And The Left Cried Out “No Hiding Place!”
By Christopher M. Chupik
Let me tell you the tale of two websites.
First is a forum dedicated to a famous SF franchise (no, not that one, the other one). Let’s call it Franchise X Forum. In addition to sometimes interesting discussions of Franchise X, I had also enjoyed the various “Babe of the Week” threads where posters would share harmless cheesecake of female celebrities. But all of a sudden, those threads were gone, and a pinned post warning against starting any more was in their place. The air was feeling distinctly chilly.
Politics, we were informed by the moderators, is strictly forbidden. Especially when someone says something conservative. This does not prevent numerous posters (all of the left-wing persuasion) from including political statements in their signatures and avatars. Starting a thread where the poster declares that all global warming deniers are criminals? Totally not political. Objecting to such a post? How dare you?
In one of the threads that turned political, someone posted a dissenting (non-leftist) opinion and was promptly dogpiled for it. There was flaming and name-calling, all things supposedly banned by the moderators. I could have complained to the moderators, except for one thing: one of the moderators was taking part in the dogpiling.
Politics are forbidden, it seems, except when they’re mandatory.
So I’m not a poster at Franchise X Forum and won’t be any time soon.
The second place I wish to speak of is a blog with a strong fantasy slant. Lots of retro SF stuff and a focus on Sword and Sorcery. Let’s call it Slack Fate. Up until two months ago, Slack Fate was a daily must-visit blog for me. I had it in my bookmarks and everything. There was virtually no discussion of political matters at all on this blog and I appreciated that.
And then, about a year or so ago, Slack Fate suddenly did a massive guest post on global warming and how it was the responsibility of SF writers to deal with it. It was completely out of tune with anything I’ve seen posted there before. And unlike every other post on the blog, where the bulk of it was hidden behind the fold, this long, long post had to be scrolled past. As I did so, I had the sinking feeling that my days of visiting Slack Fate were numbered.
And then, at the end of August, in the aftermath of the Recent Unpleasantness, the editor of Slack Fate decided he didn’t want me reading the blog anymore. Said editor launched into anti-Puppy tirade after tirade and personally mocked anyone who complained in the comments. So now Slack Fate is a once in a while visit, at best.
Notice a pattern developing?
Now, I do visit various political blogs, but when I’m done with those, I like to go elsewhere and read about things that are not politics. But I don’t have that option anymore. Culture war is being waged on a thousand battlefields. Doesn’t matter if they’re political or not. Want to argue if Hulk is stronger than Superman? Better be ready to be derailed into an argument about George W. Bush (Seriously, I saw that happen once).
On the Franchise X Forum, I’m sure that once upon a time, the rules were not being used as a bludgeon against conservatives. But slowly, bit by bit, the rules of the board were eroded away. Moderators began abusing their powers, acting more like bullies instead of the people who are supposed to be watching out for bullies.
At Slack Fate, I’m not entirely sure what happened. There were conservative posters at that blog and there was no real hint of the editor’s biases until the global warming post. When Sad Puppies 3 happened, something changed. The editor not only took sides, but lashed out viciously against anyone who dissented. Last I saw, he was linking more and more to Tor.com, posting about the favorite authors of Tor.com and generally trying to be Tor.com’s Mini-Me. Because heaven forbid a blog have its own unique character. This must be what the Invasion of the Body Snatchers looks like when you’re not a pod person.
In both cases, the result is the same: a supposedly apolitical forum which has become a hostile environment for libertarians and conservatives.
Now, I don’t want a “safe space”. Heaven forbid. These sites have already been turned into safe spaces — for leftists. But if your forum has rules banning politics, shouldn’t they be enforced fairly and across the board? And if you do want to discuss politics, you have to allow for the fact that not everybody has the same opinion. When posters see that the rules are enforced selectively, it encourages abuse. The fish rots from the head.
The people doing this are like religious fanatics, completely assured of the righteousness of their cause, willing to use any tool to further it. And in the process they take over institutions, no matter how small or insignificant, and turn them into temples where the only words spoken are words of praise. You’re going to hear about the Great God Mota whether you like it or not.
Systemic closure is the result. A thousand voices, all of them the same.
And the closing of the leftist mind continues.