Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Two privileges of attending science fiction conventions, and a little about Jon Del Arroz's law suit

Before conventions began banning people, the fundamental privilege of attending science conventions wasn't discussed because, by capitalist standards, the privilege was fair: anyone who had money could go, and anyone who didn't, well, capitalist fairness is never about people who don't have money.

But now that conventions have begun banning people, it's time to acknowledge the second privilege. Though the genre has grown enormously, it's still a small community at the top. If you hope to become a professional, it can be enormously helpful to attend WorldCon, the World Fantasy Convention, and literary conventions like ReaderCon, WisCon, and Fourth Street Fantasy. Once your career has begun, you need to be able to attend the Nebulas Awards too. Obviously, only the very privileged can go to most of those conventions regularly, but anyone who wants to make a career in this field should, every year, pick one from from Column A (WorldCon, World Fantasy, Nebula Awards), one from Column B (ReaderCon, WisCon, Fourth Street Fantasy), and one from Column C (local convention, regional convention, major commercial convention like DragonCon).

Being banned from any convention is an enormous blow to a writer's ability to be a writer, and especially to a new writer's ability to last in the field. It keeps you from meeting fellow professionals and getting useful tips, and it keeps you from making new fans.

I hadn't known anything about Jon Del Arroz until this week. Based on what's in Jim C. Hines' Jon Del Arroz’s History of Trolling and Harassing, Del Arroz and I have nothing in common. I'm a socialist who tries to follow the advice of St. Peter and Malcolm X to respect everyone, I want Muslims to enjoy the freedom of and from religion that the First Amendment promises and everyone should have, I think you should refer to people in the ways they would like to be referred to....

But Hines may be mistaken in some of the things he's claiming about Del Arroz. Hines seems like a fundamentally nice guy, but he is an identitarian whose ideological filters give him trouble with metaphor. He said at Shetterly Banned by 4th Street Fantasy Convention: "I blocked WS after he “joked” about punching me in the face." I wish he had quoted me, because I don't remember the incident, but so far as I know, Hines never objects to the violent metaphors his community endorses, like Tempest Bradford's "cut a bitch".

More significantly, in the same comment, Hines said, " I’ve never really understood the whole, “He’s an asshole online, but he’s a nice guy in real life” dichotomy."

Understanding the dichotomy between online and offline behavior is essential to understanding why Del Arroz may win his law suit. Being banned from a physical place says the organizers believe that person will physically misbehave if they don't take the extreme step of issuing a ban. It's easy to point to examples: Rene Walling was banned from Readercon for trailing after Genevieve Valentine at the conventionJim Frenkel was banned from WisCon for propositioning several women at the convention. But what misbehavior has Del Arroz committed in the physical world that could justify keeping him from being physically present at WorldCon? Hines does not offer any.

He effectively acknowledges that when he says,
I’m not saying Del Arroz is pure evil, or incapable of niceness. I know some people have had nothing but great experiences with him. One person I have a fair amount of respect for talked about how Del Arroz picked him up when he was stranded in the rain, and took him the rest of the way to a convention. That’s a cool thing to do. I’ve seen Del Arroz shut down one of his followers who suggested doxxing SJWs. Sure, not doxxing is a bare minimum of decency, but good on him for taking that stand.
I will point out that fandom's SJWs periodically fail to meet that bare minimum of decency, but it's not like I expect Hines to acknowledge his side's shortcomings. We all tend to magnify the sins of our opponents and minimize those of our allies.

Ah, well. It may be that fandom is simply so large that it will have to splinter. The people in charge of fandom for the last thirty years tend to be identitarian neoliberals, just like the people who have been in charge of the US for the last thirty years. Having fandom break on those lines may be inevitable.

Oh, lest anyone think I'm remembering a golden age that didn't exist, I remember very well being part of the new guard who was frustrated with the old. Fandom's "one big happy family" always fought constantly. But we understood the dichotomy that Jim Hines does not. Was anyone ever banned from a convention for things said in an apa or a fanzine?

If things do not change, a statement like this will be inconceivable in fandom:
"Poul [Anderson] knows that I am a “fuzzy-minded pinko” and I know that he is a “narrow-minded hardhat” (not that either of us would ever use such terms), but we love each other anyway, and our relations with each other in these last couple of years have not suffered at all." —Isaac Asimov

1. How much going to conventions helps writers is impossible to measure. If you can't afford to go to conventions, don't agonize--keep writing. And if you can afford to go, don't focus on promoting yourself--you'll just alienate people.

2. Fans were banned from the very first WorldCon for what they wrote. See "The Great Exclusion Act of 1939" by Dave Kyle. It is not a proud moment in fandom's history.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The False Paradox of Tolerance

Censors love Karl Popper's Paradox of tolerance:
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
Popper's theory is probably as old as the idea of tolerance. Many thinkers disagree with him, noting that intolerance is intolerance, even if it's intolerance of intolerance. I like Thomas Jefferson's observation in his first inaugural speech:
If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
People who say we must be intolerant of intolerance are failing to ask what feeds it. They think intolerance is only a belief that grows by being told, so if you stop the telling, you'll stop the intolerance.

But intolerance is a reaction to the world around us. When people feel they must compete, they tend to become intolerant—fascism needed the Great Depression to thrive. When people's needs are met, they tend to be tolerant. There's no reason to be intolerant of intolerance when times are good—the intolerant are powerless then. And in hard times, it's better to show the virtues of tolerance while working to solve the problem that's manifesting as intolerance.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Benjamin Franklin sounding like a communist

"All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it." -Benjamin Franklin

YouGov poll suggests Americans of all races are becoming more racist

From Nearly 20 Percent of Americans Think Interracial Marriage is ‘Morally Wrong,’ Poll Finds:
Seventeen percent of respondents said interracial marriage was “morally wrong” while 83 percent said it was “morally acceptable.” There was a bit of a divide along party lines on the subject, with 28 percent of Republicans and just 12 percent of Democrats replying that interracial marriage was morally wrong.

There wasn’t much of a difference among respondents by race, however, according to YouGov. Seventeen percent of white respondents felt interracial marriage was morally wrong, compared with 18 percent of black respondents and 15 percent of Hispanic respondents.
If the poll is accurate, this is troubling for two reasons. Gallup had found higher support five years ago, and historically, black people have been more supportive of interracial marriage. From In U.S., 87% Approve of Black-White Marriage, vs. 4% in 1958:
Blacks' approval of black-white marriage (96%) is now nearly universal, while whites' approval is 12 percentage points lower, at 84%. Blacks' approval has consistently been higher than whites' over the decades, although attitudes among both racial groups have generally moved in a parallel manner since 1968 -- when Gallup first was able to report reliable estimates of each group's opinion. The gap between black approval and white approval in recent years has been smaller than it was prior to 1997.
I can offer two theories for why people might be becoming more racist:

1. Economic desperation can make people more racist. See Will privilege theorists call this black female privilege? Plus evidence that ending poverty will end racism

2. Promoting antiracism theory often increases racism. See Antiracism campaigns: Twenty years of making racism worse

Will privilege theorists call this black female privilege? Plus evidence that ending poverty will end racism.

That black men have it tougher than white men shouldn't surprise anyone. If you didn't know that, the data's at Sons of Rich Black Families Fare No Better Than Sons of Working-Class Whites - The New York Times.

This surprised me:
Black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults.
Should privilege theorists be talking about black female privilege now?

This is useful for those of us who want to end racism:
The authors, including the Stanford economist Raj Chetty and two census researchers, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter, tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites.

“The problem,” Mr. Chetty said, “is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.”

The few neighborhoods that met this standard were in areas that showed less discrimination in surveys and tests of racial bias. They mostly had low poverty rates. And, intriguingly, these pockets — including parts of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and corners of Queens and the Bronx — were the places where many lower-income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.
I italicized the line that suggests something many of us believe: If you want to end racism, you have to end poverty. 

On false memories and confirmation bias at File 770


I'm amused and pleased none of my doubters have taken up my offer to let them see all the emails between the Fourth Street Board and me. But after watching them over a couple of days, I suspect they're simply not interested in facts that would force them to rethink their beliefs. All humans are susceptible to this, especially when they believe in things like neoliberalism or identitarianism that have nothing to do with facts.


Though estee confirmed that Coffeeandink had been public about her legal identity, Andy H insisted, the time of Racefail I had been a regular reader of coffeeandink’s blog for at least five years. For most of that period I did not know her real name. I don’t recall how I eventually learned it, but I understood it to not be something that was generally linked to the blog and with which it was appropriate to be discreet. I do not believe it to be true that she had ever used her first name as her livejournal username; she was coffeeandink for the entire time I followed her, but commenters occasionally called her affectionately by another pseudonym which I think may have been her username before.
I believe Andy H is being completely honest about her memory. But memory is so unreliable that good detectives know eye witnesses sometimes give false testimony without realizing it.

Fortunately, in this case, we have Coffeeandink's own words to show that Andy H misremembers. On March 7, almost a full week after I am supposed to have outed Coffeeandink, she made a public post addressed to Kathryn Cramer that included this:
Please also explain how I was hiding my identity from you or the Nielsen Haydens in a LiveJournal pnh friended a few years ago, with a user profile that lists my very identifiable first name, in a post that is signed with my very identifiable first name.

As the conversation peters out, the neoliberals have been promoting two thoroughly debunked theories. I provided two relevant linkfests:

A few links for Clinton fans who still say Sanders was never attacked

A reminder for Clinton fans that the polls were right all along

But confirmation bias always rules. We trust things that confirm our beliefs. Cultists carry this to such an extreme that it might be called denial bias--they will reject disquieting information even when they don't have comforting information to fill the void.