It’s Not Just Me, Is It? – by David Pascoe
Is the world getting weirder, or is it me? Seriously. I’m having a rough time with this right now, and I’m distinctly wondering if our species has gone mad.
Our nation has apparently shifted from one interested in the world and concerned with maintaining a sort of peace to one more or less – it seems – afraid of its own shadow. Those at our highest levels don’t react to genuine tragedies, instead preferring to court long-time enemies (enemies who have repeatedly called for our corporate destruction), censure long-time allies, and generally make of us a laughingstock upon the world stage.
Closer to home we have a man – a genuine racist, unlike those of us who simply are unfortunate enough to be born with a melanin deficiency – who has refused to rent to those of African or Latin descent, repeatedly and egregiously. And yet, nothing happens to him until his girlfriend records him saying something to match his actions. She almost certainly didn’t ask his permission to record his statements, and did so in his home. I’m given to understand that’s kind of a bad thing.
He’s a racist [REDACTED], and I’m pretty sure nobody argues with that. What I expect concerns most of us here is where this may lead to. I realize that the NBA doesn’t constitute anything resembling a government, and that they can sanction him or whatever it is they do (what is this sport thing of which you speak?) and it’s an internal matter of private citizens and corporations and whatnot. That’s up to them, and when people do horrible things, we human critters like bad things to happen to them right back.
But what about when somebody comes over to your house and records you talking about a villain in one of your stories (for my fellow writers), a truly despicable creature who uses children for his pleasure and sacrifices hard-working entrepreneurs to his dark demon-god? Said recording then appears, in edited form, on the internet. It goes viral, at which point, you become a pariah. Your professional reputation is ruined (now here’s a genuine case of libel, I expect) and you can’t show your face for fear of violence. Farfetched? Probably, but how much farther do things have to get before this becomes possible? Normal?
Indeed, the mayor of Sacramento recently made public comments to the effect that he hoped every bigot in the country understood that what happened to Sterling could “happen to you.”
For extra irony points, the LA chapter of the NAACP announced they’re withdrawing the Lifetime Achievement Award with which they’d intended to honor him. Which would have made the second one for Mr. Sterling.
On a more personal note, a man I know to be a good friend, a good husband and a good father is “enjoying” the attention of the rabid far left of the scifi community. (Slight digression here: libel seems to require not only intent to damage reputation, but actually doing so. I’m pretty sure this isn’t actually going to hurt his rep any. In fact, quite the opposite.) His actual words are misrepresented, and frequently, his opponents simply make things up and attribute them to him. The comments, as they so often do – painfully, tiresomely often – overflow with the most disgraceful assortment of abominable rubbish imaginable. So much so that his wife has had to reassure acquaintances that she and their children are in no danger.
On one hand, I find this all amusing. I’ve never known Larry to be anything but a gentleman in person. He has plenty of friends who don’t necessarily agree with him, and so far as I know, none of them are afraid of Larry. I expect it’s quite the contrary. Knowing his level of training – and the fact that he’s kinda huge, and I’m rather less so – I like having him around.
But. If a man can be branded a bigot and brought low through shady (and possibly illegal) means, and only after he’s said something, what then is to prevent this from happening to someone everybody – at least everybody who *matters* – just <i>knows</i> is a similar bigot? And while I think this path is missing a few rather large steps, these are the kinds of plots we deal with all the time. And I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that truth is stranger than fiction, and not nearly as well plotted. The Author can get away with a lot more coincidence than we lesser writers.
The world is getting weirder, and our nation is marching along with it in lockstep. The White House is growing less and less coherent as information is dragged out of it. Judicial Watch received copies of emails demonstrating that the administration was working hard to spin the Benghazi attack so it wouldn’t harm the President’s re-election prospects, and the press secretary recently tried to claim they weren’t about that at all.
Economic growth has slowed to a tenth of one percent in the last quarter, yet we’re fast approaching another “summer of recovery.” We’re warned that unless a significant number of people enroll in Obamacare, it will fall into a death spiral, and I fully expect to hear that record numbers enrolled. And I understand we’re fast approaching the corporate mandate, unless that’s been delayed by
royal presidential fiat. Again. The IRS continues to waffle as Congress continues to investigate its targeting of groups based on how well their politics don’t match up with the administration’s.
There’s a strangeness in the air. It seems like everybody’s walking on eggshells and keeping a weather eye out. I think John C. Wright is correct: we’re in the midst of the Crazy Years. And somehow, we didn’t notice until recently.
So what do we do about it? Personally, I mostly want to sleep for about a week, and I understand that won’t really disappear until after all the kids leave home. Considering we’re a bare couple weeks from welcoming our first into the world, I’m not particularly heartened. We’ve got strengths. We know how to learn, and we like it. We can keep picking up new skills and new information, and teaching each other when we’re together. We’ve got spokesfolks. Larry’s loud, and Sarah’s got a heck of a following. Mr. Wright has a tongue that by rights should be carried in a scabbard, it’s so sharp. Brad Torgerson is indefatigable. We have a community of people who care about good stories more than messages, and it seems to be growing. More than anything, we’re discovering our voice. When our opponents don’t want to engage in discussion, they resort to insult and attack. This alone should be considered a victory. Most of all, we should keep our humor. And get some rest. After all, if you haven’t got your health . . .
Oh! RavenCon was last weekend. Sarah and Kate have already posted their after actions, here and at MGC. First, it’s very strange to be able to more or less dawdle on the way to a convention. Every one I’ve gone to has required a flight from Hawaii to the mainland or a long day worth of driving. Sometimes both. Now that we’ve moved to the East Part, there are actually conventions that are local. Again: weird. We arrived in Richmond just as the storms began to sweep down upon us, and had just landed in Barfly Central when the hotel was struck by lightning. A quirk of the architecture left BFC without a fire alarm in the suite, so we ignored the one wailing in the hall and enjoyed each other’s company.
Mostly, panels seem to me a place for fans to try to connect with their favorite authors, and for authors to try to gather a few more readers into the loyal fold. I’m not certain yet what my role is in attending panels when I’m at a convention as a professional. Beyond providing moral support. Which was in need. Sarah had the aforementioned Matrons and Crones panel. A rather sexist panel, I thought, as there were no men on it. Apparently, our opinions weren’t sought. I guess being a woman’s son and another woman’s husband and now somebody’s father doesn’t qualify me to speak about character archetypes. Fair enough.
Back to panels: my problem with panels is that I don’t learn much at the typical writerly ones. Consequently, I don’t really attend many where I’m not front and center to be a presence for someone actually speaking. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I suspect this will shift over time. Especially as I switch which side of the microphone I’m on.
Barfly Central was, as usual, excellent. A great place to get away from the crowds, and to connect with other Barflies. Speaker brought excellent scotch, as usual. I’m partial to the Islay he shared Saturday evening. We didn’t do any room parties, and with Mrs. Dave being very definitely eight months pregnant, we didn’t really stay out very late. It was a delight, as always, to spend time with Dan and Sarah, though I think we all missed the boys. Meeting and getting to know Kate was a pleasure, and I enjoy that she’s relatively local to us (my sense of distance is skewed. If I can get to you in a day or so, that’s local). RavenCon was a lot of fun, and I expect the Pascoes will be back next year. All three of us.