I wrote this post back in 2014 or 2015 ish. (Just in case the title and references didn’t clue you in. And bless your heart if you didnt figure that out already.) And I stand behind most everything I wrote except that I no longet believe that the Hugo’s or Marvel comics are worth fighting for.
When it comes to the U.S. of A. I am an outsider looking in. I don’t mean this philosophically, or as some sort of metaphor but literally. I am American. I was born and raised in the USA. I lived there until my early twenties. But in late 2002 I left the warm bosom of my native lands to take a job in eastern Europe and though I no longer live in Europe, eastern or otherwise, I have not lived in the USA since.
In the intervening 12 years I have lived in Romania, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Panama, Thailand, and I am currently a resident of The Philippines. I am still an American, and I will be until the day I die (hopefully in bed with 19 year old twins) but I may never live in America again. Its not that I have anything against my native soil, or that I dislike the USA. Its just that I was born with a bad case of the gypsy leg, and the world is a big place. Now there may come a time when my restlessness fades and I once again hear the siren song of home and hearth, but then again maybe I won’t.
Being a nomad is not easy. Weaning your possessions down to what can be packed into a few suitcases means leaving a lot behind whenever I leave one country for another. And beyond just the possessions were the loves I have left behind. I have had the pleasure of loving and being loved by many women from many places, but in the end none of the could compete with my first love, the far shores and unknown horizons just down the road.
However one major benefit of the nomadic lifestyle is that it gives you a perspectives on things that you probably never would have developed had you stayed home. I have seen and done things in my short life I could never have imagined while growing up in a trailer park in North Miami Beach.
On the other hand, it also in some ways limits your perspective on the place you left, and that is what I want to talk about today. You see, while I have left the borders of my native nation, I have not left it behind. Much of my time on the internet is spent reading the news from back home, from various sources. Much of my time offline is spent wondering when exactly it was my country went crazy.
Because, from these far shores I now inhabit, it certainly seems as if the USA has gone nuts. Whether its the creeping totalitarianism of political correctness, radical feminism, and over regulation, or the expansion of the participation prize culture; its seems as if the America I grew up in now exists only in memory. I realize of course that some, maybe even most of this is due to the fact that rather than experiencing America directly I am simply reading about it, and only outliers make the news in the first place; but I don’t think that’s all of it.
As an example I recently heard about the controversy relating to Memories Pizza in Indianna. From what I can gather a reporter looking for a story relating to a newly passed religious freedom act in that state asked the owners of said Pizza chain whether or not they would cater a gay wedding. The Owners stated that while they would not refuse to serve anyone who walked into their restaurant, their religious beliefs would not allow them to cater a gay wedding. Predictably the internet exploded. But what puzzled me about the whole debate was, why was a religious freedoms bill needed in the first place?
You see when I was young, virtually every business in town had a little sign behind the cash register saying “we reserve the right to refuse service for any reason” which even at the time seemed strange to me because I had assumed that every business had that right inherently, and I didn’t understand at the time why such signs were necessary. Now however it seems as if the right to freely associate with, and do business with, whomever you want to, and to refuse to associate with, or do business with whoever you didn’t want to no longer exists. How and when exactly did that happen?
Now I can understand that for certain business, those considered “public goods” such as bus lines and airlines, the need to ensure everyone has access can be considered to outweigh the owners rights to free association. But pizza places? Bakeries? Wedding photographers? I expect these types of laws from Europe. I honestly can’t think of a single European country that I would regard as truly free. Even The UK, whose common laws were the basis for much of America’s laws severely abridges its citizens right to bear arms as well as the rights to free speech and association. But in America?
When and How did this happen? When did we go from “Don’t tread on me” to “yes sir may I have another”? When did we go from the concept of “the best cure for bad speech is more speech” to “safe spaces where offensive speech is banned”? When did we go from being proud that we allow Nazi Party rallies, not because we agree with the Nazi party but precisely because we don’t, to “you can’t say that here”? What in the name of the many gods and goddesses has happened to my country?
But then again this trend predates the early noughties, I just didn’t see it. Not until I moved to Bucharest. It was there that I saw, not just in the architecture and the landscape but in the mindset of the people, exactly what collectivism and totalitarianism does to people. Sarah talks a lot about how marxism corrupts the mind and she’s right. I have seen it first hand in the people I worked with in Bucharest, and in their parents attitudes. I saw firsthand the vast gulf between those young people who had grown up after Ceausescu was overthrown and the generations that had suffered under him. I saw the same thing in Panama in 2009 or so while on an airplane from panama city to Chiriqui. I was sitting next to an older woman when we passed over an area once owned by Noriega. As she was explaining the area she mentioned it had been owned by “the general” in the same tone of voice Dumbledore would say “you know who”. Despite the fact that he had been out of power for decades by then, the memory of his regime still had that much power.
And I am seeing the same attitudes that led to Ceausescu and Noriega being able to take power in the current controversy over the Hugo awards. The same desire to ban the unpleasant or the offensive, the same totalitarian desire to wipe out all opposition for speechcrime and thoughtcrime, is on full display among the Anti-puppies. I watched from afar as Comics were taken over by this same thin-skinned, perpetualy outraged, tyrants. I watched and I did nothing and as a result truly talented writers like Jason Aaron write dreck like this
And like this
I sat by and I watched. And I did nothing. And something I loved was taken over by people who think the above panels are the highest form of art. That is why I am a Puppy.
No more. I will no longer stand by as the things I love are taken over by totalitarians. I will not be quiet. I will not shut up. I will not back down. I will fight them at the Hugo’s, I will fight them online, I will fight them in books, and in comics, and everywhere I see them. And in the end, We win. They lose.