Amélie Wen Zhao, “Blood Heir,” and Social Justice (or is it vengeance)

blood heir

Cover art for the novel “Blood Heir” by Amélie Wen Zhao

I’ve held off about commenting on Amélie Wen Zhao controversial book Blood Heir, since it seemed that more than enough online pundits were weighing in, both for and against the book. Also, I didn’t really understand what the problem was all about. Yes, it had something to do with slavery, but what did Zhao actually write that at least some people found so offensive?

However, as a matter of good conscience, I felt I should look into the matter and see what it was supposed to be all about. To that end, I decided to seek the answer from one of the most liberal information outlets I could find, Slate.com. It doesn’t get much more leftist than Slate. Writer Aja Hoggatt wrote an article called An Author Canceled Her Own YA Novel Over Accusations of Racism. But Is It Really Anti-Black? published January 31, 2019. I found the write-up really even-handed, especially given Slate’s obvious leftist perspective.

First off, here’s the summary of the book I found at Amazon:

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Blocked: When You Make a Hugo-Award Winning Author Upset on Twitter

blocked

Screen capture from twitter

Yesterday, I wrote and posted a book review of SF/F author N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season, both here on my blog and on Amazon (considering Goodreads as well).

twitter

Screenshot from twitter

I then posted links of my review on twitter and in a private writer’s group on Facebook. As you can see by the accompanying screenshot, I included Ms. Jemisin’s twitter “handle” in the body of my message in case she might want to read the review (and what author doesn’t want to read reviews of their books?).

As an aside, before someone mentions it, I suppose I could be accused of “trolling” Jemisin…except I wasn’t. All I did was put @nkjemisin into the body of my tweet which also contained a link to my review of her novel. If I had put her handle as the very first word in the tweet, it would have gone straight to her and it would not have appeared in my twitter feed. I didn’t do that. I wasn’t exclusively “aiming” my tweet at her, though I certainly wouldn’t have minded if she saw it and read the review. I suppose she could have taken it the wrong way.

Now to continue:

I popped over to her twitter account just for the heck of it and gave it a brief read. I don’t recall the specific content. I was just curious.

This morning, I decided to post another tweet referencing my review. I do this several times in twitter since folks might miss it the first time or two. I decided to include Jemisin’s twitter name once more, and out of curiosity, visited her twitter account again. Lo and behold, I was blocked. What the heck? What happened in the last 22 hours or so?

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When Banning and De-Platforming Becomes Censorship

censorship

Image courtesy of Bill Kerr via Flickr

I always get some blow back when I post anything political on this blog, and I’ve been actively trying to avoid it for the past several days (which is why I have twitter and Facebook). However, I was very impressed by an article published by “The Federalist” (yes, they’re conservative) I read today titled The Stigma Against My Conservative Politics Is Worse Than The Stigma Of Being Gay written by Chad Felix Greene. In my opinion, Greene successfully compared his being bullied when he came out as gay at age 16, and how he is sometimes harassed online now that he’s adult and his political views have become increasingly conservative.

You can click the link I provided above to read the whole article, but I want to focus on one thing he brought up. Greene quoted from a story published on “Vox” (which is heavily biased left and not considered all that accurate) called Milo Yiannopoulos’s collapse shows that no-platforming can work. Now before anyone gets upset, I have no use whatsoever for Yiannopoulous. When I first heard about him and the various panic attacks being experienced on college campuses where he had spoken or wanted to speak, I looked up some of his content, and the guy is way over the top.

news source biasHowever, as “Vox” reports, removing all of Yiannopoulous’s online support essentially sank his career, and therein lies the tale.

There’s quite a bit of buzz in certain conservative circles about content bias against conservatives on social network and crowdfunding platforms. Yes, they all have “Right of Use” policies, and if you legitimately violate said-policies, your account can either be temporarily suspended or permanently banned. However, are those policies always applied impartially?

At “Business Insider,” I found an article called A top Patreon creator deleted his account, accusing the crowdfunding membership platform of ‘political bias’ after it purged conservative accounts it said were associated with hate groups. Highly successful liberal, atheist author and podcaster Sam Harris deleted his very lucrative Patreon account (nearly 9000 paying patrons) because he said the platform unfairly discriminated against conservative creators. That earns him “hero of the month” in my book. Too few people are willing (including me sometimes) to look past their politics to see that if it’s unfair, it’s unfair no matter if you do it to a conservative or a liberal.

However, the problem is much worse than what we might see on the surface. I found the BI article on Facebook, and a responding comment said:

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More on Social Media and University Radio Show “Echo Chambers”

campus reform

Screen capture of Campus Reform article title

This is a (sort of) continuation of yesterday’s blog post Which “Echo Chamber” Should I Choose?, since I’ve had a rather “interesting” encounter on twitter this afternoon.

Actually, it began this morning when I read a Campus Reform article called Duke Univ produces ‘himpathy,’ ‘himpunity’ podcast. Having no idea what “himpathy” and “himpunity” were, I clicked the link I found at twitter and began to read.

Marissa Gentry’s article began with:

Duke University’s Peabody-nominated “Scene on Radio” podcast, titled “MEN,” is currently in the middle of its third season, and it revolves around the issues of misogyny and patriarchy.

Okay. Fine and dandy as far as it goes.

Scene on Radio is produced by John Biewen and co-hosted with Celeste Headlee. They each come with an impressive set of credentials, but given the content of Ms. Gentry’s article, it wasn’t exactly a secret what perspective they probably held regarding the topic of their podcast.

The Campus Reform article quotes the show’s content:

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Which “Echo Chamber” Should I Choose?

loomer

Laura Loomer

Disclaimer/Trigger Warning/Whatever: This is a rant. Feel free not to read it.

I’ve got time on my hands so, I decided to “get political” again. I just read a Daily Wire story (yes, they’re conservative) called WATCH: Laura Loomer Banned From Twitter For Criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar, Islam. Here’s Her Response.

Up until a few minutes ago, I had no idea who Laura Loomer was, and I’m a little surprised that both twitter and Facebook banned her for life for criticizing Ilhan Omar. After all, political figures are criticized on social media all the time without such a drastic result. I myself have criticized Ms. Omar for her anti-Israel and antisemitic positions, and yet I am allowed to remain on social media.

Apparently even political scientist and columnist Ian Bremmer, though not a supporter of Loomer, commented on twitter that banning her seemed a little harsh. Of course there were many others, including The Jewish Voice who were more critical of twitter’s and Facebook’s actions.

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Shut up, Wesley OR Why You Should Expect twitter to Hurt You

shut up, wesley

Shut up, Wesley meme

“It is impossible to see a fault in someone else if you don’t have it in yourself.” -Anonymous

I’ve been thinking about the amazing amount of kvetching going on in social media and especially twitter. I’ve participated in a certain amount of it as well, as chronicled in blog posts such as This is the World of Science Fiction and WorldCon?, Part 2: This is the World of Science Fiction and WorldCon?, and Here We Go Again: Comicsgate. In the last comment I made in the last blog post listed, I decided to take the moral high road and not participate in such spitting contests and the measuring of each other’s male genitalia. However, I came across something interesting.

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Wil Wheaton quits social media

Apparently, actor Wil Wheaton of Shut up, Wesley fame has made a rather big deal of quitting social media because people were mean to him.

Okay, I get it. People are mean to each other all over twitter, and someone like Wheaton, who arguably played the most unpopular character in STTNG, and who was once compared with Jar Jar Binks on a closed Science Fiction group in Facebook makes a really big target. Actually, I kind of feel sorry for him as on his blog, he said:

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Peace on Earth

tribute lights

© Carla Bicomong

We launched the candles. The tribute was organized by telephone and mail so it was really hard, but we did it.

“Hi. I’m Jill.” She startled me. I’d been listening to other people talk, but I assumed they were already friends, I mean real life friends.

“I’m Dave. Pleased to meet you.” We shook hands and I started to blush. “Sorry. I’m a little nervous.”

“Me too.”

“Everyone’s so much nicer than I expected.”

“That’s the point. twitter, Facebook, Instagram turned us all into opinionated monsters.”

“But now that we destroyed them, there’ll be peace between people.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 97.

After yesterday’s “challenging” series of conversations on twitter (which admittedly, I asked for), I decided that the people I briefly sparred with are most likely much nicer human beings in person than they are on twitter. Libertarian commentator and Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro even admitted that he’s more snarky on twitter than he is in real life. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast, the “beast” being social media, and particularly twitter.

So in my wee fantasy, I killed twitter, Facebook, and the rest of them. Would that bring peace to mankind? Probably not, but it wouldn’t be so easy to insult and slander people we don’t know if they didn’t exist.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The WorldCon 76 Incident: The Consequences of Twitter

toxic twitter

Toxic Twitter

After I wrote The WorldCon 76 Incident: This Never Happened to Me on Twitter Before (and yes, I posted links on twitter and Facebook), I thought it was over. True, I did get one response from a very nice person saying (basically) that I was overreacting and people on twitter were just trying to be helpful.

I responded to him by saying that it was difficult for me to tell if their intent was to be helpful or critical, since at least some of the statements were ambiguous. I also compared twitter to a “wild west show.” I didn’t hear back from him and so that was that, or so I believed.

Then this morning, I got another response from someone who hadn’t addressed me before, stating (again basically) that I was uninformed about WorldCon, the Hugos, and one of the people who had been most critical (to the point of hostility) of me. As I looked at the tweets of the person who is supposed to be an important voice, I saw said-individual was pretty critical of a lot of other folks, specifically conservatives who have questioned the objectivity of the aforementioned Hugos (AKA, the “Sad Puppies”).

None of the people who addressed me have their tweets hidden, so I thought I’d take a look at what else they had to talk about. I wanted a wider understanding of the individuals involved. To that end, I’m posting screen captures of a few tweets of two of these people while doing my best to hide their identities (except for David Hogg’s since he seems to thrive on publicity).

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When Social Media Becomes a Lynch Mob

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Screenshot of Mark Duplass’s tweet about Ben Shapiro

There are days when I lose all hope for humanity. Really, it’s gotten that ridiculous.

First off, actor Mark Duplass said something nice about conservative speaker, attorney, and Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro on twitter. Then he is immediately caught up in a twitter-storm so severe that the very next day, he formally apologizes.

Then “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn defends Duplass while at the same time, sliming Shapiro. And then, it’s discovered that Gunn made some pretty horrible tweets back in the day and is subsequently fired by Disney so you won’t see him directing “Guardians 3.”

I suppose Shapiro thought in the aftermath of all this, someone might take a look at his “dumb stuff” tweets, so he posted a list of them, and promised to keep updating it (I haven’t had the time to read that last article yet).

What the heck is going on? Have liberals have decided as a group, that no individual liberal can be friends with or even like a conservative without starting a social media flame war?

Why? How did we enter this twilight zone of dysfunctional communication?

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Whose Voice Is It, Anyway?

men describe women chart

Found at Electric Lit online magazine (click on the image to see a larger version)

The chart posted above was acquired from the article If You’re Not Sure How a Male Author Would Describe You, Use Our Handy Chart over at the Electric Lit online magazine. As I understand it, the chart was created as a gag, and I found it pretty funny. In fact, I toyed with the idea of writing a story using the chart just as a joke.

Then it took on a life of its own on twitter, as reported at the same magazine, in an essay titled ‘Describe Yourself Like a Male Author Would’ Is the Most Savage Twitter Thread in Ages.

Apparently a male author claimed he could write authentic female characters, and was immediately challenged by Gwen C. Katz (@gwenckatz). A combination of hilarity, hostility, and moral angst ensued. I should say that after writing most of this missive, I noticed these articles were written last April, but they’ve showed up in my gmail inbox from Medium in the last couple of days. Wonder what the message is?

I decided to write about this because I’ve gotten a hold of a review copy of the To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity anthology edited by Sirius Métier and published by Superversive Press. It was published digitally about two weeks ago (as I write this) and seems to be doing pretty well, both relative to its Amazon reviews (five so far, and all five star ratings) and in terms of sales.

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