Monday, May 28, 2018

WisCon: literally no longer a literary convention

The latest kerfuffle: a panelist was banned from the current convention and may be banned from future ones. Her sin? Suggesting that Confederates and Nazis should be treated as human beings in fiction.

No one’s ever made a clear distinction between fiction and literature, but a traditional one is that literature deals with nuance: in a literary work, there may be good guys and bad guys, but they exist on a spectrum and their motivations come from complex histories. A pulp fiction writer doesn’t need subtlety or a knowledge of history or sympathy for people who come from different circumstances: Nazis and Confederates are bad people who may be killed without a second thought as the plot demands. There’s no need to ask why fascism is popular in times of economic desperation or to note that many Confederates were conscripts or deserters. In pulp fiction, Crusader logic applies: kill them all and let God sort them out.

Ah, well. Whether WisCon was ever truly a literary convention is debatable. That it is not one now is not.

More info about the kerfuffle:

Killable Bodies In SF Panel - WisCon

Pixel Scroll 5/27/18 Pixels Scroll Good, Like An E-fanzine Should | File 770

And a flash from WisCon's past:

Doxing Zathlazip

ETA: An Israeli writer speaks up:

Friday, May 25, 2018

Atonement as Activism - The American Interest

Atonement as Activism - The American Interest:
Fifty years ago, a white person learning about the race problem came away asking “How can I help?” Today the same person too often comes away asking, “How can I show that I’m a moral person?” That isn’t what the Civil Rights revolution was about; it is the product of decades of mission creep aided by the emergence of social media. 
What gets lost is that all of this awareness was supposed to be about helping black people, especially poor ones. We are too often distracted from this by a race awareness that has come to be largely about white people seeking grace. For example, one reads often of studies showing that black boys are punished and suspended in school more often than other kids. But then one reads equally often that poverty makes boys, in particular, more likely to be aggressive and have a harder time concentrating. We are taught to assume that the punishments and suspensions are due to racism, and to somehow ignore the data showing that the conditions too many black boys grow up in unfortunately makes them indeed more likely to act up in school. Might the poverty be the key problem to address?