The Enduring Power of the Designated Scapegoat

I find it amusing to hear mutterings that despite having decamped en masse (and trust me, in my case there’s rather a lot of masse involved) for the Dragon Awards, alleged Sad Puppies are mysteriously to blame for anything and everything that goes wrong involving a Worldcon.

It’s sad, really. Despite having had no part in anything Hugo related for 2 years in my case and longer for Sarah, Larry, and Brad, we’re the designated scapegoats. Honestly, you’d think that Larry making money by the bucketful, Brad doing his jobs and writing when he can, Sarah fighting illness to write, and me being, well, me wouldn’t be a threat to anyone.

And yet…

This is the calling card of every abusive organization everywhere. Pick or create a group that has no actual power but can be made to look as though it poses a threat to decent people everywhere, then blame that group for everything that goes wrong. If it’s done with sufficient competence and the means of communication are controlled enough, generations can be raised believing in this nebulous threat that ruins everything.

It’s how you get the bizarre dichotomy in many Arabic nations with their designated scapegoats being portrayed as filthy stupid subhumans who are at the same time capable of using controlled animals to spy (I really wish I knew where that article got to. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so bloody tragic). The Nazis – the real ones, not the fakes that get called up these days – did the same thing, although they were smart enough to paint their untermensch as physically and ethically sub-par, not intellectually. Communists got smarter, since “capitalist” really means “somewhat free human acting in a normal human fashion” (before the word “capitalism” got coined it was called “trade” and everyone did it in some form) and the other thought crimes that earned a show trial were – and still are, I suspect – defined sufficiently vaguely that anyone could be trapped by them.

I’d wonder if the trad publishing industry and capital-F Fandom (as opposed to small-f fandom which operates on the principle of “you love it, you’re a fan”) realizes what a long and inglorious history they’re echoing with their constant whines of “Puppies!”, only I’ve already seen that most of them aren’t that educated. They might have degrees dripping off their brag walls, but they’re degrees that indoctrinate, not educate.

I’ve yet to see evidence of reasoned thought or even logic emerge from that direction (of course, the so-called argument that logic is a tool of the patriarchy might have something to do with that). What I have seen is adherence to the official line regardless of any evidence – to the extent that I suspect that if smacked upside the head with contradictory evidence many of the loudest voices would not recognize it for what it is.

After all, there are none so blind as those that refuse to see. And there is no better scapegoat than one that doesn’t exist, because then it cannot be disproved.



  1. Having a scapegoat means never having to say “I’m in this mess because my core operating principles are wrong and non-functional”.

    Cuba and Venezuela are failing not because Marxism is an economic cargo cult based on faulty 18th century pseudoscience. No, it’s because the USA is making them fail.

    Worldcon is not failing because modern third wave feminism and intersectionism is equivalent of avoiding drowning by standing on another swimmer’s head. It’s because deep cover Sad Puppies are making things bad!

        1. Commissar Butthurt’s babble hurt my brain. It’s the equivalent of a long trip on a train next to some junior high snob chick loudly ranting into her phone about all the people in school she doesn’t like.

          1. An amazing part of her screed consists of ‘I haven’t read this’ followed by swipes at that particular Amazon-centered publisher, and then swipes at AU.

        2. So…here’s the thing. I’d heard of exactly two of the individual books on the Hugo ballot this year, and heard of two of the book series. For just about everything else, my reaction was either “what” or “who?”
          Now, admittedly, I don’t keep my thumb on the pulse of what the literati want, but Ms. Buhlert seems utterly unwilling to admit that what she sees is not the be-all and end-all. Of course, that’s probably because she can’t stand the fact that a convention where the panel topics are “let’s talk about how to make awesome stuff” has an attendance rate more than an order of magnitude higher, and an average age that is half of, one where the panel topics are “let’s talk about how to express the proper identity politics.”

          1. To me, it really is no different from the high school circle queen declaring that SHE knows better about what fashions and makeup and styles and ‘what is cool’ is only ever determined by HER. “I’ve never heard of that brand name so it must be subpar and not even worth looking at!”

            1. “To me, it really is no different from the high school circle queen…”
              She seems to be more the gal who was the queen bee way back in junior high. She’s still got her little clique, and while she’s still teacher’s pet and school admin kissup, most of the students don’t know who she is, or really care what she thinks.

    1. Yeah, Scalzi’s assurances that Worldcon has always been at war with Eurasia Eastasia are high comedy, along with his apparent belief that blocking someone on Twitter actually makes them stop talking. Dude, that doesn’t even make those people stop talking on Twitter, much less on platforms favored by those whose thoughts take more than 120 characters to express. I mean, that’s Bugblatter Beast-level stupidity.

      Not to worry. They’ve got this under control. Just give a few more panels to Booger Tic Tac, Fozzy Lollipop, and their fellow inhabitants of the Amazon SaleRank abyssal plain, and everything will be fine. The rubes won’t notice. Really. There’s nothing people like better than shelling out a few thousand bucks for three days of Maoist self-criticism sessions and lectures on “toxic masculinity”. Good times!

      In a followup, Resnick mentions that this is the first time he hasn’t been at least an attending member since 1965. Gee, I wonder what could’ve brought that on?

      Perhaps next year’s Worldcon can finally beat BronyCon in terms of attendees. Of course, next year’s BronyCon has been canceled because of low attendance, but hey, it’s a realistic goal!

    2. They stuck Resnick on a panel and -hoped- he would attend? After the cover art thing a few years ago? Bwhaha!

      1. Probably more like, he *always* goes so clearly he’ll be there and we don’t have to check.

        Let me tell you about the time I failed to try out for a play and three weeks into rehearsal the teacher who was directing the thing exploded at me in the hallway for never showing up!

    3. The fact that Resnick went out of his way to emphasise that he’s not a member or supporting member of WorldCon seems a tad . . . pointed?

  2. See? You are looking at it the wrong way. The problems at worldcon really are… well, not really the puppies fault so much as a natural progression of the butt hurt engendered by the puppy movement. The puppy movement lifted the vale a little and showed the rot beneath.

    The Leftists of worldcon are merely, desperately, trying “fix” it using the only tools they have. Blame, finger pointing, demagoguery, entitlement, moral equivalency, etc. etc. etc. and, of course it is only working to tear them apart, because that’s all the Left knows how to do.

    Puppy’s fault? No. But with the puppies no longer there to fight against, they can only do what they are doing… Turn on each other.

    1. “The puppy movement lifted the veil a little and showed the rot beneath.”

      More civilized than I’d have put it: the puppies stole the bedcurtains and showed Lannisters beneath.

  3. But of course we’re at fault, comrades. We pointed out the flaws. We predicted what could likely happen if the course was kept. What greater outrage could we have committed than not being sufficiently progressive? None I tell you.

      1. The only thing that would be worse would be one of their own pointing out the flaws.

      1. Thanks for the link! I have no idea which one I remember reading about it… but the complete lack of cognitive anything around those is just… incredible. And hilarious. The kind of person who could believe that anyone is an evil mastermind and a brainless moron is really… well, the latter.

  4. Pick or create a group that has no actual power but can be made to look as though it poses a threat to decent people everywhere, then blame that group for everything that goes wrong.

    Much of this has been touched on by others here…

    You had challenged them.  In doing so you exposed a weakness and wedged open a crack in their carefully constructed world.  It stung.  And they don’t ever want that to happen again.  Therefore it cannot be let go.  

    Holding on to it lets them feel superior.   It gives them a cause to rally the remaining faithful around.   It provides them a place to set the blame for any down turn.   It allows them to avoid self examination, and to dismiss anyone who questions them from within or without.  That at this time you are no longer an active threat, well they what to make sure the treat is never ever resurrected.  Meanwhile they can present themselves as daring and brave. (It is easier to poke a straw dog than face down an active threat.)  

        1. Banned from Starbucks, doncha know,
          Banned from Starbucks just for suckin’ a little joe…

          (…that’s ‘orrible…)

            1. Observing the state of the state since they legalized pot I don’t think it has helped. Things seem to be sliding down hill even faster.

  5. You can look at it as us being the scapegoats, or you can look at it as us living i their heads rent-free forever.

    What greater weapon is there than to be sitting innocently reading a book while your enemies make themselves suffer?

    The best part is that as long as they keep blaming us horrid Puppies… they’ll never find the real problem.

    My popcorn bowl runneth over.

    1. Oh, the entertainment value is immense, I just have to keep ducking the raging schadenboners that follow each outbreak. Trust me, getting hit in the eye with one isn’t the most enjoyable experience.

      1. I know my schadenboner gets more priapic every time I see the screaming about Trump, or the Puppies, or every single over-reach of power they do.

        The Stalker being unable to do more than snipe at me on PJM? Sprinkles on a doughnut.

        We really do live rent free in their heads.

  6. Scapegoating makes sense. Otherwise you’d have to question why the Usual Suspects are *still* so obsessed with Sad Puppies two years after Sad Puppies ended. They “won” (or so they keep saying). So why can’t they act like it?

    No wonder there’s dim-bulbs going around trying to blame WorldCon’s mess on the Puppies: they saw all the blog posts and comments about us and assumed we were still a going concern.

    1. From Margaritaville, by Jimmy Buffett, for those scratching their heads.
      And like those old songs of ancient days the legend of the Sad Puppies shall live on in the minds of both good and evil intent. And you see, we didn’t go away, we just, having accomplished our goals, decided it was time to move on. But the CHORF and SJW know that we’re all still out here, and given proper motivation could easily rise up and spank their sorry butts yet again.
      As the saying goes: the guilty flee where no man pursueth.

    2. I always thought Jimmy Buffet went through more character growth over the course of that song than most of the puppy-kickers have in their entire lives.

    3. Probably someone who sliced up his foot stepped on a conch shell in paradise and is on a subsequent blender full of margaritas …

      1. Stepped on a pop top, blew out my flip flop.
        Which tells you the song harkens way back to when beer and soda cans actually had pop tops that separated from the can. Banned as idiots tended to throw them into lakes and streams for the fish to eat. Or so the urban legend goes.
        Of course I, being older than dirt, remember back before pop tops of any sort when any young lad worth his salt had ready access to what was euphemistically known as a church key, a tool with which to both pierce beer cans and lever off soda bottle caps.

        1. I’d heard (but have not verified) that the pull-tab pop-top was done away with partly as they tabs became foot-hazards when randomly discarded and perhaps more from those who ‘disposed’ of the, by dropping them into the can and then drinking from the can… and cuts or choking could result.

          I wonder how much was design evolution from that sort of thing and how much realization that the new aluminum cans could be so made. I am fairly sure the stay-on-can design we are now familiar with came after the transition away from steel cans.

          Alcoa made a big deal of recyclability (“Alcoa can’t wait!”) as I recall, but steel recycles as well – and can be magnetically separated from other materials. Aluminum does make for lighter, which adds up when shipping by the trailer-load. I do recall seeing old (steel) can remains in the woods – rusted spots or a ring of very rusty metal. Aluminum, with the (protective!) oxide layer, just hangs around.

        2. Pop tops? I remember people who decorated their dorm rooms with pop top garlands and a couple of girls who made belts and other accessories out of them.

  7. Just voted for the Dragon awards this point in even considering Hugo voting….that has jumped the shark some time ago.

  8. It’s all Straw Puppies all the way down.

    After all, they couldn’t oppose Puppies without making up something worth opposing. And then there’s that Cora person sifting the Dragon award lists for Puppy evidence and not finding any (much) but if you’re looking for Straw Puppies because you never actually *saw* a real one, how could she possibly know what to look for?

    1. because Frau Buhlert doesn’t know that Dragon Con represents a much wider spread of fandom than the closed cliques she is used to?

    2. Frau Bhulert? [whinny!] You’re supposed to make horse sounds when you say that name. ~:D

      She’s a German chick. They get all bent out of shape when people don’t colour inside the lines.

      1. We’re fairly sure that she’s not only an Eastern German chick, but an Eastern German chick of commissar extraction, and rather longs for the good old days when there was a nice big wall through the middle of Berlin that we evil wrongthunkers could get lined up against and shot.

            1. I personally think both, because I embrace the power of ‘and’. Especially since the bitch has made it pretty much illegal to try defend oneself against assault from her special anointed ‘poor unfortunate souls’ and discussions about it were smashed as hate speech.

  9. And since I know this page wants to stay as apolitical as possible, the Dragon award list is a great example of a “Puppy” list. Before people were bullied (or simply feared what they knew of the toxic nature of their friends) out of *allowing* themselves on a Puppy list, it was all about diversity of ideas, of a big tent that included authors from the far-left or actual communists, to the far-right, but most importantly one that did not ignore wildly popular books and profoundly talented authors.

    Any list with S.A. Corey on it is a “Puppy” list.

    No matter what the Straw Puppies were up to, the flesh and blood Puppies were trying to work for an inclusive “big tent” that represented the breadth of fandom and the genre.

    1. It’s funny how Frau Buhlert and Cantankerous Fulmination completely misunderstand us and our relation to the Dragon Awards. Predictable, but funny.

      1. Because they can’t understand anyone who isn’t trying to be part of the Grand Progressive Monothink ™

        1. “We will achieve diversity by winnowing the field!”

          “The field it hath been winnowed! Observe the diversity of the field!”

          (Otherwise known as “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”)

          What’s terribly *terribly* funny is Frau Buhlert’s sifting of identities and counting of penises. But I ask you… if there are a greater percentage of women nominated for Dragons than the percentage of men nominated for Hugos… who wins the “diversity” toss?

          Diversity is an English word and it has a meaning. It means *diverse*. It doesn’t mean “the same”.

          1. “The field it hath been winnowed! Observe the diversity of the field!”

            Doesn’t that mean the field is full of weeds??

              1. I’d rather the field full of penises. (There’s got to be a reason she’s counting the things, right? Making sure they’re well grown, upstanding specimens?)

            1. Weeds, possibly weed, are those plants that survive on their own merit and grow in spite of the wishes of the masters of the plantation.

  10. At least in Orwell, the mandatory daily expression of hate was only for two minutes a day. It must be exhausting to have to keep it up non-stop. I almost feel sorry for the Puppy Kickers and their ilk.


  11. I haven’t heard anyone try to blame the Puppies for the scheduling mishap at WorldCon this year. I’ve heard a good bit of discussion as to whether the Dragon Awards are turning out to be what the Puppies expected, but that’s all. Have I missed something?

    1. A couple of people on Twitter insinuating that WorldCon’s problems have some Puppy connection. And the general uptick in talking about Puppies in general that’s occurred this summer.

    2. And TNH didn’t seem to be able to talk about World Con without mentioning Puppies. I’m not sure that’s “blame” but it’s certainly in the same mind-space.

      That and a few people (because they can’t help themselves) saying that the problems were old white people and connecting that to Puppies.

      It’s all incredibly stupid though and hopefully most people are sane. Twitter amplifies the Stupid.

      It’s not possible in any version of reality that resembles *reality* that every last person on the World Con staff wasn’t 100% ideologically compliant and all of their screw-ups 100% normal human failings.

      They still have a new panel, though, on how to be a good ally and how to (properly) grovel when you screw up. Because the sort of person who’d even go to that panel isn’t 100% ideologically compliant already. (This is me, rolling my eyes and hurting myself.)

    3. As for the Dragon awards… if they’re given to fan favorites and reflect what is most popular in the field, then it’s what Puppies wanted.

      Expected? That’s a different question.

      The butt hurt about Dragon Con satisfying themselves about the legitimacy of votes rather than releasing all of their internals to anyone and everyone cracks me up, though. Some people just can’t STAND not to be given the power to judge what other people get to do.

    4. You missed the Cacophonous Fornication blog, for which I congratulate you. That’s pretty much all he talks about these days.

  12. Ain’t it funny, in a most sad way?

    We told them not to pick up the gun; They picked up the gun.

    We told them not to load the gun; They loaded the gun.

    We told them not to point the gun at their foot; They pointed the gun at their foot.

    We told them not to pull the trigger; They pulled the trigger.

    And it’s somehow magically, tragically our fault their foot hurts?!?

  13. The Ugly Hugoers hate the Puppies because…they LACK imagination. They’re stuck in the past and can’t and WON’T change it, Is Bummer for them, being pointedly ignored by the Puppies who have moved on.

  14. I’m going to be very busy next weekend doing my best to make lots of money at Michigan Comic Con, a brand new venture by the promoters of Tampa Bay Comic Con and Indiana Comic Con. I’m going to miss some friends I’d been hoping to see, and I’d been looking forward to seeing my brother’s new place in San Jose. But even before this latest blowup, it was clear that there was no way we’d come out ahead vending at Worldcon, and the logistics of getting to it right after TBCC were hairy. So I’m glad that I’ll have something to keep my mind busy during Worldcon weekend so I don’t brood, and that will have a reasonable chance of bringing in some of the money we need to turn our finances back around after the reverses of 2016 and 2017.

    I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth my time to do some Bittercon posts for Worldcon on my LiveJournal blog. At least now that I can pre-load posts, I don’t have to be scrambling to write them after a long day at our MCC booth, but it’s still time that comes out of my prep time for MCC (I have two large shipments of merchandise inbound, and will need to inventory and price them, then get them into our van and ready to go, and I’m still catching up on sleep after TBCC). And from the sound of it, it’s quite possible that the panel topics are so insipid that they’d be completely uninspiring of online discussion (unlike the great fun I had doing Bittercons on ConFusion and Capricon, old favorites that had become too small to be profitable and had to be cut from our roster).

  15. If I’m not too late: You can find almost all the stories about Israeli spy animals linked and derided at You can find more, and nastier, derision at Always a pleasure.

Comments are closed.