Falsus in Uno*, Falsus in the back of the omnibus
*A small vehicle, made by Fiat.
Poor old Falsus. He thought if he had a little car of his very own, he could just be an ordinary bloke, able to go where he liked and be entitled to sit in wherever he liked in the bus. But it seems the self-elected, self-selected arbiters of these things have decided that even the back of the bus is not good enough, they need to chuck him off the bus. Under it, preferably.
Ok, I’m being obscure – which should surprise no-one who knows me. I like playing with words and portmanteau concepts. I was referring to the maxim ‘Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus’ (false in one, false in all) and playing on the words as vehicles of appropriate size and nature, with a side reference to people who are discriminated against being forced to occupy certain parts of said bus – and the current attempts to kill off any opposition or desire for independence of action or thought.
As a legal doctrine the maxim has been pretty much rejected. Yep, the witness might have lied or been mistaken about one thing, but that does not mean all their testimony is worthless in its entirety. The fact of a small portion of mistake/lie may make you question the veracity of everything else, but it would take a pattern of that, and proof that it was intentional to do away with the value of the witness’s testimony.
That doesn’t stop various groups either ignoring the idea or embracing it… as they suits their agenda. ‘Mostly peaceful protest’ and ‘violent insurrection’ being the latest US example of arbitrary application of the concept.
Seriously enough, it is very seldom that one part of a group’s actions are approved by the rest of the group – who don’t join in when and if they can – and who shy away from a repeat performance (the pattern thing. So when some elements of your protest crowd commit arson and looting – and you go out protesting tomorrow and the same happens – omnibus seems fair. When you react with dismay and don’t (or at least avoid for some time)… uno – seems fair.
So: what brought about this digression? Well, Baen have published quite a lot of my books. And the publisher, Toni Weisskopf, was due to be Editor Guest of Honor at a forthcoming sf conference – misleadingly labeled ‘Worldcon’ (It’s a principally American, principally English language, and increasingly far left leaning woke fan conference, once the largest sf/fantasy conference it seems to have been on a slow plummet toward irrelevancy for some years, being an order of magnitude at least smaller than the really big Cons, and increasingly more about politics than sf. This year they seem to have made an even worse fustercluck of it than previously – with losing their hosting hotel (along with the deposit) and the professional con-chair, and likely having to go virtual.).
Baen has committed the terrible sin of publishing books from authors across the political spectrum – something no other sf/fantasy publisher has visibly done for a decade or more.
Basically, someone/s at WorldCon’s organizational level decided either to try and make up for their previous monumental and offensive stupidity, and Toni was generous enough to take the olive branch. Look, I know math and stats be much discriminatory and much evul and all, but sooner or later you need to accept that pissing off around 2/3 to ¾ of the potential audience is not a winning strategy and that was what WorldCon had done. So: aside from anything else, this was a chance to mend bridges and maybe staunch the bleeding, and at least give some kind of recovery a chance. Honestly, it was much more important to WorldCon and the left wing of sf publishing (that everyone except Baen in Traditional Publishing) – as that’s a far bigger market than they have, which has increasingly deserted them.
Enter Jason Sanford (and little friends). No, I had never heard of him either. If I were looking for the definition of failure, an ‘author’ who begs on Patreon and who claims Nebula Nominations as a hallmark of quality would be my tell (the Nebs- back when the nominators names appeared next to a nomination, were obviously an incestuous circle jerk… so they made nominators names secret. I’m sure that cured the problem. Oddly the same people no one seems to buy cropped up as Hugo nominees. Also anonymous nomination… Move along. Nothing to see here.). So this wannabe comes up with an ‘expose’ about Baen’s tiny webforum Baen’s Bar (it used to be quite big – before there were many other chat/social platforms). It’s got a bunch of subforums (even I had one – which I must admit I haven’t been to for more than a decade) each with its own moderator. Back in the day you’d left right and center views – depending on where you went. His ‘expose’ is drivel, out of context, imaginary and generally trivial — in keeping with how he earns his authorly income – but it is seized on as a reason to 1) expel Toni as a GoH from WorldCon (because you know, in omnibus, must chuck her under it – even though any sane definition of the Bar was 99.9999% innocuous by any interpretation. Omnibus see. Even if she had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know – and investigated once she did. Not good enough, Guilty. She turned Jason Sanford into a newt. And she has got a wart… maybe.) 2) The little friends mysteriously and suddenly attack the hosting service and other business connections to demand deplatforming because Baen is ‘hate speech and inciting violence’.
Well, I didn’t enjoy Toni being attacked and vilified and removed – even though the latter is their loss, and will, frankly, cut their chances when they even more desperately need that olive branch to zero. They’ve burned their last bridge, methinks. But it’s attacking the business, and livelihoods not only of the publisher but all the authors who still depend on the company that really has me spewingly angry.
The censoring, silencing, book-burning authoritarians are always –EVERY. SINGLE. TIME the same. There’s nothing new about this: history is full of examples – all the same.
Those who cannot win the debate by rational argument….try and silence you. They are not prepared to merely refuse to listen or buy your books. No: they must stop ALL OTHERS listening or buying your books. Because their self-declared purity and minds are strong. Ordinary people are untermench, not able to decide your words are evil for themselves. Those are not with them are – to them, weak, easily-led and need to be protected from those words. Why, they might think the wrong thoughts! Historically, they burned books and attacked public speakers. Now they will try and silence you and deplatform you from the internet.
And if that fails, they try and destroy you.
First they come for your standing in the community, your business, your livelihood. They lie, libel, slander, attack your suppliers and providers demanding they cut you off. Your friends, family, children are all acceptable collateral damage.
If that fails, what comes next are pogroms, gulags, extermination camps, genocide.
And game theory and history say the only way to avoid that is… to pay them back in their own coin. We’re not much good at destroying and preventing other from making up their own minds. But we can at least stop giving money and platforms to those who demand ‘cancellation’ – and support those who stand up for free speech. We can and must build and support structures which are beyond their reach. Frankly, that’s as good as destroying them, as they fail to build or maintain, just take over what others build, and then run it until it dies.
Image :Jordan Holiday, Pixabay.