Trial by mob, the SJZ preference
I won’t devote too much time to rehashing this past week’s slanderous sabotaging of Larry Correia (at Origins) which bore an eerie similarity to the slanderous sabotaging of John Ringo (at ConCarolinas.) In each instance, it was a political hit job. And in each instance, there was no proof offered to substantiate the lies which preceded both Larry’s and John’s disinviting.
I find this timing rather remarkable, only because I am presently on TDY to Washington State for the purpose of serving on a separation board. Now, for those not familiar with the term, a separation board is a military legal proceeding in which officers will review cases to determine if the cited servicemember has in fact done something egregious enough to warrant discharge — and if so, what the nature of that discharge will be. Not every discharge is honorable, and there is more than one kind of general discharge, above dishonorable. So, it’s the board’s job to determine if the preponderance of evidence supports the recommendation of the offending soldier’s chain of command.
Preponderance of evidence . . .
You know, it’s amazing to me how the United States’ system of law — of which the UCMJ is a part — evolved from English common law, as well as the European Enlightenment. The notion that a man is innocent until proven guilty was a very unique and original concept, when it first debuted. No longer could the state simply throw a man in the clink, and swallow the key. The onus was on the prosecution to build a case of facts against the accused. Not a case of innuendo. Not a case of hear-say. Not a case of political rumors. Facts. Provable in a court of law, before a jury of the accused’s peers.
Heady stuff, for the 18th, 19th, 20th, and now 21st centuries.
It’s a shame that those who claim to champion the Enlightenment’s social legacy, are so eager to hurl the Enlightenment’s legal legacy into the shitter.
Now, you might say that any entertainment convention is well within its rights — of free association — to invite or disinvite whomever said convention sees fit. And you’d be correct.
What’s concerning is that conventions — indeed, almost all institutions of various descriptions — are being placed in the position of either bending to the will of what are essentially mobs, or facing threats of both bad PR and, potentially, painful legal annoyance. In each case, the institutions almost always take the path of least resistance. It’s far easier to eject a guest who has attracted the mob’s attention, than stand your ground and endure the mob’s ire; as a “defender” of the alleged wrong-doer.
None of this — in 2018 — happens without social media, of course. One might argue that Social Justice Zealotry could not exist without the anonymity and virility that social media provides. Pick your target from behind the safety of your keyboard, light the digital torch, rally your friends to the cause, and off you go to pillory whichever offending party suits your fancy this week. Proof? A preponderance of evidence? P’shaw! Mere legal trickery by the hated cishet white male misogynist transphobic patriarchy! Everybody knows that villains use proof and evidence to hide from justice. It’s time for more direct and drastic steps to be taken, so as to ensure that the evil-doers are brought to heel!
Thank goodness separation boards don’t rely on the mob’s methods. Because when I am sitting down with my fellow officers to review a case, we’re all poignantly aware of the fact that we’re holding somebody’s career in our hands. We are not a court martial, so we can’t determine anyone’s guilt or innocence of a crime. But we can determine if the evidence of misconduct — not necessarily criminal in nature — does warrant severing the servicemember, and what the character of that severing should be. Because any discharge below honorable carries potentially life-long, negative consequences for the servicemember in question. And when something’s going to stick with somebody for the rest of their lives in a bad way, there better damned well be plenty of proof that it’s necessary, and justified.
The SJZ mobs are under no such burden, and they know it. In fact, I’d argue that they prefer it. Easier to sabotage people with gutter falsehoods and accusations that an institution is aiding or abetting a [insert nasty word here] than to actually come forward with factual, provable instances of wrong-doing — enough so that even an institution ordinarily predisposed to favor the offender, will be inclined to take action so that the offending party is no longer capable of participation.
It’s tricky with free association, because unlike UCMJ, there is so seldom any kind of legal contract binding guests to cons. Invitations very often are informal at best, with tacit agreements of conduct and mutual respect. Provided that the participant adheres to previously established organizational expectations regarding general behavior of all con-goers.
But the potential career damage for any guest disinvited under a cloud of [insert very bad accusations here] is enough that I can’t but help see the parallel — between a separation board, and what cons have been doing of late, regarding guests. The huge difference being: a separation board cannot just pull decisions out of its ass! The facts and evidence must support the type and kind of discharge being sought. Failure (on the military’s part) to provide these facts and evidence, means the board will recommend that a soldier be retained. The onus therefore falls to the soldier’s chain of command to compile the facts and the evidence, so that the board’s time is not wasted, and a soldier is not brought for separation consideration without due process, and (ding, ding) a preponderance of evidence justifying the separation action.
Again, the mob knows no such restriction. The mob is a mindless thing relying purely on emotion (and threats of damage) to have its way.
I think by now the professional consensus is that Origins committed a huge blunder, by disinviting Larry Correia. The plaintiffs didn’t have to like Larry, nor did they have to like his politics. But Larry had done absolutely nothing to warrant disinvitation. There were no provable violations of any code of conduct Origins might have put forth. Larry was simply . . . kicked out, because a pack of SJZs wanted him kicked out.
That’s a rotten precedent for any institution — regardless of its mission — to set. Letting an unaccountable gaggle of shit-slingers decide who can and cannot be a guest at your convention?
During a separation board’s deliberations, the question must be asked: did the institution itself obey its own rules, regarding the gathering and presentation of evidence, and is this evidence in fact qualified such that it can be taken as legal fact — versus merely the say-so of specific individuals who may or may not have been under oath, when they said what they said?
I hope that conventions (going forward) might begin to ask themselves similar questions, with similar emphasis on the disqualification of rumor, speculation, political hatchetry, slander, character assassination, and other forms of dishonesty. Any institution which expects to enjoy the participation of guests and consumers alike, needs to be able to forge an atmosphere of trust.
The SJZ mob pretends that it wants this trust too, but almost always violates its own precepts by relying on faulty forms of evidence, with faulty tactics and presentation. Which in the end almost always devolve into threats of negative social media noise (against the offender, and the institution) unless the SJZ mob is allowed to have what it wants.
A properly run separation board would never, ever stand for this.
And neither should any entertainment convention.