Rachel Maddow’s Lessons for Fandom

I’ll start with some funnies before we get into the serious. Above, I have the exclusive envelope in which was given to MSNBC last evening.  Wonder where it came from?

Last night we saw an all too common event escalate to levels where we haven’t seen it before. All of America tuned in to watch Rachel Maddow smugly go completely overboard to attempt to destroy a person — not critique policies in a fair manner, but destroy a person. This has been what the news media’s been about for over a year now, dedicating themselves wholly to this really bizarre cause that sickens most fair minded people. One would expect them to learn their lessons from this and start acting like professionals at some point, but, as we learn, they always double down.

There’s a global lesson here, however. When you’re so blinded with rage that you lose sight of everything and go hard after a person over and over again because you “must destroy them”,  it’s going to push you too far. This is the exact thing that we were warned about in the film, Dr. Strangelove, when we watch a character go completely nuts in attempt to rid of communists. It further adds to the zeitgeist’s thoughts of irony when we see Russia Russia Russia Russia. We do as a culture link those images in our minds, and rightfully so.

In that situation, people will run into further problems if they’re dealing with someone who isn’t scared to fight back. What’s happened in the modern internet age is that those institutions of TV media and fake news aren’t trusted anymore, because we can look things up for ourselves, can make determinations for ourselves. They try so hard at every moment to spin something negative (look at The Hill’s headline from last night for some lols) that no one except for the complete zealots buy it anymore. That’s very bad for your cause, zealots.

I’ve dealt with this over the last year myself, and seen my friends be even bigger targets of it than I am. For years I saw this writers group in science fiction called the Sad Puppies targeted by the small amounts of science fiction news that were out there. A lot of it came from Tor Books directly, as they saw that their award sales bump was being threatened by outsiders (the company pretty much exclusively had their authors poised for the award for best novel year after year).  But because they were a big platform, not unlike MSNBC, they got their messages that these fiction book writers were basically literally Nazis spread far and wide through science fiction’s fake news. Sound familiar? This sort of lazy mockery of journalism is going on across different spectrums. It’ll take a lot more time than this to root out, but it will spell the end of a lot of these companies as they lose consumer trust.

I had a long time “friend”, one who went into full destructive mode soon as these types of stories started circulating about me, who warned me about these Sad Puppies. He would go off relentlessly about how they’re awful people, ruining people’s lives. How do people who want some representation in awards and achieve that ruin people’s lives? Well, someone else didn’t get the award. It’s that sad of a hit piece for real, but a lot of people were brainwashed on it. I’d hear it over and over. Because of the internet however, I could investigate this myself.

I reached out to Brad Torgersen of said puppies in 2015, and learned that he was a nice guy, and even with his pretty famous status at the time, very approachable. He was very kind to me, still is, and never once seemed angry or distrusting or anything he was painted as.  I soon found out the exact same was true of Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia. Moreover I read all three of their books over this period, after being told forever they were not worthy, and found that all three produced better works than I’ve been reading out of big SF publishers for years.  Something didn’t connect here.

And that’s what they were afraid of. That we would look up the information themselves. That’s why the media went so hard to destroy these people. It’s a direct parallel and analogy for what Rachel Maddow did last night. The problem is, with sci-fi and with the boogeyman tax returns, it’s been ringing false since the narrative began, and this just gave further evidence of what they’re doing. 

When my own issues began with the local convention programming director that wanted to stick it to me over how I voted, I faced this same thing. They panicked and got scared rather than addressing the problems with politics festering inside what’s supposed to be a gathering of fun. It went overdrive, people (including the “friend” referenced above) got really nasty on me. When they went to the fake news File 770, that’s when it really got bad, but not for me, for them.  They didn’t realize they’d engaged a zealot, a science fiction Rachel Maddow, in pushing there with half-information. When I produced real information regarding this, it was completely ignored. File 770 continues to attack me even after this has gone down. The site owner most recently took to a friend’s website in the comments to call me a liar and fling more mud at me. I have no idea who this guy is or why he’s so angry… but dude, learn from Rachel Maddow’s mistake!

I had to push back, and of course received private messages asking for reconciliation. Like Rachel Maddow, they thought they had got me good in disinviting me from their convention for the year and then hitting the media about it, but like Rachel Maddow, it hurt them badly in the public perception department as their attacks fell flat. I said that it’d gone too far, and they made it personal — and people who I knew personally before had gone off the rails attacking and swearing about me. I wanted a public apology for that and assurances about the political nature of the convention for the future, to make it a fun place for all of it. Sadly, though sounding somewhat contrite via private message to begin with, when met with the reality of what I needed to right situations with former friends that they are completely responsible for turning nasty against me, they wouldn’t budge. I imagine the same will be true with Ms. Maddow as she’s further torched her network’s name. 

As always, my point isn’t to list complaints, but as with the first time when I brought up the very real political problems with bigotry that the science fiction community has, I have a call for action: Be careful. Don’t take personal vendettas into a further personal realm and go off like Dr. Strangelove or Rachel Maddow. If you have a problem (this is mainly for you, Mike of File 770), talk to the person in question instead of attempting to smear them at every turn. If you’re in the media, you likely have that power to reach out. The smear isn’t going to work, it’s just going to make us win more. And you know what? We’re still not tired of winning.

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