Disrespect where it's due

>> Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A month or two I lost a Facebook friend-of-a-friend who I don't even know how or why I'd friended.  It's not a big deal.  These things happen.  It's not even worth mentioning except that the specific issue that led to us having words (via Facebook Messenger) was a bit of crankiness and disrespect I expressed towards gun owners.  An actual direct, first-generation friend, someone I knew, probably I'd have bitten my thumb instead of letting my temper off the hook.  That's a weak excuse, I realize.  How you treat strangers is twice as important as how you treat friends, really; I know this.  I don't think I've pretended to be a good man, though sometimes I remember to try.  Anyway, point is, I was pretty uncivil.

It comes up because one of those direct friends, one Mr. Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station and UCF fame, brought to my attention on his Facebook wall that some schmucks in Austin, Texas, apparently have plans to stage a mock mass shooting at the University of Texas this weekend.  "Schmucks" is kind--they're douchebags.  Assholes.

I don't write this because they're "gun rights" people.  I write this because they are either hopelessly ignorant of their own local history, or they are lacking in taste and decency because forty-nine years ought to still be too soon.  What the turds want to do is described thus by Asher Price in the Austin American-Statesman (link previous paragraph):



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A timely and relevant recent quote about this year's "Sad Puppies" hoopla, which has died down for the time being but I only ran into this comment yesterday...

>> Wednesday, December 02, 2015

We are a small but closely-tied community, we readers and writers of sf.  We fight and love and honor and hate one another the way any small family does, and whenever one of us has the audacity to suggest that things here in the household might be run a little differently, ah, then we have recrimination, vitriol, backbiting, remorse.  Danger threatens.  Ta-rahhh!  The lancers lurch to the rescue.  The dragoons deploy.  The hussars hurtle forward.  To protect the reputations of Arthur C. Clarke and Hal Clement and Robert Heinlein.  Oh, come on!  Is someone putting us on?  Does Norman Spinrad really threaten Isaac Asimov?  Can John Jeremy Pierce truly believe that?  No one in his right mind ever said "the new wave," whatever the hell that might be, was going to drive Murray Leinster or Poul Anderson or Frank Herbert off the printed page.
- Harlan Ellison, "Introduction--An Assault of New Dreamers,"
Again, Dangerous Visions (1972).



So I realize that the whole Sad Puppies hoopla, at least its 2015 incarnation, is so very last August expired.  For now, anyway.  Or at least it's no longer the Facebook topic du jour.  And I also realize, thanks to the Sad Puppies kerfuffle, that the whole thing is (to steal a new cliché) not my circus, not my monkeys (apparently this is a Polish idiom; I ought to start cutting and pasting, "Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy" everywhere to make myself seem cooler); I don't think anything in my life has so alienated me from SF fandom as the embarrassing spectacle the Puppies made of themselves.

Nevertheless, even feeling such a distance from modern fandom, I'm still reading SF, even old SF I somehow never got around to, which is how I find myself finally reading Again, Dangerous Visions, an anthology that's literally as old as I am.  And find myself amused but scarcely surprised to encounter a paragraph from good ol' Harlan that could nearly have been written this past summer instead of more than forty years ago, when Ellison had to respond to critics of an increasing diversity of authors and themes in genre fiction: "Is someone putting us on?"  Does anybody seriously think Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov are suddenly threatened with obscurity?  That the bottom abruptly fell out of the military SF subgenre?

To quote Ellison again, just a sentence or three past that excerpt, "It's all bullshit, kiddies, and let's hear no more about it."  Of course, that's wishful thinking, which is the point of me bringing this up at this late hour when everyone would like to talk about something else: people went on bitching about how the "new" SF wasn't any good compared to the "classic" SF, and they've gone right on bitching, and bitching really about the same exact issues: there are more women authors, there are more African-American authors, there are gay characters, there are female characters who aren't damsels in distress, there's more talking than action, this story is all weird and conceptual, "nobody bought my story but somebody bought that other one that was offensive/smutty/irreligious/countercultural/leftist/environmentalist/queer/feminist/[oh, I give up, fill in a lot of blanks for yourself because I could keep slashing away eternally if I wanted]."

It was already the same tired crap in 1972.  And it ain't any fresher after forty years, folks.

So, you know, there you are.  I did have to share, just because I was lying in bed last night and reading the intro to A,DV before lights-out and there my eyes fell upon a quote that was timely and relevant after almost half a century.  "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose," to cut-and-paste another clichéd foreign proverb, this time in French.  Any of you who are still invested in all this, please by all means feel free to toss Harlan, 1972, at the Puppies when they're whining and scratching at your doors next year: they were already losing their absurd little battle before most of them were even born.






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