Alastair Reynolds calls for more civility

Vince W

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Very interesting, but asking for civility on the internet is a hopeless task I fear. The fact that one can post under a pseudonym allows many people out there to spew vitriol just because they can.

As for the whole eligibility lists debate it's nothing new. Hollywood actively campaigns for its awards every year. It was probably only a matter of time until the same process touched SF.
 

HareBrain

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The fact that one can post under a pseudonym allows many people out there to spew vitriol just because they can.
But many of the people spewing vitriol seem to be doing so under their own names, or at least easily identifiable identities.

I brought a box of stuff home form my mum's the other week, and in it were several issues of White Dwarf and Dragon magazines from the late eighties. It was a real surprise to read the "arguments" in the letters column -- they were almost laughably (and yet also sweetly) good-tempered and polite. I'm not saying I would want to go back to that, but the process of change has been so gradual, it was interesting to be reminded how much the internet has changed the feel of discussion. (Apart from very well-moderated and civilised sites like this.) Although, of course, those polite letters had been chosen by the editors, and might not have been representative. There are no gatekeepers now.
 

Nerds_feather

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Someone recently asked me why I spend so much time here, considering that I often end up being the one (or one of a small number of people) arguing side X, while the majority takes side Y. Well, I said--that's the point. Or rather, the point is that I can have those kinds of discussions on SFFChronicles without people (well, most people) taking it personally or getting into flamewars. Dialogue is a valuable and rare commodity.
 

Toby Frost

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I agree with him. It's the self-righteousness of many modern commentators that annoys me so much, and the continual need on both sides of the spectrum to find thought criminals and insult them instead of actually discussing anything. And people with sincere, moderate views are generally ignored or attacked for not being sufficiently extreme. This is, frankly, a great time to be a crank or a neurotic with an axe to grind, and the internet only makes it easier.

By the way, Nerd's Feather, what side do you tend to take, if you don't mind me asking? I've never noticed that you fell on any particular side, but I may have missed it.
 

Nerds_feather

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I agree with him. It's the self-righteousness of many modern commentators that annoys me so much, and the continual need on both sides of the spectrum to find thought criminals and insult them instead of actually discussing anything. And people with sincere, moderate views are generally ignored or attacked for not being sufficiently extreme. This is, frankly, a great time to be a crank or a neurotic with an axe to grind, and the internet only makes it easier.

By the way, Nerd's Feather, what side do you tend to take, if you don't mind me asking? I've never noticed that you fell on any particular side, but I may have missed it.
In what sense do you mean "taking sides?" I guess it depends on what issues we're talking about here. On the posting Hugo eligibility thing, I'm of the "sure, why not" persuasion. I'm not going to make my decision based on anyone lobbying for themselves, and do find it helpful when I need to figure out where a story fits into the Hugos baffling division of short fiction into three (rather than the customary two) categories.

As far as the binary/non-binary gender issue goes, I'd probably describe my own feelings as a more moderate version of MacFarlane's. I do really want to see more of that too, but it's not something that makes or breaks a story for me, as it evidently can be for her. But I also found Correia's reply to be as misdirected and unnecessarily bilious as Reynolds did--a tantrum worthy of a child, really. And some of the comments I've seen are downright bizarre--alleging MacFarlane is "forcing" things on them--this via an opinion piece posted on a blog, which last time I checked had no official policing capacity. :p

As for the issue of general civility, I really do value places like this, where people of different persuasions can *gasp* talk to each other without type-shouting. I generally think that's the best way to go, though I do understand that there are times to be angry. I try not to angry myself, though, even when someone is clearly having a go. On the internet, showing you are nonplussed is almost guaranteed to drive the trolls and would-be antagonists nuts. They want to provoke an emotional response.
 

Toby Frost

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Sorry, I was a bit vague there. You mentioned feeling that you were arguing X while everyone else was arguing Y, and I wondered whether X and Y tended to stay constant. I just didn't have you pinned as "That guy who's very into such-and-such", that's all.

On a slightly different note, it occurred to me that I've never heard of either MacFarlane or Correia (despite his claim of shifting a squillion copies) before. I have heard of Alastair Reynolds, though. I doubt there's anything much to be made of this, except that it's probably more productive to focus on your writing than wade wholeheartedly into the "debate". Besides, space is a big place. There's room for everyone.
 

Stephen Palmer

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On a slightly different note, it occurred to me that I've never heard of either MacFarlane or Correia (despite his claim of shifting a squillion copies) before. I have heard of Alastair Reynolds, though. I doubt there's anything much to be made of this, except that it's probably more productive to focus on your writing than wade wholeheartedly into the "debate". Besides, space is a big place. There's room for everyone.
It's great PR. Sting nailed this a few years ago when he "casually remarked" (just before his new album was coming out) that ecstasy was an interesting substance.

I could add that magic mushrooms are also very interesting. I won't, though.
 

Ashley R

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As far as the binary/non-binary gender issue goes, I'd probably describe my own feelings as a more moderate version of MacFarlane's. I do really want to see more of that too, but it's not something that makes or breaks a story for me, as it evidently can be for her. But I also found Correia's reply to be as misdirected and unnecessarily bilious as Reynolds did--a tantrum worthy of a child, really. And some of the comments I've seen are downright bizarre--alleging MacFarlane is "forcing" things on them--this via an opinion piece posted on a blog, which last time I checked had no official policing capacity. :p
Trouble is that the above is an ad hominem attack where you go from misdirected and turn it into a opinion about him having a child's tantrum.

The trouble with the MacFarlane's post was that it was a manifesto, where if you disagree you are pilloried; groupthink.

The problem with the Correia's post was personalising the rebuttal ie: ad hominem.

My opinion is expressed here:

Ashley R Pollard: Logical Fallacies
 

Ursa major

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Saying something is 'a tantrum worthy of a child' is not, strictly, an ad hominem attack. (Saying "Joe Bloggs, as usual, is throwing one of his trademark tantrums" probably is.) The key to identifying an ad hominem attack is deciding whether the target is the person or one of their specific statements.


Note: One would have to read the specific** "Correia's reply" to make a judgement on whether it bore any resemblance to a tantrum, worthy of a child or not. (A link to the text in question likened to a tantrum would help us here.)


** - I'm guessing that it would be one amongst at least a few, if not many.
 

Ashley R

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An ad hominem attack is one where one is attacking one's opponents character or personal traits instead of engaging with the argument.

IMO saying a tantrum worthy of a child is not engaging with the argument, but judgment on the character of the person. YMMV.
 

Ursa major

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Sorry, but you are inferring an ad hominem attack, not seeing one. Sometimes adults do throw tantrums worthy of a child. Pointing this out is not calling those adults children. (And the way to defend the person accused of throwing a tantrum is to point out why it wasn't a tantrum, not accuse someone of using an ad hominem attack.)


By the way, do you have a link to the text in question? I've read a post on Correia's blog, but have no idea if it's the one referred to. (I tend to doubt it, if only because while it's written in a (probably deliberately) snarky manner, it doesn't look like a tantrum to me.)
 

JoanDrake

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One way I have of avoiding gender issues is that I tend to make stereotypically make figures female and female figures male. And/or I try to make the character so odd that anything non PC they do won't be noticed.

Or is that just what they guy is objecting to?


I've said before that I like the Chrons because the people here are actually nice. I go to te politics boards now and again and it's become increasingly difficult lately to deal with people when the best thing you can say about most of them is that you cordially dislike them.
 

Ashley R

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By the way, do you have a link to the text in question? I've read a post on Correia's blog, but have no idea if it's the one referred to. (I tend to doubt it, if only because while it's written in a (probably deliberately) snarky manner, it doesn't look like a tantrum to me.)
And I agree it doesn't look like a tantrum to me either, but the person I was quoting thought it did.

With regard to Larry, he made the attack personal, by being snarky, rather than just attacking the argument, which would be fair. Just clarify.
 
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Nerds_feather

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Trouble is that the above is an ad hominem attack where you go from misdirected and turn it into a opinion about him having a child's tantrum.
See:

Saying something is 'a tantrum worthy of a child' is not, strictly, an ad hominem attack. (Saying "Joe Bloggs, as usual, is throwing one of his trademark tantrums" probably is.) The key to identifying an ad hominem attack is deciding whether the target is the person or one of their specific statements.
...for a primer on what "ad hominem attack" actually means.

The written thing was described as "bilious" and "a tantrum worthy of a child." This is not the same as calling an individual "bilious" or "a tantrum-throwing child." He may be a lovely and mature person outside this context, or not--I really don't know, tbh. And, of course, being an open-minded person, I may very well encounter his writing on some other topic and find that to be lovely and mature.

But this piece of writing was, to me, misdirected, unnecessarily bilious and, well, read like a tantrum.
 

Ashley R

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Attack the argument not the way it is argued.

I think we will have to agree to disagree.
 
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Nerds_feather

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Sorry, but you are inferring an ad hominem attack, not seeing one. Sometimes adults do throw tantrums worthy of a child. Pointing this out is not calling those adults children. (And the way to defend the person accused of throwing a tantrum is to point out why it wasn't a tantrum, not accuse someone of using an ad hominem attack.)
Bingo.

By the way, do you have a link to the text in question? I've read a post on Correia's blog, but have no idea if it's the one referred to. (I tend to doubt it, if only because while it's written in a (probably deliberately) snarky manner, it doesn't look like a tantrum to me.)
I linked to it in the other thread, on Post-Binary Gender in SF. Had sort of hoped to keep this discussion on the civility front, and not on the relative merits of the various arguments put forth there, but we'll see where this goes...

Of course, "bilious" and "tatrum-like" are subjective terms--not everyone will see it that way, which is fine. I don't think I ever claimed that those terms were anything but my own personal feelings (after Toby asked).
 
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