Because hope springs eternal…

…I went and left a comment on chief puppy Brad R. Torgersen’s blog, after reading the excerpt on the daily File 770 round-up.

My comment was prompted by his repeating a saw I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen multiple times from him: the idea that “social justice warriors” is a real thing that the people he spends his time taking written potshots at called themselves.

It’s a little thing, in the long run. But the insistent way in which the chief puppies stick to their guns about this is such a perfect representative example of the alternate reality they have constructed for themselves and from which they are conducting their campaign, and I just keep thinking—probably foolishly—that if they can manage to recognize the truth of this matter, it might make them more amenable to questioning the other fallacies they’ve taken as articles of faith regarding who their chosen opponents are and what we’re about.

I may be a poor choice for emissary, given how much time I spend skewering them… but the truth is the truth, whether it comes from a clown or a priest. The truth is still every bit as true when it comes from your most hated enemy as when it comes from your closest friend.

While hope springs eternal, my previous forays in bringing the truth to Brad Torgersen’s blog have not convinced me it’s worth sticking around to engage over there. So to that end, I’m reproducing my comment here (with a few typos and errors cleaned up). If anybody wants an actual discussion about it, I’ll be happy to have it here.


I’m sure I’m not the first person to try to tell you this, but the people who spew hot air about “warriors for social justice” are all over here with you. That’s not a thing people called themselves. It’s a pejorative made up to dismiss people, a la calling someone “PC patrol” or “feminazi” or “thought police”.

Some people have taken it as an ironic badge of honor or made geeky riffs on it (like “Social Justice Paladin” or “Social Justice Bard”), but by and large, you’re chiding people for not living up to the standards of a label that was foisted upon them in the first place.

Which is actually part of the function of the label. Most of the people I have seen getting slapped with the “SJW” label not only don’t describe themselves as social justice warriors, they don’t describe themselves as activists. They’re just people, living their lives, dealing with their own problems, and acting their consciences.

Example: I’m not an activist. I’m a writer. Like most writers, I try to write the books that I want to read. As a reader, it’s really kind of important that books 1) acknowledge the reality of my life, that people like me exist, or failing that, that they don’t 2) openly insult me, or 3) portray people like me in laughingly unrealistic ways that jar me out of the story. For “people like me”, you can read queer, women, disabled… any of that.

Now’s the part where you blather on about I-Dentity Politics and PC Police and imaginary quotas and the censorship you think I’ve just called for and wonder “What ever happened to telling a good story and not caring about politics?”

But is a story a good story if it is otherwise good yet portrays Christians all as being wrongheaded, narrow minded superstitious fools? I mean, can it be a good story if a significant cross section of humanity is rendered in an extremely unrealistic—say nothing of meanspirited, let’s focus on whether it’s realistic—fashion?

Some of this is subjective, obviously. We all have different life experiences, which means different things will ring hollow to us (which is one reason that so many thoughtful writers suggest having beta readers with different experiences). One example that I believe came up in the comments on File 770 is that it’s a sure sign a man wrote a piece if the female viewpoint character is described admiring her perfect breasts in the mirror. That’s a very small, very mundane, and fairly innocuous example of bad writing that happens essentially because of an empathy gap or experience gap, but it’s not going to jar every reader the same way.

Now imagine a book full of things that are all just “off” by that same amount.

Well, you probably don’t have to. You’ve probably read books that are like that, in their treatment of men, or Christians, or the military. And it didn’t just strike you as insulting, but also as bad writing. Right? Your ability to enjoy the story suffered, because while disagreeing with a writer’s politics is one thing, seeing yourself replaced by caricatures page after page is another.

When you talk about taking politics out of writing, what you’re doing is demanding everybody else stops noticing these things as they affect us, but you haven’t announced any plans to do the same.

Anyway, if all you wanted to do was open wide the tent flaps, then you weren’t competent. You were horribly inefficient. You stirred up a ton of bad will, you’re still spending your time and effort fighting the negative impression of you and yours that your actions have fostered, and you only succeeded in the wrong goal (getting a slate of nominees on the ballot isn’t “opening the tent flaps”, is it?), and if we are to take you at your word, you only did that accidentally (because it was demonstrably only the push from that totally-not-with-you guy and his rabid pack of dreadful elks that got any of your nominees on the ballot).

As I said on my blog: next year, if you want the world to believe that your goal is to raise awareness that anyone can nominate whoever they want for the Hugos, make a blog post that says, “Hey, everyone! Did you know that the Hugo Awards, one of the top awards for science fiction, is awarded by the members of WorldCon? And did you know that for $40 you can buy a supporting membership in WorldCon? Now’s your chance to nominate whoever you want!”

That’s all it takes. It won’t succeed in getting a slate of hand-picked nominees on the ballot and blocking people you think don’t deserve to be on the ballot because the wrong people like them for the wrong reasons…

But hey, that’s not what Sad Puppies is about, is it?