Thursday, February 27, 2014

Well, this is new...

I've never been accused of being a Politically Correct Diversity Weenie before; this feels new and strange. Why has this happened?

Allow me to put on my "Speaker To Dorks" hat for a minute. And if you get that, you should be a little embarrased.

My normal readers may not be aware that there is an ongoing flap in the Parliament of Nerds that is the community of SF (that's Science Fiction here, not Special Forces) writers and their orbit of hangers-on and wannabes. I have not been following it closely, but it has consumed a goodly portion of the bandwidth of sites dedicated to those topics for months. Because of this apparently everything on the internets, including my post from the other day about the Planet of Hats trope, is being viewed through this lens by the participants.

Now Sarah Hoyt, who I will admit I haven't read and so have no clue what she's all about, is apparently sending out email fire missions to rebut... what she thinks I wrote. Which was apparently a cri de couer for Diversity Rainbow Message Fic or something, rather than a comment that people don't seem to be so hot at imagining The Other as real, three-dimensional individuals because... well, we just don't. Dunbar's Number and all that.

Apparently some people got a raging case of butthurt at my use of the word "bigot" because they're uncomfortable with their paleolithic underpinnings or something? I dunno. This is why I don't go to sci-fi conventions and rennfairs anymore, though. Most of these people didn't get half the swirlies they had coming.

I commented over there:
What a great Rorschach blot of a post that turned out to be. Some people look at an inkblot and see a clown face, others see two nuns having sex with a Shetland pony on a rubber sheet.

Why does the mention that humans are xenophobic bigots who view outsiders as something other than real people make folks so defensive? It’s merely a fact.

You people are so wound up over SFWA WTF-ery that you’re drawn into a defensive circle and shooting at shadows.
Oh, and thanks to an Instalanche the comments section from my post has picked up near a hundred comments overnight, turning into what PDB so aptly called "Comic Book Guy Thunderdome". Because don't you dare make offhand comments about D&D or Star Trek that are not 100% approving and absolutely technically correct, you... you... Mundane, you!

64 comments:

Ancient Woodsman said...

"Most of these people didn't get half the swirlies they had coming, though." That there gem of a sentence pretty much explains the whole shebang.

On a side not, I didn't comment on that previous post long before not commenting on that previous post was cool. There's nothing quite so entertaining like watching the other guy get his knickers in an irretrievable twist over something, especially when his doing so validates your point for you.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to see the reaction to your post.
I'm going to keep on being a hermit I think.

Allen

the gripping hand said...

The Hindmost is never embarrassed. You want the tasp again?

Anonymous said...

Kulturkamph is so boring.

Allen

GreyLocke said...

W T F?!

Baker M. Romeo said...

My comment there is "awaiting moderation". In the event that it goes down the memory hole, here is reproduced my responde to Mr. Martin Shoemaker:
'Suggesting that Tamara is a “Progressive” or is suffering from “Progressive outrage” is, and this is no hyperbole, the most ludicrous thought a human being can possibly have. The point of the post that I took away from it is that tropes in our fiction reflect how we function as creatures. We have a limited amount of processing power, and pigeonholing and stereotyping help us come to conclusions quickly, from an evolutionary background where coming to a usually-correct conclusion faster than the other guy meant getting fed or getting dead.

Hey, that one episode of Babylon 5 where each species on the station has a cultural exhibition, and they each have exactly one culture and one religion represented, and then the smarmy station commander introduces a hojillion people from culturally and religiously distinct places? Yeah. “We” are individuals, no two of us are alike. “You people” all look the same. Saying “all Centauri look and act the same” is coming from a similar place to “all y’all colored folks looks the same to me” and if the latter is bigotry, then the former is bigotry. You can recognize that without suffering from “progressive outrage”.'

Mike_C said...

I take back my prior comment about lancing a boil of geekery*. It now appears that you have discovered multiple, loculated abscesses, all of which are draining exuberantly. Strong work, Dr Keel!

*In my own defense the "boil" remark was meant in the context of remembering stuff about D+D, solely. Tossing another briquet on the original little campfire of RPGs (now barely visible thanks to the new conflagration of Diversity Rainbow Warrior Tam**), anyone remember that cheerful rip-off/hommage of/to D+D known as Tunnels and Trolls? (Yay Ken St. Andre!)

** I bet you liked that Superbowl Coke ad too. Hmph.

All the footnotes? Sorry, taking a break from working on some academic papers and having trouble with context switching.... Back to the pubmed and word-processor mines.

Robin said...

Not sure about Kate, who I think you have more in common with than you realize, but I am pretty sure that Sarah was not trying to arrange hostile fire against you.

Tam said...

Robin,

"Not sure about Kate, who I think you have more in common with than you realize..."

Um, I think you meant "than she realizes". ;)

pax said...

"If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you: but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." – Don Marquis

Robin said...

Oh, I strongly agree Tam. Sarah and Kate and you ... all good people. The SFWA kerfluffle has their dander up especially closer to home for them.

Keith said...

So Tam does this mean you get a new hat?

Walter Daniels said...

Sarah, and others, reacted the way they have for one reason. Referring back to your comment about "I quit going to con's and rennfaires, for this reason." Now, I admit that I don't know you personally, so it could just be your style, but you come across as _very_ judgmental. The same "qualities" you condemn *all* fans and Rennies for having. Maybe it's accidental, of just bad places, but I haven't seen a lot of what you rail against. Yes, it's there, but not in the pervasiveness you claim to have found.
Of course, there are "authenticity Nazis" in both, because they are so insecure that they find their validations in it. But, there is a difference between that, and pointing out genuine stupidities in behavior/plotting/dialogue. I quit watching Helix (on SYFY) after the first episode, for a good reason. _4_ "bridge over the chasm of disbelief" shattering events in *40 minutes.*
Certainly, you're accusing Sarah, and others, of the same things you are doing, doesn't make your stand any better. Valid though it may have been at tone time.

Tam said...

Walter Daniels,

"Sarah, and others, reacted the way they have for one reason. Referring back to your comment about "I quit going to con's and rennfaires, for this reason.""

So now they're precogs? Awesome! :D

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Heh. You know your indian mame? I think it applies here.

'Cause I know Sarah, and she sent that article forward in high amusement... only to get taken the wrong way.

*sigh*

RevolverRob said...

Gee, I'm confused, I liked the post. I mean it used a wonderful analogy to illustrate the true nature of humans. But then, I teach evolutionary biology, so I'm well versed in "ostrich syndrome" and the resulting complaints from the crowd when they realize that humans...just aren't that special and gasp are fallible.

The best part to me is the ultimate irony, I but a bunch of them even believe they're wookie-suiters, but scream bloody murder if you insult their hokey religions.

-Rob

Baker M. Romeo said...

Failure to preact in time would doom them all!

Critter said...

As part Cherokee I now give you a new Indian name: Speaks Truth To Nerds.

Robin said...

Walter, that didn't help.

And Tam being "judgmental" is the best part!

Stephen said...

Snort...Tam, you make my day.

Joseph said...

I absolutely hate that geek culture has become mainstream. Back in the day, you knew enough not to talk about your freaky predilections for D&D, Dr. Who, Dr. Demento, Comic Books and Star Trek/Wars.

It's a damn shame.

J.R.Shirley said...

Orson Scott Card reference? Dunno why I shoud be embarrassed- I seem much less nerdly than many of your readers.

(Put otherwise: I don't give a #%&* about elves.)

John

J.R.Shirley said...

Orson Scott Card reference? Dunno why I shoud be embarrassed- I seem much less nerdly than many of your readers.

(Put otherwise: I don't give a #%&* about elves.)

John

Robin said...

Tam, I have to say that the reactions were beyond my expectations for these two posts. Your Indian name never so earned.

Well played. Truly well played. I am in awe.

fast richard said...

I don't think I have time to go down that rabbit hole. This little side description is entertaining though. The easily offended are everywhere.

billf said...

Huh...I am a daily reader of VFTP,but only for the political and gun-nut posts.I confess I don't have the slightest idea who or what the latest internet/cartoon warfare/nerdisms are,but it's fun to watch from the sidelines as y'all get all butthurt about it.

Windy Wilson said...

I think her Indian name is "Expects sense from Leftists".
Aren't people on the Aspie spectrum less able to generalize to some degree or another? Excessive stereotyping is just at one end of the spectrum; worrying that (to reference S.I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action) "Nazi 1 is not Nazi 2 is not Nazi 3", in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge when those guys in the funny uniforms are shooting at you is at the other. I think the SF people who are activated about this contretemps fall too closely to the second example.

nelc said...

Indian name? I thought it was a Kzinti name....

Tam said...

Hi, Random New Pseudonymous Commenter!

Longstanding joke around here that my Indian name is "Tells Jokes To Aspies", which has nothing to do with the Niven joke in this post.

Kristophr said...

It looks like you caught the attention of the Reactosphere, Tam.

Anything that can be interpreted as even slightly smelling of PC is like waving a red flag in front of them.

Vox Day is a part of that group, and his war with Rapey-boy Scalzi at the SFWA is apparently causing loose arty rounds to fall in your general direction.

Information about them is available on one of the earlier posts on my blog.

Some of them are damned smart and very interesting. Some of them are utter retards. Like all large groups of humans, I guess.

Tam said...

I'm familiar with the Dork Enlightenment, yes.

Kristophr said...

( chokes on drink, avoids eminent keyboard drowning )

Damien Sullivan said...

"This is why I don't go to sci-fi conventions and rennfairs anymore, though"

Boston-area cons like Arisia, Boskone, and Readercon are pretty pro-diversity these days. Speaking of stereotypes...

I'll give Babylon-5 a bit of credit: we did get a hint of multiple Narn religions. (Na'toth didn't follow G'kar's religion.) The others were more mono, though the Centauri were an old global empire and the Minbari were manipulated by the Vorlons, so you can rationalize it... I'd indict him more for not showing a worker caste Minbari speaking ever once, even though we got human labor union issues early in 1st season.

John Ford and Diane Duane fleshed out the Klingons and Romulans in novels. Still monocultural in the way that almost any 1400 European would be Christian, but more diversity of roles and people and political opinions.

Goober said...

http://notboutthing.blogspot.com/2014/02/sci-fi-imagination-failures.html

Well, Tam, if you riled them up, this ought to add fuel to the fire. You tickled my muse,so I totally stole your idea...

Tam said...

Damien Sullivan,

"Boston-area cons like Arisia, Boskone, and Readercon are pretty pro-diversity these days."

If you look up really quick right now, you might get a glimpse of my point as it flashes by overhead.

Sigivald said...

I stopped going to SF conventions over a decade ago because by the time I even got in the lobby I was feeling half-homicidal at the utter lack of social skills involved.

("This is a walkway; please don't stop in the middle of it to have your Very Important Discussion, blocking it.")

Sigivald said...

Also, on main topic - there's no reason real aliens can't be much more homogenous than humans.

Arguably being a monoculture would make them far more truly alien than would making them as different between each-other as we are... you could do some awesome Hard SF along those lines.

[I'm sure someone has, in fact, but I don't know who or when.]

But that doesn't work against the examples you gave, because, well... the examples are of convenient shorthands that are the exact equivalent of national or ethnic stereotypes from human history.

Roddenberry was a hack, and so was Lucas, e.g.

Bobsyeruncle said...

Every time there is an enormous kerfuffle over some sort of idea or trope in a work of fiction I feel the urgent need to beat heads with a shovel and scream, IT WAS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE AN INTERESTING STORY. IT'S NOT REAL YOU FOOLS!!

Tam said...

You'd best put that shovel down, dude.

OldTexan said...

Wow, how many dwarfs can dance on the head of a lizard. I too am a daily reader of Tam's site and this uproar is way too funny. I love her humor, gun sense and take on politics so it great to see he poke people in their fantasy.

global village idiot said...

(apologies to those of you who've seen this elsewhere but it seems appropriate)

I once had to explain Trekkies to my 4-year old daughter when we were at an event which the region's fan club also attended.

If you don't have kids, it might be hard to appreciate the difficulty associated with explaining such an organization to a pre-schooler. Take my word for it, though - it isn't easy, particularly when a couple such fans are seated nearby, listening INTENTLY to whether you portray them in a positive, negative or (nearly as bad) neutral light.

I ended up telling her, after several attempts which went right over her head, that "Star Trek People" were people who liked to pretend they were part of a tv show about adventures in outer space.

She looked at the Trekkies, then at me, and the look on her face clearly communicated her continued
bewilderment - I somehow MUST be mistaken. "But, Dad..." she finally replied, "They're GROWN-UPS!"

I will take the looks on the faces of the two Trekkies to the grave.

There is no smackdown quite so devastating as one delivered unintentionally by a sincere 4-year old with pure intentions.

gvi

Matthew said...

I do take exception to your claim on Facebook (which I read this morning far too late to comment therein) that your use of "bigot" was "inadvertent."

To paraphrase B. Stinson: T Slick don't write nothin' inadvertently. ;)

NotClauswitz said...

The Caste system live and in action! In a certain society they are approaching the event-horizon where they would have their own endogamous "partition," - but that would be a much different Indian name, more like Tamanna Bhattacharya...

Roberta X, remotely. said...

Yes, Matthew, of course; Tam's been a secret Commie crypto-lib'ral all this time, as shown by her use of "bigot" and you've caught her out. Why, it's a damn wonder she hasn't murdered me in my sleep -- or sold my fair white bod to the balackamoors, yessireebobamarrooonie.

Gods, some days I regret blogging, ever.

Ron Merrell said...

I do believe you have achieved a degree of noteriety, Tam. Awesome.

You want me to be embarrassed about that? Sorry, actual geek here. I started reading Niven at 10.

I gave up on cons years back, after going, supporting, and helping to run the IT department. The degree of political squabbling and infighting at the local 'big' con made the average mayorial election look like a bun fight.

I do think you would make a most interesting Kzinti. I always thought it would be awesome to be recognized as someone who could - to some degree legally - rip you apart if given provocation.

Mike_C said...

[At Cons] I was feeling half-homicidal at the utter lack of social skills involved.
Funny, I felt that way about a certain magnificent Institute of Technology. The thing was, there wasn't a majority of the aggressively awkward, but a "sufficiently critical" mass to make mIT (sic) personally unbearable after a while. And that goes to Walter Daniels' remarks:
The same "qualities" you condemn *all* fans and Rennies for having. [...]

I don't recall any claim that all SF fans and Renfair-ites (Renfairies?) were whatever the accusation was supposed to be. It just takes enough people behaving unpleasantly or annoyingly that the benefit:want-to-take-a-firehose-to these-people ratio tips in favor of the firehose. And that's a good time to leave if you're already in that environment, and good reason to stay the hell away if you aren't already enmired in it. As an aside, the really scary thing was that CalTech transfers were easily picked out from the mIT background, because they were smart yet so nerdy.

@GVI: Haha! Sounds like you have a heck of a daughter. (From this and prior anecdotes.)


I think this is the first instance of someone pluralizing "dwarf" as "dwarfs" -- which is of course correct English. The whole "dwarves" thing everyone else has been using up until now is a Tolkien invention. IIRC he wanted to distinguish his people from "silly creatures" like Snow White's companions and the like.

Matthew said...

Roberta,

Forgive me if I'm missing fellow sarcasm, or wasn't clear I was referencing "How I Married Your Mother," but I was making a joke, not criticizing.

Robin said...

Roberta, do you think Tam could hook me up with her white slavery contacts? I got a little list....

Fodder4Thought said...

@Mike_C: Not to come off as contrarian,but the Great and Powerful Wiki suggests that the two spellings predated Tolkien, and that he merely popularized the less common of the two, despite being of the opinion that his usage was incorrect:

Modern English has two plurals for the word dwarf; dwarfs and dwarves. Dwarfs remains the most commonly employed plural. While recorded as early as 1818, the minority plural dwarves was popularized by the fiction of philologist and author J. R. R. Tolkien, originating as a mistake (hypercorrection) and employed by Tolkien since some time before 1917 (for Tolkien's beings, see Dwarf (Middle-earth)).[3] Regarding the plural, Tolkien wrote in 1937 that "I am afraid it is just a piece of private bad grammar, rather shocking in a philologist; but I shall have to go with it".[3]

OldTexan said...

It is a little known fact that Dwarves have feet that turn inward, kind of pigeon toed and Dwarfs have feet that turn outward and this dates back to an old middle English take off of the Germanic Indo-European phraseology not that it makes much difference here in Texas.

Roberta X said...

Matthew: Ahh, see, I never saw me no "How I Married Your Mother." I barely watch films and look at television only rarely; the TV shows after about 1970 I know even a little about can probably be counted on one hand.

Matthew said...

Roberta, I only know the reference as they use it in promos on FX, which plays Archer. I'm an indiscriminate sponge though so I pick stuff up.

"Barney here hits on roughly 20 girls a week."

Barney Stinson: "Whoa, it’s wayyy more than 20. And B. Smooth don’t do nothin’ roughly."

Buzz said...

Yes, Tam, you're judgmental, 'specially with regard to bargain gun buyers and folks that need a big shot of Gumout® in their brainpans.
So what?

Ecurb said...

Welp, the 7-day google results for SFWA were a giant "NOPE" warning that made me glad I stopped reading SF a long time ago.

But when it comes to people not understanding satire that takes a lot of context to figure out, you should probably make more allowances for all the petrol fumes hanging around before you flick out incendiary gems like:

"shove it up your ingonrant ass, fuckstick"

Mike_C said...

@ Fodder4Thought: Good thing I put in the weasel words "If I recall correctly" then! A quick Googling suggests I was remembering Appendix F from LOTR, namely the part that said: "It may be observed that in this book as in The Hobbit the form dwarves is used, although the dictionaries tell us that the plural of dwarf is dwarfs. It should be dwarrows (or dwerrows), if singular and pural had each gone its own way down the years, as have man and men, or goose and geese. But we no longer speak of a dwarf as often as we do of a man, or even of a goose, and memories have not been fresh enough among Men to keep hold of a special plural for a race now abandoned to folk-tales [...] But in the Third Age something of their old character and power is still glimpsed [...] It is to mark this that I have ventured to use the form dwarves, and remove them a little, perhaps, from the sillier tales of these latter days." /geek

Thanks for the clarification, OldTexan. I learn something new nearly every day here ;)

LabRat said...

The whole kerfuffle has been a pretty giant inkblot. I've only caught the fringe fire because I sensed that the whole thing would exhaust me and make me stop liking a number of writers whose work I love, but one of the side furors I did catch was some sort of Tor essay about how science fiction shouldn't mindlessly uphold gender binaries and how this was evidence of crypto liberal weenism.

MY reaction pretty much entirely boiled down to: If you're that outraged over the notion that science fiction writing could broadly do with being more imaginative, you've lost the argument right there. The best science fiction runs on tweaking and inverting notions, no matter whose ideology they may represent.

Ecurb said...

Most of the upset is because the type of people who enjoy Being In Charge and telling everyone what to do have gotten themselves elected/appointed to positions where they can do just that. You know, the kind of busybodies who flock to positions of petty power on neighborhood associations, school boards, convention committees, and guild and union offices.

So they're pushing an agenda, and the people who don't like bossiness are figuring out that in forswearing all the weapons of coercion, they've left themselves powerless except for petition and complaint. Griping like Lear is all they've got left.
It's the usual "libertarians don't do politics, so politics is done to them" problem, and assholes like Scalzi are taking full advantage of it.

Now that they've given up their voice in the organization, it'll be interesting to see how many choose exit over loyalty. How much coercive power to the SFWA union bosses actually have over members, and how valuable is membership in the organization?

Fodder4Thought said...

@Mike_C:

That's some quality geeking, right there.

Well done.

(not sarcasm, in case it's unclear)

Michael Z. Williamson said...

I'm not clear on the nature of the disagreement, since in my discussions with you both, you would agree about 90% with each other.

I think possibly it's because the debate over on Sarah's blog has been going on for months, and there's a context to it.

Gewehr98 said...

I go to geek school for a week, and come back to read all this. Still trying to figure out all the butthurt, but I also want to know what the starting bid on Bobbie was, and if there was a reserve price...

Old Surfer said...

Ecurb nailed it. Apparently the PC vermin staged a coup at SWFWA and are busy deciding what everyone should write, complete with diversity quotas for the LGLBT characters, because racist. Most of the PC brigade are mostly un or self published, and it's just not fair!
I suspect most of Sarah's mob like boomsticks and would be good in a pinch.

Blume said...

If your previous article was anything other than a pro-diversity rant against the bigoted old white guys in scifi and fantasy, then you failed in the execution. Like everyone pointed out in the discussion, it only looks bigoted if you saw one episode, read one book, or play one game of d&d. The archetypes are used for simplicities sake first and then over time greater complexity is added. It has nothing to do with being bigoted as human and everything to do with making your product easily digestible for the masses. Second using the word bigot is the same as using racist, sexist, or homophobe. It looks like your insulting to gain moral high ground. It's no wonder every body thought you were going on a pc rant.

Tam said...

Blume,

Thank you for your feedback. It is greatly appreciated and will help us improve our product in the future...

...you thin-skinned mouth-breathing simpleton.

ecurb said...

That was much funnier the first time. :(