c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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An Open Letter
Seriously. You guys have got to stop.

You are showing your ass in public. I cannot overstate the aptness of this metaphor. This kind of behavior is exactly the same thing as running out in the town square, dropping your pants, and slapping your pustule-laden ass while babbling about the end times.

The Internet is the public sphere. It is not a private salon where only your friends will hear you and forgive you because they know you're a really nice guy at heart. Apologies to all, but fuck Usenet. That ship has sailed. This is becoming embarrassing for everyone. Why it's always people in my genre that feel the need to jump up and holler I have no idea, but seriously, knock it the fuck off.

I'm not going to try to talk y'all into, you know, not thinking stupid things, because I think we all know that's a lifetime's work and the truth is everyone involved has better things to do. Allow me, instead, to appeal to a baser, more primitive instinct than the basic fucking sense of decency that might lead you to not shit all over anyone different from you.

You are hurting yourselves.

It's a pretty simple equation, really. Limited lifespan divided by number of books it's possible to consume due to vagaries of money and mortality equals I am not buying your books if you behave like a fuckmuppet in public.

Oh, but it should be about the art, shouldn't it? We should separate the art from the artist.

Allow me to be frank.

I might be willing to do that kind of forgiveness for genius-level work. I can get through Aristotle and Euripides even if they aren't so hot with the chicks. Ditto Tolkien, Eliot, Henry Miller. I can stomach a little Lovecraft, even. I can just barely almost start thinking about Ender's Game and Wyrms because he wasn't spouting that shit when I read them. Hell, I'll even throw in Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, (author is a neocon copyright illiterate sack of hubris) but Winter's Tale is the bargain basement lowest denominator level of genius I require before I even start trying to overlook your ass in my public.

For your derivative hacktastic doorstopper fantasy? Not a chance. You guys? Are no Winter's Tale. Y'all aren't even Wyrms.

It takes work and energy above and beyond the reading of the book for me to get over authorial fuckmuppetry. I am not sitting down to that task for pastel-covered, ______ of Made Up Word _______, sloppy Joseph Campbell blowjob extruded product. Especially since that product is likely colored by the personal beliefs of the authors, which are, in general, ugly and cruel.

Guys, learn this rule. Love it. Embrace it.

Every time you bloviate offensively on the internet, a reader swears off your work for life.

It is so easy to lose readers. A cranky day at a con will do it. A single bad book will do it. Insulting an entire swath of readers, calling them evil and immoral, or shouting their concerns down and swearing at them? Especially when SFF readership has rather a lot of the sort of readers you're likely to insult with this kind of nonsense? Will do it so incredibly efficiently it'll make Bookscan spin. Especially if you happen to be a midlist or indie writer, and can't weather decreased sales with a shrug and a grin.

Not to mention? If you really, in your heart of hearts, think there is a homosexual agenda, a PC army, a feminist conspiracy--why do you feel so comfortable and gleeful spewing bile about them in public? I assure you, the easiest way to determine who has power in a culture and who does not is to look at who feels safe to speak freely, and who does not. The homosexual/feminist/PC agenda? I'll give it to you in one sentence:

We would like to be treated as humans.

That's it. That's all. And that does not actually impinge on your right to be treated as same.

Some days I feel like the internet is a possessing demon, and when people I thought were on my team start slashing at me and mine with claws out, teeth bared, it was just their turn to be possessed. It's easier than dealing with the idea that I've misjudged people so badly. That I pass enough to earn the basic minimum of human treatment in person, but that thin veneer of passing is all that protects me from their dark, ugly internal drives, their fear, their rage. I don't want my "office" to be peopled with dangerously unfiltered folk who hate people like me, and only hug me when we meet because for a moment, I looked like them.

But I am digressing. I said I wouldn't try to change your minds. It's pointless. All I'm saying is that when given an opportunity to spend my $10 on a book by someone who hasn't personally insulted me and my friends, and someone who has? It's an easy choice. It's a predictable choice. And fortunately, not a one of you is making it any harder by writing such heartbreaking works of genius that I have to second guess that choice, even a little bit.

So, uh, thanks, I guess.

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1) Leaving it there means fresh hurt to every new person that finds it. And renewed and absolutely justified anger.

2) The posts leading up to his general request for advice told me that, after his initial defensive reaction subsided, he was reading messages he received, conceding they were right, and coming to regret the harm he caused.

Because of those two things together, as I see it, it did no good to anyone for him to leave that post up.

This is absolutely no substitute for not having posted it in the first place.

But in internet parlance, it's a coward's move to delete a post. It looks like one's trying to cover up that it ever happened, and also deletes comments without the permission of their authors.

Not to mention, I don't think he really regrets much of anything besides getting caught.

And so for violating the Bushido of the Internet, I suppose he can be called a coward by various bloggers for a while on top of the other things he's drawn down on himself.

called cowardly forever I am sorry to say.

Unrelatedly I wonder this: is there a good move in these situations, do we think? They seem to come up a lot, and I rarely ever hear tell of one where someone responded in a way that was generally felt good and appropriate.

I think a genuine apology that is not also a backhanded confirmation of previous offensive opinions is a good start.

These "you" is the second person impersonal you. I don't mean you, I mean you. yeah.

Well no, it's not.

The problem with *deleting* the post, though I'm sure someone has explained it already, is that it's the ultimate silencing and stilling of voices, and there's no clear way to clear the suspicions of people that it was anything *but* a cover-up, trying to pretend that it never happened or to make it go away.

I know, it doesn't seem like there's a good solution on what to do here, right? It's still out there laying the hurt if you leave it up, and you're sweeping it under the rug and pretending nothing was wrong if you take it down, even if that wasn't your intent.

So take the third way.

Go back and annotate that post, leaving the original comments intact, with easily detectable insertions on a point by point basis, discussing what people said in response, and how it changed your mind, or what you didn't consider before, or even admissions of where you haven't really changed your mind, but you can see the point.

You've changed your ways? Show your work - don't delete it and promise you're all better now, because we don't have any reason to believe.



(it was pointed out that this statement was really dismissive and absolutist - how could anyone have a reasonable dialogue about the quality of Calgary's football team with such diminishing language in place?

And I can see it. If someone marched up to me and started hollering about how the Toronto Argonauts, a team close to my heart, wasn't real and abjected their competence in the language of sexist rape culture, I'd get a little hot under the collar myself.)

Re: These "you" is the second person impersonal you. I don't mean you, I mean you. yeah.

It seems that he deleted the comments by accident, if you believe him. Of course, that doesn't address deleting the entire post later, which was an obvious CYA attempt.

I'm rather curious as to what an acceptable apology on his part would involve, because he obviously still believes the fundamental things he said, from his religious perspective. "I'm sorry I expressed my opinions, which I still think are valid, in an immoderate way, but I still hold them?" I think the disagreements are on such a profound level that even an annotation isn't going to satisfy anyone.

(Note: I certainly do not share his opinions in any way/shape/form, I just find the issues here interesting ones.)

Re: These "you" is the second person impersonal you. I don't mean you, I mean you. yeah.

I agree-- there can be no way to express an unremitting hatred of a large group of people in a way that would avoid angering that group.

We who are of reviled minorities have had generations of experience in keeping our opinions to ourselves-- helpless anger and outright hatred of the powerful bigots who rule our world.

So I do not feel as if I'm advocating censorship is suggesting that hatreds ofthis nature are best left unpromulgated-- supposing one cares about the public's opinion of oneself.

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