There are a lot of awful things on the internet. Online people can cluster together and encourage one another in opinions that get you uninvited from all Thanksgivings ever at my house. And then one day some idiot decides that he is going to go forth and take action on behalf of all the idiots online and shoots nine people in a church in Charleston. To quote that idiot, “…no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Conspiracy theories and hate led that man to kill nine people.
There are a lot of awful things in real life. In the U.S. someone convicted of abusing their spouse can go buy a gun with more ease than a woman can get a morning after pill after being raped. And when I vote, when I donate to causes, volunteer, talk to my friends, or witness foul behavior I can speak out in real life and say, “Stop that.” Or better yet, make beautiful things happen through good deeds.
People who say racist things, whether they intend to be racist or not, are not welcome in my house.
People who say racist things, whether they intend to be racist or not, are not welcome in my corner of the internet.
A bit over a month ago I decided I was going to participate in voting for the Hugo Awards. The whole process had gotten muddy and I wanted to help bring it back to being about good science fiction and fantasy. I forced myself to read a bunch of mediocre works, some of which had mildly to extremely offensive themes or points of view. I wrote honestly about what I did and did not like about each story. And I had planned to continue to do so.
The last few days I have stalled on my goal to read everything on the Hugo Awards ballot and in my way I have been doing some internal nudging to figure out why. Then I realized what was bothering me.
The man who is at the center of this year’s Hugo Awards kerfuffle is a racist. That link goes to an interview with him (I won’t link to his site) which I think pretty clearly spells out how racist he is.
The problem with this year’s Hugo Awards? That man put a whole bunch of works published by his publishing house and stories he’s written on the ballot through dishonorable means.
I did not pay for these works but they take up space on my Nook, on my laptop, in my mind, from my days. I am giving him a corner of my intranet.
Now I have never believed that one should avoid reading something just because it is offensive or ridiculous. There are historical and political texts which I do not agree with that I will read. But why am I reading this mediocre stuff? To prove a point?
It’s hitting the point where I feel manipulated. Some kid out there said, “You’re just going to vote against it without even reading it and that’s not fair.” Then I said, “I can too be fair!” Ignoring the fact that it’s unfair to make me read it.
I have read someof the works put forward by the people who gamed the Hugo Awards. So far what I’ve found is that they really weren’t trying to nominate based on quality. They might have stumbled across some quality but they did not nominate based on quality. I am still going to read everything on the Hugo Awards ballot… with a few exceptions.
I cannot give that racist publisher any space in my head, on my hardware, or in my time. From here forward I will not be reading or reviewing anything published by his publishing house or written or edited by him.
We are all human. The color of our skin, our gender, the number of toes we have, our mental abilities and disabilities, they are all asides when it comes down to one basic truth: we are human. We all carry all the potential of humanity from greatest good to greatest evil, most amazing genius and most frustrating stupidity. The color skin, our gender, our physical traits do not predict nor preclude any of those.
Not encouraging racists is the very least I can do for the men and women who died in Charleston. It’s not enough but it’s me trying.