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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Cultural War--Time to Play Nice?

The author Peter Grant has expressed dismay over the politicization of the Hugo Awards this year ("The Hugo Awards controversy: a personal response" and "So much for sanity and civility . . ."). He is referring to the Sad Puppies campaign which encouraged people to vote for a slate of authors that wrote science fiction rather than Social Justice Warrior rote.

While I understand Grant's concern that the Hugo Awards process has been poisoned, it was not the Sad Puppies campaign that did it. Like many other sectors that self-selects from the Ivy League, the top publishing houses had become infected by social justice warriors. There was a de-facto black list against authors that were conservative or libertarian. And this bias toward the political correct extended into the Hugo Awards, where prominent SJWs would advance their own slate of acceptable votes. Perhaps inspired by Gamer Gate, Sad Puppies was an attempt to push back the SJWs.

And it worked. Authors supported by Sad Puppies swept the Hugo Awards. Beaten at their own game, the SJWs have turned on the spigots of their liberal hatred of any who dare challenge them, resorting to all sorts of lies and ad hominum attacks.

Grant is concerned that the politicization of the Hugos will undermine the prestige and legitimacy of the award. I think he is missing the broader point, though, that it was already losing that respect and legitimacy among the readership. It was yet another mechanism whereby the SJWs could advance the interests of other SJWs, and had nothing to do with the merits of the author or the art. The SJWs had already politicized the process of Hugo nominations and awards, and Sad Puppies was an attempt to save the awards.

Always being on the defensive and playing nice has not worked very well. Perhaps it is time to go on the offensive.

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