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Brexit: Fear and Loathing among the Latte Crowd
Hate to Say I Told You So
Rise of the Social Justice Warrior: Decline of the Left
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Good Walls make Good Neighbors
One Thing RequiresHate had Right
A Double Standard in Japan
Truth at last: The United Federation of Planets
This Time it's Embarrassing: Requires Hate Returns to her Old Tricks.
We are all Tories now.
Neither Social nor Just: Rise of the New Hate.
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Good Walls make Good Neighbors

Sad Puppies, RequiresHate, Gamergate, Rossgate, and why the only solution to the culture wars is ideological segregation

Like many people who still have some kind of interest in the science-fiction community (if only the ghoulish interest of watching it become ever more dysfunctional and unpleasant until, hopefully, it finally falls apart) I've been fascinatedly watching the latest bunfight. This time it's the 'hijacking' of the Hugo awards by the 'Sad Puppies', a broadly right-wing coalition that's kicking up a shitstorm in SF (though this is not a great achievement, SF fandom is shitstorms all the way down. It's basically a pile of crazy people who talk about 'inclusion' and 'diversity' and 'tolerance', while constantly fighting and backstabbing each other, and viciously mobbing any unfortunate outsider who happens to blunder onto their turf, rather like the Soviet Union under Stalin). Over time quite a bit of my sympathy has swung puppy-wise, but this is not because I really see them as being any better than the SF left, it's purely because the SF left currently has control of science-fiction, and is battling to preserve it's privileges. They have the disadvantage of incumbency. If the situation were ever to swing around, and the Puppies gained control of the instruments of fandom, I don't doubt that they would be just as abusive of their position as the SF left have been (although some of them do seem to have better manners, I will admit). In fact, even if they meant well, I don't think the Puppies could prevent things going sour on their watch. Both sides have toxic actors in their ranks, pushing an ideology of hate. The only difference is who the targets are. Neither side is willing, prepared, or able to control these toxic actors. The future of the community is thus destined to be war without end, amen.

The 'Sad Puppies' organized a slate of publications for their followers to vote for, reducing the esteemed Hugo awards to a fraudulent circus resembling, oh, I don't know, something as despicable as free elections in a first world country. The result does look strange, with one writer (John C Wright) being represented in waaaaay to many categories. Likely they didn't expect to achieve this kind of dominance, and now they have it does look a rather questionable tactic.

But then it gets worse. Entering into the fray in competition with the 'Sad Puppies' is a more worrying group, the 'Rabid Puppies', led by SF's top bad-boy, Theodore Beale (also known as Vox Day). Mr Beale/Day is nominated in two categories for the awards, and given his hateful rhetoric, no-one wants to see him win. Mr Day has never quite sunk to the levels of his left-wing equivalent (of whom more below) but he's certainly a worrying character. He's apparently expressed support for Norweigan Terrorist Andres Breivik, and is apparently opposed to women's suffrage. I say 'apparently' because Mr Day never says anything straight, preferring instead to structure his statements in a suitably deniable fashion. So, for instance, he won't say "I think Andres Breivik was a hero", he'll say "I will not be in the least bit surprised if Anders Breivik is one day regarded as a national hero in Norway," and thus he can always deny having supported Breivik and his acts. One thing you have to give to Mr Day though, he's a good strategist, and he understands that the 'social justice warriors' are effectively making his case for him. When I encountered my first, out-and-out social justice warrior, I mistakenly assumed they were a right-wing false-flag operation. I now accept they weren't, but it really doesn't matter, the new third-wave-feminist-left has the *effect* of a right-wing false-flag operation, and Mr Day gets this. Mr Day is one of the few people in the game with a deft political touch, and I think that's because he's only really motivated by self-promotion, and his political positions are just shock-jock tactics.

The other great shock-jock (jockess? jockette? jockatrix?) of science fiction was, of course "All that's Required is That You Hate". This is the person who, when I first encountered them, I believed to be an agent provocateur sent by some right-wing conspiracy. The main reason for this was her extreme, weird, feminazi world-view which resembled a wet-dream dreamt up by the UK's right-wing hate-rag, "The Daily Mail". RequiresHate used similar arguments to those that I'd heard come from right-wing extremists, except the targets were switched to be white people, and especially white men. If she were still at the top of her game I'd imagine that she'd be saying "I will not be in the least bit surprised if Seifeddine Rezgui is one day regarded as a national hero in Tunisia," although RequiresHate didn't generally beat about the bush like Mr Day: She was operating under a pseudonymous identity, and even after her supposed 'outing' it's questionable we really know who was behind her. Thus she was prepared to be a lot more direct and forceful in stating her "Kill Whitey" opinion. And guess what, most of these 'progressives' that we keep hearing so much about, loved her. I believe she was even nominated for awards, though she didn't make the final ballot. To be fair, quite a number of people who would consider themselves 'progressives' (but what does that term actually mean?) were opposed to her, and others came to their senses later (something that you have to give them credit for, it's tough to admit you were had). But still, for years no-one had any problem with her tactics. Most of the community, being left-wing themselves, either supports this unpleasantness openly, looks the other way, quails in terror, or feigns ignorance. So long as it's their 'side' dishing it out, nothing gets done. Thus the 'Sad Puppies' are right in their claim that the left gamed the awards, and indeed everything, before they did: the left drives opposition out and silences it by underhand means.

Which brings us to the question of the utter, stomach-turning hypocrisy of most of the science-fiction left. Much (not all, for instance not bomb-threats to places where people from 'the other side' would be lecturing, but much) of what happened in #Gamergate, RequiresHate did first, and no-one had any problem with it. So long as death threats and #KillAllMen hastags were hitting the 'right people', the left would support them. Then the same people would turn around and rend their clothes in horror when Gamergate produced #KillAllFeminists.

Of course, the lefties in the culture war will turn around and say "RequiresHate doesn't represent all of us" ("not all lefties", "not all feminists", a form of argument that most of them have consistently rejected when the defence was "not all men". It's true, of course, not all feminists supported RequiresHate, and in fact those that didn't were probably the only people who could take her down, and in the end they did). However, they expect to deploy this argument without extending the same courtesy to other groups. Science-fiction lefties, and people on the left in general, will hold all members of Gamergate, or even all gamers (or even all men) responsible for the death-threats sent to Ms Sarkesian. Well, in that case, all culture-war lefties ("social justice warriors") should be held responsible for the actions and statements of RequiresHate.

New Left ideology now consists largely of double standards and special pleading. The left has, for instance, made great use of online pressure to get people who "say the wrong things" fired from the jobs, Tim Hunt being the most recent case. However, when someone like Irene Gallo says wrong things, the left rallies to their defence. The SF left is outraged that Ms Gallo had to apologise for her actions, and that her employer, Tor Books, also issued an apology. But Ms Gallo's remarks, describing everyone involved in the Sad and Rabid puppies as 'neo-nazis', were completely out of order (likely made in the heat of the moment, there's a lot of anger and rage in SF right now, on both sides). Consider for a moment how things would have gone if any of a number of people on the Puppies side had decided to go to court over those statements. Both Ms Gallo and Tor books did the right thing in issuing an apology, and I'm of the opinion that calls for Ms Gallo to be fired from her job (such calls being mostly co-ordinated by Vox Day) are going too far: if you can lose your job for speaking your mind, however unwise your mind might be, then only people who don't need to work will be able to speak their minds.

The next case is drawn from outside the SF community this time, because I meet too many people who think this problem is local to SF fandom.Bahar Mustafa, (more here) is the 'diversity and welfare officer' at a Goldsmiths students union. She's called people who angered her "white trash", she's tweeted comments under a "KillAllWhiteMen" hashtag, and she's held events to discuss diversity from which she's specifically excluded whites, has made jokes about 'male tears' when excluding people, and she's then tried to defend this position with the leftist double-standard argument that there's no such thing as racism towards white people. If I were a student there, I wouldn't trust her to look after my welfare. This is a different situation, because Ms Mustafa is holding a position that her statements imply she is not competent to perform, she does not seem to be the kind of person who can argue for the welfare of all students under her aegis, in so far as some of those students will be white and male. You would expect this means she has to go, and 165 students signed a petition requesting that, but apparently that wasn't enough votes to get her removed. Now 2000 people online have signed a counter-petition in her support. In the meantime people like Tim Hunt, who made inappropriate but much less hateful remarks, are fired without a vote being necessary.

Another science-fictional outrage was "Rossgate", where Jonathon Ross volunteered to MC the Hugo awards at the UK worldcon in 2014, only to have himself and his family hounded by an outraged twitter mob, many of whom didn't know anything about him, and some of whom stated that their main problem with him was his race and gender. Ross has been a controversial character in the past (see his wikipedia page) but let us not forget, that there were people appearing on panels at worldcon who had been supporters of RequiresHate (I'm not going to single people out, if you don't know who they were, do some research or ask around). As usual there's one rule if your a 'social justice activist' and another rule for the rest of us.

This was though, one of the moments where we see that not everyone on the SF left is one of these 'social justice warriors'. Many people, including a number of feminists and other groups that the social-justice mob claims to speak for, were angry at this mobbing, but the mob still got what it wanted. It seems to me that they always do. I had been a worldcon supporter since the original proposal stage, but my opinion was not sought, and the matter was decided by online voices many of whom probably weren't attending worldcon.

Double standards are the norm of the modern left, who declare everything to be a 'false equivalence' and excuse racism from the likes of RequiresHate on the basis that "There's no such thing as racism towards whites", or similarly, "There's no such thing as sexism towards men". Anita Sarkesian shouldn't have had to suffer death-threats, but many of the people outraged over those, were supporting the same from RequiresHate. So long as the threats and defamation were heading in the right direction, they were fine with it. It was only when RequiresHate was revealed to also be attacking women and minorities, under cover of her vitriol towards white men, that it became possible to take her down. Once the target was someone other than white men people suddenly cared.

In the last five years we've seen that people who upset the left get hounded from their jobs, while people on the left who are far more extreme, get accolades. The right have finally started to deploy the left's tactics against them, causing much fury. Both sides now view the other as utterly evil, the left calling everyone on the right misogynists, even the women, or racists, even the people-of-color. The left judges everyone who disagrees with them as all being equivalent to Vox Day, or even Hitler (though Ms Gallo came unstuck for actually saying this). The SF right, in the form of some Sad Puppies, is returning the favor, and now considers everyone on the left to essentially be a RequiresHate footsoldier (it is unfortunately true that a lot of people were, but some of those people have now, I believe, genuinely come to their senses, and a lot of them never were). After all that has been said, it's impossible to imagine that these groups could ever bury the hatchet and return to being a 'community'.

I used to be a believer that people could live together, and that difficulties between groups, however fraught, could be overcome. For a kid with an Irish Catholic mother and an English Protestant father, bought up in a city on edge from IRA terrorism and under the constant shadow of cold-war nuclear annihilation, this is a irrationally positive worldview. But Birmingham was a multi-cultural city where people largely managed to overcome their differences and get along: that was my daily experience growing up. However, this was because working-class types are forced to get along, they're thrown into work-teams together and have to develop a modus vivendi to work together. This is increasingly not the case in the 'information age', where people often work as individuals, or select teams full of people just like them, and narcissists and careerists rule the roost because the new media is all about blowing your own trumpet. Now I've gradually come to accept that people with genuinely differing worldviews simply cannot live together. Some can, but most can't. Ergo, they will have to live separate. If things carry on as they are, then sooner or later someone's going to get hurt.

With people like Vox Day and John C Wright prominent on their side, it's quite clear that the Sad Puppies cannot create a fandom that is welcoming for all. And unfortunately, many people on the left have been educated to expect certain language and behavior, which the right neither knows nor is willing to abide by. Some of this requirement is appropriate, there's plenty of things that people shouldn't really be saying in a public setting (KillAll{Anyone} being a case in point). Some of it is "political correctness gone mad". But it is what is expected now. Furthermore, the right will not be able to control its chaos actors and bigots, even if it wants to. I'm very prepared to believe that the Sad Puppies want an inclusive fandom, and hope to deliver it, but I don't think they can. An environment dominated by the Sad Puppies would, I feel, not be a very comfortable one for certain groups, notably LGBT people.

With the left in charge fandom is already a very uncomfortable place to be a straight-white-man, (although many straight-white-men in the community will claim otherwise, but they are the ones who have stayed, it's the ones who've been driven away who could tell the truer story, and anyway, those who wish to maintain their comfort within the community, will not speak a word against it). Even if you don't get death-threats from SJW trolls (as I did) you will be faced by a constant barrage of sexist and racist language (e.g. "mansplaining" , "whitesplaining") confronted with a political ideology that blames you for everything, and if you speak up against this, you'll be sorry you did. Events have proven that the SF left cannot provide an inclusive and safe environment for all, and doesn't even want to, given that its ideology is increasingly hateful. The left is even less able to control it's bigots and chaos actors than the right, as it allies to an ideology that allows racist attacks on whites, and sexist attacks on men.

Thus, schism is the only answer. We must have at least two of everything. And this is where the Sad Puppies have made a mistake. In the storm that has followed their Hugo slate, people are starting to realize that the Hugo awards represent nothing except the literary tastes of a middle-class leftist elite that has taken control of the community. Through creating an environment of abuse and intimidation, the SF left has already 'gamed' the Hugo awards. The Sad Puppies are now battling to control something that an increasing number of people view as discredited anyway. Even if they win some of the Hugos (which I think unlikely, but you never know) they'll face a sustained hate campaign (as they currently are doing).

What the Sad Puppies should do, instead, is go off and found America. Endless religious warfare was, after all, one of the things that put the Mayflower afloat. The Puppies should create their own cons, their own awards, their own community. Most importantly this new community should have a constitution that will rule out Social Justice Warrior tactics as 'unconstitutional'. The problem they have is that, to be really successful, this community will have to be able to attract types of people who are currently supporting (and in some cases brainwashed by) the other side. Alas, I don't think they can achieve that, but I do believe they can start a community that will grow over time. Many people have observed that social-justice types gradually drive everyone out of the communities they invade, but the way to leverage this point is to create somewhere else for those people to go. If the Puppies did this, and did it well, then they'd likely one day be the bigger, more successful community (as happened with America). It would, at least, put an end to the constant fractionalism and infighting between different ideological groups. I'm not sure I'd want to be in either of the resulting two groups, so I'd like to see a 'liberal' group split off too (I do not consider SJW's to be, in any meaningful sense 'liberal').

But unfortunately there's some strange human need to fight for existing territory. So instead the choice will be to fight and fight and fight until the SF community resembles the current state of Syria. Which is pretty much where we are now.