Oh, the Humanity!
Wayyyyyy back in the dark and early days of January of this year….
Earlier than that.
This was not a post I expected to be making as recently as a year ago, and no, I’m not happy about it, but I hope that I’m right in it being necessary, and that some good or insight will come of it.
There were a couple sites I used to hang out at. One was “According to Hoyt”, and another was the Mad Genius Club. For whatever reason, I’d started spending more and more time over at Peter Grants site proper, as well as Vox Populi, but had been a crossover member of both Sad, and when it popped up, Rabid puppies as of Opera Vitae Aeterna pissing off the SJW crowd.
One factor in my spending less time there was that where Larry didn’t care for Vox, he wouldn’t crap all over him either. Opinions may differ between them on some things, they may agree on others, but they were both shooting left and Larry left it at that. Sarah, and some of the MGC crowd though… not so much. It was still fairly civilized, but “persona non grata” about covers it.
There was also a degree of bad blood over the rabids – the feeling that if it were not for Vox Day, then maybe the Sad crowd would not be called sexist/racist/whatever. To a large degree Brad Torgerson, the cuddly teddy bear with the flamethrower, learned better, looking at some comments he’s recently made to Jon Del Arroz, but SP-IV went to a whole new “reccomendation, we’re taking all of your suggestions, no-we-are-not-a-slate” version, and promptly had almost no impact on the next round of hugo kerfluffles, or on getting people to read books they might otherwise not have considered.
The primary insight missing, given how many people were butthurt about repeating over and over “we are not vox day”, was that anyone to the right of Stalin or Mao was going to get torn apart anyway, even if you showed them “see, I’m not really a racist because of this one thing you’re pissed about today”.
Unlike the MGC crowd, most of us more Alt-right/light leaning types who signed on with the rabids were completely unsurprised, for example, that a die-hard Bernie voter was called names and had his livelihood threatened for not bowing to the SJW cause du jour, because we believed an expression that also came up at MGC often enough – you didn’t have to be conservative to be called a nazi right-winger.
The sads were never going to get more respect.
The other factor was the realization, after a few weeks of posting, that Sarah was posting again, and again, how posts were delayed, work was held up, etc. due to health issues.
First, I hope she gets better, and finds a good resolution for them.
Second, the consistency with which they showed up as an excuse was sending little flags into the air for me. Commit to a schedule one can meet, and have at it. Howard Tayler’s been posting daily comics at Schlock Mercenary for ten years and more, in part because he works several weeks ahead to give him some breathing room.
So Sad Puppies IV was left with “people make suggestions” and Sarah taking over for round 5.
So, with a couple weeks to go before the hugos, and no list up, a man named Declan Finn did, in January of this year.
Now, in all fairness, one could read “Sad Puppies 5 suggestions” as either just that, or see how it could be mistaken for an official SP5 outlet. Also, since Declan had apparently contacted them, and decided that someone needed to get a ball rolling, it was taken as an insult and attempt to usurp things. File 770 having a huge laugh about it certainly didn’t help tempers.
That said, I’ve never been around a group of men where simply stating “hey, that can be confusing, can you make it clear you’re not heading up SP5?” would not have done the trick. And Declan did so.
The reaction to his posting though… Russell Newquist, Declan’s publisher, referred to it as “mean girls” passive aggressive behavior, and he had it utterly right. The dead giveaway was the fact that neither MGC post on the 10th and 11th of January of this year bothered to name him or link to the page.
Oh, and they were “literally shaking”. No, I’m not kidding. It’s one reason I italicized “apparently” above.
Nope, they couldn’t just say “Hey, we’re running SP5 this year, and in case there’s any confusion, we’ve asked Declan to clarify that on his page and point a link back to us.”
Yet, of course, everyone, “coincidentally” knew who it was, as it wasn’t that hard to use, among other tools, Google.
All in all, both posts, together, were a passive-aggressive attack. I hate passive-aggressiveness as it is a form of bullshit, and I absolutely loathe bullshit. How do I know it was an attack?
First of all, the lack of simply calling him out by name, or linking to it.
For those defending that bullshit as “trying to put it to rest” – right. Be honest, be forthright. Several of the people going “rah rah” were those who hated it when Mary Robinette Kowal did exactly that over the chainmail bikini bit and the “twelve rabid weasels of SF” who, budge, nudge, wink, wink, may include Jerry Pournelle, etc. and wouldn’t it be grand if they’d all just up and leave already?
Put another way, don’t defend a Scalzi post, replete with “I won’t name the offender but he’s done bad, bad things.”
This behavior provides a fig leaf of deniability, or behavior that can be called virtuous if you squint at it right. It’s what, with my kids, I referred to as the “but I was only just” excuse. It tries to obscure the fact that the person talking to you knew damn well what choices they made, had a fair idea of the consequences at the time they made the excuse, and are trying to handwave away stuff.
Let me give a personally observed case of passive-aggressive behavior. I was out with friends, and a woman who was also there who’s daughter has had some issues in the past started getting texts about “what time are you coming home so I can leave” from said girl who was doing some babysitting duties. She was livid. She could have shrugged it off, or anything. She asked if she should do anything, and stated that she actually felt like stretching things out just to make a point. I pointed out that if it was me, the event was over when it was over, and I would neither go home any earlier for a petulant child, nor deliberately stretch things out to return any later. Was she out to have a good evening or “get back” at her daughter. Then I disengaged myself from the drama.
If you haven’t guessed which path she took, no she didn’t leave early, and no, she didn’t finish the night out having fun and head back as planned. Instead, as she was leaving, she was making plans to check out a different venue, maybe pick up groceries, because all those things that hadn’t needed doing before were suddenly necessary. Nothing to do at all with the texts from her child.
If you believe that, I have a few bridges to sell.
So, more recently, after SPV basically failed to do anything (health, etc., other reasons cited), Russell wrote an article on how it was a textbook example of a complete lack of leadership and vision.
Fun comments ensued. One Jared A. keeps tying things back to chauvanism, including the belief that men and women aren’t the same, and that men are better at some things, and vice versa.
Uh, call me when a woman can make the cutoff to try out for the US Men’s swim team.
As far as Russell declaring “for a woman that she is too sick to do something,” if someone keeps posting how their health is bad, over and over, then, even if they did not believe so at the time, one might objectively step back and make the determination that perhaps they should have given someone else the job. It’s not chauvinism, or mind-reading, or anything else, but simply asking the question “how did that work out?”.
Was a recommendation site put up in a timely manner? Yes or no?
Did the effort meet the stated goals set out at the very beginning? Yes or no?
And yeah, she is passing the buck. And doing the mean-girl routine. I find that less than I expected of her after hanging out there for years.
For the comments by J. C. Salomon – believe it or not, a lot of us were puppy crossovers and have been hanging out at VP and ATH/MGC for years. Many of us have been responsible for explaining the whole issue to gamergate and other types.
As to the stated history:
SP4: Okay, that didn’t go as planned. We were trying to participate, not take over; and besides, anything that looks too much like slate voting is going to be rejected—let’s try again and this time be even clearer than before that this is for recommendations and discussions. But really, the Hugos seem to be too broken to bother with.
(Huh, that other fellow is still doing his shtick, with his own, more obviously different goals—and are they still conflating us with him?)
We were trying to participate, and ended up taking over because the voter pool wasn’t anywhere near as large as the people protecting it liked to imagine – and even factoring for exaggeration, we overdid it.
SP5: Do we even need to bother? Well, not for the Hugos, but there are other awards, and good SF/F has a discoverability problem (AKA Sturgeon’s Law), so let’s set up a discussion-and-recommendation board. But there’s no real rush—
Which renders it different from a book review site how? It’s no longer a campaign at this point as it has no strategic goal, though “SP” could be used as an ongoing brand for, say, ongoing book reviews. This certainly doesn’t refute the validity of saying SP5 wasn’t achieving any goal/had a purpose to exist as a campaign.
Why, thank you, Mr Finn, for your kind offer to take this off our hands, but you obviously are trying something very different from us: go ahead and run your own campaign like others have done—and with its own name, if you’d be so kind.
Remember my earlier mention of “but I was only just?”
Yeah. This. right here. This is, sadly, if not Scalzi grade snark, then minimization and passive-aggressive as hell.
If that was what was actually said, and just that, we wouldn’t have had the entire blowup.
Come to think of it, this also covers
Failure #2: Failure to understand other people’s schedules
Failure #3: Failure to respect boundaries
(This is not to say, “Stay in your lane,” but rather “Hands off my steering wheel; go drive your own car.”)
Part of “stay in your lane” is recognizing when someone is actually driving into your lane. I get that it was annoying as hell to have the 770 crowd having a field day with the apparent hijacking from someone who, insofar as I can tell, was trying to provide some input *as it wasn’t available elsewhere *(that I was aware of even at the time), but a disclaimer was put up in short order, and it could have been left at that.
Which leads, finally, to Russell’s recent post on cliques and outgrouping.
It’s an excellent breakdown of bullying behavior and mean-girl passive aggressiveness.
As an aside, despite several blatant pot-shots at homeschooling, and other conservative strawmen, and a few too-good-to-be-true PC-approved “outcast” types the movie “Mean Girls” is actually an excellent evisceration of a lot of leftist dogma and a particularly thorough example of how bullying can kill and destroy lives without a single act of physical violence.
Look for the deniable fake sweetness, the compliments that actually draw attention to flaws, etc.