The Banality of Banality

One of the reasons I sort of lost my footing after the high of WorldCon was the growing awareness that the sort of forces represented by the ridiculous “Puppy” campaigns and Gamergate have been on the rise in actual world politics, using the same techniques and appealing to the same base instincts and groups of people. Pointing out the fascists in science fiction and fantasy fandom seemed kind of silly when others were marching towards the White House.

I haven’t really been able to figure out how to reconcile that. It took the wind out of my sails, basically drove a stake through the heart of the character of John Upjohn even though I hadn’t quite finished my planned business with him. I had more book reviews planned, con reports sketched out, a post-mortem on the Hugos this year.

But it all seemed so pointless, in the face of American electoral politics.

I mean, I’m good at what I do, at what I did during the Sad Puppy things. I’ve been trying to bring that same blend of insight and humor to actual politics. But it’s harder to know where to start on such a big stage, to find the corner and defend it (or alternately, start assembling puzzle pieces around it).


Last week, Foz Meadows had an essay published at Black Gate about Vox Day, the noted neo-Nazi who ran the Rabid Puppies campaign and turned the Sad Puppies movement into as much of a success as it ever managed to be. File 770 has the details on what happened, the upshot of which is that the essay was moved to a different venue after some sophisty on the part of Day implied (falsely) that there might have been legal consequences to him over the label “neo-Nazi”.

\Vox Day is, in fact, a neo-Nazi. His attempt to write a definitive manifesto for the alt-right (likely in the belief that if he could get out in front of it, he could claim ownership or leadership) specifically referenced the “14 words” neo-Nazi slogan as the fourteenth point.

Denying it, though, is just part of the playbook. Not hiding it, but denying it and preventing anyone else from saying it, even while being open far past the point of dog whistles (I call them “slide whistles”, they’re so comically obvious) about it. Gamergate did it. Trump has done it. The Puppy campaigns did it.

It’s part of the alt-reich’s standard operating procedure: you play at legalism and reference or even invent rules to get the other side, the side that cares about consequences and fairness, to abide by them, even while you don’t. He used these tactics to get Black Gate’s editor to back down, to blink, and now the text which correctly and accurately labels a neo-Nazi as a neo-Nazi politely redirects to another venue, to which it has deferred that duty.

And I look at this, and I look at what’s happening in Washington (well, mostly in New York and Florida, as our President-Elect sees the presidency as more of a side gig) and the way our national news media is covering things, and, I have to say… it doesn’t look nearly as pointless.

As above, so below.

I don’t wish to give Vox Day undue credit for the ascendancy of fascism in this or any other country. He’s just barely charismatic enough to get the few hundred devoted followers he needs for his Hugo ballot-rigging each year. If he could get more than that, he would, because he’d need them to actually control the Hugo outcomes and not the nomination.

It’s not because of Vox Day that Trump is in the White House, but it’s because of people like him.

And this is why it’s worthwhile to oppose Vox Day and those like Vox Day, wherever they may be. In gaming circles. In literary science fiction and fantasy fandom and its associated industries. Anywhere. It’s worth it to a shine a light on what they’re doing, to point it out and call it by name even when it seems obvious, to label fascism as fascism and to call neo-Nazis neo-Nazis.

And to make fun of them. To satirize them, lampoon them, show the world their ridiculousness and teach people how to laugh at them.