Wednesday, March 5, 2014

another must-read on Jonathan Ross and the Hugos

Let He Who Is Without Sin — Andrea Phillips: "The shift from "this person is doing something objectionable right now and we have to stop it," to "this person said some objectionable things some years in the past and so he's not welcome among us," is one that gives me great pause. You know who else has said some objectionable things in the past? Me. You know who else? You."


  1. There has been what I regard as a particularly unfortunate attitude taken in many of the comments on this affair, some of them made by people I think well of, Charles Stross for example. They seem to be endorsing a future-crime policy, in this case quashing a speaker for what they think he might possibly say rather than condemning after the fact. All right, you can argue that this is a reasonable prediction, but the uncomfortable thing about these comments is the way they refer to pre-imagined slights as if these things had already happened in reality rather than just in their own minds.

    I know nothing of Ross beyond a few things I've read over the past few days. Apparently he, like many others, makes a living with what I would find a crass act but if my tastes were law there wouldn't be a single situation comedy or late-night talk show left on the air. I understand why some folk might be concerned, even though people who actually know Ross, like Neil Gaiman, don't think his schtick would be a problem. However, much of the uproar and piling on I'm observing is obviously based on second or third hand opinions and on projected fearful scenarios. That's what makes it mobbing/witch-hunting.

    Also notable is the usual game of telephone and inflated outrage, in this case even more accelerated.than the usual course of these affairs. The Resnick kerfluffle has evolved from the original passing comment that a competent woman was also "beauty pageant gorgeous" to "basing a woman's worth on how she looks in a bikini". I've seen a number of reasonable sounding comments that Ross's MC gig should have been evaluated "in context" without anyone ever acknowledging that much of that context has been manufactured by the his detractors. Just saying.

    1. I think the SJW stance isn't that it's the 'future crime' x person is guilty of but the fact a less privileged person feels the threat of humiliation/abuse/whatever. If I work myself into a tizzy that Ross might make a rude comment about my weight, that is enough to condemn him.

      Of course this isn't universally invalid, as paintedjaguar points out. It doesn't take a genius to realise e.g. that Fred Phelps relishes humiliating/abusing/etc. others, and he is contemptible for that. Like most SJW issues, though, this has been exaggerated to the point of madness.

      Incidentally, I always wondered how this applies to actual madness. I've got a few personal stories, but I think I'll stick to the public figure. In his later years, Kurt Godel became obsessed with the idea someone was trying to poison him. He only ate food prepared by his wife, the only person he trusted. She went to hospital for a long spell, and he literally starved himself to death. Anyone who tried to convince him to eat or that he wasn't thinking straight was immediately suspected of being in on the plot. To SJWs, Godel's fears are completely valid and the people trying to convince him he's suffering delusions -- the ableists! -- deserve to be condemned for making him fearful of them.

    2. I know someone who fired an employee because she knew that the woman was going to go sick and take time off, something the employee had no intention of doing.

      Round here, we call this 'deranged.'

    3. I'm sorry to say that around here, we just call that the daily news. It's life in flamewartime.

      Huh. Normally I would use an example like that as an excuse to rant about capitalism. :)

  2. Will --

    Don't know if you've seen this but it might be of interest, considering recent trends. Another little scuffle on the internets. (I'll note that I don't actually agree with Jim's sentiment -- it's quite possible for the bastards to grind you down until there is nothing much left but a stain on the pavement. But I don't believe that's the case for most of the SJW types I've seen in the wild.)


    "Jim Wright ‏@Stonekettle Feb 8
    There is only one truly inalienable right that can’t be taken away by gods or governments or men, and that is the right to define yourself

    tnielsenhayden ‏@tnielsenhayden Feb 8
    @Stonekettle Didn't need the user icon to know you're white and male. Still, it is a nice sentiment."



    1. I left a comment at stonekettle and tweeted to them both. Thanks for sharing the links!

    2. And my comment is out of moderation at stonekettle. Here it is: "I didn't see your slave Leia joke then, but I saw it today and laughed. However, as you're learning the hard way, irony rarely survives on the internet. As for the folks you mention, have a little pity for them. They were both attacked by terminally earnest people in a flamewar called Racefail, and now they're both suffering from Stockholm Syndrome."

    3. This is where that slave Leia scuffle originated, if you don't already know

      I didn't bother wading through the entire comments again, but I now remember reading this when it was originally posted, though at the time I didn't know who Jim Wright was. I remember my reaction was mostly bafflement at the abstruse nature of the negative comments and the reluctance to accept multiple apologies. Re-reading, I don't find the criticism to be as hostile or universal as Jim paints it and he even had some defenders on the thread. But I think had I been in his shoes, I would have reacted in the same way. There's something fundamentally disrespectful about the way some people set out to "educate" you, particularly when they won't accept anything less than abject submission to their own opinions and worldview.

    4. Thanks for the link. I'd quit following Scalzi at the end of Racefail, when he did a pre-emptive ban on me to be sure he didn't catch my cooties.

  3. Yeah, I've cooled on him myself. I was tempted to remark on that "Lowest Difficulty Setting" thing he did, but I saw how dissenters were treated. Too much mobbing and cult of personality at his site lately for me to want to hang around.