This was going to be more about the craft of writing than about the politics of writing, but then I heard that two of this year’s Hugo nominees have withdrawn. Neither explicitly cited bullying, but when you read between the lines (words like “controversy” in light of the shitstorm and lies are rather telling), it’s not hard to figure out what happened.
To be absolutely clear, I do not blame those who have withdrawn for their decision. How could I? I’ve been the target of the same kind of small-minded, petty viciousness we’ve seen from Making Light and various others in the last two weeks. I’ve seen the barely-veiled threats and “you’ll never work in this town again” remarks. I know how demoralizing they can be, especially when they come from people you respect and who you thought were friends.
Not everyone can withstand that kind of assault. That’s why these specimens do it. And why the people spreading lies about the nominees and about the Sad Puppy campaign (and the Rabid Puppy campaign) have no one to blame but themselves no matter how loudly they scream otherwise.
Now, let’s look at what they’ve done. They’ve successfully driven out a woman and an immigrant, making it perfectly clear that their screams of “diversity” are nothing more than misdirection. The loudest voices screaming the evils of the Puppies are elderly or middle-aged, well-off people most of whom have never needed to do a day’s physical labor in their entire life. They are privileged people shrieking like harpies about “diversity” and “privilege” because they’re afraid if they don’t make it look like something’s wrong they’ll have to actually work.
Before the bleating chorus of “But VOX DAY!” rises, frankly I don’t care. The strawman effigy being worshiped by those cries is a monster of evil (and its real name seems to be VoxDayLarryCorreiaBradTorgersonTomKratmanBushHitlerMcHorrible, but that’s too much of a mouthful so it gets shortened to simply “Vox”). Any resemblance to the actual Vox Day (or Larry Correia, or Brad Torgerson – or anyone else for that matter) is purely coincidental and should not be taken for reality.
The Hugo Awards are supposed to be about excellence in craft. There’s no rule out there in the wide, wide universe that says supremely skilled craftsmen must be nice people. In my experience they tend to be rather focused since it takes a lot of work to get to that level of skill. They also tend not to be the world’s greatest networkers for much the same reason (although, as always, there are a lot of exceptions).
Claiming that being nominated because people who agree with Vox Day or Larry Correia or Brad Torgerson, or any other person you care to mention voted for their works is some kind of horrible taint is beyond the pale. The more of that kind of totalitarian secret police tactic that’s used, the more I want to stand up and shout, “I am Vox Day.” Or “I am Larry Correia.” Or… you get the point.
Because we are all Vox Day. Or Larry Correia. Or Brad Torgerson. Or anyone else who dares to disagree with the opinions of the would-be power-brokers. If we are not, then Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, Freedom is Slavery, and two plus two equals five.
To paraphrase, voting on the Hugo nomination and award ballots ought to be about the content of the work, not the color of its creator. We are not children who blindly vote our best friends for everything and badmouth everyone else, nor are we petty dictators who seek to engineer the downfall of anyone who slights us however unintentionally.
Remember this. Read the nominated works and vote for those you consider best. Vote No Award only if you believe there are no works worthy of the award in the category.