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I Boycott World Fantasy

Curt Chiarelli

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Every new generation looks for ways both fair and foul (and in the present context, assuredly foul) to pave over the older generation's accomplishments. Watch as these "moldy oldies" are now consigned by the self-anointed high priests of hip to the void, pitched headlong into the Pit of Political Incorrectness; spinning wildly, still clutching their copies of Webster's Unabridged, their battered typewriters and stubby Blackwing 602s! Silly, smudgy-fingered little men! How uncool! How tres irrelevant! Didn't they know they were the equivalent of landfill in the upward grade of human progress? Didn't they get that memo? (Yeah, Lovecraft, Poe, et. al. got that memo, alright. They had it before them as they sat in the smallest room of their low-rent homes. It was soon put behind them where it served a much higher calling . . . .)

If we were to scour the pages of literature, to sanitize it of every trace of anti-social tendency and damn every transgressor, then we would have to purge quite a few more names than just Lovecraft's off of that eminent roll call. And that having been done, the only men left standing, I assure you, would be the mediocrities, which is the ultimate point of the exercise. Such a tactic is a leveling of the playing field by devious means, so that every half-wit and dilettante can assume the mantle of genius.

And once that Rubicon has been crossed, it's a slippery downward trajectory from that point on. Once you strip Lovecraft's name from that award and, in doing so, impugn his name, it makes for easy stages to ban his works, even to burn his books altogether. Their stride made more arrogant by this recent triumph, the PC Gestapo will not stop with Lovecraft, I guarantee you.

So, for those of you who care anything about supporting integrity and quality in the arts - and especially within this genre - I strongly urge you to contact the World Fantasy Convention's administration board to register your displeasure. Being passive about this issue will not make the problem go away. It will only worsen and calcify with the passage of time.
 
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chopper

Steven Poore - Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist
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i think that's a bit over the top. burning Lovecraft? PC Gestapo? i don't think anybody is saying that people will stop reading Lovecraft just because his face is no longer on the award (apart from you, obviously). Lovecraft is still on the shelves of Waterstones even as i speak. Lavie Tidhar is not lurking around the corner with a can of petrol.

should the WFA be a bust of Lovecraft? no. does that cause Lovecraft to disappear from history? no.
 
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Curt Chiarelli

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i think that's a bit over the top. burning Lovecraft? PC Gestapo? i don't think anybody is saying that people will stop reading Lovecraft just because his face is no longer on the award (apart from you, obviously). Lovecraft is still on the shelves of Waterstones even as i speak. Lavie Tidhar is not lurking around the corner with a can of petrol.

should the WFA be a bust of Lovecraft? no. does that cause Lovecraft to disappear from history? no.
I never said that people will stop reading H.P.L. because of this debacle. On the contrary, human nature indicates that if an authority figure declares his work verbotten, more than likely it will become irresistible.

And yes, the "PC Gestapo" is an apt phrase to describe the rigid, humorless and authoritarian way in which some of the more extreme, self-styled "progressives" conduct themselves and push through their agendas onto the public-at-large. I have personally witnessed how they ostracize and bully others just as savagely as the hard-right, paleo-conservatives do. (By the way, I am politically and socially a liberal. And as a democratic socialist, I detest fascism in all its guises - whether right-wing or left-wing. I am, if nothing else, an equal opportunity critic of the human species. It's fun to be fair.)

There is a clear historical precedent for this kind of cause-and-effect relationship in censorship of the arts. Whether it's some old busybodies who get their knickers in a knot over the sexual content of The Catcher in the Rye, a self-declared crusader and guardian of public morals who wishes to expunge the blot of racist sentiment found in Huckleberry Finn or, at the far extreme, Hitler's henchmen goading university students to toss books written by Thomas Mann, Spinoza and Franz Kafka onto a bonfire, it all leads down the same path towards the same result: a diminishment of the humanities and the dignity of our creators.
 
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chopper

Steven Poore - Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist
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Once you strip Lovecraft's name from that award and, in doing so, impugn his name, it makes for easy stages to ban his works, even to burn his books altogether. Their stride made more arrogant by this recent triumph, the PC Gestapo will not stop with Lovecraft, I guarantee you.
i don't think i'm misconstruing much. and i'm far from an extremist. i'll go so far as to say that it's fun to be fair, and i like having fun. i like to celebrate people's successes, and i like to see them enjoy their success. i also happen to believe that the WFA should represent the whole of modern fantasy, rather than one particular sub-set of it.
 

Hex

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Deep breaths, please, everyone.

We were doing a good job of keeping things civil, until they weren't.

I've edited and removed posts I felt were getting a bit personal (and those that referenced them).

Please be careful that in criticizing wider communities you do not inadvertently condemn people who have posted on this thread. I know this is an emotional topic but we can have different points of view about it without recourse to insults.
 

Ningauble

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Well, if those POC writers have nothing against the John W. Campbell Award, then I can't see why they should have anything against an award commemorating Lovecraft. And I haven't seen any complaints about the Campbell.
 

WaylanderToo

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just out of curiousity how many non-Caucasian writers received a Lovecraft up until this point in time and of those were any objections ever raised by the recipient or short-listed recipient?
 

Hex

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Wasn't it Nnedi Okorafor, awarded with it in 2011, who raised the issue? She found it awkward and difficult and pointed that out.

I don't know how many more people have commented publicly on it, and honestly I'm not sure if that would indicate anything very significant, would it? There have been caucasian recipients who have found it difficult too.
 

lynnfredricks

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You seem to be implying that everyone in past was a racist, Waylander - obviously not true. There were many people in the past who had "today's values".
You've entered the vast quagmire of over-generalization and movable goal posts. But Ill pile on, because shoggoths got to shog ;-)

What are "today's values"? If you mean that some people today hold similar values to some people who died 50 year ago, then sure. I am certain you could find examples of that. Are "today's values" based on values shared by the greatest number of people living today? Or are they based on middle-to-upper middle class college educated, politically liberal, single language speaking / English speaking American values held by people ages 15-50 who love to read science fiction (or some other extremely narrow demographic)?

What is considered racist is dependent on the times in which you measure them, as well as demographics and ethnicity.

For example, there are some today who decry color blindness as a form of racism, yet acknowledge that certain progressives of the 1960s strongly believed it to be the key to resolving the problem of racism. Ergo, if you argue today that color blindness is a part of a solution then some people will label you a racist.

You could argue that HPL was more racist than other New Englanders at the time - you can argue that easily because most of those people didn't take the time to set it down onto paper, let alone write poems about it.

People who are not alive now do not have the ability to grow and change, recant, apologize or keep up with movable goal posts.
 

WaylanderToo

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You seem to be implying that everyone in past was a racist, Waylander - obviously not true. There were many people in the past who had "today's values".

not at all - I am saying exactly what I have said which is that today's standards are not necessarily able to be applied to people of previous times... take for example:
that exemplar of equality Abe Lincoln - by today's standards a raving racist who'd likely feel at home in the NF.
that paragon of English manhood Richard Coeur de Lion (aka Richard the Lionheart) - by today's standards quite likely a rapist, paederist, physchopath and all round wrong 'un.
that idol of womanising Casanova - again by today's standards a rapist at best.
Torquemada - ok he always seems to have been a total bastard, but for those times he wasn't that far off the norm.

point being what is acceptable changes over the years and what might have raised an eyebrow back then would these days get a person slung in jail (for life probably!). That's not saying everyone was like that or was ok with that sort of behaviour but times and what is acceptable does change and we should be cognizant of that fact
 

chopper

Steven Poore - Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist
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point being what is acceptable changes over the years and what might have raised an eyebrow back then would these days get a person slung in jail (for life probably!). That's not saying everyone was like that or was ok with that sort of behaviour but times and what is acceptable does change and we should be cognizant of that fact
that applies to both sides of the argument, y'know? :)
 

w h pugmire esq

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"At these impressive exercises, Gov. Beeckman of Rhode Island gracefully awarded the badge of African supremacy to the Boston poet, critic, & literary editor--William Stanley Braithwaite!!!!!!!!!! Think of it--chew upon it--let it sink into your astonished & outraged consciousness--the great Transcript dictator, the little czar of the Poetry Review, is a nigger--a low-born, mongrel, semi-ape!--Ye gods--I gasp--I can say no more! . . . To think of the years I have taken this nigger seriously, reading his critical dicta as though he were a Bostonian & a white man! . . . William's picture is printed in the Bulletin besides the news item, & from the likeness given I can deduce no visible sign of his black blood. . . . I suppose he has only a slight taint of the beast. . . . I am not minimising what the fellow knows, but I think it monstrous bad taste for the Transcript to foist a black among its literary readers!" H. P. Lovecraft to Rheinhart Kleiner, May 5, 1918 (publish'd in LETTERS TO RHEINHART KLEINER (Hippocampus Press, 2005).

My ghod, how dare this half-human ape deceive us into thinking he is fully human! And he's the editor who is to judge my poetry? What is this world coming to?!

It is this white separatist mentality in Lovecraft that really sickens and disheartens me. I find it inexcusable.
 

Ray McCarthy

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hat paragon of English manhood Richard Coeur de Lion
Was he in England more than six months?
Nearly bankrupted the place.
Did he actually speak English?

"Evil" King John seems to have been a better King. I'm not sure your examples are either useful to the discussion or representative of the general view of morality of their eras.
 

WaylanderToo

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Was he in England more than six months?
Nearly bankrupted the place.
Did he actually speak English?

"Evil" King John seems to have been a better King. I'm not sure your examples are either useful to the discussion or representative of the general view of morality of their eras.

Oh I do actually tend to agree - King John had a hatchet job done on his reputation by all accounts thanks to 'big bro' splashing all of England's cash. As for the others it's just a quick way of pointing out that mores can and do change and people that even now seem to be lauded by most (with the obvious exception of Torqie) were by today's standards quite probably morally repugnant if not downright insane.


Is the author of this 'lovely' speech worth being quoted and feted today?

"I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality ... I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men."

I have to be honest and say to my way of thinking that's nearly as bad as HPL's half-brained 'thoughts' on race - one could argue it's actually worse.
 

mosaix

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not at all - I am saying exactly what I have said which is that today's standards are not necessarily able to be applied to people of previous times...
Just going by the couple of statements that T.E. has quoted in previous posts, Waylander, I would think that many people would have thought he was a racist at the time. We don't have to consider today's standards - would some people of his own time have been thought him to be a racist?
 

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