I recently wrote three related blog posts: Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree, and especially The Sins of John W. Campbell Revisited. That last one started something of a minor storm in the comments section at File 770, Mike Glyer’s popular SciFi fanzine.
Although I’m still following that site, I haven’t commented there again since, what’s the use? Most people there ignored me (which is fine), one disagreed with me but was pretty civil about it, and two called me “dishonest” and “racist.” I ignored one and actually had to block the other on twitter since he looked me up just so he could continue to troll me.
File 770 does what they call Pixel Scrolls which I gather are collections of all the latest SF/F news, including noteworthy birthdays and such.
I slowed down when I saw a link to Steve Davidson’s article On Renaming Awards. I had previously mentioned that if John W. Campbell’s name was to be removed (and it has been), that perhaps all other awards named after people should be examined, just in case the person in question had a “difficult” past. I pulled Hugo Gernsback’s name out of a hat since the famed Hugo Award is named after him. Lo and behold, Davidson seems to have been thinking the same thing, but in his case, explained why Gernsback’s rather checkered past (in terms of his allegedly shady business dealings) won’t result in the Hugos being renamed.
So be it. It was just an idea.
The other essay was authored by Anthony Gramuglia (I don’t know who he is either) and called Alt-Right Fandom Circles Have Been Attacking and Doxxing People for Disagreeing With Them. It’s published by The Mary Sue which swings pretty far to the left, so keep that in mind.
Reading the title, I thought it was another tired reworking of the “Sad Puppies” affair, which is several years old and dead as a door nail. Yes, Gramuglia did mention the “Sad/Rabid Puppies,” but he also brought up ComicsGate (which I also thought was long gone) and something called “IStandWithVic.” Who the heck is Vic?
After the trigger warning (no, I’m not kidding), Here’s the gist of it from the article:
The hashtag IStandWithVic has a very different origin. When popular voice actor Vic Mignogna was accused of sexual harassment/assault and fired from both Funimation and Rooster Teeth, many of his diehard fans defended him online, arguing that, until proof was provided of any wrongdoing, he could not be fired.
Okay, so Mignogna is an actor known for his voice work in various animated productions. After allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, he was indeed fired as indicated above. His fans created a GoFundMe account to raise money for his legal fees, and that generated over $236,000 according to Dallas News. My understanding from the same source is that the legal case is still in motion.
What does this have to do with anyone’s politics?
If you’ve been on the internet for awhile, you have encountered right-wing e-celebrities who desire to engage in “intellectual debate.” These debaters traffic in poorly made, bad faith arguments to prove their points, often without any substantial evidence. They talk so loud and fast that they’re able to physically drown out what their opposition says. If the target of debate offers a counter, they then gaslight them by either exploiting some moralistic faux-comparision or just condescending to them to make them feel stupid.
Both ComicsGate and IStandWithVic seem to have learned from this tactic.
In my experience, the described tactic has been used just as effectively by leftists as well as (supposedly) rightists.
The two biggest tactics of these groups, however, appear to be doxxing and deplatforming. I myself have been targeted by The Umbrella Guy before for disagreeing with him, with him sending his followers to flag my posts. It wasn’t very effective with me, but others, such as Ren, were not so lucky…
I’ve heard the exact same complaint made by conservative artists against online platforms that lean decidedly left, at least the allegations of deplatforming and defunding.
Actually, what originally got my attention was the author’s use of “alt-right,” as if anyone who’s politics and social views tilted even slightly right of center were automatically alt-right.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
The Alternative Right, commonly known as the “alt-right,” is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization.
The Alternative Right is characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes. Alt-righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethnonationalism as a fundamental value.
In other words, they are an extremist group and do not represent the vast majority of conservatives in the U.S.
But that’s not how Gramuglia’s article comes off. In fact, since I’m pro-Jewish (my wife and kids are Jewish) and pro-Israel, I don’t think I could qualify as alt-right. Here’s a quote posted on the Southern Poverty article:
“I oppose the Jewish diaspora in the United States and other white societies. I would like to see the white peoples of the world break the power of the Jewish diaspora and send the Jews to Israel, where they will have to learn how to be a normal nation.”
—Greg Johnson, “White Nationalism & Jewish Nationalism,” August 2011
That is definitely not my viewpoint, and I don’t know of a single conservative friend or acquaintance to believes such nonsense.
However, I’m concerned that the mainstream voices in Science Fiction and Fantasy are increasingly embracing the idea that everyone who isn’t like them is automatically alt-right. I hope I’m wrong. Probably I am wrong. Maybe Anthony Gramuglia doesn’t represent the majority of SF/F voices. I hope not.
Assuming some extremists are guilty of the actions Gramuglia puts out, then yes, they have done wrong. Please, it’s okay to disagree with someone, but you don’t have to try and hurt them, emotionally, financially, or in any other way.
And yet both sides of the coin are accusing each other of the same heinous acts. I suppose that means you can be an extremist and be either left or right. Here’s Gramuglia’s final words on the subject:
I have alluded, throughout this article, to being targeted by these groups, which I have. They spent the better part of a year targeting me in various threads, with van Scrier going through old pictures of me to harass and target me. There are multiple livestreams where all these guys sit around calling me “prepubescent” and other emasculating and/or homophobic slurs.
So, I blockchained all of them. Start with Bounding Into Comics or Bleeding Fool, then blockchain all the followers to the core individuals mentioned in this article. Your life is too short to waste dealing with these people.
And, once they’re starved of content, they will be unable to direct hate toward anyone. After all, if no one engages, they will grow bored, but it is vital to expose their tactics in order to stop not just them, but any future alt-right internet group that might surface in the future.
Maybe the majority of us need to take SF/F back from extremist voices. Unfortunately, they are also the loudest and most demanding, and as this writer points out (though only in one direction), they all cling to some sort of notion of moral purity, so it’s pointless to attempt to engage them in a reasonable dialog. Thankfully, I’m not being harassed or attacked in any real way, although, as I mentioned, I did have to finally block one person on twitter who didn’t know when to let go. I guess it gets much worse, at least for some.
Oh, and the people commenting on the Mary Sue article seem to be swallowing the content proverbial hook, line, and sinker.