Blast From the Past: The Inadequacy of Silence

The latest round of de-personing and disinviting (yes, the same one I posted about a couple of weeks back) suggests that it would be a good idea to hammer the topic a bit more.

With that in mind, a blast from the past that covered something of the same ilk – although in that case, the injured party had the resources to turn the whole mess to his favor. Whether that will be the case for the most recent injured party is yet to be seen.

So without further ado, a repost of The Inadequacy of Silence

The Inadequacy of Silence

I am an author. I’m not a warrior. Sarah has described me as possibly the most conflict-averse person she knows – and she’s not wrong. I do not like fighting and I do not like starting arguments for the sake of it.

There are, however, limits.

You see, as someone who knows what it is to have people lie about you to not only take away any support you might currently have but eliminate any chance that anyone will ever support you, I decided some time back that I will not stand back and allow that to happen to anyone else. Ever.

So when a controversial figure’s book deal is suddenly canceled because of a manufactured furor (not even over the content of the lies used to create that furor because the publisher has printed and supported far worse from those who happen to have not had the howling mobs roused against them) it impacts all of us readers and authors.

For the record, I don’t give a flying fuck what that – or any other author – does in privacy with consenting partners. Even if I would be squicked to high heaven by the details if anyone was crass enough to tell the world. I don’t care what he – or anyone else – believes as long as it’s not being shoved down my throat and nobody is being damaged by it. If I don’t like the author’s behavior or politics I don’t have to buy their books and I certainly don’t have to read them. I am sufficiently mature that I do not see the need for a legion of sensitivity readers to take their works and massage them into bland, tasteless pap.

What I care about is that someone who has – objectively – done not one damn thing wrong is the subject of a coordinated effort to not merely silence him, but disappear him. I’ve seen this happen in the past. It happened to Larry Correia. To Brad Torgersen. I didn’t get the full force of it last year, but instead got the cold shoulder of people doing their best to pretend I’d already been disappeared.

Just because some degenerate prick who wouldn’t know a moral if he trod in one edits over an hour’s video to make it look like an author is endorsing one of the few reliable hot-buttons remaining (mainly because that prick’s fellow army of degenerate pricks have abused the other ones to such an extent people yawn when the old standbys of ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, or anythingelsist get aired) does not mean that a) the degenerate prick in question actually disapproves of said hot-button the way most folk with some notion of morality do; or b) that it is true.

It isn’t.

When people listen to lies like this and swallow them, they become the useful idiots who allow evil to happen.

Consider this: think of the most vile, disgusting book you have ever read. Would you ban it?

I wouldn’t. Let it find its audience and be judged on its merits – or lack thereof. The only time I would argue for something to be taken down is if it is a lie masquerading as truth, and in that scenario I would replace the lie with the truth and let the light of truth show the lie for what it is.

Because if we do not stand up for authors – or anyone else for that matter – when some excrement-laden offal tries to destroy them with lies, sooner or later our silence will be taken for disagreement, and we will be targeted.

Do not blame those who speak out when that day comes. The fault is in those who were silent in the face of evil.


  1. Consider this: think of the most vile, disgusting book you have ever read. Would you ban it?

    I realized that the most vile and disgusting books that I have had a close encounter with could all be categorized as social or political philosophy.  This may be an upside to my dyslexia — any fiction book that does not satisfy is rather quickly discarded as not worth the effort.      

    Even of the more serious books I admit I have not read the entirety of Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, Mein Kamph or The Communist Manifesto.  (I found the first probably was the most readable of the lot, which is to say none of them really were.  And, no, I don’t believe it was a matter of translation.)  Nor have I tried to tackle numerous other works defending Social Darwinism and Eugenics from the nineteenth and twentieth century; among them are books whose titles alone give me chills.   

    As much as I find ideas put forth in those writings abhorrent I would not ban them.  All these books reflect the thinking of their time, several have had profound effects in shaping the currents history.  Anyone who wishes to understand their times or counter their arguments will need to wade there way through.  …  I do hope that anyone who does finds a good way to cleanse their mind and soul afterwards. 

    The fault is in those who were silent in the face of evil.


    1. Agree. I still have problems trying to get through Rules for Radicals; and am a bit relieved that it’s buried from the last house move. It is not often that what I read makes me feel like I’ve been dipped in swampbottom slime, but that book does, from a few pages in. Glad to see I’m not the only one who gets such a reaction from books.

      But then, you and I recognize the evil that is written within.

  2. If the vile, disgusting books were banned, how could we learn to identify evil?

    And as to the Great Attempted Silencing, I look upon it with some gratitude, for had it remained unknown and unspoken (how’s that irony doin’ ya?) I’d never have found this far more congenial crowd. 😀

    1. That makes two of us. Actually, I suspect that makes hundreds or perhaps thousands of us. To me, this is a new and independent fandom, completely different from the one I basically abandoned in the mid-1980s.

  3. “Consider this: think of the most vile, disgusting book you have ever read. Would you ban it?”

    Banning a book, any book, brings into being an entire realm of control and regulation that is both vastly expensive and utterly futile. Consider the gag order on the proceedings surrounding Tommy Robinson this week. No one in Britain was allowed to publish news of the arrest, but that didn’t stop the entire world from knowing what happened.

    What a ban does is let the State punish people for having or talking about a book. It doesn’t erase the book from history. Mein Kampf is banned in Germany, but I’m sure it is a rare German who doesn’t know about it. Everybody knew Robinson had been arrested under the flimsiest excuse, but the government was poised to do the same to any Brit who said anything about it.

    They don’t need to vanish the book. They just want an excuse to hammer you for saying anything about it. Book bans are a legal fig leaf to conceal totalitarian oppression.

    What I’ve had a problem with lately is “vile and disgusting” is what is winning awards and getting shelf space in the dwindling number of stores.

  4. Only problem is that engaging the progressive liberal SJW in a factual debate produces minimal effect. I forget who I was reading yesterday that had blogged that the SJWs do it for social points; being right or winning the debate isn’t their goal. When they run out of counter arguments, they switch to insults and ad hominem attacks. When you point that out to them, then they disappear and refuse to continue the debate since they can’t get any more status out of it.

    The thing is, while debating through to the expletive-filled end doesn’t change their minds, it IS just about the only way to get them to finally shut up and stop spewing their nonsense.

    1. Mike, that is a very good point. They don’t engage in a discussion to discover if a given argument or policy is a good one, and does what it is supposed to do. They already know The Truth, nothing you’re going to say is going to change that.

      I have yet to see a single Lefty acknowledge that letting grown men use the women’s change room is a bad idea. Meanwhile a lingering look from a man is considered rape in Lefty circles. But you can’t have that conversation with a Lefty. They will not engage at a rational level.

      Similarly with self-defense arguments. It doesn’t matter what the facts are, they will never move from their position. Ever. All facts do is get them to the shrieking and poo flinging faster.

      Therefore their purpose in speaking is not the same as ours. No doubt that is how a thought experiment magically becomes “promoting genocide.” De-platforming is part of the same thing.

      1. Hard left seems to be a mystical religion. Words are the symbols used magically to alter the future.

        This might explain the extreme value set on words, and the lack of consideration for the possibility that the outcomes are not controlled and hence may be unexpected.

      2. Partly that, and partly “Convinced against his will? Is of the same opinion, still.”

      1. *Looks closely at Shadowdancer.*
        A post from Larry from 5 years ago. Why do I get the feeling that a good number of you have all these references cross indexed and filed in a master database? Wait a second. Why don’t I have all these references cross indexed and filed in a master database for quick lookups?

        1. I believe “we need a wiki” is a pretty common thing at SArah’s…and then nobody organizes. 😀

          But the Internet Arguing Checklist is kind of famous. (Even I know about it, mostly from people trying to use it fallaciously against me and then having vapors that I don’t genuflect. Humans.)

        2. *laughing* I actually googled it up to get the link. No, I don’t have them cross-indexed; though you’d think I would’ve done that by now… But the idea of doing one of Larry’s posts (and other important referential posts) is a good one because he has good, solid arguments for stuff. His most famous post, as far as I’m aware, is An Opinion on Gun Control. (That’s actually one of the first ones I ever read, and the person who linked it to me is my very Liberal friend, who is pro 2nd amendment, like woah, yeaaaaaaaaars ago.)

          1. Yar. I copied that gun post, with links for attribution, and trot it out whenever necessary. I’m tempted to memorize it so I can use it verbally with the anti-gun gits I run into all the time.

  5. It’s not necessary to debate. I think that this is the mistake made by those who want to ban everything bad. They don’t want to debate so banning solves their problem. But they don’t HAVE to debate. If Milo shows up at your campus you don’t have to go. You don’t have to debate. You can roll your eyes and go get pizza.

    More, it’s quite possible to go to the presentation and listen and reject what is said… without destroying sound equipment as you storm out.

    Because, you know, “listen and accept” is actually pretty ignorant and demanding that people “listen and accept” is damaging, clearly, to those insisting on it because this seems now to be the assumed goal of listening! Instead, listen and reject. Listen and judge. Listen and take some and leave some.

    Read a book. Read and reject the ideas. Heck, half the time the point of the book is to illustrate that the ideas are bad ones. Read and judge. Read and take some and leave some.

    Stop demanding that people who listen must accept, and stop demanding that anyone with a bad idea or caustic personality be silenced ahead of time because you don’t feel like debating today and think you’re the only person in the world smart enough to decide what people should read or hear.

    1. Ah, but you see that sit there, listen, accept, then regurgitate what you’ve been told is the be all end all of our current university “educational” system. Your social justice professors tell you what to think and all you have to do is parrot it back to be a success and win your ticket to a fantastic rewarding job in the field of lesbian dance theory.

  6. “Think of the most vile, disgusting book you have ever read. Would you ban it?”

    Well, that’s actually a bit difficult because most of the “vile, disgusting books” I’ve read were because they were assigned reading in English classes. Banning them would at least mean that future, I mean teachers couldn’t inflict them on unwilling victims.

    Ideally, I’d want to stop those books from being assigned reading, let them find their audience on their own, and let those of us who hate them continue happily reading the Darkship books. On the other hand, if it was a binary choice between banning the book and having English teachers keep forcing kids to read it…er, how long do I get to think it over?

    1. Yeah, I’d have to agree. We had to read The Collector in high school, that was a despicable thing.

  7. Sadly, this is evergreen. This time next year, you may well post it again and it’ll still be relevant.

  8. No, i wouldn’t ban it, i wouldn’t buy it, i wouldn’t read it, but i wouldn’t ban it.

    The thing is, I can immediately NAME the most vile disgusting book I have ever had to read, and i could not wall it because i needed to pass Western Civ.

    1. The Communist Manifesto?
      Mein Kampf?
      Das Kapital?

      Even as different as it was, the Quran wasn’t a wall-able book for me.

      1. Lets put it this was, the book directly insults my 8x great grandfather, as well as several of this compatriots (one of whom is a more distant relative).

  9. Consider this: think of the most vile, disgusting book you have ever read. Would you ban it?

    From where? And is it the proper use of the word “ban” where you cannot obtain it, or the not buying it version, or the not requiring people to read it one?

    I’d have no problem banning it from rich hunting grounds of the targeted populations– most of the examples I can think of are aimed at manipulating vulnerable groups into destroying their lives in a way that appeals to the author– like pedonorming and suicide-promotion to school kids, or a wide range of things in jails, but even if it was possible to ban a book as in prevent it from being available, I wouldn’t. That just gives it power, and keeps people from being able to answer it.

    For the “not forcing people to read it” form of banning….I homeschool because I don’t trust teacher’s judgement. Of course I support parents being able to “ban” books in the meaning of “not let others force their children to read it.”

    1. That’s a good point. Most of the “banned books” that the Library association loves to go on about are things where someone said something to the effect of, “Is it really a good idea to put ’50 Shades of Grey’ in the elementary school library?”

      1. Or “No, you are not making my daughter read soft-core porn for English class, Mr. Creepy 60 year old dude.”

        A lot of the time the “outrage” of “only one parent” turns out to be a known issue where only one parent was willing to throw an abject @#$@# -fit when a teacher is perving on the students.
        It happens because a lot of kids don’t talk to their parents, a lot of kids don’t realize that what a teacher is doing isn’t normal/OK, and a lot of parents do not listen when their kids do talk– and once all those barriers are crossed, the parents then have to actually stand up to the school.

        If that sounded eerily like the backstory for most of the abuse scandals, there’s a reason.

    2. Half The Daughter’s lifetime ago there was a local foo-fa-rah over Carlos Fuentes’ book The Old Gringo.  Some parents found out that it was on the syllabus as required reading for the High School Freshman in the International Baccalaureate program. 

      A number of parents approached teacher asked if there were not other books that could be considered in its place.  The teacher refused to consider a change, and suggest that those parents who were concerned take the option to remove their children from the IB program altogether.  So the parents went to the school board to try and have the book removed from the required reading for the class.

      I was there when one of the members of the school board suggested that if they were to do as the parents were requesting it would be book banning.  Sadly, no one who was in the position to speak had the sense to immediately point out to the school board member that not forcing people to read the book and moving to prevent anyone from being able to read the book are not the same thing.  The book would still be in the school and public libraries, and it was available for purchase in book stores.  Anyone who wanted to could still read it.

      So, at those magic words – book banning – people lost all logic.  It became an argument about book banning.  In the midst of this the local paper stated that, because of their standards, they couldn’t find any passages of the book that they could publish as an example.  The paper still came down against the request of the concerned parents, because everyone knows banning books is evil. 

      1. *Sad* Exactly the examples I grew up with– which is why I instantly get cynical when someone talks about “banning books.”

        1. I would guess because it’s the kind of book where a news paper couldn’t find a single paragraph they could quote and publish.

          1. Just looked it up on Amazon. They have the audiobook available.I listened to a sample clip, and was kinda “Meh.” Evidently Audible had no prob finding a sample clip that wouldn’t horrify the bluehairs.

            1. You’d have to take it up with the newspaper, then– maybe they couldn’t find a clip that they could quote that wasn’t completely “meh.” I’m stuck going off of what they said.

              1. First, I’d have to care. If some school. (or PTA) wants to ban “Huck Finn,” or “To Kill A Mockingbird,” I MIGHT chose to die on THAT hill, but for that book? Prolly not. I plead ignorant.

                1. I’d support a “ban” on “To Kill a Mockingbird” just because I rather enjoyed that book, and they mangle it….

                  1. I love To Kill A Mockingbird. I cannot imagine how a contemporary union member certified teacher would deal with the derisive commentary regarding the modern education school pedagogy of Scout’s teacher

        2. This was back before the turn of the century. The students in question would have been between 12 and 14 and most people still had a problem with all sorts of stuff that they no longer think twice of seeing or hearing on broadcast TV.

  10. Objectionable speech is extremely valuable data. The psychological cost is worth being able to adjust one’s models for when one should run away, and how far.

    Making certain things unmentionable merely ensures that the best counterarguments are not developed and spread.

  11. It is easier to shut people up than change their minds. Shut people up, and you may be surprised about which criteria are used in their decisions.

    Interestingly enough, per the latest Origins thread at Larry’s, GenCon has apparently invited Anita Sarkession as a GoH. Perhaps the political status quo makes that necessary. Wouldn’t it be wiser to wait for the midterms, and confirm that it is so, before committing to such a degree?

    1. Personally, I’d rather listen to, and meet, Larry Correia. With Anita Sarkession, they got a common tater instead of a popular SF&F author. I’d be a bit more enamored with Ms. Sarkession if she took the position of, “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle it.”

    2. Origins is still hoping if they keep the noise going about how they valiantly got rid of the icky-poo Larry, that the harpies will forget that they were *also* having kittens that Origins GOH list didn’t include any of the required vaginal diversity AT ALL.

      1. GenCon and Origins are separate cons. GenCon is the one Larry originally defended against the charge of racism, Origins the one that apparently banned him for that, or for puppies.

    3. GenCon is big enough that they might just be checking that vaginal diversity box, let whoever wants to go to her presentation go and hear her explain again how evil games are, and no one has to care. Does she even play games?

      If they start UNinviting people, that’s a whole different situation.

  12. The fault is in those who were silent in the face of evil.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say “evil”, but I’m facing this situation, right now. Some kid’s lemonade stand got shutdown by the cops, in Denver – so it’s local. According to the one news report I’ve read, Denver laws/codes don’t care, so this is more of a “what’s up with the police?” thing than a “we need to change the law” thing.

    I’m debating with myself whether or not to get involved.

    On the bright side, Denver police are not racist – they shoot everyone.

    1. The only report I heard was that it was called in– were they on the sidewalk? Or on the street, another place where a kid being a kid wouldn’t think about it, but it’s both illegal and can be dangerous for anybody else?

      Hm… it is this case, right?

      They set it up “next to” the Denver Arts Festival (not shown in any of the photos), and “across from their house”– while I can’t see much in the photos, that second one alone would make stuff iffy, and the first one makes it a serious liability issue for the festival organizers if anybody got sick, before the problem that somebody had already paid to be That One Guy selling lemonaid at the festival. Paid both the city, and probably paid the festival.

      Appears that permits are, indeed, required.

  13. think of the most vile, disgusting book you have ever read. Would you ban it?….
    The other stuff. NO. Give a bad review maybe. Not buy the author’s other stuff, more than likely. Ban. no.

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