“Moral high ground is a wonderful place to site your artillery.”
Originally attributed to Napoleon, it would not surprise me to learn the Corsican truly said such a thing. After all, Artillery was his field of expertise before he became a general or an Emperor. The Emperor of France was a Red Leg. Eat your hearts out cavalry.
Napoleon understood that when your artillery is properly sited on an elevated position, you’re able to increase the distance you can loft a round. You also increase the visible distance at which you can effectively sight an enemy force approaching your position. During the Napoleonic Era of armies moving to contact in lines and columns, this mattered a great deal. The more time your opponent spent observed, under accurate artillery fire, the more likely you were to shatter his morale and slaughter a goodly number of his troops.
George Pickett bears witness to this violently harsh reality. Out of 12,500 men who charged the Union center at Gettysburg, less than 6,000 returned to friendly lines. Given that Meade’s Army of the Potomac suffered less than 1,500 casualties in the engagement, we may consider this a gross disparity.
Even in our modern digital age, this matters. Modern shell artillery can put rounds down range nearly 30 miles, within a 10-meter circle of error. George Pickett would’ve killed for such firepower on his side, if only to take out the Union artillery positions which devastated his men as they crossed that bloody field.
I love artillery. It’s what I did in the Marine Corps. Learned how to run 155mm howitzers, then wound up doing those plus 81mm mortars when I was in Afghanistan. Both have their uses, and despite difference in size, and procedure, certain facets are the same. My billet was to be recorder. I sat on the radio listening to fire commands from the Fire Direction Center and writing them down, then relating that info to the section chief and the ammo team.
When the section chief would check mil settings, or shell and fuze combo, he does so by repeating it back to the reporter. If it’s incorrect, the record tells him, and he repeats the data. If it’s correct, the reporter yells “VERIFIED!”
Every fire command is written, by hand, so that the particular guns on the gun line have a physical record of what they should be doing. It must be neat, orderly and written correctly. If you screw up, the Sergeant is going to make your life hell. You must relay all fire commands verbally and do so correctly. Or the Sergeant will make your life hell. For this reason, recorders are expected to ask FDC for a restatement of mission data if there is any doubt about what we heard FDC say.
I was learned this lesson rather neatly at 29 Palms in January, doing a night shoot as part of a field op. Call comes down, and I missed the command “Do Not Load.” And I realize this only after we’ve rammed the round into the breech. Howitzer shells make a neat ringing sound when rammed. You can hear it up and down the gun line as the crews work. And ours was the only ring heard.
Our A-Chief was a Corporal and I turned to him. “Corporal. I think FDC said Do Not Load.” “Crap. Staff Sergeant, we got a problem!” We talked. Staff Sergeant swore. A bunch. Then he said to me “You better pray we shoot this mission, because otherwise you’re gonna be digging alongside Ownby. Cause its a pain in the ass to extract a round and explain it to battery gunny, feel me devil?”
“Yes Staff Sergeant.”
“From now on, if you think you heard something, ask. I’ll back you on it because that’s your job. Okay?”
“Yes Staff Sergeant.”
2 minutes later, we were told to cancel special instructions “Do Not Load” and fire when ready. At which point Gun 6 pulled the lanyard and made a joyful noise unto the Lord. FDC was suitably impressed with our speed and my Corporal reminded me that I “got real f**king lucky.” I won’t argue that at all. But I learned a valuable lesson that night in the California desert and it’s stuck with me ever since: before you do something serious, make sure you’re right. Make sure you’re accurate.
In the world of literature, novels and books, we’ve had lots of turmoil over the last 7 years. Accusations have flown all over the place. As a conservative-minded man, I’d like to think the people I support, and those on my side, retain their integrity in matters. It’s supposed to be one of our hallmark traits, alongside things like Honor, Character, Dignity.
You can dislike a person, without sinking to lying about them. You can dislike an organization without creating false stories about them. I dislike Irene Gallo because she chose to make extremely unprofessional comments about myself and others as being “Nazis,” after which she tendered an “apology.” Irene, sweetie, Lucy Pinder’s 32GG tits on Page 3 less fake than what you put out during that little escapade. That was shameful of you.
I rather intensely dislike Irene’s behavior. That does not mean that I need to make up stories about Irene burning kittens alive with a blow torch while poisoning the water supply in an orphanage. The truth is damning enough. Nothing more is needed. Or necessary. Sorry post-modernism philosophers- truth is not subjective. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it less real. You’re just not good at handling bad news.
Now, somebody in the audience will likely say “Jon, why are you so prejudiced against progressivism?” Folks, let me recite the words of Gunny Hartman “There is no racial bigotry here… Here you are all equally worthless!” Just because I speak out against progressives doesn’t mean I don’t have disdain for people on my “side” of the political spectrum, or the arguments going on at the cultural level. If anything, I dislike them just as much. Why? Because they know better, and they still choose to act the fool.
Don’t tell me I “attacked you” and I “shouldn’t attack people on our side.” I’m not attacking anything. When I’ve ram a 155mm HE round through the roof of your house and send you to kingdom come for taking potshots at my friends with a machine gun, that’s an attack. When I stab you in the guts with my Ka-Bar, that’s an attack. Telling you to quit lying about a Given topic, and what they said or didn’t say isn’t an attack. It’s a correction. You rage quitting the conversation and blocking me makes you the fool- you can’t take correction. Doing this repeatedly to others shows a lack of maturity on your part.
In the Corps, we police our own. Lance Corporal steps outta line, another Lance Corporal should be the one to step up and fix him before a Corporal gets ahold of him. Or your Sergeant drop kicks you in the chest when he comes off the back of a 7-ton truck during a night move because you screwed up. Or you dig sandbags for hours. Or you do 800 mountain climbers in a dirt pit while screaming “I’m a f**king moron! One! I’m a f**king moron! Two!” We correct each other because combat zones have consequences.
This conflict over culture has consequences. It demands that we not give in to the base instinct of lying, dehumanizing, and othering those with whom we quarrel. Such is dishonorable. Such will not be tolerated. I don’t want you to my left or right, I don’t want you laying down suppressive fire from behind me as I charge forward, if I can’t trust you to do the right thing.
This means not lying about people like Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder, Scalzi, Glyer, or anybody else in this conflict. Such actions destroy our credibility and integrity.
This means that when a panelist says something rude about Tolkien, and SFWA is merely live-streaming the event, don’t claim SFWA said those things about Tolkien.
When Tor writer Elise Ringo says “This is what I crave from female villains: women who are extended the same complexity and depth- and, potentially, sympathy- as their male counterparts, and also women who are really truly bad… Dark Lords are all very well, but the world needs more Dark Ladies…”
Your reply should not include the words “Tor.com calls on writers not to write female villains.”
When a fellow author says they don’t want to be included in your drama on Twitter, then blocks you on rather preemptively, don’t go “declare war” on them. That’s not just rude, that’s unprofessional.
When Brandon Sanderson announces that he’s going to be making some very carefully thought-out decisions about his involvement with a con just because he’s trying to be careful about his professional relationships, and you scream “MUHVIRTUESIGNALING!” you’re not impressing anybody but your own echo chamber and stroking your ego.
None of the highlighted bad behavior advances forward the cause of having better quality literature people will want to read, buy, and re-read in science fiction and fantasy. I have seen far too much utilization, by Conservatives and Libertarians, of leftist tactics and beliefs. KNOCK THAT OFF!
Let the progressives and socialists play by the rules of Alinsky! Let them continue making the mistakes which they have. Remember the phrase “basket of deplorables” and what that did for neutrals during the election? Hillary Clinton remembers. And her bitterness over that statement will haunt her the way Pickett was haunted by the death of his men at Gettysburg on that bloody day. Let those who sit on the fence and wonder what they should do see by our actions, by our words, by our conduct that we are worth respecting and supporting!
If you can’t act without even the slightest shred of honor, integrity, maturity or sound judgement about these matters, you’re going to find out just how lonely life can be. Nobody will want to deal with you, work with you, or associate with you. Those who would have been your fans will not recommend your work to their friends and colleagues. They will not make an effort to seek your work out and extol praises about its brilliance. Ignominy awaits such a person. Don’t put yourself there.