Humanitarians with Guillotines

An interesting overview of the growing threats to free speech from SJWs.

I, too, am convinced that these activists, with their MO of hysterical crusades, are one of today’s biggest threats to free speech, open inquiry, and genuine tolerance, at least on college campuses. The illiberal climate fostered by these ideologues seems to be spreading throughout academia and is continuing to dominate the headlines…

These groups and their tactics represent what Jonathan Rauch would describe as the “humanitarian” challenge to free speech. In his must-read book, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, Rauch identified how these “humanitarians” sought to prevent “offense” to “oppressed and historically marginalized” peoples. In the name of “compassion,” words became conflated with physical action.

As speech codes spread and the definition of “harassment” (reading a book in public, for instance) became broader within the bureaucracy of academia, an “offendedness sweepstakes” was cultivated and turned into the norm.

Sound familiar?

An Alternative Strategy to No-Awarding the Hugos

Connie Willis has announced she has turned down an offer to be a Hugo presenter at this year’s Worldcon.

Annie Bellet has withdrawn her nominated short-story from consideration.

Marko Kloos has withdrawn his nominated novel from consideration.

All in the past roughly 24 hours.

(Larry Correia comments here. Vox Day comments here.)

Anyone care to bet that the new strategy on the part of those offended by the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies campaigns is to persuade anyone they can influence to simply refuse to participate?

It’s not a bad strategy. If those offended choose to “No Award” and (ironically) organize a sufficiently large campaign to push the SP/RP nominees off the slate, they have already been warned that they risk the same treatment next year (or worse: the entire Hugos list being no-awarded). But if they can convince a sizeable portion of the nominees to withdraw their work from consideration – especially those not on the SP/RP slates – it creates the appearance that those who do win will have received their awards by forfeit rather than merit. This is the natural conclusion to be drawn from the assertion that the nominees were nominated in the first place for reasons other than merit. It makes bitter ashes of the award.

If others are persuaded to decline offers from Sasquan to present the awards or appear in connection with the Hugo Awards – or to participate in the con itself as a panelist or speaker – it further emphasizes the “corrupted” nature of this year’s awards. This works as well with the rank-and-file fans: if enough fans can be persuaded to boycott Sasquan in protest over the SP/RP campaigns (perhaps including interested parties arranging for any already-purchased tickets to be credited towards tickets for a different SF/F con), it further emphasizes the message that the awards are corrupt and deserve to be shunned.

And why not go all the way and encourage people to simply not to vote at all? It may not be as vindictively satisfying as directly shutting out SP/RP nominees through organized “No Award” voting, but if one regards the awards this year as corrupted already, why not let the offending nominees have them as punishment? Note that this can be done quietly and without the same risk of retaliation on next year’s awards.

Might I suggest a bumper-sticker slogan for those considering such a strategy? How about “Participation is Sanction”? It’s efficient, it’s euphonic, it’s evocative. You’re welcome.

On the other hand, it’s not exactly a good strategy, either.

For one, it’s poor sportsmanship, a form of taking your marbles and going home when you don’t get your way. One of the Puppies’ main points is that the Hugos (as a microcosm of SF/F culture) have become dominated by an intolerant and entitled clique of like-minded, closed-minded, hive-minded people, people who shut out outsiders on political or cultural grounds rather than the merit of their work. Whether it’s a vocal “No Award” campaign or a quieter shunning effort, it still amounts to the same thing: sabotaging the awards because – for the first time in a long time – a substantial number of unpersons received nominations, specifically to devalue any awards given to those outsiders. Such sabotage would not come across less like a noble gesture aimed at preserving the honor and dignity of the Hugos, and more like a clique of high-school girls – piqued that a group of students managed to get a couple of chess-club girls on the homecoming queen ballot at the expense of a couple of their own – withdrawing their own nominations, getting the band to bail out, and persuading a bunch of their classmates not to go to the dance.

For another, it would do the same long-term damage to the reputation of the Hugos that opponents claim the SP/RP campaigns are doing. One might use this strategy to create the impression that the Hugos this year are corrupt and the winners undeserving due to the withdrawal of competition. But once the brand is tarnished, how does the tarnish not carry over to subsequent years – especially since the same perception that the Hugos are awarded by forfeit can be turned against the other side next year if the SP/RP side simply does not participate. Indeed, it’s perfectly predictable that in the case of Puppy strategic non-participation the SJWs would overreach in their efforts to “restore” the award’s reputation, crowing even louder than in past years that the awards will go to those who truly deserve them…by which is meant those with the accepted thinking and those whose product and lives tick the right boxes on the SJW checklist, regardless of the merit or even science fiction/fantasy content of their work. This year a Hugo will mean something again, they will claim, because none of those icky sexist homophobic racist white men are on the ballot! But the victory would in fact be no less a forfeit than when the strategy was used by their own side, and for as long as this status quo ante is pushed as the way things are supposed to be, such claims would ring hollow for their now-exposed hypocrisy and would merely demonstrate that the Puppies were right all along in their contention that the Hugos are simply and SJW popularity contest.

Try polishing that off your Hugo.

ETA: I meant to work in that the ideal “final blow” of this strategy would be to create so much trouble for Worldcon — no presenters, reduced attendance, etc. – that they have grounds for canceling the awards presentation. I don’t know if that is possible under Worldcon rules, but it’s an interesting possibility those gnashing/rending over the nominations might want to consider. Why settle for half-measures when you can indulge your petty vindictiveness all the way?