UPDATE: The Sarah has landed. I’ll have to see what’s been going on around here.
Blessed Are The Stirrers — by Cedar Sanderson
I’ve been watching the whole Hugo brouhaha with a rather detached eye, not really being “of” fandom, besides the small and Odd group that is the Baen Bar. Honestly, until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of the Hugos. But it did bring something to a head for me, as I mused on the behaviours of people who called themselves professionals and acted in strange and perverse manners.
There have been attacks, counter-attacks, and in general a lot of very bad words used all across the spectrum, and as I read some of it, a few things occurred to me. One, the fine art of stirring the fecal matter has its uses. Bear with me here, because I know some of you have a vivid imagination and it’s not a pretty picture. Dung can tell you a lot about the creature that left it: healthy vs sick, dietary preferences, parasite load, and so forth. I’m equating some of these blog posts to this dung… For one thing, poke at fresh droppings and see movement, then you know the creature was infested with parasites. I’m going to quote John C Wright here, not just link to his blog, because his take on a human parasite was breathtakingly beautiful usage of the English language.
“The simian creature does not write in his non-work hours, as do I; he is a beggar. An aspiring beggar. Nay, let me insult no beggar. The creature is not an honest beggar. Honest beggars asks and accept only alms freely given.
He fawns and licks the bloodstained hand of Caesar, and suckles at the bloody teat of Caesar, drinking up the wealth and labor of honest working men like a vampire. The creature is a slave and less than a slave: a sycophant. He is a catamite literally, but, worse, figuratively, and plays the role rumor says Augustus as a boy played to Caesar.”
Vox Day, someone I do not know at all, nor had I read anything of his previous to about a year ago when he was himself the center of a controversy, is one who seems to take great pleasure in flipping over the leavings of those who react without rational thought. It’s interesting, I learned as a girl that if I were being pestered and teased, the best way to make it stop was to ignore the gadfly. There are those who haven’t learned that lesson, and at their age, seem unlikely or incapable of learning. But by their reactions and venoms, they make themselves out clearly to be what they are. Vox may be as abrasive as coarse sandpaper, but at least seems to be honestly so. Those who bullied him out of their organization have shown themselves utterly without couth. Brad Torgerson in an online conversation stated it best: “ The thing with Vox is discouraging because basically it’s following the rules of political radioactivity: get enough people to agree that a man is “untouchable” and suddenly anyone who dialogues with him becomes tainted by default, and also untouchable. This is about as far from LIBERAL as it gets. Liberal means having an open mind and not declaring people untouchable. That was the whole thing from the 1950s through the 1990s: pushing to get more and more “off limits” people included in society . . . . only now they’re turning the tables and drawing up lists of people for eviction. Hypocritical barely describes such thinking. Illiberal and patently Marxist is how I’d put it.”
Without even looking very hard, I found this comment, by someone who chose to use a nom d’ plume rather than a real identity: “In better days, people were easily thrown out of the city and the gates were locked behind them, let them starve. We need a system like that today, people like Vox Day need to die on the vine. Anyone who holds such opinions should not be allowed in society, it doesn’t matter what the quality of their “art” is. I’m sure that there were many people who thought Hitler was a good painter.”
So stirring the, er, pot has its uses. Rough on the stirrer, at times. That, and reading through the blog droppings to try and diagnose the parasites and diseases can be tiresome as well. Frankly, I rarely have the stomach for it, and I was raised on a small farm shoveling the real stuff. It begins to be very depressing, when you see rant after rant with no basis in truth or reality, and you wonder what the human race is coming to.
But they are only words, right? It’s not like they are sticks and stones being thrown. Perhaps, for now… That edge between meatspace and cyberspace is knife blade thin. When ‘hitting’ online spills over into the real world, what then? The manners are corrupted online and it’s going to have repercussions outside the internet as people forget what kindness, empathy, and decency really are. I have seen on this blog, in comments, a commenter suggesting that perhaps someone ought to rape the hostess so she would know what it really felt like. I have seen blog posts that called for the actual bodily harm of those who disagreed with them, like the comment above suggesting people he doesn’t like should be exposed to the elements for death.
It’s easy to say, oh, they are just blowing off steam, they wouldn’t hurt a fly… but I am suspicious of that. I see the people who are armed, trained, and have seen the elephant being abrasive, sure, but not threatening. They know what could happen, were this wretched hive of villainy to spill over into the streets. They won’t lift a finger until they are forced. While those who would have us all stripped of the slightest defenses scream, rant, and threaten grievous damage to those who oppose them.
Manure is a good thing. You can feed your garden with it, properly aged and prepared. But when you flip a piece over and find the wriggling white things, then the proper reaction is to recoil. It’s not going to end well, if you argue. There’s no mind there, to argue with, only a voracious appetite that will devour, and never cry enough!
Now, you may be wondering why I refer to the fine art of stirring what most of us prefer not to think about, let alone see. Because it’s a difficult job. Larry Correia, with his Sad Puppies campaign, embarked on an epic level of it. And they are flinging that which has been stirred up at him. But without the blogs and comments being brought into the light, and that light shone on them, so a larger audience could see what is wriggling in it… we might not know, until the infestation was so dire there was no recovering from it.
Larry points out in the post I’ve linked above: “If right wing authors share their opinions, they will be openly chastised and attacked by very vocal, very angry people. Any deviation from the approved narrative is met with scorn, mockery, character assassination, and because the author doesn’t want to damage his career, he will usually fall back into line and shut his mouth. Basically if you step out, they form an angry mob and attack you until you roll over and apologize for something that shouldn’t be apologized for. Once you’re apologizing for your principles, they own you. They really don’t know what to do about people like me.”
It isn’t just here, in our tiny little corner of the world, either. While the Hugo furor might have seemed like a big deal, it really isn’t. It is merely a microcosm of the world around it, where the bigger badder predators roil the global waters, draining the life from those who work for their living, and trying to hide in their own odure. We need people with metaphorical sticks, to poke, and reveal, and hopefully to provoke actual thought, not just poo-flinging.
It’s a horrible metaphor, I know. But blessed are the shit-stirrers.