A little while ago (as I write this), I came across something on A.M. Freeman’s blog called When The Satire Site Can’t Recognize Satire. It was written in response to an article at Cracked.com called 5 Ridiculously Implausible Things The Alt-Right Is Afraid Of (Yes, I ripped off the title). Apparently, the missive’s author S. Peter Davis read the Superversive Press anthology Forbidden Thoughts, first published in January 2017 (to which Ms. Freeman contributed a story), edited by Jason Rennie, and with a foreword by the highly controversial Milo Yiannopoulos, and didn’t like it very much (Oh, keep in mind, I’ve read some of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s work and frankly, I don’t have much use for it).
Reading his review, and assuming his rendition of the stories contained within the anthology are accurate, yes, the themes and content are wildly exaggerated outside the realm of probability, but that was exactly the point. As Freeman pointed out, they were written as satire, blowing modern controversial topics way, way out of proportion to prove a point. The same was done in another Superversive anthology I read and reviewed called To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. Yes, they’re all written from a very conservative and sometimes religious perspective, but the concern here, and probably the reason for the existence of Superversive Press, is that SF/F is increasingly becoming biased (or so is the belief) toward the left and perhaps the progressive far left (alt-left?), such that the rest of us don’t have a voice in the genre.
Rather than going into a long diatribe on this topic, I thought I’d present my own tongue-in-cheek (or is it?) version of Mr. Davis’s list. What are some ridiculous dystopian themes we find that the left authentically seems to fear? Since I don’t have a lot of time to read bunch of novels and anthologies, I’ll project what the far left SF author might write about his/her/other pronouns’ worst fears.
And remember, this is tongue-in-cheek for the most part.
The World Will Be Controlled By An Oppressive Version of Christianity
Probably the most famous example of this, at least in recent memory, is Margaret Atwood’s novel A Handmaid’s Tale. True, it was first published in the 1980s during the Reagan administration and when Jerry Falwell and the “Moral Majority” was prominent in the news, but Hulu’s television series, launched in the here and now, and strongly echoing fears that Donald Trump is going to make himself “dictator for life,” has made it wildly popular, to the point of feminist protesters sometimes engaging in “Handmaid Cosplay,” such as I’ve observed that the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Are evil Christians going to take over America and remake our nation into some sort of hyperpuritan concentration camp, forcing women to have sex and become pregnant against their will, suppressing their right to vote, drive, drink, and even read a book?
Give me a break. Atwood has stated that she wrote the book, in part, to protest her Puritan ancestry and how women were treated, but the chances of some fundamentalist Christian sect overthrowing the Constitution and taking control of America is ridiculous beyond imagination. No one Christian body has that much influence, and there are enough theological differences between denominations to keep them from banding together. On top of that, only highly extreme fringe churches or other groups would even have an interest in committing such an extreme act as national revolution. The vast amount of Christian churches would have zero interest in taking over the government. About the closest thing in the modern world to such a religiously run country would be a number of Islamic nations which do have many laws restricting the activities of women.
Extreme Right Wing Government Control of America
Speaking of the aforementioned Kavanaugh hearings, this seems to be exactly what’s being protested against, as if Kavanaugh all by himself could take control of the court. Of course, Presidents have always tried to sway the court by appointing justices who mirrored their politics, which is probably what President Trump is doing right now. Obama did it before him, so did the Bushes, Clinton, they all do it.
I think it’s no secret that many, many people are terrified by Donald Trump, and truly believe he will somehow declare himself “dictator for life” even though Presidents are limited to two terms of office just to keep any one person from forever wielding that much power (such as those in Congress who hang on decade after tiring decade).
I’m 64 years old and I’ve seen the pendulum swing back and forth many times between conservative and liberal. Sure, Trump is an extreme diva, but I think what makes him seem so dangerous is the guy has no filter. I don’t doubt that every President, given that they cared about re-election and the image of their political party, never said or did the first thing that popped into their minds, but Trump doesn’t care. So he gets on twitter and says the most outrageous things, and people get all wound up about it. Frankly, I think that’s what he’s hoping for. He turns his critics into screaming maniacs and they fall for it again and again. I bet he loves the attention.
But for all his bluster, Trump, all by his lonesome, has no power to create an extreme, alt-right, conservative government. Not all that many conservatives like him and his approval ratings continually ride pretty low in the saddle, so to speak. If anything, once he’s out of office, I predict and extreme shift to the left in response, so we conservatives had better what our back ends in two to six years.
Seriously, I remember listening to people far more conservative than I worry that then-President Obama would send in his “jackbooted thugs” to take away their guns, create a medical system with death lists for the old and the infirm, rabble rouse among African-Americans and create a violent race war, and penalize or eliminate Christian churches.
None of that happened, and while I didn’t like many of Obama’s policies, especially Obamacare since it hurt my family directly, he wasn’t all-powerful, and in the end, his eight years elapsed and he went bye-bye. Yes, he still shows up in the media form time to time, but he has no real influence. We all thought Hillary would replace him and we’d have another eight years of business as usual, leftist style, but that didn’t happen either.
So if America’s extremely popular and first ever African-American President couldn’t “destroy America,” neither will the highly unpopular Donald Trump.
NOTE: The next three would probably fit within the first two, but I think they represent special fears and need to be showcased on their own.
Abortion and Birth Control Will Be Outlawed and Women Will be Forced to Have Sex and Babies Against Their Will
That, again, is one of the issues behind the grilling of Brett Kavanaugh, even though he’s said on record that he wouldn’t overturn Roe vs. Wade.
This one goes back to the 1960s when abortion was not legal. It was during the same time period that modern feminism was rising, and the birth control pill made it possible for women to have as much carefree sex as men, and that was the issue.
Women can become pregnant and men can’t. That’s perceived as a heinous inequality rather than a simple biological fact. However, with the advent of “the pill,” women could become equal in that particular arena (never mind the side effects such as high blood pressure and that no form of birth control is 100% effective).
But if men could have sex and no responsibility, why not women too? And when birth control was ineffective, as it sometimes is, then abortion is the method of choice.
I know that the argument is often wheeled out about victims of rape or incest, but are the majority of abortions performed on rape and incest victims?
According to the Guttmacher Institute as found at Focus on the Family (yes, it’s a Christian group):
- At current rates, an estimated 1/4 of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45
- About 15,000 abortions are attributed to rape and incest — representing 1.5 percent of all abortions.
Only 1.5 percent of all abortions are performed because of rape or incest.
What about poverty? Another argument for abortion is that if women were forced to have babies, it would be a hardship because these women live below the poverty line and there would be more children living under poor conditions. According to Guttmacher:
Indeed, over the last few decades, abortion has become increasingly concentrated among the poor. In 2014, 49% of abortion patients had a family income below the federal poverty level—up from 27% in 2000.7. An additional 26% of abortion patients in 2014 had an income that was 100–199% of the poverty threshold. In other words, 75% of abortions in 2014 were among low-income patients.
That seems to be more of an issue, but is it enough of an issue to justify ending a human life? Think about it. If eliminating human beings reduces the number of people living in poverty, then I could write a dystopian tale about death squads terminating the poor because they are a drain on the economy. If you believe an unborn child is a human being, then it becomes no different. But in order for good people to kill human beings, they must first be convinced that they are things and not people. That’s the only difference between a fetus and an unborn child.
Of course, when life within a pregnant woman becomes human is up for debate, and I won’t get into this here any more than I have, but in the over 40 years since Roe vs. Wade, while each state has interpreted the ruling relative to expanding or restricting “reproductive rights,” those rights have never gone away. I don’t see that changing in the near future, and besides, except in cases of rape or other forms of sexual coercion, ultimately people choose to have sex. It’s not by force (a la the previously referenced Atwood book). I’m sorry if it seems unfair, but fairness isn’t a fundamental characteristic of biology.
The good news is, according to an 2017 NPR story, U.S. abortion rates have fallen to the lowest level since Roe v. Wade. I can’t imagine any woman would want to go through an abortion if there were another alternative (in spite of the internet memes), and I can only hope that this trend is a sign of better access to responsible birth control and perhaps better responsible behavior among reproductive human beings. Sadly, in spite of dropping rates, 23% or nearly one in four women in this country will have an abortion in her reproductive lifetime.
Bottom line is that no one is going to take away abortion and birth control in the near future. Even “the Donald” doesn’t have that kind of power, and I suspect it’s not something on his radar.
Oh, and for Gloria Steinem’s take on abortion, go to LifeNews.com. More’s the pity.
The LGBTQ+ Community Will Be Forced Back Into The Closet
No, I’m not talking about the occasional Christian baker who might refuse to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. I’m talking about reversing decades of progress in the rights of LGBTQ+ people such that they would have to totally hide their sexual orientation, gender preference, and such from the public. Two male lovers living together would have to pretend to be “just roommates” a la “The Odd Couple” (Google that if you’re too young to remember Neil Simon’s play or the movie and TV series it spawned).
Yes, the photo comparison above is ridiculous, but that’s the point. If gays can have a pride parade such as the one depicted in the image on the right, and no one can stop them, then they probably aren’t in danger of vanishing anytime soon.
But here’s the fear I’m presenting. I’m talking about criminalizing same-sex sex, fining and imprisoning any member of the aforementioned community for no other reason than they happen to be a member of that community.
Relative to same-sex marriage (or Roe vs. Wade for that matter), the Supreme Court can reverse any of its decisions, but not at a whim. A case would have to be brought before the Supreme Court (which means it has to burn through lower courts first) in order for such a thing to be considered. Which means there would have to be a completely new legal challenge for abortion and/or same-sex marriage.
What are the odds, even if Kavanaugh is confirmed, and remember, Donald Trump isn’t going to be President forever.
However, according to the New York Times (I know, right?), it’s not exactly a moot point.
“What we’ve seen is you don’t have to go overturn the marquee case in order to make the rights inaccessible to real people,” said Rachel Tiven, the president of Lambda Legal, an L.G.B.T. legal advocacy group. “The question isn’t whether or not the marriage equality decision will be overturned — the threat is they will be hollowed out from underneath by a combination of religious exemptions and state rejection of equal treatment.”
I suppose the same argument can be made relative to abortion. It’s not that Roe. vs. Wade is likely to be overturned, but bits and pieces of abortion law, specifically late-term abortion, are being chipped away. Of course it’s not really “equal treatment” if a person must surrender his or her rights as a religious person to a member of the LGBTQ+ group.
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, agreed that L.G.B.T. groups may need to reconsider how they think of the court. She was particularly concerned about the list of potential nominees posted (this article was published July 3rd of this year) to the White House website last fall.
“Potentially, we don’t have the Supreme Court as a democratic backstop anymore, or we will not in the future if anyone on this list gets through,” she said.
The libertarian in me says that if two men or two women want to enter into that contractual relationship we call “marriage,” who are they hurting? No one. I realize from a religious point of view, that can have a different answer, but Congress and the Supreme Court make and interpret law, not create or interpret various religious texts, thus the rights of people (including religious people) must be weighed in the light of legal precedents, legal statutes, rationality, and facts (as opposed to emotions), at least ideally.
We presume basic human rights for all American citizens, and I don’t see either the Highest Court in our nation nor the Executive branch of our government going to war against the LGBTQ+ community, not with a major and coordinated effort. Trump tried to ban transsexuals from joining the Armed Forces and failed, so he’s not all-powerful, either.
While liberal publications issue terrible warnings about reproductive rights or the rights of the LGBTQ+ community being curtailed, so far in Trump’s reign, that hasn’t happened in any significant way of which I am aware.
Again, if you want to find nations whose laws are hostile toward gays, Islamic countries seem a better fit.
Civil Rights For Immigrants and Minorities Will Be Destroyed And Only White Dudes Will Rule
Let’s cut to the chase. The Wall. You know, Trump’s wall. The one he wants to build on the US/Mexican border. According to the NY Times, just building the thing could cost upward of $21.6 billion, and that’s just to put it in place. Imagine manning and maintaining such a structure, and according to PBS, it is highly likely smugglers of human beings would find new strategies to defeat this barrier anyway.
I doubt it will ever be built.
But I’m really talking about more than Trump’s immigration policies. Could he roll back civil rights 50, 60, 70 years or more? Could he take away the right to vote for People of Color (POV) and other vulnerable populations? I can’t imagine how, especially all by himself. There’s a certain amount of sense if vetting immigrants from nations known to support Islamic or other forms of terrorism, but that doesn’t make being a Muslim or being of Arabic descent illegal, nor do I see such laws to make them illegal being passed.
Do you think progressive-driven Dystopian SF can’t be written on these topics? It has been in comic books. According to Bounding Into Comics, the DC Comics imprint Vertigo has or is about to release an entire line of for-adults comic books, one being “Border Town.” The official description includes:
“When a crack in the border between worlds releases an army of monsters from Mexican folklore into the small town of Devil’s Fork, Arizona, the residents blame the ensuing weirdness—the shared nightmares, the otherworldly radio transmissions, the mysterious goat mutilations—on “God-dang illegals.” With racial tensions supernaturally charged, it’s up to new kid in town Frank Dominguez and a motley crew of high school misfits to discover what’s REALLY going on.”
That sounds ridiculous, but supposedly it will debut this month. I don’t think I’ll be putting it on my reading list.
The “Bounding Into Comics” article has a lot of interesting material that could be considered as Dystopian writing. Consider “Hex Wives.” Here’s the official description:
“The women are too powerful. They must be tamed.” A malevolent conspiracy of men brainwashes a coven of witches to be subservient, suburban housewives. But it’s only a matter of time before the women remember their power…
The series is expected to be available in October 2018.
Shades of The Stepford Wives (the 1975 film and its 2004 remake). Right, because what I want more than anything is to lobotomize my wife and make her my 61-year-old sex slave, especially after over 35 years of marriage.
How about “American Carnage.” Here’s the official description:
“In this thrilling crime saga, disgraced FBI agent Richard Wright, who is biracial but can pass for white, goes undercover in a white supremacist group believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow agent.”
Never mind that Federal agents are some of the most conservative people on the planet. The writers of this farce must have no idea what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer. They should have done their research rather than pandering to the random anxiety of their all too young and inexperienced readers.
And then there’s “Safe Sex.”
“A dystopian sci-fi thriller about a ragtag team of sex workers fighting for the freedom to love in a world where sexual pleasure is monitored, regulated and policed by the government.”
Still don’t think the progressive left doesn’t write highly implausible dystopian tales based on their fears? The bottom line, Mr. Davis and Cracked.com, is that the door swings both ways.