“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.