I was going to call this post “Two skinheads fighting over a comb” but:
- Neither of the participants is a skinhead.
- The ‘skinhead’ identity is far more complex than the thuggish neo-nazi stereotype and it would be unfair to skinheads to associate them with the participants.
Anyhoo, the feuding between Andrew Torba owner of the safe-haven for far-right trolls known as “Gab” continues his feud with Vox Day a man famous for being a far-right troll.
To recap briefly: Gab was set up as rival Twitter service for people who found Twitter was too strict on the right (which given how permissive Twitter is of neo-Nazis says a lot), Vox flounce over to Gab last year, Vox has since been feuding with other Alt-righters who have been too open with the whole actually being Nazis thing, Vox got called bad things on Gab, Gab wouldn’t delete the posts unless Vox could prove the posts were libellous, Vox then started some sort of court action against Gab. Meanwhile, Gab is suing Google because Google won’t let the Gab app on their app-store because Gab’s moderation policies are too weak, which coincidentally is what Vox Day is also saying which, though he denies it, sort of puts Vox on the side of Google. As probably none of these court cases will go anywhere, it is possible that this is all just kerfuffle-based marketing and/or adult men with the souls of demonic toddlers shouting “pay attention to ME!”. Like the fool I am, I’m paying attention.
Anyway, over at Gab we have this from Torba:
Basically, Torba doing the deniably inciting people thing i.e. pointing out that Vox Day lives in Italy (or maybe Switzerland) and hence there will be all sorts of nasty anti-hate speech laws. The draconian hate speech laws, rather like Twitter’s censorship policies are of mythical status among the right, whereas in reality, they are hard to apply and limited in scope. Additionally, I’m fairly confident that plenty of people would have reported Vox Day’s blog before – if European hate speech laws were going to close his blog then that would have occurred already.
The other element is that Gab is apparently now based in Philidelphia rather than Austin. I don’t know if that matters.
Meanwhile, over at Vox Day’s blog, Vox is now complaining about doxxing. Yeah, I know. Irony is dead – it died last year of overconsumption.
After Vox re-flounced back to Twitter, Vox’s wife known online as “Spacebunny” continued to post on Gab and has been the target of much nastiness (and the source of much nastiness as well). I won’t quote the comments because they are ugly but here is a link http://web.archive.org/web/20170916235757/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/09/gab-wants-war.html
Vox response is:
“Gab wants war
And now Andrew Torba has publicly endorsed people attempting to doxx and SWAT his users despite the way in which doing so would clearly violate’s Gab’s Terms of Service. At this point, given the unprofessionalism and obvious lack of self-control being demonstrated by Andrew, I think it is safe to conclude that Gab is dead. It simply hasn’t stopped moving yet.”
Now I don’t know. I still think this has an air of two kids at the back of a classroom staging a fight just to annoy the teacher but maybe it is two kids at the back of a classroom staging a fight just to annoy the teacher who then get super mad at each other and start fighting for real.
Inter-fascist feuding continues off in the damp and sticky corners of the internet.
To recap on particulars after yesterday’s post aimed at the more abstract elements:
Vox Day is a self-proclaimed “alt-right” pundit with an extremist nationalism that is anti-free trade and which is based on a pseudo-scientific racist theory and which makes use of white supremacist slogans, talking points & antisemitic propaganda and which hails mass murderers/terrorists as heroes. Some people might look at that combination of beliefs and say “that’s a Nazi surely” but in a fit of pointless pedantry, I prefer “not technically a Nazi”. Vox isn’t a Nazi, like, for example, a large wallaby isn’t a small kangaroo.
- In the wake of Donald Trump being nominated by the GOP, the various disparate groups calling themselves “alt-right” (from ex-Gamergaters to rebranded Nazis – and assume an intersection in the Venn diagram) became more publically assertive. This led to various more overt factions developing including the “alt-lite” (e.g. Milo Yianopolous) as well as more overtly Nazi groups (e.g. around figures like Richard Spencer). Notably, Vox Day gets less attention on press coverage of these groups and he is still mostly known as the-guy-who-got-beaten-by-the-SF-nerds.
- Vox has an ongoing spat with the section of the alt-right that more overtly uses Nazi symbolism. Important to note that this is the PRIMARY point of difference – there’s a section of the alt-right that will use swastikas and Nazi salutes etc which merges seamlessly with neo-Nazi groups with more traditional ways of organising. The pro-authoritarian propaganda, the attacks on immigrants & immigration, the misogyny, the (shallow) critique of capitalism, anti-media, the pseudo-scientific racial theory and the general hatred of anyone and everyone on the left is largely indistinguishable from one group to the next. The primary point of difference is that Vox is mad at what he calls “the alt-reich” because they keep giving the game away: i.e. they make it hard for people like Vox to deny that they are actual Nazis because they go around saying the same things as Vox but do so while chanting “blood and soil” and waving swastikas.
- Vox has been engaging in various feuds as is his MO but aimed at other al-right fractions – mainly because they’ve been getting more attention but also because of they haven’t been pretending not to be Nazis hard enough. This feuding has resulted in him spending more time doing the why-nazis-are-really-leftists nonsense.
- This has spilt over into “Gab” a Twitter alternative for right wing trolls which advocates freedom of
trollingspeech. Because this is primarily an argument between people who think “cuck” is the high point of rhetoric, inevitably this has led to people on Gab calling Vox a ‘pedophile’. I should note that I’ve no reason to assume that Vox is a paedophile and calling him one is a shitty thing to do. While it is hypocritical of Vox to complain about it and I’ve zero sympathy for him, the fact remains that child sexual abuse is a serious topic that shouldn’t be used to score political points – which was also true when Vox was the one doing that.
- Vox is now saying that he isn’t suing Gab and he is also threatening them with legal action: http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/legal-update.html No, that doesn’t make sense. Hair splitting is important to Vox. Meanwhile, he is also saying that he isn’t threatening to destroy 4Chan’s /pol/ – the infamous troll resevoir. http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/pol-is-always-right.html
- Vox also has a new book out “SJWs always something something” – so maybe this is all just controversy marketing.
- tl dr: I think the distinction between a large wallaby and a small kangaroo is the shape of the ears or something.
The slow coalescence of various species of online misogyny and trolling into the modern crypto-fascist ‘Alt-Right’ has been entangled with a more general appeal for ‘free speech’ in odd circumstances. These kinds of appeals were often directed at internet comments sections and forums as arguments against community guidelines or in defence of those arguing for active discrimination or even violence against various groups. As appeals went, their purpose was primarily aimed at trying to fool liberals and conservatives into not taking action against people who were actively trying to disrupt online communities, harass vulnerable people or shout down opposing views – indeed actions that themselves were inimical to free speech.
It is why I call this view of ‘not even simplistic’ – it had no real coherent argument behind it or any sustainable principles that could be rationally applied to online communities or even IRrationally applied to online communities. For those who watched the Sad Puppy kerfuffle from 2015 or prior, you may have noted that initially many Sad Puppy websites would even pride themselves on their ‘free speech’ credentials and proudly declare how they never ban comments except in dire circumstances. By 2016 such policies were pretty much dead and gone – once Sad Puppy websites found they had people commenting who had contrary arguments, their tolerance for dissenting views rapidly diminished.
Of course just because ‘freeze peach’ was not, in general, a genuine appeal to the principles of others does not mean that many in the wider cloud of those adjacent to the Alt Right didn’t attempt to implement some kind of internet corporate-space notion of ‘free speech’ no matter how incoherent the notion was. And this is where our story starts in truth with Gab.
For those of you who don’t know, Gab is a kind of alternate Twitter, established for the express purpose of providing an alternative service for those (such as Milo Yianopoulos) banned by Twitter for breach of community guidelines. Pretty much immediately Gab discovered that ‘free speech’ is an almost empty phrase and enacted guidelines that necessarily restrict what people can say:
“Gab’s mission is to put people and free speech first. We believe that the only valid form of censorship is an individual’s own choice to opt-out. Gab empowers users to filter and remove unwanted followers, words, phrases, and topics they do not want to see in their feeds. However, we do take steps to protect ourselves and our users from illegal activity, spam, and abuse.” https://gab.ai/about/guidelines
So, yes, Gab has rules (just like everybody else) that allows them to remove comments and ban users because of what they say. ‘Free speech’ here really means that they will tolerate *some* kinds of abusive comments or behaviour regardless of whether that impacts on how freely others feel they can speak.
It is an approach that can best be described as a bad idea. Communities of people naturally set up rules of behaviour and interaction – sometimes informal ones and sometimes formal ones. Gab is trying to keep those rules to a minimum and inevitable that means tears before bedtime because sooner or later…http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/the-three-types-of-free-speech.html
Well, because sooner or later, letting people say what they like means that the big old mean bullies find themselves on the receiving end of nasty, defamatory, harassing comments that appear to be an attempt to silence them. In this case, our old ‘friend’ Vox Day is rightfully (if hypocritically) upset because of a trolling campaign against him by different factions of the alt-right calling him a ‘pedophile’.
Well, I doubt any of the readers of this blog feel much sympathy for Vox being hoist on his own petard but the enemy of your enemy is not actually your friend when it comes to inter-factional in-fighting. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy moments like this when Vox Day himself ends up saying:
“As a Gab supporter, I certainly don’t wish to harm Gab in any way; this sort of situation is precisely why I previously advised Andrew to adopt a ban-on-sight policy towards known trolls and troublemakers.”
I can’t think of any more clear an unambiguous endorsement of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s decision to expel Vox Day from their membership. Ban-on-sight known trolls and troublemakers – I’m a bit (but not a lot) more tolerant of trolls than that but then that’s because I actually care about people’s freedom to be able to express their views.
I previously pointed to an article on people manipulating Amazon rankings for their books, today there is a bigger brouhaha on whether somebody has manipulated the New York Time bestseller list: http://www.pajiba.com/book_reviews/did-this-book-buy-its-way-onto-the-new-york-times-bestseller-list.php The method used (if true) isn’t new and political books have been prone to this approach before i.e. buy lots of the book from the right bookshops and head up the rankings.
One thing new to me from those articles was this site: http://fakespot.com/about It claims to be a site that will analyse reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp and then rate the reviews in terms of how “fake” they seem to be. The mechanism looks at reviewers and review content and looks for relations with other reviews, and also rates reviewers who only ever give positive reviews lower. Now, I don’t know if their methods are sound or reliable, so take the rest of this with a pinch of salt for the time being.
Time to plug some things into their machine but what! Steve J No-Relation Wright has very bravely volunteered to start reading Vox Day’s epic fantasy book because it was available for $0 ( https://stevejwright.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/a-throne-of-bones-by-vox-day-preamble-on-managing-expectations/ ) and so why not see what Fakespot has to say about “Throne of Bones” http://fakespot.com/product/a-throne-of-bones-arts-of-dark-and-light
Ouch…but to some extent, we already know that the comment section of Vox’s blog is full of willing volunteers ready to do sycophanting stuff and/or trolling/griefing at Vox’s request. Arguably those are genuine reviews, just that they are hard to distinguish between click-farm fakery. Think of it as a kind of Turing Test, which his right-wing minions repeatedly fail by acting like…well, minions.
How reliable is this? There’s no easy way to tell. As a side-by-side experiment I put in Castalia’s attempt at spoiler campaign versus the mainstream SF book they were trying to spoil:
Ironically, the reviews that Vox complains about, probably improve the Fakespot rating of the reviews – i.e. many negative reviews from people will make the rating of the quality of the reviews better. I also don’t see a way in general of Fakespot distinguishing between fake NEGATIVE reviews -i.e. showing that the poor ratings of a book aren’t genuine.
[A note of caution: the site doesn’t re-analyse automatically so the analysis you get may be out of date. The initial ratings for those two books were different but changed when I clicked the option to re-analyse]
I also don’t see a way in general of Fakespot distinguishing between fake NEGATIVE reviews -i.e. showing that the poor ratings of a book aren’t genuine. The basic report seems to assume that fake reviews are for the purpose of the seller artificially boosting a book rather than somebody maliciously trying to make a book look bad.
File770 has a round-up of the Dragon Award antics from the Puppy and Scrappy quarters today: http://file770.com/?p=36848
The short version. Two authors have asked to withdraw:
- Alison Littlewood – who was an unwilling nominee on the Rabid Puppy slate and doesn’t want her book or her name associated with it.
- John Scalzi – who took one look at Brian Niemeier’s vote-against-SJWScalzi-by-voting-for-me tactic and gave a big ‘nope’ and walked away.
Alison Littlewood has published the response she received from Pat Henry – the president of Dragon Con. There are three things of note.
Firstly, they aren’t going to withdraw either author from the ballot – this isn’t a surprise because logistically they really have no easy way of doing so. They have already sent out Survey Monkey ballots (prior to publically stating the nominees) and so to withdraw authors they would have to restart the process. Given the assumption that the whole award is being run by a couple of people with little support (hence the odd behaviour around the website) they probably don’t have the time or resources to do so. Note Dragon Con itself has the money and resources to do so – they just aren’t going to spend it on the Dragon Awards.
The second thing of note is this bizarre statement of false equivalence: “We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors. ” As others have pointed out not only is there no evidence of “justice warriors” trying to effect the vote with ‘ballot stuffing’ or ‘vote rigging’ there is ZERO evidence of any left-wing campaign to get any votes in the Dragon Awards. The SF-left, such that it is, has been dismissive of the awards. Meanwhile, the Rabid Puppy slate was there for all to see – just some basic commitment to facts would be nice.
The third thing has been less commented on: “The original purpose of the Dragon Awards was not so much as awards but as a quality reading list.” This original purpose has not been well stated before but there are aspects of the awards that point to it. For example, in the “Process” tab of the site, we have this: http://web.archive.org/web/20170809184831/http://awards.dragoncon.org/the-process/
“During the award nomination period, we will regularly send lists and information about your most popular choices.”
Of course, nothing remotely like this has happened. Also, the 2016 nominee list has been disappeared from the Dragon Award website entirely.
Update: The Verge has some good coverage and more Dragon Con response https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/9/16118054/john-scalzi-alison-littlewood-dragon-awards-controversy-sci-fi-horror
Dragon Award winner and guy worried about demons, Brian Niemeier also has things to say about Sad Puppies V. It starts diplomatically enough: http://www.brianniemeier.com/2017/06/dragon-big-you-small.html
“When Sad Puppies V leader Sarah Hoyt explained why SP didn’t release a list of recommendations in time for this year’s awards season, several folks in the Puppy scene voiced dissatisfaction with her rationale.
Me? I read both sides’ arguments, tried to see the issue from the major players’ perspectives, and was satisfied that I’d gotten a decent handle on the group dynamics at work. Even if I disagreed with a particular call, it was easy to understand where the party who made it was coming from.”
However, astute readers will have noted that in Hoyt’s earlier piece she made some comments about the Dragon Awards – essentially saying that they are an award for big writers and that some maybe less deserving people won in 2016 because the award was just starting. Of course Brian Niemmeier fits that discription (or at least a lot more so than Larry Correia whose success is undeniable). So Brian N has somethings to say about that:
“Full disclosure: I firmly believe that for any author, comparing yourself to another author is a sure path to insanity. I’m a live and let live kind of guy. You can take shots at me all day, and I’ll take it in stride.
But if this blog has established nothing else, it’s that no one gets to mess with my readers.
Remember: Sarah tried to DISQUALIFY! my readers who made Souldancer the first ever Dragon Award winner for Best Horror Novel. She implied that their choice was just a fluke–an early bug in the system that will surely be worked out in time.
Sarah thinks that you, dear reader, made a mistake. You gave a Dragon Award to an unworthy “small name” author. And don’t forget, she based her assessment on Amazon sales rankings.”
Of course Sarah Hoyt has thought this through a bit further than Brian. Mind you Brian isn’t neccesarily attached to the multiple layers of claims and ad-hoc rationales of the Sad Puppy movement.
Back with the Sad Pups, we had claims from wayyyy back that award votes were just subjective opinion (i.e. there is no broad sense of quality beyond an individual except maybe sales).
More recently, and from many quarters of puppydom, claims that the numbers who voted in the Dragon Awards must be huge because Dragon*Con is huge. Yes, that argument is innumerate as eligibility to vote in the Dragons isn’t connected to Dragon membership (in theory the number of voters could be much bigger than Dragon*Con membership) nor was the award well publicised to Dragon*Con attendees last time (i.e. theire is no reason to think many of them voted). However, *IF* the Dragons are meant to be a huge award with many people voting then regardless of how wonderful Brian’s readers are, or even how good his book might be, Hoyt’s right that it winning the award is a fluke. The answer is obviously that not many people voted in the awards which is why a relatively obscure (sorry Brian) science fiction story could win “Best Horror Novel”.
Hoyt’s comment is aspirational for the Dragon Awards: i.e. the hope and expectation (possibly misguided) that they will become big. Unfortunately wins like Brian Neimmeier’sare good for him but not particulalry good for the awards.
Some other anti-Hoyt comment are here:
and this one that Doris spotted earlier http://jimfear138.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/done-with-dead-puppies.html
Why yes, now that you mention it, all these anti-Hoyt pieces are coming from people of the mannish less-than-50% of humanity.
Ok I take that comment back: http://dawnwitzke.com/index.php/2017/06/25/omsg-i-need-a-nap/ although this is less directed at Hoyt personally.
*I prefer to name groups by how they name themselves but the latest version of Puppyness arising out of the fading away of the Sad Puppy brand doesn’t have a name of their own. Based on my earlier post on recent events, I think “The Scrappy Doos” is a decent moniker to cover a more disperate phenomanon.
Firstly it carries on the puppy theme, secondly it encapsulates the relative threat level compared to other incarnations and thirdly it is a handy metaphor for the disconnect between how cool Scrappy thinks he is compared to how annoying he actually is.
Anyway, some people like Scrappy, so I hope it isn’t too demeaning a name and currently I don’t have a better label.
Compared with the Sads and Rabids, the Scrappy Doos are not a coordinated group, they may or may not have been involved with either Sad or Rabids campaigns in the past but if they were they would have been on the periphery. They tend not to make strong distinctions between the Sad and Rabid campaigns and can be seen as ‘monopuppists’ (i.e. the idea that really the two campaigns were one campaign in different forms). They tend to be more overt in their self-promotion. Just as the Sad Puppies were incorrectly described as being a group of Mormon men, the Scrappy Doos may be incorrectly decsribed as Catholic men.
In terms of existing movements they are closest to the Superversive movement and the Pulp Revolutions movement. Those two movements* can be seen as offshoots of the Rabid Puppies but this can be misleading. The Rabids had a core of straight Alt-Right griefers willing to do exactly what Vox Day told them to do for the lulz. Superversive began independently of the Rabids but has attached itself to Castalia for promotion and is focused on literary works (although of a right leaning nature). Pulp Revolution arose from the Castalia House blog and hence is more closely connected to Rabid Puppies but again is not the same as the griefing group.
[eta – paragraph went astray] Whereas the Rabids collectively were not particularly interested in the field of SFF, the Scrappy-Doos have more in common with the Sad Puppies in so far as they tend to be actively involved in writing, publishing and books. In this sense they are more like other groupings in fandom. However, where significant voices in Sad Puppies (Correia, Torgersen, Hoyt, Freer) had had some success in trad-publishing (mainly centred around Baen Books), the Scrappy Doos are involved with small publishing groups or self-published.
Time for an info-graphic.
Names at the top indicate people who helped establish entities below. Dotted lines imply some degree of association. Arrowed lines imply on-going activity. Pink boxes are websites around which quasi-groups have formed organically to some degree. [eta: graphic tweaked a bit]
*[I’m using the word ‘movement’ generously here – we aren’t talking about huge numbers of people. ‘Tens’ rather than ‘hundreds’ I think]