John Ringo’s Selection as ConCarolinas Guest Sparks Controversy

ConCarolinas, happening in Charlotte, NC from June 1-3, has become another battleground in sff’s culture wars since announcing John Ringo as an Author Special Guest on April 9. Ringo is well-known for sharing his social and political views in a frank and provocative way. His selection as a special guest has caused other writers in ConCarolina’s orbit to rethink their participation, whether by actually dropping out, or publicly explaining their reasons for remaining on the program.

John Ringo

John Ringo defined the controversy from his viewpoint in a response on Facebook on April 12.

ConCarolinas:

An ‘issue’ has been raised at ConCarolinas, not by members of the con but by some of the other invited guests and attendees. It is the usual SJW sort of thing. I am a bad person with bad opinions and I need to shunned from society.

(Though they appear to have missed various of the usual ad hominems. They hit the regular ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobic’ etc but seemed to have overlooked ‘xenophobic’, ‘transphobic’ and ‘Islamophobic.’ Just an oversight I’m sure they will correct.)

I am discussing this with the ConCommittee. However. It is currently between myself and the concom and I would prefer to keep it there for the time being. While I appreciate shows of support, try not to respond to this in kind. Just let me work the issue.

Were ConCarolinas the usual and standard ‘SJWCon’ I would not have accepted their invitation. But they’ve never had to deal with something like this so it’s a learning curve. Let them find their path, please.

Afrofuturist author Gerald L. Coleman provided the most thorough explanation for opposing Ringo’s appearance in an April 12 Facebook post:

Gerald L. Coleman

Seeing as people are beginning to draw lines and to share what they think is an appropriate response to the current situation at ConCarolinas, I think it would be illuminating, especially to the demographic of people who are not the target of the Special Guest in question, to understand why a person who would be a target (and often is) would decide not to go in response. I had not planned on sharing this but I think it’s important. Here is my letter withdrawing from ConCarolinas:

[Redacted],

I heard a lot of good things about ConCarolinas from the same people, but the decision to have someone like Ringo as a Special Guest has forced me to reconsider that assessment. ([Redacted] was in one of the fraught discussions online where she was attacked by people trying to defend both Ringo and the invitation. I’m not sure [redacted] will be attending either). Here’s a link to one of his vile diatribes, which includes this passage:

“The first point that has to be recognized as historically valid: White males have dominated the planet’s art, music, culture, politics and wars for centuries and often deliberately at the expense of non-European, non-white, etcetera. This is historically unquestionable and unassailable.”

http://crimeandtheforcesofevil.com/…/oh-puppies-when-will-…/

Now, is what follows a right and just evisceration of that behavior? No. He’s defending the agenda of the Sad Puppies and their toxic ilk. And using the pejorative term “SJW” or Social Justice Warrior as a derogatory insult as he attempts to attack the efforts to diversify publishing and fandom and make them more inclusive.

This is the guy you, and by you I mean the Con, have invited to be a Special Guest.

People of color in general and black folks in particular, who are members of the geek/nerd fandom community, including authors, often have difficulty finding conventions that are safe places for us to revel in our shared love of all things geek. Often we are given the impression, sometimes unconsciously, many times consciously, that we are not welcome – that it is not our space, and we don’t belong. So, it becomes vitally important for our sanity, our safety, and our well-being to be very selective in choosing which Cons we will attend.

To spend time, energy, and a not insignificant amount of money to attend a Con that doesn’t take our sanity, safety, and well-being seriously, by inviting a toxic voice who rails against our inclusion – and who is defended by members of the Con, it’s guests, and perspective attendees, is not only a bad investment but a bad idea in general.

I have been to Cons (Boskone, recently) where I was welcomed warmly and felt accepted and included. I’ve also been to Cons where a fellow Panelist told me discrimination against black authors was a figment of my imagination. I’ll be returning to one and not the other.

Who we give a platform to is incredibly important. Given the times we live in, the current state of our political affairs, and the general climate for people of color in general and black folks in particular, it says a lot that ConCarolinas is giving a platform to someone like Ringo. I can’t support that and am unwilling to subject myself to him or his fans who are in agreement with his toxic beliefs.

When I was a kid I knew how unwelcoming the world in general was going to be to me. But I always thought that fellow geeks/nerds who loved the same things I did like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, comic books, and science fiction and fantasy would be different. That because they consumed content that talked about justice, equality, exploration, tolerance, acceptance, being kind and never cowardly, that I wouldn’t have to face that same toxicity in the ranks of the fandom. Sadly, that wasn’t and isn’t true. The same prejudices, biases, and toxicity exists in fandom and I have to navigate it.

I was excited to be accepted as a Guest for ConCarolinas. Imagine my disappointment when Ringo was invited as a special guest.

I won’t be attending. Please remove me as a Guest for the Con.

Coleman later posted a screencap of the ConCarolinas committee answer —

— which he described in these terms:

Here is ConCarolinas response to legitimate criticism and concern from black folks and women over their invitation to a “Special Guest” author whom we find deeply problematic (he’d start by calling me an “SJW” and go on to rant about the supremacy of white men in all things: see comments for attribution) and whom women in particular see as deeply misogynist (just Google John Ringo misogyny). Somehow they’ve managed to confuse resisting bias and toxicity with hatred. Several of us guests have withdrawn from our invitation over it. ConCarolinas? They apparently think we are engaging in hatred and they have no obligation to curate their guest list. So anyone can be a Guest? Anyone? And if “their passion for Science Fiction and Fantasy” happens to mean that people of color and women aren’t welcome? What then? The mind boggles …

It’s no longer possible to trace the full extent of the protests, as ConCarolinas has deleted some entries from their Facebook page which contained relevant comments, and at least one fan has restricted her FB remarks after being attacked by trolls.

Stephy Hamrick’s Facebook post from April 10 is perhaps the earliest example still accessible:

Just letting y’all know that I don’t feel safe attending with you bringing John Ringo there. He and his fans have such a long history of open misogyny that I can’t trust that I and other women will be safe with them there.

The next day, Stuart Jaffe wrote on FB:

I will not be at ConCarolinas this year. Y’all probably know why. If you don’t, I’m not getting into it on FB. That kind of conversation only goes in one direction on FB.

By April 12, the discussion had gone viral.

Jason Graves of Prospective Press wrote:

Choosing division over community isn’t a choice I expected from ConCarolinas. Prospective Press supports and welcomes diverse voices—voices of color, voices of gender, voices of inclusion, and voices of identity—and always has. When people CHOOSE to be hateful, they are no longer welcome at our table—inclusivity is based on mutual respect.

Madison Metricula Roberts said she was pulling out of the con:

I regret that I am no longer attending or performing at ConCarolinas. I wish the event, guests, attendees, and volunteers well!

While I have confidence in ConCarolina’s commitment to safety at the event, I still have concerns about comfort, safety, and response of the con in light of recent events.

And in a further comment on the same post Roberts said:

I want to be clear that I understand CC is in a difficult position, and it’s run by people I like. That said, I feel like they were unprepared for the backlash in booking a controversial guest who is known for cultivating or emboldening a subset of fandom that is not just politically conservative (that’s not the issue) but anti-inclusion. I am confident in CC’s harassment policy and security, but my gamergate-style anxiety is through the roof in spite of my rational assessment of the thing.

Other authors have felt pressured to drop out, or justify why they are not.

David B. Coe is still going:

Why I will be attending ConCarolinas:

  1. I made a commitment to the convention. Indeed, I signed an agreement saying I would attend. That agreement gives me no veto power over the people they may or may not invite. In short, I feel that I have a professional obligation to go. Others feel differently, and that is their right. But I have to do what feels right to me.
  2. I don’t believe in ceding ground to racism, misogyny, or bullying in any form. I don’t live in the Carolinas, but I have considered ConCarolinas my “home” con for years now. It is just about my favorite con to attend. Many of my closest friends in the business are usually there. I love it. And I will be damned if I will allow that convention and that community to be ruined for me by the presence of one guest.
  3. I believe (ME — this does not mean that I condemn any of my colleagues for thinking differently) that we on the Left have a responsibility to be tolerant, and I believe tolerance cuts many ways. If I saw that a con had invited a progressive author to attend, and that in response to this the attending conservative writers withdrew from the con, I would be appalled by their actions. I cannot in good conscience do what I would fault others for doing.
  4. I believe that for every voice at a convention that is inclined to attack those who would advocate for social justice and for the most vulnerable in our society and in fandom, there should be ten voices present who will defend those people and those principles. I wish to be one of that latter group of voices.

I understand that people I consider friends will see my intention to attend the convention as a betrayal. I am deeply, deeply sorry for that. To those who have withdrawn, I respect your decisions. I hope that you can bring yourselves to respect mine.

S.H. Roddy was far more emphatic in “Bad Decisions, Social Justice, and the ConCarolinas Kerfluffle” at Creepy Author Girl, explaining “Why my attendance at ConCarolinas is more important than my absence.”

Yeah, so everyone has heard the nonsense going down over ConCarolinas, right? If not, let me catch you up in three sentences:

  1. The ConComm invited John Ringo to be a special guest and he accepted.
  2. THE WORLD EXPLODED – meaning the mostly-liberal, mostly-welcoming regular ConCarolinas crowd freaked the absolute fuck out over this guy’s historical behavior and some not-so-far-fetched hypotheticals stemming from it.
  3. Some people got pissed and others withdrew from the con.

…Keeping this in mind, I’ll be going into ConCarolinas weekend wary, but professional. This is my career, damn it, and I refuse to give anyone enough power over me to make me walk away from a chance to further myself professionally and spend time with my friends. Neither this man nor his followers have any sort of pull or control over me. So what if there’s a chance there could be an altercation? I’m willing to take that chance, because to me, my presence and my ability to stand up for myself and the people I care about will be more effective than walking away. Why? Because I don’t have the same social pull as the man the con world is currently rallying against. Because my actual VOICE and my ACTIONS will speak louder than my absence.

Which brings me to my next point:

A very dear friend of mine felt so emotionally threatened over this announcement that she has withdrawn her attendance. I completely understand her decision, because this wouldn’t be her first racism rodeo, were it to happen.

Her action was based on previous personal experiences with this person. It’s not arbitrary or unjustified.

I support her decision, because she’s doing what she feels is best for her. I will always be there to support her, no matter what, because I love her. Do I wish the situation were different and she was still going to be there with me? Yes. Absolutely. I would love for any resolution which would guarantee her a seat beside me. But that isn’t the case, and it’s her decision to make.

Which brings me to my third point:

Someone else made the statement yesterday that basically amounted to “you can’t be everybody’s friend and if you’re not resigning in solidarity, then you’re not an ally.”

That pissed me right the hell off.

See, I’m usually pretty quiet on political and social issues. I’m not a political creature. If I were, I’d be in politics. I’m a freaking writer. I use words to entertain people. Well, mostly myself, but anyone else who happens to come along can enjoy them, too. I’m also not the type to use my books as a sociopolitical platform. That isn’t what I do.

Do I have opinions? Oh, yeah. Loads of ‘em. But I choose to conduct myself in a more or less professional manner because my opinions should have absolutely no bearing on my book sales.

So a fellow author piping up and telling me I’m suddenly not good enough because I’m not pissed off enough? Yeah, no. Bullshit.

Gail Z. Martin made a similar statement:

Please do not presume to tell me that I am not an ally or not genuine in support of a cause just because I do not hop-to every time someone gets upset about something.

I will decide which battles I fight and how I fight them. I will not be ally-shamed and manipulated into actions that violate my own judgment. Telling me I dare not make my own decisions or I’m somehow not pure enough by someone else’s arbitrary standards is bullshit.

I have been an ally and fighting some of these battles since before some of you were born, in times and places where there were serious consequences like losing a job, getting expelled or cutting ties with communities and family.

Working within the system for change is just as valid (and usually a whole lot more effective, albeit requiring patience) as just saying ‘f***-it, let’s burn the whole thing down’. You have no idea what conversations happen behind the scenes in private to advance causes, conversations that often yield results because of friendships built between people who don’t always agree on everything or walk in lockstep.

So do what your conscience demands. But don’t you dare attempt to shame others or judge the sincerity of their convictions because they didn’t make the same choice.

This is a manifesto, not a debate. Civil comments are welcome, but I’m in no mood to be f***ed around with, and if you piss me off I’ll block your ass.

Two other writers who posted justifications for why they still are going to ConCarolinas are Michael G. Williams and Faith Hunter:

Michael G. Williams wrote:

ConCarolinas’ choice to invite John Ringo is an affront to many people of color and women who were planning to attend. Ringo writes works containing unabashed aggression towards marginalized populations(1), then says in interviews he largely does not see what his characters do or say as “particularly controversial, crazy, evil, or illogical,”(2) though he does say in that same interview that he excludes “some of the stuff” in his novel “Ghost” from that.

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting opinions between other guests who feel the only right choice for themselves is to withdraw and those who say they want to go as a voice for the opposition rather than cede the platform to Ringo. I sympathize with both sides.

ConCarolinas had to know the situation they would create when they made this choice. No matter how apolitical they may declare an event to be, inviting an overtly political writer whose statements about writing and conventions are overtly political to attend a convention to discuss their writing is to create a political event. Speculative fiction in general is inherently and fundamentally political to begin with. Ringo’s is quite explicitly so.

As people have spoken out, Ringo’s fans have shown up to harass them.(3) The convention has remained silent on this obvious, observable behavior. I am forced to wonder what it will be like to be surrounded by these same fans, people who clearly are willing to go looking for a fight, who clearly are searching (of their own volition or at another’s direction) for any mention of Ringo so they can harass those who object.

All these – the invitation, the trolls, the silence – have made it impossible to feel good about participating, but at the moment I still plan to participate for two reasons:

– If I can use the privilege I enjoy as a white man to attend in greater safety and comfort than others in order to be a voice for a more humane view, to some degree I feel I should try. I’m the smallest of the small-fries. If I withdraw, no one notices. If I go, maybe I get a word in edge-wise.

– There are very few loudly queer guests at ConCarolinas. If there’s no presence by the two or three of us who always lobby for a Queer Fandom panel, who put ourselves out there as queer people who can be approached safely by attendees, and who make sure there is an unmistakeable queer voice in the proceedings, then queer fans may be left out to dry. I feel I have some degree of responsibility to be there for them, with them.

But as I say, this has made it VERY difficult to do so without tremendous reservation and regret. I am ready to walk into a tense situation on behalf of friends who no longer feel welcome. I am ready to be there to make sure my own community’s members do not feel targeted or harassed. But I can’t necessarily recommend anyone else do the same. I think already-marginalized people who are going should do some research into Ringo, observe the behavior of his fans, and carefully consider their choices. A number of guests have withdrawn. More may do so. I share their concerns and objections. We should not all lay down our dignity and our sense of safety because another guest has “Special” in their announcement, and the way the convention treats those who withdraw or feel threatened will certainly be remembered.

References:

(1) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-revi…/john-ringo/ghost-3/

(2) https://michaelaventrella.com/…/interview-with-new-york-ti…/

(3) See, for instance, Faith Naff’s experience of having to lock a post because trolls showed up within minutes.

Faith Hunter said:

I have spent the last three days in a quandary over the ConCarolinas controversy and how to address it. I am keeping it simple. I have this to say.

ConCarolinas is my local convention.
I’ve attended it for over a decade.
I’ve met many friends and fans through the con.
I’ve signed a contract to attend the convention.
I will honor this commitment.
I will be attending the convention, where I plan to make my voice and views heard on panels. That’s how I’m choosing to deal with this. I understand there are others who feel they cannot attend, and I respect that decision. The convention has an explicit anti-harassment policy which all attendees must adhere to, and while I am there I will do my best to make sure that no one feels insulted, afraid, put down, or abused.
Edited to add — Y’all, I am asking you to please not call names or bring confrontation into the comments. I have been as non confrontational as possible. I’d like you to let it lie.

Seanan McGuire is one of 2018 ConCarolina’s Guests of Honor, therefore one of the faces of this year’s con, more so than any of the special guests. Attempts have been made to embroil her in the controversy, however, she has yet to make any comment.

Then, if you haven’t had enough, Fail. Fandom. Anon. is devoting a thread to arguments about the issue.

But things are by no means one-sided. John Ringo has received hundreds of expressions of support on his posts, and from his friends and colleagues.

One of them, Sarah A. Hoyt, even took the opportunity to relitigate the Sad Puppies controversy:

Sarah A. Hoyt You know, John Ringo is being stigmatized for a very distant correlation with Sad Puppies. A movement led by a man the state dept classifies as Latin, and which included a female ditto.
BUT minorities are offended that John supported this “racist” (Yep, we only supported writers who belonged to the human race. That’s how racist we are) movement, and feel they have to leave cons where he’s invited.
You know what, these aren’t the crazy years. The crazy years were semi-understandable. These are the running-down-the-street-with-underwear-on-head-singing-I’m-a-little-teapot years.

Stephanie Souders argues that Ringo’s conduct at Dragon Con should allay any fears:

John Ringo subsequently wrote a second response:

Here’s pretty much my take on the whole thing:

I spent four years ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to go wheels up anywhere in the world in 18 hours for the purposes of going head to head with Soviet tanks in a war sure to end with nuclear fire.

I was willing to do so to support a simple word: Liberty.

A major part of that liberty was the right to freedom of expression. That ten thousand voices may be heard.

There was no such freedom in the Soviet Union. Freedom of expression is anathema to Marxism.

In this day and age, the SJWs, thought children of that evil empire, attack the right to freedom of expression at every turn.

I shall not be silent. I shall not be quelled. If facing down T-72s did not quell me, my current detractors (just the latest of many) stand little chance.

They have their right to free speech. They can say what they will, even if the attacks are petty, false and irrelevent. That is part and parcel of the freedom of speech.

They have that right due, in great part, to myself and my brothers and sisters in arms going back not just to our revolution, but to the battles at Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae. This is a war that has gone on for two thousand years and will not end in victory to either side any time soon.

Let ten thousand voices be heard.

Let freedom ring.

In a comment on the same post he also said:

I do not bow to the social justice mobs? I speak my own truth? I judge a person not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character? And by that judgement, I find most SJWs (not your type, the type that ‘bans’ authors for their words) to be contemptible?

Meanwhile, ConCarolinas con chair Jada Hope has pulled the Ringo announcement from their FaceBook page, taking all comments with it. Hope also has gone to the FB walls of some people who’ve made negative posts saying “You’ve made yourself quite clear. If you have further concerns they may be sent to concarolinas@concarolinas.org” in an attempt to stem the flow of public complaints.

And the committee’s latest social media (April 13) was a tweet linking to the con’s anti-harassment policy which says in part —

…ConCarolinas reserves the right to deny membership to any individual who has practiced harassment or bullying either at other conventions or on social media sites.

ConCarolinas is an apolitical, non-religious organization. Discussions in panels and on our social media are to remain polite. Trolling will not be tolerated….

— in effect, brandishing the antiharassment policy at con members who criticize the Ringo choice in social media, implying their memberships are at risk.

107 thoughts on “John Ringo’s Selection as ConCarolinas Guest Sparks Controversy

  1. Oh I forgot to paste this in:

    “not by members of the con but by some of the other invited guests and attendees”

    Wut. Guests and attendees are members of the con. WTH is Ringo on about here? Is he confusing con and concomm or something? [ETA: And if so, that’s silly no matter what he meant; it’s not like only concomm folks may complain.]

  2. “…Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I for one am not going to stand here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

    —National Lampoon’s Animal House

  3. I think it’s that last bit that actually feels most significant to me in here– the fact that they’re waving around the antiharassment policy at the people reacting but not at Ringo’s followers who are also known for harassment suggests that they’re trying to make a point under the guise of being apolitical.

  4. Course, this will all play right into Puppy/MGC/etc hands–as it has already.
    It doesn’t help with reactions like: Ringo writes works containing unabashed aggression towards marginalized populations(1) If you follow the link, the only thing I can tell is that the poor mistreated populations are the kidnapping terrorists! Seriously? Is that a hill you want to die on?
    Tried reading some Ringo–didn’t care about the characters. Rather obvious political slants. Serious gun-envy. Not my cup of tea.

  5. @Harold Osler–

    It doesn’t help with reactions like: Ringo writes works containing unabashed aggression towards marginalized populations(1) If you follow the link, the only thing I can tell is that the poor mistreated populations are the kidnapping terrorists! Seriously? Is that a hill you want to die on?

    And the hill you want to die on is pretending that what one finds if one follows the link is not that it’s yet another depictions of Muslims as Evil Kidnapping Terrorists. That got old a long time ago.

  6. In addition to the frequent racism against Arabs and the dubious portrayal of Muslims, Ringo’s work also contains a lot of nonsense about women and the occasional swipe at lesbians for good measure. Here, have a hilarious summary of some of the highlights:

    https://hradzka.livejournal.com/194753.html

    Personally, I find his protagonist angrily telling a woman not to ‘go lesbo’ due to being kidnapped by a bunch of rapists enough reason to avoid his work all by itself.

  7. a lot of nonsense about women
    He seems to think that if you’re female, you hit puberty (at about the age of 12) and instantly get a physically-mature body, preferably hourglass-shaped. That was only one of the reasons I gave up on his books.

  8. [Still too tired for the other thread.]
    Hopefully, Ringo will be on his best behavior, as he was at FenCon 2013, where he thanked PNH, although this probably wouldn’t mitigate the con chair’s actions.

  9. I’m surprised by various people’s statements that they “signed a contract” to appear at ConCarolinas. I’ve never heard of this happening at any of the older SF conventions; has this become a thing for cons that think membership might crash if a guest withdraws(*), or is unique to CC? ISTM that it kind of undoes the point of a Guest of honor….

    * By experience this isn’t true — Boskone in 45 years has had a withdrawal for health reasons and a premature death, and both cons did OK — but that’s too small a sample to be useful.

  10. And the hill you want to die on is pretending that what one finds if one follows the link is not that it’s yet another depictions of Muslims as Evil Kidnapping Terrorists. That got old a long time ago.
    So he should have made them what? French?
    If he’d made them Boco Harem would that have been OK?

  11. Evil Kidnapping Terrorists isn’t what more than a tiny percentage of Muslims are.

    Heterosexual women aren’t the only women who deserve to be rescued from Evil Kidnapping Terrorists.

    And no, that’s not a complete description of what’s wrong. It’s two examples.

    It’s racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic crap.

    If Ringo, or the Puppies, or you, are offended by people saying so, well, too bad. You’ll just have to cope.

  12. Which terrorists that are deemed to be irredeemably evil seems to be decided by what race they belong to. See Ringo’s comment above about still fighting the old Greek battles against Persians. That can’t be seen as anything but racism. Because it certainly isn’t against a religion that didn’t exist by then.

  13. It’s a frequent defence of this sort of thing that the person is just an ordinary conservative expressing ordinary conservative opinions. So let’s see what Ringo says:

    It is the usual SJW sort of thing.

    and

    Were ConCarolinas the usual and standard ‘SJWCon’ I would not have accepted their invitation.

    So per Ringo it’s SJWs everywhere. Of course, SJW is a conveniently ill-defined term, so what does Ringo actually mean by it?

    There was no such freedom in the Soviet Union. Freedom of expression is anathema to Marxism.

    In this day and age, the SJWs, thought children of that evil empire, attack the right to freedom of expression at every turn.

    So there we have it, Ringo believes SJWs are Marxists, or at least their direct descendants. He thinks SJWs are everywhere, so he also thinks Marxists are everywhere. That’s not a mainstream conservative opinion (well, it shouldn’t be at any rate), it’s a stupid paranoid opinion. Ringo isn’t a mainstream conservative being targeted by radicals, he’s a radical who says stupid and outrageous things that ordinary people rightly reject.

  14. Ghu, what a mess, and one the con could to some degree have avoided by simply announcing John Ringo as their very first guest.

    I do think that ConCarolinas make a category error in describing themselves as “apolitical”. Science fiction fandom has from the beginning been built on a core of part liberalism, part anarchism. As a cultural movement we have always been about self-expression, personal and informed judgment, low social barriers, and self-organisation, and these are political values. I prefer to think of us as politically independent.

  15. Hampus:

    See Ringo’s comment above about still fighting the old Greek battles against Persians. That can’t be seen as anything but racism. Because it certainly isn’t against a religion that didn’t exist by then.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Well, actually, it can. Earlier in that posting he wrote, “I was willing to do so to support a simple word: Liberty.” It was a standard trope in Greek culture, then in western culture, that the Greco-Persian wars were battles between liberty and tyranny, and it’s pretty clear that he was playing with that trope. Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s associated in his mind with racial differences, but I don’t see that in his quote there.

  16. With western culture, you mean US culture? I’d never heard of that trope before. I was always taught of Sparta as the opposite of liberty where the majority of the population was enslaved.

  17. Hampus Eckermann:

    With western culture, you mean US culture? I’d never heard of that trope before.

    It was quite common starting with the Romantics; Coleridge, Byron, and Hegel all argued along those lines. You can find a good overview in Ian Macgregor Morris, “‘To Make a New Thermopylae’: Hellenism, Greek Liberation, and the Battle of Thermopylae,” Greece & Rome, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Oct., 2000), pp. 211-230. While Thermopylae was most immediately associated at that time with Greek freedom from the Ottomans, it was also associated with virtue and liberty more generally against tyranny.

  18. Well, it depends. The Battle at the Thermopylae has been thoroughly mythologized and was used in all kinds of contexts. During the French Revolution, the Spartans were associated with the freedom-loving people who rose up against tyranny, and accordingly the Persians were the Ancien régime. A French town even changed its name into Thermopyles.

    In WW 2 this interpretation kind of fell apart. On one side, Thomas Mann (in one of his radio speeches) likened the Greeks who fought against the Nazi invaders to the Spartans. On the other side, Hermann Göring recommended the Axis soldiers in Stalingrad to fight like the Spartans, that is, they were expected to sacrifice their lives without the slightest chance of victory. And Göring didn’t stop at that. His Luftwaffe boasted a Leonidas Squadron, which carried out suicide missions in the Battle of Berlin (not unlike the Japanese kamikaze flyers).

    After the war, William Golding wrote his essay The Hot Gates, in which he claims that hadn’t it been for the Spartans, the Europeans of today would not live in liberty. Frank Miller apparently liked the implied idea of an eternal conflict between so-called ‘western liberty’ and ‘eastern tyranny’, because it inspired him to write 300. Of course, Miller’s view of Hellenic culture is not the humanist-classicist one of the French revolutionaries. I suspect he simply is in love with the idea of eugenically enhanced beefcake super-soldiers. Göring would have empathized.

    From that on, it is only a small step to the Identitarian Movement’s use of the lambda symbol (from the 300 book and movie) for their corporate identity.

    Fun fact: The ancient Athenians considered their Spartan contemporaries to be a bunch of pathetic losers, who had lost an important battle because of their irresponsible derring-do.

  19. @Ferret Bueller It was a standard trope in Greek culture, then in western culture, that the Greco-Persian wars were battles between liberty and tyranny,

    That’s how Herodotus writes about the Persian War, yes, but that’s not the entirety of the Greek attitude to Persia. For a start, most of the people whose writing survives were against “tyranny” but also against democracy They were aristocrats who thought the “best people” should naturally be in charge.
    Xenophon – a not untypical example – was a big admirer of Persian culture (which is why, like many Greeks, he was happy to go and fight for them) and Thucydides’ history is a scathing critique of the foolishness of Athenian democracy.

    And the Spartans, of course, were the absolute antithesis of “liberty”, even by Greek standards. But I hardly need to tell anyone that.

  20. Ghostbird:

    That’s how Herodotus writes about the Persian War, yes, but that’s not the entirety of the Greek attitude to Persia.

    True; that’s why I wrote “a standard trope in Greek culture.” Or “one thread in Greek thought,” if that seems juster to you.

  21. Murilegus: During the French Revolution, the Spartans were associated with the freedom-loving people who rose up against tyranny, and accordingly the Persians were the Ancien régime. A French town even changed its name into Thermopyles.

    And for that matter, General Dumouriez called the Battle of Valmy the Thermopylae of France. Before the Bourbon Restoration the figure of Leonidas had taken on both Republican and Bonapartist overtones (thanks to David’s painting), so the hero of the Greeks against the Ottomans, Marcos Botzaris, was sometimes simply equated with Leonidas and sometimes proclaimed greater than Leonidas by the French Liberal opposition to the Bourbons after his death in 1823; in this he was being used as a general symbol of the struggle of liberty against autocracy rather like that that the Liberals were fighting against Louis XVIII and Charles X.

  22. Hoo boy, I wish the ConCom luck in navigating this. I attended ConCarolinas five or six years ago and had a great time. I was surprised to hear they’d chosen to invite Ringo. I wish them and all of the participants a good weekend.

    The essay linked above by @Ann Goldsmith is one of the funniest things ever written on any topic. I also really appreciated it because it helped my understand the popularity of “men doing man stuff” novels. There’s lots of stuff in that category that isn’t necessarily offensive, it’s just not for me. That essay made me feel a lot better about the enormous amount of time I spend reading / watching purely escapist and sometimes wretched material. Something I think all fans beat ourselves up over from time to time. I’ve read several series off of KU that made me cringe and yet I Could. Not. Stop….

  23. The only thing I’ve read regarding Ringo is a text from 2015. While I think it was stupid, I can’t see that text by itself as a reason to campaign against him being a guest.

    But his comments on “SJWs” aren’t really helping.

  24. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: 4-15-2018 - Amazing Stories

  25. I attended a con which had Ringo as a guest a couple decades ago, well before the whole Puppygate thing ever happened. To the best of my recollection, he was a fun, polite, and well-mannered guest. I have an autographed book by him on my shelves.

    It’s kind of amusing, really, as I’ve never seen him engage in the sort of liberal-baiting troll behavior that other authors, for example Michael Z. Williamson, seem to love to engage in on their Facebook walls. While it’s true that a lot of his books are political, so are a lot of everyone else’s. I’m pretty sure I don’t see eye to eye with him on a lot of things, and find some of the political opinions expressed in his books a trifle unrealistic, but I do still enjoy those books. Why not? They’re just books.

    It bothers me how lately it seems that political discourse has become so polarized. I may be remembering the past through rose-colored glasses, but it seems to me that a couple of decades ago it was possible to agree to disagree politically and still be in the same room. It was possible to coexist with people of other political persuasions without feeling as though the presence of someone from the “other side” was going to lead to riots, arson, and murder. It was even thought good, at least in some circumstances, to hear from people who disagreed with you so you maintained contact with what people in the rest of the real world were thinking.

    How did we get from there to a world where people feel justified in taking their toys and going home if someone they don’t like shows up? I’m politically liberal myself, but it really makes me cringe when I see this kind of behavior—especially since it’s usually we liberals who flee before conservatives rather than the other way around.

  26. How did we get from there to a world where people feel justified

    It never used to be possible to boycott the authors you specifically abhor except by canceling your subscriptions to all the magazines.

  27. How did we get from there to a world where people feel justified in taking their toys and going home if someone they don’t like shows up? How did we get to a world where a pandering, assaultive, lying potty-mouth got elected POTUS?

    There is a long history in the US of denying a platform to people whose opinions fell to the left of an often-arbitrary line; the response to this, going back up to half a century, was to try to deny an additional platform to people whose positions or actions were somewhere between revolting and criminal (e.g., North/Meese/… have positions of power to speak from, don’t let them speak at our university). ISTM that the right’s response has been to double down: to return to racist/sexist/classist/… lies that were made … unrespectable (such that they’d disappeared from public dialog) … some time ago.

    No, this is not complete; I don’t have the spoons to elaborate the argument right now.

  28. (just Google John Ringo misogyny)

    Well I did DuckDuckGo, but there were only 4 or 5 links related to those words.

    Not exactly a plethora…..

    Regards,
    Dann
    You’ve got to vote for someone. It’s a shame, but it’s got to be done. – Whoopi Goldberg

  29. Chris Meadows, my first reaction was rather like yours. Now if, as has been suggested in another thread, there is some actual harassment concern from Ringo – or his fans – then it might be necessary to take some steps that I am currently dubious THIS concomm is liable to be taking. But if it’s only what he writes…

  30. “I’m surprised by various people’s statements that they “signed a contract” to appear at ConCarolinas. I’ve never heard of this happening at any of the older SF conventions; has this become a thing for cons that think membership might crash if a guest withdraws(*), or is unique to CC?”

    ConCarolinas does have a “contract/guest commitment” they ask folks to sign. They also told me that breaking it was not a big deal. [I had been invited but had to withdraw back at the beginning of March for a completely unrelated and totally personal issue.] JordanCon (which I also had to withdraw from for the same reason) also has a guest agreement and they, too, had no qualms about my withdrawal from the convention.

    I’ll point out that part of that “contract” with ConCarolinas reiterates their “apolitical status” and informs guests that they (the con-com/staff) are not there to settle any grudges or feuds between various members. Which, in retrospect, does make me wonder how they handle their anti-harassment policy if an attending guest makes a complaint against another guest. (Those two things would seem to cancel each other out, even if that’s not how it’s intended.)

    [Also, I feel the need to point out that I have attended LibertyCon for the past five years. It’s Ringo’s hometown con. (They also have had Kratman and Correia and Wright and Jon del Arroz and Louis Antonelli as regular attendees, and this year’s GOH is Mike Resnick.) I have asked not to be put on panels with certain people either because of past behavior or known ideological positions. That said, I have had to warn other friends who fall into greater risk categories to be very careful if they come to the con. (I’m white, straight, cis and abled. I was raised conservative and I can pass as lower-middle class if necessary. I also have low travel time and don’t stay at a hotel for the con so leaving is not a problem. I’m never comfortable, but I have rarely felt in true danger there.) But, I go because I do strongly feel there needs to be someone on the panels to speak up against the casual (and sometimes constant) racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, and I feel I can do so in relative safely where others can’t. Deciding whether to go or not is a yearly internal debate – am I doing more harm than good?

    All of which is to say, I can understand folks refusing to abandon a space they have been in for years prior. I can understand folks being forthright about their ability to attend in safety while recognizing that other folks cannot do the same. But *cough* one of those folks quoted in this column *cough* initially tried to blame me for a poor interaction with Ringo a few years ago and trotted out the old “I’ve never had a problem with him. Maybe you’re over-reacting” line. Then went silent. Then came out with a statement about having to choose battles as an ally. And just, nope. Unfortunately you can’t be outright supportive of someone who is deeply problematic and then just say “Well, I have to choose which hill I die on.” At least not if you want to keep waving that ally flag.]

  31. @Chris Meadows

    I’ve never seen him engage in the sort of liberal-baiting troll behavior that other authors, for example Michael Z. Williamson, seem to love to engage in on their Facebook walls.

    Well, MZW is hardly a fair comparison, his social media use is just trolling, plain and simple. But when I read that by you I did think it was quite possible that Ringo didn’t indulge in that sort of public ranting.

    Then I took the challenge mentioned above of googling “John Ringo misogyny” to see what the results are, and one of the results was this…thing…from his facebook. I honestly don’t know where to start with it. I mean, he pretty much kicks off by describing his schadenfreude at someone being raped by an immigrant, then goes on a greatest hits tour of right-wing wingnuttery – leftists are all fascists, the Nazis were socialists, gamergate was suppression of free speech, antifa are the real Brown Shirts, “The way that ends is with ovens”, various of the nonsense stories that get repeated as “the truth the media won’t tell you” over at the far end of that political spectrum, etc etc

    So maybe Ringo doesn’t normally let that sort of thing spill out into his facebook feed, but it’s right there if you look for it.

    seems to me that a couple of decades ago it was possible to agree to disagree politically and still be in the same room. It was possible to coexist with people of other political persuasions without feeling as though the presence of someone from the “other side” was going to lead to riots, arson, and murder.

    Here’s the thing – Ringo isn’t in “the same room.” Someone who thinks I’m a fascist who’s going to end up ushering him towards an oven is over in the divorced-from-reality annex yelling into the void.

  32. @Mark (Kitteh): I took “in the same room” to be literal, i.e., that it used to be possible to agree to disagree politically and still be in the same physical area (e.g., same convention, conference, etc.).

    [ETA: I took it that way because of the context of the rest of what @Chris Meadows said after that and in the next paragraph.]

  33. Ringo is published by Baen, which has published a whole bunch of his books. Apparently he sells very well for them. I’ve tried to read a couple of his books and found them dumb. Guess I’m just not his demographic.

    But as has been said many other places, all publicity is good. So his presence should be good for this convention. Whether it will affect future years remains to be seen.

  34. @A.G. Carpenter: Thanks for posting about the “contract” stuff.

    I’ll point out that part of that “contract” with ConCarolinas reiterates their “apolitical status” and informs guests that they (the con-com/staff) are not there to settle any grudges or feuds between various members. Which, in retrospect, does make me wonder how they handle their anti-harassment policy if an attending guest makes a complaint against another guest. (Those two things would seem to cancel each other out, even if that’s not how it’s intended.)

    They don’t seem to me to cancel each other out or be in conflict at all. Grudge/feud isn’t the same as harassment. It sounds like they don’t want to get in the middle of arguments, won’t play referee, etc. – but that hardly means they can’t step in if something reaches harassment level.

    Now, how good they are at that – or what the actual text of that “contract” said – I don’t know. I’m just going based on what you posted and how it reads to me, so our mileage varies.

  35. @Kendall

    Yes, I took it that way as well. I just repurposed it a bit. It was probably unfair of me to segue like that without being clearer though.

  36. @Chris Meadows: From my online interaction with John Ringo, which was many years ago at Baen’s Bar (IIRC, you also hang out there), he mostly fell into the wink-wink nudge-nudge about misogynistic or racistic topics. He also did very little to rein in his “fans” there.

    To his credit, he seems to have been mostly embarrassed about Ghost and the reaction it engendered. But I’m nor surprised he has become more openly reactionary and eliminationist with time, especially since part of his success as an author coincided with Jim Baen also becoming more reactionary and more and more focused on publishing right-wing voices.

  37. @Kendall

    They don’t seem to me to cancel each other out or be in conflict at all. Grudge/feud isn’t the same as harassment. It sounds like they don’t want to get in the middle of arguments, won’t play referee, etc. – but that hardly means they can’t step in if something reaches harassment level.

    It’s been the response since then where it seems more like they are trying to paint the folks voicing a complaint about Ringo as harassment that then made me wonder how well they enforce their Code of Conduct on-site if something happens between people who have expressed opposing points of view or been known to not get along (for whatever reason) previously.

    I’ve had to avoid certain folks before because of issues, but if something were to come up I would want to know the con-com would actually handle it instead of saying “Well, clearly this is just a personal grudge and we’re not doing anything about it.” (And that goes for anyone. I have issues with Ringo but I wouldn’t want someone harassing him and having the staff refuse to do anything because pre-existing whatever.)

    Which is likely *NOT* how they handle things, but it did give me pause after seeing their response. (Which could be interpreted to be aimed at everyone, but I know Jada Hope had expressed concern in one (now deleted) FB thread that she was worried about folks “pre-judging Ringo and his fans”.)

  38. LOL @ Jada being worried about people “pre-judging Ringo and his fans.” Lady, I have a decade + of personal experience with Ringo and his fans; I’m not pre-judging anyone. I’m going with my actual lived experience.

  39. A.G. Carpenter: Jada Hope had expressed concern in one (now deleted) FB thread that she was worried about folks “pre-judging Ringo and his fans”.

    Nobody has to “pre-judge” Ringo and his fans. There’s been plenty of offensive, racist, misogynist behavior by him and his sycophants documented over the years. Judging them by that isn’t “pre-judging”, it’s just judging them by past behavior and personal experiences.

    That Jada Hope seems to expect people to be willing to wipe that slate clean, as if none of it has ever happened, absolutely beggars belief.

  40. @Mark

    Then I took the challenge mentioned above of googling “John Ringo misogyny” to see what the results are, and one of the results was this…thing…from his facebook. I honestly don’t know where to start with it. I mean, he pretty much kicks off by describing his schadenfreude at someone being raped by an immigrant, then goes on a greatest hits tour of right-wing wingnuttery – leftists are all fascists, the Nazis were socialists, gamergate was suppression of free speech, antifa are the real Brown Shirts, “The way that ends is with ovens”, various of the nonsense stories that get repeated as “the truth the media won’t tell you” over at the far end of that political spectrum, etc etc

    This is really disgusting, especially since the rape and murder case he mentioned happened in Germany and was amply exploited by our own hateful rightwingers. He also misrepresents the case, because while the young woman who was raped and killed did work with refugees (no idea if her parents were politically active, if they were it was never mentioned in any articles I’ve seen), the guy who raped her, while a refugee, wasn’t someone she knew or worked with. It was a random attack in a public park with no prior connection between rapist and victim. The guy had also previously committed another rape and murder in another EU country and shouldn’t have been out of prison anyway.

    Publicly gloating because someone got raped and murdered is bad enough. But coming from someone with a creepy fetish for underage girls, at least in his fiction, makes it doubly squicky.

  41. @Mark

    Good heavens, that is disgusting. That sounds like some of Alex Jones’ rants.

    There are so many horrible things in that essay, but this stood out to me:

    The people accusing me of hate speech at DragonCon for discussing rape scenes in a writing panel about VILLAINY were FASCISTS. (To be clear: I was using rape as one of the ways to ensure people knew who the villain was.)

    Oh, for frak’s sake. If you’re a good enough writer–which, obviously, this jackass isn’t, if he’s stooping to crap like this–you can construct a memorable villain without bringing sex (much less rape) into it. But he tosses this shit out without even a thought for anyone who might have been violated in the past, and who might be listening to his breathtaking misogyny.

    Yuck. Pass me the brain bleach, please.

  42. @Bonnie McDaniel

    I think his statement was in response to people suggesting that he approves of rape. I appreciate, and to an extent agree with, your perspective. Better writers should be able to make their villains villainous without reflexively resorting to rape.

    It also seems like a few of the bits that I’ve read in this thread have been somewhat distorted to imply something other than what I believe he intended.

    Regards,
    Dann
    “We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher

  43. I tried shouting OH JOHN RINGO NO after seeing this

    naq n thl fb enpvnyyl zvkrq ur oneryl ertvfgref nf uhzna

    [Rot-13]
    and this

    Something I would never say to an SJW panelist but now that I’ve thought of it… [Rot-13]

    Fbzrguvat V jbhyq arire fnl gb na FWJ cnaryvfg ohg abj gung V’ir gubhtug bs vg…
    ‘Pyrneyl, znqnzr, lbh ner va arrq bs n tbbq fcnaxvat. V jbhyq boyvtr ohg zl ‘fxnax ub’ dhbgn vf shyy.’ 🙁

  44. @Dann

    “Intent” doesn’t mean diddleysquat. Since my telepathic powers aren’t working today, it’s only the words on the page that matter.

  45. @Meredith

    and a guy so racially mixed he barely registers as human

    I believe he’s speaking about Larry Correia here. I believe they are acquainted if not actually friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s said some variant of the same thing to Larry…but of course, I don’t know that to be a fact.

    Saying something like that about a friend within the company of friends (as long as the focal point of the barb is in on and gets the humor) is acceptable, IMHO. I’ve been on both ends of that stick.

    It is a poor choice when trying to persuade strangers for reasons that you are exemplifying. As were a few other passages where I get what he is saying, but wouldn’t have gone that route.

    It is as bad as referring to large portions of the electorate as “deplorable”. People that have to strain for a positive meaning probably aren’t going to make that effort.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The words of a President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately. – Calvin Coolidge

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