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George R.R. Martin Talks Gamergate, Online Hate and Representation of Straight White Men

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George R.R. Martin has written no less than eleven posts about the 2015 Hugo Awards ballot since the controversial slate was revealed earlier this month, and although the time-strapped author says he’s now “just about blogged out on the whole Puppygate thing,” he’s remained an influential and well-respected voice on both sides of the controversy.

In between speculating about how best to handle this year’s ballot (Martin is a staunch opponent of the “No Award” option), the author also addressed online hatespeech, saying “it’s not fandom that’s toxic. It’s the internet.”

I am not a gamer, and I have not closely followed GamerGate. Nor do I care to get embroiled in it now. I don’t care who slept with whom, or whether some reviews were biased… but I do care that some of the participants, especially women, received death threats and rape threats from anonymous toads on the internet. I have never met Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian or Brianna Wu, and I don’t know that I would agree with them on the issues at the heart of GamerGate, but it does not matter. Threats have no place in civilized discourse, and neither do slurs like “cunt” and “slut” and “whore.” Oh, yes, I am aware that some say these women fabricated the threats against them. Bullshit. I believe they did indeed receive such threats… for the simple reason that friends of mine, women I DO know, and love, and respect, have received similar threatening and demeaning emails whenever they have dared to express an opinion online.

And now there’s Puppygate, and I have been posting about that, and in the course of which I have had some exchanges with Larry Correia, the founder of Sad Puppies, and Brad Torgensen, who ran the SP3 slate. And both of them tell similar tales: of anonymous phone calls, libel and slander, vicious emails, death threats… death threats! All of these, presumably, coming from “my side” of fandom, those who oppose the Puppies. Do I believe them? I don’t want to believe them. I would rather cling to the belief that my side is better than that. That’s hard to do these days, As strongly as I disagree with Torgensen and Correia about the Hugo Awards, and probably a hundred other issues, I have no reason to think them liars. I think they are telling the truth, just as Quinn and Sarkeesian and Wu were. On the internet, it seems, abuse trumps debate every time.

Death threats. Really? Really???

Martin and Correia also shared a written dialogue about WorldCon and the Hugos’ history, with Correia addressing some of the shared language between Gamergate and the Sad Puppies:

The term SJW is way bigger than Sad Puppies, and predates Sad Puppies, and has entered the general lexicon of easily half our nation, but probably mostly the red state tired of getting yelled at half. We use the term SJW because it is far easier than typing out Perpetually Outraged, Searching For Offense, Quick to Accuse Racism/Sexism/Homophobia/Privilege/Patriarchy, Holier Than Thou, Politics Before Fun, Unholy Cross Between Communists and Puritans, Twitter Lynch Mob Forming, Career Sabotaging, Social Justice Crusaders.

Correia also responded to Martin’s concerns that the Hugos may be beyond fixing:

My honest opinion is that to a gigantic chunk of disenfranchised fandom, we felt like Humpty Dumpty fell off that wall a long time ago.

If you want to talk about going forward, from here, I don’t know what to tell you about your campaigning cliques. They were already there long before we showed up.

But you really want to “fix it” and make sure my people don’t screw it up anymore, and keep the Hugos sacred? Well, right now the ball is in your court.

You’ve got people out there who supposedly love the award so much that they are organizing block votes for No Award against absurdly deserving yet consistently overlooked people like Jim Butcher, Toni Weisskopf, and Kevin J. Anderson, all to burn the whole thing down, just because my people violated your secret gentleman’s agreement and plugged them on a slate. As Brad Torgersen pointed out already, that sounds suspiciously like the story with Solomon offering to cut the baby in half. And one mother saying, screw it, I’d rather the baby die than that bitch get him. (paraphrasing, obviously).

Judging from what fellow Sad Puppy Brad Torgersen has written in the past, the “disenfranchised fandom” Correia references feels overlooked by recent emphasis on diversity and representation in sci-fi. I’ll let George R.R. Martin handle that one:

Let’s look at the facts, shall we? I accept and acknowledge that some of the Puppies may feel excluded, disrespected, shunned… but feelings and facts are two different things.

[…] Straight white men are being excluded. Really? Really? C’mon, guys. Go look at the last five, ten years of Hugo ballots. Count how many men were nominated. Count how many women. Now count the black writers and the Asian writers and the foreign-language writers. Yes, yes, things are changing. We have a lot more women and minorities being nominated than we did in 1957, say, or even 1987… but the ballots are still way more white and way more male than not. Look, I am hardly going to be in favor of excluding straight white men, being one myself (and no, I am not a fan of Tempest Bradford’s challenge). I am in favor of diversity, of inclusion, of bringing writers from many different backgrounds and cultures into the field. I don’t want straight white writers excluded from the ballot… I just don’t think they need to have ALL of it. I mean, we’re SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FANS, we love to read about aliens and vampires and elves, are we really going to freak out about Asians and Native Americans?

Martin also references past Hugo Awards and tallies, concluding “there was never any need for Sad Puppies to “take back” the Hugos. The feminists, minorities, literary cliques, and Social Justice Warriors never took them in the first place. That’s a myth, as the actual facts I have cited here prove conclusively.”

Nothing like a GRRM mic drop.

(image via Shutterstock)

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