The Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance has pinged twice on my radar over the past few days. The first was in connection to the loss of reviews on Amazon by some rightwing authors (see here) and the second was the release of their nominees for their “Book of the Year Award 2018“. The ten nominees are mainly the usual set of names (e.g. JCW, Lamplighter, JDA, Paolinelli) and in a departure from previous years a non-fiction book, Moria Greyland’s The Last Closet.
I’m mindful that the announcement of the CLFA’s nominees was very close but just before the Hugo nomination date but I don’t think their list was intended to be a stealth slate and I doubt it could function that way. Still, both events made me realise that the CLFA has been a grouping I haven’t discussed much when looking at the righthand side of science fiction writing.
While the CLFA has a website (https://conservativelibertarianfictionalliance.com/ ) it functions primarily as a closed Facebook group. Not exclusively SFF, the previous nominees for their awards have been mainly either SFF books or non-SFF by SFF authors (e.g. Sad Pup/Mad Genius/Castalia House author Peter Grant’s Western novel won in 2017).
So, in some ways, the CLFA just looks like the same groups of people we keep encountering. However, in other ways, it has operated differently. Here’s a chart of how the group has grown over time:
Unlike some of the other similar charts I made looking at growth trends, this looks like steady, sustainable growth. Now, it’s a closed group so I’ve no either whether it is particularly active or a ghost town but it does keep attracting members and doesn’t seem to be losing them. Possibly this is because of (rather than in spite of) it’s low profile overall. While many of its members are famed for outrage marketing, the group itself has tended not to assert itself as a thing. Consequently, its membership includes people across the many factions in right-leaning SFF.
While I was on the topic of closed Facebook groups, I thought I would see how the loudly announced “Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Guild” was getting on. Their main website doesn’t seem to have been updated since mid-February (https://sffcguild.com/blog/ ) but they’ve gained an interim President – Doug Irvin, who occasionally guest posts at Sarah Hoyt’s blog. Their main action has been another closed Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/726470947555061/ ) At 160+ members it has a long way to go before it reaches the same scale as the CLFA (1750+ members).
Of the members of SFFCG, about 65% are also members of the CLFA (reversing that, only about 6% of the CLFA are also members of the SFFCG).
The growth seems to have reached a plateau for the time being. Most of the growth was in late January after the fumbled announcement of the group.
Anyway…that’s it. No punchline just some numbers 🙂
Here’s a thing which is in turns wrong, absurd, despicable and then absurd again.
The Daily Beast in late February carried an article on three Instagram ‘stars’ – the sisters have an apparently innocuous enough degree of celebrity from their lifestyle posts on Instagram. What the Daily Beast went on to reveal was that these young women are the daughters or far-right anti-Muslim figure Pamela Geller.
I’m not going to link to the post. I think it is simply shitty journalism. There’s no obvious news there. There’s no indication that any of the women are somehow sneaking in their mother’s views into lifestyle posts. The connection is simply that they are the children of somebody appalling. It’s at best gossip and at worst a way of harassing somebody’s family because of their views. I’ve zero sympathies for Geller but that doesn’t mean such tactics are smart of acceptable because aside from anything else it makes everybody’s lives shittier.
Enter well-known internet-troll Milo Yianopoulos – he is claiming this a plot by The Daily Beast to send ISIS against Geller’s daughters. Which is hyperbole – The Beast’s actions were careless and unethical IMHO but not some ISIS plot. Bloviating science-fiction author John C Wright has got all agitated as a consequence:
Milo asks, and with considerable justice, why there is not a million man march on the offices of the Daily Beast, in strength and numbers and determination needed strike the fear of God into their hearts. http://www.scifiwright.com/2018/03/sell-your-cloak-buy-a-sword-2/
And later in the comments:
That is why we need a mob to storm the offices of the Daily Beast, and, without technically breaking the law, paralyze their daily operation.
Gosh. No sign as yet that JCW has attempted to storm the offices of The Daily Beast. As far as I can tell from his tone, he wants other people to go and do it form him. For a legal scholar, he doesn’t seem to have thought through either how he could ‘storm’ an office and ‘paralyze their daily operation’ without legal consequence. It just sounds good to him and in reality, we know JCW isn’t going to do anything. But some far-right extremist might and JCW here is showing the kind of behaviour he is condemning above – pointing out targets to an audience whose fringes contains people willing to use deadly violence.
Far-right extremist in the US have killed more people in the US than ISIS. A fact that people like JCW won’t engage with.
Meanwhile, perhaps JCW needs to talk to some of his fellow puppies – they explained to us all a few weeks ago how connecting online identities with real people isn’t actually doxxing and supposedly quite reasonable behaviour and not at all irresponsible even if those people have upset extermists with openly violent views. Hmmmm.
OK I’ve tried. Brad Torgersen (who has jumped on the bandwagon) is now claiming that me denying that I’m not the random target he has identified me as is evidence that I must be that person.
“Clark Kent’s first rule in denying he’s Superman — do not go on the front page of the Daily Planet, denying that you’re Superman.”
I’m in good company I guess. Apparently Rene Descartes found himself in a similar pickle with regard to the Rosicrucians. If he denied he was a Rosicrucian then he was doing EXACTLY what a Rosicrucian would do.
Meanwhile the other line emerging is that if I wasn’t the person they say they I am (which I’m not but never mind that) then I should reveal who I am to prove them wrong. Nope, that isn’t how that works.
- Firstly the person who has been fuelling this bizarre thing has a track record of harassing people at work and filing fake police reports. I don’t think the majority of Sad Puppies would engage in such behaviour but the specific guy who first made the claim on Facebook? Yup, known for it and there are multiple documented cases of vindictive acts by them.
- Secondly, I could give a name here and it would mean nothing. What the Pups want is an identity that means something to them and which confirms some sort of model in their heads (hence their current target). A name isn’t going to do that. The meat robot’s name certainly isn’t going to do that.
- Thirdly, this is clearly not a rational discourse. None of the people claiming I’m X have considered why they think I’m X other than some other ad Puppy has asserted that I’m X.
- Fourthly, aside from the absurdity of me having to co-operate with irrational harassment so that a known harasser can harass the right target, the actual evidence I’d have to give said harasser to convince them to harass the right target would be substantial proof of identity beyond what they currently have for their wrong target. Actually I’m not sure what would convince them as I obviously could fake an image of a driving licence etc.
- Lastly it really, really, really isn’t my job to stop stupid evil people from attempting to do evil stupidly. I’ve pointed out the error and the Sad Pups are doubling down. Apparently Facebook took the original post down because it violated their community standards. A sensible person might take that as a hint from reality that they’ve crossed an ethical line.
All I can do at this point is apologise to the person the Puppies have decided to victimise.
So my Sunday morning was taken up with behaviour that neatly mirrored my last blog post title. I’m not going to name names because there is literally an innocent party involved.
Certain parties on the internet decided that I’d been too outspoken or what not and decided that I needed doxxing. Now, personally, I think doxxing is something that can be easily classified as moral bad except in certain circumstances. Put another way you need a very good reason that outweighs the ethical wrong when revealing somebody else’s identity or personal information. The ethics of doxxing known harassers, bullies or people who make threats is where the question would lie. Doxxing because somebody has challenged your party line is straightforwardly wrong.
Put that aside for a moment. Imagine if you had convinced yourself that revealing somebody’s identity online is the right thing to do. Well, you still have a deep responsibility to GET IT RIGHT.
So, some ethically challenged idiot decided to announce to assorted others that they knew for a fact that I’m some person and got it completely wrong. OK, they got the continent right. Aside from that – nope. They targetted some poor soul who I don’t know and who I have never met and who (as far as I know) I’ve never interacted with.
Honestly, it would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that some other person is now likely to be the target of Sad Puppy harassment. Should we be surprised that supposed champions of free-speech try to silence people in this way? Nope, but I’ll try to be disappointed.
Mad Genius, Dave Freer has written a curious reply to me in the comments of the Stir the Pot article I linked to previously. It’s particularly odd because he’d spent the previous few comments to me telling me that I had been banned from MGC but he was unable to say when or who by. Having not commented there for awhile, I think he must have assumed I’d been banned rather than just having lost interest. I’ll put aside the irony of ban-happy-anti-banners for the time being.
Here’s Dave’s remarkable defence in which he addresses me directly.
“Camestros’s rationalization: ‘ – Jon wanted publicity, joining SFWA and joining Worldcon were for publicity and being banned has gained him more. He hasn’t suffered in the least and zero harm was done to him. Worldcon avoids a headache. It was actually a win-win for both parties.’Camestros rationalization translated to current affairs: ‘The Rohingya wanted to be citizens of a state, not stateless, untermensch in Burma. The Burmese government decided to ethnically cleanse them from Burma: Now, as refugees, some have been able to migrate to Australia where they can become citizens and not untermensch. It’s actually a win-win for both Burma and the Rohingya.’No Camestros. It was a lose for JDA, who lost his opportunity to network and, as it is his home area, do so relatively cheaply, as well as damaging his local status. That was a cost free win for WorldCon. At this point he went public about it, and retrieved some of the willful they had done. Rather like the refugee getting a better life in Australia… not what he’d wanted, or would have happily gone through to get, but better than WorldCon gave him. WorldCon on the other hand ended up with egg on their face again, and I suspect substantive costs. So their cost free win became an expensive lose. So it became WorldCon lose: JDA gets a different reward — not because WorldCon were trying to achieve some fair win:win outcome, but because their attempt to have a win:lose backfired on them.”
For the two people still interested, Sad Puppies is slightly less dead as a thing than it was the last time I checked, but only marginally so.
For those keeping track, the Pups had lots control of the domain for the Sad Puppies 4 website a few months ago. In the meantime, somebody must have paid the webhosting bill and the old SP4 site is back up ( http://sadpuppies4.org/index.html ). However, the old post promising a Sad Puppies V has gone ( https://web.archive.org/web/20170526223835/http://sadpuppies4.org ).
There is a bit in the second season of the Good Place in which Chidi (a dead professor of moral philosophy) realises that the only way he can make progress teaching an eternal being about human ethics is if said being can gain some insight into the possibility of their own mortality.
Watching the SF right grapple with their own theories of aesthetics and popular media can be a bit like that. You get hints at the underlying vulnerabilities of thought that you don’t when you look at national politics. The political discussion is now so many layers deep in bad faith that no claim, principle or supposed viewpoint can be trusted to reflect underlying beliefs. So sometimes you can see the wheels in action and genuine trains of thought.
So here is Anthony M at Superversive struggling with an insight:
“My experience leads me to believe there are three types of media: Media where my opinion stays fairly firm, media that I like more on a rewatch/re-read, and media I like less on a rewatch/re-read. The first category makes up the majority of my media. The second category is relatively small; off the top of my head it includes one or two books, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, a couple of Miyazaki films, and the original Star Wars (retroactively titled “A New Hope”). All of these I thought were merely okay originally but liked more on a rewatch.
The last category was originally a small one, but over time I’ve noticed it grow larger and larger, to the point where I’ve started checking my first responses to things. It includes “The Force Awakens”. It includes all three Peter Jackson “Lord of the Rings” films. It includes the show “Gravity Falls”. It includes the show “Jessica Jones”. All of these are things I liked, even loved, at one point in time but as I’ve looked back at them have noticed more and more flaws, occasionally to the point that I can’t even re-watch them – particularly in the cases of “The Force Awakens” and “Jessica Jones”. And they’re only a few examples!” http://www.superversivesf.com/2017/12/15/the-wall-of-cards/
…but he goes on to conclude that it must be something wrong with the modern world.
I’ve noticed some similar things to Anthony M but also I’ve noticed:
- Things in my visual area don’t always focus as easily as they used to.
- Stairs take longer for me to run up.
- There must be something wacky going on with gravity because my whole body is more attracted to the ground than it used to be and also my skin is sagging…
What’s going on in the world!
It isn’t that it is irrational to think modern popular culture might be inferior in some way but rather that he doesn’t even consider the other possibility.
You age. The impact that new cultural objects have on you becomes less. The worrying, disturbing change in the world is many things, but that particularly hard to grasp, hard to pinpoint feel of impending something is our own mortality.