davidgillon: Dina Meyer as Oracle, sitting a manual chair in front of a clock face (Wheelchair)

There's a thread trying to analyse where the Sad Puppies and the rest of SF/F fandom stand over here. I've been kibbitzing around the edge of it for a couple of days, because I've always thought the Puppies were likely to be problematical when it came to pushing for disability equality in SF/F, and particularly for getting rid of cure narratives. I just didn't realise how much of a problem.

Yesterday I picked up a particular point in the Puppy spokesperson's opening statement, because it seemed to be especially problematical for harassment and access policies, outlined how I thought it was an issue for me as a disabled person, and asked her to clarify if I was interpreting her position correctly and if that was part of the Puppy platform.

She hasn't replied. But Brad Torgerson, the whole Puppy movement's leader, has. And oh boy do I have a problem with what he says!

You can read the full thread at the link above, but I'm excerpting my point, the disability part of Torgerson's reply (for an Army CWO he's got a good line in bleating victimhood I don't need to recycle), and my reply.

Me: Hi, Stephanie S

I'm interested in your statement in the original post around "non-falsifiable accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc." When most of the SF/F that addresses disability wants to cure me of being me, I'm sure you can see how the way I'm addressed might be important to me. I've been insulted in the street too many times for being disabled in public, but it's the calls to eradicate people like me that really hurt, and the only place I see them being treated as a positive representation of disabled people is in SF/F, in response to stories with a cure narrative.

It really doesn't take much research to find that whole hordes of disabled people are actively opposed to the idea that we want to be cured (and it's worse cousin that it should be imposed on us, a view that actually made it into the Conservative Manifesto in the recent UK election). Deaf, Neurodiverse*, followers of the Social Model of Disability, many born-disabled, we all find the cure narrative hostile to us, for many of us it isn't tantamount to hate speech, it is hate speech. And if it's hate speech, then clearly it's ableism.

*Autism seems to be a particular draw for cure narratives, particularly problematical given both the vociferous opposition to calls for a cure from autistic self-advocates and the attempts to deny autistic people a voice of their own by people claiming to speak for them (full disclosure: I'm certainly Neurodiverse and have been told by a psychologist I'm likely somewhere in the vicinity of the Autism Spectrum).

But that's not a widely held view among non-disabled people (see not bothering to do the research). So that brings us back to "non-falsifiable accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc." If I say that a story that calls for curing people of being autistic (which David Weber did in one of the more recent Honor Harrington books, even claiming it as evidence of the good guys superior medical ethics) is not just problematic, but is engaged in ableism and hate speech (even if inadvertent) then isn't that an example of the 'non-falsifiable' claims you say are a problem?

I've quoted it elsewhere here already, but UK law enforcement works on a hate speech/hate incident/hate crime definition that foregrounds the perception of the victim:
"A hate incident is:‘Any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s age, disability, gender identity, race, religion / belief or sexual orientation’"

When I'm attacked for being me, I'm the only person who can tell you how much damage it did to me. Anyone who tries to tell me whether it did or did not damage me is treating me as a child, who doesn't know their own experience (and being treated as a child is a particularly problematical form of disability hate categorised under the name infantilisation).

In talking about 'non-falsifiable' incidents of hate speech, are you actually saying we as individual victims don't get to say if we are victims or not? And are you saying that is part of the Puppy platform?


Disability is not an identity. Nor is it a lifestyle. Disability is a predicament. Ask any disabled veteran if (s)he'd prefer going back to life prior to the bullet/bomb/accident, and you'll get a resounding, "YES!" I've written about people with disabilities. The main character of my award-winning novelette "Outbound" is a paraplegic who finds his skills advantageous in a zero-gee environment. Of course, when technology gives him the use of his legs (something he's never had before in his whole life) he takes it all in stride. Pun thoroughly intended. Again, disability is not an identity, and it is not a lifestyle. It's a predicament. That doesn't shame or diminish the disabled. It recognizes the truth of their existence. A compassionate society can still be compassionate, without losing sight of the gravity of the actual situation. This is why whole medical industries remain mobilized to find solutions to various disabilities, both physical and mental.

Wow, the arch-Puppy himself. I'm honoured. Actually, no I'm not, because your point erases the preferences of huge numbers of disabled people.

I identify as a disabled person, as a disability rights activist, as a repeated victim of disability hate speech, disability hate incidents, and yes, disability hate crimes. Who are you to tell me disability is not an identity?

"Disability is a predicament." Nope, I'm Neurodiverse, I'm quite sure being me is not a predicament. And the Neurodiversity movement as a whole is adamant you don't get to call it a predicament. It's who we are.

I'm also a wheelchair user, pretty sure that's not a predicament either. I had a huge grin on my face this afternoon because the new chair's so much better. Better than the old one, better than walking. Now not every disabled person is going to agree with that. But ask them which they prefer, no chair, or a chair? Wheelchairs are incredibly liberating, but the normie population, who can't be arsed to do the research to see what we actually think, persist in thinking a wheelchair is a tragedy. The disability that leads to you being a wheelchair user may, or may not, be something you consider a negative, the chair itself is a positive on top of that.

"disability is not an identity, and it is not a lifestyle. It's a predicament. That doesn't shame or diminish the disabled. It recognizes the truth of their existence."

Contemptuous much? You get to judge what our existence is worth, we don't? Ask the Neurodiverse community, ask the Deaf Community, ask any follower of the Social Model of Disability, ask many born-disabled people, all of whom consider their disability a fundamental part of their identity and in no way a negative, nor 'a predicament'. And before you do that, go away and review what I said upthread about infantilisation as a particularly pernicious form of disability hate that denies disabled people the right to be treated as adults with our own opinions, and our own identity.

"A compassionate society can still be compassionate, without losing sight of the gravity of the actual situation"

I don't want your compassion. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me you accept me as your equal just the way I am, and that you accept my right to identify myself any way I damned well please.

And do the damned research! Huge swathes of disabled people consider disability to be a core and inseparable part of their identity and want no part of any cure. It's not even as if it hasn't been all over fandom in the past month with the SF Signal/Amy Sterling Casil/"We Are All Disabled" fiasco!

Wow! Just wow. I don't know if he took umbrage for me taking on cure narratives seeing as he admits above to having written one, or if he has a particular problem with people who don't accept disability as some kind of victimhood, or if I'm running into some odd corner of his LDS theology, or what.

But what I do know is that he doesn't get to indulge himself in infantilising me by telling me that my disability is not my identity, and then to victimise me.

I'll undoubtedly blog about it when it's had time to sink in, but for now, colour me furious and flabbergasted.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
This blew up at the start of the week, but I haven't had the energy to write about it until now.

Apparently a couple of months ago Irene Gallo, Tor's Creative Director, noted , on her own, non-company, Facebook page, how glad she was that Tor would be publishing Kameron Hurley's The Geek Feminist Revolution, and especially because it would make the Sad Puppies sadder.

Someone asked her who the Sad Puppies were, so she explained, not unreasonably that:

There are two extreme right wing to neo-Nazi groups called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in SF and Fantasy. They are unrepentently racist, mysogynistic and homophobic. A noisy few, but they've been able to gather some Gamersgaters around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year's Hugo Ballot.

Apparently the Puppies pitched a shitstorm about it last weekend, calling for Tor to sack Gallo. A weekend which curiously just happened to be the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards weekend - that would be the same organisation that expelled Rabid Puppy guru (also noted racist, mysogynist and homophobic Neo-Nazi) Theodore Beale (aka Pox Dei, sorry Vox Day) over his use of the organisation's twitter feed to direct appalling racism towards Afro-American writer N K Jemisin**. Which would have been more of the usual really, but for how Tor responded.
On Monday Tor publisher Tom Doherty didn't tell the Puppies to take a flying f*ck, he disciplined Irene Gallo, for something said on her own Facebook page. Nor did he discipline her in private, in accordance with every principle of good leadership, he did it in public, through an open letter on Tor's website, throwing one of his own people to the wolves, er Puppies. Nor did he leave it at that, but he felt compelled to defend the Puppies as pro-diversity because they had some authors from diverse groups on their slates.

Do we really have to explain sub-text to the publisher of Tor? Do we really have to explain how the Puppies dressed up their slates with tokenism?

Apparently we do.

And then just to make things perfect, John C Wright, Tor author and recipient of _6_ Hugo nominations courtesy of the Puppies turned up in the comments to protest that it is a lie he is an unrepentant homophobe, and he could prove he wasn't a homophobe because {several hundred words of extremist homophobic rant deleted}.

Needless to say I'm seriously unimpressed with Tor in general, and Tom Doherty in particular.

OTOH I was impressed by Chuck Wendig's I Stand By Irene Gallo. Amongst other points he notes that Doherty said precisely nothing when Jim Frenkel's years of sexual harrassment of female fans while attending cons as a representative of Tor came out, but now he's oh so anxious  to discipline Irene Gallo in public.

The Gawker also has a reasonable summation of the clusterf*ck.

America's Largest Sci-Fi Publisher Gives in to Reactionary "Sad Puppies"

*Headdesk* *Headdesk* *Headdesk*

*In the anti-mysogynistic tradition of 'Oh, John Ringo, No!'

** As I came across it while checking links etc, Amal el Mohtar's*** complaint leading to Beale's expulsion from SFWA can be read here, be warned it has all the evidence you'll need to realise just how horrendous Beale's views are, and that calling him a neo-Nazi is only the half of it. (This is a man who calls Anders Breivik a hero, that would be the same Anders Breivik who murdered 77 people in Norway, 55 of them teenagers).

*** One more reason to like Amal el Mohtar's work :)

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
 I logged onto Twitter just now to find an 8 day old reply challenging me for saying I didn't find the Sad Puppies sudden conversion to diversity convincing (why was it that Vox Day was kicked out of SFWA again. someone remind me. Appalling racism, wasn't it?). So I pointed out that attacking 'social justice warriors' sends some pretty mixed messages about diversity. I had five instant responses, one called me a liar, the other four attacked me for being a social justice warrior.

Give them enough rope....

Well, actually give them any rope....

Based on that we probably shouldn't worry about them inviting in the #GamersGaters, because clearly they're every bit as bad in their own right. Yeuch.

Later:  I've now had a more reasonable response from someone else, but he's desperately trying to find a way to say my disability activism isn't identitty politics and doesn't make me a social justice warrior, even though SFnal narratives around disability and identitty are specifically something I'm trying to change.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
 Story idea strikes, so I'm sat there plotting away.

'You're totally constructing this to be as annoying as possible to the Sad Puppies, aren't you?' comments inner voice.

'Well, yeah' says inner muse, and smiles.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
(Just wrote this in response to a nicely reasonable post over here defending the Sad Puppies, but then realised that with a couple of edits to make it standalone it articulated everything that I've been wanting to say about the Sad Puppies since I first came across them last year)
What disturbs me most about the Sad Puppies isn't so much the Hugo aspect as the contempt for other fans. Even the name is an attack on their hated 'social justice warriors'. I'm a long-time fan of military SF, I love Correia's Monster Hunter series, but that's about all we have in common, because I'm also disabled, and the hatred I've experienced just for being disabled, up to and including physical assault by passing strangers for walking while disabled (never mind the calculated hatred that destroyed my career in aerospace) together with the hatred I see routinely directed at disabled friends and acquaintances, mean that I spend my life campaigning for disability equality, and when I'm not talking about that I'm talking about the need for SF/F to get its collective head out of its ass over disability and start talking and writing about it like adults. TL:DR I'm a social justice warrior, I'm proud to be a social justice warrior, and anyone who treats me with contempt for confronting ableism/disablism in our society, and in our genre, is someone who is part of the problem, not part of the cure.

It sickened me the other night to see a Sad Puppy trying to bait TNH and Charlie Stross on Twitter by claiming that it was the Sad Puppies trying to support diversity, not everyone else, and when I challenged him on it he seemed unaware that diversity was anything but ethnicity, making clear that the only interest the Sad Puppies have in diversity is in exploiting minority groups for their own ends. Their attempt to bring in that well-known, diversity-friendly group the Gamers-gaters (you know, the ones trying to drive female voices out of gaming, the ones who hate any woman who dares to speak for themselves, or any man who dares to back them, and who show it through harassment, rape and death threats and the reckless endangerment of SWATting), goes beyond sickening into actually frightening, people are being seriously hurt by the Gamers-Gaters and there's a real chance someone will end up being killed if the SWATting continues. What on earth convinced someone in the Sad Puppy camp that injecting this hatred into SF/F fandom would be a positive step? And why haven't Correia, Torgersen et al tried to rein back this dangerous development? Or is it that they don't see 'social justice warriors' as actual people?

Fandom isn't perfect when it comes to inclusion, our genre isn't perfect when it comes to inclusion, as the fact I need to campaign on making people like myself visible in our writing shows, but fandom is better than most at inclusion, and it's trying to clean up its act in places where there have been problems in the past, by ensuring that cons are safe places for women and minority groups, by ensuring that access provisions for people like me are in place, and so on. Yet everything I see from the Sad Puppies says that they have a massive contempt for those changes, the needs that drive them, and, ultimately, for the right to equality of people like me. Sad Puppy supporters may disagree, but from where I stand the Sad Puppies seem little better than the thugs who attacked me in the street.


davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

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