Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A last word (for now) on the Hugo Awards controversy


An anonymous commenter to my previous post (thank you, Sir or Ma'am!) left a link to a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece by Jared Diamond titled 'America needs to study the enemy within'.  Here's an excerpt.

... we have become stuck in political gridlock. Our citizens are split by deep disagreements about basic economic, social and political issues, including government interventions, immigration, investment in education and infrastructure, and inequality of income and opportunity. Our economy is decidedly sluggish.

Meanwhile, our politicians have been increasingly unwilling or unable to craft compromises. The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill couldn't agree even on matters that should have been noncontroversial, such as funding the Federal Aviation Administration and confirming the nominations of judges and second-level government officers. And American democracy is being eroded by partisan measures aimed at preventing registration or voting by citizens likely to prefer the other party, and by massive distortion of elections by big money.

. . .

We Americans today are focused on the wrong threats to American democracy. We are obsessed with threats from overseas: from terrorists and Islamist extremists, and from other countries. But realistically, while terrorists and Islamists and other countries will continue to cause trouble for us, the chance of their ending American democracy is nil. The only real threat to American democracy comes from Americans themselves. If our politicians continue to yield to pressure from extremists not to compromise and remain mired in gridlock, the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock — as a lesser evil that has to be tolerated.

There's more at the link.

The author basically echoes, in the broader political sphere, the argument I've been making concerning the Hugo Awards controversy.  Neither side is willing to listen to the other;  neither is willing to concede that the other might have at least some elements of truth in what it says;  and neither is willing to concede an inch of ground.  We have two dogs barking across a fence at each other, each secure in defending what it sees as its territory.  Take away the fence, and bloodshed is likely to result.

This is no way for civilized people to behave . . . but civilized standards are being and have been eroded on both sides.  Those of us who've seen what happens under such circumstances have, I think, more than a little cause to be concerned about the future of science fiction and fantasy, if not in the wider sphere as well.  It's even visible in the comments to my previous post, where one commenter persisted in saying that I'd said or implied something that absolutely is not present in my words.  He could not or would not read them as they stood, but insisted on interpreting them through the 'filters' of his own perspectives, prejudices and perceptions.  One can't argue with that.  It's like a man looking at the world through a set of red lenses.  When you say "Clouds are white", he responds "No, they're not - they're red".  Unless he's willing to take off those lenses and see facts as they really are, you won't persuade him that what he perceives is, in fact, wrong.  There's a lot of that going around at the moment in the Hugo debate.

Some argue that if one side won't compromise, there's no point in the other side being 'gentlemanly' or courteous or civilized, because such approaches won't be reciprocated.  Rather, the other side must respond just as forcefully (if not more so) in order to overcome resistance to its 'legitimate demands'.  To them I can only say, look at human history in any sphere you like:  academic, literary, cultural, economic, political, military, whatever.  When such attitudes prevail, breakdown and destruction tend to take over.  What is lost - often irretrievably - is some, if not all, of the good that existed prior to the breakdown.  The baby is thrown out with the bathwater.  The good is destroyed along with the bad.

I'm trying very hard to prevent that happening here.  I fear it may be a losing battle . . . but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort.  I only wish some of the more partisan elements in this debate could see it that way.  In the end, if things come to a showdown and I have no choice but to choose a side, I'll go with those with whom I have the most in common.  That will be my friend Larry Correia and the 'Sad Puppies' campaign that he started, because I believe Larry was (and remains) correct in his analysis of the problem and his attempts to restore balance to the field.  However, I'll mourn for the good on both sides that will be undone or destroyed in the resulting conflict.  The field of science fiction and fantasy as a whole will be the big loser.

I won't write any more about the issue at present.  I've said what I believed needed to be said.  Now it's up to those on both sides to decide whether they're going to go to the mattresses, or behave like civilized people.  If anyone isn't sure who needs to take the first step in that process . . . look in the mirror.

Peter

10 comments:

Chris said...

When one side (IMO, that is the progressives, whether they claim to be Democrat or Republican) has the stated goal of further centralizing the government and impoverishing the vast majority of Americans, there can be no compromise. Compromise only means that it will be our grandchildren instead of our children that become slaves.

When the "long Train of Abuses and Usurpations" is nearly identical to that of King George (of England, not Kennebunkport), their goal is clear. I don't even need to have researched UN Agenda 21 to understand what they want for us. I will never willingly submit to that.

We will have to agree to disagree.

Chris said...

Oh, BTW, I love your books.

But I believe this will be a war to the knife.

B said...

Thing is, when one side is so far out of line that there can, effectively be no compromise, then what do you do?

Say, NAMBLA. Is there any way to compromise those who would bugger little children? Is there anything you are willing to compromise on with people like that?

Yes, both sides of the HUGO debacle must be willing to be flexible. But when one side is so far wrong, how do you compromise?

How does one compromise with a person who believe that all things must come from (and be taken by) the State/ How does one compromise with people who would gut the 2nd amendment or curtail free speech?

Your sentiments are grand, and I applaud it, in theory... and in a perfect world, would work. But when one side is so extremist, there can be no meeting in the middle.

acairfearann.com said...

'Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.'
It may be that the other side, whatever that side may be, is too far gone for compromise; and that may lead to the defeat of what is great and good.
But, I pray that I will have the strength to recognize the humanity in all men, even those who do not recognize mine. That I fail repeatedly does not mean I will not try repeatedly.
But then...I have loyalty to only one authority and that died among thieves. Such loyalty may be a privileged choice, I don't know.

Richard Blaine said...

Looking at the positions:

Sad Puppies - a 'slate', really suggestions - of really good books they wanted to have on the ballot - one can, if they bother to look see a wide spread of pigeon holes into which authors may be dropped. A few of those fit the conservative pigeon hole, some I have no idea about, others are much further to the left. Sexes - several to chose from, races - a few of those too.
Stated Goal - Vote for good stories regardless, who the author is.

The SJW slate - entirely to the left and not all that diverse.
State Goal: Keep the evil WrongThough away from "their" award.

Rabid puppies: Some of the Vox House authors, some others, I haven't really looked all that closely a bunch of them are the same as Sad Puppies.
Stated Goal - Vote Rabid puppies

I have yet to see Vox or Larry recommend the No Award strategy, Vox suggested it would be the logical tit for tat response to a "no award" SJW attack the following year.

The last I saw was that the SJW contingent had purchased 70 voting memberships via 'anonymous' donations. I suspect they're still buying - With the clear intent to block vote them. They are recommending No Award. They are also recommending Nuking Amazon Ratings for authors they Hate.

So, the SJW position is: If we can't have it nobody can. And we're going to try and screw up your sales on Amazon because you Dare to Disagree.

Larry's position is: Just vote for Good Books

Vox's Position is Vote for what VOX thinks are good books many of which are the same as Sad Puppies - and if the SJW's Nuke the awards, then next year we return the favor and we just keep doing it.

So, we can:
Walk away and let them keep the Hugo as an SJW participation award. - If you don't like their gender identity agenda being the story then, don't buy the books.
Keep in mind - they have the media on their side, so unless your willing to spend a lot of effort to 'educate people' - it's probably a waste of time.

Try to get the awards to authors each voter feels best about. And wait for it to blow up this year or next. Then figure out how to respond.

Change the rules - I have no suggestions for what would work, sorry.

Or (and this is non-exclusive)
Create a new award make it really open. Do it online and/or in conjunction with Comic Con or something similar.

Part of me would like to just let them keep it - they've had it for 15 years or more, it's nothing more than a stamp of approval for the SJW ThoughtPolice. And it makes it easy for me to know which books I don't want to spend money on.

The larger part of me has reached the end of my rope - there is no doubt that the SJW's will continue to push their social Marxism until they have their totalitarian utopia. The thing is, that they don't see the path they're treading, so firmly are their eyes fixed on their impossible goal of cultural and racial, diversity with no diversity in thought. It's not a future I'm interested in.

og said...

What B said. Sometimes to "compromise" is morally intractible.

Sendarius said...

Of Sad Puppies, I make no comment, but who would ever think that:

"The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades."

is a BAD thing?

smithgift said...

For the sake of being counted, count me among the side of "Civilized discourse, for the sake of civilization!" How are we to close the rift in our culture waiting for the other side to make the first step, when chances are we will not even accept that?

Unfortunately, the rift has at least one no-compromise issue.

Consider: some people believe in no global warming, others believe global warming will extinct humanity if nothing is done. One side's extreme, suppose, wants no carbon emissions law or carbon credit systems while the other side's extreme demands absolute carbon control. Nevertheless, a law that requires some limits on carbon may be disliked by both sides, but at least the compromise is theoretically acceptable to both. Some lower emissions is better than none, the environmentalists could say, and the fractional loss to productive is not an immoral abomination, the other side could also say.

See also, gun rights/control, same sex civil unions/traditional marriage, free market/government intervention, etc. There are potential laws that, while not completely satisfactory to both sides, would at least allow co-existence.

But suppose slavery was still an issue. There is no law that can satisfy abolitionists except the total liberation of all slaves, and that is absolutely unacceptable to the pro-slavery side. History is rarely clear enough for single, definitive answers (for we do not have them in the present, most times) but I see much of the politics of the early United States as careful compromises to prevent either side of the slavery debate from destroying the other. Eventually, it stopped working. Not that chattel slavery is right, or the sides morally equivalent by any means, but we see what happened because of this.

The current obvious no-compromise issue is abortion. Either a baby in the womb is a human being with full rights, or it is not, and treating it as such is a kind of slavery for the pregnant woman. I am unashamed to call myself against abortion, and that the former statement is objectively true, which logically means any law allowing any abortion is morally unacceptable. As those human beings who are my counterparts disagree, there are laws which neither of us will allow to stand.

If this argument was purely argument, and it can politely discussed--which it can!--eventually one side might convince the nation by reasoned debate, and we would go completely to one side or the other. I would sincerely hope it would be my side, but it would at least be the will of the people.

As it is, though, it has become a total war culture war, which drags in every other political divide, until disagreement on any one matter conscripts you into the cultural war machine of all these issues. Neither war machine will stop until the other is annihilated--which invariably means that anything whatsoever that might be ammunition is now used as such, every possible battlefield is now fought over, every conceivable tactic, no matter how inhumane, is now used... And what do we suppose will happen when one machine triumphs through laws? Persecution on an individual level of the losers, until they are absolutely destroyed. And what do you suppose the other machine, knowing this, will do if they believe they will lose the law-fight?

There is a certain insane bloodlust that tempts us to wait eagerly until the final straw is dropped, and then win the war "for good" through physical war. Perhaps there will be a physical war--let us pray the machines become peaceful before this. And in our prayers, work for that peace today.

Anonymous said...

Willie Boy also says:
Yesterday I talked about thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis, without offering a plan. The thesis (current Hugos) need an anti-thesis in the form of Hugo2 formed by right thinking people/authors. Let the free market decide the outcome (synthesis). Little fuss, little muss and no violence. Civilized. Peter, does this satisfy your sense of civility?

Anonymous said...

So both sides must accept compromise to save civilization?
Did I get that right?
Okay then, how much of a racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic white man does Larry and Brad have to admit to being? How about Sarah?
Mycroft