Friday, February 21, 2014

Weird Tales of Fails and Shaming

This is the almost-final-draft of a section from a book about social justice warriors, identitarianism, and mobbing. For more information and links to other chapters, see How to Make a Social Justice Warrior.

Weird Tales of Fails and Shaming
• Rose Fox
• Those Who Require Hate Instead of Love
• Outrage Culture: the World of Social Justice Warcraft

Weird Tales of Fails and Shaming

WisCon is the only science fiction convention in North America that has an annual “people of color dinner” and a room designated as a “POC safer space” where whites are not invited. Though they do not have restrooms or water fountains labeled “colored”, WisCon is the North American science fiction convention where the Ku Klux Klan would feel most comfortable. (To be fair, the dinner and the room are not sponsored by WisCon. They’re only sanctioned, just like segregated proms hosted by parents rather than public schools.)

Though racial separation underlies Critical Race Theory, I was still surprised by the anti-miscegenation streak which erupted in 2012. Victoria Foyt’s Save the Pearls, an interracial romance set in a future society that discriminates against white people, was widely denounced as racist. When Marvin Kaye, editor of Weird Tales, declared it was not—it’s apparently the story of a white woman who falls in love with a black man and rejects her racism—Kaye’s defense created a second kerfuffle that resulted in the Weird Tales publisher removing Kaye’s announcement from their website.

Foyt made two choices that the warriors hated:

To survive on the future Earth’s surface, people must become human-animal hybrids. The bestial imagery applied to the black male was denounced as racist, even though the white woman also becomes a hybrid and, more importantly, using bestial language to describe male romantic figures is at least as old as the handling of Heathcliff.

In a promotional video for the book, a white girl appears in brown makeup to suggest all people are the same. Though nothing about her appearance was exaggerated to mock dark-skinned people, this was denounced as blackface.

In the comments at Weird Tales’ announcement that the story had been cancelled in response to the protest, Rose Fox said, “I’m dismayed that you took down Kaye’s post, thereby deleting the comments that were on it. I think it’s important to keep an archive of such things, so both you and others can learn from your mistakes.”

Any Maoist or McCarthyist would agree. Shaming sinners matters because others must know what awaits those who do not conform. Shaming is so important that customary rules of behavior are irrelevant. Rose Fox wrote in “Weird Tales: From Frying Pan to Fire” at her Publishers Weekly: Genreville blog, “While the ethics of reprinting personal emails are debatable...” and then reprinted a personal email to continue her attack on Kaye.

Her ethics did not include posting a comment I left: “The ethics of reprinting private correspondence are not debatable by ethical people.” To warriors, the only ethical question is whether sharing private correspondence will boost their google juice.

In “Weird Tales Goes Back in Time”, Fox wrote, “It is just barely possible that Foyt may have had the best of intentions and been genuinely taken aback when her book was called out for displaying her unconscious racism. Kaye, however, has no such excuse.”

Critical Race Theorists talk about unconscious racism because they believe all white people are racist. Therefore those who aren’t consciously racist must be unconsciously racist. You might think a conscious racist would be a Ku Klux Klan member, but as Fox illustrated, it’s only a white person like Kaye who disagrees with a warrior’s notion of what’s racist.

Warriors promote “unintentional racism” because it lets them tell their targets that they should be grateful for having their racism pointed out. What they don’t grasp is all racism is unintentional. Racists do what they do because they believe what they believe, not because they choose to be racist. No one wakes up and says, “Why, I think I’ll be racist today.”

Warriors are surprised when people aren’t grateful for being called out because they think the purpose of friendship is to help each other achieve ideological purity. When Charles A. Tan tweeted, “Wow. Lost a friend for taking a stance and criticizing them”, Rose Fox tweeted back, “I’m sorry your friend turned out not to be such a good friend.”

Warriors would do well to listen to Amanda Palmer, who was targeted by them several times. In “real feminists don’t gaze at males”, she told people trying to promote feminism, “if you’re trying to turn your friends into feminists, i think you’re taking the wrong tack. i would back up and start off by not trying to turn them into ANYTHING…this is how we got into this whole mess in the first place.”

• Rose Fox

• Private schools: Hunter College High School, New York University

• Race: White

Fox says on her LiveJournal, “I live in a beautiful northern Manhattan apartment and have two cats, five laptops, and thousands and thousands of books. I frequently travel and host other travelers. ... My sanity requires that I live in either New York or London (Tokyo might also be tolerable)...I have no college degrees and at this point don’t really feel a need for any.”

Her father is Charles Platt. Wikipedia describes him as “an author, journalist and computer programmer. He relocated from England to the United States during 1970, is a naturalized U.S. citizen and has one daughter, Rose Fox. Platt is the nephew of Robert Platt, Baron Platt of Grindleford.”

Richard Cusick in Bugfuck! says Platt “divided his time between a London flat in the Kensington district and a New York City apartment on Patchin Place” in the 1960s. Jane McKenzie mentioned Platt’s “Public School mentality” which, in American English, translates to “Prep School mentality.”

This, from his Wikipedia entry, amused me: “In a review of a book (Hammer’s Slammers) by David Drake, Platt asserted that Drake wouldn’t write such “queasy voyeurism” if he had really seen war. Drake, a Vietnam veteran, has since taken to including despicable characters named “Platt” in his writings.”

Fox should not be judged by her father, of course. It may be the only trait they share is a strong sense of entitlement.

• Those Who Require Hate Instead of Love

“The interwebs have far too many wannabe undergrad/grad lit-crit radfem queer-theory politicos out to nail ‘race-gender-class-fail’ even if it means becoming exactly what they think they hate, and I, for one, couldn’t care less what they believe. They are Nil. Remember how the Wicked Witch of the West met her end in Victor Fleming’s 1939 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz? Well, toss a bucket of indifference on these fools, same thing happens.” —Caitlin R. Kiernan

After Racefail, a blogger known as ACrackedMoon and Requires Hate began running at the front of the Social Justice Mob. She claims to be a Chinese lesbian living in Thailand, though that claim has been questioned. Her targets include authors Liz Williams, whose novels set in Asia were declared to be “cultural appropriation” and Caitlin R. Kiernan, who was accused of whitewashing, racism, and sexism.

Which inspired me to post this:

on social justice warriors defending fake people and attacking real ones 

I’m not planning to get into the latest kerfuffle, but I wanted to note this: 

Liz Williams is a real person. 

Caitlin R. Kiernan is a real person. 

ACrackedMoon, aka Requires Hate, is, in the words of one of the most insightful cartoons about the web, a dog on the internet. His or her or its style is remarkably similar to a couple other famously abusive SJ warriors, Kynn Bartlett and WinterFox. ACrackedMoon claims to be a rich Thai, but a number of people who know more about Thailand than I do (I’ve only been able to leave North America twice in my life) have strong doubts. It’s possible that ACM’s wealth—something SJ warriors hate to talk about—is the reason he/she/it passes the AI test for “whiteness”: English-speaking bourgie folks are pretty much the same wherever you go because they can travel from country to country, and the only things that change for them are the accents of the waiters bringing their brunch.

Requires Hate tweeted a link to my post with this comment: “@Sparkymonster I understand you’re familiar with this... subhuman”

So I quoted that and posted this:

Acrackedmoon hates Jews! or How to be a Social Justice Warrior

Let’s look at her coded language. Anyone who knows anything about racism knows that the Nazis’ favorite word for Jews was Untermensch. Anyone who cares about racism and coded language would never want to sound like Hitler. She claims to be Chinese; she must have read articles like “The Rise of Chinese anti-semitism and contemporary support for Hitler as a display of Chinese nationalism.” Acrackedmoon clearly did not care about these things when she went full-Godwin. 

Ergo, she hates Jews. 

At least, by social justice warrior logic. In the real world, who knows? She’s a dog on the internet who thinks white supremacists love interracial romance—in “down with “Coals”; save the whites! Victoria Foyt’s REVEALING EDEN pt 1”, she claimed, “Revealing Eden, you see, is a white supremacist fantasy written by a white person who has the vapors when she contemplates what’d happen if things went upside down and POC get the chance to treat whiteys the way whiteys have been treating everyone else since times immemorial.” 

She’s spoofing the social justice warriors, right? And the ones who support her are in on the gag? I beg you, for the sake of my faith in humanity, assure me that’s so.

A round of tweets followed:

Requires Hate
according to Shittery, people who call him out “attend the expensive private schools of the US’s ruling class” Shittery went to Choate

Will Shetterly
Yes. This is why I know so much about them.

Requires Hate
“the nicest man anyone could ever know, and if everyone wasn’t caught up in buzzwords, they would quickly see that he preaches equality”

Andrea Harris
Why is it always “b-but he’s the nicest ever!” He can’t just be “nice” but the most nicest. Talk about sucking up.

Requires Hate
and even if he were a little puppy (likely of the incontinent, yapping sort) offline, online he’s still shitting everywhere

The “he’s great in person” defence rings hollow because it turns out people online are actually people

Will Shetterly
Well, except for the subhumans, of course.

Requires Hate
“but he’s REALLY a nice person!” used to defend everyone from serial murderer, Assange, to Shittery

Will Shetterly
It is nice to be included in Assange’s company. Being hated by the ruling classes is high praise.

Requires Hate
“Classism bolsters every ism I can think of. Racism and sexism and all the rest are tools” quoth white man, Shittery

Andrea Harris
Watch out when an American talks about “class” they usually mean “I envy people with more money & status than me.”

Will Shetterly
Standard Republican copout: No class warfare! That’s envy talk!

Requires Hate
the true mark of @savethepearls—racists rally to defend it

L. Grabenstetter
Didn’t you see that the first WT post about it had a trackback from Stormfront? They were overjoyed. @savethepearls

Will Shetterly
I saw it. They were overjoyed that people were attacking an interracial romance story.

I suspect every one of fandom’s fails was watched with delight by people who could more accurately be called sexist and racist. Nothing amuses enemies more than circular firing squads, and the ever-vigilant purity-checking of intersectionality ensures the firing squads will gather often.

• Outrage Culture: the World of Social Justice Warcraft

At a technology conference, Adria Richards launched Donglegate when she tweeted a picture of two men in the audience who were joking about “dongles”. In “Forking and Dongle Jokes Don’t Belong At Tech Conferences”, she said, “Yesterday, I publicly called out a group of guys at the PyCon conference who were not being respectful to the community.” Her use of “publicly” is important: instead of calling them out in person by asking them to be quieter or less juvenile, she called them out online.

The result: One of her targets was fired by his company. Outrage culture often seeks and sometimes manages to get people fired—around the same time, a petition was circulated to get Orson Scott Card blacklisted at DC Comics, and Card’s Superman project was cancelled. But for Adria Richards, victory was bittersweet. Her employer decided she was too strongly associated with social justice activism to be an effective evangelist for them, and she was fired too.

Aja Romano’s “In defense of Adria Richards and call-out culture” includes, “I once took, and tweeted, a photograph of a man who sat down in my row and began masturbating during the rape scenes in The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. I did it because I was repulsed, horrified, and angry, and most of all because I wanted him to stop. And, on some level, because I was afraid he would hurt me. Call-out culture, I believe, helped me make it impossible for him to do so.”

Romano says she wanted the man to stop masturbating, but it’s hard to believe she thought he would notice her tweet. If you’re really afraid of someone in a movie theater, you find an usher or the manager. You might take a picture as proof, then find someone with the power to get the person evicted or arrested. But if your idea of an empowering action never leaves the internet, your empowerment is only a game of World of Social Justice Warcraft.

Flavia Dzodan said in “Come one, come all! Feminist and Social Justice blogging as performance and bloodshed”:

Call out culture, a phenomenon that casual readers might not even notice, is to me, the most toxic aspect of blogging. Not because it is set to correct wrongs and engage in meaningful ways to actually enact change. No, call out culture is toxic because it has developed as a tool to legitimize aggression and rhetoric violence....

Call out culture might, at times, dangerously resemble bullying. However, it is not exactly the same. It certainly shares its outcome, however, unlike bullying, call out culture is part of the performative aspect of blogging. Unlike bullying, a call out is intended for an audience.

I agree with Dzodan’s take on call out culture, but she misses the fact that bullying is usually done for an audience, to entertain the bully’s friends and terrify those who might be the bully’s next victim. So just as lynchings and witch-huntings were rationalizations for murder, call-out culture is a rationalization for bullying.