Thursday, January 30, 2014

Your Opinion is Wrong, Mine is Correct

Or alternatively, opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. (Thanks for that one Dad!)

Here’s something you don’t see from me too often on the blog, something of an opinion piece about a genre kerfuffle.Specifically, the latest SFF internet kerfuffle is between Larry Correia  and Jim Hines ((Larry’s first post, Jim’s rebuttal to Larry, and Larry's rebuttal to Jim’s rebuttal), two authors whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. Their “kerfuffle” was set off by Alex Dally MacFarlane’s Post-Binary Gender in SF: Introduction post/article at 

(Full disclosure: as anybody who has been visiting my blog knows, I write for and they pay me for that writing).

Now my point here is not to advocate the position of any of those individuals as I see validity in some of the points those individuals make (and quite frankly, I didn't read any of those posts completely but this is a general statement kind of post I'm making). It seems every week a new battle rages about who holds the more correct opinion and when those opinions become divisive, people from the camp A call for the heads of those in Camp B.

What usually happens in these kerfuffle? Specifically here, Larry’s fans flock to his blog supporting him and Jim’s fans flock to his blog supporting him. Are opinions ever changed in these kerfuffles? I really don’t know, but I’m going to guess the opinion conversion rate to be somewhere in the 1% to 3% range. On the other hand, these kerfuffles to help to elevate the various mindsets of the folks who write and enjoy the genre. Sometimes, the two figureheads leading the argument come together for a good cause.  Maybe that will happen here, I don't know.

I’ve also noticed that whenever people express an opinion, those people are often held up as criminals and should be taken to task, and in this case with the writer(s), to the point of their publisher severing ties with the writer.

What? Really? This is something I cannot comprehend. Granted, there is a lot I can’t comprehend, but this is a big one. People are allowed to have opinions, and in any walk of life (writers, comedian, athletes), those opinions can to be large and often divisive. Should people be held accountable for their opinions? To an extent, I suppose.  But it isn't like people are calling for murder or defending criminal thoughts and activities.

When somebody, let’s call them Coffee, is offended by something Tea says, Coffee wants to see Tea stripped of their right to speak, earn a living, and basically exist. Sure words can be hurtful, but when Tea is excoriated and treated like a criminal for expressing an opinion, it just blows my mind. What is more baffling is that often, it is people who are in walk of life where freedom of speech and expression (and by extension, opinion) is a major part of their walk of life, wish to silence the dissenting opinions. 

To me, this is summed up as follows: You can have your own opinion so long as it lines up with my opinion. It happened when Seth MacFarlane hosted the Oscars and I saw twitter explode with writers just one or two steps removed from calling for his head for telling jokes, some of them funny, some of them in poor taste, some of them just bad. If writers want to be all inclusive about featuring any subject in their fiction, why should any subject be up for being joked about?

I could go off on a tangent and how this relates to sports and athletes, but I think I'll limit this to writers and (briefly) comedians. 

It is with all of that, that I conclude with a quote and link to my pal (and fellow SF Signal contributor) Sarah’s more hopeful, upbeat post:

Hey Fans, You’re Doing It Wrong.

Discussion fosters progress, and I think these discussions that are happening are important. The genre is changing; it is impossible to deny that. Some people will embrace change, and some will reject it. That’s human nature. However, once we start focusing on what divides us rather than unites us, we start losing our way as a genre. 

But as I said in the beginning, this is just an opinion and like everybody else, I have one.

(I’ve also been called an asshole before, so there you go)


Paul Weimer said...

Yeah, I doubt any minds get changed in these kerfuffles, and I wonder if they don't do more harm than good. (referencing a recent blog post by Al Reynolds)

RobB said...

Just read that (from your link on Sarah's post)...

Yeah, lots of hate and vitriol going back and forth. It seems the trigger finger is growing more sensitive every time.

Too much of an Us v. Them mindset.

Unknown said...

I think people should be able to voice an opinion without feeling like they've stepped on a minefield. The current Twitter/blog landmine thing is scary, and makes me hesitant to engage with others and express myself, which seems a shame when that's what we writers are here for!

RobB said...

I agree Freya. I was hesitant to even post this (arguably) safe mini-rant. Sadly, this current shit-storm is just one in a line of events both in the past and in the future.

Kristin said...

Rob, I agree with you 100%. Nicely done.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I think the people most likely to write long posts postulating why Person A's position is wrong are really and truly unlikely to change anyone's mind.

As you point out, the followers on each side get their hackles up and then support their chosen spokesperson and a lot of people get hurt in the crossfire.

The internet has provided some really great things for fans of genre fiction. Unfortunately it has also brought a venue for the loudmouths to make the community a hard one to recommend to new fans.