I exchanged a couple of tweets this morning with Damien Walter who has been suggesting that Midamericon II throws the ballots with the complete Rabid Puppies slate out of the window. Then, he thinks, Midamericon could reinstate the works that were pushed off the list by Theodore Beale’s slate-voting effort.
I’m not expert on WSFS constitution or legal matters, but my guess is that a particular Worldcon cannot just simply do what Walter proposes. Or can they? It stands to reason that the Hugo administrators can only do the things that the WSFS constitution says they can.
Am I right? Is Damien right? Who knows? Gonna have to ask Kevin Standlee? The rules that you can ignore when you feel you have to are not very good rules (or rules at all), are they?
However, that got me thinking: Is there anything else that could be done in this situation?
Rules could be changed, even though it will take a while. Another problem with this approach is that persistent trolls have a tendency to dig up the loopholes, wherever they are. E Pluribus Hugo that I hope will pass this year is going to take some wind off the slate-nominators’ sails, especially if the campaign is built around a small number of people sending in identical ballots (which probably describes this year better than last year).
The rules guru Kevin Standlee and others have talked about intituting a third voting round in order to stop undesirable candidates before they get onto the final ballot. That would probably stop all puppy takeovers (and there may be other good technical solutions floating around), but I’m not certain that it would feel worthwhile during normal Hugo years.
In my opinion, nominating, voting and caring about the Hugos should be as easy and simple as possible, and it’s already too complicated as is (because of the arcane categories). In the very least, extra voting rounds and such should not be the standard procedure but rather something that a significant number of Worldcon members could initiate as a safety measure in case of exceptional circumstances (like a hostile takeover by trolls who have stated explicitly that their intention is to destroy the award).
On the other hand: Would an easier solution be just to grant the administering Worldcon a right to disqualify a candidate that is put on the ballot through means that are clearly in conflict with the spirit of the awards? I don’t know.
Rule changes are slow, however, so they don’t help in the current situation — where we indeed have a hostile takeover by trolls who have stated explicitly that their intention is to destroy the award. Among the Hugo finalists, there are works that include blatant hate-speech, fat-shaming, misogyny et cetera. Overall, it’s more horrible than last year, when the voters had to mostly just stomach bad writing (this year, the level of writing is probably much higher).
The works I’m referring to here are of course the short story “If You Were an Award, My Love” and the related works SJWs Always Lie, “The Story of Moira Greyland” and “Safe Space as Rape Room” (and maybe the work of the fan artist “Kukuruyo”). These are ugly works manufactured to harass individual members of the SFF community or groups of people that the Rabid Puppies contingency happens to love harassing (women, LGBTI community and so on).
So, what could be done about them? Unfortunately, not much.
After reading the WSFS constitution, I came up with only two things. If I was running the Worldcon (which I’m not, of course), I would:
- Not include them in the Hugo voter packet. (There are zero rules about the voter packet, so it would be completely possible for the Worldcon to exclude the works mentioned above.)
- Insert onto the online voting form a statement that says “Midamericon II condemns the hate-speech/whatever featured in Finalist X”.
That’s my 5 cents for the Midamericon II. Cheers!