This one time at Writer's Camp…
The Correct Words
Today is lesson day, and since everyone’s use of vocabulary seems to be screwed up, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that people throw out words without actually knowing what they mean. And since I’ve been lumped in with those “fascist Mad Genius people” over at the Mad Genius Club, I figured that I’ll use my mad genius skills to educate you.
The first is one of my faves, and gets tossed around so much that you’d think people would actually look it up to see what it means.
Fascism: (n.) — a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government.
(side note: the Google definition which came up — and differs from the Merriam-Webster Online — uses the synonym of “right-winger”. Clearly Google doesn’t pay attention and this is an honest mistake by a global conglomerate who desires to intrude upon our daily lives and use our personal information to make them money while dictating what we can say and who we can say it to via “Terms of Service” agreements that we ignorantly click on a daily basis. Purely accidental on their part, I’m sure.)
Now, I’ve seen many of my friends called this lately because they don’t fall in lockstep with the most vocal of voices on the left in science fiction and fantasy. Those who are saying that the very nature of science fiction is being dragged through the collective mire of conservatism by those “fascist racists” are so very wrong in calling them fascists. It’s right there in the description of the word. If you change the word “government” to “club” or “organization”, can you tell me who the fascists are please? I’m curious, because it seems to me that the loudest people who want to kick everyone who disagrees with them out of their club or organization is not the Mad Genius Club or their “ilk”.
Okay, I’ll agree. That was akin to clubbing baby seals who’re high on heroin. I should educate people on better uses of other, more challenging words.
Racism: (n.) — poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race.
Again, people I respect and call friend on a daily basis are accused of this because they dared disagree in their arguments with the collective left in science fiction and fantasy. Larry Correia is called a racist almost every day, despite being Hispanic (side note: the current moniker being thrown around — white Hispanic — is actual racism, as it seems to separate individuals from their heritage and discredit them using superfluous arguments against one portion of their skin color while ignoring their race, which allows people to casually dismiss them due to the tone of skin. Similar attacks took place in the 1880’s, when former slaves in America journeyed to Liberia to colonize and were disparaged by “true blacks”, i.e., actual Africans). Sarah Hoyt is called racist because of her last name (her married name), forgetting that she emigrated to the U.S. when she was 18 and is from Portugal (that’s a Hispanic culture, for those of you who are keeping score at home). But I don’t see either of these people treating anyone any differently due to skin color. I hear both of them espousing the need to judge people by what they’ve done, which is fine by me. We use it to judge our politicians, do we not? That’s why we don’t elect people with absolutely no history of leadership in any roles–
Bad example. The point being, I can say with absolute certainty that neither of them are racist. But again, you’re probably saying that I’m using easy examples and breaking down to explain the truth. I need to use a different methodology in explaining things, right? Okay, so let’s continue.
Straw man: (n.) — a weak or imaginary argument or opponent that is set up to be easily defeated.
This one is a little more difficult, because it’s easy to use a straw man argument without even meaning to. How to explain it in simple terms… ah, perfect. Draw up a caricature of a cross-burning KKK Grand Wizard and have him demanding that we keep black people in chains and whites are perfect. Using that example, you then accuse me of wanting to take the country in that direction when we’re discussing diversity in Science Fiction. I’m put in a position to where I have to defend myself against the association with the caricature and surrendering my position on the previous topic, and you have easily defended your argument and put me on the defensive. It’s a slimy tactic in arguing, and one that many within the science fiction community seem to be embracing when it comes to attacking people like Larry and Sarah. A lot of people, however, counter by saying that they’re just playing the Devil’s Advocate role in the argument, which again shifts the focus of the argument from the topic at hand to some superfluous caricature of an argument, allowing them to keep their supposed moral high ground while derailing the actual conversation. Because people do not seem to be able to discuss differing opinions these days without one party being labeled a “fascist” or a “racist”, the art of discussion had disappeared, replaced by horrible “straw man” arguments and internet hit squads.
Look, we’re a combative species at heart. We enjoy competition. Arguments are a form of competition. So if you’re going to fight on the internet and bully people around who do not agree with you, can you at least, for the sake of the dictionary, use the correct words?