You know, I tried to stay away today…. But for some reason my ears were itching all afternoon. Well I finally caved and took a peek at the discussion at File770 and… oh my goodness. I could not believe what I was reading…!
Let me explain.
No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Well you know, I have done a couple of meet and greets over in those parts in the past week. This has resulted in some really interesting exchanges. Some heart warming, some that give you faith in the potential of mankind… and some that make your jaw drop. It’s been… interesting…. And somehow… in the course of these events, it somehow became a “thing” that I was remarkable for being so winsome in the manner in which I comported myself. Except… this did not satisfy some others. A couple people decided to wreck all the warm fuzzies we were having by crashing our Love In. They took offense on behalf of other people that had no problem with me… and they demanded that we stop communicating with each other fan to fan and instead dredge up all the culture war things that I had bent over backwards to avoid.
That leads us to today’s installment of File770 comments. And it’s awesome. I mean you simply cannot buy entertainment like this. (But wait… there’s a twist ending here, so hold tight.)
Check this out.
Someone with the handle of “mk41” connects the implications of the latest meltdown to the fact that, you know… actual human beings like myself are potentially impacted by them:
I don’t really care for a defense of Rabid Puppies. Vox is so odious and obviously so that anyone signing up for his group gets to own his statements in my book. What I’m concerned with is the Sad Puppies. We’ve met some of them here and some were decent folk. Jeffro for instance certainly doesn’t deserve to be called “unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic” and I wouldn’t label his work as “bad-to-reprehensible”.
I believe the Sad Puppies contain (not to imply Jeffro is a member, I don’t know one way or the other) a decent chunk of people like that. And I believe Gallo smeared them.
This does not fly with Aaron:
Except Jeffro is perfectly happy to be published by Castalia House, meaning that he has definitively aligned himself with Rabid Puppy ringleader and unrepentant racist, sexist, and homophobe Theodore Beale.
But this is too much for Paul Oldroyd. He (incredibly) speaks up on my behalf:
Jeffro is one of the few people who has made it over here and conversed in a very reasonable manner, sometimes under provocation. I think that says more about him than where he is published.
Now I should put in here that Paul has been discussing books and stuff with me for months now. He showed up on my social media one day and I more than likely insulted him about something. But somehow, we kept talking together and over time we actually learned how to get along together. Now except for having a passion for science fiction and fantasy, we pretty much have nothing in common. I mean on any other topic, we’re pretty much like oil and water. But that’s how it is with hobbyists. That’s how it is at every single tabletop game convention that I’ve ever been to. People are different, but they figure out how to do cool things together anyway.
And another thing about this. Paul isn’t necessarily sticking up for me because he thinks I’m being bullied. No… based on what I know of him, I think he’s genuinely ticked off at the sort of behaviors that get in the way of fans relating to other fans as fans even when they don’t see eye to eye on the things that are outside of the scope of their common interests. So this discussion isn’t about me per se. No… this is bigger than that.
Well… Aaron is not having it:
Is this how low a standard one should have? He talked politely so his choosing to affiliate with a racist, sexist, homophobic child murder apologist is excusable? Sure, he’s been polite, but lots of people manage to be polite while still being pretty awful people. Jeffro’s chosen his affiliation, and that speaks volumes about him.
And Paul answers back:
If Vox isn’t to continue to wreak havoc, we need to talk to each other. Well, not him and us, obviously. The man is an arse. But to people who are willing to have civil disucssions. I don’t care what Jeffro’s affiliations are as long as he doesn’t foist them on me. I have seen no sign of that so far, so let’s continue the discussions. After all. we had loads of them with everyone pre-Easter.
And then Aaron again:
Yes, go ahead, throw everyone that Beale has targeted under the bus because you aren’t affected. Good standard.
Now pay attention to this guy. Note that… being civil is not enough. People being able to create neutral spaces so a diverse group of people to get together on something awesome is not enough. No… if Jeffro Johnson is there, then the party is over. Why? Because I have n degrees of separation from the most hated person in science fiction.
Now… there’s a lot of things that I could say in response to this. Being that I’m at the center of this, that these are all consenting adults, and that there is no shortage of people that are willing to put in a good word for me, I really don’t see the need to go into rant mode on this one.
But I do want to point out that Aaron’s view of fandom is very familiar to me. His overall attitude and manner is almost identical to what I have observed among “plain people” such as the Old Order Amish. The passage which they use to justify this behavior is from first Corinthians five:
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
I know people that were not allowed to visit their own children because their ministers had put them under “the ban”. It is a powerful tool for maintaining conformity. It can also be incredibly damaging.
But that is something to discuss another time.
Now, this next bit is kind of funny. I probably shouldn’t have brought this up in the first place, but when I was talking to people over at File770 the other day, they really wanted to know why my Appendix N series can only be read over at the Castalia House blog. You see… several of them told me that while they thought that the stuff I’d put in the Hugo Packets this year was maybe sort of okay and that they might even want to read a little more… well, they just couldn’t see clear to going to that place to do it.
Now… I have to say that my first thought when I heard this stuff was that it couldn’t be for real. But again, there is a literary antecedent for this and it is actually in the same book of the bible I just quoted:
Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
Is it wrong to eat food that’s been offered to idols? Nope. There’s nothing wrong with it. However… if it honest to goodness actually offends your conscience to do that, look out… it really is a sin to you. According to Paul, anyway. Most people use this passage as a basis for not giving other Christians a hard time even if they are a little funny about practices that may or may not be essential or required or whatever. That’s how I use it with these guys. They can’t read my blog posts because it would violate their conscience. If that’s the case, then I will not pick on them about it. I would never encourage someone to defile their conscience, especially not over a set of blog posts.
(And you might be thinking that I’m having a joke on these people, but no… I really do mean exactly what I say and I don’t have a problem with them having their own beliefs and feelings and convictions. Everybody’s different. But everybody’s got a conscience. Why I would I give anyone a hard time for following theirs?)
So then the next question was… why can’t I just run my series somewhere else. My answer was that I thought it would lower my market value as columnist. Now maybe I shouldn’t have brought that up, but then the next question was… why don’t I write for some other site or something. It’s not like Castalia House is the only game in town, right? My answer to that was that there would have to be some kind of a benefit for me in order to make a move like that. In other words… someone would have to make me an offer.
Now I don’t know how it is that we got into to all this. I went over to File770 to talk about science fiction and fantasy. What I ended up discussing was who I associate with and what kind of business related decisions I have made in the past while in regards to my series. And again, I really don’t think it was all that wise for me to bring this stuff up in the first place, but I was really trying to make an effort to answer whatever it was that people wanted to talk about. If I’d showed up and just stonewalled everyone, I wouldn’t get anywhere. So I really just tried to answer everything that I could as directly and as honestly as I could.
So that brings us to the next round of comments.
A person with the handle of “rcade” gets the ball rolling with this:
While Jeffro Johnson is pleasant and friendly here and is motivated by promoting good books in the field, his decision to blog for Day at the Castalia House site is one I do question. Given how much harm Day is doing and how much more he hopes to do in the future, Johnson should find a new patron or publish his future efforts independently on his own personal blog.
Additionally, his professional association with Day does him no favors.
Paul answers this bit with this:
Where Jeffro blogs is up to him. Although I disagree with him on just about everything apart from the books we both like, I’ve had several pleasant conversations with him. This should be encouraged.
A guy with the handle of “nickpheas” weighs in:
Agree with Paul O. Apart from his publisher Jeffro seems an OK enough sort of guy, even if I did think the piece of his I read was a bit dull and in no sense Hugo Worthy.
I think he’s rather backed himself into a corner. He spoke yesterday about how publishing on his own blog would reduce his worth, (I presume that Pox is paying him), and that he’d be open to offers from other sites, but none seemed to be coming. Which isn’t all that surprising. If I were running a commercial blog site I’d not be wanting Teddy’s henchman to come over.
And then Nick Mamatas lays this one down:
Jeffro, I think, made a substantial error in bringing his work to the Beale’s publishing house, though to be perfectly blunt any number of both new writers and accomplished ones put on tuxedos and ballgowns and appoint themselves goodwill ambassadors for the Church of Scientology every year via Writers of the Future, so while Jeffro has missed the mark, he’s not much more wrong than many many people happily embraced by the “community.”
And a “clif” puts in:
I agree … one would hope that, if indeed Jeffro is seeking a “meeting of the minds”, that he would be also be looking for a new publisher.
A “Gully Foyle” helpfully points out that they don’t have to condemn just on the basis of my associations. My own comments at File770 are evidently all they really need for that:
Look, Jeffro seems like an ok guy, but his strange insistence on pre-1980 fantasy and sf, for its ‘spiritual’ content makes me think his placement at Castalia is not the accident of some naif pursuing his newfound horizons of spec fic. I’d suspect that he is more closely aligned with the Christian dominionist angle of the pups. His statements about the nihilism of current f and sf also strike me as perhaps evidence of this. That said, credit to him for engaging in generally polite and friendly ways.
And note that the commentariate really pushed me previously to attack more recent works rather then simply dodge their questions by trying to focus on what it was that I liked about classic science fiction and fantasy. I finally relented and told them that I really didn’t get a lot out of recent television and movies, that I thought Jackson’s adaptions of Tolkien to the silver screen were incoherent, and that Lady Astronaut of Mars struck me as being barren. The people then laid off on that point, but evidently these opinions were, shall we say, problematic….
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little then added:
It seems that demanding to hold Vox Day’s business associates immune from “guilt by association” with VD’s politics follows a similar trend to demanding that people “judge the book, not the author” or “enjoy the book regardless of the author’s politics.” It gets easier to do the less one is negatively impacted by the politics.
Which isn’t to say that there are no women, people of color, or people of LGBT description defending Jeffro Johnson’s business choices, or arguing for interacting with him civilly despite knowing what business choices he is continuing to make. I know better than that and I’ve already seen counterexamples. But I, personally, as someone who would suffer disenfranchisement, injury, rape, and/or death in what Vox Day has vociferously described as his ideal society, have very little patience for anyone who chooses to do business with Vox Day, and no interest in handing out cookies for such a one’s ability to craft politely-worded prose in a blog comment thread.
And finally “JJ”, who really wanted me to fight with him yesterday, unloaded with this:
Yes, Jeffro has been reasonably polite in his interactions here (and I am still baffled as to why people feel it should be necessary to offer plaudits to people when they behave like mature adults, which is the default setting and is how they should behave anyway).
He’s also engaged in a fair bit of deflection and disingenuousness here. He is also published by Castalia House and supports Vox Day. He’s chosen to align himself with the Rabid Puppies including VD, Wright, and Kr@tman. Choices have consequences, including being judged by one’s choices.
I don’t know what to say to all of this.
I mean this literally blows my mind.
What exactly am I supposed to say? I went over there to try to mend fences, build bridges, find common ground…. I wanted to give them the sort of fair shake that I would want if the roles were reversed, right…?
Instead I get this:
Choices have consequences, including being judged by one’s choices.
Being the target of these remarks, I am of course biased. But… really… am I the only person that finds this to be a little scary…?
You know… I struggle to find a literary antecedant for this sentiment…. The only thing I can come up with right off is this passage from 1 Kings:
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
This JJ guy… his words are not those of reason. They are not words of someone that wants to get along. They are not the words of someone that is looking for ways to create a neutral space where fans from all walks of life can go enjoy awesome things together.
No, JJ’s words… they are the kind of words that preface civil wars, church splits, divorces, and all manner of chaos.
How exactly should I respond to this…?
What kind of consequences am I liable to have to endure…?
Should I be afraid? Angry? Insulted?
I don’t really have an answer to those questions because I am genuinely shocked by this. You may not believe me, but I find this to be really, intensely surprising. Even more surprising is the way that nobody at File770 is particularly surprised by this stuff. Eh, I guess this is just business as usual for people over there…?
I am not trying to exaggerate, but I have never experienced anything that made me feel this hated, this despised, this low.
It takes my breath away.
And the response from the other fans there…? Crickets.
Now, nobody’s asked me. But I have to say… this is some profoundly weird stuff. I think this is just flat out freaky weird. This is incredible. Unbelievable.
I grew up under the shadow of Moral Majority nudniks that wanted to take away my games. Now… there’s this. What the heck happened?!
Now there’s no way that I can get into what this all means and what I should do and what I’m going to do. Heck, I don’t even know. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe this will all blow over. Who knows? But let me just say this.
When I started blogging at Castalia House, no one came to me and explained why it was that this would be such a bad idea.
When Sad Puppies put my name on their list early this year, no one came to me and explained why I really ought to ask them to drop me from it.
When the Hugo Nominations were announced, no one came to me to tell me that I really should ask the Worldcon people to put someone else in my place.
You know something… I’m a nobody. Even Hitler could tell you that the Best Fan Writer is the one category that nobody really cares about. I am just about the only person on the shortlists that’s never published anything. I mean really. How many books have the other fan writers published? Five each? Ten? Twenty? i don’t even know. I can tell you my total, though. It’s zero.
But I don’t get it.
I’m worth being dealt “consequences” by fandom… but I’m not worth being put on notice. Hell, I’m not even enough of a human being that people like this can personally come to me and ask me to stand down.
Am I the only one that didn’t get a memo about this?
Seriously, have these people fired a shot across the bow of the entire freakin’ world when I was asleep or something?
Who do these people think they are…?