Open discussion in fandom, real and phony

Sometimes the most embarrassing people in a debate are the ones who claim to be on your side. I’ve spoken out against policies at SF cons which prohibit insults, embarrassment, and undefined “discrimination.” These policies hijack a legitimate concern to push conformity of thought. Some of the self-proclaimed opponents of these policies, though, don’t show much regard for free and open discussion themselves.

An article on Popehat presents a case in point:

Sean P. Fodera is a science fiction writer who works in the publishing industry. He’s angry.

He started out angry over ongoing upheaval in the science fiction and fantasy literature community. That upheaval is mirrored in the gaming community and skeptic community and other communities with devoted and vocal fanbases. It’s a conflict between two groups: a group that thinks the communities have a problem with racism, sexism, and harassment and should take steps to address it, and a group that thinks that the first group is engaged in free-speech-suppressing political correctness and should be resisted.

The statement of the conflict presents a straw man. The open-discussion advocates aren’t claiming there aren’t any problems, but that the solution is wrong; better measures against harassment are possible without resorting to “free-speech-suppressing political correctness.” But the immediate point is that Fodera has made a legal threat which isn’t at all consistent with advocacy of openness. He’s threatened to sue the 1200 people who shared an article. (What the heck, let’s make it 1201.)

That article is full of distortions, but none that constitute fraudulent and damaging misstatement of material facts; and even if it were libelous, it’s ludicrous to claim that anyone who links to the article shares culpability. It includes the lunatic claim that people posted to the SFWA Listserv because they “thought no one would notice them.” I suspect Aja Romano, who wrote the article, would smear me as well if I showed up on anyone’s radar. Like Raymond Feist, I don’t like “fugheads” pushing their agendas, so I must be “displeased at the recent influx of diversity.” I’ll come out and say that the “diversity” of fugheadedness as an alternative to reason is worthless. But the major point here is that those who don’t want to ban “insulting behavior” need to be consistent in their own actions. Resorting to legal action is resorting to force.

I get the impression that the root of the issue is a long-running conflict between Fodera and Kawal, and Fodera’s letting his emotions make him act like an idiot. I don’t want to count him on my side, at least not until he retracts his more absurd statements.

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One Response to “Open discussion in fandom, real and phony”

  1. bgoldnyxnet Says:

    Sigh. Fugheads are fugheads. Sometimes when they are young they learn and become sensible, but all too often they just remain fugheads. (I note the spelling has changed since my youth, when it was “fugghead”.)

    Apparently the expansion of fandom has brought us a problem with harassment. This needs to be dealt with, but insults — and especially insults in print/electrons are not harassment. They are impolite. Stupid, perhaps. Maybe even over the top. That’s not the same as harassment.

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