Some caveats to start with:
- A comment section does not represent the views of the host of a blog in any consistent way. Some hosts are more lenient, some less so.
- Discussion can go to strange places and without context, an isolated comment may look quite different.
- People can speculate about the possible behaviour of others without necessarily endorsing that behaviour. For example, somebody might talk about the circumstances in which North Korea might use a nuclear weapon but expect readers to understand that this would be a bad thing that they don’t want to happen.
- People sometimes make dark jokes about terrible things.
- Sometimes translated comments or comments made in a second or unfamiliar language may not represent what a person is actually trying to say.
There are secondary ethical questions around each of these. I’ll let readers decide whether any of those apply in the situation I’m discussing.
After the fold, I’m going to discuss some comments on a blog I often look at somewhat adversarially. Before that, a content warning about what appears to be very disturbing comments aimed at Roma people – an ethnic minority in Europe (primarily) that is subjected to on-going racism and harassment as well as a long history of being subjected to violence and attempted extermination. The comments vary from what is apparent casual racism and stereotyping to extreme proposals including genocide.
I posted a very short post yesterday linking to notable Sad Puppy and Mad Genius Sarah Hoyt’s blog. The comments go off in various directions as comments do. https://web.archive.org/web/20180522182624/https://accordingtohoyt.com/2018/05/21/truth-2/
One comment attempts to make some sort of point about intersectionality. It is a typical style of comment in which somebody confuses their own misunderstanding of a concept with a deep flaw in the concept. That comment has its own issues but it is the reply that goes into extremes.
Before I continue, I’m very mindful that any criticism of these comments will be met with claims that I am selectively quoting to create a misleading impression. Practically, I’m not going to repeat lengthy comments and it is reasonable to discuss specific comments. Also, there is a lot of things said below that I find quite appalling – I don’t want this on my blog particularly. For the full context, an archive link is given above. I do not believe any of the quotes I am providing are misleading about the text as presented. I can’t claim to know what people’s unobserved motivations are but only what they actually said.
The issues start with this reply, which I will quote in full:
pohjalainen | May 21, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Reply
“The big problem with real world – okay, Finland has had Roma, or gypsies, living here for over 500 years, and they are still a separate and shunned group.
Now, for centuries they were shunned and seriously oppressed partly because they were different. But there always was also some cause for that. They had developed their lifestyle presumably in great part because they had to, not having found permanent homes where they could have settled down anywhere, but that lifestyle included thieving and cheating the natives of the lands where they wandered.
Which of course just increased the shunning and resentment. They were the horse traders who cheated you, they stole things and livestock and they were rumored to sometimes steal children too, and you could never ever trust them fully.
Then slowly things changed, and the Finnish society started to try and treat them better. Social security, efforts to integrate them into our society – in the beginning that did include efforts to make them to abandon their culture fully, but that got dropped decades ago.
But as a group they refuse to comply. They take everything they are offered. But they still cheat and steal. Most times any of us end up personally dealing with any of them it is because of something like that, they stole from you or cheated you or somebody you know, or caused a disturbance in the apartment house where you live, or vandalized something. Most times you see them in the news it’s because shoplifting or stealing gas or because their interclan feuds – although they don’t kill us whiteys all that often they do kill each other. Yep, newspapers never outright tell it was Roma doing something, but there usually are certain tells in a story which indicate it was a member or members of that group, and when it gets to court and names are told they do have different types of surnames and first name traditions.
So – how the hell do you solve that kind of permanent SNAFU? They are given lots of chances now but hardly any of them seem to take those up, most just seem to use without any intention of ever giving back to society. Which causes increasing resentment. Unless this can be changed the main society’s current almost tolerance towards the Roma (yep, they often are still treated differently, but while that often may be unwarranted as said there also are some valid reasons why lots of Finns are more or less suspicious of them) may end up as a temporary situation, and as a group they might once again become full on outcasts. But they don’t want to play because they still see the main society and its members as the enemy.
This is not a stable situation. It has to be solved one way or another sooner or later, and preferably so that everybody can be happy with the solution, but HOW?
Just singing Kumbaya does not cut it, I’m afraid.
(And then there these new groups now coming in… if any of them do become permanent residents and end up as the Roma, never fully or even partly integrating – NOT GOOD).”
If you don’t read many rightwing blogs you might find that comment very shocking. However, much of the sentiment presented here is close to the default level of many people in the rightwing SF blogosphere who genuinely believe that they AREN’T racist. If you are expecting self-styled libertarians to push back on a comment like that then you will be disappointed. ‘Pohjalainen’ is a frequent commenter at According to Hoyt from at least 2012.
The reply to that is by TXRed, another regular who shares an anecdote about a Czech man joking that he feeds his dogs on “Gypsies”. TXRed then compares Roma to “certain American Indian groups in the US.”
“They don’t want to make the cultural changes needed to succeed and fit into modern society, but they want the benefits of modern society. Alas, the traits that worked well for group survival in the past are real drags on the same group today.”
Pohjalainen and another regular Foxifer then discuss the appearance and dress of the Roma in Finland. Foxifer mentions video of Roma shoplifters.
Commenter ‘gospace’ then answers Pohjalainen’s “SNAFU” question:
“The traditional answer is genocide. It works. Mass expulsion also works. You send them somewhere else where someone else does the dirty work of- genocide. Keeps your own hands clean. You simply expelled them.
If you don’t like those answers, then you have to live with SNAFU.”
If you are expecting some substantial pushback to that comment or clarification that genocide is wrong, then you will be disappointed. Instead, the alternative is offered by ‘Mary”:
“Mass sterilization and forcible removal of all children also have worked.”
The nearest to any sort of pushback to the casual proposals of genocide versus child kidnapping is Robin Munn, who proposes Christianity as the solution. Munn at least manages to change the subject but there is zero attempt to counter the earlier comments. Just prior to Munn’s intervention, another regular ‘BobtheRegisteredFool’ adds:
“I felt bad earlier for thinking things through so superfically that I’d forgotten about taking the kids away.
Reservation schools might not work with Roma. It is a theft culture, not a warrior culture. No critical warrior training cycle to interrupt.”
And just to be clear, each of these proposals are all ways in which Roma have actually been actively persecuted in Europe. State sanctioned taking of Roma children remains a problem, https://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/23/world/europe/europe-mystery-girls/index.html
After the diversion into national IQ (actually not as terrible as you might imagine), ‘BobtheRegisteredFool’ picks up where they left off:
“Have you heard about the Reservations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs?
Finland surely has some inhospitable, isolated and desolate location. Resettle families that cause problems there. Give them just barely enough resources to survive. Now, they probably have more enzymes for digesting alcohol than the Indians did, so you can’t rely on drink to kill them off.”
And so on.
As mentioned above, I don’t doubt it will be said that I’m selectively quoting to make people look bad. I don’t think I am but if you are saying stuff like the stuff I have quoted then note THAT STUFF REALLY DOES MAKE YOU LOOK BAD. If I’ve somehow misunderstood the nature of the conversation then perhaps the people who wrote all of the appalling stuff should consider who might also ‘misunderstand’. If the comments somehow do NOT represent the inner views of the people that wrote them, they still contribute to a climate of violence, hostility and state-sanctioned repression of an ethnic group that has suffered centuries of violence and abuse (including being targetted by Nazis).
What about the host of the blog? As I have said above, the comments on a blog do not have a simple match to the beliefs of the blog owner. However, we can rule out Sarah Hoyt being unaware of the comments proposing genocide. She adds her own perspective on Roma people.
accordingtohoyt | May 22, 2018 at 9:59 am | Reply
“Yeah. I grew up with gypsies nearby/coming into the village.
When regency romances fastened on the Roma as the poor minority that was oppressed and that the lady would marry and redeem, I threw them against the wall.
The culture itself sets its hand against everyone. It’s not a clear cut oppressed/oppressor.
The Jews were similarly despised and mistreated but they gave far less reason, and as soon as the barriers were down they became an integrated part of society.
So it can’t be just “despised and mistreated” causes “bad culture.”
BTW interestingly NONE of these romance writers wanting to sanctify the oppressed minority use Jews as the good but oppressed guy/gal. I wonder why. Historically, in Europe it would make way more sense. Or you know, Catholics in England. Protestants in Catholic Europe.
But no, it’s always Roma.”
It is almost a relief that the comment is only stereotyping and victim blaming by this point.
Obviously me saying anything will just result in Hoyt et al either doubling down or becoming hyper-defensive. The point of this post isn’t to imply that Hoyt or her followers are eager to commit violence towards ethnic minorities. The issue isn’t that the people quoted above are closet Nazis – in some ways that would be less of an issue as it would be clear where the problem lay. No, the issue is that these are people who genuinely see themselves as being on the side of liberty and truth and opposed to government sponsored murder BUT the ideas that lead to mass murder just slip into their discourse as naturally as demanding lower taxes.
That’s the essence of the problem here. Nazis themselves are only ever part of the problem, the other part is non-Nazis who regard Nazi ideas as exterme but also somehow reasonable or effective.