Do Not Feed The Trolls
Mary Robinette Kowal calls for a stop to the death threats
A few years back I heard about a fabulous series of novels that combined magic, possibly a bit of steampunk and 19th century society. I ordered them from Amazon in hardcover. Amazon sent me the 2nd and 3rd books but not the 1st. I discovered I had books 2 and 3 in hardcover and no way of getting a matching book 1. Turns out I couldn’t even get it in paperback by that time. I’ve never read the series because OCD collector wanted to hang out for a matching set.
Today I find that the author in question, Mary Robinette Kowal, author extraordinaire and former SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) board member, has posted about the Hugo Awards, Sad Puppies and death threats.
Kowal’s post is balanced and wise, even mentioning that, in the past, she’s voted for works to win awards even when she’s disagreed with the author’s politics. She has broken her holiday silence to call upon people to STOP WITH THE DEATH THREATS.
I must get hold of Kowal’s books. I find I’m more of a fan now than before and I still haven’t read them.
The factions and what they really mean
People on the left (politically-speaking) levelling death threats at those on the right is one step short of a pro-lifer murdering doctors and nurses working in abortion clinics.
The Sad Puppies campaign is a politically-motivated attention-seeking stunt intended to game the Hugo Awards, undermine the credibility of both the awards and the science fiction community by encouraging faction voting by right-wing-minded people. Y’know, Republicans, gun-totin’ racist people wearing wife beaters as a fashion statement. Not all of the people involved or supporting the Sad Puppies campaign are racist misogynists inciting violence. Only some of them. Just like on West Wing: Josh Lyman (Democratic vice-communications director for the White House) questions how a gay senator can argue against marriage equity and he replies that he supports enough of his party’s policies to want to be part of that party. Maybe some on the right are gay. Or women. Or even not-white. And they believe enough to support the party line.
Live and let live, people.
If you’re on the left, supporting diversity, then, by definition, you need to allow the right-wing to add their diversity without throwing tantrums or making death threats.
Shockers want attention
Shock-work is often intentional for its attention-seeking value. Three years ago I discovered some abhorrent people in the science fiction community were writing blatantly untrue and twisted things about me. People I’d never met, people living in another country (America; I live in Australia). I was devastated. Why would these people on the other side of the world go out of their way to malign me?
After crying buckets of tears, I responded. I posted about it on my website. I included links.
Shortly afterwards, I wised up. Why give them traffic? Why give their abhorrent writing attention? I was, effectively, giving them publicity.
I removed all links to their works and all specific mentions of who they were; if visitors to my website wanted to track down the troll’s works, they can do it on their own time.
I left allegories with pictures of a troll and Papa SMoF on Dark Matter Zine. (Apparently the photo upon which I based my drawings was indeed one of the right people and my drawings are recognizable. I didn’t know until I received feedback. )
I received hate mail FOR REMOVING LINKS AND MENTIONS.
Someone went so far as to create a false identity to harass me FOR REMOVING LINKS AND MENTIONS.
I realised I was onto a winner. If a child throws a tantrum to get a toy, don’t give them what they want because you’re reinforcing antisocial behaviour. If a child throws a tantrum to get attention, the best response is not to give attention.
My final step in response to the ongoing harassment directed to me personally online and to my inbox was to track down the person’s ISP and publicly provide their Internet Service Provider’s name and address to a fanzine page on Facebook. I said that if the behaviour continued, I’d take further action including finding out who they were, naming and shaming.
The direct harassment stopped.
I don’t visit those websites any more.
One person had gone on those websites defending me. I’ve never forgotten who that person is. He’s my Knight in Shining Armor and possibly the hairiest Hugo Fan winner of all time, Chris Garcia. He deserves an award just for being a Nice Guy.
What to do
If someone’s work offends you, leave it alone. Don’t give the work or the writer any attention. You know what they say: any publicity is good publicity as long as they get your name right. There are times to take action and times to stay silent. When people are trolling you just to get attention, just to get clicks to their websites, just to get more people reading their books to see what the fuss is about, IGNORE THEM.
Give publicity to good works and good people.
Remember: society tends to view science fiction and fantasy people as basement-dwelling losers. This kind of scandal, particularly following on from the Jonathan Ross scandal, is reinforcing mainstream opinion.