Omnibus?

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.

28 comments

  1. Locus Online noted in their People and Publishing Roundup last week that the worm Sandford had placed his first novel with Apex. Sounds like he’s trying to generate publicity.

        1. For this purpose, favorable reviews of good books work better than disparagement, however deserved, of bad. (Knowing that two books out of a hundred are good is better than knowing two are bad.)

    1. Problem being I’m already not participating in WorldCon since the SP days. Nor am I buying anything from Tor because of their behavior. some@55hole author appears to be self published, so can’t even go after his publisher. Other than reading the sample on Amazon and leaving reviews of that (I’m not giving him any of my money) the only other thing would be to go after his primary employer. I believe Richard Paolini has already contacted them.

  2. To quote Leslie Fish: “and when you won all those games that you play, you just might see there’s no one left to pay. We’ll have the whole world that you threw away and we won’t know you at all.”

  3. I don’t remember him, but someone (Amanda Green maybe) pointed out that during Sad Puppies Scalzi had referenced some observation of his. The thing is, his observation was nonsensical. It was something like ‘the car is blue, so the pancakes are not waffles.’

    At some point there will be retaliation if the woke brigade keep pushing. Given that things in general seem to be trending towards a hot civil war in the US, those responsible for attempted deplatforming of ordinary working men might just find themselves on the wrong end of the bayonet. That would be an unfortunate, but foreseeable, outcome of attacking someone’s source of income during a war.

  4. Dis-inviting an invited guest from your party without cause (particularly due to hearsay) is the height of bad manners. The accusation made by Mr. Sanford is the weakest of weak sauce; that Toni Weisskopf allowed -other people- to say “bad things” on Baen’s Bar. This is at the level of complaining to Canadian Pacific about graffiti you saw on one of their rail cars. Plus the complainant doesn’t even identify which rail car has the offending message, because it was on there 20 years ago.

    I think that’s a fair assessment of the principle, really. Does CP inspect the graffiti content of ever rail car looking for racism? No, they inspect them to make sure they don’t fall off the tracks and kill somebody. If you took a picture of a rude message 20 years ago, can they do anything about it? Is there even to be any discussion of what constitutes a rude message? Because I read his complaint (bleat is perhaps fair) and I didn’t see anything that made me recoil in horror. Free people discussing things.

    It would have been nice to see the WorldCon organizers stick to their guns and tell Mr. Sanford to step off. That would have been a very positive sign that “fans” were interested in Science Fiction more than partisan politics. Instead we have even more proof that partisanship is their sole motivation, and SF has nothing to do with it.

    That they chose to attempt a shutdown of Baen as a business is more serious, and requires a response.

    Currently there is no “mobbing” legislation that prevents mass sock-puppet attacks of a company’s suppliers and internet provider. Such an attack has never been possible before. Physical letter-writing campaigns can’t really be done by sock-puppets, because of post-marks. You get 10,000 form letters from the same post-mark, you treat it as 1 letter. Not to mention, stamps are expensive. You need a big grass-roots organization to pull that off.

    Sock-puppets are cheap and easy. Even morons can do them, and many morons do. There are whole companies that provide sock-puppet services, as seen by Vile666’s traffic. Thousands of clicks generated by perhaps 100 or so actual humans, at a guess.

    There does seem to be a need to curtail this kind of attack, it is really no different than the mob collecting “protection” money. “Nice publishing company ya got here. Be a shame if something might… happen to it.”

    Will -all- Conservative leaning or even Conservative tolerant publishing be destroyed by partisan attacks from the Left? Will consolidation continue in the publishing space as the Big 5 become the Big 4, and presently the Big One? A partisan monopoly on public speech? That certainly appears to be the goal.

    Absent legal recourse, we are left with extra-legal. Direct action is a losing proposition, I’ve never been a fan of it. I’m more inclined to change what is acceptable in society by telling stories. One gains allies by the cartload in a strained environment like this one.

    Since Dave is talking about buses, I propose a Sad Puppy/Mad Genius Omnibus. It is not that difficult to generate an e-book, I’ve done it myself. I’d be willing to contribute time and labor to something like that. I’m willing to contribute a story if required, to help make the thing go. Got one I could have ready in a short time.

    The Hugo Gernsbach Memorial Omnibus? The “It’s Alive!” Collection from the Mad Genius Club? The Compleate Noble Manatee Edition of Stories to Reduce Puppy Related Sadness?

    Why screw around acting like Lefties when we can return fire in a way that makes money? Make them look like -@55h0les- while gettin’ paid.

    1. “Currently there is no “mobbing” legislation that prevents mass sock-puppet attacks of a company’s suppliers and internet provider.”

      I’m a legal assistant for the day job, and it behooves me to point out that legislation doesn’t *prevent* anything. It sets up a framework for punishing certain behavior, but whether the behavior occurs or not is independent of there being legislation about it.

      And YES, when politicians (the vast majority of whom are lawyers, at least in my neck of the woods) say we need laws to “prevent” such-and-such, it irks the heck out of me, and I vote against. They should know better.

      1. Note that I did not say “there oughta be a law!” I, like you, am not a fan of government intervention in such things. That’s how you get to Ministry of Truth from free country.

        I’m saying we should stick to what we’re good at and write a book that skewers them like a barbecued shrimp. Have fun, make them look bad and get paid doing it.

        Because they’ve based their whole thing on us being slavering racists and unhinged insurrectionists. All we have to do is print a book of decent stories. That’ll make them look like liars. No message fic, just space ships and secret elves. Maybe some lippy robot spiders might be included. ~:D

        1. You could organize your own free range counter mob. I wrote an essay for Mrs. Hoyt on the subject. The lefties are doing so, by the numbers and on the public dime.

          Nah. Better not. Too “gamergate”

          1. What they’re doing is the same old agitation they’ve been doing since Karl Marx was cadging drinks in Paris. They’re good at it, and if we all do it too then all you get is more agitation. No resolution, just hardship.

            I’m saying we suck at that stuff. As a group, that’s not our thing. We write stories.

            So let’s write a book of stories and put it out there. Politically incorrect stories where the good guys win and the bad guys kind of slink off in embarrassment that they even tried it. Let them scream “terrorists!” about that. And they will, that’s the good part. They’ll have to.

            The point is to -ridicule- them in front of everybody. You can’t reason with them, BUT you can reason with everybody else. Does anyone take Scientology seriously? No way, they’re ridiculous. We want the Woke in the same category with Scientology, just another nut cult. That’s where they’re headed, I’d like to speed the process along and see everyone profit from it.

            Most people have a hard drive full of stories they never did anything with. Dust one off, send it in to the anthology, put it up on Amazon as a Sad Puppy Adjacent Production (or whatever, it doesn’t matter) and then watch the fireworks from the Perpetually Outraged. They even provide us with free publicity.

  5. It’s kind of funny, how the active attempts to actually ban books started up about five, ten years after even folks who support “banned book week” had to admit they knew the books hadn’t actually been banned at all, the examples were all “kids not forced to read them for a class.”
    Which may be a good idea, or may be a bad idea, but didn’t even involve removing the books from the room or the library, much less actively preventing attempts to read them.

    1. What’s fun this time is that they’re trying to ban books in an environment where your -phone- can carry thousands of books, can receive and transmit them, and if you were tight you could even write a whole book on your phone.

      But they’re trying anyway, because making other people shut up is their go-to method of control.

    2. folks who support “banned book week” had to admit they knew the books hadn’t actually been banned at all
      I’ve always wondered about this. They never said who had banned them. Or, if they did, it was some individual school district or something equally trivial. Not to say that shouldn’t be highlighted or mentioned somewhere, but it was hardly a national crisis.

      1. If you dug enough you could usually find enough information to dig up the original incident.

        Well, if you’re say a high school kid whose parents finally got through her head to go look and see, and who gets up three hours early so she’s got quiet time to Look Around on the internet, about 1998. 😉

        In one case the “banned book” had explicit tab-a-to-slot-b and was “banned” by not requiring it to be read by grade school kids.

        Other things were where parental objections to books I can remember being used to kill my love of reading were listened to.
        (If I could cause every copy of Bridge to Terabithia to burst into self-consuming flame, I would seriously consider it.)

        I know a few years ago there were a couple of websites that actually looked up the stories behind the “banned books.” They’ve probably been canceled as wrong-think.

        1. One that was local to me was grade school parents asking that a rather explicit sex-ed book be removed from the library. It was something that shouldn’t have been available to 8 year olds in the first place, and the middle and high schools never ordered it, as they had health classes that covered the same ground but in a more clinical setting.

      2. They literally were claiming that if a teacher could not force children to read the book on pain of academic failure, it was banned.

      1. Addendum.

        I put a small fox in the henhouse by ordering a copy from the display budget and adding it to the BBW display.

        “But… Didn’t you know? They banned him because he’s gay and Jewish and married to a black dude.” […and escaped their plantation]

        It stayed.

  6. I feel like book-burnings are on their way. My local bookstore owner feels the same, based on what she hears from staff and customers. I’m building the home library even more (Dear? Are we up to 10,000 yet?). Real histories, the classics, *good fun readable novels*.

    Considering the way libraries are busily deaccessioning and stuffing dumpsters, don’t wait. Your copy of an unusual, small print run may be one of the few surviving copies in another decade or so.

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