If you, like me, have heard of the 2015 Hugo controversy (Vox Day?  Rabid Puppies?  Bloc-voting?  Wha?)  and didn’t understand the consequences of it, steer your gaze this way.


Not content with just using dirty tricks to get on the ballot, they’re now demanding they win, too, or they’ll destroy the Hugos altogether. When a commenter on File 770 suggested people fight back by voting for “No Award,” Vox Day wrote: “If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again. The sword cuts both ways, Lois. We are prepared for all eventualities.”

Ahh, the nuclear option.  That’ll make your case for you.

For a blow-by-blow of how we got to this point, I recommend Susan Grigby’s detailed piece, “Freeping the Hugo Awards“–

They are both good reads, but if you need the basics, Connie Willis nails it.


As far as the award goes, I have no dog in this hunt, as they say.  I’m not a member of SFWA or Worldcon.  I’ve never voted – and indeed, won’t be voting in the foreseeable future – for the Hugos.  My interest lay in the conversations we’re having as a culture.  Vox Day and his friends echo a sentiment I’m seeing from a lot of people lately (usually, but not limited to, white, straight men #NotAllBigots).

Their argument goes like this:


They see themselves as victims of “social justice crusaders.”  Hounded and hunted by the dogs of “political correctness,” they speak their truth bravely, clearly, as vilified servants of America’s once-and-future-king: “monoculture.”

“Why are we being silenced?  Why are we being shamed?  We’re just behaving the way we were taught.”

Their argument, essentially, is an argument for the good ol’ days.

The good ol’ days weren’t all that good for a lot of people.

As someone who once loved Fox News and the conservative paradigm (minus all the social inequality, long story), I get it.  You grow up thinking of America as a place where freedom reigns and moral superiority isn’t a punchline.  And when people suggest that America isn’t all that great, that its history is as bloody and muddled as anyone’s, they react.  Because it hurts to think that women couldn’t vote for most of our history, and it hurts to think that 90% of liberty has been white men patting each other on the back.   It hurts to think that it used to be okay to own people.

So the whistle blows, the music starts, and the mental gymnastics begin.

“How can this thing I loved be terrible for so many people?”

“It’s not terrible.”

You’re terrible.”

“You’re trying to hurt America.”

“You’re trying to hurt me.

“I’m the victim here!”

Find-and-replace “America” with “the Hugo Awards,” “modern video game narrative,” “relations between men and women.”  It’s all the same.  When you don’t know you are the dominant cultural voice, making space for new voices feels like being shoved aside.

You know what political correctness actually is?

It’s treating strangers like your friends.  One of the biggest predictors of whether someone will accept gay people as equal in society?  “Do they have a personal relationship with someone who is gay.”

You might tease your best friend, but you don’t tease them in front of others. You don’t tease them behind their back (or maybe you do.  Stop doing that.)

You don’t make them into an outcast.  You respect their feelings.

“Feelings?!” comes the Sad Puppies / GamerGate / Men’s Rights Activist reply, swaddling itself in self-pity and righteous outrage.  “What about our feelings?”

I care about your feelings, too.  And I want to take your feelings seriously.

But you’re like a bully who, after shaking down a seven year old for their lunch money and pride, complains about the harshness of the reprimand.

If your only persecution is that no one will let you persecute others anymore, then I can’t help you.