The gloves came off

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been fighting the urge to respond to a post in a private Facebook group that is supposedly dedicated to the appreciation of the writings of Robert A. Heinlein. I say supposedly because it had become more and more apparent that wasn’t necessarily the case. But the crowning point came when one of the members posted a link to a story about why Connie Willis would not be presenting at the Hugo Awards. I’m not going to get into Ms. Willis’ reasons other than to say I don’t agree with them. But it was her decision and she will have to live with the consequences — good, bad or indifferent.

However, what got to me was the poster of the link starting out by saying that she was a so far unpublished science fiction writer who is just so angry at the “talentless and angry malcontents” who have supposedly ruined the Hugos. Okay, nothing new there. Still, it was a bit surprising to find such a position being advocated in a Heinlein forum, especially when it became clear that the whole issue was that there have been more men nominated for a Hugo and that more men have won than women. Again, nothing new.

But where I finally drew the line was when one of the page’s moderators chimed in. She took up the call first set out by the OP. She even took the OP’s post and copied it over to her home page, complete with the OP’s comments and a “I feel this way to” or words to that effect. When members of the page tried to discuss the reasons behind SP3 with her, she either sidestepped the issue or kept moving the goal posts.

She was quick to jump to the OP’s defense but never, at least not where anyone could see, took the OP to task for personal attacks. The closest she came was starting a thread that warned everyone not to make personal attacks, a ruling she violated pretty quickly in that very same thread.

So I watched the thread over two or three days, debating whether to leave the page or not. I finally had enough this evening and drafted the following:

As one of those so-called “talentless and angry malcontents” who have supposedly ruined the Hugos simply because we’ve raised awareness among those who love science fiction and fantasy that they have the ability to nominate authors and work they feel deserve to win the Hugo, it is clear this forum is not for me.

When we become more worried about the sexual preference, gender, race, religion and politics of an author instead of the story, we have strayed much too far from what Heinlein himself thought important in a story. The fact that one of the moderators has continued the attacks on those who want story before message and who dared tell fans, not Fans, that they could vote simply confirms my decision to leave. Indeed, that moderator shared the linked post with her support of all it and the OP said. It is clear this forum is not devoted to the discussion of Heinlein, his work or his impact on the genre. Instead, we have to fall in line and march lockstep to the cause du jour. Well, have fun. I’m going to other pages where one of the Grand Masters of SF is discussed and the rest of the BS isn’t taking over the page.

I hit the enter button and then did something I can’t remember doing except for pages I’ve been added to without being asked. I left the group. I was one of several that I know of who had done the same thing over the past few hours. It wasn’t because of the attacks on SP3 but on the abuse of her position by the moderator. I left junior high behind me a long time ago. I don’t need to relive it on FB.

Shortly after I posted my comment and left the page, the moderator in question basically threw a snit fit and took down the thread in question. In another thread, she went on to tell those who weren’t falling in line to either stand down or leave the group. It is my understanding that she alleges that she spoke privately with the OP and even admitted the OP might owe an apology to some of the other members of the group. Not that she was going to make the OP give one. No, she obviously gets a pass but no one else does.

This is the problem moderators can’t separate their personal feelings from their duty to be fair and impartial. If the group has rules, those rules need to be applied just the same to one group as they are to others. That isn’t the case in this situation. When you let someone insult your members — and yes, some of the driving forces behind SP3 were members of the group. I say were because I know at least one of them left because of what was going on. Why stay somewhere you can be attacked and abused and yet you can do nothing to defend yourself or try to explain your position? — you open yourself up to mockery and anger and members leaving. The fact it happened in a Heinlein forum is more than a bit sad and even ironic.

So I am down one group on FB and I won’t miss it. There are other groups out there that do love the work of Heinlein and don’t let the current contretemps about the Hugos and their personal prejudices destroy what could have been a fun and informative group.

Oh, and word of warning, when you start threatening your members because you don’t like what they are saying, they will take screen caps and will make sure others know. Just sayin’.


    1. Oh yeah. The fallback position of that sort. You don’t agree, you are a racist, misogynist, privileged white male, whether you really are or not.

  1. I was one of the first to leave that group, and the more I heard from those of you still there, the less I regretted leaving. I was never particularly active, but I did follow events there, and this one was incredibly confusing. Especially when one of these two actually argued that there was no way Heinlein was conservative or libertarian because reasons.

    1. Really?!? Did they never read Where Are The Heirs Of Patrick Henry? That was when he left the Democratic Party (or as has been said in another place, it left him) and embraced libertarianism.

    2. The whole thing was surreal, starting with the personal attack in the opening of the OP’s post to the moderator jumping in and attacking those who had already been attacked and then claiming we were the ones who attacked her. As for claiming RAH was never conservative or libertarian simply proves she hasn’t read about him or read most of his work, not that it surprises me.

  2. Perhaps the greatest failing of the new social media is how it emboldens a certain sort of crazy into the belief that their feelings born of a fevered brain are every bit as valid as cold hard truth.
    As to that moderator, it would appear that by showing an obvious bias she has single handed destroyed that group. Or I suppose transformed it from a Heinlein discussion group into a shill for progressive beliefs.
    Heinlein would have written them a short stern note to never use his name again, then turned away and never given them another thought. As did you, and good on you for that. That sort of garbage you don’t need.

    1. I think you are right about RAH. It is amazing the things I am hearing that have come out of the group since I left. I don’t have the time or the patience for that sort of foolishness.

  3. Huzzah to you for kicking that crap to the curb.
    I think certain parts of the internet are loon magnets, and allow those wingnuts to achieve a certain critical mass within that group that they would never achieve in any group in the outside world. Once they hit that mass, they start to assume that their fringe beliefs are not fringe, but at least a plurality, if not a majority. After all, every one that they talk to thinks JUST LIKE THEY DO…. Then they start to engage in the type of behavior that we all loathed in jr. high. It’s a shame that things that should be awesome, like a Heinlein appreciation group, could suffer from that, but there is plenty of internet out there, so I’ll spend my time… otherwhere, if you will…

    1. Also, I have a little voice (that i sometimes listen to…) that tries to remind me that I often end up in places on the internet where my own political and social beliefs, which I know are minority, find kindred spirits. There is nothing inherently wrong with finding like thinkers, just try not to let it turn you into the proverbial jr. high “cool kid” jerkwad.

    2. The real shame was that neither the OP or the moderator in question were willing to listen and discuss the issues. Instead, they started flinging names and condescending attitudes and then, like so many these days, claimed they were the ones who were mistreated. Well, that is one “safe zone” I’ll not be participating in. (and anything that claims to be dedicated to the appreciation of the writings of RAH should be a safe zone for the likes of me.)

  4. I don’t know if it is good or bad that my lack of a functional keyboard hampers me.
    First, I wholeheartedly endorse your decision to walk away. There was no good you could do there, and no benefit to you to stay.
    Second, I was a middle school counselor for 16+ years. The type of drama you describe is indeed reminiscent of youth under attack by hormonal feelings they have not yet learned to evaluate and regulate.

    You know that bit in War Games where the computer says “The only way to win is not to play”? I expanded that a bit. If you allow the other guy to define the riles and the playing field, you will never win the game. Never. In the case you describe, that’s exactly what has happened.
    Oh, for a keyboard to expound….

    1. There’s a spare around here, somewhere…

      Oh, yes, it’s from the days when I was a *bit* less introspective. The “I” key doesn’t work all that well…

  5. You don’t need me to tell you this, but you did right leaving. We all have enough things that bring us stress to put up with stuff we don’t need to.

    The Hugo stuff may be winding down, but there’s still a bit of it floating around.

    Besides, its easier to write when one is feeling right with the world. Sometimes we have to cut things out that no longer bring joy to us.

    1. And stress I have plenty of right now, Angus. Between getting ready for my son to come home for the first time in more than a year, my mother’s health and trying to get a book finished before LibertyCon, well, I don’t have the time or the patience for the sort of idiocy that was going on in that group.

  6. FWIW: I invite you to apply for membership in Facebook’s The Heinlein Forum. The direct continuation of the old GEnie group by the same name, we may not always agree, but we are more or less civil about it. The group is marked “closed” not because we won’t accept new members (we’re at 1,175) but to stem the flood of applications from folks who were trying to join everything in sight.

  7. I’m in that group and saw it all. Tried to stay out of it. Not that it matters except to understand some aspects: The moderator of the group and the OP are sisters. Those threads are all gone and some others have brought discussion back around to Heinlein.

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