“I find it rather astonishing that anyone would be so naive as to imagine, in this day and Information Age, to think that it is a good idea to simultaneously a) be mentally ill and b) play attack dog on the Internet…if you have a mental illness and you are foolish enough to attack me, then you can be certain that I will exploit your weakness to whatever extent I happen to find useful or amusing…If you are weak, then for the love of God and anything else in which you happen to believe, do not attack the strong!”
—Theodore Beale, writing as “Vox Day” on his blog, commenting on Popehat blogger Ken White’s post about his clinical depression, which was highlighted on Ethics Alarms here.
The whole post must be read to get the full flavor of Beale’s ego-soaked viciousness. It is also a good example of signature significance: only a self-professed “cruelty artist” would produce such offal, even once. Yes, being a cruelty artist is unethical.
Ken’s interest in gaming and science fiction has the unfortunate side-effect of making him aware of Vox Day, a science fiction writer who has built a following based on his espousal of misogyny, homophobia, and other vile causes metastasizing on the dark side of the far right. He also, obviously, believes in encouraging the stigma of mental illness, which marks him as ignorant.
My only guess as to why Ken bothered to scratch this human boil is that he was annoyed by Beale/Day’s sexist, racist machinations regarding the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the.Hugo Awards. It all smelled of Gamergate to me, and like that convoluted mess, my interest in it (and ability to research it sufficiently to comment intelligently on it is best described by reference to George S. Kaufmann’s description of his interest in crooner Eddie Fisher’s love life:
Mr. Fisher, on Mount Wilson there is a telescope that can magnify the most distant stars to twenty-four times the magnification of any previous telescope. This remarkable instrument was unsurpassed in the world of astronomy until the development and construction of the Mount Palomar telescope.The Mount Palomar telescope is an even more remarkable instrument of magnification. Owing to advances and improvements in optical technology, it is capable of magnifying the stars to four times the magnification and resolution of the Mount Wilson telescope.Mr. Fisher, if you could somehow put the Mount Wilson telescope inside the Mount Palomar telescope, you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem.
Beale has constructed his own little universe with its own natural laws and values. They are toxic, and they won’t work, but this is how ethics evolve: people posit that a society based on novel values will thrive, and the society succeeds or fails, thus validating or debunking the proposed ethical structure. Science fiction writers appear to be especially prone to this path: witness L. Ron Hubbard and the scourge of scientology. I don’t feel the need to duel with these marginal characters, while admitting that I certainly do criticize the ethical outrages committed by other marginal characters in fields that I find more consequential than videogames and short stories about galaxies far away.
Clinical depression, like alcoholism, another malady that I know quite a bit about, is consequential, and the people like Vox Day who proclaim superiority and dominance over brilliant, courageous and productive people by wielding those handicaps as weapons against their betters impede the progress of the ongoing quest for an ethical society. Despite having to take a shower after venturing into Vox’s online hovel, I am glad I did, for I learned some useful tidbits:
1. It’s always useful to be aware of the nasty sub-cultures, and their leaders, that attract and warp the values of others. Forewarned is forearmed.
2. In addition to learning about Vox, I learned about another misogynist that Ken has tangled with named Roosh V. Veeery interesting!..and also, yeccchhh. He sicced his pal Vox on Ken after learning that he was undergoing treatment for depression. These are really nice guys.
3. I now know the term “SJW,” which describes “the enemy” in Vox’s simpleminded ideology. (The letters stand for Social Justice Warrior.) VD clearly can’t spot one, if he thinks that description, which includes support for enforced political correctness and suppression of “hate speech,” can be applied to FAW (First Amendment Warrior) Ken White. But extremists typically lump all their opponents together, being incapable of nuance. It also makes bigotry easier.
4. I received further confirmation of the principle that one can learn a great deal about a blogger by reading the comments on the blog. These are particularly nauseating.
48 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Theodore Beale, a.k.a. Vox Day”
I do not even understand where this post is coming from…
Has Ken White commented on unethical behavior committed by Mr. Beale?
He has, and they had a twitter feud.
I rather enjoyed Mr. Beale’s assertion that depressed people should avoid fora where conflict-laden communication ensues, and his more general assumption that depressed people are weak. It’s like he’s never heard of, say, Winston Churchill (to provide just one example).
Abraham Lincoln, many, many more. The depressed of the world have saved it many times over.
So special victim status for mentally ill people on the internet? Perhaps trigger warnings on every post and safe spaces free from “hate” speech. Let me guess, the Left will police this safe space.
From what language do you get THAT message? What a silly, unjustified comment. You must be nuts!
I have obviously been following this debate for much longer than you. What Vox gave was fair warning in a contest of words. In this fight the left wants to launch attacks, police speech and then hide behind their victim status when conservatives respond.
They want the rules to be I can hit you but you can’t hit me back because I’m a woman, gay, minority, trans, depressed.
Let’s see, I think the word for that comment is “bullshit.” First of all, Ken White isn’t the “left.” Second, nothing in his post, mine or what anyone else has written suggested that depression or any other status, including, in your case, being an utter dolt, should shield a writer from fair debate. However, attacking anyone on the basis of these characteristics is despicable, lazy, cowardly, biased, and wrong.
You wander into an argument you admittedly don’t understand and call one side ethical heroes and the the other side the ethical equivalent of cancer. The other side is so evil that there is no need to even debate their positions. Why would I be suspicious?
Transparency time Jack, did anyone associated with anti-GG point you to this longstanding feud? And will you denounce any anti-GG people for using nasty rhetoric in the same terms? Or is the same “bullshit” where its ok when the Left does same thing that the Right is condemned for?
Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear (though I did): I don’t know what the hell the “anti-GG” is, and care less. I would have written the same thing about Vox’s post if he wrote it about you, Rosie O-Donnell, Dick Cheney, or Thomas Eagleton. The quote is res ipsa loquitur: don’t accuse me of taking sides in an irrelevant fight. This was about a post that contained the smoking gun of a vicious jerk by his own estimation. The post uses depression in the equivalent manner of someone attacking Stephen Hawking for his Lou Gehrig’s disease, or FDR for being in a wheelchair. A fourteen year old with decent ethics would figure this out—it’s not hard. The man who discussed, frankly and compassionately, the problems faced by the depressed is a hero; the guy who mocks him for it is an unethical ass. (I didn’t say “evil.”) Easy call.
I take you for someone who cares about your credibility. SJWs have a bad habit of lying about the Sad-Rabid Puppies debate and their opponents in media.
Entertainment Weekly had to issue a pretty embarrassing correction because they relied on SJWs for information.
You are walking into the middle of a longstanding debate and war of words without understanding the full context. Vox may be a jerk but he gave his opponent fair warning about what he could expect in a fight. I also haven’t seen Vox go after anyone who hasn’t gone after him first. Vox is also more than willing to openly and honestly debate his opponents.
1.Vox is a jerk, there’s no maybe about it. Only a jerk could write a post like that.
2. Fair warning that one is going to be unethical is not justification. See Rationalization #36. Victim Blindness, or “They/He/She/ You should have seen it coming.”
3. See also 7. The “Tit for Tat” Excuse.
Not tit for tat. Vox isn’t roaming the internet attacking random people. He is engaging people who engage him. If you don’t want to get into a poo flinging contest on the internet with Vox there is a pretty easy way to avoid it. Don’t fling poo. Not only that, but Vox is giving fair warning to people who don’t want to get involved in a messy battle of words.
I’m asking where conservatives get fair warning in a culture war that is much more than words? CharlesGreen thinks it is perfectly ok for the Left to use the IRS to attack his opponents. ZoeBrain believes the Left has the moral authority to police speech, thought and any business or organization that doesn’t agree with her. These are more than words, these are aggressive actions.
Did the Left give fair warning when it went to Memories Pizza looking for a fight and then attacked the owners, not for any action, but for expressing an opinion? Not much warning for the small business person entering a poo flinging zone.
No the Left just attacks and lies about its opponents constantly. They never warn their targets because they believe absolutely that their cause is moral and there are no innocent bystanders.
I’m pretty sure that’s precisely what tit for tat is. I’m also going to go out on a limb and guess that Jack would agree with most or all of what you say in the rest of your reply, but that it has no bearing on the wrongness of Vox’ post.
1. His conduct, as he and you define it, is precisely Tit for Tat.
2. “Don’t you dare criticize me legitimately for my anti-social rants, or I’ll rip your face off” is not a fair or ethical condition.
3. Charles, for whatever reason, does not believe that the IRS was used to attack Democratic opponents. If he did. and I agree that the evidence is strong, he would certainly not approve.
4. If zoebrain has ever advocated censorship, I missed it.
5. “The Left” didn’t go to Memories Pizza—what a good business day THAT would have been—a single journalist did, and the owner made a disastrous mistake with internet mob action, a predictable result. We’ll talk about the jewelry store fiasco later.
6. The guerrilla tactics you describe are self-defeating.
Even at 81, I would love to see Vox run afoul of Harlan Ellison. Ellison was at least as good as Heinlein at giving as good as he got and he would very probably cause Mr. Day to take up another line of work.
You obviously haven’t been around long enough to know that, if anything, Jack tends to be more right-leaning in all regards. More, he lives by the conservative principle of not being an ideologue hypocrite and not hesitating to criticize someone on the right when they need a course-correction. Also, there are untold millions of mentally-ill conservatives who don’t use their mental illness as a shield during online debate, or as a means of assuming victim status.
The thing is, Walrus HAS been around long enough, so his accusation is particularly silly. His first comment was 2012. I’m still hoping someone will accuse me of being a SJW.
You’re a warrior for social justice.
SJW not so much.
Oh-oh…this actually makes sense to me…
Ahh Zoe, you are the one who thinks SJWs should have the right to police speech, thoughts and groups. I have always wondered what gives folks like you the moral authority?
This “warrior for social justice” vs. “SJW” thing reminds of the “liberal” vs. “Liberal” discussion, i.e. makes my head hurt.
“It all smelled of Gamergate to me, and like that convoluted mess, …”
The definition of gamergate changes depending on who you ask. Proponents of it describe it as a hashtag driven consumer revolt, and opponents of it describe it as a movement of hateful misogynists. Standing as an informed person on the outside, I don’t think wither accurately encompasses the situation.
There are two equally important things to realize:
First; It’s a hashtag movement. You will never be able to control of censor everyone using a hashtag, so of course there are hateful and harassing comments on it. Welcome to the internet. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s important for perspective. Also important is a recent study conducted by Twitter and WAM (Women’s Action Media) showed that out of over 10,000 accounts reported for harassment on Twitter over a given period of time, only 65 accounts (or 0.65%) had even referenced the #GamerGate hashtag. When you juxtapose those numbers with the millions of #GamerGate tweets, it’s hard to continue the narrative of a hate movement. The only reason I give the SJW’s the benefit of the doubt on this is because 30 people telling you to die in a fire over a hashtag sure looks a whole lot like harassment from their perspective, and their perspective is the only one that really matters to them.
Second; The players in this are the consumers and the media. The media is desperately spinning to make this a customers vs. women narrative, because that has the dual purpose of both deflecting attention away from them, and onto a victim group with a built in defense mechanism. But more importantly, if the only information sources you listen to are the media, in a situation where the media is an active participant, do you really think you’re getting the whole story.
Now the reason I’ve written this is because the line “It all smelled of Gamergate to me” suggests to me that you’ve heard one side of the narrative, and find GamerGate synonymous with Vox. Now I could be wrong, and I would love for you to clarify if I am, but if you’re as uninterested as you say you are, it seems to me that you are commenting from a position of ignorance, and seeing as literally tens of thousands of people are involved, it hits e as an odd comment for someone wanting to sit it out.
I happily proclaim my ignorance of both the #sadpuppies nonsense and Gamergate.I really tried to wade through all the crap, I really did. Diminishing returns set in. I don’t need to know all the ins and outs of Hugo Award politics, however, to understand how wrong it is to diminish anyone based on an episode of clinical depression. The quote wasn’t about Gamergate or the Sc-fi pissing matches. I know they were both based on underlying sexism, in fields that engage me as much as my sock drawer.
“I know they were both based on underlying sexism”
I disagree with that statement, at least so far as GamerGate is concerned. A group doesn’t become tainted with ‘underlying sexism’ because a very small minority have some stupid views and the other side wants that minority to be the majority.
This might be a cultural or a generational thing. people who weren’t born and raised in environments where electronic gaming was common probably don’t understand and aren’t interested in understanding the situation (very similarly to how I don’t understand or care to understand Broadway productions). And while that’s reasonable… You don’t find me condemning huge swathes of Broadway enthusiasts as misogynists because they share a pastime with a couple of ignorant boobs.
Vox Day is as you find him — a cruel, narrow-minded ideologue, a mirror image of the progressive left’s rabid social justice warriors. In the Hugo Awards deal, he’s a bad person who has attached himself to an otherwise worthy cause.
You’re absolutely right that you can learn a lot about who somebody really is by reading both their blog and what people say in its comments. So I challenge you to check out the blogs of Brad Torgerson, Larry Correia, and Sarah Hoyt.
You don’t have to know, care, or learn about the Hugo Awards brouhaha. I think you might find it interesting to see who these people — the original Sad Puppies — really are.
I’ve been aware of Mr Day with his followers and slate for months now and it’s no less toxic under longer exposure. If it’s any consolation, most SF people have either the ‘meh’ or revulsion to his goals for the smaller pool of SF. He’s like LRon, the uncle no one wants at a holiday dinner when the rest of us want to consider and celebrate the original and best in the field. SF has always been a haven for the eccentric and weird, but Mr Day isn’t that weird for the Dark Side of the far right, he’s just weird for the pool of SF. And thereby comes the friction that has inflamed the awards. I suspect his bile about mental illness is not done spreading.
Deleted is a comment that opined that I am a psycho, and that Lincoln was “a racist, murderous tyrant.” This is off topic, and I don’t care to hear any more from “mmaier.” See, when you look under the rocks where people like Vox dwell, this crawls out. I expected it.
He’s very misinformed. It’s funny that he considers himself strong because he doesn’t have a mental illness, or at least a formally-diagnosed one on paper. What he fails to realize is that he isn’t actually strong, but untried and un-tempered. The mental illnesses (bipolar I and PTSD) and addictions that I’ve battled, and the incredibly difficult circumstances under which I’ve battled them, have been crucibles that forged me into something capable of enduring trials that would utterly shatter many, if not most people. Especially people who obviously have a very narrow and limited sphere of awareness. I feel very, very powerful, confident that I can handle anything life would throw my way. I’m not just putting a positive spin on this. There’s no way I could enjoy life as much as I do if it weren’t for all of this. My gratitude is sincere, not contrived or motivated by some sense of obligation. I know I won’t be on my death bed, regretting not tending to and appreciating things that really matter. The pity I feel for someone who thinks that being a dick on the internet is a good use of precious time is also very sincere.
“Strong men can always afford to be gentle. Only the weak are intent on “giving as good as they get.”
“Don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out of it alive”
“But extremists typically lump all their opponents together, being incapable of nuance. It also makes bigotry easier.”
So… you’re an extremist? Huh.
No, I call extremists extremists. Not all extremists are my opponents. Many of my opponents, however, can’t read. Not all.
Burnnn! Nice! Another newbie snack.
Yum. Boy do I hate hit and run wise-ass comments.
Strangely enough, I have been a sci-fi fan since I learned to read. As a general rule, I am very impressed with good writing. To no-one’s particular surprise, I have never heard of this clown…perhaps it’s because I like GOOD science fiction. I’ve even read a few Harlan Ellison’s I really liked. Sadly, ‘A Boy And His Dog’ was not one of them. This guy sounds a bit like he has no talent for writing, knows it, and is trying to make a name as a sci-fi writer by being controversial. In any case, I can and do guarantee you he has no clue what he is talking about with clinical depression or any other diagnosis. In fact, I would broaden that statement just a bit…he has no clue what he is talking about. Note the placement of the punctuation, a period.
Really classy, ridiculing someone with depression, and declaring depression a weakness. They’re just people who haven’t tripped and fallen yet, the kind who declare with superiority that they’ll never get fat, get depression or cancer, lose a job, or otherwise fall on hard times. They’ll keep that up until
the shoe is on their foot, then it will be worthy of attention, empathy and help from all and sundry. Disgusting commentary on that thread, they’re far too old to be thinking like spoiled teenagers. How do you get to be that age completely lacking in empathy?
Mr. Beale seems to have missed an important lesson; you don’t stand tall in a shit fight.
I checked out of this (“Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?”) at “science fiction,” probably the creepiest, most moronic form of escapism going.
Not a fan of sci-fi?
Niet. It’s awful. The premise is, “Let’s pretend reality is totally other than it clearly is.” Brilliant. What a worthwhile exercise. Kind of like being a dyed in the wool liberal or a community organizer.
I’m far from a sci-fi afficionado, but that’s really throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Science fiction is, at its best, obsessed with ethics, and how to judge right and wrong in complex and previously unimaginable situations, with resulting insight into current day politics, human rights, medicine, law and social policy. The benefits to the culture of considering the situations dramatized in “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” are obvious: just to pick one, the bioethical dilemma explored in the episode of the latter in which the android Data fought for his recognition as a life rather than as property of the Federation, to be disassembled so it could see what made him tick, is a powerful and useful introduction to the whole field of bioethics. It should be used in schools.
The best science fiction writers are philosophers working through another genre. H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, and Phillip K. Dick, just among the tiny sliver of the genre that I have explored, have made major, vital contributions to ethics, thought and civilization, as well as giving us a head start on pondering critical dilemmas that we haven’t faced yet, but eventually will.
It’s a lot less creepy than saying “escapism” like it’s a four-letter word.
Everything in moderation. Sci-fi strikes me as inherently immoderate.
I’m a huge science fiction fan — and a gamer. I like to think that I am a little bit intelligent, but I find this debate/blog fight both a little hard to follow and boring to boot. It smacks of a fight between really smart people who have the emotional maturity of 13 year-old boys.
Hey! Got a moronic and condescending tweet from VD!
“That quote isn’t unethical dear, it just seems to hurt you in the feelz @voxday”
Oooh, the cruelty. I guess the “dear” is…what? A knock on my sexuality? A suggestion that I am off weeping in the corner because he’s a dick? How does this creep have fans, unless they are all creeps too?
This is why I don’t engage in Twitter feuds.
Oh, Beth…12-year olds.
As opposed to what, 13-year old girls?