Chewing the Straw
It has become a cliché of political arguments that when someone on the conservative-libertarian axis gets even mildly heated, the call for civility goes up. It goes up not only from the left but from our fellows on the right (I still protest libertarians being on the right, but never mind) who say that we have to stay civil to be taken seriously.
Well and good, and in principle I agree. I was taught to wipe my feet before entering someone’s living room, not to talk with my mouth full and not to slander people unless I’m absolutely sure of the charges and/or the charges matter to the discussion at hand.
However there are times when the most decent and professionally-minded woman in the world [which I’m not -- I’m just Sarah] feels like hoisting down the lacy handkerchief and running the jolly roger up the mast.
There have been many of these in the last two years or so since I came out of the political closet. My kids at cons where people don’t know who they are will be told that I’m racist, homophobic, a prude, and countless other things that make them wonder about whom, exactly, these people are talking.
Larry Correia, faced with the same dichotomy, found himself talking about THAT Larry, you know, the one who is racist and sexist and hates women and gays. He calls him Straw-Larry, and we all agree that guy is a d*ck. What precisely he has to do with the gentle, mild mannered and brilliant Larry Correia, though no one knows.
I suspect straw-Sarah (who is a b*tch) hangs out with straw Larry and they go out at night and beat up on people because there’s nothing good on the telly.
I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met her.
The latest of these moments was when our piece on editing was picked up by the Passive Voice, which, for those who don’t know, is one of the best resources for indie publishing around. (I so badly want their t-shirt that says "BezelBezos is my dark god.")
The comments immediately sprouted a bunch of people talking trash about me.
Let’s take someone on the left of whose intellect I think less than… less than of the intellect of my cat Havelock who routinely gets lost in the hallway outside my room. If one of them, say, Damien Walter who is good for pronouncing himself on things he knows little about, did an article on editing, or covers, or how to start a book.
I might make raspberry sounds and say “well, when he has a book published, I’ll pay attention.” But I wouldn’t say that he was the worst person in the world. That would just be silly. He comes in a solid thousand, two hundred and tenth among the living. (What? Little list? My dears, it ain’t little.)
However the left can invent calumnies, destroy characters, repeat baseless accusations often enough that they become “everyone knows” without the slightest shred of truth.
And there’s no calls for civility, particularly not from other people on the left.
The right doesn’t act that way (well, not usually.) Not only do I read writers who are solidly on the left and also wobbly on the left, I still have friends who are so far to the left of me that we’d best not discuss politics. On the other hand, any number of “friends” on the left of me dropped me like a stone when I came out of the political closet. And Straw Sarah goes rampaging through gossip from con to con.
There are reasons for this imbalance, and it’s not because libertarians and conservatives are better people (in general) or possessed of the milk of human kindness. No. It’s because of the power imbalance in the field.
For my entire conscious life, let alone my entire publishing life, the power in the field has been in the hands of the people on the left. The way to get promoted and hailed as the greatest genius since Shakespeare was to parrot leftist shibboleths.
In a field where writers were treated as supplicants and had to beg hat in hand for the chance to sell their product to a limited number of markets, almost every editor and publisher was a man (or more often a woman) of the hard left.
A rumor that an author was a heretic or even (gasp) an apostate in the church of Marxism-Leninism was enough to get a promising career stalled if not outright shut down.
So, of course, the left could call names, and accusing someone of being right wing became a weapon in fights among writers.
Also, in a field where everything was controlled by a small and not very open-minded minority, it was important to be in with the right people and rumor and innuendo ran rife.
In other words, it was middle grades in the parochial school of Our Red Lady of Eternal Redistribution. Forever.
Now… well, now it’s not like that, and I’ll note several people came to my defense when the crazy people attacked me on… a technical article about editing!
And that, my dears, is the cure to the disease of rumor and innuendo.
We can’t have all these straw writers running around. For one, I’m sure they’d write very bad straw books, which would be flammable and stuff.
If you hear rumors, innuendo and insanity spoken about a writer you know, speak up.
If you see something, say something.
Rumor has a cure and it’s the truth. And it’s time our colleagues on the left learned some civility. Before the field goes up in flames.
I'm starting the links this week (this is Charlie) with a special mention. Rolf Nelson's book The Stars Came Back, plugged here a year ago, has been nominated for a Prometheus Award.
And yeah, this is late. I had a really bad hardware weekend.
THE STARS CAME BACK is part space-western, the story of folks just trying stay alive, seeking work to earn money for repairs to get to the next job, with no shortage of action and adventure along the way. It is part military sci-fi, with a company of mercenaries, spaceship combat, mortar and rifle combat, spear-and-shield battle, and PTSD. And it is part philosophical investigation, pondering the lessons of Achilles, if a computer can have a soul, what freedom means, and how one stops a bar fight with earplugs.Written in a format similar to a screenplay, the book includes various graphics, including the blueprints of the ship.
After funding well over a thousand loans as a loan officer, and running a consumer education website for ten years, Dan Melson has written a coherent guide that gives consumers insight into how people qualify for mortgages, how not to sabotage their application, and how to stop wasting thousands of dollars making poor choices on your mortgage.
[Ed -- Notice this is reference, not fiction. We are more than happy to get indie-published non-fiction!]
Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?
He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, including wars and pirates - and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve's left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead...
Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.
Motherless Brys Arnsson digs himself into trouble. Bad trouble. Tricked by a troll in J.M. Ney-Grimm's richly imagined North-lands, Brys must dig himself and his best friend back out of danger. But that requires courage . . . and self-honesty. Traits Brys lacks at depth.
A twist on a classic, THE TROLL'S BELT builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.
Ancient, cold, and perilous.
Its truth forgotten in the mists of time, the old bridge harbors a lethal secret. Neither marble statues awakened for battle nor an ancient roadbed grown hungry, something darker and more primal haunts the stones and the wild river below.
Kimmer knows the stories, but she doesn't know why the crumbling span feels so fraught with menace. Her way home lies across the ruin. Dare she take it? Or will horror from the lost past rise up to claim her, when she does?