Thursday, May 17, 2018

Confession Time


This blog is about games and geekdom. However, if there is one thing that I think the modern era has taught us, it’s that nothing with any meaning can avoid being touched by the political or the socially relevant.

Because of that, I wanted to clarify some things about myself. I’m not doing this to rally support or to declare sides, but because I don’t want people to have false impressions about me. What drives me may not always be what is on the surface, but it is always there.

The biggest reason that I’m posting this stems from the recent Origins issue, specifically regarding the Guest of Honor invitation, then reciending of that invitation, for Larry Correia.

My Past

I have had a lot of waves when it comes to my political orientation. When I was in grade school, I honest to goodness watched press conferences and State of the Union addresses. When I was in high school, I was told that my American Legion report was the best ones that my teacher had ever read--and that I had to rewrite it because it was way too cynical for a high school contest.

As I grew into adulthood, I would have, for many years, considered myself at least right of center. No matter where I judged myself, I had a tendency to not want to be tied to an actual political party.

I developed a reputation for being a diplomat and a peacemaker when dealing with contentious issues, and as such, I ended up being a moderator on various message boards. Because I considered myself right of center, and because I was a huge fan of his work on Batman, I ended on Chuck Dixon’s website.

This is relevant because Larry Correia posted there, a lot. I never heard of him before I was on the site, but eventually I checked out his books. I tend to like the monster hunting genre, so it was natural that I gravitated towards reading Monster Hunter International. I followed Larry on Facebook, and I saw many of his political comments, many of which were about gun laws.

Sticking To My Guns

Even as some of my other tendencies drifted leftward, growing up in central Illinois, I held on to the idea of that the best interpretation of the second amendment was the most open-ended interpretation. That might be why I tended to see Larry as a “laid back” conservative for a while. His biggest right leaning stance was something that didn’t challenge much of what I was thinking. Hell, he didn’t even seem to be too bent out of shape about same sex marriage, so how bad can he be, right?

Working in a school district has pushed my already left leaning thoughts on guns a bit further. It’s hard to not worry that someday it’s going to be the kids at our schools that go through that hell. That it’s going to be people I have worked with and sat on committees with that are terrified for their lives. But, sure, at the time--guns aren’t so bad, so I guess Larry is okay, right?

Sadness

I had more or less forgotten about Larry for a while. I wasn’t “right” enough for some of the most prolific posters on Chuck Dixon’s website, so I moved on from moderating. It wasn’t any direct altercation, more like statements that presupposed that I couldn’t exist.

“How could anyone care for the country and think that X is a good idea? That kind of person would be the worst traitor I could think of.”

The more I heard statements like that, the less I felt like I was welcome. I had plenty of ideas that didn’t quite fit in. Had I said up front that I was moving more center in my beliefs, the rhetoric would have been “we don’t hold that against you, we just hold it against a theoretical person that holds the exact same views--you’re one of the good ones.”

So as I drifted from the community, I saw Larry’s posts less. Eventually, the message boards fell apart, and everything migrated to Facebook. I was added to the group, but never became very active there. I had a few people I enjoyed talking to in the community, but it became harder to just connect with them.

I didn’t want anyone to think I was being actively hostile, so I just “unfollowed” the group without leaving it, and “unfollowed” Larry, because I didn’t want random things cluttering up my Facebook page.

Then, I heard about the Sad Puppies thing.

To this day, I’m not quite sure why you go on a crusade to get the work of people doing “good old fashioned two-fisted action stories” recognized by an organization that you have already decided is not about the kind of fiction you write. In the end, I think the contempt shown by this attitude reveals that movement wasn’t really about getting “deserving” writers proper recognition--it was about destroying something. “This isn’t about us, so it should be ridiculed and undermined.”

I have heard people mention that Larry wasn’t the worst actor in this situation. He got the ball rolling, but Vox Day was the one that really made the movement toxic. Sure, Vox Day’s rhetoric was more confrontational and adversarial, but at the end of the day, Larry’s contribution to the whole situation was to say “this group doesn’t respect us--it’s not really going to benefit us all that much to get these awards, but if we can show that we can game the system, that means nobody takes it seriously.”

It was an effort to ruin something expressly because that thing wasn’t designed for your particular group, rather than just saying “this isn’t for us” and calling it a day. It’s not “Live and Let Live,” it’s “you need to be punished for being wrong.”

For the Record

I’m not sure its 100% relevant to everything else, but if you want a wrap up of how I’ve drifted over the years, here’s a quick primer:

     Why the hell would I tell anyone they can’t get married to anyone else?
     Who am I to tell anyone that I know better who they are then they do?
     Why the hell wouldn’t we take a hard look at gun laws in light of all of the shootings?
     Why the hell would I worry about anyone wanting marijuana to be legal?
     Why the hell would we give primacy to a religion that the founders thought gave them permission to own people, but wasn’t important enough for them to enshrine in the actual founding documents?
     How the hell do we think we’re the good guys when we come up with rules for torturing people?
     How the hell do we think we’re the good guys when we murder people with drones?
     How the hell do we think we’re the good guys when we keep refugees from coming into the country?
     How the hell do we think we’re the good guys when we ignore systematic sexism, racism, and exclusion, not just in private organizations, but also in public institutions meant to help everyone?
     How the hell is it not “providing for the general welfare” to admit that a little socialized medicine might actually be the best thing for our country?

I’m sure there is a ton of stuff I’ve missed, and it’s not the most nuanced of ways to elaborate a stance, but that’s a quick snapshot of my political brain. Just so you don’t think I’ve gotten less cynical, I trust about 0% of politicians, still don’t like aligning to a political party, and think we should audit the shit out of every government agency, not because they shouldn’t exist, but because our public officials don’t need “their take.”

How I’m A Screw Up

I never spoke up when I was “in” communities where discussions were happening. I was too worried about being the peacemaker. Even after I saw the Sad Puppies thing developing, I never actually said anything about it. I wanted to stay “above the fray.” I wanted to have my own personal opinions, but not to engage when it might be uncomfortable.

I still fall into this pattern at times. I would much rather help two people talk to one another, than to watch a conflict unfold. I tend to devalue my own opinion on things, because I’m sure others have a better take on just about everything where I have an opinion. I do it less now, but I still fall silent at times that I should not fall silent. That’s bad.

The main reason I point all of this out is because, this is who I am. I’m a more left leaning guy now that still doesn’t always do the right thing, and had a past where I was more right leaning.

To sum up:

     If you don’t like me because I used to be right leaning, I get it
     If you don’t like me because I still have a hard time being the person I want to be, I get it
     If you don’t like me because I’m now more left leaning, I get it

But now you know, and can make an informed decision.

2 comments:

  1. This may sound trite, but thanks for sharing. I started out with a very traditional, conservative family who fed me the kool-aid growing up. Over time I've experienced a lot of things which formed truths to lead me to a more informed understanding.

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  2. Hey now, I like you because you are always able to make cogent points. I would not dare change a thing. Also, before talking to you tonight in person, I did not see this. Pointing this out or we would still be talking!

    Honestly, evolving in your beliefs is good. Stagnation is the enemy. You do it in a very careful manner, so as to not make a mistake. That, my friend, is something you are to be commended for doing.

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