I’m weighing in on this “Sad Puppies” business, because it illustrates a point that, I am sorry to say, needs to be hammered in like a railway spike.
First, some background. The “Sad Puppies” campaign originated with the “Hugo” awards. If you have any background in scifi/fantasy fandom, you may vaguely recall a cover with “Nominated for the Hugo” or “Winner of the Hugo and Nebula” written prominently as though this was supposed to mean something. The award is given by the World Science Fiction Society each year, and that is really all there is to it.
Author Larry Correia (not read him, yet) attended one of their cons when he was starting out, and what he found was what he described as a whispering campaign against one of his books. Not because of the book, mind you, but because of his politics. Hence he was smeared as racist, misogynist, homophobe and all the rest of I – to the point that his wife started getting concerned phone calls from people worried that she was living with a wife beater.
All of this is drearily familiar to anyone who has experienced the tolerance and fairness of the western left, above all the American left. The bad faith, the vicious insults, the attitude of throw anything at all and hope some of it sticks – it’s boring and routine at this point. Forget those of us who are loud and proud rightists, we’ve seen this guff dished out against such bona fide lefties as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens…
In effect, anyone who didn’t toe the extremely thin and boring line of the US center-left was being ostracized and kept out of the awards – there were apparently organized cliques getting together to work out what books to nominate and put forward, and that decision was strongly driven by politics (shocking). However, the Hugo nominations are open to all those who join the WSFS for a modest fee, so Correia decided to mount a little payback. He asked his fans to join and to put up some right wing and conservative authors, predicting that the WSFS establishment would have hysterics. The panel of books to be nominated was called “Sad Puppies”.
The general feel of this can be found the following article from Entertainment Weekly, which originally wrote:
The Hugo Awards have fallen victim to a campaign in which misogynist groups lobbied to nominate only white males for the science fiction book awards. These groups, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies (both of which are affiliated with last year’s GamerGate scandal), urged sci-fi fans to become members of the Hugo Awards’ voting body, World Science Fiction Convention, in order to cast votes against female writers and writers of color.
And then had to add:
CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.
Again, so far so typical. The position that it is fine to lie, and throw any old dirt, and that this is fine provided it is done by SJWs is openly articulated by more than a few SJWs, especially stateside. One particularly ripe example is Stanley Fish (a name Woodehouse would have trouble bettering), an “American literary theorist, legal scholar, author and public intellectual” who gives “two cheers for double standards” saying that it is absolutely okay for the US left to throw any dirt, any insult and any lie, but not for the right to do so, because the left is in the right and the right is in the wrong. Via SlateStarCodex, I also find the following from Arthur Chu (who is a particularly ripe example of the breed):
[I]f you *really* want to be the kind of person who wins you have to actually care about winning something, which means you have to have politics, which means you have to embrace “politics the mindkiller” and “politics is war and arguments are soldiers”, and Scott would clearly rather spend the rest of his life losing than do this.
That post [the one debunking false rape statistics] is exactly my problem with Scott. He seems to honestly think that it’s a worthwhile use of his time, energy and mental effort to download evil people’s evil worldviews into his mind and try to analytically debate them with statistics and cost-benefit analyses.
He gets *mad* at people whom he detachedly intellectually agrees with but who are willing to back up their beliefs with war and fire rather than pussyfooting around with debate-team nonsense.
It honestly makes me kind of sick. It is exactly the kind of thing that “social justice” activists like me *intend* to attack and “trigger” when we use “triggery” catchphrases about the mewling pusillanimity of privileged white allies.
Scott Alexander accurately characterizes this as:
In other words, if a fight is important to you, fight nasty. If that means lying, lie. If that means insults, insult. If that means silencing people, silence.
Again, anyone on the right knows what this is like. Offend the Left and be prepared for the most venomous and dishonest smear campaign. For that matter, you don’t have to be on the right to have this happen. The Hitch was still solidly Trotskyist and socialist when he attacked Bill Clinton for Clinton’s pandering to racism, homophobia, indulgence of corrupt megacorps, abuse of power, and abuse of women – things that the Left at least says it cares about. I’ve not forgotten it.
Reading Hitchens’ riveting indictment stirred unexpected feelings of nostalgia in me for the left I had once been part of. Not the actual left that I came to know and reject, but the idealistic left of my youth, when I thought our mission was to be the nation’s “conscience,” to speak truth to power in the name of what was just.
That said, I find that even I was shocked to find that when Brad R Torgesen was smeared as a racist (routine), and he revealed that he is in a mixed race marriage, the SJWs types decided to double down and say “Well, that proves nothing… after all I’m not saying that he is, just that he might be…”
So given this backstory, I was rather cheered to find that the Sad Puppies panel promptly swept the nominations. I was even pleased to see that the Rabid Puppies spin off, organized by an out and out racialist and reactionary, won hard.
Why the Hugos are meaningless
Before I go on, let me say that I don’t give a damn about literary awards. I’m a reader, not a writer, so I have no financial interest in the awards, and that is the only reason anyone should be interested in them. I’m only interested in good books – words put together on paper in a new and interesting way.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that getting an award is a bad thing or that they only go to crappy authors. Obviously not – Neil Gaiman and Harlan Ellison have won multiple Hugos and V.S. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for literature. But on the other hand, neither Nabokov nor Borges ever won the Nobel Prize in literature, and Ray Bradbury never won a Hugo, and Terry Pratchett, Michael Moorcock and J.G. Ballard were never even nominated.
So, yeah. For someone who cares about writing and literature, the awards are irrelevant.
Real Diversity versus Phony Diversity
This piece of stupidity is being hawked around facebook and other sites. It’s a challenge to “Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year”.
I’m thinking over the authors I’ve read that I would not do without, and when I think about it, they are a pretty “diverse” bunch. Jorge Louis Borges. Alexander Dumas. H.P. Lovecraft. Harlan Ellison. V.S. Naipaul. Proust. Ayn Rand. Saki. Mary Renault. And so on.
The thing is, I didn’t choose any of those authors on the grounds of skin color, sexual orientation etc. I chose them because they could write well. They have genuine diversity, a diversity of thought. As I once had to write, a person of self-respect despises being reduced to his physical characteristics. Case in point, despite the fact that The Persian Boy is considered one of the milestones of gay literature, Renault tried to avoid the label of “gay writer”. She was a writer, simple.
(Incidentally, for all you Game of Thrones fans, upgrade your reading and try Renault’s historical fantasy. You have no idea what you’re missing out on).
Don’t make threats you can’t back up
That brings me back to the reason I’m enjoying this. It is simply that I enjoy watching SJWs discover that hatred, spite and viciousness are really bad tactics, especially when you have nothing to back them up with.
Now having focused on the utterly unjust accusations made, let me take an example where the accusations had some merit, namely V.S. Naipaul.
(Naipaul is probably one of the ten best living writers in the English language, and, as I’ve said before, reading his stuff can make you a better person).
I was actually in the audience (on a date, of all things) when Naipaul made his famous announcement that no woman writer was his equal, and that this was because of women’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”, and that “And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.” and that “My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”
So – cue the prolonged outrage and hysteria. And what was the result?
The Perennially Indignant failed to grasp one thing: he’s Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, and they’re not. He’s one of the ten best living writers of English prose, and they’re not.
So it doesn’t matter how hurt and huffy people get, ten, twenty, fifty years from now A Bend in the River is still going to be an amazing book and nothing any SJW type says can change that.
(For that matter, no matter what Naipaul says, Renault will always be read by the discerning).
Despite all their viciousness, SJWs are paper tigers. When it comes down to the knuckle, they just cannot hold any determined opposition. That’s why I was amused to see that the (apparently openly racialist) Vox Day has swept through the system. Racialists are not that hard to deal with – and yet they routinely trounce people who think that being loud and upset is a substitute for being right.
[W]hile I am disappointed in the neoreactionaries, my contempt for the liberal mainstream has been deepened immeasurably. Seriously, you guys are being cut up and humiliated by this?
Now usually in these issues, I wind up by pointing out that this is dangerous, because it opens up the field to truly scary types. That’s not true here – as I’ve said, awards are pretty meaningless, so we’re not really playing for high stakes. Just a word of warning: if you are relying on SJWs to defend issues that actually matter – anti-racialism, women’s emancipation, free speech, the defense of civilization – you are relying on people who cannot even rig an award competently.