In Contempt

8 Feb

I have a terrible confession to make.

When the original Sad Puppies kicked off, I wasn’t too concerned.

I wasn’t concerned because, frankly, I had lost interest in the Hugo Awards long ago. The early winners were often great books, but after 2001 the only winner that – I felt – actually deserved it’s award was Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell. A Hugo no longer indicated good science-fiction or fantasy to me. My favourite authors were rarely nominated for the award, let alone victors.

What changed my mind, I think, was the response of the Puppy-Kickers to the Sad Puppies.

There is a bit of me that likes to consider itself a gentleman. Not in the sense of having aristocratic blood – perish the thought; my origins are distinctly middle-class – but in the sense of playing the game fairly. One does not win a game of chess by smashing the board; one does not win a debate by knocking out the other debater and holding the judges at gunpoint until they agree to vote according to my wishes. There is a difference between ‘I disagree with you’ and ‘you are the enemy who must be crushed and broken.’

I see that there are legitimate and illegitimate ways to debate. Discussing matters openly may make some people uncomfortable, but it brings issues into the light that have to be considered. One should always allow one’s opponent room to retreat, room to admit he was wrong without (metaphorically) kicking him while he’s down. A person who disagrees with me does not have to be treated as the enemy. He may have a different viewpoint, he may be reasoning from incorrect data (or I may be reasoning from incorrect data myself), he may merely be playing devil’s advocate … it does not make him the enemy.

Illegitimate forms of debate, on the other hand, are nasty. Personal attacks; accusing your opponent of being racist/sexist/etc. Mocking the messenger, mocking his sources, mocking him; linking his name with evil people. (“You’re a vegetarian. So was Adolf Hitler. Ergo, you are the same as Hitler!!!!”) Misrepresenting his words, taking them out of context or flat-out lying about them. Appealing to authority; begging the moderators (or whatever) to silence dissent on spurious grounds. And so on, and so on; anything but addressing the issue in question.

Such people may be trolls or they may genuinely believe that their opponent is truly evil, but it doesn’t matter. I have nothing but contempt for those who use such attacks and for those who enable them.

The Puppy-Kickers indulged in such attacks repeatedly. Suggesting, for example, that a white man married to a black woman, with a mixed-race kid, is a racist is not only absurd, it’s the kind of behaviour that is utterly contemptible. (And, for obvious reasons, it’s not the sort of behaviour I want to encourage.) Branding Vox Day everything unpleasant under the sun, then threatening to smear everyone else unless they disowned him … those are tactics right out of the Soviet Union’s playbook. Calling the Sad Puppies ‘a bunch of white men’ when it wouldn’t take more than ten minutes to disprove the assertion …

… And, above all, complaining loudly about the Sad Puppies engaging in the same behaviour as themselves for years (and only doing a better job of it.)

Like I said, such attacks are contemptible. And they moved me from not really caring – most writers would prefer to sell a thousand books without an award than ten books with an award – to genuinely hoping that the Sad Puppies proved their point.

This is not the only contemptible issue that has popped up over the last year.

One goes to university/college to learn, to expand one’s mind … what is the point of demanding ‘safe spaces?’ Apparently, academic freedom – the freedom to enquire – is not as important as shielding particularly dunderheaded students from opinions that (horror of horrors) disagree with theirs. Now, if someone is idiotic enough to want to be treated as a child, that’s their problem. I am a firm believer that consenting adults can do whatever they like – in private. But I can never respect someone who goes to college and demands a ‘safe space,’ or whines about ‘micro-aggressions,’ or tries to get someone expelled or fired for expressing a dissident opinion. It’s contemptible.

Hilary Clinton – a front-runner in the latest presidential election – breaks the rules in a staggering fashion (after making sure that a number of peons were punished for far lesser breaches) and yet somehow manages to carry on. The mere fact that Hilary established an insecure server to store classified documents is a criminal offence in its own right. There is a very good chance – perhaps an utter certainty – that that server was leaking American secrets to Russia, China and every other country that dislikes the United States. And yet she’s still in the race for the White House!

And so on. I could give a dozen examples of particularly contemptible behaviour over the last year without breaking a sweat.

Contempt is a dangerous emotion. I may dislike someone, I may outright hate someone, without holding them in contempt. But when I feel contempt, I tune that person out completely. I refuse to believe that they have anything worthwhile to say. Their opinions simply do not matter because I have reached a point where I believe their opinions are useless, silly or dangerous. What is the point of listening to someone who uses tactics I deem illegitimate?

And that can be a dangerous attitude.

If someone tells me something I know to be a lie and expects me to swallow it uncritically, instead of debating the point, I will hold that person in contempt. If that person, instead of accepting my right to disagree, tries to silence me, I will hold that person in contempt. And if that person, instead of trying to convince me he’s right, attacks my reputation by spreading lies and suchlike, I will hold that person in contempt. I will not, I cannot, accept that someone has the right to dictate what I think, or say, or do, on a personal level.

Right now, I think there is a growing majority of people who have just had enough of contemptible social movements, everything from ‘political correctness’ to ‘social justice warriors.’ Those people are simply tuning out the nonsense, bitterly resenting having to pay attention to absurdities and having to watch what they say, for fear that someone – somewhere – will be offended. Very few people genuinely believe that being a victim is a badge of honour. Nor do they believe that one should ‘respect’ the ‘unrespectable’.

Call me a cynic if you like, but the sheer level of bitterly-repressed contempt is likely to do a great deal of damage, when it finally bursts free. But really, that’s what you get when you try to keep people from speaking their minds.

17 Responses to “In Contempt”

  1. Jack Boone February 8, 2016 at 5:55 pm #


    Jack Boone


  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 8, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    “They call us monsters but will be surprised when we’ve had enough and act like monsters toward them”. :frown:

    • shrekgrinch February 8, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

      ..especially when it is about the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and the people being vilified as said ‘monsters’ are gun-owning people who number in the tens of millions.

  3. Rob Godfrey February 8, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    I have still to work out just WHY sjw is an insult.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 8, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

      That’s because you’re never been on the receiving end of a SJW attack.

    • shrekgrinch February 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

      More details about that, please.

      Is it because you don’t know what the initials mean? Or that you do but somehow think it is a ‘good’ term in application to whom it was invented to describe as such? Or, something else?

    • chrishanger February 9, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

      Well, the blunt answer to that is because a Social Justice Warrior is a person who has chosen to forgo real justice in favour of an absurd social experiment based on a deluded view of the world. Social justice ignores the individual in favour of the collective and, as such, does no good to anyone.


      • Veraenderer February 10, 2016 at 12:56 am #

        I do disagree that social justice does no good to anyone.
        For example public schools or social welfare are part/provide social justice and atleast public schools are one of greatest accomplishments of the modern world.

        The problem is fake social justice or exaggerated social justice.

  4. shrekgrinch February 8, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    “One does not win a game of chess by smashing the board; one does not win a debate by knocking out the other debater and holding the judges at gunpoint until they agree to vote according to my wishes.”

    Yet you are also wrong in that statement for clearly that is effective. The SJWs wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t so effective.

    As the Global Warming Fraud scam proves, intellectual honesty is the second thing thrown out the door when it proves to be inconvenient. (The first being the truth).

  5. lanebrianp February 8, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    Both sides are held in highest contempt by me and a few others.

  6. shrekgrinch February 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

    “The mere fact that Hilary established an insecure server to store classified documents is a criminal offense in its own right”

    This is something that the Dem rank-and-file completely disagree with you (and any other rational person) on. Never mind that this is how Patreaus got busted. Never mind that one of the emails on her server outed the identity of a CIA operative just like Scooter Libby got nailed for doing — mostly because the Democrats at that time were screaming for his blood. Never mind their gross hypocrisy of the situation now because of those stances where they are saying, in the immortal words of Bernie Sanders in the first Dem debate: “And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” And how the Dems stood up in that room, clapping in unison when he said it.

    …and now, we wait for the Trollish attacks on what I just said from our resident Rob Godfrey. Stay tuned.

  7. shrekgrinch February 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

    “…Their opinions simply do not matter because I have reached a point where I believe their opinions are useless, silly or dangerous. What is the point of listening to someone who uses tactics I deem illegitimate?”

    Hate to play the Hitler Card and thus knowingly throw myself under the Godwin’s Law bus, but that attitude was held by a lot of critically-thinking Germans when it came to their not seriously taking a certain ex-Corporal buffoon and his brown shirt thugs running for office. We all know what the result of that was.

  8. Obi-Wan-Kenobi February 9, 2016 at 2:58 am #

    I agree that some modes of argument are wrong-unchivalrous even. But attacking somebody’s sources and their credibility has been an integral part of academic debate for as long as time itself. The idea is ti use ad hominem to discredit your opponent’s argument because if you prove that their facts are wrong, you prove that they are using logical fallacies. (

    Additionally, correct me if I’m wrong but you write this piece with Ron Godfrey, and perhaps myself (Obi-Wan-Kenobi) at mind. You attacked Mr. Godfrey for questioning Paul Howard’s logic, sources; and myself for questioning his credibility. You accused Mr. Godfrey of this “Trolling.” You did this, but blatenly ignored Mr. Howard and his bullying that in truth, have absolutely no place in logical, academic, and philosophical debate. I say this because I see hypocrisy in your actions, not to force you to disregard my argument. If this was simply an erroneous extrapolation on my part, then kindly disregard the previous paragraph.

    Now, for your attack on Hillary Clinton. The fact is that she committed no crime- I know, I know- many people are under the utterly mistaken impression that she stored classified files on an insecure server. The reality however, is far different. To suggest that she stored copied classified data is asenine, it is impossible to copy and paste data from secure servers. Additionally, the files she sent were NOT classified at the time. They were classified after she sent them, making her actions, while irresponsible, not a crime. Also if she were to be prosecuted for that, then she would be in good company- Collin Powell, John Kerry and every other SecState of the last 30 years who has done what she did. (

  9. Obi-Wan-Kenobi February 9, 2016 at 3:16 am #

    Did you block me?

  10. Obi-Wan-Kenobi February 9, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    Never mind my previous post.
    I find some merit in a few of your assertions about debating. But the idea that attacking someone’s sources, logic, or credibility is unchivalrous is utterly wrong. Ad hominem has been a cornerstone of debate since Plato. Finding logical fallacies in your opponent’s argument and turning his own logic against him is part of the intricate death dance of philosophical, academic debate; from the. Athenian debates in ancient Greece, to more modern examples like the Lincoln-Douglous debates. ( To say that someone is a troll for participating in one of arguments most effective angles, and for using actual fact and logic in an argument rather than the baseless rants that seem to predominate forums like this one; is completely and utterly ludicrous. Furthermore, to claim that people who participate in this kind of civilized, rational debate are no better than erroneous ranters like your dear friend Paul Howard is simply insulting. It also seems to me that your professed open-mindedness is nothing more than that-professed. It is often a republican/conservative argument that actions speak louder than words, your actions of calling out Mr. Godfrey and myself as trolls for challenging your and your constituents petty ideology with fact, logic, and intelligent rhetoric would put the lie to your words. These actions are in fact those of someone who is NOT open-minded or accepting of new philosophy. So please, leave your naive self-righteous attitude behind and be ready to participate in an epic battle of the wits that I believe you are up to. You could become a respected member of the political debate community by citing quantitative and confirmable facts— then some people in the higher eschelons of the political world might actually take your rather radical but in some cases very apt opinions into consideration.

  11. Anarchymedes February 10, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    About gentlemanly and intelligent debate: Gentlemen, if someone calls your wife or girlfriend a c., would you engage in a rational and logical debate with that person, trying to prove why she is not that? Maybe you’d hold such a person in utmost contempt and ignore him; but what if she is hurt, and crying, and expecting you to stand up for her honour?
    The point I’m making is that some people identify themselves with certain ideas and/or beliefs so closely that attacking those ideas or beliefs becomes, to them, the same as attacking them personally, or their loved ones. And in that case, gloves come off and there are no rules. And of course, being a keyboard warrior from the safe distance makes that no-rules thing seem safe, too.
    Personally, I try to avoid points about which I feel too strongly for an intelligent debate to be possible. I just beg to differ, agree to disagree, temporise that everything is relative and depends on perspective, try to change the subject, and finally, when nothing else works, tell the bastard bluntly to @#&* off and leave me alone (luckily, it hasn’t gone beyond that point yet 🙂 ).
    Every person has his or her boundaries. And since we’re talking gentlemen here, a true gentleman should be able to sense them – and respect them as much as possible.

  12. sjallen343 February 11, 2016 at 5:04 am #

    “Never argue with an idiot, they will only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” – My Dad, Lesson 724.

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