Diversity in SF, a zero-sum game?

Does diversity in Science Fiction and in gaming really need to be a zero-sum game? That’s the impression I get from long-winded rants accusing feminism of ruining SF. James May’s argument seems to me as full of holes as a Swiss cheese; in particular his praising of Iain Banks suggests that he doesn’t do irony, or he hasn’t actually read much Banks. Banks’ genderfluid and decidedly non-imperialist Culture is about as “Politically Correct” as it gets.

Though I am not any kind of conservative, and find many aspects of the conservative world-view troubling, an SF world purged of all conservative voices in the name of social justice would be all the poorer for it. We’d lose the likes of Gene Wolfe or Jack Vance, for starters. But is anyone bar a tiny but loud group of zealots actually arguing for such a thing?

Even if it’s not to my taste, I’m sure niche subgenres of SF that read like engineering textbooks crossed with libertarian tracts will continue to exist for as long as there’s a market for that sort of thing. It’s just that they will no longer be the default.

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6 Responses to Diversity in SF, a zero-sum game?

  1. Amadan says:

    I have been reading all the controversies the past few years, from Race!Fail to the Vox Day/Larry Correia Hugo nominations, and while I think the conservatives have frequently been assholes, everything I read from “Social Justice” warriors makes my teeth ache. They really are ruining the genre, and not because I only like reading books by and about white men.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Seems to me that both “sides” are part right and part very wrong.

    One side doesn’t seem to understand why people who are not straight white males might have a problem with the racism, misogyny and homophobia expressed by Vox Day or Orson Scott Card.

    At least some on the other side don’t seem to have a problem with censorship or witch-hunts either.

    I don’t agree with the concusions of May’s screed at all, but I think he does nail some of the individuals whose behaviour and exclusionary rhetoric is part of the problem.

  3. Amadan says:

    I am actually more worried about the censorship and witch hunts than I am about the racist homophobes. The latter continued to be an alienated minority, while the former are making their notions of “safe spaces,” “triggers,” and “hate speech” increasingly mainstream. I stopped being sympathetic to their goals when I realized that the majority of SJ warriors really and truly do not believe in free speech, but would happily make it a crime to express views that offend them.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    Seems to be a big change from a decade ago, many of the worst wingnuts are now on the left rather than on the right.

    Was a scales-falling-from-eyes moment when I realised that some of the social justice warriors were using the same playbook as Tony Smith and Jon Biggar ten years ago with selective out-of-context quote-mining, straw-man arguments and above all lying.

  5. What I see are both sides adopting the attitude that this is a power struggle, and in a power struggle you have the right to use whatever weapons are at your disposal, because the other guy is likely to do so as well and to not do that simply puts you at a crippling disadvantage. But it isn’t like that. By taking on the tactics of one’s alleged enemies, one simply emulates everything about them one professes to hate. The answer to hateful speech is not speech codes; it’s intelligent, dissecting speech that shows hate speech to be fundamentally emotional and intellectually invalid. And the answer to one kind of suppression of dissent is not another variety of it.

  6. Tim Hall says:

    Indeed. That’s why I think “No platforming” is a wrong tactic; for starters you’re sending a signal that you are afraid of their “dangerous ideas”.

    What finally did for Nick Griffin and his fascist British National Party wasn’t no-platformng him. It was Bonnie Greer and Saeed Warsi running rings around him on prime time TV.

    Best way to deal with Vox Day isn’t to clutch pearls and have fits of vapours; it’s to put the bastard on panels and demolish his arguments in public.