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Ciaran Brennan
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Jared, I understand the feeling of being terrified by political parties or policies, but as someone who is more right than left, it's usually the progressives that scare me. Often I see that their ideas are motivated by good intentions, but I think their implementations would be disastrous. But not uncommonly, I sense a "kill the white hetero christian guy" animus, which makes me a bit defensive. I totally agree that there used to be fewer voices, and that helped consensus. There were also fewer and much more influential gate-keepers. How much of the Beatles' success can be attributed to Ed Sullivan, for instance? Who has a TV show that most of America watches at the same time now? Nobody. I think that a small set of editors, publishers, and reviewers had outsized influence on SciFi back in the day. It is discouraging and ironic that the Hugos have become so dysfunctional. After all the Utopian SciFi I read as a kid, with world peace and intergalactic federations and such, and what do we get? The War of the Nerds! Cheers to you too! I've enjoyed having a civil discussion on this.
One idea that might improve the Hugo voting slightly is to limit voting privileges to those who have registered for a few years in a row (or X out of Y years). Nominating privileges could be set to a higher standard. For example, limit voting to those who've registered 2 times out of the last 3 years (or 2 years in a row), and limit nominating to those who've registered 3 times out of 4 years (or 3 years in a row). That would not stop entrenched parties from battling over the awards. But it would limit the immediate effectiveness of campaigning and voter registration activities.
Jared, Have you actually researched the Tea Party or UKIP, instead of just believing what you read about them in the New York Times or The Guardian? I have a small amount of experience with the Tea Party - I've attended a few of their local meetings and a weekend training workshop out of curiosity. My impression was the attendees were mostly small government conservatives and/or classic liberals who believed in the principles of individual political and economic liberties, free markets (with some exceptions), civic engagement, and limited government powers. Not too different from the political philosophy of John Stuart Mill for the most part. I didn't encounter any overt racism or sexism, although there were some who opposed gay marriage on Christian principles. I specify "overt", because I don't want to impute derogatory motives to people who haven't stated them publicly. That's an easy thing to do, and effective when your primary tactic is to discredit and defame, but it is intellectually dishonest. As for 'not bigoted" - not many people achieve that. But a lot of people have elaborate justifications why it isn't bigotry when their side does it. I agree that it sucks that science fiction has now become as divisive and politicized as the rest of society. But how could it not? The "golden age" of science fiction was a part of the golden age of the post-war West, where there was more commonality in society across many dimensions of cultural and political belief. But now we're in the "Coming Apart" era. It's going to be hard not to choose sides.
I think the political analogy in the OP misses the mark. The politics of the Hugos aren't representative of the divisions in the Republican party - they are a microcosm of the political divisions throughout much of the Western world. The Sad Puppies are an example of a populist uprising of a disaffected group of conservative-leaning individuals who feel that their interests are being poorly served by the policies of the progressive elites. They are roughly analogous to the Tea Party in the U.S., UKIP in Great Britian, and Front Nationale in France. Contrary to the defamations of the progressive media, these organizations consist largely of right leaning but sensible and not overtly bigoted individuals. In the case of the Sad Puppies, this can be verified in the recent blog postings of their leaders Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia. However, the reputations of those three political organizations are sullied by their unsavory ultra-right fellow travelers. Such is the case with the Sad Puppies in the form of the Rabid Puppies, led by Theodore Beale. Like their political counterparts, the Sad Puppies have been roundly denounced, defamed, and libeled by the progressive media, such as the now largely retracted essay by Isabella Biedenharn at ew.com, or the spittle-flecked rant by Arthur Chu in Salon. I invite the reader to carefully examine those two essays and to notice the absence of factual analysis or moral reasoning, and an near exclusive reliance on ad hominem attacks, defamation, and social assassination. Also note the extreme expressions of contempt, and the apparently unjustified assumptions of intellectual and moral superiority. Now compare these to the sensible, modest and self aware writings on Torgersen's and Correia's blogs. These comparisons left me no doubt that the Sad Puppies are on the right side of this argument.
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Apr 8, 2015