Painted All In Tongues

I hate rumor.  Perhaps I hate it more because I grew up in a village.

The people who imagine villages are idyllic and every person in it loves the other like a brother or sister, have no knowledge of people — or reality.  Sure, in many villages in isolated places, most of the people there are related to some degree.  This was not true where I grew up, because the village was already in the process of exploding into a large-city suburb.  It wasn’t visible to me as a child, because it was so slow, and newcomers still took years to integrate, but it it had been going on for so long that the appellation of “aunt” given to any grown woman by any child was just courtesy, not truth.  Still, had we been all related, people who imagine that makes for harmonious living must have been only children and the children of only children.

No, never mind, I’m being silly.  Those people are actually enormous racists and oikophobes.  Hating their own home, they imbue places far away, particularly those inhabited by people who tan more than they do, with the qualities of heaven.  They also in the process make those people-who-tan (or as I always think when I’m the object of this type of thought, and yes, I am, it’s what enables them to think themselves my intellectual superiors a-priori “Little browns peoples”) less than human.  They (we) are not people with our own agency, and all the virtues and vices of mankind, but sort of little pets, perfect, well behaved and needing both the protection of our masters, the pale enlightened, and their pat on the head for how good we are.  (Most of the left’s ideas on “defeating colonialism” envision themselves as benevolent colonial masters.  In fact, the colonialism of Marxist ideas in Africa is what has made it hell on Earth, far worse than any colonial overseers could do.  By turning their best and brightest into Marxist apostles at our “finest universities” they get to send these ideas back to Africa.  There was some idea they would flourish there among people unsullied by greed and the wish to succeed individually (yes, it’s that racism again.  It is inherent in the left’s contrived “celebration” of black people, Kwanza, which is really a celebration of socialist principles.  And no, is in no way African.  It was invented in the US.  For one there isn’t such a thing as an “African” holiday.  The continent is as or more varied than Europe (because transport was near impossible for most of its existence, tribes and villages were very isolated indeed.))  It didn’t.  Instead it has made Africa worse than ever before.  And this was done by turning its favorite sons, its brightest sparks into poison pills.  Colonialist Marxism is appalling and responsible for the deaths of millions.  As is Marxism everywhere.)

Returning to villages: even though most of the people in the village worked with their hands and still conformed to traditional roles; even though most people not only knew you on sight, but could assign you to a family and an ancestor; even though the fields were fertile and most people “got along” one way or another and had for centuries, we were not the happy people of Brutopia.  Not even our quaint customs, such as making the roads tapestries of flowers for Easter, or having processions at night, which you watched from your window, or singing traditional songs at wine pressing, could make us like angels or automatons.

Rumor was rife in the village as in the science fiction community.  It should be.  Both are the province of women.  Not that men didn’t gossip/egg women on in the village, as they do in the science fiction community, but the men stupid enough to be seen doing it openly had a special name attached to them “Tricoteiros.”  It was not a complementary name.  And most men really didn’t get involved.  They merely went along with what their wives decided and decreed.  People who imagine women powerless in true patriarchal societies are out of their minds.  Once the “court of public opinion” which is largely female, makes a decision, men risk falling victim to it, should they not conform to its dictates.

And this is why I loathe and despise rumor, and will stand up for a victim of it, no matter how little I like him or her: or indeed how little I know him or her.  I will stand up for the victim, because rumor is a ridiculous way of ascertaining if someone should be “a part of society” (remember the charming moppets who said someone should be “cast out of society” for saying bad things) or if someone should have a job or if someone should be allowed to live somewhere in peace.

Because the one thing rumor is not concerned with is truth or true guilt, or even gradations of guilt.  Yes, perhaps everything rumor says is true.  Heaven knows it’s been known to happen, which is when people say “no smoke without fire” but they ignore all the times their stories and whispers were ALL wrong.

For instance, before I got married to Dan everyone knew (based on TRUST me little more than a resemblance in coloring) he was a baker from a neighboring village, whom I’d met in Italy.  What was true to this tissue?  Well, I was getting married and the year before, I was in Germany.  (I’m still confused as to how Italy got attached to it.)  Which was okay because I had no reputation to speak of.  The life I lived in gossip was far more interesting than my real life.  Having grown up as the “little sister” of my brother’s group of friends, they (and I) never paid any attention to the fact I was now past puberty.  This meant if they saw me trudging towards the train and they happened to be driving, they’d pick me up and take me where I was supposed to go (mostly college or home) and if they were at a coffee shop and I walked by, they’d call me to sit and grab a coffee and a pastry (which they paid for, as older siblings will.  Since my brother is around ten years older than I, most of them had jobs while I was in high school.)  BUT the gossips knew I was having affairs will all of them (what a busy critter I must have been, what with carrying a heavier-than-full-load of courses and tutoring on the side, all this while having boyfriends/fiances.  So when I got married, of course the best I could do was the baker from the nearby, poorer village.  (Rolls eyes.)  Which fortunately Dan couldn’t care less about, since when I told him the rumors he went off in whoops of laughter at the idea that his geeky, introverted fiance could ever be the village hussy.

But yeah, there was truth there at the root of it, since I had traveled a lot.  I had boyfriends/fiances, and I spent a lot of time with my brother’s friends.  None of which justified the tissue of lies attached to it.  And of course I could never justify/explain/tell them they were out of their rocking minds, because this was never said to my face, but was passed around the village in whispers, growing in the telling.  (They usually came back to me via cleaning ladies, or the cleaning ladies of friends.  Or grandma, when the rumors came to her attention and she dressed someone one down and told them they were out of their rocking minds.)

Take, for instance, the last time I went to Portugal and my mom was full of news that a gentleman in the village — one with four children, who had been married 30 years — was gay.  I was rather taken aback and asked how she knew this.  In this day and age, I’d expect something like “left his wife for his boyfriend” or, at the very least, “set his boyfriend up in a pink apartment with shag carpeting.”  The second of which, btw, could still be just rumor.  But no.  As I dug through to figure out where gossip started, the ENTIRE base of the rumor seemed to be “He bought cologne at the village pharmacy.”

Here you see, local prejudice, that is that real men don’t wear cologne, though teen boys might, plus rumor inflating into this man’s having a secret life/sexuality.  Now, while I don’t — unlike village biddies — think being gay equals moral turpitude, what this man was being accused of was not only being unfaithful to his wife, but being an awful father, who would subject his children to the type of opprobrium the village would rain on them, should this become known.

Is it possible the man is bi?  I don’t know.  I think I knew him growing up, but after the age of about 12 I spent most of my time in the city and in school, and at any rate, I have a LOUSY memory for faces. I remember the people who were close to my family and constants in my life, but the far reaches of the village scene never interested me enough to remember names and faces.  So the man might have lisped, dressed in pink with flounces, and fulfilled every stereotype of gay.  I don’t KNOW.  What I know is that the only thing solid they had to indicate he was gay (despite marriage and children, and yes, I’m aware gay men have married and had families, but in this day and age most don’t bother) is that he had bought cologne in the village pharmacy.  (Which is more like a drugstore.) Now on the basis of that, he, his children and his wife were looked at askance, and if his job had depended on the village biddies (it might.  I vaguely remember he was some sort of a tradesman) he would slowly lose his livelihood.  All without having the slightest clue why.

I pointed out to my mom that my dad wore cologne (old spice — still wears it.  So does younger son) his whole life, even if he had the good sense of not buying it in the village.  Did I convince her?  I doubt it.  You see, all her friends KNEW he was gay, and they knew his mannerisms, which they only now noticed, meant he was gay, and hadn’t he always dressed way too carefully?  And now they thought about it, his wife was ugly and had been an old maid when they married, so he must have wanted her as a beard.

Mom is not stupid.  But when her whole circle is saying something “there is no smoke without fire.” Which is how people are “judged” in the “court of public opinion” from which there is no appeal, and where they never even get to confront their opponents.

Now if you cross that “court of public opinion” with the SJW’s Will To Power and desire to declare what is good and sound, and the “cause of the week” that must be supported and the “offenders of the month” who must be shunned, what you get is the nightmarish situation we have in SF/F.

I won’t say that rumor in sf/f is a thing of the current idiotic left.  It has always been that way.  If you add up every professional who has ever sold enough to qualify as such — one novel or three short stories — you only have a few hundred people.  Even if you add in the people who qualify as pros under indie rules, you’re probably under five thousand.  Which is why the community of writers has always behaved like a village.  Rumors go around, whispered, hinted.  “So and so said this about you.”  “So and so is not a nice person.”  “So and so welshed on a promise” and “So and so is the wrong political color, don’t be seen with him/her.”

Like in the village, you’d find a desert around you, and you’d have no idea why.

In that sense, it is better now, with the internet. Because we can at least know what we’re accused of, and as hard as it is to combat, at least we’re somewhat aware.

Take the case of Sunil Patel.  Yep, he’s a puppy kicker.  Nope, I pretty much don’t agree with much of what he has said, and if I look closely, I might not agree with any of it, including “a” and “the.”

However, should he be losing work and a place in an anthology on the basis of rumors?  At the time the “scandal” broke some friends dug through it, and there seemed to be nothing in it except he “encouraged some female writers but couldn’t come through with contracts or career advancement.”  There was no hint that he had ever used promises of advancement for sex.  And the “gaslighting” seemed to be limited to “he told me I was good and should continue working.”

As with village rumors, I haven’t looked closely at it, but if my friends who in general don’t like the guy couldn’t find anything more substantial, that is probably all there is.  He “bought scent at the pharmacy, so we know” is what it amounts to, but with a feminist mean-girl spin.  And on such things a man is to be shunned and deprived of work.

And yep, he apologized, obsessively, if slightly confusedly, because he had no idea exactly what he was apologizing for.

The whole thing reminded me of the comment by Synova, some years back, about the Requires Hate situation,

“Some of the comments by people who had been subject to the full treatment just made me want to cry. I didn’t think it was funny because the guilty parties and enablers aren’t the ones who are hurt. Yes, we can scoff at Scalzi when he makes a rational counter-argument and is made, ultimately, to retract and abase himself and agree in public and start proselytizing in public that no… you really can’t trust your own brain and if something seems wrong to you or you feel like defending yourself it is simply proof that you’re guilty.

But there were people who reported rather severe PTSD type reactions to even sitting down at a keyboard to write because they were so terrified of offending… again. Because *rationally* they’d done nothing wrong the first time, but they were forced to an irrational acceptance of their guilt. So now they’ve “accepted their privilege” and “checked it” and confessed and repented (they could come to the Dark Side and be welcomed, but they don’t know that, and have been taught that the Dark Side is evil, and that’s why shunning is so very evil within closed communities… being exiled is a horrific punishment) but since they had NO IDEA how they could have done something wrong in the first place, they also have no idea how to avoid it the next time.

Imagine doing this to a child.

The kid is walking through a room doing nothing much and suddenly POW… and then you tell the kid… well that was YOUR fault. You screwed up. You stepped on that spot on the floor.

So the kid looks at the spot and it looks like every other spot. But the kid is told that, no, the fact that she can’t even SEE the spot is what the problem is. You can’t SEE the spot… that’s why it is YOUR fault. Also, a good child will try to learn. You’re a good child, aren’t you?

So the kid says, yes… it was my fault. I could not SEE the spot. Not seeing the spot makes this my fault.

Afterward, it’s still impossible to see the spots, and walking across the room becomes fraught with danger. Sitting down at the keyboard gives this very “good” person the shakes and panic attacks… where are the spots? She still can’t see the spots but she MUST agree and believe that those spots exist.

I have a LOT of sympathy for those who were hurt, just like I have sympathy for any abused person.”

Having grown up in the village, I TOO have a lot of sympathy with anyone who finds themselves on the receiving end of “the court of public opinion” where justice is not so much blind, as drunk, taking meth, and whoring on the side, all the while deciding your case.

Is it possible Sunil Patel really is a terrible misogynistic abuser?  Sure.  Everything is possible, within limits, and so many “liberal” males are awful to women.  BUT we have no evidence he was so.  Certainly not evidence firm enough to kick him out of anthos.

BUT the rumor has been repeated and repeated, until “everyone knows” he is a horrible person, whose presence would taint other authors.

Is the fact that he’s falling victim to something he encouraged a consolation?  Nope.  Because every time this happens, the social fabric is weakened, and in the case of our field, the art of writing science fiction is weakened.  If we’re picking people on the basis of being protected from rumor, we’ll publish/promote only those mean girls at the top of the pile.  For some reason malicious, power-hungry people are rarely the most creative.

Fortunately there is indie.  And my advice to anyone caught in this vicious rumor mongering is “leave the village. And when you must be there, ignore them.”

It’s what I did, back in the literal village.  And it worked.  Mostly I had no idea who people were, thanks to my spectacular memory for names and faces.  And when I heard the rumors they were so far fetched the only thing I could do was laugh at them.  (Still do.  I mean, some of those that have come back to me, about me, from the SF/F community are, not only counterfactual, but in one case would require me to be 20 years older, as it refers to my “motives” for coming to the US.  I mean, it’s like me meeting a baker from the next village in Italy where I’ve never been.)

The best revenge is to ignore them, write, and — if no one else will publish you — bring out your own stuff.  Believe it or not I know indies who are both more financially successful and have a greater fandom than traditionally published authors.  And my one indie books seems to prove it.

The reading public doesn’t care if you eat babies for breakfast.  They care if you can entertain them with a tale.  Or lift them up.  Or edify them.  Or, really, make them feel something strong that they REMEMBER.  And the authors who are remembered will survive to be read by future generations, while those who pulled themselves up by bullying tactics and “rehabilitated” themselves by kissing the right behinds, like, say, Requires Hate, will be deservedly forgotten.  Because the public at large also couldn’t care less about your stand in the tiny village of your profession.

So when rumor enters, painted all in tongues, send him to the right about.  Rumor has been weaponized by the left, to gain power an make sure opposing views aren’t even heard.  Ignoring them robs them of the power to do either, and sets us free.  Indie publishing is just the icing on the cake.

Let Madame Defarge and her cronies hiss and spit.  Living well is the best revenge.

They will come for us.  They already have and they’ll continue to do so.  But unlike those on their side, we are immune to the poison.  What are they going to do to me, after declaring me the worst person in the world?  What do you do for an encore after that?

So when they come for you, point and laugh and make duck noises.

This is all they have.  This is all they are.  This is all they can do.  They are rumor, painted all in tongues, and if we don’t fear them, they become figures of farce and theater.

And we carry on.  Because we build.  We write. We live.

And we have a future to create.



176 thoughts on “Painted All In Tongues

  1. The people who imagine villages are idyllic and every person in it loves the other like a brother or sister, have no knowledge of people — or reality.

    Oh, I can imagine that they love each other just like a brother or sister, but I have known some families and read some histories. I guess comes under the caveat of ‘or reality’.

      1. When we were younger, $SISTAUR and I had the usual sibling issues. Not sure when it happened, but it did change to a situation of we might exchange mild jabs knowing the recipient will find it humorous, but if some outsider screws around with one of us… they just got the attention of both. Attention they likely do not wish to have. Or will not.

          1. Don’t think this is at all unusual – my sister and I hated each other as children, to the point of fairly frequent physical combat. But God help the outsider schmuck that messed with me…

            My younger daughter was the same – constantly picked on her younger brother. But a fool Marine vet teacher had the temerity to tell him he couldn’t play basketball with the older kids one day (I wish the encounter had been recorded somehow).

    1. I have many unfond memories of what I used to call “being Poland” or “being Belgium”: having to sit between two of my younger brothers in the back seat of the car, under the idea that separating them that way would keep them from squabbling. Um, no, it just meant they squabbled across me.

      1. We solved the problem of squabbling because bored by putting the kids one behind the other. Heck, we wanted a car that could handle that!

        Then we realized we don’t have that problem because of Son’s tendency to fall asleep when we’re on a drive.

    2. Cain and Abel were siblings. So were Jacob and Esau. As were Joseph and the other 11 of Jacob’s bunch. And let’s not get into David and his mess of children.

      The main message of the Old Testament seems to be, “God preserve us from those who love each other like brothers…”

      1. David and Jonathan were not brothers, so their example of “Brotherly Love” is probably proof they were gay. (Besides, that David boy played the lyre! And he didn’t fight with sword or spear like all the regular guys. It must come from all that “sheep herding” he supposedly did.)

        1. I’ve seen* “Brokeback Mountain.” I know all about what happens when young men go out “herding.”

          * = Well, okay, I haven’t literally seen it as in sat down and watched the movie or significant parts of it. I haven’t read the book it’s based on. But I have seen the cover of the box in Target, and I’ve heard about it, and surely that’s good enough, right?

          1. I never understood why that movie was popular. Aeschylus could have written it – and probably did.

      2. Kipling chronicled these two…..

        Jubal and Tubal Cain


        Jubal sang of the Wrath of God
        And the curse of thistle and thorn —
        But Tubal got him a pointed rod,
        And scrabbled the earth for corn.
        Old — old as that early mould,
        Young as the sprouting grain —
        Yearly green is the strife between
        Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        Jubal sang of the new-found sea,
        And the love that its waves divide —
        But Tubal hollowed a fallen tree
        And passed to the further side.
        Black-black as the hurricane-wrack,
        Salt as the under-main-
        Bitter and cold is the hate they hold —
        Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        Jubal sang of the golden years
        When wars and wounds shall cease —
        But Tubal fashioned the hand-flung spears
        And showed his neighbours peace.
        New — new as Nine-point-Two,
        Older than Lamech’s slain —
        Roaring and loud is the feud avowed
        Twix’ Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        Jubal sang of the cliffs that bar
        And the peaks that none may crown —
        But Tubal clambered by jut and scar
        And there he builded a town.
        High-high as the snowsheds lie,
        Low as the culverts drain —
        Wherever they be they can never agree —
        Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        1. And lest Jubal claim he’s at least aesthetically superior, remember, “… and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Na‘amah,” whose name means “pleasantness”. There’s beauty in a well-made purely functional object, for those who have the eyes to see it.

    1. I grew up first in the suburbs outside of a major metropolitan city and, at the age of ten, moved into the center of that city. You will find that there are gossip mongers and rumor mills wherever you go. The social pressure to conform can be brought down on your head anywhere.

    2. Pa didn’t leave the area, but he had that attitude toward High School reunions. At one point he got so fed up with the asking that he wrote DECEASED – RETURN TO SENDER on the envelope of what knew to be yet another invite. Years later, someone showed it to him. They’d saved it – but they stopped pestering him. “Yeah, we got the message.”

      1. Never been to a high school reunion. Think they’re ginning up to do a 40th for my graduating class this year; so I may just go to check it off the bucket list. I have this niggling suspicion that afterwards, I may be persona non grata-ing a whole bunch of folks from my book of faces.

        1. I wasn’t invited to the last one of mine, since I’m not on FaceSpace. Didn’t really miss missing it, either.

          1. I’d kind of like to go to one, but I don’t know if anybody’s actually organizing them.

            1. I went to my tenth, sort of. I didn’t go to the official reunion that they wanted money to go to, but I did go to the picnic by the lake that most of the class also attended. I would have called it fun. There are a number of people from my graduating class that I don’t consider friends but am curious about what happened to after high school. Once a decade seems about the right rate to see these people.

        2. What’s a class reunion? 😉

          Never been to one and never will.

            1. Oh, so if I go does that make me petty bourgeoisie? Never been one of those before.

              1. It’s really easy to be petty bourgeois. It’s the grand bourgeoisie who have passwords and secret handshakes and an initiation fee. Petty bourgeois is mostly an attitude.

                1. Do they have a red-neck intellectual bourqeoisie? I might fit into that bucket without too much trimming.

            2. Heh. Ours was held at the National Guard armory. My wife’s had two, more uptown, reunions. One at one of those meeting rooms, and another in a restaurant dining room. Yes, we attended. I attended mine at the urging of my wife. They weren’t bad.

      2. I went to one of mine, a loooong time ago. I was a bit sad about seeing what fake-faced glad-handers the kids I had known turned into. It was depressing to see they bent under the pressure to conform like that.

  2. Mostly I had no idea who people were, thanks to my spectacular memory for names and faces

    “I’m great with names and faces – I forget everybody!” is a line I’ve used a fair amount. And also explained that unless I see someone very often (such as work with them..) I tend to forget them, so don’t be offended if I ask. It’s the… jerks.. that stand out in memory. So if you’re not close in some way and I DO recall you.. it’s not very complimentary. (NOTE: nametags at cons bypass much of this).

    1. “I do loves me some nametags!”
      Yeah, I’m in the same boat. The most annoying is dealing with people who have perfect recall and are offended when you don’t recognize them from two months ago.

  3. There is an underlying purpose behind village rumor — the fear of its possibility is one thing used to keep individuals in line and enforce tribal norms.

  4. And now that I’ve finally read all the way through.. sounds way too much like elementary (and junior high) school. There were a few times when the reaction instead of outright mockery (they expected shock, anger, or butt-kissing – they got none of that except maybe the shock, but that was more a surprise that anyone was stupid enough to believe the nonsense) they got.. agreement. This was rare, but when it could be reasonably done, the counter-shock was a thing of beauty to behold. “Hey, I’m supposed to be on top of this… and now… I’m not? Wha’happen?!”

    1. I often find myself dealing with groups of people, becoming frustrated and wondering if they have ever gotten past the social paradigms they learned in middle school or high school. Such behavior is not very conductive of good business.

      1. And a decently good brewpub in downtown Montreal.

        On of the things I miss about my hometown.

    1. The university here has a couple of (historic) buildings designed in the brutalist style.

  5. Rumor is everywhere, in every industry. I’m not making light of it, only that after a while rumors gets increduibly tiresome. So do people that thrive on them.

    1. Yes, it certainly was in mine — to my eventual professional cost, when people who had never worked with me, or been introduced to me assumed that rumor was the gospel truth.

  6. Ah, small villages. Grew up in a small town. Live in a big city. Small town gossips are everywhere. Even big cities have small communities and boy do they gossip.

  7. Anthropologists and Sociologists will tel you that rumour and gossip serve very important societal functions, critically important to establishing and reinforcing norms within the community similarly to the function the human immune system serves within the body. Just so, the societal immune system is even more susceptible o autoimmune disorders, and these are quite as obscene to observe.

    1. Every so often a rumor will go out that someone is in dire need of help. This, in turn, can actually expedite help for the person in dire need of help.

      The question remains open on how to keep the rumor mill going in such a way that you avoid the disastrous effects, while reinforcing the good effects. I suppose part of it would be to be committed to only spread gossip about good things, and to cut back on spreading gossip about bad things (particularly petty stuff).

  8. where justice is not so much blind, as drunk, taking meth, and whoring on the side, all the while deciding your case.

    Yeah, that sounds about right.

  9. Ah, yes… I was a homosexual myself, all through college. Well, after about six months, and the night I didn’t take advantage of a drunk and depressed girl’s advances. (Yes, “feminists,” there are a lot of men that pass up such “opportunities.” A majority I can’t claim, no data, but a significant number nevertheless.)

    Wore Old Spice too, at the time. It was years later that I finally twigged to the fact that it was the cause of my face slowly flaking off.

      1. oh, yeah, psoriasis and putting any stuff on the area would be an issue. I have that issue with eczema and my arms, the back of one knee and two patches on my back.

    1. Wally: “Do you know you have a rat clinging to your leg?”

      Dilbert: “Yes.”

      Wally: “I used to have the same problem until I switched to Old Spice.”

      1. Heh. I never had a rat problem, but there was one gift cologne that apparently did wonderful things for every species of flying insect in southwestern NH. (Alas, nothing for the two-legged and earthbound ladies…)

        Went away when I switched back to Old Spice.

        1. Aftershaves and colognes are notorious for that. Have used plain ol’ witch hazel because of it. A nice astringent that doesn’t seem to attract insects.

          1. It’s Pinaud Lilac Vegetal, AKA (The Veg), an aftershave that was old long before the Great Depression. Some like it, some describe it as smelling like cat urine and urinal cake. It’s rumored that undertakers applied it to their, er, clients to mask unpleasant smells.

    2. LOL! And I thought I was the only one to manufacture a reason to not take a reasonably good looking woman to bed. Went on a dinner date, weird vibes. Went back to my apartment, even more weird vibes. Pulled out the family bible and started talking about my favorite passages. She left for the night and never asked for another date. Turns out she was actively hunting for someone to support her and her kid; so those vibes I was getting must have been similar to what deer feel when someone is hunting them.

      1. It was probably the itchy feeling one gets when the cross hairs are getting focused in and the index finger starts to squeeze the trigger…….

      2. It is a well-established fact that any man who won’t make a pass at an obviously available woman must be gay. It is also a well-established fact that any man who expresses, in any way (including subliminally) interest in a woman as a sexual being is a likely rapist.

        If you draw from this the conclusion that men cannot win, then you are a beneficiary of male privilege.

        1. Oh my goodness! I’m gay?! Boy, will my wife ever be surprised. Oh, wait a minute. I like women. If I’m gay, that must mean I’m a woman too! Then how come I have these external things hanging between my legs and zero desire to have them removed? The absurdity of those last sentences go to show just how dysfunctional society has become. I refuse to be brainwashed.

          1. It has been indisputably demonstrated that men are incapable of being faithful (just ask any feminist) and therefore if you have been faithful to your wife you must be lesbian.

            The logic is incontestable.

            Really; if you contest their logic you are exercising male privilege. Exercising male privilege is unacceptable and requires you sit in a corner repeating “I acknowledge my male privilege, I acknowledge my male privilege, I acknowledge my male privilege …”

            1. I am, of course, privileged to be a man. And it is my privilege to engage in privileged relationships with those privileged to be women.

              Now since I’m privileged to be a man, I’m going to choose to own being an man, along with others of similar privilege. And because I now own it, I prove myself a man. For what else is a man, but a human male who takes on adult responsibilities, and the consequences that go with them, for himself?

          2. Reminds me of an observation my brother observed: We are encouraged to go against gender stereotypes when it comes to toys. Sometimes boys like to play with dolls and girls like to play with trucks. However, if your boy likes to play with dolls…have you considered the possibility that he might just be a girl in a boy’s body? He is, after all, if you judge by the corresponding gender stereotypes!

            1. My older kid discovered my dolls during an otherwise VERY boring month-long visit to Portugal. He played with them. thing is, I never knew my baby dolls were such good ninjas or international jewel thieves 😉 It’s not not what you play with, it’s how you play with it. Lesson for life.

              1. The boys, given Barbie dolls in an attempt to break gender-stereotyped toys, turning them into play double-barreled shotguns.

  10. I grew up in a small town. If anything happened there it was known by everyone within a half hour. Also the majority of people were related. If you were not then you were kind of an outsider.

    1. I once arrived in the small town where my brother is the pastor on a Friday night at 3 am. First stop was Casey’s (gas station/convenience store) where the clerk asked me “Are you Chuck’s brother?” as soon as I walked in the door. I confessed, paid up, and called my brother from the pay phone. Before I woke the next morning the entire town knew that the pastor’s brother was in town.

      1. Must have been Iowa or Illinois. Casey’s seem to be in only small towns in those two states….

                1. ISTR having run into Casey’s just about everywhere east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi, and north of I-40 or so (maybe more like 37° N).

                  1. Bah, I felt too conscientious and went and looked online. I was close – shift their presence about one state eastwards from my post above and include OK and you’ve about got it.

                    1. They’ve expanded big time. I can remember when they were only in Iowa and Illinois.

      2. Is your brother the pastor when it’s not Friday night at 3 am?

        My two oldest are 18 months apart, and though we can tell them apart at a glance, others have problems. My oldest never actually lived in the town we’re in now. When he first came to stay for a while he stopped at the local store and the clerk said “Hey, John*, how’s it going?” He stared at him–“I’m not John.” in about a frost a voice as you can imagine. After the 3rd or 4th person in town got this treatment, people who hadn’t previously seen him started looking really carefully before they said anything. And my younger son got a lot of phone calls telling him about this other guy that looked just like him…

  11. “What makes you say a thing like that?” is always an appropriate response to malicious gossip.

    1. I’ve always liked “Thank you.” Got the obnoxious verbal bullies off my back in high school. Another reason I don’t go to my high school reunions. The only person I liked in high school, I married, so I get to see her every day.

  12. Vaguely related: Has anybody ever noted the irony involved in bestowing upon our legislators and senior government officials the title of “The Honorable”? So many of them turn out to be anything but, as the convictions prove. If even half the rumors are true, the situation is even more dire.

    1. Y’know, its really irritating when typos persist over such long periods of time. It isn’t “The Honorable” but “The Dishonorable”

        1. Just thought of this; a ‘polite’ way to decribe a bribe is “an honorarium”. So perhaps the origin of “The Honorable” is that, as an official member of the government, he was bribable.

          1. Two alternative explanations:

            1. We use the term “The Honorable” in hopes the occupant will believe it and behave accordingly.

            2. See: Why is the biggest guy in any group inevitably nicknamed “Tiny.”

    2. ‘Honourable’ in this usage is rather like some other ‘-able’ words. It does not mean exactly what you might think.

      On the table before me, I have a disposable cup. It’s called that because nobody has yet disposed of it. As soon as it is disposed of, it will no longer be disposable; it will be trash.

      Likewise, my Member of Parliament (to take an example close at hand) is ‘the Honourable’ [name redacted]. He is called that because nobody has yet honoured him. As soon as he is honoured, he will no longer be a politician; he will be dead and embalmed, or at the very least, appointed to the Senate.

      (The Canadian Senate was so named by a rogue etymologist, who knew that the word derives from senex. It is where we put all the old men who have outlived their political careers. They are appointed strictly on partisan lines, and as soon as a different party comes into power, the new government is shocked, shocked I tell you, that these useless appointees continue to vote on partisan lines.)

      1. Professor often used the line, “Too many politicians, not enough statesmen.” which seemed fair enough. It takes on a different light when one discovers a definition of statesman is ‘a dead politician.’

  13. There are, in the manner and style of gossip-mongering, the fundamental elements of social control employed in abusive relationships. The gossips are undermining the social confidence of their targets by a form of gaslighting — asserting a falsified version of reality to which the target is unable to respond — and bullying through social media.

  14. I saw that apology for accidentally not remembering to scour Sunil Patel and all association with him from every place and not, perhaps, making sure that he was never able to publish anything again, tossed to the wolves, living in rags outside the gate.

    As far as I could tell (because people will start a rumor and then refuse to give details because of some sense that it makes them look like a good person not spread tales, leaving everyone to speculate) he was accused of “grooming behavior”. Which if true might make him a creeper but doesn’t make him an abuser and… and you know, as long as we’re talking about full grown adults… only works as far as someone cooperates with it. And yeah, it did end up sounding like the beef was that he implied influence he didn’t have and thus some of the people sucking up to him for advantage, turned out not to be able to use that connection as they hoped.

    Or something. Because that’s about where all of that was.

    But to go back to those small town enforcements and mores. These sorts of interpersonal messes and miscommunications and, if we accept the description, predations, are what those constricting and constraining and gossip fueled enforcements are about. A man should not be a mentor to women (and how many pastors get in trouble after acting as counselors to female parishioners?) except with extreme care. And vice versa, with all the combo’s of potential attachment represented, etc. You can never avoid all rumor (I was once pregnant… my mom bought a package of pampers for a lamb, and someone saw her do it) but you can avoid a lot of real problems.

    Heh… just realized that “grooming” and various manipulations to encourage dependency are ways to make one’s self important… and that it can happen on a personal level and it can happen in a larger society level. What difference is it, really, if one person implies that their patronage is necessary to succeed in the field or if a larger group of “authorities” implies that their patronage is necessary to succeed in the field?

    No difference that I can see.

    Just like the turtles, it’s “grooming behavior” all the way down.

    1. A captain I flew with either was my father by a secret affair he’d had with someone in Dubuque (no idea why Dubuque), or I was secretly engaged to him with his wife’s knowledge (!) Because we looked sort of alike, and got along well, and because someone noticed that I wear my rings on the “wrong” hand, and thus what I had on that day must have been an engagement ring. Luckily, all it did was generate laughter among those who knew Mrs. Captain, and greatly disappoint those who knew my age and his (only 10 years apart. Oops).

    2. 1. No one can help you make a career work if the problem is lack of work on your part.
      2. It is not necessarily certainly obvious to a prospective mentor when the bottleneck is your fault, beyond their ability to fix.
      3. Complaining about failure of unrealistic expectations does not lead to further mentorship.

      If we can talk about grooming now on that basis, how about public schools?

        1. To attract wymen? They aren’t flash bastard, they are massocistic bastards. Or would that be womyn?

    3. [H]e was accused of ‘grooming behavior’

      Not all “grooming behavior” is actual grooming — the effectiveness of the former is that it can be innocuous. Back in the days when SF/F magazines were worth reading many editors were guilty of “grooming” authors.

      As for your interpretation of the beef, it does resemble complaining that “the sugar daddy I was trying to exploit turned out to not have as much sugar as I wanted!” Or a burglar complaining that when he broke into that rich guy’s home there wasn’t anything worth stealing.

      You wanna talk grooming behavior on the macro scale, talk about getting funding for any studies on Anthroprogenic Global Warming Climate Change that challenge the scientific orthodoxy.

  15. It’s just like things everywhere else. Often the easiest way to get ahead is to stab someone in the back and use that leverage to climb over them. See it regularly at work. And like any similar technique, the least scrupulous are the ones that get ahead.

      1. or in our case, new toaster oven and not sure how long it takes to toast an english muffin.

  16. I would like to point out that subcultures can be supportive, too. Even ones that are small towns. It’s just that when they get poisonous they REALLY get poisonous.

  17. Same poisonous culture can exist at workplaces. Where I work now is great. 9 people, 4 of whom are from somewhere near here initially, but not exactly from here, the rest, including me, from elsewhere. All veterans, all have been around, and all HAVE lived somewhere else in their lives, meaning more then 100 miles from home.

    The last two places I worked at were different. Last place 10 people in the maintenance department. All close in age. All except me were living in the town they grew up in, half in the HOUSE they grew up in. And were dating and fooling around with the same women they had dated and fooled around with in HS. And drinking at the same places with the same people. And none had ever lived anywhere else. I was an outsider there for 14 years. During that time I took a promotion to another spot with the state. Had 11 people working for me. A few were veterans, but 10 of them were related by blood or marriage. And all of them were related to other people who worked in other parts of the facility. Four months there and I went back. There were other reasons, but the inbredness was a contributing factor. I found out working in these last two spots all kinds of stories about you, the outsider, can spread.

    If you have the experience of working in a place where it turns out you can’t become just one of the guys because you’re an outsider, it’s a jarring experience. In the military, or with a skill that big companies recruit all over for, you’re always with people who’ve moved around and been elsewhere. Living in a bedroom community suburb, you’re going to have new faces in the classroom every year, and sometimes, you’re going to be the new face. That was me growing up. Living in a small town, well, my youngest is graduating HS in a few months. Class of about 100. There’s less then a half dozen he didn’t go to kindergarten with. It’s different.

    1. My daughter, the military brat raised overseas, was totally wigged out when we came home from almost ten years in Greece and Spain … to Ogden, Utah. To attend an ordinary civilian elementary and then middle school. It wasn’t that practically every location that there was a picture of in her six-grade western history textbook — we had been to it!
      It was that of all the other sixth-graders in her class that year – she was the only one who had been born overseas. And that at least half of the other kids in the class had never, ever left the state of Utah…
      I often wished that we had returned to Utah after the stint in Korea. I loved living in Utah – but it would have been very, very, very awkward for my daughter, especially as she grew older and began to look at dating.

  18. This is actually why I lost a lot of respect for Thomas Jefferson. Not the slavery (it was a common thing at the time, though not laudable), nor the mistress and children of his own that he kept in slavery, not even the hypocrisy of decrying those seeking power and then grabbing at power while trying not to look as though he were. It was finding out that he kept a slander journal, a handwritten book of all the stories he heard about potential political opponents. That would have been bad enough, except that he wrote down any negative story, including ones along the lines of ‘Richard III was born a hunchbacked dwarf with a full set of sharp teeth.’ And it’s *known* that he had a few newspaper writers in his employ, to spread stories whenever he wanted.

    It’s in his papers, in his own handwriting. It… does not make me think well of him.

    1. One quick note –

      A lot of the thinking these days is apparently that Jefferson’s brother was the one that was sleeping with the slave. Not relevant to your main point, but I thought it worth noting.

      1. This. Almost for sure his brother. I actually can see the other. I think the man was one of us forced into politic. If mind games don’t come naturally, you write stuff like that down. No, it’s not laudable but it’s almost like find a note “remember to be evil”. It’s horrifying and endearing at once.

        1. It makes for weird history, too. There are several figures for whom we don’t actually know what they were like, because he was effective at the rumor mill, and sometimes the newspapers are the only real source we have.

          1. When Odds go wrong, they go very wrong. And the early years of the republic were emotionally weird, anyway, as they figured what worked and didn’t work as advertised. Let’s remember though that in the end, he and John Adams reconciled.
            I’ll just say that in spats with similarly odd friends I’ve sometimes acted very out of character.

        2. If I recall correctly, Jefferson had participated in some *very* nasty campaigns. I can’t help but wonder to what extent Jefferson collected those stories in self defense, or at least counter-attacks. Then again, such things can get nasty quickly, to the point that one wonders who started it all…

          Still squicky, to be sure, but potentially understandable.

          1. The issue here is not his collection of such, but whether he deployed them against his opponents.

            For example, Sarah might conceivably collect various slanders spread about her, keeping them as a reminder of how daft her attackers can be. She might even go so far as to collect such tales about others for similar amusement purpose.

            Not that Sarah has time for such folderol.

  19. Ah, Sunil Patel. I noted when he was originally put in the barrel for his ducking, that the “evidence” was sparse. To say the least. He does appear to have a rather repugnant internet presence, but then many puppy kickers do. [coughscalzicough]

    However, the current witch burning has moved on from merely destroying Patel for whatever crimes he may/may not have committed, and they are now tying Mike Resnick to the post next to Patel. A Patel story appears in a Resnick anthology it seems. The horror.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, if it was me arranging this, I’d require a criminal conviction for rape, (or at least a sample of bodily fluid on a blue dress) before unleashing the hounds to this extent. They’re attempting to get the guy -removed- from the publishing world, as well as anyone associated with him, based on nothing.


    1. Well of course! After all, Resnick is “Puppy-adjacent”! Guilt is contagious, comrades. Be sure not to catch it.

      1. I was having a conversation in a con suite one afternoon when Mike Resnick came in, sat down in the next chair over, and promptly fell asleep. Did that make me “Puppy-adjacent”-adjacent?

        1. My family’s dog lay down next to me. I guess I was already puppy-adjacent a decade ago.

        2. We may be reaching peak SJW. The opening of Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons featured Bart writing on the board: “Studying is not appropriation of nerd culture.”

          Even SNL has mocked Liberal pretension.

      1. We don’t have to like him. In fact, I don’t even care if every allegation is true. They don’t get to destroy people’s lives when they don’t have evidence.

        Furthermore, as far as I know he’s not even accused of -doing- anything to any woman so far. He’s accused of being “slimy,” was my understanding.

        That’s a pretty thin reed to hang a whole witch-burning on.

        1. It is not an issue of liking him; it is an issue of opposing those tactics.

          Not even a whore deserves being raped.

          1. Eh.
            If puppy kickers want to publicly destroy each other for insufficient purity, that’s none of my affair.
            Without you pointing it out, I never would have noticed.
            But having noticed, I’m rather inclined to indulge in some popcorn and enjoy the free entertainment.
            Quite simply, I have no interest in defending him. Five minutes ago, I didn’t even know he existed. It sucks for him that his associates are trying to destroy him. But there’s ample reason to believe that he knew how petty and vindictive they were before he chose to associate with them.

            1. While the schadenfreude may be entertaining, they’re always looking for new victims. There comes a point where enough is just flat out enough. No matter who they’re burning at the stake.

          2. Let’s coopt the liberals by having witches declared an endangered species and make witch hunting a felony crime.

    2. Yes. I was *infuriated* when one of my three remaining liberal friends called out Resnick as “vice-douchebag of the Sad Puppies” while fulminating over Patel. Though she’s an up-and-coming YA/romance author and damn good, if I have to judge between her and the guy with the productive sixty-year career, multiple awards, and mentoring chops from hell, I know which way I’m jumping.

      (Also, how on earth can you judge the guy who wrote Winifred Carruthers and Penelope Bailey as a misogynist?)

  20. What annoys me is that asking for proof of very serious allegations is seen by the Usual Suspects as a form of abuse in and of itself. But shouldn’t potentially career-ending, life-ruining accusations be held to a high standard of evidence? Do they really want a world where mere allegations are enough to destroy someone?

    And then I realize that they do.

      1. And the worst part is that in a few hours when Mr. Glyer most likely links to this, we’ll get the Usual Suspects accusing you of defending abuse against women. And that’ll become another “fact”.

        Excuse me while I spit.

              1. I suppose there’s nothing saying a Beautiful Yet Evil Space Princess has to be biological . . .

          1. There’s nothing crazier they can ever accuse me of, now.

            PLEASE!!! NEVER challenge the Fates like that!

            Them sisters are weird!

            Besides, I can think of three crazier things without draining my shot of single malt.

              1. Over the years I have had many jobs and many, many co-workers. I have learned that no matter how fervently I believe that they couldn’t possibly find a worse person as [position], management always proves me wildly optimistic.

          2. Why is that crazy? After all most white supremacists are black. (Acting white, Oreo, these are things that blacks say, not whites)

            1. Chanting of “Oreo” by the soldiers of the Winkies of West Oz has been long ago documented!

              So no, it isn’t something only Blacks say!

        1. I’m pretty comfortable being on the opposite side of pretty much anything from Big G and his monkey troupe. Think of it: they’re arguing that a man’s writing career needs to be destroyed because of unproven allegations.

          Hilarious that puppy kicker Sunil Patel now only has Puppies sticking up for him.

          More hilarious that Big G and the Monkeys don’t get the irony of that. They’ll be to busy shrieking about misogyny and flinging poo.

          1. Come on. We’re only standing up for him because we’re evil misogynists! I mean, look at what that Puppy woman said!

          2. “Think of it: they’re arguing that a man’s writing career needs to be destroyed because of unproven allegations.”

            I’m going to go even a bit farther. Suppose the allegations are proven? Suppose if the charges are ideological, the person accused really is a communist? Suppose the person accused of being Peter Singer, is actually Peter Singer? Suppose the painter is actually George Bush? Suppose that the writer really does swim in oceans of misandry and hatred? Or suppose the charges are criminal? Suppose the person is a drug addict and abuser, a mean drunk and has domestic violence charges and arrests? Suppose a prison forms a writing program for inmates and publishers begin receiving submissions from actual convicted criminals?

            Suppose as a response to buying a science fiction story from an inmate with a history of domestic abuse, or a painting from George Bush, and why shouldn’t you, all the church ladies in their bonnets in your tiny exclusive village start to work to destroy *you*?

    1. “The seriousness of the charges….”
      need to be backed up with
      “the weight of the evidence.”
      and it seems that is rarely the case.

      Unless the positions are swapped for accused and accusers, then the seriousness of charges AND the weight of evidence gets ignored. Why, one might just suspect a little bias.

      1. Someone dared folk to demand proof, though. DARED.

        If we’re not careful, they’ll triple-dog dare, and THEN where will we be?

          1. It really seems like the only place to be.

            Hmm… defend people you find distasteful against vague and unsubstantiated charges… or bow and scrape in apology for not distancing fast enough. I wonder who I’d rather associate with.

            1. You know what I call a Leftist group undergoing an internal purge?
              Breathing room.

              I wish them the best of luck when it comes to destroying each other.

    2. Of course they do. Because they will always be the hurlers of accusations and never the target.

  21. You’ve kinda described why I shook the dust of my home town off my sandals back in 1988… “It takes a village” my arse… It takes adults willing to take a stand, personal responsibility, and folks willing to pave over the open sewers rolling down main street… (to paraphrase several smarter folks than me)

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