Let me begin by stating that I speak only for myself. I speak not for past employers, present employers, potential future employers, friends, Romans, countrymen, other science fiction fanatics, people who are not myself, and most definitely not for George R. R. Martin.
After that, let me add that I think Irene Gallo used words that were ill-chosen, and that she painted with way too broad a brush. As Eric Flint has said, “Words matter.” I think neo-nazi to describe anybody was probably a bridge too far, although I know of a couple of people that I might, in a spew of frustration and hyperbole, have chosen those words myself to describe them. This is why I try very hard not to blog when I’m angry.
However, with all that said, I don’t think Gallo is completely at fault here. We’ve all made bad choices of words, and the time she posted that statement (May 11), tempers were still a bit high. As we’ve dug through May, things seemed to be calming down and people were settling down to read and get through this. The most appropriate time to have brought this up would have been in the days after the comment was posted, but no, that wouldn’t have caused maximum damage.
Enter Theodore Beale. I absolutely despise the man. He reminds me of nothing less than the smarmy jerk in high school who believed he was smarter than everybody and therefore, the rules didn’t apply to him. This applies to his absolutely ridiculous pen name (Vox Day, “voice of god”, isn’t it funny?), the way he blogs, and generally most interactions I’ve observed from him. He’s cruel, he’s petty, and he enjoys every second of it. Indeed, Beale is probably the soundest evidence that karma doesn’t exist.
Why does Beale matter? Well, he stumbled across Gallo’s words two hours after she posted them. (Note that “stumbled” is the nice words here — I’m certain he’s been reading the facebooks, twitters, and blogs of various high up people in search of ammunition. In other contexts, we would call him a stalker.) Instead of saying anything when he found them, he took a screen shot of the exchange and put it away for a more advantageous weekend. Perhaps one when the outrage seemed to be dying down, and when people were starting to feel for a way to bridge the gap. Maybe also a weekend in which the SFWA, an organization that Beale has placed on his enemy list, was holding their awards ceremony.
And sure enough, guess what appeared on the Internet on Saturday?
I’ll grudgingly give Beale credit for this — he knows his army of sycophants, suck-ups, wannabes, and fellow travelers very well, and knew dropping that screenshot on the Internet would be like throwing raw meat to hungry dogs. All the outrage that had been dying down is back, kicked up yet another notch. And I’m certain this amuses him very much.
It strikes me that Beale doesn’t want dialogue. He doesn’t want us to understand each other, because if we can understand — if we can glimpse that the other side of the screen sits another human being not all that much different from us — then his culture war is dead. He cannot afford to lose that — it is his driving force and his motivator.
I’m a science fiction fan because I like to read, Beale. I’m not here for your bullshit culture wars, and I really wish you’d take them somewhere else.