh?)
5. RSHD and all his craven underlings (incl. GG) for their completely evil weltschmerz.
6. SLATING IS BAD.
7. None of the slated works were up to Hugo quality; several were unreadable.
(7a. Neither were some of the unslated ones, although I could at least read them.)
End result: my votes largely matched the winners.
I also liked the Alfies, both in idea and execution. Yay, GRRM.
The ceremony itself was entertaining, which awards shows often aren’t.
Let us please pass EPH so we only have to do this once more. And Geoff Hart’s idea of having nominees put some sort of statement (perhaps prepended to their packet material?) is good.
Dr. Gannon, thanks for your beautifully calm essay. U rite gud. :)
Thank you for your very kind words and very thoughtful question.But I will try to reply to your quibble first.
The difficulty with writing posts like these is that there is no way to concretely define all terms without it becoming more of a crucifixion to read than to write. This post started with a lot of that, including references to Gramsci, Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature, and the hegemonic dynamic as illustrated by the contention between the forces he/they label the residual and the emergent. You will no doubt appreciate that I spared all of us this torture. ;)
However, the serious point beneath this is that I used the “Puppy/Anti-Puppy” formulation simply to make clear the polarities of opinion and action. I could have used Progressive/Anti-Progressive. I could have used Right vs. Left. All would have some accuracy, but all would suffer some insufficiency. I chose Puppy / Anti Puppy because those are the terms (the “taxonomy of our genre” as I mentioned elsewhere) which were the most familiar lexical handles for the polarities involved.
I do not employ “Anti-Puppies” to designate “all people other than Puppies,” because there are many persons who feel no strong affiliation with either position but feel some sympathy for both (although again, not necessarily in equal measure). Such persons regularly post on my FB page (and elsewhere) and are part of our field, while not necessarily frequent participants in the Hugo debates or the other related issues that they invoke. So “everybody else,” while possibly adequately describing the Hugo voting population, did not strike me as an accurate way to describe the totality of our genre, which is where my concern really lies. My post was not about saving or slaying the Hugos; that would be partisanry. Creating a reasonable arena for agreeing, parting, fusing, dividing our field along various lines of affinity or difference are all possibilities. But I am not addressing any of them. It is not that they do not interest me; I simply feel that process is important too, and that it receives insufficient consideration. Again, there is no quantity implied here. I am not saying “it should receive equal attention!” Actually, I don’t think that at all. But it receives *some* attention and I am trying to serve in that role.
To answer your other question–about negotiations–I fear that this is another “missing glossary” moment. In the same way that I use the word “political” in the Revised Dialectic context of Gramsci/Williams (i.e.; anything that relates to projectable force within a hegemonic structure), I use the word negotiate in a similarly broad manner. Negotiation need not, in that context, refer to specific parties sitting down and hashing out a specific agreement. Groups and cultural centers of gravity may be said to “negotiate a modus vivendi” over years or decades. I mean it more (but not exclusively) in this context.
And thank you for your kind words about Trial By Fire.
I’m going to add a reminder here, written not quite seven decades ago by a man who was an assassination target of the Soviet forces during the Spanish Civil War because he was too leftist for the communists (and I mention this because he’s so often appropriated as a symbol of political rightists — as distinct from the American vision of “conservatives”). Both the various canid and anticanid factions should consider and actually think about this (and if they don’t buy in, come up with a valid explanation for why and how that suffices as more than mere politics in itself):
“Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are: [….]
“(iv) Political purpose.— Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”
George Orwell (Eric Blair), “Why I Write” (1946) (emphasis added) (and it’s worth looking up, and actually reading and thinking about, the rest of the reasons, indeed the rest of the essay).
And the less said about the failure to distinguish among “political”, “partisan”, and “ideological,” the better. I’d claim that this brings shame and disgrace upon the various combatants that will last generations, but I would have said the same thing about 1984 itself.* Now, if we could just evolve the argument “don’t judge a book by its cover or publisher” to consider speculative fiction published by non-overtly-speculative-fiction-focused publishers like, say, Secker & Warburg (the original publisher of Orwell’s 1984)… ok, not going to happen under the current system or its de facto leadership, but I can sit in a one-reader circle and sing “Kumbaya” off-key in the corner, can’t I?
* OK, I did, but the dissertation never got finished.
One thought here:
I’m very much on board with Dr. Gannon’s call for civility in discourse, in both the Hugo-discussing circles and in wider public frameworks. But I think one point is being overlooked in the ensuing discussion, or at least under-emphasized:
Civility in speech does not and should not preclude thoughtful and appropriate action, whether in enacting change on a structural level or in altering personal behavior.
In the Hugo context, I think this is best expressed by the development and first-stage passage of the E Pluribus Hugo proposal; I read a good deal — though not all — of the message traffic over at Making Light in which that proposal was conceived and refined, and was mostly very impressed by the quality and character of the discussion. What should be noted, though, is that those discussions were explicitly identified and curated in the context of a policy-making process — and as such, occupy a slightly different context than (for example) more general commentaries such as Our Host has made on matters Hugo-centric over the past months. Likewise, the moderation and facilitation of civil speech during the live Hugo Business Meeting has a different context and calls for somewhat different technique than moderating a discussion of Hugo Award history and bias (perceived or actual) in a traditional panel elsewhere at the con.
(Side observation: one reason we are having so much trouble with political rhetoric nowadays is that we’ve managed to demonize the very concept of politics as a profession, with the trickle-down result that I think it’s become very, very hard to find quality training in the skills one needs to be an able legislator, statesman, or civic leader. But that’s a digression….)
I prefer Anti-Slate to Anti-Puppy, if you want a term that excludes unaffiliated neutrals.
Lyle, as I said earlier, many people who hold many differing attitudes on the debates I referenced are aware of, and would not be surprised by, any of my commentary. I suspect that they, too, might very well succumb to the impulse to read in partisanry where I try very hard and very explicitly to state that none exists.
I may very well share this post elsewhere. But the last thing I am going to do tag in persons to create yet another firestorming crucible to increase the temperatures of discord. I presented it here because it was stimulated by John’s kind mention of my not-quite-Hugo-nominated novel. I am not about to “tag in” anyone else because I think social media enables too much dog-piling, too much thread hijacking. And similarly, when I post elsewhere, I will hope that that readership also manages to consider it in the privacy and discursive autonomy of their own discursive space.
I respect the boundaries of such spaces. I try to be a good and considerate guest wherever I go. That is what I am trying to do here. That is what I will do subsequently. If those sequential presentations create any change in the overall climate, I will be delighted. If they do not, I will not be surprised. But I did not write my post and bring it here (or anywhere else, subsequently) because I expect or crave any given outcome: I do it because I think it’s the right thing to do.
If others deem it quixotic, as well, I can understand their reaction. Hell: they may well be right. But we learn that by trying, not by turning away without acting.
Thanks for a very pertinent question, Lyle.
John C. Bunnell: hear, hear! And that is why my post has the subtitle that it does. Civility that stifles strong opinion and the resolve to act upon it is akin to chloroform. I promote civility to clear the field for action besides derogation. What that action is and how it is to be effected are beyond the scope of what I write here.
It is understandable that many people chafe at the divide I have tried to impose upon my comments: that I am studiously avoiding any consideration of justification, validation, or respective measures of responsibility. But sometimes you best see systems when they are made discrete from the larger framework in which they operate. There are inherent limits to such perspectives; any whole broken into parts means that the total understanding is still greater than the sum of those parts. But to avoid any separate analysis at all is a reductio ad absurdum constraint upon inquiry. Like everything else, we must temper specialization and generalization, to use separate precision views to achieve a totalized parallax measurement to inform a whole-system analysis that, inevitably, is the culmination of the investigation.
So I am not suggesting comity as opium, but the pathway to clear, cool, logical action.
I wonder what Dr. Gannon expects of me, exactly.
Not to call the Puppies by made-up names or acronyms intended to smear them? To avoid whatever the nonPuppy equivalents of CHORF, SJW, Puppy-Kicker and certain more personally directed smears might be? (By the way, what *are* they? The closest I’ve seen is “fan-kicker” which is an obvious attempt to turn the completely undeserved term “puppy-kicker” back on its source. Did you have anything else in mind?)
I am willing to give up the term “fan-kicker” (which to tell you the truth I gave up earlier in response to someone who pointed out that making up ugly names for the other side is a Puppy trick and did I really want to do the same thing, so it costs me nothing to promise you this. In exchange, could you go get the Puppy leaders to quit calling the rest of us those made-up names or acronyms? Also if you could get them to quit calling us Nazis, that would be nice too. Oh, and quit calling us Marxists, Leninists and Stalinists, please? And quit claiming we want to load them into boxcars and send them to Siberia and they’ll try to write again tomorrow if their fingers aren’t too swollen?
Is there anything else you would like?
Because if you want me to go farther; if you mean “stop pointing out where their narratives depart from reality without a backward glance” I don’t see how I can do that and be 1) honest and 2) not the Puppies’ doormat.
So I hope this contribution to civility on my part will be sufficient, and if you can get even just one Puppy–Sarah Hoyt to choose a non-random example–to do the same I will consider it an excellent bargain.
But if you can’t, I’m not sure where we can go from here.
My mistake: civility, not comity.
Cat, I specifically stated that this is a matter of personal conscience. It applies to different persons to different degrees, and I am certainly not the arbiter of that. Again, this is systems analysis, to be employed or not as its readers see fit. I am not exhorting you or anyone to any specific path.And my presence here is not because I am trying to convince John Scalzi’s regular readers to consider my words to the exclusion of other potential audiences. I am here because he mentioned me, we spoke, and I posted. The post may go elsewhere if other potential hosts want it to.
It was not imposed here; I will not attempt to impose it elsewhere and it will be presented as you see it here. It will not be altered. If any of that raises your ire, I am at a loss to understand why, but I’m sorry that it does.
The one thing I *will* resist is having it turned into tag-in click bait.
Now I’m *very* confused. Chuck, if I read your reply to Lyle correctly, you are making this appeal for civility ONLY to the nonPuppies?
May I ask why?
What that action is and how it is to be effected are beyond the scope of what I write here.
Except that you did in fact make some very specific prescriptions. For example, you state that “any resolution to a conflict (short of unilateral annihilation) cannot be achieved through strident advocacy for or by any one side”, and that one “cannot be primarily committed to facilitating equable and balanced communication and be a partisan leader”.* This is prescriptive: you are telling people that if they want a solution other than Flawless Victory, they must not be strident advocates of, or for, any ‘one side’, and must not be ‘partisan leaders’. I don’t understand why, having advocated specific conduct, you are now claiming to have made a purely just-the-facts you-guys-figure-it-out-from-here informational post.
The problem with advocating civility, as you frame it, is that you are indulging in the fiction that civility is something that one stakeholder can impose on all other participants. And it is unconvincing when it’s pretty evident that not all stakeholders have any interest in civility or meaningful dialogue.
Additionally, as a communications expert, I am sure you are familiar with the Golden Mean rhetorical tactic; it does the gravity and credibility of your argument no favors to indulge in in by portraying yourself as so ‘eclectic’ as to be above the partisanship clustering of those whom you seek to enlighten.
*something that would be astonishing news to those in the business of advocacy and social change, I am sure. We have national and state holidays named after “strident advocates” and “partisan leaders”.
I’m sorry I come across as ire-full. When the subject comes up I cannot help but remember the things the Puppies have said and that does make me angry.
Perhaps I have misunderstood. Are you in fact just asking for an end to slurs? I have already given up calling Puppies names other than Puppy, simply for my own honor, so I guess we’re good there.
And perhaps I misunderstood a second time and Whatever is not low-hanging fruit but simply a target of opportunity for you and you’ll be making similar appeals at Puppy blogs as they become available and in that case more power to you absolutely I wish you the best. If you can get them to adopt civility that would help enormously.
Cat, this post is for/to all who are involved in the heated discourse in our genre. I am really not sure where I gave you the impression that it was only presented to non-Puppies. It is here because it evolved out of discussion with John about his kind mention of my novel. It may go elsewhere. I am not crusading with it, although I feel strongly about it and would of course welcome many seeing it. But I will proceed one venue at a time, and give each gatekeeper the go/no-go authority. I will not “spring” it on anyone, or their thread. That’s all I’m getting at.
I would like to thank Baen for publishing Catherine Asaro, Lois McMaster Bujold, and many other authors whose works I enjoy. If I chose not to read Baen Books I would be missing some great SF.
Picking up on what was said earlier about Baen’s Bar:
It seems to me, having dipped as a reader into discussions in that corner of the blogosphere over the years, that the prior situation is somewhat revealing: for years the posters and commenters there and on related blogs have been in a declared state of near-war with the rest of the SFF world, not necessarily more civil than Brad has been though possibly minus the made-up initialisms. However, the rest of the SF world largely ignored them. (That’s not the same thing as ignoring the published authors: reactions to published works by Ringo and Kratman have been critical ever since at least 2005 (Oh John Ringo No) and 2007 (Watch on Rhine). But nobody was paying much attention to what that group of fans were saying.)
This changed because they found a way of forcing their preferences on the rest of us, and defended it with rhetoric which, nurtured in that walled garden, came out of another world.
I’m not sure that a new equilibrium will be created by opening up lines of communication (some of which have always existed – Flint as as very leftist Baen writer has always occupied a middle spot, and fen on the Bujold list, in the days when I was active on it, came from different camps but we’re by and large civil enough). I suspect that what will happen is that, between EPH and declining enthusiasm for assaults which will capture only No Award, the impact of the puppysphere on the rest of fandom will drop once again below the critical level where they will once again be ignorable.
Of course, if a really good space opera writer or two emerge who can get respect from both sides it may provide new common ground. I enjoyed Gannon’s first novel, and if a couple more authors like him and Leckie emerge (and the Puppies get over their problems with personal pronouns) that may lead to some level of rapprochement.
As a quick note to folks: I’m likely to close this thread when I head to sleep later in the evening (probably between 10 and 11 eastern). It’ll be back up in the morning.
“cool, logical action.”
Problem is, the Puppies aren’t logical. One look at their talking points proves that.
Chuck–what gave me the impression that your post was directed at nonPuppies is simply that the only place I have seen it is here–in the blog of a reasonably major nonPuppy. The “rhetoric of audience” if you will.
Once I see it in Puppy blogs–Monster Hunter Nation, or Brad Torgersen’s Blog or Mad Genius Club or Sarah Hoyt’s blog or Kate Paulk’s blog or JCW’s blog–that wrong impression will speedily be corrected.
Or for that matter if you come back to say that you asked them to post it and they refused you; I’d be quite willing to take your word on the matter (and also quite unsurprised.)
Chuck Gannon: “I used the ‘Puppy/Anti-Puppy’ formulation simply to make clear the polarities of opinion and action.”
That presupposes polarities in a situation that was more complex, as I think a number of commenters in this thread have tried to show. If you believe that “increasing numbers of SF & F readers [are] becoming infected with the same virus of polarization now endemic in so many other parts of our culturescape,” it might behoove you not to further that trend by promoting a construct that is based on the idea of such a polarity.
Civility is a state which cannot be imposed on another but only on oneself. At the worldcon in San Antonio, I met several writers who embodied that quality: John Scalzi, David Brin, and Lois McMaster Bujold (Tor, Tor, Baen). Also Kathy Mar was very sweet to my wife. And those were the “names” in the field. There were so many others who were just as kind for no other reason than that is the best way to be. I don’t want to think this was an anomaly but the way we are. Can we make it so?
This was the first year I voted on the Hugos. I’ve attended exactly three cons in my entire life, two in Halifax some 30-odd years ago, and one in Toronto about 15 years ago. I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for almost 55 years, though, so I think that makes me a fan by some definitions at least.
And though many things about the Puppies’ words and actions bothered me greatly, what I found most disturbing is the accusation that non-Puppies don’t actually read enjoy – or even read – the books they nominate.
When I was very young, and one could still actually read all the sff books that were published in any given year in which one was interested, I read almost everything I could get my hands on, present and past. I read, and enjoyed, Heinlein and Sturgeon, Asimov and Delany, Clarke and Brackett, Cordwainer Smith and E. E. Smith – I’m sure you get the picture.
As the years have gone by, my tastes in reading have grown and diversified. I still enjoy the things I used to, but I enjoy some kinds of things more now than I did then. Although I have to add that even back in those days, there was diversity and there was message and there were books with political and social and philosophical complexities. And I suppose it was a foreshadowing of the kind of reader I would become that some of the books that touched me most deeply in those early years were Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Haden Elgin’s At the Seventh Level and Delany’s Babel-17.
The field of speculative fiction has changed, and grown, found new stories to tell and new viewpoints to tell them from. And now there are far too many books published each year for me to read even a fraction of the ones that interest me. And life is too short to spend time reading books I have no interest in at all (though I made an exception to read every Hugo-nominated work once I decided that I would vote this time).
And it seems that the books I’m reading, the books
I choose because life is very short and I want to read what will give me the most enjoyment for the time I invest, are often the books that the Puppies say are only winning awards because they allow me to check off boxes on some kind of diversity certification form. Because no one could possibly actually enjoy these books.
And that baffles me. Why would I waste my time reading books I don’t enjoy? I’m many years out of the reach of educational institutions that could require me to do so if I wanted to acquire my degree. Even worse, why would I say I have read and enjoyed books (as I regularly do on my book journal) if I haven’t?
It’s one thing to say that some books one likes are not getting the awards one thinks they deserve. There are many possible reasons for that, including the possibility that the books one likes are not as universally well-regarded as one would wish. It’s quite another thing to say that no one really reads or likes the books that are getting the awards, that everyone saying they enjoyed them are lying.
Thank you, Gracious Host, for providing the space and opportunity for me to say this where others will see it.
Comments closing for the night. See you in the morning!
Update: Comments back on.
Erm- that’s everyone, right?
The Puppy Logic goes like this:
1) I don’t enjoy *that* sort of book;
2) I am *clearly* the finest flower of my race, so I’m right about everything;
3) Therefore, anyone who disagrees with me has a Sekrit Agenda – which obviously includes the destruction of All I Hold Dear.
Dr. Gannon, I think I put my previous comment inside-out, as it were, and jumped to the specific problems before addressing the context. I completely agree with you that there isn’t some cabal. I completely agree that polarization can poison discourse.
What I wonder about any plea for civility is simply what if some assumptions are baked into the cake, as it were, for one side or another, and cannot be questioned? If the other part of the conversation questions these assumptions, than the accusations of uncivilly fly, and the the side asking the questions feels that civility is being used as a shield.
This was my, and a lot of other peoples, experience discussing the Hugos with even the most civilized of Sad Puppies. If the “everyone does it line” was met with “there isn’t a scintilla of evidence for any grand conspiracy”, we were uncivil. Others have addressed how naming the critical nature of Vox Day’s support was also viewed as a sign you didn’t want a “real conversation.” The very assumption that the Puppies were the only ones who cared about story or quality also was a bit of roadblock to a civil discussion, for the obvious reasons.
And when presenting your defense of how no, there really isn’t a conspiracy or we all do read sci-fi is taken as a personal attack, that scotchs the civility too. Looking at the voting totals, I’m tempted to just sit back, encourage people to vote in this years numbers, and let the numbers tell until EPH kicks. The people behind the Puppies seems quite amenable to the reasoning of success as the only thing, any complaining about that marking one as a whining loser – I will civilly assume that they will respect this when EPH provides an slatable list of works with female and queer characters!
Sidenote, I’m also unsure that a lot of the Because: Baen is intentional. I just feel that I aged out of big guns vs. the others, or heroic manly men shooting up the vile villainous poors in a soccer stadium more than a decade ago. That’s a fair sized chuck of Baens catalog, whether you describe it the way I just did or as the “the good old stuff”; my tastes mean that I’m not going to be buying a lot of their material.
I thought about this discussion for a long time last night because it bothered me that, for all the words typed, there seems to be little in the way of communication occurring. That’s a shame because I think everyone is making the points they’re making with the best of intentions, but we seem to be talking past each other in a lot of cases.
Here’s the problem as I see it: Dr. Gannon’s original post takes an academic approach to conflict resolution by addressing a single factor, civility, and isolating it from all other factors. And his advice is excellent, in that context. The problem that I think many posters (myself included) struggle with is that his advice is presented as a suggestion for improving the current state of discourse within SFF, particularly in relation to the Hugo situation. In practical application, it’s just not possible to isolate something like tone from all other context. Speaking only for myself, though I think others may agree, I would genuinely like more practical advice for how, when, and if to apply Dr. Gannon’s suggestions to the real world situation. But when those questions are presented, Dr. Gannon returns to the academic – discussing civility only, all “partisan” concerns aside, etc. That makes it impossible to apply his post to its stated purpose of improving communication within SFF. In technological terms, it’s science, and we’re looking for some engineering.
I hope it’s clear that none of this is intended as a criticism. This is just where I see the intended communication breaking down here. I also realize, though, that so far we’re all framing our questions in the context of “our side” of this situation, whether that’s an accurate and fair interpretation or not. We’ve asked Dr. Gannon to address our concerns on our terms, which he’s not comfortable doing. I think, in the real world, that involves a good bit of false equivalence. But to take something useful away from all this, maybe we have to drop the specific context and ask the question in an academic way.
So, Dr. Gannon, let me pose the question to you this way: If one group in a conflict believes another group is not attempting to communicate in good faith, how can they apply your advice on civility? Do you believe, or does your research or experience show, that “unilateral civility” by one party can bring a previously irrational party “to the table” for constructive communication?
I read endlessly (essentially no TV, radio, movies, games, sports, music, etc.) but before I read, I prune ruthlessly. Life’s too short.
Among my pettier reasons to not read a book (no e-books for me) is whether the physical object fits nicely with its mates on my shelving. I have a dozen custom-made mass market paperback bookcases, for example, and 99% of all authors that start there have to stay there. This isn’t some OCD mania, just I don’t have the time or space to make it work otherwise. I’ve given up on Kim Stanley Robinson, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and Michael ConnelIy. (I cheated with Redshirts: it was a gift for a Trekkie friend. I’d buy, keep, and probably reread an MMP edition.)
If you support the wrong cause, even implicitly, I won’t buy nor read your work. I won’t knowingly touch Writers of the Future authors. I gave up on Baen Books years ago. Puppygate is just one more black mark, and any author who willingly rode that fiasco of raving immaturity (to use the most civil description possible) is permanently off my list.
By your remarks above, I’d say you qualify for that list also. As others have explained here so well, this hasn’t been a communications problem, or even a civility problem. You certainly have professional reasons for thinking so in private, and professional reasons to maintain peace with everybody in public. I don’t. I simply don’t have enough time to read everybody, and for every author who voluntarily walks onto one of my blacklists, there’s a dozen others who can take his place.
As I grow older, I have come to believe that civility is useless when the “other side” is racist and misogynist. Yoisthisracist is right. They can be told to shut up and I can peace out. Nobody needs to engage or “educate”– it’s just a waste of time.
And so what if the tone police come out if “SJW” don’t respond to every unreasonable argument, every attempt to put women and minorities in their place, with apologetic reasoned words. Screw tone police and their belief that only the side that is the one receiving the aggressions needs to moderate its language. It is very easy to be civil when you’re talking from privilege.
I, too, look forward to seeing Vox Day’s response when Dr. Gammon tries to convince him to be civil. With popcorn.
(Also agree with the above that there’s not really “both sides”– there’s two groups with slates and there’s everybody else, which is full of heterogeneity.)
I’ll reiterate here what I said elseblog: anyone who wants to put together a list of really great action-oriented/military/etc sf is totally welcome to, and may well find a willing audience in me. I’m not a hard-sf person, but with the right kind of magical wooginess, I really like Valiant Military Against Horrible Xenomorphs, or Heroic Engineer Saves the Day, or whatever.
But: when there are no major women, PoC, or LGBTA characters in the books, when those who do appear are basically unflattering stereotypes*, or when the story gets interrupted by messages about how awful multiple sexual partners/affirmative action/gun control/etc is, I’m putting the book down. Life is short; fuck that noise. And if you make a big scene on blogs about how you don’t want basic human rights for a subset of the population or want to punch elderly men for deciding to die with dignity, I’m never buying your stuff, just like I have no intention of seeing the new Woody Allen movie. I don’t want to knowingly give money to vile people.
(Also: d’oh, Writers of the Future! I’ll make an exception for those myself, because I remember being a teenager going “hey, contest for unpublished authors, yay!” and knowing nothing about Hubbard/Scientology/etc until like ten years down the road. Likewise, I don’t know that I’d rule out Baen, as I like Bujold and others–but then, I read ebooks, or get books from the library, which means I have a little more space to work with.)
* And everyone makes mistakes, I’m sure I do, etc–but when, for example, the book starts out casually pairing “woman who doesn’t want kids” with some variety of petty evil/heartlessness, I’m pretty much done.
Well said, Chuck. Thank you for a valuable reminder.
Josh — I have seen “unilateral civility” on one side eventually bring about constructive communication. Being patient and willing to keep express kindness and politeness in the face of hostility and rudeness is one of the most powerful acts someone can do, in my opinion. Does it always work? No, but it is more than worth the effort, if only because it keeps oneself from descending into vituperation and anger oneself. That seems like a win no matter what the rest of the results are.
(and that should have been willing to keep expressing, sorry.)
@Cat Rambo: It is not more than worth the effort when that effort is a waste of time, and especially when the uncivil deliberately use one’s own desire to be civil as a time-wasting diversionary tactic. And it’s especially not worth the effort when the goalposts for what constitutes ‘civility’ and ‘effective discourse’ get constantly moved to make sure that instead of substantive discussions, the conversation is derailed.
Also known as, how much time energy do we need to waste on saying “yes, of course everybody agrees that death threats are terrible” over and over again? (As much as it takes to avoid talking about the elephant in the room, it would seem.)
I am perfectly willing to embrace the label “anti-puppy” because the “puppies” have defined themselves by their actions as people intent on gaming a system for their own personal benefit to the detriment of everyone else. Oh, sure, they say all sorts of things about fighting evil cabals and fighting sjw’s and fighting the left wing illuminati, but the problem is those words don’t match reality (there is no cabal, SJW, or illuminati) nor do their words match their actions.
I am also perfectly willing to embrace the label “anti-shitting-in-other-people’s-punchbowl”. Because shitting in someone’s punchbowl is just bad.
And no, I don’t think calling myself “anti-puppy” is submitting myself to the framing of the “puppies” any more than I think calling myself “anti-shitting-in-puchbowls” is somehow letting myself be framed by the “shit-in-peoples-punchbowls” frame.
the only framing that seems to be in question is whether we define the puppies by their actions or by their own “we are the good guys and everyone else is evil” first grade propaganda. Because by their actions, the puppies are nothing more than lets-shit-in-the-punchbowl knuckleheads. And all their propaganda is based on easily disproven lies.
So, yeah, I’m anti-puppy. So glad they got the newspaper to the nose smackdown they deserved. And I can only hope that the nomination process can be fixed so that this kind of stupid puppy nonsense can’t so easily happen again. The only reason the pups were able to do so much damage is because the current rules assumed good faith and the pups showed nothing but bad faith. So, fix the nomination process and hopefully that will be the end of this nonsense.
Josh Cochran – You ask two very interesting questions. I think you hit upon the crux of the problem I had with Dr. Gannon’s piece.
It’s got some great abstract thoughts that don’t work in the Hugo context. And, as mythago pointed out, it IS prescriptive while attempting to be a statement of observations.
Unilateral civility may be a necessary condition for constructive communication, but it is not sufficient.
In my experience, what tends to bring another party to the table is a shared emotional experience. It could be a “Eureka” moment in couples therapy. It could be sharing a beer and stories with another person that you didn’t think you liked. It could be realizing what you want and what you are willing to give up during a structured mediation.
However it happens, one thing is true. People don’t usually relate to others in the abstract.
I’m not sure what types of emotional experiences Puppies would be interested in sharing with others. And I’m not sure why others would want to put themselves in a place to share and be vulnerable, if it has been shown that their perspective will be demeaned.
Todd – your comment about couple’s therapy got me thinking about another view point on all this. Everyone seems to agree that civility by itself isn’t enough and that you need some other factors going the right way. I was thinking of it as a series of bridges over a canyon, and when you have enough of them you can have semi-effective conversation. But that still treats each factor as independent. It seems like (with no evidence but experience and gut feeling) effective communication is more like a variation of Maslow’s hierarchy, where each elements depends on the one(s) below it and effective communication is at the very top of the pyramid. So you can’t reach real communication without achieving civility, but civility rests on a layer of good faith. Off the top of my head, you might have these layers, from the top to the bottom:
2. Willingness to listen
4. Good faith/honesty
5. Desire to communicate/solve problem
If this thought is on the right track at all (and I am *absolutely* pulling it out of my ass), trying to reach civility from where we are now is a bit like the Coyote running off the cliff and then realizing there’s nothing underneath him. Which is a reasonable analogy for trying to have a rational discussion with people whose basic premise is an utterly insane lie.
I read this last night after the comments were closed. After that I had a civil but apparently useless conversation with a puppy nominee. He wanted to talk to “anti-puppies” about the nasty things we’d said and done but when asked if he was going over to puppy leader blogs to talk to them about the same the answer was “no”. He just wanted to share his resentment with “us” about how unfairly he’d been treated but didn’t want to take any responsibility for his part (remaining a nominee) or to talk to the people who put him in the bad position.
I’ve seen this same thing happen again and again this year. Civility on one side and lack of responsibility on the other. And may I mention how much I resent typing “side”.
I had interactions with puppy leaders in SP1 and SP2 where they’d gotten exactly what they said they wanted to accomplish “get on the ballot & make heads explode”. I asked why they were so angry that “heads were exploding” – shouldn’t they be celebrating – I wasn’t mocking I was seriously confused. You post a set of goals, you reach your goals, you celebrate, right? But they post goals, reach them, escalate insults/situation, and then complain when a moved goalpost isn’t reached. I can say the conversations in SP1 and SP2 were “civil” only in comparison to SP3 and the beginnings of SP4.
An academic theory directed at minorities and fans being attacked at escalating levels by the privileged for tone feels like it’s missing the point. It also doesn’t feel very neutral to me.
I am travelling to Dragoncon. I am not even sure this will post. What Cat Rambo said.
Furthermore, and to the point of applicability: there is a distinction between functional analysis and abstraction. The latter comes up with theories and only that; its connecton to experience or even cause-and-effect chains is often weak. the former is what I’m trying to conduct. Prosaically, it is engineering but on the super-macro level of, “Here is a flowchart. Here are some cause and effect relationships that are pertinent. And however you apply the various components of civility–and when and where–it is inherently impossible to apply any of them ‘in general’.”
Here’s why: Look at the disagreement on this very thread (excluding my comments entirely) about terminology, the actual sense of urgency, the probable endgame of the current scenario, the desirability of discourse versus intensification or some other path. Asking me for a “generally applicable” set of “engineering approaches” is rather ironic, since there is nothing functionally “generalizable” about the opinions and perspectives on the condition.
That is why I have said, and say again: the utility and application of civility must be entirely individual in initiative, form, and degree. The diversity of perception and attitude of the persons involved makes it impossible to prescribe any ubiquitous response strategy. This is not party-line politics, where you are planning actions for a monolithic whole. Both (better: *all*) parties to this debate are intensely individualistic (excellent!) in their perception of it; so it will be incumbent upon them to be individualized in their approach to its handling and its endgame–whatever they decide that should be.
You may not like what the answer I am presenting: that generalizable mechanisms for operationalization are not possible.. I do not enjoy trying to catch rain in a sieve. I think there are some parallels between the two. But these have been great questions. I’m sorry I had to answer them in such a rush, and apologize if my tone was more terse that I would have liked, at any point. Must go. Be well.
I was a first time Hugo voter. I paid for my own membership. I did not vote in every category (I ran out of time & energy). With one exception, in every category in which I voted I attempted to read every entry. With one exception if I didn’t finish it, it went below No Award. In no category in which I voted was No Award ranked first. I will be nominating for Worldcon74. Give me a list of things you think are good, and in the novella, novelette and short story categories, I will read them. I am not promising to read a 10-20 novels. And I am probably not interested enough in FanCasts and related works to be useful.
Some of the puppy choices were excellent. ‘Totaled’ and ‘Ashes to Alluvium’ stood out. Some didn’t interest me. Some were awful.
I will not boycott any publisher for anything less than slave labor. I will not “boycott” any author, I just don’t read what I don’t like.
I have only one litmus test. If you strongly dislike LMB, you are probably not my sort of people. Which is okay, it would be a funny old world if everyone was alike.
@Faruk: Even if someone hypothetically states that none of the people deserve to be harassed, the assertion that anyone in any way associated with a thing necessarily supports the worst of it is completely ridiculous. Do I think that every Republican supports Donald Trump? I mean, he’s running as a Republican. Do I think that every Christian necessarily supports Westboro Baptist, or the people who bomb abortion clinics? Of course I don’t. That’s not how groups of humans work!
The idea that you can assert that anyone who is in any way associated with a group or using a name supports all the horrible things you associate with that name is inherently dehumanizing and completely wrong. It doesn’t become right just because the horrible things associated with that name are particularly horrible. And I think it’s similar with the Puppies; I don’t think that the people whining about “SJWs” wrecking the Hugos are in general sympathetic to Vox Day, I think they just discovered that you can’t keep internet kooks from hijacking things.
(Honestly, at this point, my belief is that most of the extreme harassment, doxxing, etcetera directed at both gamergaters and the people being “harassed by gamergaters” is being done by bored trolls who are harassing both sides to keep the lulz flowing. I could be wrong, but it is the best explanation I have for the observed data.)
Yep, Eric Flint’s various blog posts clearly show the disparity between popular/successful authors and those who win awards. Whether that exists because of politics or simple middle-school style popularity cliques is anyone’s guess. But clearly the Hugo’s are broke and have been for some time. I cannot remember the last time the words “Hugo Nominee” or “Hugo Award Winner” had any influence on my book buying. Rapid Puppies was bad. Sad Puppies had some heart in the right place but handled poorly. It did however get me to vote this year and will do so again next time around.
I don’t significantly disagree, having just dropped $900 to attend the Spokane Worldcon, sleeping on hotel room floors to save hotel bills. But my tweak is that I like Brad Torgerson (both as a person and as a writer) and suspect that he was USED in malignant machiavellian ways by the creepazoid “Vox Day”
I did not attend the Hugo Ceremony, nor the allegedly epic Hugo Losers Party.
See you in Kansas City, 2016, and then, 2017, in Helsinki.
Irrational person: Good job immigrants for ruining the country.
Well-intentioned civil person: Your perception seems to be that immigrants are at fault for something. Can you elaborate? Because what you said could be interpreted as racist.
IP: Only racists would think that my statement was racist.
WICP: You seem to be saying that society is color-blind, and that folks who are “hung up on race” are the only people left who perceive difference. That’s demonstrably not the case: [cites evidence].
IP: Oh sure, thought police have links for everything. I didn’t read your BS link. Good luck pitching that shit to your family when the immigrants take their jobs.
ad infinatum, ad nauseum. Or:
IP: @SJW where do you get off telling Christians to forego their religious beliefs?
Twitter User of Note: I said that the Constitution makes this an easy situation for a court to resolve. I’m not telling Christians to believe or not believe anything.
IP: Nice deflection, fag.
ad infinatum, ad nauseum.
You cannot engage in discourse with a moving target. You cannot exchange ideas with someone who is not interested in the exchange of ideas. There is not a razor long enough to slice through the endless succession of unconnected strawmen, ad hominem attacks, and misguided appeals to rhetorical fallacies that spin out of the keyboards of those who have the bit in their teeth. Requires Hate is the far left example. For illustrative purposes only (and since it’s what we’re talking about)m SP leaders have spent countless hours in any given month picking out “inaccuracies” in posts, articles, reports, and opinion pieces about the impact of the slates. These inaccuracies dare to presume that there is a cohesive narrative around the slates, but of course there is a post somewhere in which the poor besieged author said that the slates are about another thing. If they are not right, in every statement, all the time, they find some other way to talk about being misinterpreted, maligned, or discriminated against for speaking “the truth.” Said “truth” to be revised tomorrow, when we’ll pick out some other writers from the Other America and point out how wrong they are.
The decision to be civil is an individualized act of conscience. Civility is a two-way street. If I had any faith that I could break through the rhetorical casing and actually talk to a Puppy/Gater/Whatever, I would take that chance, because Dr. Gannon is correct about one thing: it is only through seeking to understand and to be understood can a human being grow and learn. It is only through exposure to the other – such that the other becomes boring and not so different – that we revise belief systems that stigmatize the other.
But that’s not the case now, and for as long as the comforting, anonymous, replicating cant of internet hate machines is so easily accessible, it will continue to be (largely) out of our reach.
tl;dr: So long as the car theft hypothetical is not addressed, I call bullshit on the whole thing.
Apologies for the grammar – that’s a comma, not an “m,” after the parenthetical in para 6, and then a badly-verbed sentence in para 7:
“…it is only through seeking to understand and to be understood that a human being can grow and learn.”
> Because: Baen
What they taught me about using ideas from family systems theory in church leadership is that you influence an organization for the better by working with and empowering the healthy people.
I’d like to suggest that as a general guide for using Dr. Gannon’s useful if non-concrete advice: Civilly engage the healthy people who disagree with you and let the others do what they will.
I’ve taken a gander at books I’ve bought/read of late, and the only Baens I’ve purchased are written by women.
I’m only one data point, of course.
Doesn’t mean all the male Baen authors are evil anti-SJW guys, it just means that the house style isn’t my thang.
Which is fine. I don’t read “literary” novels by Iowa-MFAs either, or BDSM romances. Not every book is for everyone. A varied marketplace is the whole point of capitalism.
This is a very good post, Chuck (Dr. Gannon?–whichever you prefer), clearly written in heartfelt good faith and must have taken a long time to write; your background in communications is clear. I approve of civility and am doing my best to reach out to those who identify with Sad Puppies and may be open to it.
But the larger point is that I want to see what *you* write next, because if your fiction’s as thoughtful and well-constructed as your non-fiction, I could really see enjoying it.
What book or story of your should I start with?
(Eyes Kyra’s comment.)
To self: Don’t say it… don’t say it…don’t…
First, what Lawduck said.
Second, there are not two sides to a controversy in this kerfuffle. GRRM has it right. There are fans having fan fun and then their are pups.
Third, you are so posting on the wrong site. You know those sad pups led this year by Kate Paulk? You know the ones that are not supposed to be rabid? Well, turns out they are. I suggest you post this entire thing on Kate’s Mad Genious site where you will be treated less well then you have been here. Let’s let Kate speak for herself as she discuss the voting fans of World Com. This from a recent blog:
“…picture them as ardent devotees of whatever flavor of dictatorial socialism it is. You get the picture.
The thing is, is it Nazi, or is it Communist? There are elements of both. Take this quote from Hitler:
“It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of the nation, that the position of the individual is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole.”
and replace “nation” with “Fandom”.
They certainly took note of Goebbels on propaganda techniques:
“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
And I’m sure this observation of Hitler’s would not be at all strange to them:
“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”….”
Fourth, the pups movement has very little to do with SF/F. Sure Larry Correia started it to get himself a Hugo. But he started it because he was a conservative and he wants to stick it to SJW. This is about American Culture politics. And here is the good news – while the Tea puppies are futzing about trying to ban certain authors and works from the Hugos, they have less energy for their other hobby – futzing around State School boards trying to replace school books with the approved Tea Puppy books. Every cloud and all that….
Seebs: The purpose of Gamergate is to harass women. If you support Gamergate than you support harassment.
A movement deeply involved with Ted Beale and John C Wright? That movement started off with incivility to the point where I’d be being polite to people who literally propose violence against me and mine.
Theodore Beale: “I will not be in the least bit surprised if Anders Breivik is one day regarded as a national hero in Norway, much like George Washington and William Tell”
John C. Wright: “I have never heard of a group of women descended on a lesbian couple and beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons, but that is the instinctive reaction of men towards fags.”
These quotes came way before the SP/RP movement.
After that, Larry Corriea invited in Gamergate (which was already linked to Beale) to help get more people involved. (easy enough to find via twitter search)
These people are not only the leaders of the Sad & Rabid puppies movement, they’re happy funny pals with the “moderate” ones like Brad Torgersen, who merely compares me to a Nazi.
Seebs: “I don’t think that the people whining about “SJWs” wrecking the Hugos are in general sympathetic to Vox Day”
JVP: “I like Brad Torgerson (both as a person and as a writer) and suspect that he was USED in malignant machiavellian ways by the creepazoid “Vox Day””
Nope nope nope. False, untrue, and otherwise wrong.
“people whining about “SJWs” wrecking the Hugos are” in fact, the ones who nominated Vox Day to begin with just to piss off SJW’s. Larry Correia “nominated Vox Day because Satan didn’t have any eligible works that period.”
Stop fooling yourselves.
@Seebs: Do you think it is unfair to believe that a Republican agrees with the Republican party’s official platform on taxation, or to assume that a Christian believes Jesus is the Christ? Certainly, there are going to be members of a group who dissent from that group, but it seems a little disingenuous to say that it’s terribly unfair to ascribe any of the prevalent beliefs of a group to people who identify as members of that group. Especially when members of that group are, you know, leaders and founders of that group. The “Puppies” groups are hardly as large and diverse as Christianity, or even the Republican Party. Is it truly your contention that it’s mean and inherently othering to believe that a person who identifies as a Sad Puppy might agree with Torgerson?
@Chuck Gannon: so your final comment is, essentially, there is no solution, do what thou wilt? How is this helpful or informative?
I will give the Doc one atta boy about being civil and calm. When you talk to pups in calm and civil manner, it drives them absolutely bug nutty. Which I admit is kind of fun.
Nick (formerly) from the O.C., thank you.
I’ve wondered why Lois and I were so absent from the discussions of Baen authors. I suspect at least for me it’s because my books are feminist, often with women of color as the central character. But the past few have indeed been published by Baen.
If anyone here would like to see a Baen book that confounds what slates implied was true about Baen books, I would be happy to send you a complimentary copy of one of mine. The most recent is Undercity. If you would like a copy, please email me at email@example.com.
Comments off whilst I sleep. Back up in the morning.
Update: Comments back on!
On the arson metaphor, I think it’s flawed as usually presented. As I see it, the Puppies, through their slate-pushing, are the arsonists. The No Awards votes are people demolishing a house to make a firebreak. It’s not fun, and it’s destructive, but it’s better than the alternative and the full blame rests on those who made it necessary.
Honesty, as a woman, a member of the LGBTQA+ community, and as a not-religious type, I’m quite tired of calls to be civil to the kinds of people that call for my harassment or destruction. To follow Cannon’s metaphors – I believe I *am* at war.
And I truthfully do not care if SF & F fandom falls, I have no place in it anyway. Oh, I’ll always enjoy Star Trek and my old favorite novels. But I see nothing out there that inspires me, and I have zero wish to spend time with the fans I see or meet.
Before someone else says it, I’m sure I wont be missed.
I wont miss any of you, either.
tl;dr: The Puppies are assholes, fuck them.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Sad Puppies are a bunch of pathetic assholes, and RSHD and his craven lickspittles represent the sunken, reeking basement sewer of humanity.
Correia needs to stop being a whiny man-child complaining that he didn’t get a Hugo and he needs to do that three years ago. Torgersen I sincerely hope mans up big-time on his tour of duty. As for RSHD and John C. Wright…
Ignore ’em, or tell them just how they’re assholes, though most of them run on Insane Troll Logic so that might not work. Better yet, give money to people who the assholes can’t stand. Our Glorious Host (praise His name) did that, and it was EPIC.
Hell, I’m going out this very day to donate a hundred bucks to each of Emily’s List, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, RAINN, and the Freedom From Religion foundation, on the principle of “I have a lot more cash than I need due to living like a hermit pack-rat all summer” and “I want to throw a middle finger to some bigots, fuck you, bigots!”
Anyway, the Puppies started out as whiny and amusingly dated assholes. They are now assholes who got in my face about it with their Hugo slates, and they invited RSHD to join their party. So fuck them. I’m not buying anything they write, on the basis of they’re fucking assholes and I don’t want to give them money.
Oh, and fuck you, Theodore Beale, you racist, sexist, homophobic piece of human offal. You, Mr. Beale, are a shit-stain on the face of humanity, a whiny and pathetic man-child with no redeeming features whatsoever. Please do us all a favor and go away, preferably forever.
(possibly-triggering rant about why Gamergate sucks deleted because possibly triggering)
Ahhhh, that was good to get out of my system.
I stopped reading about here:
“…commentators as diverse as David Gerrold, Brad Torgerson, and Eric Flint…”
Because, yeah, diversity.
Calls for civility almost always come from the privileged in society. Folks who don’t have to spend significant portions of their time and energy fighting against the endless ways they are disadvantaged by simply being who they are. It’s a silencing tactic, and is used to dismiss the complaints of people who are frustrated and angry for good reasons.
I care not one whit for how civil a person is. So long as their argument is logical and supported by good evidence I’m going to listen.
I’ll also say that there comes a point where trying to build a bridge between people with competing ideologies becomes pointless. For myself, I’m perfectly happy to be on the other side of a rift from the likes of Vox Day and his bigotry. Hell, I’m even perfectly willing to take up a shovel and widen that that sucker until there’s no hope of ever crossing it.
I agree that name calling, verbal attacks and ramped-up ideological hostility tend to make it very hard to understand each other and care about each other as fellow human beings. Another thing that undermines successful discussion is vagueness. I think that those who criticize recent Hugo winners have been too vague. I would like to see more complete answers to the Mamatas challenge.
I was reading Ancillary Justice around the time the recent set of nominations were published. It’s a terrific and well-written book, containing cool ideas that stretched my mind. I think it is Hugo-worthy. And we know it received other awards. I do know at least one person who bounced off it and found it a strange experience. I would like to know more about why puppies didn’t like it, specifically. Sometimes I wonder if everyone who cites it or hand waves toward it actually read the book willingly. (If someone thinks “this is a bad book because MESSAGE,” if would like to be able to discuss this.)
Redshirts was a cool book and I enjoyed it. It appealed to many who love Star Trek and the catchy title and strong marketing campaign probably moved a lot of books. I think the popularity of the book and the setting explain the Hugo nomination, although the popularity of John Scalzi on social media probably also helped give the book a boost.
The very short story, If You Were A Dinosaur My Love looks at how we would feel if one of our beloved people was killed in a hate crime. I don’t know if the Loved person from the title is gay or trans or both, but isn’t the devastation and horror of grief and the desire to enact creative and fitting revenge a universal feeling that all readers can understand and care about? Shouldn’t it be? Why isn’t it?
A lot of Pupppies and their sympathizers seem to hang out in Baen’s Bar, the webforum of Baen Books. The Bar is organized into subforums categorized by author with certain subforums categorized by general subject matter devoted to discussing whatever the members, who like to refer to themselves as Barflies, care to discuss.
Immediately after Sasquan certain Barflies started “foaming at the mouth” in outrage over what happened. Those certain Barflies are still rather “foamy” and are not interested in civility. The only civil tones I see from those people are when other Barflies post comments that agree with them.
@Lurks-No-More (are we related?;) ): agreed. No Award was the firebreak that the majority of the voters decided had to happen. It’s sad for those few houses, but better off in the long run. And a most appropriate metaphor for this year’s con.
@Doug: Yeah, the diversity of well-off white American men. snort
@Catherine Asaro: as I mentioned, all the Baen authors I’ve purchased of late have been women, and one of them is YOU. Sorry I didn’t specify you by name!
@Floored: but tell us how you REALLY feel! I’m too old and tired to rage like that, so please do it for me.
The “be civil” is just another iteration of the “tone argument” and I’m tired of it as a woman. I expect the QUILTBAG folks are tired of it, as are the PoC. It doesn’t work with Puppies anyway; people have been trying that and they don’t listen. And they certainly aren’t civil in return. So, fuck ’em.
They’ve made their doggie bed with Teddy the RSHD, they can lie in it with his flea-bitten horde. Their egos and hurt fee-fees have so blinkered them that now they stand with someone that reprehensible. So HELL YES as @FossilFishy said, I’m on the “other side”. I stand proudly with people who aren’t racist, sexist, homophobic and the like. (Puppy Wright regrets not punching Sir Terry Pratchett in the face for talking about dying with dignity on his own terms, and I won’t stand with that either.)
I also stand with quality, readable SF. The Puppies claim to be for that, but I saw no evidence of it in the Hugo packet. Full of crap.
Be not afraid of the feels, SF readers! It doesn’t have to all be square-jawed straight white men conquering space. It’s okay to have a sad cry over the end of “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, or a happy cry at the end of “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere”. I’m straight and white and female, and yet the family dynamics of the Chinese gay man in “The Water” had me nodding my head in recognition.
File 770 is very instructive on details and links, and I encourage Whateverites to take a gander over there (God Stalk).
Back in April, Nick Mamatas made a simple and civil request to people who sided with the Puppies: name (a) one work of fiction (b) that won a Hugo Award (c) while foregrounding a left message to the extent that the story was ruined or misshaped (d) per set of winners since 1995. One of the principal complaints of the Puppy movement is that the Hugos are being awarded on the basis of politics over literary merit; you’d think that anyone who believes this would have no trouble coming up with more than two or three examples. (And I might disagree with them over the literary merits of the work, but at least we’d have something to discuss.) I have yet to see that list.
Brad Torgersen, leader of Sad Puppies 3, asserted without proof that Ancillary Justice owes its Hugo to “a tremendous groundswell of affirmative-action-mindedness”. I don’t know whether that remark should be classified as civil or not, but in either case, I don’t see how I can have a productive discussion with a stranger who is so certain that he knows better than I about the contents of my own mind.
I have made occassional forays into the comment sections of Puppy-related blogs. I think I conducted myself appropriately there, but after one of the frequent commenters at Torgersen’s blog accused me of being a troll, I stopped. It would be uncivil of me to impose myself on a forum in which my participation is not wanted.
If you respond to their hatred and vitriol with more hatred and vitriol, you’re just feeding into their insane, delusional worldview. You’re literally stoking the fire. It’s stupid, and however angry or tired of being civil you are, you still shouldn’t do it.
“Calls for civility almost always come from the privileged in society.” sounds like something that a really privileged white liberal would say.
I’m from an island in a Caribbean, was born there, lived there until I was 5, then I lived alternately in New Jersey and in the Bronx for the next decade. I was not privileged.
You know what I wanted most? Civility, and order. Not to hear screaming or shouting outside. Not to hear distant gunshots. Not to have to look away and down and cross the street whenever a phalanx of dudes in identical jackets and baseball caps would decide to take over a sidewalk and drive everyone else off it. I wanted peace, quiet, and safety.
A place without civility or order quickly turns into rubble and wasteland. So, stop romanticizing the idea of being at “war” with the Puppies and making rage-fueled invective against them.
When people say “calls for civility almost always come from the privileged in society,” they’re referring to tone policing: people who are, effectively, saying “Well, we would have listened to you BUT you were just so rude that we couldn’t.” or “Why are you so angry all the time? People would hear your message so much better if you were calmer.” The entire essay that starts this comment thread rubbed me the wrong way because it IS a call for “civility” in exactly that tone policing way: The statement that in order to be heard and “find common ground”, we must first set aside our anger.
Fuck that. My anger serves a purpose: it tells me that something is wrong and something needs changing. The trick is not being angry or speaking angrily or being civil or being uncivil. The trick is how to be the change I wish to see in the world without getting myself trampled over in the process.
@MrManny NO. Absolutely not. It’s not “romantic” to be assaulted constantly in any way. And it is not incumbent upon the victims of assault to be “civil”. YOU may be safe in your existence, but many of us are not: LGBT, POC, and WOMEN to name just a few. Basically, you can suck on your civility and your insults against the people who have had enough of that sort of bullshit.
What Betsy Darwin said.
Also? I think there’s a quantitative difference between “uncivil in the context of an argument” (swearing, requests that the other person go soak their head, etc) and “uncivil in such a way as to disrupt daily life” (shooting, yelling, etc.) As someone who occupied an apartment over 3 AM Drama Girl*, I totally sympathze with the desire for the latter; as someone who’s been asked “but why are you being so mean to dudes hitting on you”, I do not sympathize with the desire for the former.
*Her, yelling at boyfriend: “You LIED to me! About EVERYTHING!”
Me: “But honey, if he did it in an indoor voice, I am totally Team That Guy.”
The longer I sit with Mr. Gannon to use the less palatable they become to me. I started out feeling that they were well-meaning but maybe a little blinkered. But two days later it’s kind of starting to feel like a mental saddle gall.
Argh I have no idea why that double posted or why it converted “views” into “to use.” Apparently our computer overlords were having a little fun.
@bunwat The worst part is that I knew exactly what you meant to type. :)
@WonderOfItAll wrote: “Yep, Eric Flint’s various blog posts clearly show the disparity between popular/successful authors and those who win awards. Whether that exists because of politics or simple middle-school style popularity cliques is anyone’s guess.”
False dichotomy. The disparity might exist for all sorts of reasons, and probably exists for many of those reasons.
A simple thought-experiment. Imagine two books. One is set in the Star Wars Extended Universe. The other is word-for-word identical, except that “the Force” has been changed to “the Power”, and any recognizable terms (“Jedi”, “Sith”, “Tie Fighter”) or names (“Anakin”, “R2-D2”) have been replaced with newly invented ones. Which will sell more copies? If you answered anything other than “the SWEU book”, you are clearly insane. Which is better? We already established that they’re word-for-word identical!
Popularity is just not a reasonable measure of quality. Even back in the 1950s, that era whose imaginary version is so beloved by puppies, the most popular SF was bad B movies, which were generally despised by mainstream science fiction fans. SF fans back then wanted writers who cared, not about political issues, but about physics! Which is simply not something a general audience cares about.
And when we’re measuring popularity, the general audience has a disproportionate effect that cannot be ignored. Even today, with SF fandom a broader and more diverse group than ever, it still generally cares more about physics than the general audience does, and is more likely to reject a work with laughably bad physics (unless the physics are deliberately laughable). So general popularity cannot be used as a measure of popularity among SF fans!
Take Paranormal Romance. Romance in general is huge, and general romance fans don’t seem to have any particular prejudice against fantastic elements in their stories, so a work of Paranormal Romance can have huge sales. At the same time, romance in general is mainly popular with women, so within SFF fandom, a PR work is unlikely to be particularly popular with more than about half the fans at most. Similar arguments can be made about MilSF, supernatural horror, and many other crossover genres. I don’t really like MilSF, not for political reasons, but because it’s full of tough-guy macho manly men, and I got enough of that crowd when I was getting swirlies in high school! :)
Beyond that, there’s the lowest-common-denominator factor. I suspect that most, both inside and outside of fandom, feel that there’s little overlap between the best works of art and the most popular. Yes, there are artists who manage to be both popular and great, and have been since the time of Shakespeare, but for every Shakespeare who combines popularity with quality, there’s dozens who don’t. Terminators 4 did great at the box office, but I have yet to hear anyone say anything positive about it that didn’t start with, “I know it’s terrible, but…“. (“I like CGI explosions.” “I’ve got a crush on [actor/actress].” “I’ve got a 12-year-old kid, and it’s fun to see something so dumb through their eyes.”)
So, even if you think that truly great authors are more likely to be popular (a point of view I have some mild sympathy for myself), that does not imply that popular authors are more likely to be great.
Finally, there’s the whole “the Hugos have gotten so much worse recently” thing. No, they haven’t. I’ve read most of the winners, and yeah, there’s some recent winners that I wasn’t sure were the best book of the year, but that’s been true for as long as there have been Hugos. And, honestly, I don’t like message-fic. Even when I agree with the message. So I would be naturally inclined to accept some part of the Sad Puppies’ message, if it fit the facts. But it doesn’t, as far as I can see.
I really didn’t care for LeGuin’s “The Word for World is Forest”, because it felt like I was being preached at. And that won a Hugo in ’73. Hardly recent. But, I admit, I was a little scared of Ancillary Justice at first, because everyone on both sides seemed to be talking all about its message. Then I read it, and I was like, “what message?” It was a fun space-opera romp. Sure there was the whole thing about language and gender—which reminded me of the troubles I had learning Spanish, and trying to remember whether a tree was supposed to be male or female. That wasn’t political; that was linguistic. And very well done!
Going further back: Redshirts. Star Trek parody. Despite its politicized author (according to the puppies), utterly politics-free, and loads of fun. Heck, a rare victory for humorous fiction over the usual dry drama. That’s populist! Among Others. Yeah, this was message-fic. The message was “old SF is good!” I’m honestly not sure it would have won if the message hadn’t been there, so this is the closest I can think of to a work that supports the puppies’ claim, but it’s hardly a political message, let alone an evil liberal SJW message. :) Blackout/All Clear. Connie Willis is a fan favorite, as her umpteen Hugos make clear, and this was a great work. And the only thing resembling a message was “Nazis bad.” Anyone who thinks that’s a controversial claim is not someone I want to associate with! :D The Clockwork Girl. If anything, a pro-science, anti-politics work. It had elements that might offend conservatives (climate change) and elements that might offend liberals (GMOs). I’m pro-science, so I liked it. I may not be the best judge, but it didn’t seem overly message-y to me. The City & The City. Ok, this might be actually be the closest to what the puppies have been talking about. Except, I loved it! Mieville, whatever his politics may be, writes words in a way that just sucks me in, and drags me along for his latest terrifying adventure. And, aside from leaving me with a feeling that Eastern Europe under the Soviet regime was not a happy place (something I suspect most puppies would agree with), there was little or no politics here.
Sorry, I’m just not seeing this supposed problem.
Well said, Lurkertype (and isabelcooper and bunwat and Betsy Darwin).
I don’t think the Puppy Affair is going to burn down fandom or the Hugos or lead to some sort of all-out war. The field of SFF has weathered disagreements in the past. The Puppy argument echoes to an interesting degree the disapproval of New Wave science fiction by conservatives back in the 1960s. I remember when New Wave really was new, and authors such as Michael Moorcock and J.G. Ballard were making a splash. As a teenage girl at the time, living a fairly sheltered life, I was uncomfortable at first with the experimental style of some of the writing and the bleakness of some of their stories. It wasn’t “my” familiar and beloved SF. But I came to appreciate them more (though I’m afraid I never warmed up to Moorcock), and by the time the first Dangerous Visions anthology came out, I was older and much more interested in stories that had that transgressive edge–in fact, it was to that sort of SFF that I eagerly turned. But here is what Donald A. Wollheim said in 1971, in “The Universe Makers,” complaining about New Wave SF: “the readers and writers that used to dream of galactic futures now got their kicks out of experimental styles of writing, the free discussion of sex, the overthrow of all standards and morals (since, if the world is going to end, what merit had these things?)” In an article titled “New Wave” in “A Companion to Science Fiction,” edited by David Seed, Rob Latham says that Wolheim decried “their trendy nihilism, their rejection of SF’s core values in favor or chic apocalypses.” I can hear echoes of that in the Puppies’ current complaints. And guess where these lines comes from: “Men and their works have been a disease on the surface of their planet before now. … Nature tends to compensate for diseases, to remove or encapsulate them, to incorporate them into the system in their own way.… You cannot go on forever stealing what you need without regard to those who come after. The physical qualities of a planet are written into its economic and political record.” Is it SJW “message” fiction? I guess so, if you consider Frank Herbert a SJW (well, he was deeply concerned about ecological issues) and “Dune” a book of message fiction. It was that. But it had some kick-ass world-building–the best I’d ever seen, back when the term “world-building” might not even have been invented–or only just. Yet Brad Torgersen seems to like it. So maybe there’s hope for kumbayah with the Puppies some day after all.
Because none of this is anything but business as usual, just projected onto a giant worldwide stage like something out of a science fiction novel. Conservatives are gonna complain about the way things are changing. It’s what conservatives do, by the very nature of their worldview. I don’t begrudge them that. Doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them, doesn’t mean I have to try to get them to agree with me, and folks who seem to look for ways to paint themselves as victims (as some of the Puppies seem wont to do) get tiresome. I’ve parted ways with more than one friend who couldn’t seem to get past that habit. Life’s too short.
Attempts to fuck with Hugo voting are also not new (Scientologists, anyone?). When someone does that, of course people who love the Hugos and love SFF cons will get upset, and why shouldn’t they? Then they get down to the business of making sure that what happened this time won’t keep happening. More than likely, This Too Shall Pass.
What’s different this time is that with the growing popularity of SFF, more respect for it from mainstream culture, and the ability, thanks to current technology, for almost everyone almost everywhere to know about almost everything that people are talking about, these food fights look bigger and more serious than they probably are. Back in 1970, if you had said, “New Wave science fiction” to a random group of people at the office or a dinner party, they’d have looked blank, whereas a friend of mine who doesn’t read SFF knew a good bit about the Puppies just from what she picked up from Facebook friends, and she was the one who brought it up with me, asking whether I knew about it (assuming, correctly, that I did). How many stories have we seen in mainstream and non-mainstream non-genre media about the Puppies and the Hugos? The Atlantic, the New Republic, the New York Times, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, YES! magazine, Reason magazine, and on and on. Where were the stories about John W. Campbell and Samuel R. Delany back in the day? About the Scientologists and the 1987 Worldcon when there was a lot of upset about that? Nowhere to speak of, because the field was small and the media didn’t cover stuff like that. Now? With the insatiable need for content and instant coverage, any controversy is good clickbait, and SFF and nerd culture are mainstream enough now to be worth using for that purpose.
But a big splash in the media and the Twitterverse doesn’t change that fact that of course the various people on all “sides” who are upset for many and varied reasons about the Puppy Affair are going to have to coexist. I don’t know why Dr. Gannon seemed to think this was a new thing he needed to explain to people. Most of the rest of what he said was likewise not revelatory.
I would guess that most readers here have heard the adage that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The Golden Rule has been with us in one form or another since antiquity. Walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes is advice that comes up often. Dressing these ideas up in a lot of starched academese studded with metaphors and self-actualization jargon (“your life-bus”? really?) provides less than initially meets the eye, at least for me. All those reams of high-falutin’ language made it look impressive at first, but speaking of tone, I’ll just say that it was nice of Dr. Gannon to come here and rain down his gentle wisdom on us peasants below, just in case anyone reading here had never thought about these things. But I much prefer the tones of Scalzi, Eric Flint, and GRRM, who, in using their positions and their bully pulpits (using the term “bully” as TR did) to speak their minds about the Hugos and the Puppies, spoke as peers, not as would-be teachers. I’m not a grandmother, but I’m old enough to be one, and being givena lecture from on high about how to suck eggs mostly makes me want to roll my eyes and chase a kid or two off my lawn. I suspect some of the pushback I’ve seen in the comments may have come from a similar feeling.
There is a certain Marie Antoinette flavor to the cake which materially impedes the enjoyment thereof.
Or to put it another way, yeah I’m sure that made lots of sense in Dr Gannon’s world but we don’t all live there.
When the privileged call for civility from the marginalized, it means they’re starting to hear the message, and it disturbs their self-image of living in a fair society. The response of the marginalized is and should be “We’ve been civil for a long time, and you ignored everything we said. You’re asking us to go back to being easily ignored; fuck you.”
In this case, it’s more like someone asking for civility in discussing the Taliban right after they blew up two ancient Buddhist statues, and when they continue to denounce America and promise further destruction.
There are people in the SP camp who are worth talking to. None of the leaders are; Brad Torgerson was a sneaky, smarmy creepazoid in these comment pages long before he took up the Puppy mantle. Correia is a childish jackass who decided to have a temper tantrum because he didn’t get an award HE felt he deserved. They lied and fooled people into doing their bidding, when everything they said was untrue, from their motivation to the way they composed their slates. They are completely without honor, and there is no point in having discussions with them, as they will lie to us, lie later about what we said, and will not keep their word.
There is no one involved in any capacity with the Rabid Puppies with whom I will exchange a civil word, except in a professional or semi-professional capacity, where my own honor leaves me no choice (if BT’s wife had needed help with a listening device at Sasquan, for example, I would have dealt with her like any other Access client, and washed my hands afterward).
We may be forced to negotiate with the Taliban. But that’s because we can’t stop them, and there is actual loss of life is involved. Neither is true of the Sad and the Rabid.
Words I might have written, were I as articulate as you.
I narrowly avoided a conversation with Lou Antonelli at Sasquan. THAT would have been no fun for anyone concerned.
Josh Jasper: Absolutely. There’s no reason we should have anything to do with these assholes.
Some of the SP voters are definitely worth talking to, though. There was one woman who, though misled about the relationship between SPs and RPs, spoke in favor of EPH and voted for it. She said she wanted “to keep the Rabid Puppies from hijacking our movement,” but that was because she thought Brad and Larry were just trying to get SOME of “their kind of SF” on the ballot.
Next year, the Sad Puppies are going rabid, as SJW75201 demonstrates. But people like the woman mentioned above won’t be helping them.
Lurkertype: As usual, brava. Calls for civility ring hollow when the bastards think it’s “natural” to want to beat me to death with a tire iron. Fuck their civility! They can go SOUND with their fucking tire iron.
Oops. I meant John C. Wright’s wife.
@Floored: but tell us how you REALLY feel! I’m too old and tired to rage like that, so please do it for me.
No. I’m sorry, lurkertype, but no.
All I will say is that one of my closest friends was harassed by some Gamergate shitheels and tried to end it, and I had to take her to the hospital.
There are other criticisms that can be made (the Gamergate ratfuckers have made any legitimate criticism of anything they touch socially impossible, they’re sexist assholes, every claim they make is full of more bullshit than a septic tank), but the part that means the most to me is that they hurt my friend. Not one single person on this fucking planet hurts my friends.
So I’m not going to start ranting in public about those ratfucking misogynistic pig dogs, because I wouldn’t be able to stop.
@Xopher, you always say the sweetest things to me. Sorry I couldn’t get to Spokane so that we could drink and look at men together.
@BW, you can tell the kids to get off my lawn as well while we re-read our old copies of “Dangerous Visions” on the porch. And suck eggs. In moderation, depending on how my next cholesterol test comes out.
Lurkertype: Not related, I’m sure, but clearly we have a shared good taste in choosing online nicks!
MrManny: I think the core Puppies (and likely their most ardent followers) are impossible to reach. No matter what you do, they take it as a vindication of their insane, delusional worldview. What matters, then, is what approach is better for peeling off the non-committed Puppy supporters, and winning the watchers on the sidelines. Is it calm and civility in the face of spittle-flecked, screaming incivility? Or a hard, vigorous pushback when the jerks and lunatics push on you? Most likely, it’s some judicious combination of both, depending on the situation. I just feel that it’s a bad idea to restrict yourself needlessly.
@Xopher: Aw, thanks! You seem pretty damn coherent, though.
@xtifr: “And, honestly, I don’t like message-fic. Even when I agree with the message. ”
Yes, exactly. I like the environment, and I’m a pretty committed feminist, but that doesn’t mean I have any love for the Lifetime movie of the week or Captain Planet, and I’ll say so. Hell, I have some fairly harsh words about The Mists of Avalon, despite being pagan, because we’re not all stoned in the freshman lounge any more, more’s the pity, and the concept of God-as-female does not like totally blow my mind maaaaan.
I don’t forbear to harsh on hamhanded or glurgey message fic, even when I agree with the message. And even if I don’t rant about it online, even if I might quite like it (some of the nineties fantasy about sparkly animal companions and teenagers with low self-esteem still makes decent nostalgia reads, for example, even if it’s been twelve years or so since I gave a damn about teenagers with low self-esteem) I don’t know that I’d nominate it for an award. I can distinguish pretty well between “this pushes my personal buttons” and “this is objectively great”; I can also distinguish between a good story informed by a certain worldview, as most stories are, and The Power of Heart.
@isabelcooper: Yes, this! “The Word For World is Forest” was so transparently “The Vietnam War is BAAAAAAAAD, m’kay?” and I’m all “Yes, Ursula, that’s why my brother kept his grades up and we used to sit worryingly in front of the TV for the draft lottery numbers (and thanked God he was only 17 the year his number came up third), and my father retired early rather than get sent there. But what else ya got?”
And while I drive a hybrid and assiduously sort all my recycling, Captain Planet can go suck an organic vegan sausage. That was always terrible, and I think a fair number of kids would have done the opposite just out of spite from having to watch the thing.
@Lurks-no-More: I think we can be “play cousins”. And you’re right; we need both approaches. Speak softly and carry a big stick, as a wiser man than we once said.
I know that I personally held out against recycling anything for years, and it was a combination of Captain Planet and going to the hippiest school in California where we started each day with the Earth Prayer and I had to dress up like a tree once. Later on, I saw reason, but I was a contrary-minded little bastard, and resented the hell out of anything remotely akin to telling me what to do. (Also rooted for Jessica in the Sweet Valley High books.)
@Xopher: FYI, the self-described Sad Puppy who spoke up in favour of EPH at the Sasquan Business Meeting was Wendy S. Delmater, editor of Abyss & Apex.
It seems as though this thread is winding down, so I’d like to thank John for hosting my initial remarks.
As with so many other posts which touch upon the divisiveness in our genre, I wish there had been time and opportunity to clarify meanings and contexts at various points. Not wanting to make an already long post longer still, I refrained from footnoting which definition I intended when using terms with multiple definitions. I trusted the context was clear enough, but was apparently mistaken on several occasions. For instance, when I used the term “diversity,” I meant the word in the context of diverse political opinions, not in its demographic sense.
Some misunderstandings, particularly those relating to the narrow and neutral scope of my purposes in writing this post, are more mystifying to me. Most particularly, a) that I should have been operationally prescriptive, and that b) I was advocating (explicitly or implicitly) tone-policing.
In the case of being prescriptive, and that my bottom line was “do what thou wilt,” (from one of mythago’s’s posts) I can only repeat that I explicitly stated (from the subtitle onward); that I am NOT referring to or commending civility that also leads one to passivity. Also, the phrase “do as thou wilt” usually carries the context of amorality: that one should not recognize any external moral authority as a constraint upon one’s actions. Whether seen as invoking the Black Mass or Nietzsche, the phrase has not (in my experience) been used to convey a mere laissez-faire lack of exhortation. I trust it is clear that, since I am writing about civility, I feel that there are definitely ethical dimensions to what is happening in our genre, and how it is being handled. But the perception of those ethical questions and the decision of how to respond—including whether one constrains one’s discourse to the limits of civility or not—can only be individual.
This is because basic respect requires that I must and do presume that all persons know their own circumstances best. Consequently, some persons will consciously and soberly decide that they no longer need be interested in civility and despair and/or have given up on discourse. I would not try to convince them (or anyone else) that they should change their behavior and outlook in spite of their contrary instincts and feelings. I am simply encouraging persons who find themselves using words as weapons to examine if it really achieves anything what they want to achieve.
Indeed, sometimes people in conflicts are too hurt to be able to engage the source of their hurt in discourse. In more extreme circumstances, they may believe that they must carry the fight to that source of hurt, both to protect themselves and others. This full spectrum of reactions seems to have been expressed here—which also includes persons who felt that some of my essay did speak meaningfully to them. This wide variation in response does not surprise me.
This wide variation further illustrates why I refused to exhort any specific courses of actions: everyone must approach the matter of civility in the context of their own experiences, attitudes, capacities. Any sweeping recommendations would necessarily fail to be applicable to all ( or even most) of the persons who’ve responded to this post. Besides, the last thing these debates need is yet another instance of someone insisting that someone else’s worldview or chosen course of action is just wrong wrong wrong. Besides, that’s all about outcomes– and first and last I declared that my focus was exclusively upon discursive methods and the consequences of the different courses one might choose to take.
Lastly, toward the end of the thread, it seemed as though a variety of respondents began to resent that I had posted here at all. I can only reemphasize that John and I discussed the post beforehand: I did not simply post it. Rather, I gave it to him to do with as he pleased, and all due diligence was taken to minimize the chance that it would offend or seem presumptuous.
To those who found anything worthwhile in what I wrote, I am honored. And to gregm91436, who asked what book of mine would be best to read as a “start off,” I have to say (as most authors will) that the most recent one would probably be best. But in this case, I doubly suggest Raising Caine because it is a novel about “deep contact:” an attempt to forge meaningful grounds and praxes for interspeciate understanding. It seems poignantly appropriate, given what motivated this post.
For instance, when I used the term “diversity,” I meant the word in the context of diverse political opinions, not in its demographic sense.
Your remark about diverse political opinions reminds me that I have often been struck by the “all diversity is contained within (US) political opinions (of white men)” approach of the Puppies. It appears to be the belief that adding a (white, male) US Evangelical Fundamentalist to the Unitarian Universalist Picnic in Eugene Oregon would add greater diversity than adding a (black, lesbian) person from Jamaca or a (transwoman) person from North Korea. I can’t say as I buy into that belief but it is striking.
I trust it is clear that, since I am writing about civility, I feel that there are definitely ethical dimensions to what is happening in our genre, and how it is being handled.
I’m curious what you mean here. The only unethical behavior I have observed has been on the Puppy side. I’m thinking of gaming the nominations in the first place, for example.
What are you thinking of?
I am simply encouraging persons who find themselves using words as weapons to examine if it really achieves anything what they want to achieve.
You really need to be talking to the Puppies here. Sarah Hoyt, Dave Freer, Cedar Sanderson and Kate Paulk in particular seriously need to hear from you.
As I said, I await with eagerness the time when your desire for civility as an end in and of itself and in no way as a way to muzzle people who oppose slating leads you to publish your essay at Mad Genius Club, Monster Hunter Nation, According to Hoyt or some other leading Puppy Blog. I am deeply curious about how the Puppies will respond!
In re to the last… keep your eyes peeled, Cat! ;)
There is systemic discrimination throughout book publishing, fiction publishing, SFF publishing, bookselling, reviews and media, fan events and conventions. It’s been around the whole time of SFF’s history, and none of it is civil or ethical. But it is often seen as the totally fine cost of doing business. A black, female writer of SFF is facing obstacles and gauntlets that a white male writer of SFF will hardly even be aware exist, much less ever experience. From editors telling women authors that they won’t buy hard SFF from them to black writers seeing their SFF books thrown into the African-American section of bookstores, from writers organizations that ignore non-white-male members while taking their dues to conventions that won’t put them on panels, from reviewers who are statistically biased towards white male authors to bigoted book covers created for reasons mainly of habit, there are problems, long standing problems. Fans in disenfranchised groups also face harassment, violence, and challenges to their participation, and fans of all groups face a paucity of offerings that limits the growth of the genres and their market, including for WSM authors.
People have been working to get conventions to have simple harassment policies that were standardized and enforced for a long time, to try and break down some of that discrimination. It’s still going on and it’s been an uphill battle the whole way. Because the claim was that there was no discrimination, or if there was, it wasn’t very bad and people should suck it up and handle it themselves, or it would be handled and nobody needed to talk about, and primarily, how rude and uncivil that people were bringing it up and talking about it truthfully. It would tear SFF fandom apart and destroy it!
And even when harassment policies were put in place due to the rude words, prominently distributed to convention goers, staff taught what to do, when an author illegally swatted their Guest of Honor and tried to get police to raid the convention and shoot people, WorldCon threw their code of conduct out to let the author go to the award banquet and told everybody else to suck it up and be civil because unity. Things don’t change in this area because of civility. It changes when you rip off the veneer of civility that keeps discrimination in place and demand it change. Which is why there are now giant white signs with the code of conduct notice at entrances to DragonCon, a convention co-founded by a pedophile who was allowed to hunt freely with people pretending everything was fine in its early days. But it’s not just about dealing with individual behavior. It’s about mass social attitudes and systemic industry discrimination that isn’t civil but pretends to be, and insists that when non-white or women, etc. authors talk about it, they not upset everybody else’s tea time.
The Sad Puppies believe that systemic discrimination in SFF mostly doesn’t exist and that it’s being made up as an excuse for a political coup, with Marxist authoritarians infiltrating the whole industry and fandom and trying to take over and drive resistance out, destroying SFF. Or so they’ve said. (And also, they think the liberal writers’ books mostly suck and the nominees for Best Novel aren’t at all popular. Neil Gaiman — not popular! George Martin — not popular! China Mieville — not popular! Mira Grant — not popular! Bujold — not, oh wait, she’s Baen.) The Rabid Puppies believe that systemic discrimination does exist, and that it’s a good thing. Because it targets those who are evil, corrupt, perverted, child twisting, Marxist, emasculating, etc. destroyers of all that is good and light in the world. Or so they’ve said.
So you can see why they would have common cause. And also see why, when flack hit the Sad Puppies for partnering up with Beale, they would want to appear to separate and then demand to be separate, while still trying to reap benefits from the previous partnership.
It’s saddening that Mr. Gannon was drafted by the Sad Puppies without his consent, which was unethical, and lied to about what they were doing, which was unethical, while they also claimed that Baen was a haven of conservatism that they spoke for (or didn’t but were still protecting, depending on the day.) That made Gannon, as well as Baen, a target for a lot of anger and I’m sure it was unpleasant. And everybody knows that Mr. Gannon, Mr. Flint, Mr. Martin, the impressive Mr. Gerrold, etc., have the best of intentions. It’s just that what they are asking authors and fans in repressed groups — the direct and indirect targets of the Puppies ire — to do or consider in the name of civility isn’t civil and it’s not ethical. It’s just a clueless plea for quiet as if everybody were kindergarteners who’ve had too much juice, so that most of those problems that got dragged onto the carpet from this thing get put back in the cupboard, or at least are easier to ignore.
I am not particularly interested in the Puppies, either group, in terms of the whole industry. They’re not going to tear anything apart, the Hugos are fine. They are just a loud splinter of a wider, on-going problem. I’m concerned about the black, female fan who is challenged by other fans about her right to be at a convention, who has her hair and body touched, and when she complains to convention staff, is told that she’s being rude and exaggerating and needs to find common ground with her harassers because fandom is a community, or she can leave. I’m concerned with Asian authors who are being told by industry people the incorrect claim that Asian fantasy mostly doesn’t sell, so they only do a few including those written by white authors, so maybe Asian writers want to choose another field altogether and not be so rude about objecting to this business reality that isn’t actually a reality. It’s the polite conversations that go on behind closed doors, and the brazen delusions of booksellers about SFF fans that cause a lot more damage.
I’m not for illegal acts by anyone — death and rape threats, stalking, doxxing, swatting like Antonelli did. And I’ve said that I find the Puppies drafting people without consent and lying about what they were doing unethical. But the past was not nicer and more polite than the present. It was more vicious, violent and repressive — and more secretive about it. And I have no interest in going back to it. Angry words got those signs and a code of conduct at DragonCon, angry words get white-washed book covers changed by publishers, angry words can make people think and discriminatory practices and biases changed. So every individual does, yes, need to consider their words. And that includes understanding that telling people to think about being civil and ethical can be a weapon of silencing.
Oops, my friend just let me know that the big white signs she’d been talking about were actually at Fan Expo in Toronto. But I know they have similar stuff at Dragon Con and for conventions in general, the point still holds. Just wanted to be more accurate there.
I only asked if they were recommending Beale too. Brad saud he was not included. So, no lie there. Beyond that, the eventual matrix of association s was not something I asked about nor foresaw.
Gannon, I suspect that when Kat Goodwin said the Pups “lied to [you] about what they were doing”, she was referring to whatever socially-acceptible verbiage (perhaps something in the neighborhood of gosh, we just want to make sure good works aren’t unjustly ignored) they fed you when they were tryna recruit you. If this is what Goodwin meant, said verbiage was a lie because, as subsequent events have demonstrated, the Pups have always been a Teabagger-like campaign to get Hugos, by any means necessary, for Correia, Torgersen, and ideological fellow-travellers thereof
Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ve misjudged what Goodwin wrote. If so, I am confident that Goodwin will correct my error(s), and I will gladly accept her correction(s).
I was not recruited, as I explained at the beginning. I was included on the list, and learned later.
Sorry if there was confusion. You were drafted without your consent — put on the list of a political voting slate without them first asking your permission to do so. And you were not notified that you had been put on the slate nor what the slate’s stated political agenda was. When you talked to Torgersen, he was not honest with you about what they were doing, which was the case with a number of other authors involved, not only this year, but last year in 2014, when Beale was on the voting slate list. He was not honest with you about the fact that Beale was involved in the putting together of the Sad Puppies 3 slate this year, that it was nearly identical to the Rabid Puppies’ slate, and that you were being made part of a political crusade against supposed SJW’s supposedly taking over or plotting to take over the Hugos and destroy their greatness.
They lied to you, used you and left you exposed on the Internet. If you want to say that it was just a lie of omission, I think that’s stretching it given what was involved, but fine. Some of the authors who dropped out didn’t do so simply because of Beale, but because they were being used as a political football by the Sad Puppies and had been lied to and about by the Sad Puppies.
The Sad Puppies have tried to counter a lot of anger from these slate draftees by saying that it was never a slate, even though they’d call it that off and on for the last two years — declaring that a slate was perfectly within the rules which was technically true and that evil SJW’s had them earlier, which was not — and encouraged people to vote the list, which is a voting slate. And by saying that they didn’t have a political agenda, while continually talking about their political agenda and evil SJW’s. They are still doing that. And Sad Puppies 4 will consist of a “recommendation list” where people are then contacted about and encouraged to vote for the top ten on the list — a voting slate. It does not appear that the Sad Puppies 4 intend to notify authors that they’ve been put on the new list either.
Torgersen lied and said that he’d notified the authors and artists chosen for Sad Puppies 3’s list, because that had been a complaint last year with Sad Puppies 2’s list. Then all these nominees came out of the woodwork saying they hadn’t been notified at all, as you did. And Torgersen on at least one occasion lied about what he had said to one of the authors and what she had said, which made her very publicly angry about it. So this has been going on for awhile, and the Sad Puppies shoved you into the cross-fire.
Nobody has ever had a problem with the Puppies trying to encourage people to check out what they thought was good and deserving of Hugo attention. Lots of people, as you said, do that. But the Puppies tried to have a voting slate, which, while not against the rules, wasn’t considered very civil by many. They drafted authors into it without explaining what was going on. And they stated an admittedly regularly shifting agenda of political goals about taking out what they perceive to be destructive liberal political scheming in the Hugos. Quite a lot of them also seem to think that the SFWA is an evil organization that runs WorldCon and the Hugos.
I don’t actually have a problem with voting slates if it’s allowed in the rules. I do have a problem with the Puppies unethically drafting authors they supposedly wanted to help and being dishonest and misleading about what they were doing. With the GG and cohorts dragged in too, it exposed a lot of people to situations they never asked for. It’s not looking good for next year, but who knows. But if you’re encouraging people to consider being “civil” to them, you’re going to get a lot of argument on it.
What Cat and Kat said. It’s the Puppies who have shown un-civil behavior all along, with slates, GG, swatting, insults, misinformation, etc. Attempts to placate them with reason and logic have simply caused them to double down on the cheating, lies, and insults.
That Chuck failed to foresee where it was leading last year suggests he hadn’t paid any attention to the two previous years! I’m disinclined to follow the lecturing of someone who was unable to see what the Pups had out there plain as day. It shows a remarkable lack of engagement with the field and the process. It’d be like me taking driving advice from a 15 year old who’s just gotten their learner’s permit and has memorized the DMV booklet. Thanks, kid — I think I’ll take my 30+ years of experience in all kinds of roads, all kinds of weather, 20 or so different states, 3 countries and 2 different measuring systems.
You (and others) were lied to, Chuck, and all the civility in the world isn’t going to work with people like that.
(Besides, with all those big academic words you use, the Pups are going to look down on you anyway. You’re obviously one of those pointy-headed intellectuals who are causing the Marxist gay downfall of society.)
Folks, as I tried to imply earlier and will now explicitly state, I really don’t have more time to spend on this. I said what I came to say. I’m sorry if some people felt the terms were unwelcome, the tone one of lecturing. I have never claimed to have complete knowledge of the compendium of details re the debates. If that means you think I should remain mute…well, you’re entitled to your opinion. But none of my post’s observations about discourse depend upon or address the history of the debate: they are structural/functional analyses of the state of discourse in our genre and the consequences of he various choices that might be made.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Nobody here believes that you should be mute, Mr. Gannon. Some of us believe you may be well intentioned but not looking at the full scope of things. Because the structural analysis of the state of discourse in the field is that we’ve never had unity and that we’ve had a lot of structural discrimination that is going to be an on-going discussion and issue well beyond the Puppies. And that on-going discussion is not going to tear SFF down, because it hasn’t torn SFF down — it’s made it a more open field for everybody. But in trying to do that, the on-going discussion is not always going to be civil because it’s not a civil topic. And even if people are super-duper polite, they’re still going to get called impolite and uncivil for bringing up the topic of discrimination in the first place.
And even if people dropped the conversation altogether, and women, gay, non-white, etc. authors who aren’t conservatives never said a word about discrimination while trying to publish under it and fans did nary a peep of complaint about conventions, etc., they would still get called impolite and uncivil for existing in the field and being slightly more present and visible than they seemed before. Because that’s how this shit goes and has gone in SFF in the past.
So what you’re mostly getting is impatience, because we’ve been down this road before. It doesn’t meant your efforts are not appreciated, or that we have no sympathy for what you went through.
So… after all is said and done, Gannon’s message to the Whatever commentariat can be summarized Uncivil behavior can have extremely undesirable consequences. Also, I got no friggin’ clue how to get to Civil Discourse from where we’re starting right now.
Um… is there anybody in the Whatever commentariat who isn’t long since aware that uncivil behavior can have undesirable consequences? What the heck was Gannon’s point in telling us something we already knew? It could have been nifty if Gannon’s academic perspective allowed him to reach a conclusion, or devise a practical course of action, that would not be thought of by people who lack his academic perspective. But, well, Gannon didn’t have any better ideas than anybody else—or if he did have any such ideas, he was careful not to display any vestigial sign of such ideas in the comments he posted here.
So… why did Gannon bother? Curious. Quite curious indeed.
Mr. Gannon’s letter is well-written, thoughtful, polite and, as is discussed in so many varied ways in the thread above, misses the point. I would be honored to sit down with him, attend an event where he spoke or read one of his books but I would not want to take his advice and waste time ‘talking amiably’ with the unprincipled people who have aligned themselves with the puppies. These are people who by constitution and intent are not part of the communication process. They are not amiable but childish; worse, cretins who have divorced themselves from reality so thoroughly that they believe wanting a thing is identical to having earned it.
The missed connection in Mr. Gannon’s argument is relationship. I will deal with and compromise in disagreements between colleagues, co-workers, family and friends because these are important relationships in my life. Puppies? I do not know the individuals who part of the group but I do see them fouling an honored institution for reasons of greed and disrespect. In what way then is it rational for me to do anything other than shut the door in their faces and turn my attention to more worthwhile pursuits?
Or, to put this in a TL;DR way: Fuck ‘em. I should not be expected to be polite to the impolite.
The point is that civility without passivity has zero costs and various direct and indirect benefits. Unless what you want to pursue *is* extermination or exexpulsion of the Other. It is offered strictly as a diagnostic for the reasons I state at the outset: to exhort (rather than merely analyze or provide an explication of alternatives) puts one within the debate and colors the attempt to provide perspective. Also, there is no single answer that leads to group action until attitudes/civility are alterrd accdg to individual choice.
As far as why post here: I explain that in the first para. And kt js not my intent to restrict it to this site.
All of which has been said releatedly earlier in this post&thread. It is difficult to see how Cubist’s remarks are not mere cherrypicked contention-bait or a test of the limits of my own civility. This Kat, is what I was referring to: wben one’s motives and basic competence are repeatedly doubted or impugned without regard to multiple prior replies to precisely these reservation s that is prett much consistent with an attempt to derail and end useful exchange. However, I appreciate and shall remember your own genuine engagement and warmth Kat and hope I shall have the opportunity to thank you in person one day.
I am , however, finished here.
Chuck Gannon, if you have said what you have to say, you don’t need to feel constrained to keep replying. Conversely, no one is trying to mute you. This has been a civil discussion, just as you were advocating. Yet you appear to feel hard done by, finding resentment when commenters disagreed with your or were somewhat dismissive (I will put myself in the latter category) and suggesting obliquely that one or more participants think you should be mute when nobody has said anything of the kind. Theory will take you only so far. It’s in the application that true communication occurs, and I’m puzzled by some of your more recent responses. Civil communication will not always lead to consensus. But it is not the case that the only other possibility is exclusion or extermination.
Part of the problem is that you frame your arguments as if the world consists of the U.S. Those of us who live outside the U.S. are aware that the world does not consist of the U.S, and many of us object to being shanghaied into the U.S. culture wars since we really do not care about your culture wars.
We do care when the assumption that the world consists of the U.S. threatens Worldcon itself, and in this respect you are perpetuating that assumption. It is not civil to threaten Worldcon itself, however politely you phrase it, just as it is not civil to claim that the membership of Loncon engaged in the criminal offences of conspiracy and fraud. Yet the 2015 Puppy campaign repeated those charges ad nauseam, with nary an apology in sight for the people who were libelled.
These are matters of substance; your apparent assumption that Worldcon is, in fact, U.S. Con, is immensely damaging. It is difficult to see how we can go forward when we are being urged, however politely, to accept that we don’t exist…
Gannon: Let me be perfectly clear, I’m neither “puppy” nor “anti-puppy.” My own beliefs are so darn eclectic that I doubt any group would have me. But beyond that, there is this purely functional consideration: any resolution to a conflict (short of unilateral annihilation) cannot be achieved through strident advocacy for or by any one side.
OK, this entire paragraph bugs the shit out of me. the first 2.5 sentences seem to be saying nothing but “Look! Look how moderate I am! Anything else is an extremist position!” The next bit makes the tired and wrong argument that in a verbal exchange, “strident advocacy” by one side is one fucking step away from physical “unilateral annihilation”. First of all, even in actual war, its not like the only two options are “let them win” or “nuke them from orbit”. But the Puppies gamed the rules to nominate shitty books for awards, that isn’t annihilation. They’re a bunch of bigots, who, for the most part advocate for bigotry from behind their keyboards in their parents basements. Even in the realm of bigotry, there are degrees, with lynchings and murders on one end and fuckwads saying “but they have a point” somewhere not on the end.
The problem I have with this bullshit paragraph comes down to the fact that it claims to be arguing for civility while at the same time painting everything into entirely black/white positions. If you’re not civil, you’re one step away from enacting unilateral annihilation. If you’re stridently advocating for one side, you’re one step away from nuking the planet from orbit. I’m supposed to take this seriously?
The pups aren’t ISIS and they aren’t the KKK. They’re not even the Tea Party. They’re a bunch of whiney bigots who enlisted a bunch of other whiney bigots to game the rules and load the nominations for a Science Fiction award with the names of themselves and other whiney bigots or people they identified with on some tribal/bigotted level. That’s what they are. That’s what they did. There are no redeeming qualities about the Puppies. There is nothing positive the Puppies contributed to the Hugos or SF awards or science fiction as a whole. And there is a WHOLE lot that the Pups did that was bigoted and selfish, on top of which becoming allies with the gamergater bigots just adds to their mess.
So, yeah, I am “anti-puppy”.
And Gannon’s paragraph seems to be trying to argue that to be anti-puppy is one step from unilateral annhilation. One step from violence. One step from being as bad or worse than the pups.
Fuck that. And fuck this bullshit argument.
“Why? The answer is one of the most consistent and simple phenomena of social dynamics, one as old as history itself. You cannot be primarily committed to facilitating equable and balanced communication and be a partisan leader. “
Ah, I see.
Here’s the crux of the problem with this argument: You are not moderating the debate between pups and anti-pups. No one is.
Sure, if you were a therapist who was doing marriage counseling, your best position would be to be neutral, balanced, and facillitate equable communication between husband and wife (or whatever gender combination). A therapist would try to get both sides to say what is bothering them, what they are committed to, and try to get the other person to hear both the cost and impact of their actions as well as the committments that their partner has for their relationship.
But this is not therapy. Most group public interactions are NOT therapy. Most public debates do not have a moderator trying to get both sides to hear and understand their opponents. There are people who support womens rights including abortions and then there are people who are willing to lie about who they are, try to bait planned parenthood into saying incriminating things, and then when that doesn’t work, they do massive edits to the videotape to make it look like evil things are afoot. No one is the “moderator” in that interaction.
When you look at the history of America making advances in human rights, it seems that it is almost always the case that there is no “moderator” between the two factions. That instead both sides stridently advocate for their cause and the american people as a whole swing around to one point of view or another.
There is no moderator between pups and anti-pups. The pups gamed the rules for Hugo nominations, and it would appear that fans as a whole pretty much reacted with horror and voted the pups out.
Now, the question would be *why* did the fans react with horror? Was it because they read some politely worded argument against the pups? Was it because they read some blog post that was “facilitating equable and balanced communication” between pup and antipup? Or did fans read some post that called out the rabid pup leader as a bigotted sack of shit?
The issue I have with the underlying assumption of your entire post is that you think you’re moderating a discussion between pup and antipup and that will somehow reach a conclusion. But that’s entirely NOT how it worked. The only thing that mattered was the Hugo vote. The nominations were already in, and all that was left was to either vote for the pups or against them. And when it was done and the pups all came below no award, there still is no moderating of any discussion between pup and antipup.
The pups STILL think they’ve been wronged. The pups STILL think they are unjustly persecuted. The pups STILL think it was SJW’s and the cabal that got them the no awards. The pups STILL think if people voted on merits only, they would have won some of the hugos.
There is no moderating a discussion between that nonsense and reality. No one is acting as moderator for that discussion. YOU ARE NOT MODERATING the discussion between pup and antipup. You might be TRYING, but the thing is, you’re basically trying to be therapist or marriage counselor between two people who aren’t even married and never agreed to counseling.
You have no power as moderator between pups and antipups. Because the pups have made clear they wont listen to anyone or anything that disagrees with their bigotted propaganda.
And you calling on anti-pups to be “moderate” is like calling on the husband to take the position of moderator because there is no marriage counselor and the wife has been cheating on him for years. That only weaken’s the husband’s position.
There is no moderator. There is no neutral third party that has any actual power to mediate a conversation between pup and antipup. There is no intermediary acting as counselor between pup and antipup. The only way this works is both sides stridently argue their positions and then the voters vote. And in this case, thank god, the voters voted the pups down.
If you are “primarily committed to facilitating equable and balanced communication”, then you are applying for the position of therapist between two people who have made no agreement to even listen to you.
Gannon: you’re starting to hit mansplaining bingo. Good terms for you to learn: tone policing, false equivalences, and heck, mansplaining.
I’m really surprised you were given this forum at all.
This site is John Scalzi’s and he can invite whoever he likes to put forward their points of view so that we can discuss it; that’s one of the reasons people value Whatever. Echo chambers really aren’t fun after the first five minutes.
I will happily agree with your observations provided I can substitute anti-slaters for anti-pups; I don’t care who puts a slate together. I care about stuffing the ballot, no matter who is doing the stuffing…
nicoleandmaggie, perhaps OGH saw the potential for a meaty discussion. I think that has been achieved.
I think there is a glaring omission from the essay, however–so big that it was almost invisible. The focus of the essay was on civility, but Dr. Gannon never defined the term “civility,” as would have been done near the beginning of a well-written essay. I’m kicking myself for not noticing it early on and bringing it up when it might have been useful to have that definition. I edit academic research articles for a living, and that’s the kind of thing I query frequently when authors skip that step.
Didn’t get away from the screen fast enough, and that was good, because I want to respond to your excellent point, Stevie. I completely concur with your point about my post and the distinctly American focus of it. This was, in part, a choice of framing an argument to constrain its scope. The larger issue of what is happening to international fandom would be a sprawling topic with an immense number of crucial subtopics. This post was essentially focused upon one dimension (the state of discourse) in one subtopic/subset (an overlap point between American cultural divides and the current genre debate).
The process of narrowing a point for analysis carries with it the impossible burden of beginning by stipulating all the other urgent points it is *not* including or focusing upon. My election to focus on this particular point arose from the frequently invoked parallels between similar intensifying incivility and polarization in many other areas of American cultural discourse. In short, “SF&F discourse in the US” seems to be influenced by those greater, underlying cultural debates and frictions and I think is best understood as being (in part) fueled and/or given powerful relevance and urgency because of them.
There is a second reason I kept my references almost exclusively American. I have lived outside the US (slightly more than a year in the UK; about three months in both the Czech Republic and Spain, usually on a Fulbright) enough to be extremely wary of presuming I know the state of discourse in another culture/nation, or its perspective upon American discourse. I And any assumption of familiarity with it, of speaking either of or to it, veers toward an unsupportable appropriation of it. (Where “it” is, in itself, a problematically unitary formulation.) So Stevie, my American focus, while intentional, is an unfortunate artifact of an earnest attempt to both stay within that ground where I am not appropriating the discourse of other cultures/countries, and to also keep the frame from becoming too sprawling.
Frankly, an abiding concern of mine is that the World Con and its award has been anything *but* global in its reach or expression. I don’t presume that this is intentional, but it obtains, nevertheless. I saw this year as a potential opportunity to begin to remedy that through structural changes. In short, global economics means that a $40 membership fee is functionally excluding a large part of the world’s actual or potential fans and participants: that cost is unsupportable in so many parts of the world.
NIcoleandmaggie, my last comment is to you. I’m sorry you feel I’m mansplaining. I am familiar with all those terms. I believe there is a significant difference in explaining yourself when met with apparent misunderstanding than presuming privileged agency. But I do agree with your concluding point, although for reasons different than yours, probably: in retrospect, I, too, am really surprised I was given this forum at all. I am genuinely sorry to have intruded upon a space which serves a more selective function than I had perceived.
Oh, please, stop with the victim stance, Chuck. You didn’t intrude, your presence wasn’t resented, nobody said you should remain mute, and what you mean by “serves a more selective function than I had perceived” is unclear but it seems you were expecting a different response. If you’re sorry that you came here because you don’t like how it went, just own that instead of projecting onto others the feelings you imagine they had and then apologizing for having generated those imaginary feelings. Some people agreed with points you made, others didn’t. The discussion was vigorous and multifaceted–you’ll presumably have noticed areas of disagreement even among those who didn’t agree with you. It allowed a civil airing of views–Scalzi would have malleted anyone who transgressed. What more were you expecting?
Thank you for your considered response; with the benefit of hindsight I think your original observations would have benefitted from adding the provisos you have now noted.
One of the difficulties with encouraging greater participation by reducing the $40 supporting fee is that it would make it a great deal easier for people who avowedly wish to destroy the Hugos to actually destroy them. Bluntly, if people in the third world have the equivalent of $40 they use it for the things they need to survive; reducing the cost to the equivalent of 20 or 10 is still not going to increase participation because they still need to use that money for survival.
Equally bluntly, the people who have been most vocal about destroying the Hugos are also exceedingly vocal about the innate inferiority of anyone who doesn’t look just like them, particularly when it comes to things like the colour of their skin. I see no prospect of that changing, just as I see no prospect of Beale reconsidering the value of throwing acid into women’s faces to deter them from what he regards as unwomanly activities such as getting an education.
The Puppies chose to ally themselves with someone who thinks the Taliban has some excellent ideas; it’s too late to undo that choice. There is no means of bridging the gulf between the barbaric savagery of the ideas which Beale spills over the web and those of a civilised society. Some things are beyond negotiation…
Wow. That was longer than I realized. Shorter me:
Any call for civility should be checked for whether it is calling for one side to play the part of neutral moderator when no neutral moderator exists.
Folks, as I tried to imply earlier and will now explicitly state, I really don’t have more time to spend on this.
I am , however, finished here.
Didn’t get away from the screen fast enough, and that was good, because I want to respond to your excellent point, Stevie.
@Chuck Gannon, as BW said, you should neither feel obligated to respond to anyone nor prohibited from doing so. However, when you repeatedly announce that you’re finished talking and then you keep talking, you telegraph that you’re comfortable with a conversation only when you’re controlling it.
Perhaps that’s not the message you intend to convey, but as a communications expert, I’m sure you understand that when you tell people you are done with a conversation and will not participate further, they will generally take you at your word; and that when you then jump right back into that conversation, people will also wonder why. Did you really mean it when you said you were done, or was that just a rhetorical flourish? If you did mean that you were finished, why are continuing to read the discussion – much less jump back in? If you just meant that you wished to observe the discussion but not participate further, why did you change your mind? (“Didn’t get away from the screen” is not really an explanation; the computer screen does not force you to look at it, much less to read a lengthy comment and then reply to it.) Should people assume that you have changed your mind and wish to participate, or, if you again state you are done (as you did repeatedly, both implicitly and explicitly), why should they believe you?
At the most basic level, when you’ve said you’re done talking, it’s going to have the effect of muting and shutting down people’s efforts to talk to you, since you’ve all but told them they’re shouting into empty space with no hopes that you’ll hear them. If you are, in fact, listening and possibly responding after stating that you are not and will not, then you’re not participating honestly. And if you’re not being straightforward about the manner of your communication, what does that say about the reliability of your message?
Greg, I cannot emphasize this enough: I have NO interest in being a moderator. I am only presenting tools for coexistence *IF* coexistence is desired by some people at a later point. It’s pretty clear it is not, at this juncture. But incivility is not a zero-sum activity; it keeps widening the trench between the sides.
And that was my ONY motivation here. NOT to become a moderator. God no.
Mythago: Your explication could certainly explain one persons motivations for returning to a conversation. It does not explain mine (even this time)
I posted to communicate a finite number of ideas and perspectives. There was some significant disagreement over exactly what I *was* communicating, and why I was. If I have failed to convey either accurately, and there is a chance to delay my departure and remedy that failure to communicate (however it occurred), then I will tarry long enough to try to clarify. Like this.
Coming back to try again says zero about the reliability of my message. It does say something about being an idealist and probably a bit more hopeful than I should be. And, on a purely personal level, I plead wholly guilty to the desire not to leave a room when I hear something inaccurate being claimed about me, whether innocently or intentionally. (That’s not controlling a convo; that’s refusing to be controlled by the misstatements of others involved in it.)
But no worries: I am now cured of succumbing to any of those tendencies in this place.
I’m curious to see if this time, Mr. Gannon sticks the flounce.
I’ve been trying to come up with a constructive and brief response to this excellent piece. But what’s the point.
Civility has been sacrificed on the alter of hate. And it rarely restored by each side pointing at the other and demanding it.
Thanks for your thoughts. I enjoyed them immensely.
Chuck: “I am only presenting tools for coexistence *IF* coexistence is desired by some people at a later point.”
Erm, but we WERE coexisting just fine until the pups shit in the punchbowl.
The problem with your argument is that you start from the false premise that both sides are equally at fault for the current problems here. Fuck no. The hugos were fine, the hugos ARE fine. The hugos, if anything had a rather long history of giving awards to straight white males, and when that started getting corrected in the last few years, the pups started shitting all over the place.
This is not a “everyone is at fault here, cant we all just forgive and forget” tree hugging bullshit. Thats what you keep coming back with.
You want detente? Then you need responsibility. Each side needs to be responsible for their misdeeds. And the list is extremely lopsided with the pups shitting in the punchbowl and some antipups maybe resorting to calling them nasty names for it.
You want coexistence? then the pups have to own and apologize for shitting in the punchbowl.
Until they do that, why THE FUCK would anyone want the pups to hang around “coexisting” when they have installed a toilet seat above next years punchbowl and have already promised to use it????
If this were a literal close knit family of a dozen or so people and the racist uncle got drunk every year and shouted racist obscenities at other family members, what the fuck would “coexistence” provide as any actionable solution???
Tools are actionable, and using those tools would bring you closer to resolution of the problem. All you’ve done is told the rest of the family to “be nice” to the racist uncle. Seriously? Thats not a solution. That is called *enabling the problem*.
Lets put this in concrete, actionable terms: (1) what are some specific things that antipups have done or said that is worthy of an apology that has not been applogized for already? I know of no such incident. (2) what are some specific actions and statements that the pups have done or said that are worthy of an apology and the pups have not yet apologized for? The list would fill this entire thread.
There is the fucking problem. What does your “solution” do about that??? Nothing.
And as far as “well, when people DO finally want to coexist, here are some tools to help” seriously??? If the pups actually apologized sincerely and acted in ways to improve their behavior, I would wager that the vast majority of antipups would AUTOMATICALLY let them back into the family. Without your “tools”. You are solving a secondary problem that doesnt exist. The primary problem is the pups arent sorry for their actions and intend to do it again. If they apologized for their past actions and changed their future behavior, you posit that antipups wouldnt let them “coexist” and provide solutions for that, but its a huge assumption on your part to think all the antipups would hold grudges even after the pups did their best to make ammends. It actually implies the antipups are more vindictive than the pups have already demonstrated.
You want to provide solutions? Then start with the actual problem at hand. The pups shat on the punchbowl and some plan on doing it again next year. Solution? Change the nomination process so they cant shit in the punchbowl again once the rules are changed.
@Stevie– I can still be surprised. A mild emotional response to an action isn’t equivalent to a condemnation of that action. Just because I thought that was a really long essay that makes a tired and privileged point (which is something I’m not used to Scalzi promoting– usually points are either pithier or more thought-provoking) doesn’t mean I am in any way condemning his action. There are lots of places on the internet that I wouldn’t be surprised if they posted something like this– I tend to frequent them far less often than I frequent Whatever. So I’m really not sure where you’re getting your lecture from.
Well Mr. Gannon may have left, and I appreciate his attempts to engage. But there is one sentence of his new posts that stuck out for me that is important to my earlier posts. He said:
The problem with that sentence is, of course, that civility with or without passivity has zero costs only for white straight male authors and fans — whichever the issue, the people on the up axis don’t have costs to being civil and very seldom for being uncivil. For anybody else, civility with or without passivity has oodles of cost. So does incivility with or without passivity. Engaging not at all either way also again has enormous costs, because those who are in repressed groups cannot avoid costs — they are impressed on them regularly, simply because they are in repressed groups and visible. The costs come not really from their individual behavior, but from the social discrimination of how they are treated and viewed as a group.
And that is the problem with folks like Mr. Gannon, Martin, Flint, etc. in dealing with this, with the calls for civilized discourse. They want it to be a level playing field, so they pretend it is one. So their “data” is skewed by the very bias that is the main problem. They have a hard time accepting and dealing with the effect of systemic discrimination in the industry and in fandom. They have a hard time understanding that a black female author is having to deal with an entirely different set of factors and experiences than they are, for no reason at all and because of very uncivil social norms. And they have trouble understanding that it is a traditional demand of those who benefit from discrimination to suggest or demand that those facing the discrimination be civil as a way of controlling the discussion and avoiding the issues of that discussion and the discomfort caused by facing the reality of discrimination presented without a cushion.
Thus, it can be very difficult to make good-hearted folk like Mr. Gannon understand that what they are suggesting is avoidance, not detente. And that discrimination does not require malice and individual aggressive behavior to occur, that it is instead institutional, and that changing it requires a frank, not civil discussion, in which the full pain, emotion and damage of that discrimination are impolitely shoved in nice people’s faces until they can’t avoid it anymore and social attitudes and habits change. And that doing so does not burn anything down or destroy institutions, (nor creates a thought police Marxist totalitarian state as the Puppies claim,) but makes them fairer and more open to all.
The costs of civility for those in repressed groups is that discrimination and its damage continue and most pretend it doesn’t exist or requires none of their concern. That’s a higher cost for many than the costs of incivility and calls for change. (Though both sets of costs include violence to them.) And since even those who are civil (respectability politics,) from repressed groups will be called uncivil (such as by the Puppies,) there really is little advantage to civility for those already the targets of an uncivil system. It does not create unity, reciprocation, change towards less discrimination. It leaves people stuck in the same position they were. Civility does still occur as part of the discussion, but calls for it to be the number one strategy are not dealing with the realities of the situation.
And certainly not the realities of the Puppies who very, very much want any mention of these problems to go down a deep well. So much that they are trying to take out an award to do it. Instead, they just shone a bright light on what those problems are. Ann Leckie very civilly went about her writing career and people liked it and she got nominated for every award there was practically. They still attacked her anyway.
So the uncivil discussions will keep happening. And this is actually going to build a stronger community. But the discussions are not really with the Puppies. The uncivil discussions are for convention runners who don’t want to deal with harassment issues — because that’s how we get change in dealing with harassment; for panel organizers, for other authors who are clueless about discrimination, for booksellers who are openly racist because they think the market requires it, for reviewers who stick mainly to white guys, for SFF publishers who only publish maybe 15% of their books with non-white authors and whose marketing of their women authors is mostly abysmal. Because the industry is not civil to all, and that’s not going to change unless that gets rudely pointed out again and again for the nastiness it is.
I hope that Mr. Gannon can have come away from this with not just the thought that some people are angry towards him (though again, most of that anger is really frustration,) but with listening to the actual content of what he thought was rude. Because his costs-benefits assessments are off, and that actually has more potential damage for others than the screaming of Puppies.
Well… after reading all of Chuck’s replies… and the weaselyness of it all… I understand so much more about the authors chosen for the puppy slate. I am actually breathless over the vastness of smarmy, privileged, “above it all”, shadowy tongue clucking I just read.
An author calls for peaceful and civil discourse, no one agrees. Someone calls for anything else, everyone agrees.
No one agrees with “peaceful and civil discourse” that is preserved for only the most privileged amongst us.
As a head’s up, I’m going to close this thread for good later this evening (probably around 9pm). So: Final statements, please!
Oh dear, we’ve hurt Chuck’s WM fee-fees; will he become a Puppy? (@Rob in CT: the flounce seems to have stuck this time.)
Civility is great when the sides are equal. I suggest Chuck read OGH’s “Lowest Difficulty Setting”, and Kat’s last post and think on them some more. And Greg’s punchbowl metaphor really says it all.
How am I privileged? Most of my family has barely graduated high school, if at all. I was the first of 20 some odd grandchildren to graduate college. I am currently paying for it.
This article, http://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/, might shed some light on the issue, and on why people might want to react with civility. A lot of the objection to Gannon seems to be coming from the people who want to strike out at the other side and don’t want to hear about civility for fear that it will prevent them from doing so. They want to strike out, they feel justified in striking out, they feel they deserve to strike out. “Someone is *wrong* on the internet!” But as Gannon points out, there is nothing that one side can do or say that will prevent people on the other side from doing or saying what they want – this is a war of words, and words can’t make the other side stop.
So you need to think about what you want to accomplish with your words. If you just want to vent your rage at the other side, civility is unnecessary and even counterproductive. But if you’re hoping to convert someone who’s loosely attached to the other side, or someone who is just learning of the controversy, it’s likely that a civil discussion will be more helpful than a vitriolic one. Note that civility is not surrender; civility requires only that you recognize what the other side is claiming, and then calmly address those claims with your own view of the situation. Civility in no way requires you to agree with any claim from the other side.
Wow, that was hilarious to catch up on. Multiple flounces, grade-C mansplaining…
If you want to be taken seriously, stick the fucking flounce.
As for the subject of discussion as a whole: I’m just going to say this, without the 360 inventive curse words and lengthy explanation that might have gotten my last attempt to post it moderated: I hate Gamergate because some of those shitheels hacked my depressed best friend friend’s MMO account, sent her death and r*** threats, and she tried to kill herself. I had to drive her to the hospital while my other best friend (who was confined to the toilet due to a colitis flare-up) called her parents.
I’m fucking pissed.
The Puppies? They’re sexist, racist shitheels who sabotaged one of SFF fandom’s most hallowed traditions because they were whiny crybabies. And their rhetoric is effectively indistinguishable from the Gamergate shitweasels.
And that’s all I’m willing to say on the matter due to extremely passionate personal feelings on the issue.
I’m going to go ahead and close up the thread now, and with that, I’ll note that I have officially come to the end of thinking about the Hugos for 2015. If other people decide they want to, that’s their business, but as for here, my plan is let it be through the end of the year. Because, fuck me, I’m tired of them.
May I also suggest that you let it go as well? Surely the rest of your 2015 is better spent doing something else with your time. I’m not saying you have to. I’m just saying you should. That goes for everyone.