Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright

Posted: May 7, 2014 in Political Wrangling
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trigger warning: racism, homophobia.

So, author John C. Wright wrote a thing on the evils of political correctness in SFF, and I’m honestly trying to form a cogent, logical response to it, but that’s a difficult proposition when the thing in question is neither. I’ve read it twice, which was clearly a tactical error on health grounds, as my face now looks like this:

WIN_20140507_171248

and I just – OK.

Let me show you the problem I’m having (my emphasis):

What we have now instead is a smothering fog of caution, of silence, of an unwillingness to speak for fear of offending the perpetually hypersensitive.

Science fiction is under the control of the thought police…

The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man [Orson Scott Card] is vehement and ongoing

Likewise, when Larry Correia was nominated for a Hugo Award, the gossips reacted with astonishing venom, vocal enough to be mentioned in the Washington Post and USA Today

His detractors, including leaders in the field, announced in triumphant tones their plan to vote his work NO AWARD, without having read the nominated book, and they encouraged fandom to do likewise.

Do you see the issue? You cannot state, as your opening premise, that SFF fandom is being handicapped by silence and an unwillingness to speak out, and then support that premise by stating the exact polar opposite: that there has, in your own words, been vocal uproarDoubtless, what Wright meant to imply is that the persons against whom the uproar is directed are being silenced by it – that he, and others like him, such as Larry Correia and Theodore Beale, are now suffering under the burden of enforced quietude. But given that all three men are still writing publicly and vocally, not just about the issues Wright raises, but about any number of other topics, the idea that their output is being curtailed by their own “unwillingness to speak for fear of offending” is patently false. Indeed, by their own repeated admission, Correia, Beale and Wright are wholly unafraid of causing offence, even sometimes going so far as to seek outraged reactions. So if Wright and his fellows proudly don’t care about being offensive, then who does: who really fears to speak? By untangling the nonsensical web that is Wright’s attempt at logic, a paradoxical answer emerges: that the people who actually do care about causing offence – the apparent victims of silence - are simultaneously the same gossipy, vocal detractors responsible for silencing… ourselves, as it turns out. Where “silence” is a synonym for “uproar”.

Speechless

 

Inigo Montoya

But then, this is hardly surprising, given that Wright also defines “the spirit of intellectual fearlessness” of the Golden Age – a time when “science fiction was an oasis of intellectual liberty, a place where no idea was sacrosanct and no idea was unwelcome” – as a period when “few science fiction readers were offended by his [Heinlen's] or anyone’s ideas”. (Because intellectual fearlessness is clearly the antithesis of spirited, impassioned debate and the bedfellow of conformity.) But now that “the lunatic Left”, having “planned and struggled for years, decades, to achieve their cultural influence” has done so, true SFF fans need to “retake our lost home one mind, one institution, at a time”.

Take a good, long moment to parse all that, and you’ll find it’s just as self-contradictory on closer inspection as it is at first glance. According to Wright, the SFF of old was a culture in which “no idea was unwelcome”, but in which “the lunatic left” – quite rightly, in his view – had no power or presence: the way to recapture the tolerance of old, therefore, is to violently remove any new perspectives. Wright seems similarly unaware of the breathtaking irony inherent in lauding Golden Age SF a permissive, welcoming “oasis of intellectual liberty” while simultaneously noting that:

The older the strata of science fiction being mined, or the more deeply into nuts-and-bolts the SF tale, the smaller the percentage of women found in the candidate pool. Plucking twenty tales out of the whole mass of SF from 1958 to 2006 (the print range of the stories), even if done at random, might easily have no female authors present.

The famed “oasis”, it seems, had some fairly pertinent membership restrictions.

Gliding over the part where Wright apparently thinks that one cannot possibly be both Hispanic and racist, we come to the real meat of his argument: that figures like Beale and Correia are being criticised, not because they’ve said anything worth objecting to, but because the left is obsessed with “obedience to goodthink”. As Wright makes multiple other references to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in the course of his piece – a book whose protagonist, Winston Smith, works as an historical revisionist for the Ministry of Truth, rewriting old newspaper articles to better fit the party line – it seems only fitting to present his defence of each apparently-persecuted individual, and his version of what they did – suitably bolded for emphasis –  alongside the sourced, verbatim quotes of the subjects and/or a sourced account of what actually happened.

Thus:

Wright Claims That: “Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way.”

What Card Actually Said: The first and greatest threat from court decisions in California and Massachusetts, giving legal recognition to “gay marriage,” is that it marks the end of democracy in America.”

Wright Claims That: “Theodore Beale was expelled from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers America (SFWA), our professional union, on the rather specious grounds that he repeated comments from a members-only bulletin board to the general public. He was libeled with the same typical menu as above. (By odd coincidence, the falsely accused racist here is also Hispanic.)”

What Beale Actually Said: We do not view her [N.K. Jemisin] as being fully civilised… those self-defence laws [like Stand Your Ground in Flordia] have been put in place to let whites defend themselves by shooting people like her, who are savages in attacking white people… [she is] an educated, but ignorant, savage with no more understanding of what it took to build a new literature… than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine.”

What Actually Happened: Beale was expelled from the SFWA, not because he “repeated comments from a members-only bulletin board to the general public”,  but because he used the SFWA’s professional Twitter feed to promote his racist screed about Jemisin.

Wright Claims: The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF is an anthology edited by Mike Ashley. When it was noticed that there were no women authors in the table of contents, fandom was whipped into prepackaged frenzy… Plucking twenty tales out of the whole mass of SF from 1958 to 2006 (the print range of the stories), even if done at random, might easily have no female authors present… The case of Mike Ashley was arbitrary.”

The Actual Facts: Wright’s defence of Ashley is predicated on the idea that such a small percentage of SF was written by women over a more than fifty-year period that, even if a sample of stories were chosen at random, women could easily be absent altogether. (He appears completely disinterested in the whiteness of the list.) So, let’s do the math for female writing, shall we? Here are some rough numbers: in 1948, 10-15% of spec fic writers were women, and by 1999, 36% of the SFWA’s membership was female. Obviously, SFWA membership isn’t the be-all, end-all of female participation in the genre, or even of American participation in the genre, and by the same token, the window for these statistics both starts and ends before the period Wright is discussing, which puts us at a double disadvantage, as women’s representation in SFF has inarguably increased over time. Even so, let’s seriously lowball the range by rounding down, and say that, during the period from 1958 to 2006, women contributed just 25% of all professionally published SF works. Now, The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF contains twenty-one stories – five of which, crucially, were new works commissioned especially for inclusion the anthology. That leaves us with just sixteen stories potentially drawn from the period Wright is referencing. And if you do the maths on the basis of these numbers – namely, if you were to pick sixteen stories at random from a collection where 25% were written by women – then 99% of the time, you’d end up with at least one female-authored story.  Which means that Ashley’s anthology would have been more diverse if he had, in fact, chosen his works at random; but of course, the point is, he didn’t. Not only did he commission five new stories exclusively from white male writers, but in digging through the entire history of SF, he somehow managed to miss even classic greats like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Joanna Russ, Andre Norton and James Tiptree Jr, as well as modern award-winners like Aliette de Bodard, Catherynne M. Valente and Elizabeth Bear. So, no: the case against Mike Ashley – or, more specifically, against The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF – was anything but “arbitrary”.

Wright Claims That: “The case of Malzberg and Resnick and Rabe is a paragon of disproportionate punishment. Normal practice when complaints about a writer arrive is to tell him not to repeat the gaffe. Normally, policies are enacted before they are enforced. Here the punishments were cruel, unusual, and ex post facto.”

What Actually Happened: Beyond apparently being dropped as contributing writers for the SFWA Bulletin (though interestingly, I can find no public announcement to this effect), neither Barry Malzberg nor Mike Resnick seems to have received any formal punishment from the SFWA, though editor Jean Rabe, as stated, resigned. The “cruel, unusual” punishments described by Wright , therefore, appear to be non-existent; unless he’s referring to the fact that they lost their column as a result of public backlash. If this is the case, however, it’s worth noting three important things. Firstly: Resnick and Malzberg  weren’t dismissed out of the blue, but after they were given the opportunity to respond to their critics, and after their initial remarks had already generated public controversy, which puts paid to the notion that their “punishment”, such as it was, was entirely ex post facto. Secondly, they weren’t rebuked because of a “gaffe”, if you can even call it that, as the word implies an accidental error, but for their lengthy, deliberate and fervent castigation of their critics within the Bulletin’s pages. And thirdly, there is nothing “cruel” or even particularly “unusual” in an organisation dropping writers or employees for expressing sentiments that have had a deleterious effect on how that organisation is perceived. Last year, for instance, PR Executive Justine Saco was fired after posting an offensive, racist tweet, while in 2002, blogger Heather Armstrong famously lost her job over the contents of her website, dooce.com, which lead to the term “dooced” being coined to describe the act of being fired for writing on one’s blog. While there are many pertinent and complex arguments to be made concerning the firing of persons for their personal beliefs, never mind in instances where those beliefs are disseminated through company channels, the one thing you cannot call the phenomenon is “unusual”.

Wright Claims That:  “Elizabeth Moon was “uninvited” from being the guest of honor at a large convention for making the rather unremarkable remark that immigrants to the United States should assimilate. This was decried as so inflammatory that the fans would be in danger of death at the hands of justifiably outraged militants driven to madness by Miss Moon’s race-hatred.”

What Moon Actually Said: “I know–I do not dispute–that many Muslims had nothing to do with the [9/11] attacks, did not approve of them, would have stopped them if they could.  I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways…  But Muslims fail to recognize how much forbearance they’ve had… I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom.”

What Actually Happened: At the time Moon made the above remarks, she was scheduled to appear as the Guest of Honour at WisCon, a feminist SF convention which was explicitly founded to both support, and to create greater awareness of, diversity in SFF, with a particular emphasis on issues of race and gender. I find it rather convenient that Wright omits this fact, as it’s the crux of the point: Moon’s comments weren’t just general remarks about assimilation, but were specifically directed at, and critical of, Muslims in particular, and wildly out of keeping with WisCon’s stated agenda.

That’s some quality propagandising, Mr Wright. The Ministry of Truth would be proud.

I’ve already expended more time and energy on this post than was my original intention, but I can’t sign off without making note of Wright’s bizarrely gendered remarks on the difference between law and custom:

There are two ways for a sheep to be lead: one is by fear of the sheepdog, and the other is by following the sheep in front of him. The first is law and the second is custom.

Law is enforced by solemn ceremonies, oaths, judges in robes, policemen in uniforms, hangmen in hoods. It is objective, official, overt, masculine, and direct.

Custom is encouraged by countless social cues and expressions of peer pressure. It is subjective, informal, covert, feminine, and indirect.

In other words: Law, which is Masculine and Strong and Important and Upheld By Solemn Manly Male Officials, is Objectively Correct and Forthright, while Custom is all about silly stupid backstabbing bitchy girly stuff, and probably involves feelings. One would be hard-pressed to find a more smugly misogynistic division of social labours masquerading as objective logic, and yet, on the basis of everything else he’s said here, I guarantee that Wright would greet the mere suggestion of his possibly being even a teeny-weeny bit sexist, let alone misogynistic, with the sort of red-faced harrumphing outrage normally reserved for bull walruses in the mating season.

Walrus

So, in conclusion:

  • Silence and uproar are not synonyms;
  • Intellectual fearlessness is best exhibited through debate and criticism, not a failure to be offended;
  • Claiming that Golden Age SFF was an oasis of liberty open to all people and perspectives doesn’t work when you simultaneously mention that there were no women because Historical Sexism and also filthy leftwingers are the devil; and
  • Accusing your interlocutors of stooping to Orwellian tactics while actively and obviously deploying Orwellian tactics yourself isn’t just hypocritical, but on the internet, where it’s really easy to look up what actually happened and notice how it differs in several crucial respects from what you claimed happened, it’s also extremely stupid.

THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT.

 

 

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Comments
  1. Von Simeon says:

    “That’s some quality propagandising, Mr Wright. The Ministry of Truth would be proud.”

    Thoroughly enjoyed this cumulative assessment of the ‘situation.’

    And now, me and my Black Latina uterus are going to write some bleep-bleep-blorp stuff. Hope Mr. Wright doesn’t mind..
    ;)

  2. chrysoula says:

    I don’t normally get effusive in the comments but… I nominated you for a Hugo for a reason.

  3. I hadn’t heard about the Elizabeth Moon comments. That’s really disappointing. I’ve always liked her work.

    • Ditto. Though actually it’s my husband who reads her (I’ve never really been able to get into her books). I hope that she is equally as harsh on herself with all those white Christian (or atheist or whatever she is) terrorists that keep doing mass shootings, and that she’s going around forcing them to stop them believing stuff that makes them unfit for citizenship.

      • As I said then: “I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Texans, that many Texans have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways.” Were one to hold her responsible for the actions of other people in the category “Texans who served in the US Marine Corps” she’d probably be unhappy about it, especially since that category includes a certain Lee Harvey Oswald….

    • Lee says:

      She describes herself as a “lapsed Christian” thank GOD… I do NOT need another atheist saying dumbass fucking things about Islam. I’m getting to the point where it’s as humiliating to admit I’m atheist as it used to be to admit I was Christian.

  4. Lina says:

    I find it amusing* that when this subset of the SFF world says “The thoughtpolice are stopping me from saying what I want!” what they seem to mean is “I am upset that I can’t silence the people who disagree with me.”

    *by amusing, I mean infuriating

    • Tybalt says:

      I think that the complaints about “Silence” are coming from the fact that no one is agreeing with these mooks, and therefore they think there is some Nixonian Silent Majority out there who have been gagged by the Marauding Stalinist Left. Hen in fact, in the real world their views are just wildly unpopular, because most people don’t like being assholes.

  5. delagar says:

    This was just wonderful.

    Though how you managed to actually read through that awful heap of lies and obfuscations — gah!

    Wright, like Vox Day, just writes so badly. And at such *length.* It’s like that boring guy who thinks he’s smart who corners you at the party and just won’t shut up.

  6. Bunny says:

    Ah yes, because freedom of speech really means

    freedom from criticism
    freedom from disagreement
    freedom from consequences
    and the right to an uncritical audience

    Because a world where we try and give everyone access and enjoyment of something is a world that “panders” to everyone who isn’t a straight white man. But a world where straight white men are exclusively and specially catered to is just… natural?

    • fozmeadows says:

      I am so sick of all this, “Back in MY day, women didn’t GET offended about sexism!”

      Well, yeah, dude. Because if they did, YOU FIRED THEM, because socially sanctioned sexism LET YOU.

      • Bunny says:

        OMG YES THIS.

        “Back in MY day, social norms allowed me to traverse life cushioned in a snuggly cotton wool ball where I never had to have my assumed supremacy challenged in any way that might actually impact on my life.”

    • David Keith says:

      Nail on the head. But let’s not demonize straight white men. They are not all evil.

      • kenmarable says:

        “Because a world where we try and give everyone access and enjoyment of something is a world that “panders” to everyone who isn’t a straight white man. But a world where straight white men are exclusively and specially catered to is just… natural?”

        “But let’s not demonize straight white men. They are not all evil.”

        Acknowledging the privilege of straight white men isn’t demonizing them.

      • fozmeadows says:

        *sighs*

        OBVIOUSLY they’re not. But as nobody even suggested it, I’m at a loss as to why you thought it worth mentioning.

        Why is there always this reflexive need to establish that we’re not talking about ALL men, even when the context makes it abundantly clear that we’re actually discussing a very specific subset? It’s like if we were talking explicitly about bad footballers, and even though the rider of “bad” is RIGHT THERE, people still felt the need to clarify that not ALL footballers are bad.

      • Bunny says:

        The era that John C Wright is idealising is an era when society as a whole almost exclusively catered to one social group to the exclusion of all others. That group was straight, white men. Saying that this was a thing is not blaming men, or saying they’re evil, it’s stating a fact.

        It’s no more demonising than for me to say that, as a straight woman in the 25-35 age bracket, the wedding industry almost exclusively targets and caters to me, and the ideals and preferences it thinks I have, to the exclusion even of the people it thinks I might potentially get married to.

  7. UrsulaV says:

    What gets me is that apparently either you believe Heinlein was the Greatest Science Fiction Author Of All Time, just like Wright does, or you’re a tool of the Thought Police. Because…um…only tools of the Thought Police are allowed to have differing opinions…or something…

    • Richard says:

      It’s getting to the point where whenever I see people throwing out Orwellian terms (pretty much any modifier in front of “-think”), I start tuning out. If I can’t disagree with you without being part of some vast, left-wing/liberal conspiracy trying to muscle you into silence, then why are you even trying to have a conversation?

      • fozmeadows says:

        My favourite part is where avowed rightwingers miss that 1984 was a commentary on right wing extremism, engage in the same rhetoric and behaviours it was mocking without any sense of irony, then use Orwell’s language to try and shut down the left when we call them on it.

        • thecryptile says:

          My favorite part is where avowed left-wingers miss that 1984 is a commentary on Stalinism.

          • fozmeadows says:

            Yeah, remember how Stalinism was a totalitarian dictatorship completely at odds with the founding principles of socialism laid down by Marx and Lenin and significantly influenced by capitalist doctrine?

            • thecryptile says:

              lol no, but I do remember Soviet style state monopolies and ham-fisted central planning being the inverse of the Free Market system. I also remember lefties like Paul Robeson praising Stalin as a great teacher and leader while right wing extremists were denouncing him as the murderous tyrant he was.

              • fozmeadows says:

                That’s a fair point. I suppose what I’m getting at, though, is that there’s a tendency for modern rightwingers to use the language of Orwell to criticise the modern left, when it’s now the right whose tactics most closely resemble those of the 1984 world, as per (for example) things like the Patriot Act and the overt demonisation of “suspect” groups.

                • Marc M says:

                  “demonisation of “suspect” groups”

                  to be fair, both sides do that. It is becoming an american cultural thing. The right demonizes ‘terrorists’, and the left demonizes ‘homophobes’
                  When in reality, not everyone who disagrees with America and it’s policies is a terrorist, and not everyone who disagrees with a re-definition of marriage is homophobic.
                  Yet we are so quick to lump people into these categories without first building bridges and seeking to understand one another.

                  • Kim Rottman says:

                    By all means share with us a tenable argument against the “redefinition of marriage” that can’t be summarized by the phrase “gay people are icky.” I won’t hold my breath.

                    • kassad_06 says:

                      The primary reason why the state decided in the first place got involved to recognize give legal benefits/recognize marriage is that it was the starting point of the basic unit of the state which is the family unit. By investing in the family unit the state can ensure its continued existence by the guarantee of future offspring from which it can levy goods and the production of goods in exchange for the services of the state. Due to accident/requirements of biology this has been traditionally between opposite sexes as that is the only way for the human race to independently reproduce. No matter how you cut it same-sex couples at the moment cannot independently produce offspring without need of a third party. You now need to argue why the state be involved in giving financial benefits and legal recognition to a relationship that in principle less capable biologically than the traditional marriage model in ensuring the continued existence of the state.

                    • R. J. Ortega says:

                      In reply to Kassad_06, who said:

                      “The primary reason why the state decided in the first place got involved to recognize give legal benefits/recognize marriage is that it was the starting point of the basic unit of the state which is the family unit…

                      “…You now need to argue why the state be involved in giving financial benefits and legal recognition to a relationship that in principle less capable biologically than the traditional marriage model in ensuring the continued existence of the state…”

                      By this logic, my own marriage of 28 years should be immediately dissolved. Our children are grown, and my wife had a hysterectomy some years back (and would undoubtedly have reached menopause by now if she hadn’t). And while we’re at it, the state should require proof of pregnancy before allowing heterosexual marriage. (No sense giving someone a hunting license if they’re shooting blanks). If, that is, the ONE AND ONLY purpose of marriage is children…

                      There are a great many reasons for marriage. Biological parenthood is only one of them.

                    • AMM says:

                      In reply to Kassad_06, who said:

                      “The primary reason why the state decided in the first place got involved to recognize give legal benefits/recognize marriage is that it was the starting point of the basic unit of the state which is the family unit. By investing in the family unit the state can ensure its continued existence by the guarantee of future offspring …”

                      This is nonsense.

                      Marriage predates the state (any state) by millennia. And until the advent of the nuclear family, no one would have even thought that marriage “created” a family — family was primarily your blood relatives and secondarily the families connected to yours by marriage. Marriage existed mainly to link families. As one scholar of the history of marriage put it, marriage exists to provide in-laws. In the days before social safety nets and police protection, they were necessary for survival. Family connections were how most things were handled.

                      The family — nuclear or otherwise — has never been the “basic unit” of the state. Individuals are. If anything, states have an interest in weakening families, since they form an alternate power structure (not to mention the possibility of feuds — cf. the Montagues and Capulets.)

                      Marriage is hardly necessary to “guarrantee future offspring” — our species has always been pretty successful at producing and raising children who aren’t the product of a marriage. In the past, the mother’s family was the main support for the mother, often even when the mother was married. Nowadays, there’s also child support — which the non-custodial parent is responsible for whether the parents were ever married or not.

                      The State got involved in marriage for the same reason it got involved in handling crimes: people decided that traditional ways of enforcing the community’s ideas of right and wrong, i.e., feuds and mob violence, were worse than having the State do it based on formal procedures (=laws) and some attempt at not favoring one social group over another. The State took marriage pretty much the way it found it, without any particular consideration of how it benefited the State or how it should be structured.

                      What we have here is someone who in his ignorance imagines that things always used to be exactly the way they were (or he thought they were) during his formative years, and that any change from that is a corruption and decline from an earlier perfection. Which, to bring it back to the original subject, also describes a lot of SF writers and fans.

                  • guthrie says:

                    One of hte differences being that the homophobes have entire radio stations, newspapers and such to spout their message, and the demonisers of terrorists ditto, as well as thepower of hte us government backing them up. THe anto-homophobes have the world shaking power of their blogs and some laws aimed at giving the same human treatment to everyone. I know which is doing more real harm to people, and it isn’t the lefties.

              • Robert Wood says:

                I’m not going to apologize for Robeson’s opinions about the Soviet Union, but it’s worth mentioning that his treatment by the U.S state was horrifying. His opinions also arise out of the fact that he saw the Soviet Union as a force against the apartheid style racism that existed at the time in the United States. In a certain sense, he was right. Without denying the cynicism of the Soviet Union, it’s ideological pressure had an impact on how the U.S. responded to the Civil Rights movement.

                As to 1984, Orwell’s critique was multi-directional, seeing continuities between the stultifying conformity of the post WWII governments of Europe and the United States and the brutality of the Soviet Bloc.

      • Morgen Rich says:

        I think the key is that he (and those like him) don’t really want a conversation. They want a white, heterosexual, patriarchal monologue.

    • ravinj says:

      It blows my mind that someone can’t recognize a writer such as Heinlein or Card’s work is pretty awesome and also acknowledge that said writer’s views were homophobic as all get out. Nor does it preclude recognizing that, say, Butler is phenomenal too.

      • Lee says:

        This bewilders me too! My fiance was actually quite a fan of Card’s work, but he often points out it’s brutal sexism, homophobia, or other flaws, despite still liking the books, and he’s the first in the party to begin throwing rocks at Card himself. My fiance is by NO STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION a feminist. Getting him to the point of “not sexist” has been an ongoing, four year battle. And even he is capable of acknowledging that Card is a shitbag, even though he likes some of his books. It’s clearly not difficult to do.

  8. Thanks very much for writing this.

    I wanted to comment on a few things.

    John C. Wright begins with:

    Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.
    If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is.

    The fact that someone’s work has won awards in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that they should definitely win awards today.
    He then writes,

    But in his day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas. Science fiction was proud to be a literature of the new and startling. A spirit of intellectual fearlessness was paramount.

    Why is support for discrimination changed into things like “intellectual fearlessness”? Why is it “fearless” to support discrimination, but considered “whining” to challenge discrimination? Who’s actually fighting for the rights of a group that’s marginalized, and who’s trying to discriminate against an already marginalized group? Who’s actually fearless here?

    At one time, science fiction was an oasis of intellectual liberty, a place where no idea was sacrosanct and no idea was unwelcome. Now speculative fiction makes speculative thinkers so unwelcome that, after a decade of support, I resigned my membership in SFWA in disgust.

    I have very little patience for people who pretend that the past was totally wonderful. And again, discrimination is rebranded into “no idea was unwelcome”. But certain groups of people and their ideas were unwelcome, as they always forget to mention.

  9. jamtur01 says:

    *claps as Foz throws down the mike and walks off stage*

    Awesome response.

  10. ULTRAGOTHA says:

    Dropping a story just like Heinlein into today’s Hugo pool would be unlikely to win, of course, because the field has moved on from that. SF is using Heinlein for compost now (that’s a positive statement by me, BTW, call it standing on shoulders if you’d rather). A story just like Heinlein would be derivative at best now.

    On the other hand, if Heinlein was still alive and still writing, he’d be writing *different* things today because he’d be part of the on-going genre conversation that’s been happening since he died. So who knows if he’d be up for Hugos or not since we have no way of knowing what he’d be writing.

    What wouldn’t be happening is Heinlein not winning Hugos *just because of his politics* which is what I think is the actual message behind the “Heinlein wouldn’t win a Hugo now” whine.

    • fozmeadows says:

      This is a hugely important point.

    • thanks for this as it was the point I was going to make; no SFF author worth their salt would be standing still creatively – certainly not one as accomplished as RAH. One can only imagine the kind of stuff Joanna Russ, or Judith Merrill, or C L Moore or… would be writing today if they were still around.

    • R. J. Ortega says:

      On the subject of Heinlein’s perceived homophobia, and judging purely from the gentleman’s writing, I’d like to submit the following:

      Early 60′s: Stranger in a Strange Land. It’s specifically pointed out that no homosexuals are admitted into Mike’s circle; they are referred to as “…the poor in-betweeners…”

      Early 70′s: I Shall Fear No Evil. A pair of secondary characters. men married to women, are revealed to the reader as occasional periodic homosexual lovers, well closeted. They are presented as sympathetic characters, and no judgments are made of their relationship.

      Early 80′s: Friday. The protagonist is a bisexual woman who has numerous encounters with both genders, and admits to the reader that she can’t understand those who limit their horizons in this area.

      The picture I get here is of someone evolving with society on the subject, and perhaps more than a bit ahead of the curve. I don’t think it’s safe to assume that if RAH were alive today, he’d be in the traditionalist camp on this subject.

      • Another Halocene Human says:

        While Heinlein is a good writer (I enjoyed his short stories more than his novels) I actually enjoyed reading Ted Sturgeon more. And Sturgeon actually put himself on the line defending the humanity of gay people in the 50′s. From what I understand, he paid for that professionally. To me, Sturgeon’s novels read more like literary fiction (his short stories are more like intellectual candy bars, self-satisfied aggrandizement for nerds–not that there’s anything wrong with that) so it is kind of surprising to me how infrequently they come up. I mean, sure, Delaney is *more brilliant than Sturgeon. But Heinlein to me was writing pulp (with all the sex, violence, perversion you could cram into that genre). I don’t really get the apotheosis.

  11. Stevie says:

    Thank you; that’s a beautifully composed riposte to the latest nonsensical attempt to rewrite reality.

  12. Bob Howe says:

    Imagine the screed he’d have written if he were /actually/ being oppressed.

  13. Robin Reid says:

    I’ve been reading/lurking for a while, enjoying the heck out of your posts (ALL your posts), but had to delurk to comment.

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    I was involved in a lot of the original Racefail ’09 discussions (which preceded Elizabeth Moon’s Citizenship Fail) (a link for those not familiar with it: http://fanlore.org/wiki/RaceFail_'09).

    There was a lot of over the top, hyperbolic, intellectually dishonest, rants about teh evils of the awful leftists/wimminz corrupting sf back then, but Wright’s screed deserves its own special ranking. It is absolutely typical in the failure to link to the primary sources and the assumption that one, people won’t bother to check or respond with the links as well.

    Just…wow.

    Nth-ing all the comments above about the wonderfulness of your responses/writing, the bravery of wading through it. Also, perfect images throughout.

    Now I have to go mutter on my journal about the nasty sexism in his rhetoric (I bet he’d be all happyhappy if the Ducking Stool and the Scold’s Bridle could be used!).

  14. Jean Lamb says:

    This column alone explains why I bought a supporting membership to London 2014, for the purpose of voting for this writer. (Ok, the neat downloads of the reader pack didn’t *hurt*). But seriously, these issues need to be discussed. One suspects the only silence Mr. Wright wants is that of those who aren’t as comfortable as he is with a solely white, male world in SF and fantasy.

  15. […] I noped right out of and went for the low-hanging fruit of completely dishonesty–Foz has taken a stab at it. Fox deserves all the […]

  16. Standing fricking ovation.

  17. […] for me, I don’t have to fact check that piece because Rachael Acks and Foz Meadows have already taken care of it for all of […]

  18. ravinj says:

    Do you think his head might explode if someone explained the notion of “customary law” to him?

    Card’s views are hardly a shock. They reflect his religion, just as his writing does. Unless any of these writers over whom there has been controversy and uproar have had their works depublished, they have not been silenced. Thank you for calling this pout-rant for what it is.

  19. nmwhitley says:

    Skillful takedown. Cogent, reasonable, and backed up with facts. You win the Internet today.

  20. Fletcher says:

    I enjoyed Wright’s /Orphans of Chaos/ series – I liked the interesting metaphysics – but his /Phaethon/ trilogy was really wearing his economics on his sleeve, and as for his latest trilogy, the protagonist of /Count to a Billion/ was just … utterly banal, a cardboard cutout of a gunslinger with no emotional depth, and most of /The Hermetic Millennia/ was a series of badly-written straw men, a kind of no-budget /Instrumentalities of Man/. I went and read Cordwainer Smith instead.

    • Fletcher says:

      What I meant to finish with – it seems there’s no editing here – is that Wright /seems to be getting worse/ – his writing has gone from being informed by his politics to being a vessel for them. I’ll probably read the last book of his latest trilogy, but I don’t think I’ll bother with his work after that.

  21. I started making WTF-face as soon as I reached the part about OSC being an innocent and honorable man. -_-

    Also, fuck, I remember that whole Elizabeth Moon BS. I wrote a takedown of it shortly after it happened, picking her argument apart piece by piece (http://sarasvati.dreamwidth.org/31766.html, for the curious), and her diatribe about how unAmerican Muslims are by default, supposedly, actually made me learn more about the religion and how people practice it in various areas. So I suppose education came from ignorance in that case, though it would have been a hell of a lot nicer if the education had been on her end, or better yet, the ignorance hadn’t existed in the first place.

    I’m getting really sick of all the divisive bullshit in the SFF fandom these days, not because I think that people should stop fighting for justice and just sit down and let us read our stories in peace, but because people keep standing up and saying the most insulting things while acting like abused victims. How dare women, people of colour, non-cisgendered or non-heterosexual people demand respect and better representation in fiction? If we didn’t know that SFF was a man’s world, then why did we get into it in the first place? Can’t be a part of something and then demand that it change, doncha know? -_-

    I wonder when some of these people are going to realise that you also can’t simultaneously praise a form of literature for exploring new and diverse ideas and then demand that it always stay the same…

    • Lkeke35 says:

      I think it all really started to go downhill for the authoritarian mindset in the sixties, when groups that had all been marginalized refused to cooperate with being ignored ,talked about or talked at, and started talking back. It’s also when a lot of narrative changes began as regards marginalized groups. Suddenly PoC became violent, women got mouthy and bitchy, gay men’s narratives didn’t change as they’d always been associated with the worst qualities of women. I find these new narratives of marginalized groups very interesting.

      I think part of this mindset is the need to talk AT people, not with them. People like that just want to say whatever they want to say without refutation, to proclaim from their lofty perches and just have it be accepted. The kind of people that have always just told those lesser people what to think without any pushback. In the past when such groups did that they got smacked down pretty hard. What’s happening to these whiners now isn’t even a fraction as extreme as the way the way those uncooperative groups were treated. And yet, the whining continues without a whiff of irony.

      Being a WoC , I can definitely state that the good ol days weren’t so good for me and mine and we really don’t wanna go back.

  22. C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merrill, Zenna Henderson.

  23. David Keith says:

    Very well said. Thank you for all the careful thought and energy put into this article.

  24. kenmarable says:

    Well, the one good thing to come out of Wright’s article is that I have a new example to use in my logic courses for how NOT to make a logical argument. You could win at fallacy bingo very early on. Wow.

    Your response, however, is very well done. It’s nice that I also happen to agree 100%. But looking simply at how to make a reasoned, logical argument, these two articles are complete polar opposites.

  25. Periwinkle says:

    I tried to read Wright’s essay, and gave up. Thank you for reading to the end, so we don’t have to. Can we send replacement brain cells, care of your publisher?

    The 1938 response to women asking for more and better representation as characters in written science fiction was not a reasoned debate. It was hostile, frantic, and foolish, much like modern objections to the Bechdel-Wallace test. The 18-year-old Isaac Asimov thoroughly discredited himself in the letters linked above.

    In 1965, Robert Heinlein threatened to sue the prospective publisher of “Heinlein in Dimension”, a book by Alexei Panshin examining his body of work. (Link is down at the time of writing, so read it on the Internet Archive.) Heinlein’s letter does not demonstrate the “spirit of intellectual fearlessness” – he was not asking to correct any errors in the book, he just wanted to destroy it utterly.

    Heinlein’s bullying was not just intellectual cowardice. It was also just plain stupid. While the publisher did initially cancel the book, chapters were published in fanzines. The notoriety of being the book Heinlein tried to ban attracted readers, who voted for it to win the Hugo for Best Fan Writer in 1967. The publisher then offered to take it back and publish it in full. According to Panshin, it has remained in print ever since.

    There’s another relevant lesson here: when Panshin found the expected outlet for his words was no longer available, he didn’t whine about how a private individual was somehow stomping on his First Amendment Rights. Instead, he sought and found an alternative form of publication. People like Wright who get outraged on Resnick and Malzberg’s behalf might like to help them find a new publisher, too. Perhaps they should consult the “SFWA Bulletin”. I’m told that it’s full of advice for SF writers negotiating the publication process – and it has more content than ever now they discarded some useless cruft.

  26. Correct me if I’m wrong, but women weren’t the only writers ignored/kept silent during the Golden Age of sci-fi. Weren’t homosexual writers and other artists actively pursued during the McCarthy era for being “un-American”? This was also the time before the Civil Rights Act, so there weren’t many—if any—published black writers either. So Wright’s argument is invalid for the simple fact that there were hardly any published SFF writers who weren’t white, heterosexual, and male. Of course your selection of writers will be limited if there aren’t any other options.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I wanted to give both you and the readers here some information on black writers (African and African American) during the Civil Rights era. This Wikipedia link has a bit of info on the writers who published speculative fiction during that time period:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_science_fiction

      It’s also important to note that there were black newspapers and also publishing companies that did indeed publish black science fiction. Since I’ve got a scifi novel coming out later this month, I’ve been doing research on those who came before me. While people know the name Octavia Butler, Many may not know of Edward Johnson, who wrote the novel “Light Ahead for the Negro” in which the storyline has a black man traveling into a “racially-egalitarian socialist America” (quote from the website http://sdonline.org/42/afrofuturism-science-fiction-and-the-history-of-the-future/

      There is also the short story by W.E. B. Dubois called The Comet” where the only two people left on earth are a black man and white woman. It was published in 1920.

  27. Clare says:

    I’ve never read Heinlein so I can’t comment on the first two sentences of Wright’s article, but the third amused me: “If you are not a science fiction fan, I salute you for having better things to do with your time than read stories about space princesses being rescued from bug-eyed monsters by stalwart and clean-limbed fighting men of Virginia…” Why is it that the pulpiest, most derivative authors are complaining the hardest that science fiction is being ruined by the thought police? Are sexism and racism the only fields that they feel they can work with? How is speculative fiction smothered when enough people say, we’ve heard that one about the space princess, the bug-eyed monsters and the stalwart Virginian too many times, tell us a new story?

  28. Josh says:

    I cannot find the words to praise the tenacity it must have taken to read JCW and to write this amazing rebuttal, so I’ll just ask that you edit it to spell “Delany” right. Thanks for doing the grueling work of addressing Wright’s “argument.”

  29. Marc M says:

    Thanks for this well written and in depth post. I definitely agree that we need more variety and diversity, especially when it comes to main protagonists in sci-fi and fantasy.

    I did have 2 questions regarding your analysis of his post, however:
    1) is it at all possible, that perhaps when he was talking about some people being silenced and some people being vocal, that he was describing two separate groups? The way I interpreted your opening quote was that: Wright feels that Card and Correia (and presumably himself) were the ones being silenced, by others, who were being vocal and ‘hateful’
    2) The Card Quote: “The first and greatest threat FROM COURT DECISIONS in California and Massachusetts, giving legal recognition to “gay marriage,” is that it marks the end of democracy in America.” It’s pretty clear here that Card thinks that the threat is the court decision, not gay marriage.

    When a court is free to overrule the democratically determined decision, then yes, for better or for worse, democracy dies a little. I’m glad that gay and lesbian couples are now allowed to marry there, but you have to admit, that it was not a democratic decision.

    • Stevie says:

      Marc M

      I’m English, and I am not a constitutional lawyer, but the Courts’ authority to make the judgements you refer to stems from the Constitution itself; you might just as well argue that the Constitution itself is undemocratic because it was largely determined by a relatively small number of people long ago. Indeed, the English monarchy took precisely that view in the War for Independence. Unless you want to overturn your society altogether, and no longer be the United States of America, it really doesn’t seem to make any sense to run that particular argument.

      As for the silencing point I have seen no evidence that Wright etc are being silenced; on the contrary they are remarkably vocal. Admittedly they are remarkably vocal about claiming to be silenced but this is oxymoronic; it’s really not very sensible to expect people not to notice that fact.

      • Marc M says:

        Hmm i’m not sure if the point I was trying to make came across how I intended it. The point I was trying to make before I got side-tracked with democracy is that sometimes, what seems like something that is extremely hate-packed, might not be. On it’s surface, that quote seems to imply that Card thinks gay marriage is the end of democracy, and which would be singling out and demonizing a particular group of people, which is just untrue if you actually read the quote.
        Instead, he is expressing his frustration at the system of government itself, which is most notably NOT a protected minority, whether he is right or wrong about it being the end of democracy(which seems quite the slippery slope argument).

        Regarding silencing, there was a note regarding the Ender’s Game boycott, which was thankfully unsuccessful because that was a movie I personally enjoyed very much. This is evidence that even works which feature not a single HINT of homophobia are nevertheless targeted for censorship merely based on the personal thoughts of the creator of that story. We need to evaluate these works based on the merit of the work themselves, NOT based on the personal ideologies of the creators.

        As an example, the recent movie Noah was decried before being seen by many Christians because the director was an Atheist. I had the same argument for them: Judge the movie based on its own merits.

        • Stevie says:

          Marc M

          But if Card wanted to express his condemnation of the Consitution of the United States of America he was perfectly free to do so; he chose instead to attack a particular group of people. At what point in any sane universe do we spend our days shuffling through all possible alternative actions which would have been OK had he chosen to do so in order to claim that the one he did choose is OK because he could have done alternative actions which are OK?

          Equally, the Enders Game movie wasn’t silenced; a boycott of a film isn’t preventing others from disagreeing on the merits of it. If, say, someone wishes to boycott a film because 30 horses were injured during its’ production I’m fine with that; I would regard someone telling me that I must, instead, buy a ticket and view the movie because that’s the only way to judge it on its’ merits as, frankly, loopy.

          Not least because the proposed course of action involves me being required to give money to the people who injured said horses in the first place.

          On a more general note I heartily recommend Delaney’s essay at:

          http://www.nyrsf.com/racism-and-science-fiction-.html

          He recommends reading a novel before you make a very public speech condemning the novel at a formal gathering to honour the novel where the novelist is present; I think we can agree on that one. But he also shreds the belief that SF is in some way intrinsically better at not disadvantaging the already disadvantaged than society as a whole; he’s a great writer, and I am not, so you are much better off reading him than me. I look forward to seeing what you think…

          • Marc M says:

            Stevie, I have not yet had time to read that article, but I definitely will before the day is out.

            Instead, real quickly I just wanted to say that while you may not be the best writer (in your own opinion, but that’s debatable =P ), you are DEFINITELY a great bridge builder.

            In this issue and others, it is easy to get emotionally charged, and to project ideas and characteristics onto those on the other side of the fence (this goes for BOTH sides), and when this happens, typically names are called, and assumptions are made. These names and these assumptions, I find, tend to burn bridges instead of create them.

            You however, rise above that and instead of assuming, are inviting, which is the more difficult, yet more admirable road. I have great respect for those who do something that is difficult. Any idiot burn down a house, but it takes a knowledgeable and skilled craftsman to build one.

            I just wanted to quickly honor you as a communications craftsman whilst i read the linked article and form my comments on it (which may take a while, its pretty lengthy).

      • Periwinkle says:

        @Marc M:

        On it’s surface, that quote seems to imply that Card thinks gay marriage is the end of democracy, and which would be singling out and demonizing a particular group of people, which is just untrue if you actually read the quote.

        I read the whole linked article. It clearly demonstrates that Orson Scott Card both hates and fears gay people. It also manages to be wrong in several other places. Here are two:

        It is now illegal even to kneel and pray in front of a clinic that performs abortions.

        This will be news to the many family planning clinics that are regularly surrounded by religiously-motivated protesters who harass their staff and patients. This statement about current law in the United States is wrong.

        Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.

        You’re probably tired of people bringing up polygamy whenever Orson Scott Card writes about marriage. But, he keeps insisting that marriage has never changed, while belonging to a faith that redefined as recently as 1843. Personal examples aside, societies across the world have had many different concepts of “marriage”, and have frequently redefined both the legal definition and social expectations. This statement about history is wrong.

        Now, back to you:

        This is evidence that even works which feature not a single HINT of homophobia are nevertheless targeted for censorship merely based on the personal thoughts of the creator of that story.

        Boycotts are not censorship. Your use of the word “censorship” is wrong.

        We need to evaluate these works based on the merit of the work themselves, NOT based on the personal ideologies of the creators.

        No, when someone’s writing make it clear that they hate you, just for the class of people you belong to, they don’t get a do-over if you’re evaluating their other writing. This applies to both Orson Scott Card and Theodore Beale. (Orson Scott Card went a step further by joining the board of the National Organization for Marriage from 2009 to 2013.)

        And, if you haven’t been attacked by either writer, you don’t get to judge the people who have.

        • Marc M says:

          Periwinkle, indeed, boycotts are not the same as censorship. I misread the article and thought they boycotted the PRODUCTION of the movie, not simply viewing the movie itself. You are correct and thanks for the clarification.

          If you could, I would like to to further clarify the hatred you feel that Card expressed. It is not getting across to me. Just like boycotting is not the same as censorship, disagreement is not the same as hate.

          you write: “And, if you haven’t been attacked by either writer, you don’t get to judge the people who have”
          Sure, but this cuts both ways. If you have not had others who hold the same ideological position as you be removed from their job for merely expressing disagreement with an idea in your personal time, NOT for any job-related cause, then you do not get to decide who feels ‘silenced’.

          • Stevie says:

            Marc M

            Again, if someone is sacked in the circumstances you outline then they haven’t been silenced; they’ve been sacked. They remain free to express their views in all the myriad ways we have available to us in the 21st century, and the only reason they may have for feeling ‘silenced’ is that they don’t understand what the word means.

            I’m happy to concede that not understanding the meaning of a simple word may not be helpful in getting another job but that’s a different question altogether.

            As for the hate: I’m a straight white woman in privileged economic circumstances, living in the centre of one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, which provides me with a great deal of armour against the Wrights, the Beales and the Cards of this world, and even I can feel the loathing boiling off the page at me. It’s not hard to spot when you are on the receiving end, just as it wasn’t difficult for Delany to work out that Campbell was not going to publish his stories..

            • Marc M says:

              Hi Stevie, Ok I am only about halfway through the article you sent me, but it is taking longer
              to read than I would have liked so i’m going to list my comments thus far.

              First, thanks for directing me to this article. There is a lot of meat in there and it will
              certainly raise valid points for both of us.

              -His first rejection story certainly counters Wright’s comment that Sci-fi was at one time an
              intellectual free-for-all, where nothing was considered sacrosanct.

              -Regarding the awards ceremony, Asimov said: “We only voted for you because you are Negro”. I find it very telling that the exact same thing seems to be happening with the Hugos. People are
              getting voted or nominated, not solely based on the merit of their work, but in some non-trivial part based on their personal alignment with a particular ideology. Anything non-work related should NOT be considered when presenting awards, be it gender, sexual orientation, race, or political ideology. I think we agree on this. Yet for some reason, we allow discrimination based on political ideology when it is the *wrong* one.

              You state that being sacked is not the same as being silenced, but this is only partly true. When co-workers see that someone is fired for having an opinion on a topic that is non-work related, what do you supposed happens to the mood in that office? It is logical to assume, that if you need this job to survive, then you will, at all costs- keep your views to yourself, lest you be fired for the same non-work-related reason.
              Through fear, this effectively silences all peers who are not wealthy enough to be unemployed for an indefinite amount of time(namely, most of us). This is not right. It is not honorable, and it should not be how gay marriage becomes ‘legitimized’. It doesn’t make its opponents view it as ‘normal’, or ‘ok’, which is the end goal, is it not?

              I find the whole debacle amusing. Gay Marriage proponents want Gay Marriage to be accepted.
              While simultaneously, those with another worldview want it(the other worldview) to be accepted as well! (for example, not be fired, not be called names, etc. just disagreed with) I firmly believe there is some compromise that can be reached, if only we can build enough bridges for communication.

              • Stevie says:

                Marc M

                I too have been burning the midnight oil, though since I’m in London it really is past midnight here, refreshing my memory of the passage of the legislation which brought same sex marriage into existence here in England last year.

                I cannot, in good conscience, ask you to peruse several hundred pages of Hansard, the official record of proceedings in the Houses of Parliament, (though if you’d like to that’s great, and I’ll be happy to provide URLs;) the only reason I did it again was because I had already done it before and wanted to be sure that I got it right.

                And lo, my memory had not failed me; the fine upstanding people defending ‘traditional marriages’ against the oncoming barbarian hordes really did try to get the legislation amended to allow fathers to marry their daughters/sons, mothers ditto, and siblings to marry their siblings. Had they got their way I could have married my straight white daughter, thus providing great tax planning, but, call me reactionary, I’m really not so far into tax breaks that I’d marry my daughter to get one. It does, however, make it clear that the people in question didn’t give a hoot about anything beyond their obsession with same sex marriages, and that they were prepared to sacrifice anything and everything to feed their obsession..

                There is also reams of stuff discussed in Parliament about the Civil Rights of people who want out, employment issues etc.; we have thrashed it out through both Parliament and the Courts, and we will continue to thrash it out because we live in a changing world. The Human Right’s legislation here is much stronger that it is in the US; you can’t be fired at will. I appreciate that it sounds like nasty socialism but it has some benefits, particularly for those who have just been fired at will :)

                So, I have had an interesting, though not enjoyable, time rereading through the horrendously long list of things people are prepared to do in pursuit of their goals, even if it does overturn prohibitions against incest, which brings us back neatly to Heinlein who wrote some stories about how cool incest is.

                I do agree that jaw jaw is a great deal better than war war, and if we can communicate with each other instead of shouting past each other then this is a great idea. Provided, that is, nobody tells me to marry my daughter…

                • Marc M says:

                  So I’m not sure if my reading comprehension is failing me today, but you seem to say that those who wanted to keep marriage between a man and a woman, were also advocating for the law to accommodate many other types of marriage as well?

                  I’ve certainly heard the argument that if your sole criteria for marriage is consent, then in order to remain consistent, you must also be in favor of these other incestual and polygamous relationships, but this in America has always been a warning by those who favor ‘traditional’ marriage, never an actual push for legalization.

                  I do find it quite strange however, that proponents of one man and one woman marriage are always called homophobic (only). Why not also call them incestophobic, polyamorophobic, and necrophobic? I suppose it is still fine to marginalize these other groups for some reason.
                  Although it seems that Incest is also getting the limelight now with one of the popular Game of Thrones storylines, so maybe they won’t be as stigmatized in the future.

                  • Stevie says:

                    Marc M

                    Yes; that’s absolutely correct, bizarre as it seems here in England some profoundly religious people who loathed the idea of same sex marriages advocated the legal right for parents to marry their children and siblings to marry their siblings, and introduced amendments effecting that to the legislation going through Parliament. I’m fairly confident that they didn’t really mean it, though one can never be sure; they hoped to destroy the legislation which allowed same sex marriages, and they weren’t picky about how they set about it.

                    It was, of course, a profoundly stupid tactic because it made it obvious that they were prepared to do just about anything to get what they wanted; the old question ‘What would Jesus do?’ bit them hard because those of us who had actually read some of the New Testament took one look and started muttering about whited sepulchres, and those who hadn’t read the NT at all concluded that they were clearly batshit crazy and should not be allowed to inflict their craziness on their fellow citizens.

                    After all, any sane person can distinguish between incest and not incest, and it is pretty difficult to accurately characterise legalising incestuous marriages as a defence of traditional marriage, which is what they claimed they were doing.

                    Much of this nonsense derived from Evangelical Christian organisations in the US pouring money into the political debate here; that too was a mistake because once it became obvious that was happening there was a substantial backlash. We do not like people from other countries treating our laws as pawns in their own games; we do expect our legislators to engage their brains in their constitutional roles, and that was yet another mistake.

                    The House of Commons, which is the elected House, had passed the Bill on a free vote with a massive majority. The House of Lords, the appointed House, has the job of scrutinising the Bill to make it the best Bill it can be; that is their Constitutional role, and that role doesn’t include rejecting a Bill in its entirety before they even tried to scrutinise it. That, however, was the first thing which the opponents of the Bill attempted to do in the House of Lords; they were soundly trounced, and it went downhill from there, incest marriage and all. In the end the Lords did their job, scrutinised it line by line, made it the best Bill it could be, and sent it back to the Commons with a massive majority on a free vote in the Lords.

                    I do not believe that all people who are troubled by same sex marriages are homophobic; unfortunately the very vocal ones about it really are homophobic, and drown out the signal. Having slogged through a few hundred pages on our legislation it becomes very obvious that there were people with sensible questions about how it would affect particular situations, and those people got sensible answers. And then there were the others who simply ranted hate until I really needed brain bleach to carry on reading the damn stuff; in the absence of brain bleach I commend Glenlivet , but it’s still hard going.

                    Mind you, I have some Old Testament goodies in store for those who maintain they are simply following Divine Authority in regarding gay people as abominations; I point out that the OT also insists that a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath must immediately stoned to death in front of the whole tribe. If they really are following Divine Authority they would have executed thousand upon thousands of golfers by now, and I think the media would have mentioned it…

                    • R. J. Ortega says:

                      Re, the “gathering sticks on the Sabbath” comment, I couldn’t agree more. One thing a great many professed Christians forget is that, with the exceptions of the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule, Jesus of Nazareth specifically released his followers from the strictures/covenants of what we now call the Old Testament. Or, in the words of a old friend, “No one has the right to throw Leviticus in my face unless they keep a kosher kitchen.”

        • Periwinkle says:

          @Marc M:

          If you could, I would like to to further clarify the hatred you feel that Card expressed. It is not getting across to me. Just like boycotting is not the same as censorship, disagreement is not the same as hate.

          Here are some statements by Orson Scott Card. All links are to the Internet Archive.

          From State job is not to redefine marriage (July 24, 2008):

          Already in several states, there are textbooks for children in the earliest grades that show “gay marriages” as normal. How long do you think it will be before such textbooks become mandatory — and parents have no way to opt out of having their children taught from them?

          And if you choose to home-school your children so they are not propagandized with the “normality” of “gay marriage,” you will find more states trying to do as California is doing — making it illegal to take your children out of the propaganda mill that our schools are rapidly becoming.

          From Upholding the Constitution (October 12, 2008):

          Your ability to raise your children to believe in your religion is already under attack; the New Puritans are quite prepared to use force to take your children and propagandize them to believe the scientifically indefensible dogma that gay marriage is “just the same as” marriage.

          But they will certainly try. Anyone who doesn’t accept homosexual couplings as marriages will be called names and persecuted. Our children will be propagandized to accept “marriages” that we repudiate.

          “Propaganda”. “Under attack”. “Persecuted”. “Dogma”. Orson Scott Card is either personally terrified, or he’s trying to instil terror in his audience. Either way, this is hate.

          From Homosexual “Marriage” and Civilization (February 15, 2004):

          Let me put it another way. The sex life of the people around me is none of my business; the homosexuality of some of my friends and associates has made no barrier between us, and as far as I know, my heterosexuality hasn’t bothered them. That’s what tolerance looks like.

          But homosexual “marriage” is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society — to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

          So if my friends insist on calling what they do “marriage,” they are not turning their relationship into what my wife and I have created, because no court has the power to change what their relationship actually is.

          Instead they are attempting to strike a death blow against the well-earned protected status of our, and every other, real marriage.

          They steal from me what I treasure most, and gain for themselves nothing at all. They won’t be married. They’ll just be playing dress-up in their parents’ clothes.

          Orson Scott Card thinks that gay people who marry each other will “strike a death blow” against his marriage and then “steal” from him. What are they stealing? How are they stealing it? This is hate.

          Already any child with androgynous appearance or mannerisms — effeminite boys and masculine girls — are being nurtured and guided (or taunted and abused) into “accepting” what many of them never suspected they had — a desire to permanently move into homosexual society.

          Card’s view of marriage is tied to gender roles that are rigidly and narrowly defined. This leads to his view that all children must have a mother and father, to fulfil those roles. This view of gender essentialism is wrong, it is sexist and it is demonstrably harmful.

          The dark secret of homosexual society — the one that dares not speak its name — is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.

          The “gay-people-recruit-children-by-abusing-them” stereotype is wrong, and unoriginal, and hateful.

          All the while, the P.C. elite will be shouting at dismayed parents that it is somehow evil and bigoted of them not to rejoice when their children commit themselves to a reproductive dead end.

          But there is nothing irrational about parents grieving at the abduction-in-advance of their grandchildren.

          This emphasis on grandchildren is sick at the best of times (your children are not your personal breeding stock), and the “abduction” bit is hateful too.

          In summary: Orson Scott Card’s essays in 2004 and 2008 demonstrate hatred for gay people.

          • Marc M says:

            Periwinkle,
            Thanks for responding! these are great examples, and I look forward to your responses to my
            comments.

            1st quote: Propaganda, by definition, is a message used to promote a political cause. Propaganda can be good OR bad (See the ‘We Can Do It!’ wartime propaganda empowering women). So his use of the word here is not out of hate, this is a correct use of the adjective. There is a political message being sent to our children that some people disagree with. Thus they desire to remove the child from the source of the propaganda. However, he notes that in california, they are trying to remove any alternative source of education for children, as if there is something special about the classroom environment such that children outside of it are unable to learn anything. (coming from the worst educational state in the nation no less, this is quite saddening. clearly they NEED an alternative educational source.)

            2nd quote: The word Dogma means something that is believed to be unquestionably true. Do you believe that gay marriage is unquestionably the same as traditional marriage? Then it is your dogma. Calling something dogma is NOT the same as hating it.

            3rd quote: “Anyone who doesn’t accept homosexual couplings as marriages will be called names and persecuted” I kindof hate to burst your bubble but… this is actually happening. It is reality, a true statement.

            You say: “Orson Scott Card is either personally terrified, or he’s trying to instil terror in his audience.” First, false dichotomy. These are not the only two options. Second, “Either way, this is hate.” No, the first way it is fear, and the second way it is spreading fear. Or are you equivocating fear and hate? The reality is much, much more likely to be something other than either of these two options that you allot him.

            4th quote: “Death Blow and Stealing” These points I’ll agree are wrong. But let me pose a question to you: If you suspect a group of people of stealing something from you(whether they actually are or not is not relevant to this hypothetical), what is your first reaction? For most people, especially white men, it is to cling tightly to and preserve the thing that you feel is threatened. IE: preservation and protection, not hatred.

            You say: “This leads to his view that all children must have a mother and father”. Children absolutely have the right to THEIR mother and THEIR father, no matter how effeminate or masculine either one is. This has nothing to do with gender roles, this has everything to do with kids having the right to know their parents, one of whom is female, and one of whom is male. This is PARENTAL essentialism, which is demonstrably helpful, not sexist, and good.

            6th quote: “gay-people-recruit-children-by-abusing-them”. What? He never said this. He said kids were raped, molested, and abused, but not by whom. They are, and the perpetrators are more often than not, NOT gay. But sexual trauma can certainly, and understandably, scare someone away from a particular sex so badly that they never can become intimate with them again. Normally, time can heal all wounds, but in the cases it can’t, it should be viewed as a tragedy. Moreover, your projection of gay population into his words is a misinterpretation of them, just like my misinterpretation of the boycott of Ender’s Game.

            So, what is hate? We *must* agree on its definition otherwise we can not communicate properly. Please allow me to use this one, which I hope is acceptable to you: “to feel intense dislike, or extreme aversion or hostility”.
            So, is there any dislike or aversion at all? Certainly. is it intense or extreme? it is unfortunate that we have no standardized way to measure this, but I’ll give it to you.
            So yes, Card is hateful. But towards what?
            Let’s take quote 4 for example: “marriage is being destroyed and stolen from.” By whom? Gays only? Are there no straight men and women who also are pushing for these same ideals?

            Analogy: There are many Atheists who have an intense dislike and aversion towards religion. That is to say, they hate it. Does that imply that they automatically hate *people* who are religious as well? No.
            However, is hatred of religion grounds for job termination? It shouldn’t be, if it in no way interferes with that person’s ability to perform the required duties. Similarly hatred of the IDEOLOGY that homosexuality is acceptable/normal(whether held by an actual homosexual, or more commonly by a straight person), should not be grounds for termination.

            By your evidence, I agree that Card is hateful, but I do NOT agree that in this case, it is a crime, or that it should have influenced the decision to remove him from writing the Superman comics. He has the ability to separate his beliefs from his storytelling, as evidenced by many of his previous works, and really the only crime he is being accused of is the crime of not agreeing with a certain political faction, which is not really a crime at all. (though it is punishable, without trial)

          • Periwinkle says:

            @Marc M:
            Oddly enough, Orson Scott Card only uses scary words like “Propaganda”, “Dogma” and “Persecuted” to describe concepts like gay marriage and abortion. He never uses them to discuss ideas he likes.

            You say: “Orson Scott Card is either personally terrified, or he’s trying to instil terror in his audience.” First, false dichotomy. These are not the only two options. Second, “Either way, this is hate.” No, the first way it is fear, and the second way it is spreading fear. Or are you equivocating fear and hate? The reality is much, much more likely to be something other than either of these two options that you allot him.

            I understand the difference between fear and hate. The way Orson Scott Card describes the past and present existence of gay people shows the fear. His recommended future actions show the hate.

            But let me pose a question to you: If you suspect a group of people of stealing something from you(whether they actually are or not is not relevant to this hypothetical), what is your first reaction? For most people, especially white men, it is to cling tightly to and preserve the thing that you feel is threatened.

            If I suspect that millions of people I have never met are trying to steal from me, hopefully bystanders will realise that I am paranoid and delusional and have me committed to a psychiatric ward before I harm anyone. I don’t understand what’s unique about white men here.

            Children absolutely have the right to THEIR mother and THEIR father, no matter how effeminate or masculine either one is.

            To take an extreme example, some children are murdered by their own parents. So, this “right” cannot be absolute.

            This has nothing to do with gender roles, this has everything to do with kids having the right to know their parents, one of whom is female, and one of whom is male. This is PARENTAL essentialism, which is demonstrably helpful, not sexist, and good.

            The American Psychological Association disagrees:

            Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.

            The Canadian Psychological Association disagrees:

            A review of the psychological research into the well-being of children raised by same-sex and opposite-sex parents continues to indicate that there are no reliable differences in
            their mental health or social adjustment and that lesbian mothers and gay fathers are not less fit as parents than are their heterosexual counterparts.

            The Interim Report of the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families disagrees:

            On measures of general health and family cohesion children aged 5 to 17 years with same-sex attracted parents showed a significantly better score when compared to Australian children from all backgrounds and family contexts. For all other health measures there were no
            statistically significant differences.

            The available research literature seems quite consistent on this subject.

            “gay-people-recruit-children-by-abusing-them”. What? He never said this.

            You are correct here; I did indeed misread his statements. He does not specifically accuse homosexual people of carrying out the abuse.

            He does imply that homosexuality is a form of mental illness resulting from trauma, which has been thoroughly discredited.

            So, what is hate? We *must* agree on its definition otherwise we can not communicate properly.

            I am not interested in further communication involving splitting hairs over dictionary definitions.

            By your evidence, I agree that Card is hateful, but I do NOT agree that in this case, it is a crime, or that it should have influenced the decision to remove him from writing the Superman comics.

            No one in this post or comments section has said that Card’s statements about gay people are a “crime”. This being the Internet, someone probably said so somewhere, but they have not affected the Ender’s Game or Superman campaigns.

            When people thought Orson Scott Card should not write Superman, they wrote to DC Comics to say so. If you disagree, you should write to DC Comics as well. They’re the ones who make the editorial decisions, not the people writing comments here.

  30. Tim Lieder says:

    This is actually pretty amazing as a reference guide to every diversity fight within the SFF community in the past decade. The only one missing that I can think offhand is Harlan Ellison honking boobs at world con.

  31. […] Two, a particular individual has recently flounced his way out of SFWA, with attendant cane-shakery about the “lunatic left” and “thoughtpolice”. And, apparently, a lot of attempt at revisionism about prior rounds of drama, thoroughly debunked over on Radish Reviews and also by Foz Meadows. […]

  32. […] not even going to try to go over the details of this irrational mess; Foz Meadows has taken care of that. I just have a couple of general questions for […]

  33. Well done Foz. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. And the comments too.

  34. CaptainBooshi says:

    I thought the name John C. Wright sounded familiar, so I looked it up and saw that he wrote “Orphans of Chaos” back in 2005, which means that pretty much nothing he says in this post surprises me at all. I remember that I had to stop reading that book because it skeeved me out so much. If I recall correctly, in that book a young teenage girl goes from never even thinking sexual thoughts to enjoying being spanked against her will within a day, and all I could think at the time was, “This seems like a window into the author’s fantasies, and I’m really not comfortable seeing what happens next.”

  35. […] Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright | foz meadows (May 7): “So, author John C. Wright wrote a thing on the evils of political correctness in SFF [..] Let me show you the problem I’m having. [..] You cannot state, as your opening premise, that SFF fandom is being handicapped by silence and an unwillingness to speak out, and then support that premise by stating the exact polar opposite: that there has, in your own words, been vocal uproar.” […]

  36. mgwa says:

    I agree with most of what you wrote. But since when is Samuel Delaney female? I was so surprised by this statement that I googled him and found many images which dispute that notion.

    • fozmeadows says:

      Er, I never said Delany was female; he’s included in the list because he’s a man of colour, and I was commenting on the whiteness of Ashley’s TOC as well as its being male-only.

  37. megpie71 says:

    “Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.
    If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is.”

    Actually, it’s not particularly shocking at all, due to the following facts:

    1) Robert A Heinlein has been dead since 1988.
    2) As a result, he hasn’t been particularly prolific when it comes to producing new works in either the science fiction or fantasy genres since then. Last known new work was “Grumbles from the Grave”, a posthumous collection of his letters and work published in 1989.
    3) The Hugo Awards are a popularity contest based around nominated works which are published/aired/made available within the preceding twelve months prior to the nomination period.

    So yeah. He wouldn’t be winning a Hugo these days. Indeed, I suspect the posthumous Hugo nomination for Robert Jordan (achieved via the efforts of Brandon Sanderson finally completing the Wheel of DoorstopsTime and the whole series being nominated under a rule regarding serial fiction) is probably one of the very few examples where an author has received a Hugo nomination more than two years posthumously.

    But then, Heinlein’s in good company. There are a lot of deceased former Hugo-winning authors who won’t be winning a Hugo this year. Why, you’d almost think there was some kind of vitalist conspiracy – quick, someone notify Reg Shoe.

    Now, if what Mr Wright was meaning to be say was “an author who writes the sort of fiction that Robert Heinlein used to write could not win a Hugo Award today” I’d say he was possibly onto something, but let’s not count our chickens before the presentation gets made. “Neptune’s Brood” by Charles Stross is on the list of finalists for Best Novel, and that’s a novel which is part of a series which was written as a direct homage to Heinlein-style space opera.

  38. […] police," "political correctness," "feminists," etc.). Foz Meadows has deconstructed this post quite thoroughly. But I think Scalzi's piece can also be read on its […]

  39. walterwart says:

    Thank you very much. Your column and analysis are invaluable. And I’ll have to add Moon to the list of authors whose work I will never, ever buy.

  40. […] Gate blogger Foz Meadows posted a thoughtful (and frequently very funny) response, “Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright,” in which she ably disputes John C. Wright’s complaints point by point. Here’s […]

  41. […] Amazing Stories has a direct response to Wright’s article. Wright couldn’t let it go, and wrote a lengthy response. File 770 followed up, making File 770the cogent argument that Heinlein in fact HAS won Hugos as recently as 2001, when the Retro Hugos for 1951 were awarded to Heinlein for best novel, best novella and best dramatic presentation. Shattersnipe also has a good response to Wright. […]

  42. Aquinas Dad says:

    So you don’t grasp that Mr. Wright is saying that *conservatives* are ebing silenced by the uproar of *progressives*? You literally don’t understand the simple, direct point that he is describing a heckler’s veto?
    FFS

    • fozmeadows says:

      Did you literally not understand my point, that Wright and his ilk are ANYTHING BUT SILENT, and manifestly unbothered by causing offence?

      • Aquinas Dad says:

        Not your original point; your point was that Wright was conflating silence and uproar, which he manifestly was not.

        . Also, do you not understand that person A stating that other people may be intimidated into silence is NOT refuted by pointing out that person A is speaking?
        [Please refer to the blacklist for a reference on this very topic].

        • fozmeadows says:

          My point was that Wright claimed that the SFF *community* had been silenced, and then proceeded to argue that the SFF *community* was in uproar. The only examples he gave to support the claim of silencing were of people who, as I’ve already stated, were manifestly unsilent.

          I’m quite capable of understanding the point you’re making. My point is that Wright didn’t actually say that; or rather, that if he was trying to – which possibility you’ll note I actively address in the piece above – he did so incredibly badly.

    • Bob Howe says:

      I’m always amazed at how quickly conservatives lose their faith in the marketplace of ideas when they find out nobody is buying what they’re selling. The pearl-clutching victim routine would be merely ridiculous if it weren’t for that fact that (some) conservatives are trying to silence women, gays, scientists, and anyone else who disagrees with their point of view.

      • fozmeadows says:

        Yes. And it’s important to note that, when progressives say they’re being silenced in this context, what we mean is, “We’re receiving rape and death threats, and threats against our families, pets and children, for our opinions, being stalked and harassed and bullied in a concerted attempt to drive us away from the discourse, and opposed by people whose political beliefs are centered around actively stripping us of human rights, denying us equal status under the law, and otherwise enforcing actual real-world penalties against us for the mere act of existing; beliefs which are fully articulated in the polemics of our opponents, and which are so overwhelmingly reflected in the prejudices we regularly encounter as to have an amplifying effect on an existing problem, a fact well known by those who deliberately seek to exploit this imbalance from a position of greater social safety.”

        Whereas, when conservatives say they’re being silenced in this context, what they mean is, “Some people we consider our inferiors are criticising us on the internet, and it hurts our feelings.”

        • Aquinas Dad says:

          Don’t pretend that Conservatives aren’t threatened, harassed, and actually attacked by others.
          As someone who had blog that avoided all current events and politics but was nominally conservative (i.e., I am openly religious and have many children) I can assure you that Progressives are very capable and quite willing to threaten, stalk, and harass. I can refer you to the local state bureau of investigations officer who fielded the far-too-common threats directed against me, my wife, our children, our homes, and our pets, if you like, They ranged from ‘I’ll get you fired’ to threats so severe they resulted in someone being court-ordered to a psychiatric evaluation prior to their trial for terroristic threats.
          They are still in prison.
          Why did he make such sustained, credible, and ultimately criminal threats? What did I say that triggered this maniacal rage?
          “Here are a set of studies that demonstrate that women who remain chaste until marriage are less likely to divorce”

          • fozmeadows says:

            I didn’t say conservatives were never harassed, ever. I said, quite explicitly, that IN THE CONTEXT established by Wright – namely, that of online exchanges in the SFF community – the two sides invariably mean something quite different by the word “silenced”.

            And frankly, I’m not surprised that someone, somewhere could dredge up a study claiming that “chaste” women are less likely to divorce. Any person, regardless of gender, who’s sufficiently religious as to abstain from sex until marriage is, it seems to me, highly likely to also be religious enough to view divorce as an unnecessary evil. What I’d take issue with, were someone to draw such a conclusion, would be the inference that the best way to lower divorce rates is to therefore police women’s sexuality.

            • Anthony VanWagner says:

              Whereas, when conservatives say they’re being silenced in this context, what they mean is, “Some people we consider our inferiors are criticising us on the internet, and it hurts our feelings.”

              Now, in this context, there are some differences as to being silenced. Conservatives are thrown out of professional organizations, pressured from being published by major publishers. They are kept from a fair assessment of their work for the awards on the basis of literary merit, because their politics must trump this for many progressives. Then they and their families are harassed; see Larry Correia, among others. It certainly isn’t total censorship. It certainly isn’t policing thought. It just has the same net effect for a lot of us. It is threatening enough to quash careers, and to hem free speech into certain zones.

              Do you like free speech zones? Why risk being fired from a job, for instance, when it is more advantageous to keep quiet or enter into some kind of masquerade? And when these things happen, they are downplayed as fake outrage. “It’s not really happening,” right? It’s not right when it happens to the Left or the Right. This isn’t about hurt feelings.

              • fozmeadows says:

                See, here’s the thing, though: everything you’ve just described? Also happens to progressives. Beale was thrown out of the SFWA for using the official SFWA Twitter feed to publish what were incontrovertibly vitriolic racist remarks; just as Elizabeth Moon, who can reasonably be termed progressive, was dropped from WisCon for being anti-Islamic: it’s not a double standard, but a standard applied equally to everyone, because everyone gets called out for racism and sexism, regardless of their politics. That’s the point. You think the Vox Day/Correia crowd, having gone to such lengths to promote the sad puppy ballot, is now going to give “fair assessment” to works that have actively been praised as socially progressive above and beyond the stuff they purposely voted into the ballot? Larry Correia, as far as I can tell, had family friends contact his wife, saying they’d heard bad things about him on the internet; Seanan McGuire received vicious, personal threats of rape and death, and that someone was going to kill and mutilate her cats.

                You want to talk about free speech impacting employment prospects? Talk to me about women first being denied birth control under workplace insurance plans that say religious employers can control what they do their bodies, and then being fired for being pregnant, trans and gay employees being legally fired for their sexual orientation, POC jobseekers and women being routinely denied job opportunities on the basis of their ethnicity or gender, and every other type of discrimination still on the books. Not talking about one’s politics in the workplace – especially when, as is the case here, those politics reinforce exactly the same biases that lead to the type of ongoing, systematic discrimination I’ve just described (or do you really think someone like Beale, in a workplace context, would treat black employees/colleagues just the same as white ones?) – is comparatively simple.

                Freedom of speech isn’t freedom from consequences. If you happen to work at a place, or belong to an organisation, which actively enforces its anti-harassment or anti-discrimination policies, then if you suffer consequences for violating those policies, that’s not a violation of free speech, but an expression of the fact that people with different politics are entitled to free speech, too. Freedom of speech means the government can’t stop you criticising it; it doesn’t mean you can’t be criticised by other people. But this is a point on which, overwhelmingly, conservatives seem to be confused: the second anyone disagrees with them, or calls them out for racism or sexism, they react as though their freedom of speech is being impinged upon, when all that’s happening is that other people are simultaneously exercising their right to it.

                • Marc M says:

                  Please, don’t be so dramatic. Not offering birth control is not the same as denying it. Most plans don’t cover Tylenol either, because it is cheap and prolific. So is birth control. Anyone who wants it can get it extremely easily.

                  Also, when did freedom of speech also cover freedom to get anyone who disagrees with you fired? It is technically legal, but it is certainly morally objectionable. We, as a society, need to band together. Nobody should be fired for a non-work reason. Please blog about it the next time a gay or tran is fired simply for being who they are, and not for a work-related reason, and I will be right there with you protesting.

                  I get that you are angry and feel that this exact same thing has happened to you or someone you care about in the past, but is the best way to combat it to do the EXACT SAME THING to those who you disagree with? You can absolutely NOT fight hate with hate, you only get more hate.

                  The party that ‘claims’ to be tolerant must show and educate those of us who you feel are intolerant. If it is considered ‘tolerant’ to have someone fired for a non-work related reason, then fine! two can be ‘tolerant’ if tolerant really means ‘militant’. Or, if there is a different, better way, then show us. Because I’m not seeing ANY tolerance at all from those who claim to have it the most. If you are just going to do what has been done to you in the past, then we will both end up destroying ourselves. That is not a very hopeful resolution, when we can certainly come up with something better.

                  • fozmeadows says:

                    Please, don’t be so dramatic. Not offering birth control is not the same as denying it. Most plans don’t cover Tylenol either, because it is cheap and prolific. So is birth control. Anyone who wants it can get it extremely easily.

                    Oh my actual god, do you really think I’m talking about condoms when I mention birth control and women’s bodies in the same breath, or are you honestly unaware of the enormous amount of political lobbying going on in the States right now, to enable religious employers to deny women access to the pill – which they’re meant to be able to claim on insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and which is used to treat a wide variety of medical issues beyond just preventing pregnancy – on the grounds that they find it immoral? (Please note that Viagra is already covered by insurance.)

                    The party that ‘claims’ to be tolerant must show and educate those of us who you feel are intolerant. If it is considered ‘tolerant’ to have someone fired for a non-work related reason, then fine! two can be ‘tolerant’ if tolerant really means ‘militant’. Or, if there is a different, better way, then show us. Because I’m not seeing ANY tolerance at all from those who claim to have it the most.

                    See, what you’re doing here is putting “firing someone because their employers or coworkers believe them to be inferior/immoral because of who they are” on the same moral footing as “firing someone because they believe their coworkers/employers to be inferior/immoral, such that it’s impacting their ability to treat them fairly or well”. The former person has hurt nobody; the latter is actively creating a toxic workplace for others. If your whole argument boils down to, “You should be tolerant of my intolerance,” you’re essentially arguing that the right of victims to work in a safe environment is never more important than the right of harassers not to be held accountable for their actions.

                    You need to get out of this mindset you’re in, whereby workplaces calling out harassment and taking steps to prevent it in the future is somehow equivalent to a new form of harassment against the harassers. You can’t ignore context, history and disparities in power and just say, “Oh, person X being fired for being gay is just the same as person Y being fired for being screamingly racist about their boss on Facebook” just because they share the commonality of being fired. One is being fired for something that has zero bearing on their ability to work, and which is an immutable, unchangeable aspect of their personhood; the other is being fired for having opinions that clearly impact on their ability to work, and which aren’t immutable at all.

                    • Stevie says:

                      Foz

                      Well, on this side of the Pond we have been down the road of religious groups seeking to deny access to birth control: in this instant it was the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC). The case report is here:

                      http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2002/610.html

                      They were thoroughly trounced, but, almost equally as important, the Judge who heard the case was so incensed by the tactics the group had adopted that he took them apart at the seams because they had lied to the Court; they claimed that they were merely seeking to classify the morning after pill as an abortifacient when in reality they were seeking for all forms of hormonal birth control to be classed as abortifacient, and thus that all women who had taken any form of hormonal contraception were criminals under the 1861 legislation relating to the procuring of miscarriages. It’s a very long case report, but I think this comment from Justice Munby is helpful:

                      “There would in my judgment be something very seriously wrong, indeed grievously wrong with our system – by which I mean not just our legal system but the entire system by which our polity is governed – if a judge in 2002 were to be compelled by a statute 141 years old to hold that what thousands, hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of ordinary honest, decent, law abiding citizens have been doing day in day out for so many years is and always has been criminal. I am glad to be spared so unattractive a duty. The social case put by fpa, and supported in all particulars by the Secretary of State, remains wholly unanswered by SPUC. Preferring to concentrate, as it is entitled to, upon narrow legal issues, SPUC has not attempted to refute fpa’s case. I strongly suspect that it could not, even if it wished to.”

                      He went on to say:

                      “It is, as it seems to me, for individual men and woman, acting in what they believe to be good conscience, applying those standards which they think appropriate, and in consultation with appropriate professional (and, if they wish, spiritual) advisers, to decide whether or not to use IUDs, the pill, the mini-pill and the morning-after pill. It is no business of government, judges or the law.”

                      Unsurprisingly I agree with his views, but the duplicity of SPUC in its approach is only too commonplace when it comes to trying to impose religious beliefs on those who do not share those beliefs, by fair means or foul. I’ve already commented on the Equal Marriage Act here so I won’t repeat myself, but the usual suspects do not appear to possess a moral compass which requires them to be truthful. It’s important to bear that in mind…

                    • fozmeadows says:

                      I’m actually on your side of the pond; but for precisely the reasons you state, I think it’s important to pay attention to American politics, especially when arguing with Americans :)

                    • Marc M says:

                      Your actual god, no. I’ll repeat: “my job doesn’t have the benefits I want” is NOT THE SAME as being prevented from working in the first place.
                      I don’t have a pension, but I still contribute to a separate, non-work related retirement fund that I set up for myself. Having an income allows me to do this.
                      If you have a job, you can prioritize birth control as you see fit. Whether you like it or not, birth control IS a morally debated hot topic. It is not illegal however, and it is also not a ‘right’. It differs from Viagra for the primary reason that ED medicine takes a non-working organ and makes it functional again. The Pill takes a perfectly healthy and working organ, and removes its ability to function properly. Can you see the difference?

                      Secondly, you say “firing someone because they believe their coworkers/employers to be inferior/immoral, such that it’s impacting their ability to treat them fairly or well”. If you would please re-read my comments, I have never equated the two WHEN IT IMPACTS THE JOB PERFORMANCE. I have always argued that if it does NOT affect job performance, it should not be taken into consideration. Slamming a specific individual (your boss) on facebook certainly affects your workplace relations with that person.

                      HOWEVER, the cases in question have no complaints directed towards the individuals who were ‘relieved’ of their position.
                      Orson Scott Card: Zero complaints directed towards him
                      Brendan Eich: Zero complaints directed towards him
                      Phil Robertson: Zero complaints directed towards him
                      If there were even a single complaint in any of these cases, you might have a leg to stand on, but you don’t. There was zero impact to job performance, and as such, they should not have been fired for expressing their beliefs in their personal time.

                    • fozmeadows says:

                      Whether you like it or not, birth control IS a morally debated hot topic. It is not illegal however, and it is also not a ‘right’. It differs from Viagra for the primary reason that ED medicine takes a non-working organ and makes it functional again. The Pill takes a perfectly healthy and working organ, and removes its ability to function properly. Can you see the difference?

                      I never know whether I’m angrier at or more embarrassed for conservatives too pig-ignorant to look up what the pill actually DOES and why it’s prescribed before they attempt to have an opinion on it. The pill isn’t just used to prevent pregnancy: it’s also a MEDICINE, used to treat conditions like ovarian cysts, hormone imbalance and endometriosis. THIS IS WHY MANY, IF NOT MOST, WOMEN TAKE IT.

                      If you would please re-read my comments, I have never equated the two WHEN IT IMPACTS THE JOB PERFORMANCE. I have always argued that if it does NOT affect job performance, it should not be taken into consideration.

                      Riddle me this: if someone goes on Facebook and says something like, “Women really don’t belong in the workforce, they’re really better suited to raising children,” or “black people are just stupider than white people”, HOW IS THIS NOT RELEVANT IF THAT PERSON WORKS WITH WOMEN OR POC? This is the point you’re failing to grasp: there are ACTUAL STUDIES proving, over and over and over again, that implicit bias affects the way people treat employees, jobseekers and colleagues; I can give you an extensive list, if you want. So if somebody has an OVERT bias – if they’re actively going around saying they think X group is inferior – then why the hell should they have to be saying it at work, or about a specific colleague, for it to clearly have a bearing on how they must treat such people in the workplace?

                    • Marc M says:

                      “I never know whether I’m angrier at or more embarrassed for conservatives too pig-ignorant to look up what the pill actually DOES and why it’s prescribed before they attempt to have an opinion on it. The pill isn’t just used to prevent pregnancy: it’s also a MEDICINE, used to treat conditions like ovarian cysts, hormone imbalance and endometriosis. THIS IS WHY MANY, IF NOT MOST, WOMEN TAKE IT.”

                      So if a religious company offered health insurance that covered non-abortafacient medications to address these issues, you would be fine with that compromise?

                      Riddle me this: if someone goes on Facebook and says something like, “Women really don’t belong in the workforce, they’re really better suited to raising children,” or “black people are just stupider than white people”, HOW IS THIS NOT RELEVANT IF THAT PERSON WORKS WITH WOMEN OR POC?

                      Simple: because they may have not said anything similar while AT THE WORKPLACE.

                      This is the point you’re failing to grasp: there are ACTUAL STUDIES proving, over and over and over again, that implicit bias affects the way people treat employees, jobseekers and colleagues; I can give you an extensive list, if you want. So if somebody has an OVERT bias – if they’re actively going around saying they think X group is inferior – then why the hell should they have to be saying it at work, or about a specific colleague, for it to clearly have a bearing on how they must treat such people in the workplace?

                      And the point YOU are failing to grasp is that, until an offense is actually committed, a person should not be fired for it. Even if your studies have a 100% correlation to offensive speech in private affecting offensive speech in the workplace, UNTIL IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS, no reprimand should occur.

                      You are yourself showing your bias against group X (conservatives are pig-ignorant comment from above) This, by your logic, should prohibit you from working with conservatives. Namely, if there is a single conservative that you work with who might be offended by this, then you should be fired simply for writing this on your own personal blog.
                      I do not agree with this, because I recognize that even though you have an overt bias against conservatives, you might have not (yet) actually offended one in your workplace. Keep on working, until someone files a complaint against you.

                    • fozmeadows says:

                      So if a religious company offered health insurance that covered non-abortafacient medications to address these issues, you would be fine with that compromise?

                      *headdesk* You have officially forfeited your right to discuss this subject on my blog, because you have literally no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. THE PILL IS NOT AN ABORTIFACIENT. It works by chemically convincing the body that it is ALREADY PREGNANT, thereby signalling the ovaries not to release any new eggs, thereby preventing ACTUAL pregnancy. The morning-after pill, which is a different thing altogether, isn’t an abortifacient either: if you’re already pregnant, it doesn’t end the pregnancy; but if you’re NOT pregnant, it ensures that you can’t BECOME pregnant from the sex you’ve already had. There is ONE SPECIFIC DRUG that is an ACTUAL abortifacient, whose ONLY purpose is to induce abortion in someone already pregnant, but IT IS NOT THE GODDAMN PILL and I am sick to the back teeth of conservatives saying that it is.

                      And the point YOU are failing to grasp is that, until an offense is actually committed, a person should not be fired for it. Even if your studies have a 100% correlation to offensive speech in private affecting offensive speech in the workplace, UNTIL IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS, no reprimand should occur.

                      OK. I’m going to explain this calmly and slowly, one last time. Then I’m done.
                      The internet and social media have changed the definition of what constitutes public vs private speech. If someone makes a racist remark at the pub, there’s no record of it beyond the recollection of those present. If someone writes the same remark online, however, there is a visible record, accessible to many. It’s also now possible to Google someone and see who they work for, what’s on their Facebook page, what their politics are, both while employing them and before hiring them, in a way that was never previously possible. Right? But even before the internet, it both was – and still is – extremely common for businesses to have employee codes of conduct, brand identities, corporate ethics – rules governing the behaviour and attitude of their workers beyond the strictures of external law. So with the advent of digital media, this creates something of a dilemma, one the legal system and culture both are still learning to navigate: namely, where should the line be on applying employee standards to what happens outside of work, when what happens outside of work, if it happens online, is now highly visible to those WITHIN work?

                      Say you work for a business that openly prides itself on being a tolerant, diversity-friendly employer. Say you go on your Facebook page, under your own real name – a page that also identifies your employer, or which can be easily linked back to your employer via a simple search of another site you also use, like LinkedIn, as many professionals do – and you write a racist tirade about white superiority. Say someone you’re friends with (and note, please, that many professionals use FB for business connections as well as for actual friends and family) notices this tirade – someone you’ve worked with, perhaps, or who knows you in a professional context – and is horrified at the dissonance between your expressed beliefs and the public ethics of the company for which you work. Say this person takes a screenshot of your remarks and posts on social media about it, invoking your company’s name, in a place where other people can see it, and where other people are also outraged. The company is then put in the position of having to respond publicly in its official capacity as a friendly employer to something you said on your own time, but which is now materially relevant both to your position in the company and the way that company is publicly perceived. The company doesn’t have to fire you; they might just discipline you internally. They might do nothing, and simply weather the bad PR in silence. But either way, you have made it about the company, because you’ve done it in a way that can be traced to them.

                      Do you see what makes this different? The problem wasn’t that the employee expressed an opinion online. It was that they expressed it under their own name, in a way that lead directly back to their employers. And the thing is, there have now been more than enough well-publicised instances of this happening – jobseekers are taught about it, some companies give new employees orientations about it, students learn about it; hell, if you’ve ever worn a school uniform, you already know about being held accountable to the school and its reputation for anything you do after hours while wearing the uniform – that there’s a strong argument to be made that it’s both common sense AND common good business practise, if you think there might be a conflict between your private opinions and the opinions of your employer, NOT TO EXPRESS THEM ONLINE UNDER YOUR OWN NAME. Which isn’t hard! You can blog, tweet, tumblr, comment and Reddit anonymously: nobody is taking away your right to free speech. They’re just asking that you don’t make it an issue for your employer. And overwhelmingly, when people go on racist/sexist/homophobic tirades on the internets? THEY’RE MAKING IT AN ISSUE.

                  • Periwinkle says:

                    @Marc M:

                    Please blog about it the next time a gay or tran is fired simply for being who they are, and not for a work-related reason, and I will be right there with you protesting.

                    Here you go. South Carolina mayor fires town’s first openly gay police chief, says being gay is a “questionable” “lifestyle”.

                    If it is considered ‘tolerant’ to have someone fired for a non-work related reason, then fine! two can be ‘tolerant’ if tolerant really means ‘militant’.

                    Are you still talking about Orson Scott Card? It’s getting very repetitive explaining that he lost a job as a writer because some things he wrote were incorrect, incoherent, badly researched, and harmful.

                    Neither are people who organise boycotts ‘militant’. In the current situation, the word best describes the individuals who send death or rape threats, mostly to women who have opinions on the Internet.

                    • Marc M says:

                      Thanks Periwinkle! In case you don’t check it over there, here is the comment I made:
                      ” I can’t help but be reminded of “Blazing Saddles” here. She may have been the best chief of police they will ever have.
                      Or, this could be like the case of the waitress who was NOT fired for simply being gay, but instead for slandering a patron and lying about it.
                      It sounds like it can go either way depending on the validity of the reprimands, so i’ll wait until we hear back on that.
                      However, if the reprimands were in fact frivolous, or if they set her up in a situation in which she could not possibly follow orders given, for example, then she should absolutely NOT be fired.

                      This could be like the Phil Robertson scandal, where someone gets fired over something non-work related, which should be frowned upon by ALL of us. It is hard enough to find a job these days, if someone is able to perform it, they should get to keep it, no matter their race, gender, or political party affiliation.”

                      It is also very repetitive for me to explain the difference between writing for your EMPLOYER, vs. writing in your PERSONAL time.
                      Are they both ‘writing’? yes. But until Card actually wrote anything FOR THE SUPERMAN COMICS that DC objected to, he shouldn’t have been fired. What he writes in his free time is irrelevant, until the day he brings it into his workplace. That day did not come though, as no complaints were rendered against him for his words or actions towards his co-workers, nor for any material he produced while on the job.

                      I feel like I’m the only one on this blog that thinks that firing someone for something non-work related should be frowned upon. And that worse, to get someone you don’t even work with fired for something non-work related should be even MORE frowned upon. This goes for both liberals and conservatives. I will re-iterate my comment from above: It is hard enough to get a job for anyone these days. If they can perform it, let them.

                    • Periwinkle says:

                      @Marc M:

                      It sounds like it can go either way depending on the validity of the reprimands, so i’ll wait until we hear back on that.

                      That’s called “moving the goalposts”. In my first post on this subject, linked to a summary, since you don’t seem to read long articles. Here’s a more complete version of the story: Latta’s mayor fired the police chief, but Town Council is fighting back

                      So far, all you’ve demonstrated here is that:
                      (1) You don’t stop to check the facts before posting groundless speculation,
                      (2) You’ll give every possible benefit of the doubt to people accused of homophobia, and
                      (3) You assume the worst of anyone pointing out homophobia.

                      And yes, homophobia is still relevant. If someone uses racial insults as justification for shooting someone dead, that’s murder and a hate crime. If the mayor fires the chief of police for frivolous reasons while ranting about “I’m not gonna let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it,” that’s incompetence and homophobia.

                      It is also very repetitive for me to explain the difference between writing for your EMPLOYER, vs. writing in your PERSONAL time.

                      While I agree with Foz Meadows’ comment on this issue – that personal blog posts made under your real name are relevant to your employment – they don’t have to be in Orson Scott Card’s case. You are incorrectly talking about his “personal time”, when two of the three documents cited here are from his weekly column, In the Village, published in the Deseret News newspaper. And, as you have already been reminded, he served on the board on the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage from 2009 to 2013. Past employers, and the work you did for them, are generally considered relevant to your future employment.

                      If neither past personal writing nor past professional writing are meaningful to employment as a writer, then I and the other seven billion people on Earth are just as eligible to write Superman as Orson Scott Card is.

          • Periwinkle says:

            @Aquinas Dad:
            Yes, stalkers are bad, no matter who they stalk. And thank you for reminding us that another advantage of being conservative on the Internet is that law enforcement may actually take your stalkers seriously. Here is the work needed before authorities got involved with a stalker on websites discussing atheism. Despite multiple court appearances, as of 2014 his harassment continues, especially on the blog Pharyngula, by PZ Myers.

        • ^This! (another lurker compelled to comment and applaud you. :D)

  43. Bob Howe says:

    Okay, Foz, you framed that much more completely and accurately than I did.

  44. […] Amazing Stories has a direct response to Wright’s article. Wright couldn’t let it go, and wrote a lengthy response. File 770 followed up, making File 770 the cogent argument that Heinlein in fact HAS won Hugos as recently as 2001, when the Retro Hugos for 1951 were awarded to Heinlein for best novel, best novella and best dramatic presentation. Shattersnipe also has a good response to Wright. […]

  45. […] orthodoxy. Foz Meadows (she’s such a good blogger I must find some of her Y/A fiction) points out that in Wright’s retelling, Orson Scott Card just made a very mild criticism of […]

  46. Bob Howe says:

    From Marc M’s charm offensive: “I do not agree with this, because I recognize that even though you have an overt bias against conservatives, you might have not (yet) actually offended one in your workplace. Keep on working, until someone files a complaint against you.”

    Here’s the pattern I notice: conservatives want to keep the discussion on the level of abstract legal principles, rather than on the content of their beliefs, because many of their beliefs are indefensible. An utter lack of empathy and decency is /not/ a prerequisite for intellectual rigor and logical thinking. If you argue that the “acceptance of homosexuality” is an ideology, you’re not a genius, you’re just a sociopath.

  47. Stevie says:

    Marc M

    As Foz has noted, the pill doesn’t stop a normal organ functioning normally; it was originally developed as a treatment for a number of gynaecological disorders. The fact that it also inhibits pregnancy was something discovered later on as a useful side effect; ironically, using it may allow a woman with endometriosis to become pregnant at a later date because untreated endometriosis very frequently results in the woman becoming infertile.

    Another gynaecological problem, menorrhagia, is also treated with the pill; I can assure you, from personal experience, that for someone collapsing in the street from pain and blood loss the birth control aspect of the pill really isn’t a factor in one’s thinking on the subject. I do not regard having to spend 48 hours in hospital as a result of that collapse as a demonstration of an organ functioning normally, nor did the doctors caring for me; equally, some years later, my doctors would not have done an exploratory laparoscopy had they believed that to be the case. I ended up having to have major surgery when it became impossible to control it with hormonal therapy; without the therapy I would have had to have that surgery much earlier, and I would not have been able to give birth to a much loved child.

    I strive to be sympathetic to anyone who needs medication to maintain a healthy and happy sex life, though I’m pretty sure that there is a qualitative difference between popping a Viagra and needing to be admitted to hospital as an emergency. It does seem to me to be unfortunate that people should lack the understanding of what the pill actually does; for someone like yourself to be obviously unaware of these issues suggests that some pretty basic biological education has been omitted somewhere along the line. I don’t think ignorance is helpful to anyone…

    • Marc M says:

      Foz: you say: “It works by …signalling the ovaries not to release any new eggs, thereby preventing ACTUAL pregnancy.”
      Think about this logically. If this were ALL the pill did, then it wouldn’t help in these other medical cases that Stevie is describing. What you describe is just one of the 4 ways in which the Pill works. In addition, it also thins the endometrium lining, which is the OPPOSITE of what the body signals to do during pregnancy.

      Stevie, I am very very sorry you had to go through that. But are you also saying that there were no other alternative medications? And, if a company’s health insurance covered any alternative medication and/or treatment, but not the Pill, would that be an acceptable compromise to you?

      Anyway, back on topic, Foz, you mention that it is a very new dilemma with the advent of modern social media of where to draw the line between public and private information. I very much agree!! Where we disagree is where to draw the line, and this is not THAT MUCH of a disagreement. You say it should be ‘here’, and I say it should be ‘there’. There can certainly be a compromise!! Although I will take your banning of me(if you choose to do so) to be an uncompromising, uncommunicative, and intolerant approach to the debate. I don’t believe that I have ever offended anyone directly, and I CERTAINLY have not intended to. I have intended to remain civil in this discussion and while I may have been abrasive, I don’t think I have been abusive,

      If you desire your blog to be merely an echo chamber, then that is your prerogative, and you are certainly entitled to it. But why not welcome those who’s views, values, and ideologies are different? Isn’t that how society becomes a better place? Isn’t that showing true Tolerance?

      • fozmeadows says:

        Foz: you say: “It works by …signalling the ovaries not to release any new eggs, thereby preventing ACTUAL pregnancy.”
        Think about this logically. If this were ALL the pill did, then it wouldn’t help in these other medical cases that Stevie is describing. What you describe is just one of the 4 ways in which the Pill works. In addition, it also thins the endometrium lining, which is the OPPOSITE of what the body signals to do during pregnancy.

        Jesus wept. Why the fuck does it MATTER if it does other things? You called it an abortifacient, which it MANIFESTLY ISN’T, which is the ACTUAL GODDAMN POINT. Or are you honestly trying to infer that there’s some sort of moral evil in the fact that the pill thins the lining of the endometrium?

        If you desire your blog to be merely an echo chamber, then that is your prerogative, and you are certainly entitled to it. But why not welcome those who’s views, values, and ideologies are different? Isn’t that how society becomes a better place? Isn’t that showing true Tolerance?

        Imagine a school whose policy, when it comes to playtime, is “tolerance for all”. Now, imagine there’s one little kid whose idea of a fun time is hurting the other children, whether by calling them names or actually pushing and punching them. By your definition of “tolerance”, the school shouldn’t rebuke this kid, or stop him from hurting his classmates, or call his parents, or instruct him to keep away from his victims, or do anything other than letting him keep hurting them – because “tolerance” means they should tolerate his abuse. Does that seem sane or sensible to you?

        I’ve previously been told this blog is an echo chamber by male commenters furious that I’ve had the unmitigated temerity to block or ban them after they’ve called me a bitch, a whore, a retard, or left rape threats; or who think it’s unfair that, after a twenty-something post thread where I’ve done my best to respond to them civilly, I’ve finally blocked them when their replies have turned to outright insults; or because I’ve blocked someone whose comments, were I to let them stand unchecked, would potentially discourage other people from commenting here, because of their highly racist/sexist/homophobic content.

        Tolerance is a two-way street. It doesn’t just mean me, and people like me, endlessly bending over backwards to accommodate your need to say whatever the hell you want in any and every forum, no matter how much it distresses us, who the forum was designed for or whether you actually know anything about the topic at hand; it also means you, and people like you, occasionally taking our needs into consideration, asking yourselves whether your opinion is necessary in this time or place, considering whether you’re doing more harm than good in a given conversation, and accepting that you don’t have a blanket right to be heard at the expense of others. I have a comment policy at the top of this blog, clearly laid out: did you read it before you posted at all?

        I enjoy debate. It’s why I allow comments through at all. But there is an emotional cost to doing this, an exhaustion, that is significant. There is a considerable difference between wanting only to hear your own thoughts repeated uncritically, ad nauseum – an echo chamber – and wanting not to be subject to the type of abuse and ignorance that means I lie awake for two hours at night feeling sick to my stomach, or get heart palpitations when I see yet another comment appear telling me I’m being “dramatic” or “hysterical” because I actually give a shit about women’s rights. And if you can’t distinguish between these two states, then MAYBE you should sit down and think about why that is.

        • Marc M says:

          Foz,
          First of all, thank you for allowing me to continue to post on your blog. This is a privilege you grant me, and I am appreciative to continue to do so.

          I was debating with some of your other followers, and you jumped in to the conversation so I assumed you were up for some more discussion. My apologies.

          However, now that tempers and emotions have flared to the point we have resorted to using swear words, I will be backing off for a while to hopefully let things settle a bit.

          I hope you don’t lump me in the same category as name callers and threateners, as I don’t think I’ve done anything to abuse or intentionally harm anyone.

      • Stevie says:

        Marc M

        It probably helps if you bear in mind the consequences of suspending ovulation; if there is no ovulation then there are no periods, and if there are no periods then there can be no menorrhagia. There is no way to achieve that without hormonal therapy because nothing else works, other than major surgery removing the womb entirely.

        Back in the mists of time some doctors thought that there was a psychological benefit in retaining the appearance of the menstrual cycle, which is why the practice of 21 days hormone plus 7 days nothing (or sugar pills) came about. Even then periods are usually much lighter- the result of the thinning of the uterine lining- but for people with severe menorrhagia taking hormonal therapy to suppress ovulation full time is what works.

        Equally, with endometriosis, where the lining of the uterus decides to migrate to other parts of the body, the only alternative to hormonal therapy is major surgery; the usual advice is that both womb and ovaries be removed, thus lumbering the patient with premature menopause and all the associated problems which go with it.

        As I noted earlier, I do appreciate that, in order to enjoy a happy and healthy sex life, some people need Viagra. However, I do feel that a policy which provides Viagra but does not cover the treatment of a woman suffering from endometriosis and/or severe menorrhagia, other than to provide her with unwanted major surgery, is downright loopy.

        I don’t want to be in the position of judging other people’s psycho/sexual needs, not least because I do not wish to depart from the first Queen Elizabeth’s maxim ‘I would not open windows into men’s souls’. It seems to me that the then Justice Munby, (he’s been promoted quite a lot since 2002) got it right when he said that this is a matter to be determined by the consciences of the people themselves.

        But if I am pushed to the barricades then I sure as hell am not going to accept a thesis that in some strange fashion men are entitled to erections but women aren’t entitled to treatment for medical conditions. The fact that you didn’t even know that there are no other treatments available for these conditions, other than major surgery, is really quite scary…

    • Periwinkle says:

      @Marc M:

      So if a religious company offered health insurance that covered non-abortafacient medications to address these issues, you would be fine with that compromise?

      And, if a company’s health insurance covered any alternative medication and/or treatment, but not the Pill, would that be an acceptable compromise to you?

      You have already been educated on how this is not an accurate description of those medicines. Even if you had been accurate, I personally would not consider this an acceptable “compromise”. Employees should have pregnancy-related medication and surgery up to and including late-term abortion covered by their employer-sponsored insurance. It is ridiculous that at present these are not automatically covered. The usual HIPAA rules should apply, so that the employer is not entitled to know the details unless they affect the employees’ ability to work.

      This is especially contradictory coming from you: you state that things employees write are irrelevant to their employment, but that medicine and medical procedures (but only those unique to women) are everyone’s concern.

  48. kenmarable says:

    Foz,

    Just chiming in to say that I’m definitely bookmarking this now. You have some extremely articulate (and far more patient than I could manage) responses that I definitely learned a few things from. Thank you!

    • Marc M says:

      Hi Foz,
      I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I sure did, although didn’t get as much sleep as I would have preferred.

      Please allow me to respond to your last post:
      “Tolerance is a two-way street”
      I completely agree. However, there is one political party (at least in the US) that claims they are MORE tolerant, and that the other is LESS tolerant (or not at all). In this case, how is the lesser tolerant group supposed to become moreso? Typically it is by mimicking the more tolerant party.

      And further, I’m not saying to tolerate personal attacks or violence. Instead, please recognize that there is a separate, and until VERY recently(1990), widely held worldview that homosexuality is a disordered mentality. I’m obviously not asking you to agree with that position.

      But isn’t it obvious that you aren’t going to get people to change their worldview on this issue by subjecting them to the same discrimination that gays and lesbians have been subjected to? Revenge is easy, but it is also destructive and divisive. Fighting hate with hate only creates more, and deeper hate.

      Instead, a better tactic would be: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. If your desire is for tolerance, then you must embody that ideal, regardless of whether the opposition does. We are all only under control of ourselves, so if we want something to come into the world, we must bring it from within.

      Even though it is currently legal to fire someone for being gay, or for being conservative, or for being a woman, or for ANY reason really, certainly a better solution for everyone would be that until you have a valid work-related complaint filed against you, you should not be fired. This would offer protection for everyone, equally. Isn’t this what we all want?

      • Bob Howe says:

        Marc M: “Instead, please recognize that there is a separate, and until VERY recently(1990), widely held worldview that homosexuality is a disordered mentality. I’m obviously not asking you to agree with that position.”

        The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the DSM in 1973 (http://www.psychiatry.org/lgbt-sexual-orientation): I don’t think 41 years ago qualifies as “very recently.” I think your post qualifies as concern trolling.

      • fozmeadows says:

        I completely agree. However, there is one political party (at least in the US) that claims they are MORE tolerant, and that the other is LESS tolerant (or not at all). In this case, how is the lesser tolerant group supposed to become moreso? Typically it is by mimicking the more tolerant party.

        And in one breath, you place the entirety of the blame for the failure of bigots to become tolerant on the shoulders of those they oppress. If teaching tolerance and equality was as simple as embracing those who wish us dead or disempowered, then no victim of hate crime who greeted their attackers with open arms would ever be murdered afterwards. I say again: you do not teach tolerance by making the freedom to abuse as paramount as the right to go unmolested.

        Instead, please recognize that there is a separate, and until VERY recently(1990), widely held worldview that homosexuality is a disordered mentality.

        NO, IT WASN’T.
        DO. YOUR. GODDAMNED. RESEARCH.
        Contrary to your claims, homosexuality stopped being classified as a mental illness in the West in 1973, nor has homophobia always been a “widely held worldview” everywhere in the world. Tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality have long antecedents in human history. You want to see a list of cultures that have embraced non binary genders? Look it up. Want to read about how homophobia was a British import to Africa, India and Singapore? Look it up. Want to read about homosexuality among the samurai? Look it up. Homosexuality has been legal since 1940 in Iceland, 1933 in Denmark, 1889 in Italy and 1880 in Japan; it was never illegal in Poland, except under Russian occupation, and was never criminalised in China (though Hong Kong has its own laws).

        The fact that certain parts of Western, Christian morality has a problem with homosexuality doesn’t mean that view has dominated throughout human history, or even that it dominates now.

        But isn’t it obvious that you aren’t going to get people to change their worldview on this issue by subjecting them to the same discrimination that gays and lesbians have been subjected to? Revenge is easy, but it is also destructive and divisive. Fighting hate with hate only creates more, and deeper hate.

        The type of “discrimination” gay, lesbian and trans persons have been subjected to in the modern West – and continue to be subject to – includes active legal disenfranchisement impacting parental rights, workplace rights, death benefits and denial of justice, endless hate crimes up to and including rape, torture and murder, medical abuse and misdiagnosis, forced electroshock, incarceration, being beaten and disowned by their own families, and every other type of hideousness human beings are capable of inflicting on each other –

        - and you think this type of evil is exactly the same as asking people not to say bigoted shit on the internet. You think asking people not to say bigoted things, in writing, in particular environments, is an equivalent moral evil, an equivalent act of hate and intolerance, to systematically abusing others.

        Get the fuck off my blog forever. You sicken me.

  49. Stevie says:

    Well, I am sorry that Marc M decided to depart before reading my response to him; I am always concerned when people simply do not have the basic knowledge of biology they need to in order to be able to make informed judgements about matters relating to that biology.

    Perhaps a thought experiment may be useful; if we are to insist that someone suffering from endometriosis can only be treated by major surgery removing their wombs and ovaries because hormonal therapy is forbidden then we must likewise insist that someone suffering from penile dysfunction should also be treated by major surgery. After all, removal of the penis and testicles will certainly take care of the problem.

    It is, of course, ludicrous, but then that’s the point of thought experiments; they enable us to see just how bizarre certain arguments are…

    • Marc M says:

      Stevie, Thanks for your great (as always) reply. I have not departed, I was just busy this weekend.

      I would like to comment on your thought experiment: You insist that there are only 2 options for treating endometriosis: The Pill, or a full on removal of the uterus. This is a dishonest and false dichotomy. There are many other less severe treatments available, both hormonal and surgical (same for menorrhagia as well).

      Further, you may not be aware, but not all hormonal drugs are considered immoral by those opposed to the Pill.

      Again, I’m trying to find what, if anything could be a compromise between two sides of this culture war, as a means for all to be at peace. We both want women to have access to health care, so let’s use that as our common ground.

      If a health care plan covered these alternative services, but not the Pill, is this still unacceptable to you? If not, why must it be The Pill, Only The Pill, and Nothing But The Pill?

      Further, to those who oppose the Pill, I suspect, but I can not be sure, that they would be willing to have erectile dysfunction drugs removed from covered costs as a compromise. Would that be a fair alternative starting point?

      • Stevie says:

        Marc C

        Please cite them. After all, you claim these medications exist but you give no details of these medications or how we may track them down.

        It really doesn’t look good to make such claims without backing them up.

        Clue: my daughter is a physician and her reaction to reading your claim to her was to simply roll her eyeballs…

        • angharad says:

          Actually there are two other potential treatments. I have the same condition as you, but for me the Pill is not helpful (in fact it makes matters worse -I have weird, weird hormones). One treatment is called endometrial ablation. It basically involves burning off the lining of the uterus. It’s about as dangerous as it sounds and renders you permanently infertile. The other is a drug called Cyclokaprone or tranexamic acid. It is basically what they give to haemophiliacs to stop them bleeding to death during surgery. It’s not as effective at treating
          menorrhagia as the Pill (assuming it works for you) but it helps some.

          Having said that, there are plenty of other disorders where hormonal treatments are pretty much the only alternative to surgery (and often the only way of maintaining fertility, ironically enough) – endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids….

          And further still, although the Pill causes the endometrial lining to get thinner there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that this might affect implantation of an embryo. There is clearly a wide range of endometrial thicknesses among functionally fertile women (with myself and Stevie being at one extreme end).

          • Stevie says:

            Angharad

            Thank you for your response, and providing such a helpful contribution to people who are here to learn, as opposed to those who wish to ride their hobby horses until the poor beasts drop dead, and then to carry on beating said dead horse.

            Endometrial ablation is surgery; an attempt to stave off the major surgery of complete removal, but surgery nonetheless, which results in permanent infertility for the woman operated on, and probably not fun all round.

            And sadly, I don’t know any women with severe menorrhagia who have been successfully treated with tranexamic acid. It’s been around a very long time, and was usually the first choice drug; ironically enough I was actually taking it when I collapsed on the pavement and had to be admitted into hospital. The doctors concluded that keeping me alive was a rather more important goal than not offending people who were convinced that I should be suffering to atone for Eve’s sin. I could have gone down in the road itself, rather than the pavement, and been mown down by the proverbial 10 ten truck; my doctors really didn’t want that to happen.

            They didn’t call it the pill; I think they preferred ‘hormonal treatment’ since the dosage was massively higher than in pills then and now. I do hope that you have managed to find an effective treatment for your condition!

            • angharad says:

              Ah, fair enough. I can’t say I’ve found the idea of ablation appealing. It sounds like a thoroughly unpleasant procedure, even though I’m not particularly bothered about fertility any more. And my doctor did tell me that tranexamic acid does only seem to help some. I guess I must be one of those, but it’s not a perfect solution. It probably reduces the problem by about 30% and with handfuls of iron tablets that’s how I manage. I’ve never gotten to the point of fainting, but Idid reach a stage where I was having severe respiratory tract infections once a month because my body was so exhausted (and iron deficient! )

    • Periwinkle says:

      [I started responding to this, and by the time I was done, Marc M was banned. Well, Marc asked a question, so I'll still post my answer.]

      If a health care plan covered these alternative services, but not the Pill, is this still unacceptable to you? If not, why must it be The Pill, Only The Pill, and Nothing But The Pill?

      I haven’t seen anyone in this comments thread call for “Nothing But The Pill”. What we want is for every medication and surgical procedure that has been proven to work to be available. Doctors discussing them should be providing accurate and complete information about each. This discussion should be subject to the same doctor-patient confidentiality as any other medical procedure.

      The insurer can have some input, but only in terms of encouraging cost-effective choices (which are not the same as the cheapest choices) and never on ideological grounds. This goes both ways – if the mother wants to carry the pregnancy to term, the insurer can’t refuse to cover pregnancy-related treatments just because an abortion would be cheaper and safer.

      Further, to those who oppose the Pill, I suspect, but I can not be sure, that they would be willing to have erectile dysfunction drugs removed from covered costs as a compromise. Would that be a fair alternative starting point?

      No. We use erectile dysfunction to show how unbalanced the gender bias in medicines is, but they are not logically equivalent. The harm – both to individuals and to society at large – is much worse when women lose access to birth control than when men lose access to erectile dysfunction treatment.

      The only policy close to equivalent here is if “organ donation” became “compulsory organ seizure”. Imagine if someone happened to need a liver or kidney, and you – yes you – suddenly found yourself locked in a hospital undergoing surgery that would leave you less healthy than you were before, with a terrifying range of possible complications and a 28 in 100,000 chance of killing you each time.

      That 28 in 100,000 figure is the maternal death rate for the United States in 2013. Most first world countries are below 9 in 100,000. So, two out of every three maternal deaths in the United States could have been prevented, just by adopting health and education policies from more civilised countries. This, right here, is why feminists and allies are right to be outraged about reproductive health restrictions in the US. Any “compromise” that doesn’t at least bring the rate down to Canada’s 11 in 100,000 is not worth making, because it is a compromise that continues to kill people.

  50. Stevie says:

    Foz

    Can I edit my response above ?

    Specifically to note that he is accusing me of dishonesty.

    ‘In your latest post you accuse me of dishonesty and promoting a false dichotomy. I must express my surprise that, given the considerable efforts I make to carefully research the statements I make in my posts, and that as well as usually providing direct links, I am more than happy to provide further citations should ones be needed in, say, very lengthy legal judgements or transactions in the Houses of Parliament.

    On the other hand you have provided no citations of any kind either to support your previous posts, and you are sticking with your game plan.

    You allege that there are treatments which would work just as well; yet you cite none of them; and on the basis of these unsupported claims you accuse me of dishonesty. So, time to fish or cut bait; provide the citations to prove it, or be revealed as someone who lies about others. And by the way; my daughter is a medic and she rolled her eyeballs when I showed her your post; this is not a good sign. Of course, on this topic I check the medicine with her first.

    She is positively agog to hear about all those wonderful medications which were cruelly omitted from her 5 years in medical school and her 4 years of obtaining her Membership of the Royal College of Physicians…

    This is a medical issue

  51. delagar says:

    I know Marc’s been banned, but I’d also like to point out that the pill is used by women who just don’t want to get pregnant. And despite what Marc seems to believe, this is a legitimate medical practice.

    Getting pregnant 15 to 25 times in a woman’s reproductive lifetime is not, in fact. normal or pleasant or healthy or something most women want to do, not matter what Christian fundamentalists have us believing these days.

    • Stevie says:

      Delgar,

      I think that Marc M didn’t give a hoot as to whether women died, or became chronically ill, as a result of too many pregnancies, just as he didn’t give a hoot as to what happens in a family where that happens and children lose their mother.

      I did try to politely engage with him, because I think that communication is important, but whenever he was pinned down on a question he rapidly shifted his ground and started all over again somewhere else in the threads.

      Of course, he accused me of being a liar so I may not be the best person to judge…

    • angharad says:

      Absolutely. In fact I’ve seen reports of studies that suggest having more than 7 children leads to poorer health outcomes for both mother and subsequent children and having babies with a smaller than 18 month gap between them does the same. Having more than 5 children also leads to poorer socioeconomic outcomes for the younger children too.

      If you really care about women and children then contraception is the order of the day…

  52. I just finished The Key to Starveldt. Needless to say, where I am, it’s 1am on a school night and I write my biology mid year exam tomorrow(rather later today). But one question screams in my mind, WHEN IS THE LAST BOOK COMING OUT???

    • fozmeadows says:

      Thank you! I really wish I could give you a positive answer, but unfortunately, as I’m no longer with the publisher who took on the first two books, the third has had to be postponed until I can find an outlet for it. But I do know exactly how it unfolds, and whenever I have any news, I’ll definitely blog about it. Good luck with your exam! :)

  53. […] Foz Meadows at shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows writes, “Silence Is Not Synonymous With Uproar: A Response To John C. Wright“: […]

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