Gallo’s Humor.

Ah Jeez, here we go again.

The gun, it smokes.

The gun, it smokes.

The weird thing is, I completely see where Irene Gallo was coming from. I sympathize. I know what it’s like to see the assholes piling up outside the gate, to roll your eyes and shake your head at the inanities and the outright lies— even though it’s obvious that rolling your eyes and shaking your head accomplishes nothing, that reasoned argument accomplishes nothing because those guys didn’t arrive at their positions though reason. Hell, I myself— on this very ‘Crawl— have gleefully fantasized about Stephen Harper getting gunned down in the street, about Liz Cheney’s entrails being strung along a barbed-wire fence.

I get it. Sometimes you just blow up. It’s human. It’s natural.

Still. If we always did whatever came naturally, the only reason I wouldn’t have bashed in a few hundred skulls by now would be because someone else would have bashed in mine before I even hit puberty. Humanity comes with all sorts of primal impulses as standard equipment; I imagine many of Gallo’s defenders would not be especially happy if we let all those drives off the leash just because they were “natural”. One of the first things we point to when lauding Human exceptionalism is our ability to restrain our impulses. And if we fail sometimes— as we’re inevitably bound to— at the very least we can try to walk it back afterward.

So I can see myself in Irene Gallo’s shoes. And if I actually found myself there, I like to think I’d say certain things when those whom I’d intemperately described as Nazis or racists raised their hands to claim that they’d fought against Apartheid during their youth in South Africa, or that they were rabbis, or that they’d exchanged actual gunfire with the brownshirts:

“Holy shit,” (I like to think I’d say,) “You’re right. It’s just— I really hate these guys, you know? And the bile’s been building up for a while now, and when I got that question everything just kind exploded over the keyboard. I think my anger’s justified, but it called for a sniper rifle and I used a sawed-off shotgun. I really stepped over the line. This is me, stepping back, with apologies to those I impugned.”

What I would not have done, when challenged, is post a series of inane cat photos with the caption KITTEH! emblazoned across the top (although granted, Gallo did dial it back to “kitteh?” after a few iterations, when her strategy did not appear to be having the desired effect).

Things kind of went downhill from there. The internet— or at least, this little genre bubble thereof— blew up again, loud enough for the Daily Dot to notice way out in the real world. Tom Doherty stuck a boilerplate disclaimer over at Tor.com and was immediately vilified for being A) a misogynist asshole because he publicly reprimanded Irene Gallo when he should have given her a medal for speaking Truth to Power, and also for being B) a left-wing libtard pussy who gave Irene Gallo a slap on the wrist when she should have been fired outright. Gallo herself issued one of those boilerplate fauxpologies whose lineage hearkens all the way back to the ancestral phrase “mistakes were made”. None of it seemed to help much.

Blowing up is not the only thing that comes naturally to humans. Tribalism is in there too.

Before we go any further, let me just cover my ass with a disclaimer of my own: I am no great supporter of puppies, regardless of temperament. (Any regular on this blog already knows the kinds of furry quadruped who own my heart.) I understand that of the two breeds under consideration, the Rabids are far more extreme and downright toxic; Theodore Beale, judging by some of his pithier quotes, seems to be Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s bizarro twin, separated at birth. The Sads, in contrast, have enough legitimacy to warrant at least respectful disagreement and engagement from the likes of George Martin and Eric Flint; they have also distanced themselves from their more diseased cousins (although the point that the final Hugo ballot is more representative of the Rabid slate than the Sad one is well-taken). Even so, I don’t find even the Sad Puppies’ arguments especially meritorious.

So let there be no mistake here: I come not to praise Puppies.

I come to bury the rest of you.

*

As a former marine mammalogist, I feel especially qualified to pass judgment on this meme.  Is it just me, or does it seem a bit wonky that the victims of the piece seem to be the Victorian couple who just want to express their bigotry in peace, and the villain is the disenfranchised Otarriid who politely challenges their prejudice?

As a former marine mammalogist, I feel especially qualified to pass judgment on this meme. Am I the only one who finds it questionable that the heroes of the piece seem to be the Victorian couple who just want to express their bigotry in peace, while the villain is the disenfranchised Otarriid who politely challenges their prejudice with a request for evidence?

Eric Flint put forth the most reasonable take I’ve yet seen on why Gallo misstepped. Over on Tor.com and io9, a lot of people don’t buy it. They’ve made a number of arguments and hurled a number of insults, perhaps the dumbest of which was accusing someone of “sea-lioning” after they’d asked a single, on-point question. (The alleged sea-lion also claimed to be a part-time rabbi, so— assuming, as always, that we can take such claims at face value— you can understand how the whole Nazi-sympathizer thing might not go over especially well.) A lot of other claims were made repeatedly, though. Some, in fact, were repeated often enough to warrant their own subtitles:

 

You Can’t Handle the Truth

Doherty threw Gallo under the bus [get used to that phrase— it shows up 21 times under Doherty’s post alone, which is a bit ironic given the number  complaining there about the suspicious similarity of the puppy-sympathisers’ talking points]. He handed a victory to the Puppies when he should have backed her up for having the courage to tell the truth— and everyone knows it’s the truth because noun, verb, Vox Day.

Let’s ignore for the moment the hordes of sad-puppy sympathizers who’ve come out of the woodwork claiming to be anti-apartheid activists, Jews, people of color, married to people of color, queer, veterans— and who do not like being stuck on the same planet as Vox Day, much less the same political clade. I suppose you could call bullshit on most of them— this wouldn’t even be a proper internet argument if accusations of misrepresentation and sock-puppetry weren’t part of the background noise. So let’s set those personal testimonials aside for the moment, and consider a different fact:

Back when the Puppies first seized control of the bridge, Entertainment Weekly (and, I’m pretty sure, The Guardian, although I can’t find the pre-edited version online— maybe I’m thinking Salon) published remarks about the Puppies that were actually milder than Gallo’s. Within hours, it had deleted those remarks and published a meek, surprisingly unconditional retraction which described their own coverage as “unfair and inaccurate”. It was, in tone and content, quite similar to Tom Doherty’s more recent remarks on Tor.com.

I don’t know any Puppies. I don’t know if the people speaking out on their behalf are grass-roots or astroturf (although they can’t all be sock puppets— the gender, ethnicity, and partnerships of some of these folks are a matter of public record, and they’re not all straight white dudes). But I can only assume that these retractions occurred as a response to considered legal opinion. And the fact that different corporations caved so completely, printing such similar apologies, suggests to me that Irene Gallo’s “truth” was, at the very least, legally actionable. This is not a characteristic that usually accrues to Truth, outside Spanish Inquisitions.

 

The “Personal Space” Perspective.

Well, even if Gallo misspoke, she was just expressing a personal opinion on her personal facebook page. Tor had no right to censor what their employees say and do on their own personal time.

There’s gotta be a word for that— you know, for selecting the negative attributes of a few people you hate on a personal level, and projecting those traits onto an entire demographic. I only wish I could remember what it was…

There’s gotta be a word for that— you know, for selecting the negative attributes of a few people you hate on a personal level, and projecting those traits onto an entire demographic. I only wish I could remember what it was…

Go check out Irene Gallo’s personal facebook page. Most of the posts there consist of pimpage for Tor artists, cover reveals for upcoming Tor releases, various bits of Tor-related news, and genre award links. Hell, the very post that got her wrist slapped was a promo for Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution, soon to be available from (you guessed it) Tor: and the heading she chose to capture eyeballs was “Making the Sad Puppies Sadder— proud to have a tiny part of this”.

The time stamp on that post reads Monday, 11 May 2015, 14:14

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using your personal facebook page as a delivery platform for employer pimpage. I think people should feel free to blur the line between their personal and professional lives until the two are nigh-on indistinguishable, if they like. But having erased those boundaries, you don’t get to reassert them at your convenience. And if anyone tries to claim, after the fact, that on this one occasion you weren’t really presenting yourself as a corporate spokesperson— especially when said occasion involves an advertisement for a company product, posted during work hours, presumably while sitting at your work desk— the demographic who takes this claim at face value will be either very small, or very stupid.

Evidently it was that second thing.

 

The Sexism Scenario

Isn’t it curious how Tor never feels the need to do anything when their male authors say more extreme things than Gallo ever did [Scalzi and Wright and Card get cited a lot in this regard, although I saw at least one lost soul wanting to know why Tor wasn’t calling out Vox Day]. Isn’t it telling how that Frenkel guy got away with harassing women for years before Tor cut him loose— but a woman makes one intemperate comment and they throw her under the bus? Misogyny much?

First, can we at least agree that Jim Frenkel’s tenure at Tor would have been over pretty much the moment he went onto facebook to proudly post selfies of his ongoing harassment of women? He lasted as long as he did because he committed his offenses in the shadows, where they could be more safely ignored by Corporate.

Tor is a colony organism; its fitness is defined in terms of profit margin. Like all corporate entities, it’s at least partially sociopathic. Its immune system responds most emphatically to threats that endanger its bottom line— which, almost by definition, means public threats. I think that anyone who regards Doherty’s response as an act of sexism is looking at the world through polarized lenses; to me, this reads above all else like an act of damage control. If Gallo had been male, I believe Tor’s reaction would have been the same.

As for those who somehow seem to think that authors are employees— that Tor’s legal liability extends not just to what Irene Gallo posts from her office computer during work hours, but to everything posted by anyone Tor has ever published— all I can say is, you’ve been seriously misinformed about the nature of the sacred bond between author and publisher. (Or maybe I have— maybe I should be complaining about Tor’s failure to provide me with health insurance and a regular paycheck.)

At the very least, you should have boycotted those guys the moment they started publishing Orson Scott Card.

*

Of course, Tom Doherty is not the only one to have come in for a world o’Twitter Rage. Much ire, as always, is directed at the Puppies themselves— much of it justified, in my opinion. But I’m not writing this to jump on that particular bandwagon, nor do I need to; you can’t swing a cat these days without hitting someone’s list of puppycrimes.

The hypocrisy of certain Gallonites, however, doesn’t seem to be getting nearly as much attention (at least, not here in the Civilized World; the Puppies may be all over it, but I tend to avoid those territories).  I’ve seen Sad Puppies go out of their way to distance themselves from the rabid end of the spectrum:

“Vox Day is an A-hole. As a Sad Puppy, I had to look him up on Google.”

— only to get shot down:

The fact that you joined a movement without adequately understanding what its leaders stood for, compounded by the fact that you continue to identify with that movement AFTER you’ve seen ample evidence of what they stand for, inclines me to give you zero credibility on this issue.”

and

“you are supporting [Beale’s] agenda.  That makes those who support culpable.  If they didn’t want to be associated with that reprehensible excuse for a human being, they should not have stood to be counted with him.”

Turn this argument around and see how you like it.

Imagine being told that you had no business advocating for social justice issues because you didn’t know about— oh, say, Requires Hate— prior to signing up. Imagine being told with a straight face— nay, with a righteously angry face— that you have “zero credibility” because you continue to advocate for social justice issues, even after learning of that vile creature’s existence.

Yeah, I know RH didn’t start the movement. She merely exploited it. But the analogy holds where it needs to: RH was, in her day, a significant player in the SJ scene, with allies who extended (and, as far as I can tell, continue to extend) into the halls of Tor itself. She was relatively central for such a decentralized movement— But she did not speak for everyone. If anyone told you that you couldn’t advocate for social justice without also supporting RH, how would you respond?

(As a side note, it’s nice to see RH’s influence so greatly diminished in recent months. She still spews the same BS— although her favored target seems to have shifted to “racist white women” in the wake of Laura Mixon’s report— but to far less effect. Think Saruman, reduced to whining in the Shire after being kicked out of Isengard. RH might even provide a valuable social service these days, functioning as a sort of rhetorical flypaper for idiots. As long as they stick to her, the rest of us can get on with our lives.)

Anyway.

Another common talking point is the obvious timing of this whole blow-out, of the fact that Beale sat on his screen-grab for weeks before releasing the hounds just prior to the Nebula Awards. This was manufactured outrage over phantom pain. Nobody was really hurt by Gallo’s comments; they were nothing but a convenient foothold from which to launch an attack.

Well, duh.

Beale is the enemy. That’s what enemies do, if they’re smart; they keep their powder dry. That’s one of the things that makes them enemies, for chrissake. That obvious fact should make it less advisable to play into their hands. Gallo said what she said— and to all those who’d say Jeez, let it go— that was four whole weeks ago, I’d answer Fine: why hasn’t the statute of limitations passed on all those Beale quotes I keep seeing, all of which are much older?

Not that I’m excusing Beale, mind you. I personally have a hard time believing that anyone could make some of his claims with a straight face. (White men don’t rape, so mistrust the victim unless she’s accusing a Black or Hispanic?) Maybe he’s just being ironic, although I’m more inclined to regard such statements as batshit insane. Either way, I’d laugh in the face of anyone who tried to impose a statute of limitations on Theodore Beale quotes; I suspect most of you would as well. By that same token, neither do we get to declare Gallo’s remarks off-limits after a measly month.

I imagine a number of you are already objecting to this equivalence on the grounds that Gallo’s single comment, ill-advised though it may have been, doesn’t come anywhere close to the levels of offensiveness that Theodore Beale manages even on a mild day. I tend to agree. I thought Gallo’s comment fell pretty wide of the mark, but I personally didn’t find anything especially offensive about it.

Then again, I’m not a Jewish person who’s been told he’s in bed with Nazis. It may be wise to defer to such people in matters of offense given and received.

*

Over the past few days I’ve sampled a fair number of blog posts and editorials dealing with Gallogate. I’ve recognized a number of the folks who’ve posted comments there, who’ve “liked” the relevant links and rejoinders sliding down my Facebook wall. Some I know only from their handles, when they’ve posted here on the ‘Crawl; others are personal friends.

They all support Irene Gallo.

I would too, if she’d only stood up and offered an apology that didn’t read as though it had been crafted by corporate mealworms. She fucked up; we all do, sometimes. She played into enemy hands. It was a minor and a momentary slip. But the real fuck-up was in how she and her supporters dealt with the aftermath.

There are good reasons to repudiate Puppies. There are legitimate arguments to be made against both Sad and (especially) Rabid breeds— which makes it all the more frustrating that so much of what I’ve seen lately boils down to dumb, naked tribalism. Fallacies that would be instantly derided if made by the other side become gospel; any who question are presumed to be With The Tewwowists (or more precisely, the sea lions). I’m reminded of my own observation back when the Mixon report came out: we’re not a community at all. We’re a bunch of squabbling tribes fighting over the same watering hole.

I didn’t want to write this. There’s so much other nifty stuff to talk about. Preserved soft tissue in dinosaur fossils, reported the same week “Jurassic World” premieres. Island nations, finally suing the Fossil Fuel industry for compensation over habitat loss due to climate change. And I still haven’t got around to writing my epic comparison of “Fury Road” and “Kingsman”.

It would have been a lot more fun to write about any of that. But this is just fucked. So many people bend the data to support forgone conclusions; so few put their conclusions on hold until they’ve followed those data to see where they might lead. So much gut reaction. So little neocortical involvement.

Judging by past experience, I could lose some fans over this. There’s even a chance I could lose actual friends (although I think most of the opportunists masquerading as friends got exposed the last time I took an unpopular stand on something). Which, if you look at it a certain way, is a good thing; it would add evidence to my argument about the evils of mindless groupthink. But here it is, for better or worse. I’ve never been much for bandwagons.

Unless I build them myself, I guess.

 

 

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Tuesday June 16 2015at 01:06 pm , filed under rant . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

65 Responses to “Gallo’s Humor.”

  1. There’s a very weird wind blowing through literature these days. Between the gigantic and ridiculous kerfuffle over the swear-censoring in books, to the entire Puppies thing, it’s a sad and weird amount of tempests brewing in our collective teapot.

    All the more reason to duck back into the word mines, I suppose.

    I was enormously pleased, at least, that Ursula Vernon took a Nebula for “Jackalope Wives”, though I think that might have been as much consolation because “Toad Words” wasn’t nominated.

    Three quarters of the winners were women, so, I’m hoping that deflates the sails in the squall on all sides.

  2. >>>Judging by past experience, I could lose some fans over this.

    Dr Watts – I hope you do not! I think most of us are mature enough to realize that we can get along fine with persons who prefer Felis catus.

    Looking forward to your comparison of “Fury Road” and “Kingsman.” Hope you get to write it.

  3. Good show.

  4. This is thoughtful. Actually, it uncovered the nuances in my opinion. Thank you for that. I am not saying I 100% agree with you on everything about this, but really, that isn’t what’s important here right now.
    It is possible to have nuanced views and divided loyalties and the rest, and now and in the past, you have been one of the folks who has caused me to realize that.

    Thank you very much for that.

  5. The additional irony is, of course, that she’s promoting the work of Kameron Hurley, who is herself a tribalist who picks pointless fights with people to advance her agenda; in particular, having a go at Neil Gaiman for daring to write a book called Trigger Warning.

    http://www.scifinow.co.uk/interviews/kameron-hurley-on-neil-gaimans-trigger-warning-responsibility/

    There is, indeed, plenty of smh to go round.

  6. Just as a side point (well, more a side view on a central point), if you say “neo-Nazi” to me (and to quite a lot of people on this side of the pond), I don’t get a mental picture of someone in a 1940s German army uniform. I get a mental picture of – to choose the most recent and accessible example – a UKIP supporter. Middle-aged with little to show for it. Angry at that. And blaming it on everyone who’s not of their ethnicity, convincing themselves that it’s positive discrimination and political correctness keeping them down and The Others up, and who’d like to see all those in “their” country repatriated to wherever their ethnicity hailed from historically, regardless of their citizenship or history thereof, as a solution to their perceived woes. They don’t wear German uniforms and if you said you thought they were like Hitler, they’d be offended because he was foreign and he hated the Jews and they don’t hate Jews, they just think it’d be better for everyone if they were all *somewhere else*.

    In other words, when Gallo said “neo-Nazi”, what she said sounded accurate to anyone who’s been watching neo-Nazis in UK and EU elections of late and who had the mental wherewithall to see the analogy from ethnicity to groups in general (in other words, the vast majority of adults). Yeah, it wasn’t a politic thing to say, but if people want to focus on that one word and treat it as the most important few letters in her entire post, it’d be nice if they’d use the meaning the rest of the world ascribes to it. Instead those eight characters have been undeservedly promoted to the very zenith of offensiveness, and the sheer artificial nature of this is not just accepted, but paraded by those leading this pitchforks-and-torches brigade. Gotta say, from the outside it looks monumentally daft.

    As to the whole puppies thing though, it’s a bit worrying. I buy science fiction because it’s not boring. It is the genre more likely to generate a truly new story to add to humanities seven stories than any other. I don’t buy rayguns-and-aliens science fiction because after you’ve read one… well, you’ve read the anthology.

    By all means print and sell the pulp stuff, obviously it makes some people happy; but they aren’t the best books the field has to offer. “Joe Public shoots the mean aliens” as a plot just isn’t a competitor to works like Blindsight which question the foundation of self, or any of the other trope-creating works that have been nominated for Hugos over the years, and as to the logic of handing control of nominations and awards over to one guy who makes up the list on his own with no oversight or openness, all in the name of protesting a system that the protesters claim is not transparent or open or representative or fair? Well, that’s fairly oxymoronic right there.

    The worrying thing is: if the loud shouty people win (and that’s how more and more of these things seem to be going these days and the math is on their side), do we see more publishers move away from printing new and not-boring books in favour of pulp stuff in order to chase sales spikes from Hugo wins? Do we get stuck with the boring Yet Another Whatever rewrites of what someone thinks was a golden age of science fiction? Because that would – to use the technical term – absolutely suck.

  7. At the risk of someone pointing out to me “for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good people do nothing”, or quoting that bit about “they came for the boneheads and I did nothing […] now there’s nobody left and they’re coming for me”, can I chime in with a generally clue-free remark of childlike simplicity, to the effect of: “but I just like to read good SF! I don’t know if I want to pay too much attention to all of the politics.”

    This is like old-school opera, or watching the fake wrestling on TV, except that this isn’t fake. Either way, you still need a brochure to figure out who all of the people are, and thanks for providing a fairly comprehensible one. What’s going to be the end-result of all of this? More awards being spun off? The venerable Hugo becoming regarded as politically tainted and no longer a reasonable layman’s guide to the year’s best SF? It’s hard to say. For myself, I’ll do what I have been doing, relying on the tastes of friends I consider to have tastes in SF comparable to my own. I hope this doesn’t all get too unpalatable to sample, much less to digest. I can certainly understand that professionals have reasons for concern and perhaps outrage, Then again, I am just a reader, looking for more stories to pass some time or make me think of things I myself would never dream.

  8. Over the years, I’ve been in a variety of online communities — Korean films, pro wrestling, Asian history, journalism and these days scifi/fantasy. And each time, the communities behaved basically the same way, lurching from drama to drama, troll to troll, and crisis to crisis; the only time they would quiet down and become peaceful is when they basically died. Imho, it’s just the nature of people — we all suck.

    The big mistake the Sad Puppies make is thinking the complaints against them are systematic and part of a liberal conspiracy, rather than the general flaming noise of the Internet.

    The Sad Puppy thing is little more than US-style culture wars brought into the scifi world. George Martin and Eric Flint have done a great job dismantling the SPs specific claims and shown them to be little more than immature whining. Brad Torgersen has repeatedly responded to GRRM and EF … and each time completely avoided the point of their arguments and fixated on one minor point or another, or proclaimed himself the victim again. At this point I think the SPs can be basically ignored.

    As for Gallo and the Puppies specifically … Words do have meaning, and anti-Puppy types who keep using terms like “neo-Nazi” are pretty annoying and unhelpful. I agree with Scalzi (at least how I read him), that at least for Beale and his cronies, “bigoted asshole” is just fine — accurate and sufficiently condemning, without making him seem more important or evil than he is.

    Fixing the easily exploited voting system that the Hugos uses is another issue, but should be basically technical (or ignored if, like me, you think literary awards are meaningless).

  9. I always preferred the argument of showing where my esteemed opponents are simply wrong…or, if I’m feeling less charitable and the evidence is staring me in the face, “lying.”

    They’ll ignore all of that, of course, but just because they’ll respond to more personal attacks doesn’t make it the best course of action.

  10. A note on “sea lioning”, since I can’t be sure whether your commentary on the comic is intended to be ironic or not:

    The comic is commenting on the gamergate phenomenon, during which Women in Games were receiving quite terrible, specific, and highly detailed threats on their lives and on the lives of their families, while a group with the same point of view as the threat-issuers engaged in endless streams of “Excuse me, please support your statement that GamerGaters are hateful misogynists and that this whole thing isn’t about ethics in games journalism” while those people were literally being hounded out of their homes by scum sending threats to rape them to death, and then murder their children (sometimes with addendums like “here is your address, a picture of your house that I took, this is what your kids look like” etc).

    In other words “sealioning” is about the phenomena of Crowd Sourced Pro Bono Defense Lawyers for total scumbags. It’s about saying “Oh, excuse me, could you PROVE that men are scumbags?” to a woman that has just been groped on a train and vented about it publically.

    Another comic compared it to standing next to a man pointing a gun at someone and repeating their demands, saying that they seemed pretty reasonable, really, while simultaneously declaring not having anything at all to do with him.

    Ah yes, here it is: http://chainsawsuit.com/comic/2014/10/15/the-perfect-crime/

  11. This feeling of refreshing charitability is familiar…

    Have you been reading Scott Alexander lately?

  12. I work for Tor, of course, and can only say that I sincerely enjoyed reading this.

  13. @M.S. Patterson

    You’re Galloing.

  14. […] “Gallo’s Humor” – June 16 […]

  15. Great post, but again.. no one cares. You’re not playing for the team, you’re just being too concerned with truth, being right, and so on, instead of doing the right thing and fighting against evil with every weapon at your disposal.

    (White men don’t rape, so mistrust the victim unless she’s accusing a Black or Hispanic?)

    This is a misquote based on a mischaracterization of a Bureau of Justice statistic found here:
    http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cvus/current/cv0842.pdf

    Basically, the institutional racism in the US is so entrenched that while there undoubtedly is widespread white-on-black heterosexual rape, it’s successfully prosecuted so seldom the table percentage is a big, fat zero with an asterisk unhelpfully explaining that the 0.0% is derived from ‘less than ten sample cases’.

    Beale, as a unrepentant racist, wanted to say that white men never rape black women, and that one should discount all accusations of white-on-black rape because it’s so seldom successfully prosecuted.

  16. I too thought that Eric Flint’s piece was the voice of reason. However, putting my cognitive behavioural therapist hat on, what I know is that venting anger doesn’t improve how one feels about something that has made you angry.

    I decided therefore rather than debate, argue or bring evidence for either side, because again the research shows that these strategies do not change peoples mind’s, I’d take a more positive approach.

    In this case a light and fluffy series on the Hugo winners and nominees that I’ve read. I hope it’s OK to link here, but if it isn’t then please feel free to delete my post. I won’t be offended. Life after all is not fair, but it would be so much worse if it was.

    http://ashleyrpollard.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/hugo-reflections-part-1-1953-to-1962.html

  17. This post is excellent, and I’m glad I got to read it, even if you didn’t enjoy writing it (on that note, I’ll add–in case it makes you feel better about your effort here–that I clicked around after finding this post, I also quite enjoyed the octopus-related posts, and congratulations on the Campbell nomination, even if you didn’t win). All three of your subtitled sections hit the right points against the main supporter arguments, particularly the “personal space” one, where you said exactly how I felt on encountering that argument, but expressed it better than I could have.

    I can’t stand the Puppies, where even the milder Sad incarnation is loaded with disingenuous arguments and sprinkled with troubling politics. On the rare occasions I think one of them makes a legitimate point (being offended by Gallo’s characterization is one example), the point seems to invariably be used to justify some behavior that remains unjustifiable. But that does not excuse stupidity or (especially) dishonesty in responding to them or in defending people responding to them. Gallo clearly was wrong, and it diminishes one’s credibility to be incapable of acknowledging that. I would “stand by Irene Gallo” if it seemed she were about to be fired for the infraction (on the grounds that such a response would be excessive and I think there is far too much campaigning to get people fired via web mobs), but arguing that Tom Doherty’s/Tor’s very typical sounding corporate response is unwarranted, obviously violating a personal-professional divide, or clearly sexist is ridiculous.

  18. Hey! I was in that thread!

    As I said there, I think she erred, and her apology wasn’t really good enough (hell, IMHO, it would have been worse for her position in the company, but far more accurate if she wrote a specific and detailed apology, naming which people she felt were reprehensible and which claims she went too far on, and letting everything else more or less stand… but let’s face it, that’s not an option, and with it out of the way, a non-apology is pretty much her only option other than a “I was completely wrong, all the puppies are awesome!”) but I don’t think it was quite a fire-worthy offense, morally speaking. From a damage-control sense, maybe, but right now it’s pretty clear they’re going to suffer whether they fire her or not, so I’d say it’s a unique corporate opportunity to just go with the right option and not fire her (but she did deserve the reprimand and warning).

    I also think your “turn it around” parable on the “You’re supporting Beale’s agenda, that makes you culpable” isn’t really apt, because Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies isn’t an agenda, it’s a specific group that organizes under a single name (in either case, double if you take them together), rather than saying you can’t support social justice because of Requires Hate. It’s like (at the risk of bringing up another shitstorm) Gamergate: Most people support ethics in games journalism, if you tell us of specific ethical issues – paying for good reviews, etc. But when you throw in with Gamergate, you’re throwing in with a specific group that’s got a lot more going on, and it’s, IMHO, toxic, and you lose nothing by disassociating yourself except some kind of brand identity that I have to assume you WANT. Similarly with the puppies… if you say, “I prefer more whiz bang adventure to all this exploration of gender and social stuff”, hey, great, more power to you… but when you identify yourself as a SP/RP, you’ve joined an agenda with a specific name and specific leaders and specific acts (slate voting among them) and decided to be counted alongside them and contribute their power. And a lot of people did just that, identified themselves as supporters of that particular movement. So I will hold them culpable for that, just like I’ll hold a member of a specific subgroup that RH runs and used to gang up on writers in the name of social justice, culpable for their support of her, but not all people who advocate for social justice.

    Anyway, that thread was crazy for a number of reasons, a lot of people I can only assume deliberately misreading to take offense (which happens in lots of kerfluffles, regardless of political bent), since to me it seemed pretty clear she was talking about the organizers and not everybody who decided they wanted to be a SP/RP, but my favorite was Wright coming on to defend against an accusation of homophobic bigotry with what can only be read as more homophobia, followed by demands of some of his supporters that I apologize to him for insinuating he was such a bigot. My only regret was that the thread closed just before I got home with my response to that demand already prepared in my head. 😛 Ah well.

  19. Hey, don’t look at me, I nominated Echopraxia…which might have been pushed off the final ballot by puppy-droppings.

    Nice post, I don’t 100% agree but tribalism is boring. My main problem with the puppies (apart from VD and his publishing shed product) is that the stuff they forced onto the ballot is, in my opinion, somewhere between “how did this escape the slush pile?” and “meh”. Which isn’t that unusual, there are usually 1-2 pieces per category that make me go “whaaat?” but the miss rate is approaching 100% in the worse affected categories. The stories simply don’t do it for me.

    Mind you, Blackout/All Clear was, again IMO, not Hugo-worthy (bloody annoying and hingeing way to much on “this person missed this person – don’t these peopel with time machines have cellphones?”- but others disagreed.

  20. Tribalism’s boring (as are many things, and life is too short to be bored).

    What might be slightly interesting is if someone was to put together a good estimate for predicted increases in profits to Castalia House arising from their authors becoming puppy-slate nominees or indeed actually winning Hugo awards.

  21. One of the primary organizers of the Puppy movement is a guy who thinks Norway should celebrate Anders Brievik as a national hero. One of the nominated authors wrote a book with the Waffen SS as heroes. But gosh, let’s be careful what we call them and their followers — we wouldn’t want to offend them.

  22. I agree that it wasn’t a firing offense, people are getting to easily fired everywhere for things they’ve said. I didn’t think Tim Hunt should have been fired, and don’t think Ms Gallo should be fired. If you can lose your job for speaking your mind (however wrongly) then only people who do not need to work will be able to speak their mind.

    I do feel a little sorry for Ms Gallo, she’s only repeating the kind of thing that a lot of left-leaning SF people seem to habitually say. Gross generalizations are standard practice on both sides of the political spectrum in SF, sane and rational voices are few and far between (obviously I think you’re one, or I wouldn’t be commenting here. I’m also quite impressed with how Mr Martin and Mr Flint have been prepared to see fault on both sides of the current fighting, though I disagree with a lot of what they say, and Ms Williams and Ms Mixon and Ms Ruiz, in my opinion, deserve some kind of medal for the requires_hate takedown).

    But I guess we’re getting to the point now where someone has to be made an example of (in terms of a good telling off, not in terms of being fired). SF fandom has allowed political extremists on both sides of the spectrum to set the agenda, and the results have been disastrous. All we get is endless fighting and name-calling and no-one’s getting fat ‘cept Vox Day, who constantly manipulates the situation to his own self-promotion. If we keep going this way, sooner or later a Bad Thing is going to happen, and then the community will attract the attention of mainstream society/law enforcement, and that is going to be game over. That’s always how I thought the requires_hate farrago was going to end: with people in court for having associated themselves with, or themselves having parrotted, some death-threat against a major public figure.

  23. I’d been reading this the same way as Dr Watts for the longest time, and your comment made me look it up. Thanks to both of you for making me take the 3 seconds to google for a better understanding.

    From the wondermark errata page:

    It has been suggested that the couple in this comic, and the woman in particular, are bigots for making a pejorative statement about a species of animal, and then refusing to justify their statements. It has been further suggested that they be read as overly privileged, because they are dressed fancily, have a house, a motor-car, etc. This is, I suppose, a valid read of the comic, if taken as written.

    But often, in satire such as this, elements are employed to stand in for other, different objects or concepts. Using animals for this purpose has the effect of allowing the point (which usually is about behavior) to stand unencumbered by the connotations that might be suggested if a person is portrayed in that role — because all people are members of some social group or other, even if said group identity is not germane to the point being made.

    Such is the case with this comic. The sea lion character is not meant to represent actual sea lions, or any actual animal. It is meant as a metaphorical stand-in for human beings that display certain behaviors. Since behaviors are the result of choice, I would assert that the woman’s objection to sea lions — which, if the metaphor is understood, is read as actually an objection to human beings who exhibit certain behaviors — is not analogous to a prejudice based on race, species, or other immutable characteristics.

    My apologies if the use of a metaphorical sea lion in this strip, rather than a human being making conscious choices about their own behavior, was in any way confusing.

    As for their attire: everyone in Wondermark dresses like that.

    M.S. Patterson,

  24. Sean: One of the primary organizers of the Puppy movement is a guy who thinks Norway should celebrate Anders Brievik as a national hero.

    We get it that Beale is an asshole, okay? And nice thing, conflating conservatives like Correia and Torgerson with Beale, who is to SF what Luboš Motl is to physics. (though, probably not as able, but he has the same flair for creative invective )

    Colum Paget: That’s always how I thought the requires_hate farrago was going to end: with people in court for having associated themselves with, or themselves having parrotted, some death-threat against a major public figure.

    Nah. US has some sort of doctrine that the threat has to be not completely laughable in order to prosecute. Which how people who tweet complete BS escape getting prosecuted..

    http://popehat.com/2012/11/15/twitter-and-true-threats/

    Other countries have similar policies, no doubt, and tough-guy posturing on the internet is..well. Just that. Waste of effort.

  25. Patrick “Bahumat” Rochefort,

    There is a weird wind blowing through the net these days more like it.

    Or perhaps not weird, but a massive corporate FUD campaign aimed at divide and conquer by way of methods akin to agent provocateurs.

    Stir up enough shit storms to make it look like the net is hell itself, then either get people to self-police or get the government involved in drawing up “internet decency” regulations that will in effect muzzle public discourse.

  26. # Nah. US has some sort of doctrine that the threat has to be not
    # completely laughable in order to prosecute. Which how people who
    # tweet complete BS escape getting prosecuted..

    Uh, no. People in the UK are being handed down sentences for twitter threats.

    http://news.sky.com/story/1200521/twitter-trolls-jailed-for-sending-abusive-tweets
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2120999/Fabrice-Muamba-Twitter-troll-Liam-Stacey-jailed-abusing-Bolton-midfielder.html

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/524470/Two-years-jail-vile-trolls-Tough-crackdown-target-online-tormentors

  27. Mark Dennehy: when Gallo said “neo-Nazi”, what she said sounded accurate to anyone who’s been watching neo-Nazis in UK and EU elections of late and who had the mental wherewithall to see the analogy from ethnicity to groups in general (in other words, the vast majority of adults). Yeah, it wasn’t a politic thing to say, but if people want to focus on that one word and treat it as the most important few letters in her entire post, it’d be nice if they’d use the meaning the rest of the world ascribes to it.

    Fair point, but “neo-Nazi was part of a list that also included “unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic”, and was applied to both groups indiscriminately. I think that’s what a lot of people objected to.

    M.S. Patterson: The comic is commenting on the gamergate phenomenon, during which Women in Games were receiving quite terrible, specific, and highly detailed threats on their lives and on the lives of their families, while a group with the same point of view as the threat-issuers engaged in endless streams of “Excuse me, please support your statement that GamerGaters are hateful misogynists and that this whole thing isn’t about ethics in games journalism” while those people were literally being hounded out of their homes by scum sending threats to rape them to death, and then murder their children

    Really? Because A) I thought that comic actually predated Gamergate (although i could be wrong), and B) the comic’s complete lack of anything resembling a threat— indeed of anything beyond a polite insistence that an obvious antiSealite justify her bigotry— makes that a pretty off-target commentary on Gamergate, if that’s in fact what it was meant to be.

    That other comic you cited, OTOH, was dead-on brilliant.

    AR+: Have you been reading Scott Alexander lately?

    I do not know who that is. And it’s such a common name that Google is no help at all.

    Y.: This is a misquote based on a mischaracterization of a Bureau of Justice statistic found here:

    Huh. So that actually came from somewhere. I guess I thought he’d just made it up out of whole cloth, it seemed so crazy.

    Of course, he did the next best thing, insofar as he misrepresented an obvious statistical artefact as a universal truth. Still, it’s nice to see the source of Beale’s “inspiration”.

    Ashley R Pollard: I hope it’s OK to link here, but if it isn’t then please feel free to delete my post.

    Of course it’s okay. No need to even ask.

    Tim: I would “stand by Irene Gallo” if it seemed she were about to be fired for the infraction (on the grounds that such a response would be excessive and I think there is far too much campaigning to get people fired via web mobs)

    Yeah, I’d just like to emphasize this: by no means do I think that Gallo should be fired over what basically amounts to a tactical error. I understand that a Puppular campaign is underway to try and get her tossed; I think that’s bullshit.

    Peter D: It’s like (at the risk of bringing up another shitstorm) Gamergate: Most people support ethics in games journalism, if you tell us of specific ethical issues – paying for good reviews, etc. But when you throw in with Gamergate, you’re throwing in with a specific group that’s got a lot more going on, and it’s, IMHO, toxic, and you lose nothing by disassociating yourself except some kind of brand identity that I have to assume you WANT. Similarly with the puppies… if you say, “I prefer more whiz bang adventure to all this exploration of gender and social stuff”, hey, great, more power to you… but when you identify yourself as a SP/RP, you’ve joined an agenda with a specific name and specific leaders and specific acts (slate voting among them) and decided to be counted alongside them and contribute their power. And a lot of people did just that, identified themselves as supporters of that particular movement. So I will hold them culpable for that

    Hmmm. Okay, but you’ve got people (like the one I quoted) claiming that they joined the Puppies without knowing what the alpha dogs stood for. (“I had to Google Vox Day– he’s an A-hole”). I don’t know how the Puppies enlisted their recruits; I doubt they went around saying “Hey, wanna join a group whose leaders think women should have acid thrown in their faces?” And I don’t blame enlistees for not checking beforehand to ensure that the Alpha pups didn’t advocate acid-throwing, because what kind of insane nutbar would advocate such a thing? Basically, I can see how decent people could get caught up in a group which was sold to them as a simple call for More Mindless Fun Escapism In SF!, only to get blindsided after the fact.

    Way I see it, there are two possibilities: either everyone who has objected to being tarred with Gallo’s homophobe/racist/misogynist brush is a sock puppet lying about their ignorance of Beale’s agenda, or at least some of them are telling the truth. If it’s the former, I concede the argument. If the latter, I think Gallo should have been less mealymouthed in her apology.

  28. Sean:
    One of the primary organizers of the Puppy movement is a guy who thinks Norway should celebrate Anders Brievik as a national hero. One of the nominated authors wrote a book with the Waffen SS as heroes. But gosh, let’s be careful what we call them and their followers — we wouldn’t want to offend them.

    Welcome, Sean. The rest of you, meet Exhibit A: after reading a post in which I describe Beale as “downright toxic”, “the enemy”, and “batshit insane”, Sean here comes along to describe me as some sort of Puppy Appeaser. The most likely explanation for this is that Sean believes that anyone who says anything negative about our side must, by definition, be on their side (which is why he meets such critique with a litany of Evil Things the other side has done; he honestly, reflexively equates criticizing Gallo with defending the puppies). There is no room for nuance in this view; We are Good and They are Bad, and any suggestion that we hold ourselves to a higher standard is an act of betrayal. Sean has offered us a classic example of tribal groupthink in action.

    Thank you, Sean. You have served your purpose well.

    Paul: This is, I suppose, a valid read of the comic, if taken as written.

    Well, thanks for clearing that up, David Malki. But I have to say— as someone who had the Wondermark collection sitting on his toilet for a couple of years— that any comic that can only be properly understood when it is not “taken as written” might be missing the mark.

  29. Colum Paget: Uh, no. People in the UK are being handed down sentences for twitter threats.

    Jesus. I loathe trolls as much as the next guy (one of the reasons I steer clear of Twitter), but this is the country whose PM recently said ““For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”. Put prosecution of “extremist” twits together with a leader who’s decided that obeying the law isn’t enough to keep the gummint from coming after you, and you’ve got a place I don’t even want to fly over any more.

  30. Peter Watts: Hmmm. Okay, but you’ve got people (like the one I quoted) claiming that they joined the Puppies without knowing what the alpha dogs stood for. (“I had to Google Vox Day– he’s an A-hole”). I don’t know how the Puppies enlisted their recruits; I doubt they went around saying “Hey, wanna join a group whose leaders think women should have acid thrown in their faces?” And I don’t blame enlistees for not checking beforehand to ensure that the Alpha pups didn’t advocate acid-throwing, because what kind of insane nutbar would advocate such a thing? Basically, I can see how decent people could get caught up in a group which was sold to them as a simple call for More Mindless Fun Escapism In SF!, only to get blindsided after the fact.

    Way I see it, there are two possibilities: either everyone who has objected to being tarred with Gallo’s homophobe/racist/misogynist brush is a sock puppet lying about their ignorance of Beale’s agenda, or at least some of them are telling the truth. If it’s the former, I concede the argument. If the latter, I think Gallo should have been less mealymouthed in her apology.

    Yeah, fair enough, if somebody didn’t know, I’m also willing to give them a pass… to an extent. Because, it’s being pointed out. I mean, if I joined the Stormfront Sci-Fi Group, completely ignorant of the name (it SOUNDS like it’s something taken out of a SF series I just haven’t read), and someone calls them neo-Nazis I might jump in and be offended… until somebody pointed out that it’s literally a racist skinhead group… then, I back away slowly and never refer to my self as a Stormfronter again. Here, even if the brush paints SP/RP as the same, and it’s only SP who are calling themselves that name and distancing themselves from Vox Day based on claims of ignorance… there’s enough questionable stuff on the SP side that I’d kind of look side-eye at somebody who chose to be associated there, too. Not as bad, mind you, but still enough to make me look down on them.

    But again, here’s the thing… if I’m talking about the Sad Puppies and make a blanket statement about them being racist, sexist, bigots… who am I talking about? Am I talking about Brad and Larry and whatever small cabal designed the slate (which, by the way, fairly compelling evidence has suggested that Vox Day DID have a seat at that table as well, even though he also went and did RP… although SP have tried to distance themselves from him, as far as I’m aware, they’ve never denied that specific point)? Or am I talking about every single person who self-identifies as them? In the SP slate post this year, they don’t seem to distinguish between them, THEY decided the “official SP slate”, described it as the best “WE” think, and suggested that if “YOU” (the readers) agreed with the slate, they vote it… but not that this makes them SP (made doubly bizarre because their stated goal is to combat puppy-related sadness, and if an army of people declares themselves sad puppies, wouldn’t that increase the amount of puppy-related sadness? But I digress, it’s an irrelevant point). So I think it’s perfectly legitimate she didn’t meant everyone who self-identified, or all the nominees, but rather the organizers. But yeah, she should have given a better apology… though, again, IMHO, Tor probably wouldn’t let her, since an appropriate apology, in my book, would be: “I was referring mostly to the Rabid Puppies leadership and some of their more vocal supporters with my description of them being unreptentantly bigoted, and certain members of the Sad Puppy leadership have other, less severe, issues… in my haste, I descibed the whole collective of two organizations and hurt some people who merely choose to associate with them. I’m sorry for that mistake.” Which probably would have caused people to take even more offense and yell louder for her firing. But oh well.

    And honestly, I don’t believe most of the SP/RP supporters who claimed ignorance and severe offense. Some, sure, but there seemed to be an awful lot of people saying very, very similar things, like group of political cronies who’d been handed the talking points.

  31. Peter D: And honestly, I don’t believe most of the SP/RP supporters who claimed ignorance and severe offense. Some, sure, but there seemed to be an awful lot of people saying very, very similar things, like group of political cronies who’d been handed the talking points.

    Fair enough— but in that case, in order to be consistent, you have to raise an eyebrow at the 21 comments on the other side that all rattled off the phrase “thrown under the bus”. And even mischaracterizing “some” warrants an apology, I think. Even mischaracterizing “one”.

  32. Peter Watts,
    “And I still haven’t got around to writing my epic comparison of “Fury Road” and “Kingsman”.

    You made similar statements about this comparison between the two movies. Describing it as ‘epic’ led me to believe that they were somehow equivalent. I then spent money renting Kingsmen and a couple of hours out of my life.

    Shame on you!!!!

  33. Peter Watts,

    Yes, indeed, really. Also, the comic is from September, and GamerGate got rolling in the summer of 2014 (though it did take a while to be called that, and the comic might slightly predate the actual hashtag).

    Sometimes satire requires a rather specific understanding of the context being commented upon. If you’re not familiar with the experience of the Irish and the rhetoric of the English vis said, “A Modest Proposal” seems like rather an odd thing, doesn’t it?

    But there’s reasons this comic blew up (particularly in online feminist circles), and was pointed to by folks like Anita Sarkeesian and was broadly linked with GamerGate. Those on the receiving end of a sea lion recognized that the comic had been made for them.

    See here for details: http://wondermark.com/sea-lion-verb/

    As for needing this context to understand the comic, I don’t think that’s actually true. I say that because the “politeness” of the Sea Lion is patently false, and involves relentlessly following the people in question, after they have been asked to leave, intruding even into the hapless couple’s own private spaces. The actions of the sea lion in question is just harassment veiled in false politeness, even if the people in question actually were saying something shitty.

    Now, it’s likely that the original use of the term may not have been warranted. That’s hard to judge from where I’m sitting. I just wanted to clarify the origin of the term, and that the comic in question was not aimed at what you thought. And yes, I agree that the Chainsaw Suit piece is far more direct and doesn’t contain the ambiguity in the Wondermark comic. But it doesn’t lend itself to a simple phrase that encapsulates the behavior in question.

  34. I should add that I readily concede that I could well be wrong, and that the Sea Lion Comic is not about the things I believe it to be about and what it has been linked with by a certain portion of the internet. Also that this is largely tangential to the larger point about Puppies perhaps being wrongly grouped together and ad hominemed (on which point I would say: before one associates oneself with a movement, one should research it, for fuck’s sake, and make sure it’s something one doesn’t mind being associated with.)

    It’s just that this is the internet, and I thought I saw someone being wrong.

  35. I do not know who that is. And it’s such a common name that Google is no help at all.

    Scott Alexander blogs at http://slatestarcodex.com . Y. already linked at the Niceness, Community, and Civilization post above.

  36. Peter Watts: Fair enough— but in that case, in order to be consistent, you have to raise an eyebrow at the 21 comments on the other side that all rattled off the phrase “thrown under the bus”.

    Oh, I do (the repeated bringing up the unpunished sexual harassment of somebody else is another, even bigger, red flag), but in their case… I never got the impression that they were trying to come off as a swarm of independent honorable readers who were oh-so-offended, they were more honest (even if they didn’t outright state it) about being people who were rallied to a cause and directed there by people on other sites who already pointed out exactly what they should be angry at. Maybe that’s a skewed and more generous interpretation influenced by my own biases too, though. This isn’t to say that these people, on both sides, don’t represent actual individuals who really have some kind of problem with what happened, I just think some of the details are manufactured and hyped up to attempt to maximize their effect.

    Peter Watts: And even mischaracterizing “some” warrants an apology, I think. Even mischaracterizing “one”.

    Sure, I’ve said several times that she should have apologized, and apologized better. Although, some have characterized her reply as a fauxpology, which to me, it narrowly escaped: I’ve always understood a fauxpology is along the lines of “I’m sorry IF you were offended”, whereas she specifically said “I apologize TO anyone hurt” and acknowledged that she hurt them. It was certainly a weak apology, delivered with a brush almost as broad as the one that got her into the mess (some specific people should probably have been singled out with more personal apologies), but still an actual apology.

    On an unrelated note, directed towards one of the other ongoing thread: I had a similar reaction to the coining of the Sea Lion verb… the lionizing (no pun intended) of the comic is not really that great because it makes a racist/speciesist into the hero and the one challenging them into a villain. But in the end I kind of have to grit my teeth, roll my eyes and accept that this (“joining into a discussion and asking questions with a veneer of civility to completely derail all other conversation”) is what the term means to people NOW, regardless of the origins. But IMHO, it’s a poorly constructed comic for that purpose (although Wondermark has occasionally been very delightful in other instances)

  37. Peter Watts: Fair point, but “neo-Nazi was part of a list that also included “unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic”, and was applied to both groups indiscriminately. I think that’s what a lot of people objected to.

    Okay, to follow the tangent momentarily: the word neo-nazi wasn’t part of the list. It was the end point of a range. She explictly said, in response to a direct question asking what the sad puppies were from someone who said they had no clue as to what was going on:

    There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.

    To me, reading that from this side of the Atlantic, she’s saying that there are a range of people from extreme right wing to neo-nazi. A range, a spectrum, choose a word (you’re better at that than me). And again, neo-nazi doesn’t mean 1944 Germany as some have been saying elsewhere. There’s a reason “neo-nazi” has more letters than “nazi”! And while it originally refereed to skinhead thugs in 1980s Germany, these days it tends to mean UKIP voters to most of us. Political students can point out that UKIP is more neo-reactionary than neo-nazi or come up with a more accurate pigeonhole for them — and I’m not slagging them off, they would be correct — but in day to day conversational speech today, that’s what it placeholds for.

    Then she puts the sad puppies at the right-wing end and the rabid puppies at the neonazi end. Charlie Stross already pointed out the odd links between Beale and certain religious groups in Finland, I don’t think anyone’s going to argue that there’s a long walk between the rabid puppy movement and groups like UKIP in temperament. And on the other end of the scale, the sad puppies are mostly American and look, with the best will in the world, Americans are just really a lot more right-wing in general than damn near everywhere else. The most right-wing nutter in the UK Parliament right now would be a centerist in the US Senate *at most*. So I don’t think the characterisation of the sad puppy movement as right-wing is off by enough to warrant being offended by it.

    Saying they’re all unrepentantly racist, mysogynist and homophobic is something you could take issue with over accuracy, yes, but you’d have to cite the ordinary members of the group as evidence instead of citing the leaders of the group, and that’s a problematic defence at best (because if the leaders are an ideological group are like that, why the hell would a non-racist, non-mysogynist, non-homophobic person join?)

    And they could argue they’re not calling for the end of social justice, but that’s sortof undermined by the data showing clearly that when the last puppy slate went through, the long-running (long here meaning “during our lifetime”) trend towards diversity in authors was bucked. And at best, you’d have to argue that this was a side effect of what they were calling for and they didn’t really mean it, but damn, that graph is right there staring at them and sooner or later you have to figure out that your actions are causing it and own that.

    http://www.jimchines.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Hugo-Gender-Balance-Fiction.jpg

    So on the tangent (and that’s all this really is) of “What did Gallo actually say”, I think she’s being misrepresented and misquoted all over the place by pretty much everyone on every side.

    Was she wrong to say it? Yes, but not because it was inaccurate or wrong. She shouldn’t have said it because it was the easiest thing in the world to misrepresent and misquote and she’s a professional in (broadly) marketing. But that’s more a case of “you weren’t very politic and made your own life a bit more hard work than it had to be” rather than “you were morally wrong”. (It wasn’t, for example, even in the same ballpark as the Tim Hunt mess, for a dozen reasons. But that’s another tangent and I’ve used up my Dog-From-Up ration for the day).

    What really gets up my nose about this whole thing is what nobody is asking very loudly (apart from Buis and Harris and even they don’t have the hard data):

    How much is a Hugo worth to a publisher?

    John Wright says it’s worth nothing (literally, $0). Comments on Stross’s blog says it’s a 10% sales bump. Nobody seems to have any studies on it or any actual figures. Kameron Hurley says she got a $13,000 boost as an author after winning a Hugo, but how much the publisher gets? No data seems to be available.

    And it’s important data because if the Hugo does give you a 10% bump in sales, and – as Stross and others noted at the last Hugos – a small publisher can’t give out thousands of free copies of a book in the voting packet to chase a Hugo while larger publishers can; well, that puts a very different interpretation on the way the rabid puppies are being led by the lead editor of a small publisher who’s nominating his own personal choices as a slate to be voted on by a few hundred people who are dedicated to an ideological ideal.

    You wind up asking if this is really an ideological thing or just really crass gaming of a system for purely commercial ends by an unscrupulous person.

    Personally, I think that an awful lot of people who would be perjoratively labelled “casuals” in some fields and “taxpaying jobholding parents who get ten minutes a day to read at best” in others, use the Hugos as a buying guide. Which would mean a Hugo has a commercial value to sales.

    So I just find it depressingly predictable that a lot more people aren’t being a lot more cynical about motives of publishers.

  38. Mark Dennehy: The most right-wing nutter in the UK Parliament right now would be a centerist in the US Senate *at most*.

    Glad someone noticed.

  39. Hi!

    I love your writing!

    I’m sorry but you obviously gave this issue a lot of thought, so I’ll bite:
    When you say social justice in sci-fi and fantasy, what are you talking about?

    Thanks!

  40. You know guys, over there at SSC, there was an interesting claim that what we’re seeing here is a convergent evolution.

    It’s an interesting way of looking at this (and Scott Alexander does say a lot of reasonable things there), but I’d like to offer an alternative hypothesis of sorts.

    Methinks what we’re seeing is actually a divergence from a common ancestor, or perhaps one would better say, a common core idea.

    It is, yes, the common core idea that there is some kind of larger-scale socially reformative influence to be asserted upon the world through ‘taking over” or “taking back” the sci-fi in general, and Hugos specifically.

    When you believe such things the stakes become unusually high – it’s no longer just about who wrote the best book with most interesting speculative ideas and/or wondrous characterization, or the most entertaining book with coolest flying tanks.

    It becomes the fight for the fates of oppressed minorities, the defeat of transhistorical force known as Patriarchy, the reduction of violent tendencies in societies, the preservation of Moral Core of “Western” Civilization, the salvation of souls of the “innocents” (which are always imperiled by Demons – don’t forget that we have evidence on file, or more accurately, in an SQL database :), that Vox dude actually believes in literal evil supernatural entities prancing around and fucking stuff up, because DEMONS!) or some other exceedingly important, melodramatic and slightly moth-riddled thing that wouldn’t be out of place in a B-movie.

    The extent to which this kind of thing wraps perception is, of course, subject to variation between individuals, educational background, capability for critical self-appraisal and ideological peculiarities (believing there is a poorly understood malignant transhistorical force “underwriting” all prominent social phenomena can make one pretty weird, but people who believe in intelligent supernatural capital-D Demons are usually much, much weirder), but the point is that a relatively low-stakes game of “you can pimp your book to the top of Hugo shortlist with this weird trick” :) to a very high-stakes game of at best, radical social reformation, and at worst… well… fighting capital-D Demons.

    A significant portion of members in both respective “camps” appear to operate under rather, shall we say, extravagant beliefs about consequences of (not) getting Hugoed (the Puppy groups are perhaps most illustrative in this regard due to extreme nature of some of their claims, but if we turn over a few rocks we might find fairly glorious specimens on the other side of sci-fi “hugo-political” spectrum).

    And when you’re operating in a world where “your team” seizing Hugo is a high-stakes affair of saving lives/souls/cultures/kittens and not a low-stakes affairs of earning slightly more and getting a shiny phallic trophy, things like tribalism, conspirational paranoia, underhanded tactics and even borderline extremism make way more sense

  41. Omer: When you say social justice in sci-fi and fantasy, what are you talking about?

    Actually, that’s a good question!

    Social justice can mean many things, ranging from the creepy, abstract notion of “just” relations in society (which is probably what any member of any group believes promoting, from Stephen Hawking to some long-dead, murderous spartan soldier of ancient times) to vague Critical Theory bullshit (which is, sadly, still a thingie-thing despite literally decades of philosophical decay) and even to the very specific (and, occasionally, rather questionable, but overall mild-mannered and well-intentioned) statements found in this here fine document which seemingly few self-reported “progressives” bothered to read, let alone follow consistently.

  42. Omer: When you say social justice in sci-fi and fantasy, what are you talking about?

    I don’t know about social justice in SF and Fantasy, but my definition of social justice in general is pretty straightforward: treating everyone like a human being, regardless of gender identity, skin tone, or appendage count. This also includes recognizing that history (and human nature) have saddled us with a number of institutions that are not so egalitarian as we would like, and working to change that.

    It does not include some of the ideas rising from cloisters over on the other side of campus. Got no time for “punching up/down/sideways” (it’s all punching, as far as I’m concerned). I snort at the notion that someone from one demographic group is guilty of trespass if they write a story from the POV of someone in a different group (although I’ll readily grant that they may be guilty of bad writing or poor research).

    Note also that “treating everyone like a human being” does not necessarily imply treating everyone with respect. It’s perfectly possible to believe in social justice while at the same time believing that people in general are assholes, just as long as your contempt is egalitarian.

  43. Omer: When you say social justice in sci-fi and fantasy, what are you talking about?

    I dare you, Peter, to answer this with

    “They’re a bunch of extreme left-wing neo-communist groups that are calling for the end of free speech in science-fiction, and are unrepentantly misandronous and anti-white. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some feminists around them and elect a slate of godawful leftist propaganda onto the last few years of award nominations”.

    Okay, it’ll get you in hot water for insult and inaccuracy, but think of the publicity!!!

    Won’t someone *please* think of the publicity?

  44. Colum Paget,

    Oh, lots of people think of the publicity. Judging by my hit counts, though, I don’t think any of them come here.

  45. Peter Watts: Oh, lots of people think of the publicity. Judging by my hit counts, though, I dont think any of them come here.

    But Peter, it’s not the size of your readership that matters, it’s the quality 😉

  46. Re: M.S. Patterson

    As someone who played with both sides of that debate (because fun) and intentionally organized burner accs and “leaked” associated burner emails to see what kind of shit will rise from the figurative bottom of the sea, I would like to note that both sides of “GaGa” debate are full of vicious people fond of making rape threats (and both sides have morons stupid enough to write me death/rape/stuff threats from their workplace email/school email/mom’s (!!!) email which brought me a lot of unwholesome trollish entertainment of most obvious kind 😉 )

    Sadly, since it was just for fun, I didn’t bother to organize proper long-term preservation of “evidence”

    Fortunately I’m far from being the only one to make “both sides make rape threats” observation (and that both sides utilize the “I am not affiliated with the bad people over there, buuuuuut…” debating tactic), so not much of value was lost.

    As to “sea lioning”, I kind of love Wondermark but I think that SL is a perfectly legitimate behavior when dealing with public statements in a medium with long-term message persistence.
    If people are being upset about that kind of thing (which IMO is about as unforgivably, irredeemably stupid as being upset about Buzzfeed using your damn public tweet without “consulting” you), they should retreat to walled gardens / friends only posts / protected tweets or maybe even fetlife 😉

    Then they will at least have some semblance of a “moral ground” for outrage when the walled garden leaks (and they leak like rusty sieve) and attracts attention of “disagreeing parties”.
    To suggest otherwise is to fundamentally misunderstand the implications of long-term message persistence property of most (if not “all” 😉 ) Internet-based human interaction.

  47. Though for the record, “progressive” (“antiGG/proSark” 😉 ) side of the GaGa affair make more eloquent, passive-agressive rape threats (along the lines of “getting actually raped would make you a better woman”, which is an actual quote from an email a human being considering itself progressive wrote to another human being – from a trivially traceable work email, mind you, which resulted in all kinds of good natured, friendly actions on my behalf :) ) while the “proGG/GG” side has way more ALLCAPS RAGE, graphic depictions of gore, and bad grammar.

    I guess “Frankfurt school progressive” is what happens when an ALLCAPS RAGING teen goes to college.

  48. 03: As to “sea lioning”, I kind of love Wondermark but I think that SL is a perfectly legitimate behavior when dealing with public statements in a medium with long-term message persistence.

    Me too. I got into a debate over beers on this subject with a good buddy of mine the other week; by way of example, he sea-lioned one of his own columns (he’s a journalist) to illustrate how infuriating it can be to be endlessly derailed by constant (polite) demands for documentation on trivial, irrelevant, and previously-established points of fact. If that’s what sealioning is, I concede the point; but in the case I noted, the guy got called out for “sealioning” after asking a single, entirely relevant question. And that’s exactly what the canonical Wondermark comic shows: not a troll endlessly demanding ever-more evidence of a well-established fact, but a sea-lion asking a bigot to back up her statement with evidence, and the bigot refusing to provide any. The overall take-home message seems to be that challenging any popular view with a demand for evidence is somehow a Bad Thing.

    Which is pretty much the kind of position I’d expect to come crawling out of the same Humanities departments who decided that everyone’s beliefs have equal value, and that empirical science is just white patriarchal opinion. Although that might just be my inherent Science-tribalism coming out.

  49. # but in the case I noted, the guy got called out for “sealioning” after
    # asking a single, entirely relevant question. And that’s exactly what the
    # canonical Wondermark comic shows: not a troll endlessly demanding
    # ever-more evidence of a well-established fact, but a sea-lion asking a
    # bigot to back up her statement with evidence, and the bigot refusing to # provide any.

    Absolutely agree. And there’s the point that statements like these, if they go unchallenged, spread and become dangerous. To be fair, the lady in this comic only says she doesn’t like sealions, she doesn’t expand on why, but I experience situations where statements that are slanderous to some group cannot be challenged, because it’s ‘derailing’. No one’s actually used the term ‘sea-lioning’ to me yet, but I expect they will.

    # The overall take-home message seems to be that challenging any
    # popular view with a demand for evidence is somehow a Bad Thing.

    for me it’s a little less joined up than that. Someone makes a point that has some valid application in certain situations. People who don’t really understand the point then latch onto it and apply it whilly-nilly. Another example is the accusation of ‘Godwinism’, which is now used to silence any critique that says “what you’re saying is dangerous because it’s a quasi-fascist position”. For example, the widespread ‘social justice’ ideology that RequiresHate utilized, which claims “there’s no such thing as racism towards white people” is a form of “moral exclusion”, it allows certain types of behavior that should not be allowed (and not only towards whites, as RequiresHate showed, you can “make” someone white by arguing “you sound white”, and then attack them as a white person). But, when you point out the dodgy history of moral exclusion arguments, you’re denounced by people who can’t even get Godwin’s name right (“Goldwinism”, “Goldsteinism”)

    # Which is pretty much the kind of position I’d expect to come
    # crawling out of the same Humanities departments who decided
    # that everyone’s beliefs have equal value, and that empirical science
    # is just white patriarchal opinion.

    Yep. And now they’ve taken over science-fiction and just about everything else. What can be done about this? I think the time has come to form splinter communities with constitutions that say “we won’t stand for this nonsense”. I’ve always believed that people can get over their differences through talking, but recent experiences have convinced me it’s not true. When you’re not dealing with rational actors (and almost no-one in these bunfights, on either side, seems rational to me) talking doesn’t help.

    # Although that might just be my inherent Science-tribalism coming out.

    I wonder if anyone’s going to dream up a line of argument that denounces you for appropriating the word ‘tribe’ here? 😉

  50. 03, while the “proGG/GG” side has way more ALLCAPS RAGE, graphic depictions of gore, and bad grammar. I guess “Frankfurt school progressive” is what happens when an ALLCAPS RAGING teen goes to college.

    HOW DARE U!!!

  51. 03, As someone who played with both sides of that debate (because fun) and intentionally organized burner accs and “leaked” associated burner emails to see what kind of shit will rise from the figurative bottom of the sea, I would like to note that both sides of “GaGa” debate are full of vicious people fond of making rape threats

    It may have been fun, but I have to say I don’t think that’s helping. Things are now so fraught in many communities that this kind of fun is akin to giving AK47s to schoolkids engaged in a fight behind the bikesheds (okay, it may not literally be akin to that, but it’s the best metaphor I can manage at this time of the morning).

    We need to get people talking to each other again, and reinstate some civil rules, or else it’s all going to end in tears.

  52. # I don’t know how the Puppies enlisted their recruits; I doubt they went
    # around saying “Hey, wanna join a group whose leaders think women
    # should have acid thrown in their faces?”

    They said that?! Who, when, where? (I’m not sea-lioning, I want to be clear in my mind about who’s done this kind of thing)

    # And I don’t blame enlistees for not
    # checking beforehand to ensure that the Alpha pups didn’t advocate acid-
    # throwing, because what kind of insane nutbar would advocate
    # such a thing?

    Someone like RequiresHate. She did it, and many SF lefties were just cool with that.

    Still, that in no way excuses the SF right from doing the same thing.

  53. ## checking beforehand to ensure that the Alpha pups didn’t advocate acid-
    ## throwing, because what kind of insane nutbar would advocate
    ## such a thing?

    # Someone like RequiresHate. She did it, and many SF lefties were just cool
    with that.

    This ‘Someone like RequiresHate’ is going to turn out to be RH fanboy Vox Day, isn’t it?

    Has anyone ever seen the two of them in the same place at the same time?

  54. Peter Watts: I got into a debate over beers on this subject with a good buddy of mine the other week; by way of example, he sea-lioned one of his own columns (he’s a journalist) to illustrate how infuriating it can be to be endlessly derailed by constant (polite) demands for documentation on trivial, irrelevant, and previously-established points of fact

    Isn’t that just general polemic equivalent of filibustering ?

    Also, while it’s a kinda unkind, it’s perfectly valid and even important, because deceptive unsubstantiated claims and baseless assumptions usually hide in “previously established” and “trivial” parts of an argument (the most blatant example is the classical “as everyone knows” trick, when a generic claim of universal acceptance is used to disguise an entirely unsubstantiated or outright false claim).

    Peter Watts: Which is pretty much the kind of position I’d expect to come crawling out of the same Humanities departments who decided that everyone’s beliefs have equal value, and that empirical science is just white patriarchal opinion.

    Well, there are two interacting factors apparent here.

    First, they dislike empirical evidence a whole truckload (“I claimed violence in “the media” normalizes firearm use and/or IRL violence, and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your evidence!” :) )

    Second, even good, kind, non-malicious specimens of the “humanities” type sincerely believe some weird things, like the possibility of there being an “X space” (as in “women’s space” or “queer space” or “BDSM space”) in typical online discourse).
    This peculiar belief is what drives at least some outrage at the “sealions” (they are “invading” a “space”!)

    On a more general note, as I observed long ago in a comment on a different blog, both “groups” typically emerging in this type of “debate” (interestingly, this works both for “gamergate/anti-gamergate” case and “Galo versus Puppies” case) are rather strongly invested into views that are of questionable empirical veracity.

    There is no particular reason to believe that there is a “leftwing takeover” of scifi or Hugos (seriously, try imagining managing such a conspiracy, bills, paychecks, whistleblowers – the whole lot!)

    There’s no particular reason to believe the “puppy campaign” will achieve anything (other than, maybe, tightening Hugo voting process)

    There’s no particular reason to believe critical-theory fueled “radical” feminist “critique” of games will change the gaming industry (similar “critique” of movies and ‘srs literature” has so far failed to achieve any measurable effect on… anything ever, despite running for literally decades on end)

    There’s no particular reason “gg” will significantly alter the course of “gaming journalism” and the representation of “women in gaming” (if for no other reason than because “artsy fartsy” “critlit-in-gaming” people are so good at destroying themselves that any outside help is hardly necessary, as demonstrated by recent utter failure of a “highbrow” “socially conscious” roomkeeping simulator)

    Stakes appear to be exceptionally low.

    Yet, both sides are extremely emotional and convinced that stakes are unusually high.

    I wonder if it is a case of vicious people just needing an excuse to lash out, or maybe it’s a weird mental condition a-la a symmetric “folie à plusieurs” affecting two (or more?) mutually hostile groups …

    Colum Paget: Yep. And now they’ve taken over science-fiction and just about everything else.

    Oh please, they are at most a small hypervocal group that is particularly good at raising a ruckus and parasitizing upon human compassion and concern.

    They can hardly take over, let alone maintain meaningful control of anything, and even relatively prominent specimens are rather inept at basic “evil skills” like faking one’s CV 😉

  55. Colum Paget: you’re denounced by people who can’t even get Godwin’s name right (“Goldwinism”, “Goldsteinism”)

    Maybe that’s not a mistake. Maybe they’re actually referencing “Goldstein”, the Evil Jew that everyone was taught to revile in Nineteen Eighty Four.

    Colum Paget: This ‘Someone like RequiresHate’ is going to turn out to be RH fanboy Vox Day, isn’t it?

    That’s the one. Perspectives vary on whether he actually said it was reasonable to throw acid in people’s faces, or merely that that was a logical thing to believe If you bought into the Taliban mindset (which is a lot harder to argue with). I seem to recall reading something by him to the effect that Liberals should be okay with killing people to further their agenda, but I think that was intended more as an indictment of liberals than as an endorsement of mass murder. (Honestly, it all runs together after a while, and I haven’t kept up on my Vox Day refresher courses.)

    01: Stakes appear to be exceptionally low.

    Who uttered that famous quote along the lines of “Academics fight so viciously because the stakes are so low”?

  56. Peter Watts, Maybe thats not a mistake. Maybe theyre actually referencing Goldstein, the Evil Jew that everyone was taught to revile in Nineteen Eighty Four.

    Hmm… could be, but I still feel the simplest explanation is that they didn’t know what they were referencing at all. I’m not sure Emmanuel Goldstein makes sense in the context of their statements.

    # Thats the one. Perspectives vary on whether he actually said it was reasonable to throw acid
    # in peoples faces,

    That’s typical of him, he rarely comes out and says it, it’s always “I think it likely that in the not too distant future a majority of people will come to believe that acid throwing beats the alternatives” or some such. To that extent you can say RH was more honest: she said it straight. ‘Course, that’s easy to do when you’re hiding behind multiple layers of false identity.

    To be fair to Mr Day, he makes more effort to construct some kind of argument, Ms hate’s ideology was generally tissue paper, but if you tore it, she set the flying monkeys on you.

    # Who uttered that famous quote along the lines of Academics fight so viciously because the stakes are so low?

    I bet it was an academic. It sounds like something they’d say.

  57. 01:
    There is no particular reason to believe that there is a “leftwing takeover” of scifi or Hugos (seriously, try imagining managing such a conspiracy, bills, paychecks, whistleblowers – the whole lot!)

    Not disagreeing with your point, really. But all that is really needed is persistent PR and getting it in front of the right sets of eyeballs. Cf, FOX news, Tea Party, ISIS.

    This is why starfish > spider according to current/recent reckoning.

    “The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

  58. Colum Paget: We need to get people talking to each other again, and reinstate some civil rules, or else it’s all going to end in tears.

    I don’t know if this is ironic or sincere, or both (or nostalgia?), but in response, two things:

    1. People are talking to each other. The lack of consensus doesn’t automatically mean there isn’t dialogue or communicative interaction; perhaps the instabilities of a common expectation of charity or a breakdown in the background of communicative action make it very difficult to reach consensus. But that we do not reach consensus does not mean there isn’t communication. Rather, if we take the communication as directed towards the speakers and their own groups for furthering action towards some larger ideological goals—part of the claims that tribalism is “on the rise” now as opposed to some forgotten time in the recent past when tribes were replaced with universal rights and transnational stakes—or as evolved behaviors having no particular allegiance to any social organism/organization—likewise also part of the claims that selection favors certain dialogue interactions rather than others regardless of Truth or truth-value—(and these are positions we can map onto these conversations occurring here), then this is all happening according to plan. Because

    2. Communication itself is continuing to evolve. While we get away with reductively saying that all communication occurs as a fact of life, it’s not true that all the logical and conceptual interactions occur strictly as material interactions. Our metaphor about interaction uses the notion that certain particles all around us are messengers, what the Greeks called angels, and it conflates this metaphor further by also calling these force carriers. Lurking in the background of our many ideas about communication and force (or, if we’d like, pressure) is the transcultural insight that things happen on transmitting and receiving ends regardless of the conscious intentions any human has in practicing a little intersubjectivity. In other words, we are moved by communication even if it does not result in consensus, agreement, civility, or sense.

    Going further, if language contains within itself the forms through which meaning occur—a more praxical version of markedness theory argues for this—then what we have is an immaterial reality operating according to the same evolutionary pressures and principles we find in thermodynamics and “living systems.”

    Whether communication “breaks down” or succeeds, every instance of miscommunication and misdirection and agreement and persuasion is all according to plan.

    Whether we agree with the plan or not, who can stop it?

  59. Re: whoever

    Didn’t you already post this piece of hype here (don’t get me wrong, I like the book, but it’s overhyping LLOs/unorgs waaay too much, and has numerous other fails such as mis-identifying an obviously hierarchical organization such as Wikimedia/Wikipedia as a “leaderless” unorg despite it having, you know, a rigid hierarchy and rather strict top-down management protocol that’s just “submerged” and concealed within the opaque jello of “democratic infighting” between low and mid-level “not quite personnel”, unpaid “not-quite-personnel” who, unlike the “pushers and shakers” in the more hierarchical part of Wikimedia also happen to be unpaid, lol) ?

    Didn’t I already poke it with sharp and pointy things?

    Man, I have, like, dejavu.
    Reboot the matrix damn it

    Re: Colum Paget

    My goal was never establishing dialogue (I kind of agree with 01 in that both sides are weirdos, though to me, anti-GG is host to the weirdest and least relatable attitude, but that’s probably just because they espouse “critical theory” and “media effect claims” that I happen to be adamantly skeptical towards)

    I was after just having fun – not so much “giving people AKs” as “luring the stupidest asshats and pounding AK’s butt in their stupid faces”

    Though in some cases interesting dialogue did happen… like the dude who made passive-aggressive rape threats from his work email – my all-time favorite. Calling him during work hours was a riot 😀

    I did try to be charitable and give people second chances and not go after people who asked pardon (even if they’ve done so after realizing they’ve been exposed, which is of course more a sign of sociopathy than sincere remorse, but hey, IMO that’s good enough!).
    Even had some reasonable discussion on raising children with the mom of 12-yo boy who sent me threats (PROTIP: if you wanna send rape threats, you might want to do that from an email that is not your mom’s)

    Speaking of second chances, I’d like to deviate from the topic quite severely here, and bring your attention to the fact that a certain Thai souperstar of ill repute has recently exhausted her last and final second chance
    (yep, I’m taking about Requihate/acrackedmoon/Benjanun Sriduangkaew. POWER WORDS: ” Venesa Burranupakorn “. Google has had it for a few days by now, so it’s not a “secret” anymore, but I thought you might enjoy knowing that the “awpwessed minoritah” is actually a frigging dollar millionaire and part of a dynasty of corrupt billionaires. You can’t make shit like that up even if you’re paid to 😀 )

    Re: Charles R

    On one hand, I myself am kinda sympathetic to the notion that “communication” is not static and does undergo various pretty fundamental alterations as times goes by, though whether those changes are more like “natural selection/evolution” or more like “immune response”, or “a little bit of both” remains to be seen.

    On the other hand, I am deeply allergic to the notion that there is any “plan” or “teleology” to development of communication in the general sense. Ascribing teleology to natural processes is just a human “mind glitch”, much like seeing faces in clouds.

    In this particular case though, it seems quite clear that Colum Paget assumes that communication is “supposed” to be a consensus-establishing exercise, which is quite clearly not the case during GG showdown.

    It is interesting to ponder whether any kind of meaningful reconciliation (as opposed to “all communication affects us” kind of interaction, which, of course, is technically possible – connectome has to accommodate long-term memories of a “comm event” after all :) ) is even possible or, indeed, desirable in this particular instance.

  60. 03, to me, “natural selection/evolution” is one way of describing what occurs in any instance of a ‘immune response’. That is, it seems to me the latter is an instance of the underlying rules and habits collected into a process named by the former. So, in my reasoning, to see the latter is seeing the tracing of the former, but not all evolving occurs as a result of immune systems interacting. Do you disagree with me or see it subtly different?

    I understand the allergy for those who take their atheism or anti-theism or anti-theoism (running out of ways to say this . . . ) very seriously. I’m a mercenary when it comes to beliefs about ghosts or gods, but I think we don’t have to be so allergic to teleology. One of the links I threw up was to a collection of articles exploring Bejan’s constructal law in different domains, from electrical conductance in clouds to animal locomotion to air traffic control to corporate interlocks to wealth inequality. I’m pretty persuaded by the arguments I’m seeing in the different cases, but good challenges are worth shifting allegiances.

    And, I just got finished reading Echopraxia, thus so the ironic tone of saying things are going “according to plan” in light of the deflationary/reinflationary theistic arguments there. I don’t think Watts is glitching to ask the sort of questions he is about God as a process of seeking out, as Bejan puts it, increasing access to the flow faster and more easily. From our current technological standpoint, it’s not difficult to extrapolate to what the end goal of technological evolution is: to increase access to the substructures of material and energy more easily, so as to engineer those structures into different configurations and for purposes both of which facilitate the flow within a larger encompassing system. What Rorschach is doing out there, across the entire solar system, and within the various (economic/political/social/material/&c) subsystems of late 21st century, is reorganizing it for some end nothing within the system as a component will be able to predict. Yet, such a technological reconfiguration of the material will look exactly like natural reconfigurations, because they are, from the standpoint of the entire narrative’s mythology about God. What I’m saying is that the constructal law gives an insight, at a fundamental level, as to why design patterns appear. It’s not so much that humans are glitching, not unless you consider the discoveries of the simple machines and the development of them into our contemporary global industrial economic interlocking systems as one long series of glitches.

    Rather, humans are going to gravitate to designing because humans, being themselves thermodynamic systems operating within thermodynamic systems, will always find ways of improving on the evolved patterns characteristic of the constructal law as its expression within this universe has so designed them. In other words, design conceptually never needed a subject, a designer or a demiurge, for its expression, the way gravity never needed a substance, an immaterial but logical form constraining the rational appearance of causally enmired matter.

    I think it’s worth a look. It would have been bad to give up on Darwinism because it like divine creation still depends on reproduction to increase from a small population to contemporary numbers (the ‘tree of life’ account of evolutionary histories has a remarkably similar shape to the genealogical histories getting us from Adam to Jesus, for example). If there is a way to think about design—pattern, regularity, rhythm and larger complexes of these—that does not need to smuggle in a god or even a godrealm (or, I don’t know, an orthogonal dimension of freedom through which an otherwise undetectable reality acts upon social junctions, darkly), then wouldn’t that just finally put the nail into the Cross?

    At any rate, I do agree that it’s “quite clearly not the case” that there wasn’t a consensus between the various factions and sides and circles and groups and movements in whatever’s now being called “Gamergate.” I guess I’m trying to say that I don’t think a consensus is necessarily a Good Thing, but then what’s happening in people sharing wordy things with one another isn’t for generating consensus, but moving information along while also shuffling it, keeping the flow of concepts moving through the social networks.

    And the networks will continue to evolve, giving more and more access to the concepts and all these little exchanges through which the concepts pass, and do their work. Likewise, the concepts will continue evolving to facilitate their own transformations, and the language as its used will also evolve to keep all this going, both concepts and signs extending reach and access and distributing imperfections in the flow. We are already seeing how all this gets accomplished without any humans at all, in many places, having to be fleshy brakes. Or so, right?

    It makes for a great story, at least.

  61. 03:
    Didn’t you already post this piece of hype here (don’t get me wrong, I like the book, but it’s overhyping LLOs/unorgs waaay too much, and has numerous other fails such as mis-identifying an obviously hierarchical organization such as Wikimedia/Wikipedia as a “leaderless” unorg despite it having, you know, a rigid hierarchy and rather strict top-down management protocol that’s just “submerged” and concealed within the opaque jello of “democratic infighting” between low and mid-level “not quite personnel”, unpaid “not-quite-personnel” who, unlike the “pushers and shakers” in the more hierarchical part of Wikimedia also happen to be unpaid, lol) ?

    When I read something persuasive as a response that doesn’t look like nitpicky/can’t-be-therefore-it-isn’t, I’ll let you know. That book is on the Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf and so is to some extent taken seriously by some movers and shakers. Missing the mark on some issues doesn’t negate the idea entirely.

    And I think the Tea Party/libertarian movement mania speaks for itself. Anyone who watched HCR town hall meetings get interrupted with emotional gibberish knows it works more or less, to the point people make decisions against their own interests, if properly “emotivated.”

  62. Peter Watts: Of course, he did the next best thing, insofar as he misrepresented an obvious statistical artefact as a universal truth. Still, it’s nice to see the source of Beale’s “inspiration”.

    It is not really a statistical artefact. Revealed preferences(OKcupid, for example, in marked contrast to that site’s progressive demographics) show black women to be the least desirable major demographic group, avoided even more than Asian men). Furthermore, weighing ~200 lbs on average .. it is likely that they are on more of a physical match for the typical out-of-shape N’American male (average weight 190 lbs), than the average non-hispanic white female (150 lbs).

    There is obviously an unfullfilled market for white-on-black rape in the US, as evidenced by the recurring high-profile fraudulent rape cases(Tawana Brawley, Duke Lacrosse case.. etc).

    So yeah, it’s an artefact in the sense that the number of cases is not zero, but likely comparable to the odds of getting hit by lightning.

  63. Bogus moral panics tend to generate many amusing storms in teacups, but they did become a tad boring a year after Gamergate and a few more years after the eyerollingly petty Elevatorgate, the rise and fall of the Atheism+ cult, and the ironically named (and honestly quite deserted) Free Thought Blogs in which the last surviving A+ers can toe the party line.

  64. Off-topic link.

    New Scientist: Meet the Electric Life Forms that Live on Pure Energy.

    And The Critic on the Shatner and Rosie Perez bots {?} that operate similarly when self-promoting.

  65. And that was a year old, misread the date.

    This is new:
    Scroll-In: The fiction of the $100-million search for ET and Earth-like planets

    Blindsight gets a mention alongside Lem and Karen Joy Fowler {?}.