These aren’t the crazy years. These are the completely insane, run around with your pants on your head, saluting weasels years.
No, listen to me – there is a great mental illness striding the land. Almost everyone is interested in things they shouldn’t give two hoots about. And at least half the people want to live in a society of clones.
Look, I’m not talking just the government. The government is forever sticking its nose in things that logically shouldn’t be of interest to them. Part of the reason I’m so opposed to the governmental take over of our health care is that I know here it will be done with unique American-puritan zeal. And I’m not wrong.
My last visit to the doctor I had to answer the “very stupid questionnaire.” I’d been warned off telling them I occasionally have a drink, and just put down “never.” (Why warned off? Because friends are getting “counseling” for “alcoholism” who have wine twice a week with meals.) However, I knew my doctor knew I’d smoked for a year at nineteen. It’s part of my history because the reason I quit was pneumonia that wouldn’t quit. So I wrote that down. Now suddenly, this doctor who has known me for seventeen years during which I haven’t touched a cigarette, (as I haven’t for thirty two years) wants to know if I’m sneaking cigarettes. Because his computer directs him to ask that. This is why the entire government in your business insanity is… crazy.
But that’s something we sort of know about. WHEN hasn’t government taken power it’s not supposed to have, if a people are so supine as to let them? Right – never. And when hasn’t a government initiative gotten insane-silly? Anywhere in the world? Right. Never. I mean, sure, this is a unique American brand in that the things they’re obsessing about is stuff like what you eat and what you drink and whether you might perhaps be having a little mild fun (a bottle of wine a week is mild fun anywhere else in the world) on the side. Which would be okay if they weren’t basing this on the “latest studies” bound to be reversed in a decade. (But ah, once it’s in law, it’s forever.)
Only there’s a worse craziness going on. No, this is not a post about SFWA, but I’m going to illustrate it with something a lot of the ah… moral crusaders of SFWA say when you talk about the Vox expulsion. “He’s racist and sexist and I wouldn’t want to be in an organization with someone like that.”
Look at that again. An organization. Any organization.
Let’s assume that Vox is all that (instead of just liking to twist people’s tails, to the level you can’t even be sure what he believes, precisely) plus he collects recipes for roast babies on the side (but he’s never roasted one, nor intends to.)
“I wouldn’t want to be in an organization with someone like that, ever.”
Uh… really? Let’s suppose it’s a neighborhood organization, supposed to pay for the lighting the city no longer pays for. Is his money somehow tainted because of what he believes?
Okay, so, next level. It’s a professional organization, you know, whose goal is to benefit the practitioners of a little irregular and quirky craft that people routinely misunderstand. You know, it’s supposed to negotiate better pay, make sure the contracts are fair, inform members of the worst offenders, if possible get health insurance and, on the side, in its copious spare time, throw a few nifty parties and if it must hand out an award. (I think they’d be better served having tax help and also perhaps a buddy system for the aging and often never married members, but that’s me, right? I have these crazy thoughts all the time.)
Which of those purposes, precisely, is impaired if a member has beliefs you consider despicable? If you said none, you win a star.
Now, there might be something to do with “he gives a bad image” but that’s simple, if you have strict rules for what can be tweeted over a sfwa channel no matter how irregular. (Not that I even ever knew it existed when I was a member. Probably because I spend so much time writing. And guys if you think only one guy stepped over the line on that one, you should take a long hard look at your membership. MOST of you – heck most of us – should not expose ourselves to the public in unguarded moments if we want to preserve the mystique of the profession. Unless you think androphobia isn’t sexism. Never mind. You probably don’t.)
This is not just SFWA’s problem. We keep hearing this sort of nonsense from people everywhere. “Well, I wouldn’t even look at that fraternal organization because there are people there who don’t believe in evolution.” “Global warming deniers are like holocaust deniers.” (So, pointing out that the data is cooked, that the predictions from fifteen years ago didn’t come true – though they’re now telling us the oceans have already risen eight inches. Really, guys? So, they’re snorkeling in Amsterdam? Or don’t you understand what you’re saying? – is the same as white washing the murder of six million people. Nice moral confusion you have going there.)
I’ve been told (and not that long ago) that I’m a bad person for dissing Marxism. Yep, yep. It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do for others. I despise a system that over the world, in completely different environments, has resulted in the death of 100 million people. So I’m evil, and any association I join will be tainted. Because, evil.
This type of thing is constantly engaged in in public to discredit an organization people don’t like. Lately seen when people were demanding the republican party apologize for what an allegedly republican singer said.
Note that if we were to tag every stupid thing that leftist celebrities say we’d never be done. So not demanding they apologize for it is understandable.
In the same way, I suppose, demanding that any organization purge its Marxist, androphobic members would leave us without any public organizations.
But here’s the thing, the side that isn’t particularly interested in having government up in our faces mandating everything we do for our own good, most of the time doesn’t want to get up in your face about what you believe/think, no matter how crazy charmingly eccentric.
Over the years I’ve had friends who believed in the healing power of crystals, a friend who thought she was an incarnated alien, friends who believe aliens live among us, and at least one friend who thought that Wuthering Heights is great literature and not, self-evidently, a humorous book.
It doesn’t bother me. It don’t make no never mind. In the confines of our friendship, and unless their particular insanity came up, they were okay people.
I have, on the other hand, had people stop talking to me because I oppose the government takeover of the health care system. Or because I don’t think we should give up all automobiles because the earth, it is burning up! (Let me tell you, I could use a bit of burning up just now.)
If there were a professional organization that actually concentrated on improving the lives of its members, or a neighborhood association that actually kept the lights on and the streets watched, I couldn’t care less if half of its members believed that Call of Cthulhu is a documentary.
I might care what my husband believes – at least to the extent it affects me. Say if he believed that every room in our house must be illustrated with Swimsuit calendar photos. Because after a while all that semi-nude female flesh would get boring. (We compromise and have fantasy chicks in every room. Some in bikinis. But hey, there are dragons for me to look at.) But if he believed he really, really, really should drink cod liver oil every morning, so long as he didn’t want to force me to drink it too, I couldn’t care less.
As for his more personal beliefs, stuff about history and science, and how things really happen, we’ve been married 30 years and we discuss that stuff all the time, because we agree in a lot of things, but not nearly everything. And with the kids there’s even less agreement and more discussion. Which doesn’t mean they’re not my family and I don’t love them. They’re individuals, not clones of mine. And I have yet to meet anyone, no matter how nice or good or competent that didn’t have at least one TRULY crackbrained belief, that, by and large, has no effect on how they relate to me.
So what is this insane new… puritanism doesn’t cover it. This insane desire to control everything people think, everything people know, everything people believe and everything people do? Because if they believe differently from you, they’re WRONG and must either be made right or kicked out of polite society (or as the infelicitous troll over at MGC said “of society”?)
Beats me. I don’t get it. Unless these people are either using their beliefs as a club badge or so unsure of their own beliefs they can’t bear to have anyone admit to believing differently.
You remember, right, being about three and having a big argument because your best friend preferred his milk natural, and you preferred yours with chocolate, and he JUST had to change his mind. HAD to. And it ended in punches and the adults separating you.
And it was either because you didn’t want anyone to doubt your choice was the bestest OR because your friend was sort of a social badge for you at that age, so you wanted him to be “right” which at that age meant “like you.” (All human young are intensely tribal and believe there is ONE right way to do things – how their tribe/family does it.)
But these people aren’t three. And they believe that they should get the power of the government to force everyone to do what they think should be done. And believe what they should believe.
Before this is done, we’ll be praying for Heinlein’s version of the crazy years.