Being reminded that queer people exist at all drives some people to crazy lengths. For instance, as noted at the Crime and the Forces of Evil blog, the Sad Puppies are angry that books containing queer characters aren’t clearly marked. For those not in the know, the Sad Puppies (and an allied group, the Rabid Puppies) are a bunch of arch-conservative sci fi writers and fans who organized a bloc-voting scheme to game the selection process for the Hugo Awards and put a specific slate of anti-progressive authors, editors, and fans in every major category. Their rhetoric leading up to their success was full of blatant misogynist and homophobic language (and threats), and only slightly-less-blatant racist language. It’s worth noting that they’ve been trying this for a few years without success. It appears that their success this year is primarily due to the fact that they managed to enlist a bunch of GamerGate trolls into the process…
Since succeeding in hijacking most of the Hugo Ballot, the Sad Puppies (that’s their own name for their movement, by the way) have started deleting or heavily editing their existing blog posts and such to downplay the bigotry. Though most of their revisions have been to obscure the racist language, to try to pretend that the most blatant bigot wasn’t considered an ally, and to make some of their threatening language appear to be aimed at individuals rather than whole groups of people. They have removed some of the comments and paragraphs in which they appear to be calling for the extermination of gay people, for instance, though they remain absolutely clear that they object to homos and women being portrayed positively (or at all) in science fiction, fantasy, or any other cultural product.
They have always used a lot of coded language and dog whistles. Referring to a woman of color winning for best novel previously as “affirmative action,” for instance. They also love throwing around the “political correctness” phrase, which can be either a dog whistle for sexual chauvinism/misogyny or racism, depending. Maureen O’Danu has a great post up explaining the mindset of folks like the Sad Puppies and the meanings of some of their language. And it’s important that we don’t let them erase these statements or otherwise try to portray themselves as anything other than the hateful bigots they are.
So when one of their members (John C. Wright) has made the arguments such as, “I don’t hate gays and lesbians, just like I don’t hate termites, but when they infest my home it’s time to exterminate them,” any reasonable person would assume that he wouldn’t object to queer people being exterminated, right? Especially when he’s also been known to assert on other occasions that “the natural reaction of real men to homosexuals is to beat them to death with ax handles and tire irons.” That particular reference to ax handles and tire irons being used to bash gays is very popular with a lot of wingnuts of the religious right sort, by the way.
Now he claims that he has never called for the extermination of anyone, and that any of us who say this about him are guilty of libel. One of the few instances of his use of the former phrase that he has not completely deleted from his blog has been revised so it refers specifically to the creators of the Legend of Korra cartoon series, which ended with the revelation that two of its lead characters, Korra and Asami, are two women who are in love with each other. So calling for the extermination of writers and artists who merely include queer characters in their work is somehow supposed to be less hateful than wishing all queers were exterminated? And the fact that Mr Wright was merely calling for the extermination of these two people for including queer characters in their story is somehow proof that he’s not a horrible person?
Some members of the sci fi community who I really respect have been engaged in the thankless task of attempting to reason with these people. George R.R. Martin has written some particularly well-thought out posts on the whole situation, trying to answer the Sad Puppy claims. I applaud them for their effort. However, I do take issue with them saying that those of us who insist on calling the Sad Puppies bigots and so forth are wrong to do so. The argument is that you can’t persuade someone by yelling at them and being nasty. Or that when we point out their prejudices we are essentially saying “they started it!” Sorry, that’s b.s.
You know who else you can’t persuade? People who think you, the person trying to persuade them, are inhuman and deserving of being exterminated. No matter how reasonable or polite I am, the leaders of the Sad Puppies will never listen to me, because I’m a creature they think of as equal to a termite, if you believe their original posts. And if you believe their edited version of those posts, they think the same of anyone who portrays non-heterosexual people in their writing (hello, Renly and Loras in the Game of Thrones books, so they will never be persuaded by George R.R. Martin, either).
It’s a common tactic of bigots to say horrible, awful things about people and then when their opponents call them out on those horrible statements to falsely claim that the opponents are the ones not being civil. Even Miss Manners admits that there are lines that people cross to which the only response is to point out that the opinion just expressed is not one held by civilized people. She does suggest you offer them a chance to redeem themselves (she suggested when it comes up in a social setting to pretend you didn’t understand and ask them to explain, “I don’t understand. I’ve met plenty of people from all backgrounds who are like that? What are you trying to say?” and keep playing dumb until they are so embarrassed they change the subject.) But even Miss Manners limits it to one chance.
There is ample evidence that John C. Wright, Brad R. Torgersen, Larry Correia, and Vox Day/Theodore Beale are bigots of various stripes. None of them make any attempt to deny that they object to stories portraying lesbian, gay, and transgender people in a positive light (or at all). None of them try to hide their animus towards the idea of acceptance of queer people in society. They try to claim that it isn’t hate that motivates them, but their best proof of that still compares queer people to termites, so we can safely keep calling them haters. Some of them do deny the racist and misogynist labels, but their choices of targets and their constant references to women and people of color being nominated or winning awards as “affirmative action” or “political correctness” reveal their true agenda. When they angrily assert that a woman or person of color “stole” an award from their conservative straight white male choice simply be winning it, that says the same thing.
They aren’t the only people who wish we didn’t exist, of course:
- Fox News worries that if kids are aware that transexuals exist, they will transform into cocker spaniels or something.
- Revolution! Anti-Gay Activists Threaten Uprising If Supreme Court Approves Marriage Equality. Pitchforks, perhaps?
- North Carolina Pastor Calls For Death of ‘Queers & Homosexuals’. But he doesn’t hate anyone, because god tells him to love everyone.
- Pastor David Berzins blows gasket because another pastor doesn’t cotton to stoning gays to death. Again, can’t you just feel the righteous love in every word?
- Calif. Lawyer Proposes Ballot Initiative To Kill Gays And Lesbians. A law explicitly calling for private citizens to execute queers by a bullet to the head, and forbidding authorities with interfering, arresting, or charging the shooters with murder. But they don’t hate anyone!
They are all angry that queer people exist and are calling for action to be taken against us. It is perfectly reasonable and even civil of us to point out that this is bigotry. Each of these people are exhibiting an obstinate and unreasonable adherence to an opinion despite evidence to the contrary. Each of these people are being intolerant and narrow-minded. That is bigotry. And people who express bigotry again and again are bigots.
It isn’t intolerant of us to point that out.