Thieves, Liars, and Why We Care

So, one of the Sad Puppy Hugo picks—and thus one of the people shut out of the awards this year—is Toni Weisskopf, an editor at Baen Books. The Sad Puppies, in their post-mortem attempts to twist the rebuke fandom gave them into “Evil SJWs Doing Evil Things”, have turned this woman into a political soccer ball, kicking her down the field and then demanding we either kick her back or let them score a point.

I think most people are quite sensibly refusing to play soccer with these creeps.

Myself, I have no opinion on whether or not Toni deserves a Hugo award in the greater sphere of things, though I will say that some commentators at File 770 give a pretty solid defense of their decision to vote No Award over her on the merits, given that she was nominated as best long form editor but it wasn’t clear what her actual contributions in the field were this year, and she declined to list any. Some of them point out that they personally didn’t vote No Award over Sheila Gilbert, a Puppy Pick in the short form editor category who provided clearer examples of her handiwork.

But of course, nobody acknowledges this, because this destroys the Puppy narrative. The Sad Puppy spin on this situation requires us to believe that nobody voted for any of their picks except for them (which makes their numbers look a lot bigger), that all the “SJWs” voted in lockstep, voting down the Puppy picks out of “spite”, that every vote for No Award is by someone who didn’t read or look at the nominations.

None of that is terribly surprising.

What is a little surprising is the next wrinkle.

A man named David Lang in the comments section I mentioned above had this to say:

“So why is Toni Weisskopf who head Baen so undeserving to win the best editor award?

She’s been part of Fandom, attending Cons since she was very young. She’s no outsider any way you look at it.”

I thought this was a little odd when I read it, like someone had got his propaganda twisted around in his head and mixed up a couple of Sad Puppy talking points. Surely, even if they believe that the Hugos tend to reward insiders, they wouldn’t expect it to be so naked? Then I saw a quote from a post on the blog of Larry Correia, the founder of the Sad Puppy campaign:

“Toni Weisskopf has been part of organized Fandom (capital F) since she was a little kid, so all that bloviating about how Fandom is precious, and sacred, and your special home since the ‘70s which you need to keep as a safe space free of barbarians, blah, blah, blah, yeah, that applies to Toni just as much as it does to you CHORFs.  You know how you guys paid back her lifetime of involvement in Fandom?

By giving 2,496 votes to No Award.”

This… this is what they’re actually going with.

The Sad Puppy narrative is that Toni Weisskopf was owed a Hugo for being a good member of fandom for decades. They nominated her in the category of best long form editor in particular only because that’s what she does, but the “CHORFs” or “SMOFs” or “SJWs” really owed her a Hugo because she’d put in her dues. The Puppies viewed it her nomination as putting her up for a lifetime achievement award for a member of a community.

Now, they all along have been claiming that this is basically what the Hugos have been reduced to. This is the narrative they’ve constructed to explain the discrepancy between their personal tastes—the tastes of those in the niches they cater to—and the work rewarded by the larger fandom community that WorldCon represents.

“They’re just giving awards to their friends,” they say. “They’re just giving awards to the people who voice the correct opinions. They’re just giving awards to people who go with the program. They just give awards to people who tick the right demographic checkboxes”

So they found a woman who was part of the community, and they kicked her down the field. They themselves obviously didn’t think her editing in 2014 was particularly notable as when they talk about why she deserved a Hugo, all they can mention is her years of “service” to fandom.

And you know what? If she had won while the other Puppy-packed categories were torpedoed, they would be crowing right now that they were right. Larry Correia says in that blog post, “I wanted the mask to come off and for the world to see how the sausage was really made, but even I was a little surprised by just how vile you are.”

Meaning he was expecting Toni Weisskopf to win an editing award for being a member of a community rather than merit, and that didn’t happen.

And he’s disgusted?

No, he’s disappointed.

But rather than admitting that the data has verified his hypothesis is false, he’s just adjusted his hypothesis. He and his flunkies are calling his imagined enemies hypocrites for not giving an award to someone he thinks should “deserve it” by what he thinks is their reasoning.

I love this, by the way. I love this trope. You see it so often whenever a horde of outraged reactionaries doesn’t get their way. They’ll start calling everybody else hypocrites, and it will be for one of two reasons. If they lack imagination, they’ll call the other side “hypocrites” for violating beliefs that only they themselves hold. If they have more imagination than discernment, though, they’ll accuse the other side of being hypocrites for violating the beliefs that they, in their feverish fantasies, have projected upon that side.

“You’re such a lousy thief, you’d probably steal my wallet if I gave you half a chance,” the Sad Puppy says.

“I’m not a thief, and I don’t want your wallet,” says everyone else.

“Hypocrites,” the Sad Puppy says. “To call yourself a thief and not steal a wallet! That makes you thieves and liars!”

And the sad thing is that in all of this moral and philosophical contortionism, Larry has revealed that he and Brad are still stuck on the idea that put them down this path: that it’s possible to be owed an award. Not deserve an award in the sense of being award-worthy, but be owed an award in the sense that it belongs to you by default and showing up is just a formality.

When this honor was denied to them and/or their favorites, they didn’t give up on the idea of the world owing people awards, they only gave up on the idea that it could be due to merit. And if they could just figure out what the magic formula is, they could expose that formula to the world and bring the whole system down to replace it with one where merit is the magic formula, meaning—in their heads—that the awards belong to them/their favorites by default.

On the subject of magic formulas, the Puppies also use the presence of Toni Weisskopf and Sheila Gilbert among others on their slate as a sort of protective charm. “You can’t say that we’re sexist,” they say. “You can’t say that we’re trying to oppose diversity. You can’t say these things. We have protection.”

They think of their opponents as people who are interested in quotas, so they do their best to fill them, and then call their opponents hypocrites (see above!) for not respecting the quota.

I’ll call the Puppies sexist for this reason alone: the frequency with which they use women as props.

They’re using Toni Weisskopf as a ball, kicking her themselves and setting her up to be kicked back.

Brad Torgersen used his wife as a shield when he was accused of racism, in a very public and very obvious way. Notably, when people pointed this out, he chose not to defend himself against the charge. Instead, he pretended he had been accused of something far worse (having married her as a sham, only to use her as a shield) and loudly decried that this idea was ludicrous. Yes, it is, Brad. Which is why nobody said it. The fact that you jumped from what people actually said—what actually happened—to defend yourself against a ridiculous but imaginary charge suggests that you know what you did, and you yourself find it indefensible.

Over on his blog, John C. Wright is managing to simultaneously hide behind his wife and threaten to beat other men’s brains in with her.

And there’s something very obviously deliberate in the choice of next year’s lead Sad Puppy, Kate Paulk. Ever since the choice was announced, they’ve been saying things like, “Let’s see anyone call us sexist now.” and “If they try to fight back next year, they’ll be violating their own principles!”

(“You probably want to steal my wallet right now!”)

There’s a scene near the end of the series Angel, when the title character is having a climactic battle with the season’s Proxy Big Bad, Marcus Hamilton (played, fittingly enough, by Gamergate celebrity darling Adam Baldwin).

Hamilton says, “Why do you keep fighting?” He points out that Angel has signed away his happy ending, the reward for which he has theoretically been fighting all these years. He points out, “There’s nothing in it for you anymore!”

Angel replies, “People like you, who don’t care about anyone or anything, will never understand the people who do.”

And Hamilton comes back, “Yeah… but we won’t care!”

The Sad Puppies, at the coaching of their antispiritual leader Vox Day, have actually made, “We don’t care.” into a sort of motto. They’re never going to understand the principles of the people they’ve decided to try to drive out of fandom because they don’t care enough to try. Any attempt to explain, any prelude to a meeting of minds, is met with a practiced, “We don’t care.”

I think this is part of why the Puppies have been characterizing the five unawarded Hugos the way they have been, using imagery like “scorched earth” and “nuked” and “they burned the village to save them.” To them, it’s all about the trophies and it’s only about the trophies. It’s only bigger than that insofar as they want to be the ones who hand them out, missing the point that there isn’t any one individual who has that power and that the trophies would lose their meaning if there was.

They’ll never understand why we fight.

And they won’t care.