K. Tempest Bradford

K. Tempest Bradford

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Are You Shocked?

Are You Shocked?

Yesterday I spent more time than is strictly necessary reading blog posts by Vox Day and some other people of his caliber. I started my journey at Vox’s response to N. K. Jemisin’s Continuum GoH speech and ended up in some serious weeds once I got to a giant manifesto about how John Scalzi is the soul of racism against whites. No, I’m not linking. I read it so you don’t have to and TRUST ME you do not have to. I’ve also read many responses to Vox’s post, including this one from Amal calling for him to be booted from SFWA. Amen to that.

In several posts and status updates I came across variants of this sentiment: don’t dismiss Vox Day as just some troll. I feel like this isn’t getting said enough. Not because there needs to be more vehement objection to his very existence (there is plenty), but because I think a lot of people have a tendency to consider him extreme and way far out of the mainstream and maybe even purposefully jerking us around not because he believes what he says but because he gets joy from making us all angry. Old Theo probably does enjoy making everyone angry. He also means everything he says. That is important to realize. He’s not a parody, he is serious, that is really the way he thinks. And there are plenty of other people who think just like him. Not only the pathetic commentors on his blog. There are tons of people with his same attitude in the world.

I know why so many people look at him and want to just dismiss it as whiney baby attention grabbing bullshit. There are likely many people who, like me, are pretty selective about the people they allow in their lives or selective about the circles they socialize in or spend more time on friendships that are mainly digital due to distance. I spend most of my time with awesome people. So when I run across someone who says something super misogynist or blatantly racist I’m often taken aback for a few seconds because: really? People like you still exist? Somebody honestly thinks it’s okay to say something like that to me? Or to her? Or him? Why, yes.

Mind you, I’m used to people saying or doing bigoted things out of ignorance or blindness or unexamined privilege. That’s different. That is understandable if not forgivable. But people who just outright call a black person a savage by virtue of them being black? Who does that?

The image of the type of person who does that is often the southern redneck with a KKK hood in the closet. That person surely exists. They are not the only type of person who would unashamedly say that sort of thing. That’s the reality. You and I may not encounter a person like this every day or every month or year or for many years. They still exist. And pretending they’re just some dismissible hillbilly does not, in fact, make them go away or make them less dangerous to our culture.

Make no mistake, the Theodore Beale/Vox Days of the world are depressingly common.

Instead of being OMG Shocked! by it, acknowledge it and make a determination of what you’re going to do about it. I don’t mean going after the dude with torches and pitchforks. he probably would enjoy that too much. You can go after his ideas, though. Drag them into the light and expose them for the vile entities they are. You can provide counterpoint, a less hateful view, and support for the types of people he seeks to put down and belittle. Make it clear where you stand and who you stand with. Demand the best of yourself and your community.

And realize that by doing so you are not making this all about him but all about the people you do want in your community or your life or your inner circle.

11 Comments

  1. Amal El-Mohtar Amal El-Mohtar on 14.06.2013 at 08:07 [link] (Reply)

    Co-signed.

    And adding: the most exhausting thing about all of this for me has been explaining to some people who really do not deserve to have it explained to them that Beale’s post is racist.

    I seriously spent some time yesterday and today doing that.

    And I think that’s fully as horrific a thing as Beale’s words.

    1. Nivair Nivair on 14.06.2013 at 11:16 [link] (Reply)

      That sounds extremely exhausting, and you’re right–it is horrific.

      Often I’m troubled because I find myself at a loss to explain why things are problematic, since in my own chosen community as Tempest notes above, the reasons are obvious. My mind goes blank and I get stuck in the shock. (SERIOUSLY, WHO DOES THAT.) But I must learn to find the words, to internalize the fact that even worse violence, as Amal wrote in her letter, is in living memory. It’s not right for the burden of educating to fall only on those who are active, aware, and directly affected–the reality is that we are ALL affected. Hateful venom poisons the pool we all share.

      (And if I am having a jacuzzi party with you two, I’d like it to be in a rosewater jasmine-scented haven. SORRY, OFF-TOPIC. JUST SAYIN’.)

  2. [...] Are You Shocked? [...]

  3. Polenth Polenth on 14.06.2013 at 10:01 [link] (Reply)

    I’ve seen a certain amount of, “He’s just a troll. Ignore him.” Which I’m sure stems in part from disbelief. People don’t like to think he really believes it’s okay to shoot black people for being black, and he won’t really carry out the threat. But the head-in-the-sand approach isn’t appropriate here, because he does mean it, and he might act on it. Assuming otherwise increases the danger for people he targets, because it means he’d get ignored up until he assaults someone (rather than people acting to keep him out of places where he has the opportunity).

  4. Marguerite Reed Marguerite Reed on 14.06.2013 at 11:01 [link] (Reply)

    And as we have seen with others of his ilk, *he* may not be the one pulling the trigger, but certainly there may be those reading him who may feel excused to do so.

  5. Jenn Brissett Jenn Brissett on 14.06.2013 at 11:05 [link] (Reply)

    Amen to all of this.

  6. Nivair Nivair on 14.06.2013 at 11:31 [link] (Reply)

    Thank you so much for posting this, Tempest. You’re SO right–it’s crucially important and it can’t be said enough.

    I read the evil post, because it didn’t feel right for me to get to ignore it. As I try to talk to my friends and family about these things in “real life,” I notice that many seem desperate to ignore it–to dismiss, for example, the fact that the KKK is not a thing of the past. It’s something I used to do and probably still do, to my great shame. But the ability to ignore is a privilege, and that ignorance is a denial of the fact that what hurts one of us hurts all of us.

    Thank you for your advice on what to do. I might always be shocked and uncomprehending at inhuman behavior like Beale’s, but I don’t want to pretend it doesn’t exist. The people who are targets of this hate don’t get to do that. I must not abandon people I love. I will do what you say–that is, everything possible–to support equality, to support the Reconciliation that N.K. Jemisin proposed, to support the furtherance of this art and this community that we all love and that matters so much.

    Thank you, again. Just for being you. I love you so much and I never once stop being grateful that you are my friend. It’s impossible to quantify what you’ve taught me and shown me, and how much you’ve helped me and improved my life. You are admirable to the MAX. ;)

  7. LaShawn LaShawn on 14.06.2013 at 13:28 [link] (Reply)

    This has moved past the dismissal stage. What he is saying hurts everyone, from Nora to SWFA to those who are considering SWFA (or not, as the case may be), to POC writers just starting out.

    And it especially hurts himself.

    Awesome post, Tempest.

    1. K. J. K. J. on 08.09.2013 at 08:27 [link] (Reply)

      After working through ABW’s blog from 2009, I have to say I’m daunted, disgusted, and dismayed by the current state of sci fi, especially the SFWA. It used to be a body I aspired to join, now I wouldn’t join if my life depended on it. I have always wanted to write the lit that kept me reading. Now, I am not sure I want to bother, ever.

  8. Craig Laurance Gidney Craig Laurance Gidney on 14.06.2013 at 16:18 [link] (Reply)

    Make no mistake, the Theodore Beale/Vox Days of the world are depressingly common

    Unfortunately that brand of “academic”/Post Bell Curve racism does have cache. See: Andrew Sullivan.And they have respectability.

  9. Dollartooth Dollartooth on 20.06.2013 at 14:47 [link] (Reply)

    I think I know what he’s up to. After a failed attempt to become SFWA president, his superior alpha brain has finally grasped that he’ll never get anywhere in that organisation, so he’s now plumping to get kicked out and earn maverick status by writing increasingly loathsome tripe.

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I'm a writer, most often committing acts of genre (fantasy, science fiction, and other stretches of the imagination). You can find my short stories in many and various magazines and anthologies and podcasts. In addition to being a writer I also engage in activism and fandom -- often both at once.

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