Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sad Puppies, pay your traffic tickets!

The news recently about the disqualification of two works from the preliminary Hugo ballot reminds me of something that happened to me in a real world political context.

I’ve been involved in politics — real politics — many times. I’ve been elected to office in high school, college, and public life. There are more similarities to what has transpired in the Hugo nominations then you might suppose. These disqualifications are a good example.

One thing I’ve seen that remains constant over time and circumstances is how in any system there is always an “establishment” — a group of people who benefit from the established order and are resistant to reform and change. It’s human nature to want things to stay the way they are when it’s good for you.

Many years ago I worked in a small town and ran a weekly newspaper. A competitor was in tight with the crowd that controlled city government and had the contract to print the legal notices. When I asked for the opportunity to bid on that contract, I was told the Council wasn’t interested and wouldn’t even bring up the subject. I realized if I was to have a fair chance at the business there would have to be change in the city Council, and so I organized and fielded my own slate of candidates.

As the dust cleared from the election and people were stunned to learn how effectively the proverbial applecart had been overturned, the vows of revenge and retaliation started immediately.

Two days after the election I received a phone call from a sympathizer who worked in the constables’ office.

“Lou, you have an outstanding traffic ticket here,” he said.

“I know, I need to come by and pay the fine.”

“You need to come by and pay the fine like now,” he said. “They put the ticket on the JP’s desk and she’s going to write a warrant for your arrest. “

I thanked my friend for his tip and rushed over to the JP’s office to pay the ticket immediately.

My point is, once you piss off the establishment, they’ll come after you. In the news from the Hugo administrator, not only did he mention the checking of the story by John C. Wright and the qualifications of John Eno, but the fact he was also asked to check the eligibility of other works by Wright and Tom Kratman. It was determined that the first two examples were ineligible to be on the ballot, but after due consideration, the second two were.

I also saw on his Facebook feed that Jason Cordova, who’s a Campbell finalist, was also getting grilled on his eligibility.

Just like what happened to me when I pissed off the small-town political establishment and they started to pick at and retaliate against me, the establishment in literary science-fiction is obviously working behind the scenes to attack the credentials of the finalists— while publicly they are viciously attacking the credibility of those same people.

So many of these establishment types like to self-justify their behavior with noble sounding rhetoric, but the fact is they are just pursuing crass self-interest, whether they gain financially, socially, or with their vanity.

Oh, by the way, a few months later I did get contract to publish those legal notices.

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