Vox Day, oh man. Where do I start?
In case you’re reading this, you probably have an opinion on the former disco musician and current book publisher, editor and anti-feminist/anti-anti-racist/contrarian political demagogue and culture warrior Theodore Beale aka Vox Day. I don’t think I’m going to influence anybody here, but here’s my case against the writer of SJWs Always Lie in case somebody wants to read an affectionate character assassination of the king of anti-progressive internet trolls.
Category: Related Work
Slates: Rabid Puppies
So, who is Vox Day?
His father is the failed businessman, tax protester and felon Robert Beale who tried to get Pat “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians” Robertson the president of the United States in the late 80s. Fortunately, that didn’t go so well, but the senior Beale made a serious shitload of money running his business, and I guess that family wealth has served Vox Day pretty well. At least one hopes that his livelyhood isn’t dependent on the success of works like his Hugo-nominated short story “Opera Vita Aeterna” (2014) — which, in my opinion, is not very good (go ahead and google it if you want to read what sort of fiction he writes).
Vox Day first became known as a member of the 90s techno band Psykosonik. If you’ve ever wondered about what his music sounds like, here’s a song called “Shock on the Wire” from their debut album Psykosonik (1993).
Considering some of Beale’s later political stances, the lyrics about leaving “the world of boolean gender” bring a smile upon my face.
Synthesized posthuman face
No limits here in cyberspace
That hypersexual excitation
Cyberbaby gotta keep it going
Gotta come together flowing
Voltage hits your pleasure center
Leave the world of boolean gender
According to all Beale’s author bios, he is also a professional game designer who has designed games such as the first-person Christian sword-em-up War in Heaven (1999). It was based on his fantasy novels, the first of which Natalie Luhrs read and live-tweeted last year in order to raise money for RAINN (an organization helping victims of sexual assault).
Here’s a clip of the game:
I’m not really sure if designing games is something that Beale/Day is doing at the moment. There isn’t much information around on what game projects he has been working on lately, and his blogging and book-writing looks like a full-time job, judging by his publishing frequency.
He writes the general “Alt Right”, Trump-praise and Hugo destruction blog Vox Popoli (bad Latin for voice of the people) as well as the white and straight men’s right activism blog Alpha Game (which informs us that there are, in fact, not only alpha males and beta males but also deltas, gammas, omegas, sigmas and lambdas, and it’s all hopelessly complicated). In his nonfiction books, Beale has opined that atheists are irrational, “cuckservatives” (=moderate conservatives) are destroying the American civilization and “SJWs” (=social justice warriors) always lie.
As I said in the beginning, pretty much everybody who has read something about or by Beale/Day already has an opinion of him, so I’m fairly sure that this blog post is not going to convince anybody to change their views. Besides, in the title of the book that is on the Hugo shortlist this year, Beale has already formulated a statement that refutes everything I’m about to say here. I believe that social justice is desirable and discrimination should be done away with. Thus, I lie and Beale-believers shouldn’t believe anything I say.
If you don’t have an opinion on Beale yet and you want to see for yourself what he is up to, I suggest you take a look at Vox Popoli. A couple of posts will probably be enough to get a good picture.
I just tried this approach myself few weeks ago and first came up with a screed for why war is better than peace because during peacetime, I guess, people can live their lives the way they want:
Seventy years of relative peace and prosperity has made our young men hedonists and homosexuals, cravens and cowards who are more inclined to literally emasculate themselves than demonstrate even a modicum of courage. Seventy years of relative tranquility and safety has made our young women into shameless sluts and whores, barren harridans and harpies devoid of self-respect and self-control. (“A Terrible Peace”, 13/5/2016)
I also learned that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote in representative democracies (a direct democracy is another thing, though), because they are not as intelligent as men and cannot understand difficult issues:
I don’t have a problem with women voting in a direct democracy of the sort we have in national referenda. I think that women are perfectly capable of understanding the consequences of their actions — when it’s a direct matter. However, in the quasi-democratic systems that we have, the limited representative democracies, the problem is that it is historically far too easy for demagogues to manipulate women. (“Should Women Vote”, 14/5/2016)
What an angry, unhappy dude, right?
His views are so far removed from the real reality where I (and maybe you too) live, that it’s impossible to even start debunking those statements. For me (and, hopefully, for you) the freedom to live my life how I want without fear of dying in an armed conflict is quite nice. On the other hand, stripping people of their equal rights because of their sex or gender is not.
These are axioms, and they’re not up for debate.
His opinion seems to be that people’s lives should be miserable. How do you make a case for that shit? Well, after reading the Kindle sample of SJWs Always Lie (which is enough to get the gist of it, in my opinion), it turns out that Beale doesn’t make a case for that shit at all. In the first chapter, he throws himself into a tantrum about the bad things that bad people working for social justice are pushing for.
A broad-based, reality-based resistance to the mirage is now taking shape, a resistance that will eventually undermine and replace all the old institutions that have been invaded and captured by the SJWs. And all it takes to be a part of it is a refusal to accept the religion of social justice, a refusal to bow down before the false gods of Equality, Diversity, Tolerance, Inclusiveness and Progress.
The thing I’m wondering is: Why would anyone choose the “true gods” of Inequality, Uniformity, Intolerance, Exclusiveness and, err, Unprogress instead? Beale, like any contrarian troll, is never going to give a sensible answer.
Alright. Everything above this line was written a few weeks back, but now that the Hugo Voter’s Packet is finally out and SJWs Always Lie is included (I believe that ignoring that would have been a better option but Midamericon II decided otherwise) I took a look.
It’s a funny collection of eccentric viewpoints and all-around handwaving when the social opinions get too difficult to defend otherwise.
Here’s a chapter by chapter summary of the first six chapters after the intro:
Chapter 2: The Three Laws of SJW
Beale’s thesis: John Scalzi said in an interview he has more blog readers than Beale thinks he does. Thus, SJWs always lie.
After coining this and a couple of other rules, Beale drives himself into an ecstatic snicker when he describes how he has pestered Scalzi by cunningly claiming that the best-selling author has admitted to being a rapist, even though he hasn’t. So, what’s Beale’s point? SJWs always lie, but their opponents make up lies that are more stupid?
Chapter 3: When SJWs Attack
Beale’s thesis: A number of people in high positions have ended up in trouble or lost their jobs after insulting women or minorities publicly. That’s why, by some magical logic, everyone who complains about powerful men behaving badly is suspect.
Beale makes a big thing out of the controversy over biochmemist and molecular physiologist Tim Hunt’s impromptu toast speech during the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists. He has cherry-picked a good example, considering that Hunt was treated rather badly for his remarks which, by all accounts, were meant to be humorous instead of sexist — he concluded his toast by saying “science needs women, and you should do science despite all obstacles, and despite monsters like me”. (It’s probably a stretch to call Hunt an actual feminist, but for a privileged academic dude who was born in the 40s he doesn’t seem too bad.)
What Beale doesn’t tell his readers is that Hunt has explicitly denounced his sort of defenders. In an interview with the Guardian, the scientist said: “I was turned into a straw man that one lot loves to love and the other lot loves to hate and then they just take up sides and hurled utterly vile abuse at everyone.”
I see why Beale focuses on Hunt and not on the other names he drops, like the scientist James “We Should Genetically Engineer All Girls Beautiful” Watson, Pax “A Talented Female Tech Developer Is As Mythical As A Unicorn” Dickinson or Mozilla’s ex-CEO and California Proposition 8 supporter Brendan Eich. (I don’t get why Beale can’t afford a proofreader if he is so damn successful — in addition to all the Latin stuff, he misspells Dickinson’s name.)
Chapter 4: Counterattack
Beale’s thesis: Zoë Quinn is fat and unattractive and she made a depressing game about depression (and cheated on her boyfriend). That’s why #Gamergate is such a good thing — and, by the way, the only thing the movement is interested in is Ethics In Gaming Journalism. Like, totally. All accounts of harassment by gamergaters are untrue because I say so.
These days, you can’t make a gaming-related Youtube video and mention feminism or tweet about an academic game studies conference with the #DiGRA hashtag without getting a ton of abuse directed at you, in the best case scenario. If things go worse, some Dude Only Concerned About Ethics In Gaming Journalism is going to make a game where the point is to beat your face to pulp, doxx you, drive you out of your home and probably kill your dog.
But I’m not doing the #GamerGate movement justice here. Speaking of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association), they have brightened up many people’s days with their more unwitting operations, such as this one. Appreciating all the ironies may require some background knowledge on the critical theory.
After Hunt, though, it’s nice to see Beale trying to piggyback on some people I don’t feel bad for.
Chapter 5: Release the Hounds
Beale’s thesis: John Scalzi has won way too many Hugo awards. That’s why Worldcon, Hugos and WSFS are rotten.
In this chapter, Beale goes through the Sad Puppies history, putting a wild anti-SJW spin on everything. For the people who are aware of what went down with the Hugos during the last couple of years (and if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you indeed are), it’s mostly rehashing the official Puppy narrative put together by Correia and Torgersen.
The only interesting parts deal with Beale’s involvement with the Sad Puppies 3 campaign. Last year, Torgersen and Correia were adamant that their thing really doesn’t have anything to do with Beale’s, but what do you know. Here we have Beale reminiscing about the first meeting of the slate-makers in January 16, 2015. Present are Beale, Correia, Torgersen, Tom Kratman, Sarah Hoyt and John C. Wright.
Beale says that they soon found out they disagreed on the goals:
To put these goals in practical terms, Brad wanted to actually try to win awards for what he deemed to be meritorious work, whereas I thought we ought to nominate whatever would most upset the SJWs and then turn around and join them in voting No Award for everything in order to leave a smoking hole where the 2015 Hugos had been. […]
After discussing our differences, I stepped back from Sad Puppies and created Rabid Puppies, an allied campaign designed around the #GamerGate model. […] However, the SJWs so hated everything Brad put forward, and reacted so negatively towards those works, that instead of needing a completely separate list of recommendations, the Rabid Puppy list turned out to be a little more than the Sad Puppy list with a few tactical additions intended to further enrage the SJWs.
The quote above is recommended reading for everybody who is still pondering whether the Rabid Puppies contingent has some reasonable grievances. Here we have Theodore Beale/Vox Day telling us earnestly that he isn’t interested in making science fiction great again, or plugging worthy but overlooked works — what he wants is to troll and upset people.
What an angry, unhappy dude.
In the end of the chapter, Beale goes through his, Peter Grant’s and other puppie’s unsuccessful campaign to get the Tor Books creative director Irene Gallo fired by bombing Macmillan with email complaints. Just two chapters ago threatening people’s livelihood because of their opinions was reprehensible but with Beale you have to get used to goalposts moving in supersonic speed.
Chapter 6: The SJW Next Door
Beale’s thesis: Codes of conduct and other documents outlining the proper practices in organizations and corporations are pushed forward by SJWs. Thus, they are evil.
And so on and so forth
I quickly lost interest after chapter six. Beale tells us what one should do when SJWs attack and how to fight back but, frankly, it seems like incredibly hard and unrewarding work. Sure, you can try to be as unapologetic asshole as you can and make things as hard as possible for the other side if you want — but what’s the point?
Instead of Beale’s sixteen rules and strategies about what to do when you’re under attack and how to fight back et cetera, I can offer you the following two-rule all-purpose guide for free:
- Respect other people and don’t insult them.
- If you happen to break rule #1, be a grownup and own up to your mistakes.
There you go. This has served great many people quite well. World may be full of unreasonable assholes but I don’t see how becoming one would make my life, or yours, any easier.
On the other hand, you’re free to believe Beale but the tin foil conspiracist mindset he says we all should adopt sounds like something that is not going to do any good for anybody’s well-being. Consider quotes like this:
It may seem a little ironic to have to police your organization yourself in order to prevent it from being thought-policed, but the sad historical fact is that you have to choose between one and the other.
Little ironic? You don’t say.
It’s a bad book by a bad actor and it shouldn’t get a Hugo award, if you ask me. No reason to trust me, though — you can read it for free if you’re a Hugo voter and make up your mind.
Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Score: 0/10
Some final thoughts
I recognize that there probably is a meaningful discussion to be had or a book written about the excesses of the uses of “social justice”. SJWs Always Lie isn’t that book, though, but cases like the one involving Tim Hunt are incredibly bad for the social justice movement. As a supporter of that movement, I feel that the goal should be to become mainstream rather than to take all the possible scalps. Twitter shame mobs easily go too far and things turn ugly, as anyone who has been paying attention should know by now.
Or, if you haven’t been convinced yet, this TED Talk by Jon Ronson is for you.
Earlier this year I read Will Shetterly’s book How to make a Social Justice Warrior. To be fair, it probably wasn’t the good book that ought to be written about these issues either, but Shetterly at least tries. For me, his ranty style and short temper made him sound even crazier than Beale in places, unfortunately.
However, Shetterly makes some relevant points about how single-minded focus on identity politics erases class distinctions — which still remain extremely important when analyzing power structures and inequality. A person of color, or a woman, or a homosexual can become president, but a poor person will probably never be able to do that. At the very least, Shetterly’s left-wing criticism of SJW-ism is more convincing than Beale’s right-wing variant.
Some of the more theoretical flavors of academic feminism are probably quite far removed from the social reality of anybody who doesn’t belong to the middle class and has to struggle every day to make ends meet. That may be an oversimplification, but it’s something that feminists with higher education (and the worldview of an extremely privileged individual that comes with it), such as myself, should perhaps consider more often.