Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Biased Opinion - A Good Man Steps Down and a Vile Lump of Crap Runs to Take His Place

John Scalzi
John Scalzi is a successful science fiction author and generally all-around good guy who supports inclusion, acceptance, and equality. I highly recommend his long running blog Whatever, and all of his books from his first major work Old Man's War, to the humorous Redshirts, to the recently published Human Division. He has also been president of the Science Fiction Writer's Association since 2010. And, by all accounts, his tenure as president has been a successful one. But being the SFWA president is a job that seems to wear on every person who holds that office, and recently Scalzi announced that he would not seek another term. That's more or less par for the course, and would be an unsurprising and not particularly interesting but for the fact that Scalzi's support for such things as women's rights, homosexual equality, and racial equality has caused him to be targeted by an individual that Scalzi has taken to calling the Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit. The individual in question's real name is Theodore Beale, who also blogs under the name Vox Day, and the moniker Scalzi chose for him is dead on accurate.

If you read no further, and are a member of the SFWA, take away this: Vote against Beale. Don't be apathetic and not vote. Pick someone who isn't Beale and vote for them. Right now, the only other announced candidate is Steven Gould, the author of Jumper. It doesn't really matter if you like Gould or not, or agree with his stance, if he's the alternative to the flaming ball of ignorance and hatred that is Theodore Beale, you should cast your vote for him.

Why should we care about this internet non-spat (because to be a spat, both sides would have to invest in the fight, and Scalzi mostly ignored Beale, while Beale seems obsessed with Scalzi) between someone notable like Scalzi and a nonentity like Beale? Because as soon as Scalzi announced he was stepping down as president of the SFWA, Beale announced his candidacy for the job. Beale is, as a result of coauthoring a couple of forgotten books a while ago and his now out-of-print screeds disguised as science fiction, a member of the SFWA, and because of his hatred for Scalzi he seems to feel the need to succeed him as its president. And if Beale were to win, it would be a tragedy for the SFWA, because he is a truly loathsome person. Jim C. Hines has posted a few thoughts on Beale's candidacy, but he only scratched the surface of the truly nasty opinions spouted by the beacon of gibbering stupidity that is Theodore Beale.

I won't link to Beale's horrifically idiotic blog, or to his equally offensively stupid column for WorldNetDaily (which appears to be a sinecure, as his father, convicted tax evader Robert Beale, used to be a member of that publication's board of directors), because I don't want to give him traffic, but I will go through some of his espoused opinions. If you really want to read his drivel in full, I'm sure you can find it via Google. I first became aware of Beale as Vox Day by reading Pharyngula and Orac, two excellent science blogs. Because Beale is a dedicated creationist, an antivaxer, and generally never met a wrongheaded idea about science that he wouldn't adopt, he spent a fair amount of time ranting about the evils of science as related to those blogs. But just being a loony creationist is not what is most worrisome about Beale. He is, in fact, a full out racist, sexist, homophobic ass. And not in the kind of coy way that some people are. No, he's racist, sexist, and homophobic in the loudest and most offensive way possible.

For example, in his WND column "The Real Assault on Science", he says that the true threat to science is not religion (meaning the kind of religion that insists that the account in Genesis be accepted as completely true), but rather women's equality. To quote him from the article, "[u]nsurprisingly, it comes from the same force that is the primary threat to the survival of Western civilization: female equalitarianism". He follows this tidbit of misogyny with "[w]omen love education; it’s the actual application they don’t particularly like", asserting that a woman who likes art will take an art appreciation class, while a man who likes art will pick up a paintbrush and begin painting. Never mind all the female artists out there like Georgia O'Keefe, Marie Cassat, and my mother. In Beale's world, women don't do things. Only men do things, to quote him, "[b]ecause they are the intellectual driving force of humanity, men will be fine. They will simply continue to do what they have always done and pursue the same challenges they have always pursued, focused on the realities of success rather than its superficial attributes." The thrust of his argument is simply this: Men do important things, while women are superficial.

Lest anyone think this column is an aberration, we can turn to another one of his poorly thought out screeds for WND titled "Why Women's Rights Are Wrong". As if the title wasn't enough to illustrate his thinking on the subject, just to be sure to hammer his point he states, "[i]n fact, I very much like women and wish them well, which is precisely why I consider women’s rights to be a disease that should be eradicated." That's right ladies, your rights to equality are a disease, and they need to be eradicated. His thoughts on the subject come directly from the "Men's Rights" playbook, and are just as revoltingly misogynistic as one would expect. Women, he says, are unable to marry these days because of a "feminized family court system that transformed marriage from a mutually beneficial contract into a financial and emotional liability, and the removal of paternal responsibility for the sexual behavior of young women." To translate: Because marriage is now equal, men don't want to marry because women aren't subservient, and men can get sex all the time now without marrying because fathers can't control their daughter's sexuality. Does it surprise anyone to know that in other places Beale has said that practices of honor killings, throwing acid into the faces of women who have been raped, and female genital mutilation are for the benefit of women, because it controls the evils of female independence and sexuality. The mind boggles at such "logic".

But Beale is not done. While frothing at the mouth about "equalitarianism", he manages to throw in a bit of racism alongside his tirade against women's equality. Treating women like equals, it seems, is causing Europe to collapse, because that means more brown people live there now: "Europe’s demise is all but assured, thanks to them, as women’s individual choices taken in the collective have stricken European society and brought on successive waves of feminist-friendly Islamic immigration by reducing Europe’s birth rates far below replacement levels." Apparently, one of the problems Beale has with women's rights is that, in his mind, it allows women to choose not to be breeding machines, and, once again in his mind, this results in the wrong sort of people immigrating to Europe, where they are, horror of horrors, treated as equal members of society.

Over and over Beale has demonstrated his irrational hatred of women, gays, and minorities. He has said gay people should be "cured" of their gayness, "[h]omosexuality is a birth defect from every relevant secular, material, and sociological perspective . . . [we must] help them achieve sexual normality.", and that minorities are intellectually inferior to Caucasians, "[i]t is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence." He has even taken the role of an advocate for rape, saying, "there is no such thing as marital rape. Once consent is formally given in public ceremony, it cannot be revoked." In other words, once ownership of a woman is formally transferred from her father to her husband, then she is his property and cannot refuse sex under any circumstances. Loathsome doesn't even begin to describe Beale. In an ironic twist, despite constantly touting his own intellect - among other things he proudly states that he is a member of Mensa - Beale completely misread an obviously satirical post John Scalzi wrote last fall and thought that Scalzi had come out as a rapist. Despite his own advocacy for marital rape, Beale took this as an opportunity to attack Scalzi, completely missing the satire. And then when it was pointed out that Scalzi's post was satire, lamely insisted that his own response was also satire, which it clearly was not. As an aside, it seems to me that anyone who feels the need to point out that they are a member of Mensa is usually an idiot, and Beale is yet another example.

There seems to be almost no limit to the depths of stupidity, vileness, and hatred to which Beale will go. He has said that women should not be allowed to vote because they are all fascists at heart. And "[d]o you really think it was an accident that women were never permitted any voice in the governance of the Roman Republic or the great historical democracies such as Athens, Thebes, Imperial Britain, and Revolutionary America?" Oddly, despite saying women should not vote because they are fascists at heart, he has said he admires Nazis more than feminists. He has also said that the U.S. should "solve" its immigration "problem" in the same way that the Nazis "solved" their "Jewish" problem. In Beale's world, there are two categories of people: white males and everyone else, "Orwell put it beautifully. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. And the Sports Guy put it even better: women ruin everything." The message that he espouses is clear - if you aren't a white male like him (and even further, because he has taken on board the nauseating "Men's Rights" ideology, if you aren't an "alpha"), then you are supposed to defer to your betters. And by betters, he means racist, sexist, homophobic men like him.

Finally, aside from the obvious misogyny, racism, and homophobia, there is the question of why Beale would want to be president of the SFWA. He has said that the SFWA provides "considerable entertainment value" and not much else. He has also said that if he were SFWA president his platform would "involve disenfranchising all of the female members and endorsing a Federal law banning women from writing any science fiction or fantasy that does not contain vampires or wereseals and comes with a warning label: WARNING: this is Vampire/Wereseal fiction, not actual science fiction or fantasy." Now, his second assertion supporting a law banning women from writing science fiction or fantasy is something that simply couldn't be implemented, although it does offer a further glimpse into the mind of a misogynistic ass, but his first should make anyone who is apathetic about voting stop and think. He wants to prevent any women from voting in SFWA elections, and presumably, from participating in Nebula Award juries. He, of course, has not made reference to these stances in his candidacy announcement, but in a world with the internet, you are tied to your bigoted views forever.

One question I have is this: How on Earth did an ass like this get on the Nebula jury in 2007? He doesn't even have any substantial writing credits to his name that would justify putting him on the panel even if he wasn't a complete misogynistic, homophobic, racist douche bag. Given his very nasty public opinions, who thought putting him on the Nebula jury was a good idea?

I am not a member of the SFWA, and I'm not eligible to join, so I cannot vote. But if you are a member, you should. And you should vote for anyone other than Beale. If you are eligible to join the SFWA and you have not, you should join just so you can vote against this worthless excuse for a human being. Don't let him win because he can rally a small cadre of supporters in the face of an apathetic electorate. This man should never be allowed to take any leadership position anywhere, and he certainly should never be given a leadership position within an organization like the SFWA.

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  1. Well, I'm a member of SFWA and I'm certainly voting. Can't say I've paid much attention to Beale. He's been kind of a teeny weeny buzz to me. :-/ So thanks for the heads up.

  2. @Tali Spencer: Good! There really is no end to Beale's hatefulness. I could have made this post ten times as long and still only scratched the surface.

  3. I can honestly say I've never paid much attention to politics within an association like the SFWA, but it sounds like somebody there really needs to step up and put themselves forth as a viable alternative.

    It's never enough to vote for the 'other guy' simply because he's not Beale. There needs to be somebody strong, visible, and admirable to vote for, irregardless of the competition. I'm not saying Gould isn't that man (I know next-to-nothing about him or his work), but winning by default is never a good base on which to build.

  4. @Bob Milne: That's the sort of attitude that guys like Beale count on. They can usually get themselves a dedicated cadre of supporters and hope for indifference or "principled stands" on the part of the rest of the voters.

    And the end result could very well be that a guy like Beale takes the reins of power in the SFWA. It is all very well and good to say that the alternative has to be worth voting for, but that kind of attitude makes it more likely that you'll have a misogynistic racist sexist ass heading the organization.

  5. @Julia Rachel Barrett: He really is a nasty piece of work, isn't he?

  6. I had never heard of Beale aka Day until he posted his SFWA pres candidacy. Except for Scalzi, the weary target of Beale's long-running obsession and trolling, I've yet to speak to =anyone= who'd ever heard of Beale until then. Which isn't hard to understand, since he currently writes for a small press whose audience is so niche that it doesn't distribute to bookstores and has print runs in the low hundreds, and his scant writing career prior to this house also seems to have been way off the genre's radar.

    Beale boasts often about the high profile he believes he has, so perhaps he is well known as a blogger in the white supremacist community or something like that. In sf/f, though, he seems to be obscure and unknown.

    After learning of Beale's SFWA candidacy a few weeks ago, I subsequently learned that, months earlier, he and his friends had attacked me on his blog. I don't think the attack had anything to do with me, per se. It occurred because I'd posted a comment on Scalzi's blog, and Beale saw my comment as an opportunity to harangue the object of his obsession, John Scalzi.

    Needless to say, since I am a woman, the insults and attacks on Beale's blog were alll based on making negative assumptions about my "low sexual value" and my "breeding" status, these being, of course, the only value that women have in the world of Beale's blog (as you have discovered by subjecting yourself to its contents).

  7. @Laura Resnick: I think Beale is more or less aware of his obscurity in the more mainstream SFWA community, because I think that's more or less what he is counting on. He's counting on his obscurity to create apathy among the voters so that he can get the small minority of people who like his racist, sexist, homophobic act to vote for him and allow him to have a chance at winning.

    Now, I don't think he really has a chance at winning, and I don't think he thinks he has a realistic shot either. His whole candidacy strikes me as a typically juvenile publicity stunt that he hopes will garner him some adulation from his sycophants and maybe draw the attention of some like-minded people who weren't aware of him before. But there is always the outside shot that a combination of apathy, ignorance, and a cadre of devoted followers will result in his election. Which would be a disaster.

    I also think he's trying to raise his profile because if he is like most right-wing religious nuts, he thinks that all he really needs to do is get his message out to the masses and they will see the wisdom in his position. In his mind, he probably thinks the only thing that prevents him from being showered with adulation and acclaim by the mainstream is an evil cabal of minorities, women, and LGBT people. Yes, it is a deluded position, but it is one that seems to be commonly held by members of the lunatic fringe like Beale.

    Leaving Beale behind, thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. I always appreciate when people comment on what I write, and especially so when professional writers do so.

  8. I LOVE being part of an evil cabal! Love it!

  9. Laura Resnick: I can't be part of the evil cabal, since I'm not a minority, a woman, or an LGBT person, but I am a fan of it.