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Night Shade Message Boards » Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction » F&SF Issues - Tables of Contents, Discussion » June 2005: Bedfellows « Previous Next »

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Andy Buschmann
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 05:54 pm:   

What is this unflushed turd of a story doing in F&SF? It is called "speculation"; is there a fantasy or SF element in it? Wait! It's satire. Never mind.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 07:03 pm:   

Alternative history, duh.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 04:14 am:   

I thought we'd get more reactions like yours, Mr. Buschmann, and I thought the cries of "It's not SF!" would come in before the political outcries did. To my mind, "Bedfellows" is a work of speculative fiction. We've published satires of this sort throughout our history, and I suspect we've also had readers respond with "Where's the SF?" throughout our history.

I wonder if you and David Truesdale are the last people who worry about such things. It's too sad to think so, so I'm going to assume instead that we didn't get any other such complaints because people who didn't like the story skipped it so quickly that the issue of "Is it SF or isn't it?" never had time to register.

I've got at least two stories in inventory now with little SFnal contents and neither of them is satirical---I'll be interested to see if either of them draws a reaction.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 06:12 am:   

It is interesting that so many of us in the SF (speculative fiction) community get so irritated when literary magazines refuse to publish SF, but then get irritated when SF magazines publish things that aren't SF. While I think we can all agree that we would like the balance of magazines like F&SF to remain on the SF side, to decry anything else is a bit hypocritical.

Far better that an editor chooses stories that he/she thinks will appeal to a reasonable number of the readers (who are predominantly SF readers) than to worry about whether a story hits certain undefined criteria.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 07:30 am:   

And Dave Truesdale weighs in with a Tangent editorial on "Bedfellows," calling it "conceivably the most dangerous story in F&SF's history."

http://www.tangentonline.com
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Sean Melican
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 07:32 am:   

It'd be funny if it weren't so true.

I don't much care if it's speculative fiction or not, so much as I wonder at the lack of subtlety. I'd venture to say that, for some readers, what's lacking is complexity. (_Asimov's_ is worse on this count, by far, than F&SF; see some of the reviews at Tangent for examples.)

My reaction was, "Yeah, I know, so what?" I suspect that you'll either get letters along those lines, or, "How dare you insult the president, he's fighting them thar ter'ists and youse done gone and insulted him. He's a good man what cares for his country. I taint never pickin' yor mag'zine up again. Signed, J.B."

"Poet Snow" fails for the same reason, more or less -- and I really like a lot of Mr. Reed's stories -- because it ends on a flat note, such that it might simply have ended like a fable, with an attached "Motto:" Check that; it does.

On the flip side, "Eating Hearts" is excellent, and "Of Silence and the Man at Arms" is good, though it has the same problems as other recurring character stories: How to have tension when you know that the characters will ultimately prevail? I'd like to have seen more with Tobe, since the outcome of his story is uncertain. (No offense, Mr. Finlay.)

Sean Melican
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John Thiel
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 07:54 am:   

It'd be conceivable to someone who had all the issues of F&SF.

The tension in stories could be how long things will keep up--that's having more respect for things like villainy. The "things going wrong for the good guys" crowd would not care for the reading attitude that there isn't much conflict in a foreordained story either.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 07:58 am:   

I'm terribly offended. How dare readers express opinions!
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 08:03 am:   

Ah, but Charlie, you're not making clear the distinction between wrong opinions and right opinions. Readers may express right opinions but not wrong opinions. :-)
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 10:36 am:   

Truesdale really thinks he has his finger on the pulse of the so-called "Arab street", doesn't he? How hilarious.

In the days after 9/11, any number of poorly-designed t-shirts showing bin Laden being sodomized by President Bush, by one of the Twin Towers, by the Statue of Liberty, or by a missile, hit the streets. They were very common in Jersey City, where I lived at the time, and which was renamed "Terror Town" by the New York Post after the attacks, due to a number of arrests and thanks a mosque in my neighborhood being linked to the 1993 attack on the WTC.

So, is it likely that "the Muslim right" knew about the t-shirts? Certainly. Were there any attacks or threats or even harrassment of the local (often Muslim) shopkeepers and street vendors who sold the shirts, even after most of the JCPD had been rerouted to duty near Ground Zero, leaving the town nearly defenseless? No.

Incidentally, F&SF's editorial address is in Hoboken, a couple of miles away. Also incidentally, many of the newsstands in Jersey City where F&SF is available are operated and staffed by Muslims, and patronized by Muslims as well. Same is true of the library system -- at least two of the branches carry F&SF.

Thus, it is certainly possible that a copy of the magaazine may yet fall into the clutches of the Muslim right, and even more worrisome, members of the Muslim right with the $3 necessary to take the PATH train on a round trip to Hoboken from the JSQ station.

And yet, I just don't picture Gordon peeking out from behind his curtains and cowering at the thought of waking up to find the scimitar of the saracens at his throat.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 11:35 am:   

Also, Gordon's blurb was a...uh...joke? I mean...to think it's seriously suggesting some fear of government intervention...how is it possible to give that a literal reading?
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 11:36 am:   

Maybe I'm missing something, but a lot of people seem to be missing the point of the story. Not W+O Sitting In A Tree, KAY-EYE-ESS-ESS-EYE-EN-GEE, which is kinda funny I must admit, but the implication that they've been so for quite some time. Prior to 9/11, was the impression I got from it.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 12:03 pm:   

Also, Gordon's blurb was a...uh...joke? I mean...to think it's seriously suggesting some fear of government intervention...how is it possible to give that a literal reading?


Asperger's Syndrome?
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 12:16 pm:   

Could be. Apparently people have become so dependent on emoticons that they have lost the ability to infer humor from text alone.

O_o
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R.Wilder
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 01:11 pm:   

o_O
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 02:07 pm:   

I got that I think. They both serve each other or even aid/create each other. Bush's errors help Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda gets Bush re-elected.

It's just obvious. From time immemorial there's been that idea of creating or aiding your own enemy as it's good for both parties. It's also pretty off-base as Bush's poll numbers are bad and the Iraqi insurgency alienated many Islamists.
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Tim A.
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 02:42 pm:   

Well, it was probably written some time ago. Maybe around the election? Who knows.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 02:57 pm:   

The spoilers on this site made the story's humor anti-climactic.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 03:01 pm:   

I don't know what it says about my so-called sense of humor, but here's a sure sign that this whole discussion of "Bedfellows" has been too much on my mind:

I got a press release today with the subject header: Are Bin Laden & Castro Connected? And my first thought on seeing the header was, Is there something Adam-Troy Castro needs to tell us?

(The press release is for this book, in case you're wondering: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/059533623X/103-4029993-0335052?v=g lance&st=*)
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Andy Buschmann
Posted on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 07:32 pm:   

I've been a reader since the March 1967 issue and have since collected and read many many more back issues. It has always been my habit to read the issue cover to cover. I can recall only three stories in all those issues that I started and did
not finish. Many stories over the years had minimal fantasy or SF content. Some were a chore for me to finish and hundreds have been excellent. Story selection
has been especially good since Editor Van Gelder
took over.

Bedfellows is the only story I can say I really detested. Not a bad track record.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 01:42 am:   

Here's the interesting thing: Bedfellows is not a uniquely bad story. Not even for F&SF. It is probably weaker than average, but in most issues of F&SF there are one or two stories as weak. So why the excitement about this one? It's not like it represents a sudden drop in standards.

It is interesting to observe how people, when offended by the subject matter of the story, attack passionately other aspects of the story. I suspect it is that people know rationally that being offended by a story's content doesn't give you much of a platform and makes you look a bit foolish. So instead you attack things like quality of writing with a vociferousness completely out of proportion to any failings in the writing. This is something I see fairly often. Cf Truesdale's assault on various stories in his Tangent "editorials".
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Thomas R.
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 02:27 am:   

Oh I don't know. I certainly can and will be offended by political content of a story if it's extreme enough. It has to pretty extreme, and sincere in its extremism not a joke story like this, but it could happen. In fact it has happened in a few rare cases. I don't find that foolish or indefensible.

Granted though I'm generally meaning real extreme. Like it's Maoist, Anti-Semitic, violently racist, violently sexist, etc. (Violently sexist kind of goes both ways. I've read some SF that pretty clearly spoke for the idea that "genetically screening" males out of existence is an idea worth considering)
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 05:46 am:   

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Andy B. I appreciate it.

I just posted a response to Dave Truesdale's piece over on the TANGENT board. One thing I've been trying to figure out is why "Bedfellows" has gotten such an outcry while Terry Bisson's "macs" (F&SF, Oct./Nov. 1999) didn't. It might be that "Bedfellows" is so clearly just a jest, while "macs" is a deeper examination of the issues at hand. But I wonder if people are more passionate about the issue of homosexuality than they are about the death penalty. Or is it that the USA is so polarized right now politically that any story poking fun at a prominent Republican or Democrat will immediately bring a flurry of responses from members of the other party?
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Scott Edelman
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 05:56 am:   

It strikes me that if Dangerous Visions had been published during an age in which the Internet existed, we would have likely had the same sort of threads.

I am sure that if my June issue had arrived _before_ I'd read all of these comments, I would have thought, "That was a cute little story," and then gone on to read the next one. No, it wasn't the greatest story of the year, but it wasn't terrible either, and as far as the writing goes, it was well within the literary standards of F&SF. Unfortunately, I had to read most of the bulletin board comments first. But my initial reaction after reading the story was, "People are taking offense at THIS?"

Good thing you didn't publish "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan" or "The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race" or "Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report" -- then things would _really_ have heated up!
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 06:52 am:   

"In fact, I saw someone saying the ending of "Poet Snow" didn't work for them. I laughed out loud at it." -Gordon Van Gelder responding to Dave Truesdale.

You laughin' at me? Or the story? I hope the latter, 'cause if not, you'll have to cancel my subscription and then I'll miss out on truly wonderful, near-perfect stories like "Chester" marred only by the last line in which a scarred and scared little girl metamorphs into Roy Scheider.

Sean Melican
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 07:17 am:   

Sean, I took him to mean that he laughed out loud at the end of the story, which is why he ended up buying it.

I finally finished reading the June issue yesterday and also thought "Chester" ended abruptly. But I was so thoroughly engaged up until that point, that I'll go back and reread it to see if there were hints at an ending past the last sentence that I somehow overlooked.
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John Thiel
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 07:40 am:   

The story is somewhat offensive in other respects than its political outlook; it seems to call the President and a foreign leader "gold dust twins with 'gay trey' tendencies within." I don't think the administration would really enjoy reading that, and they're apt to wonder, it would seem, what attitude is being had in the magazine, so there's reason to see some danger with political people.
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jim
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 07:41 am:   

Yeah, my take is that GVG was just making a point that YMMV, i.e. what some find funny, others don't.
And all an editor can do is rely on their personal taste and let the chips fall where they may.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 08:23 am:   

Sean M.---

Charlie's correct: I laughed at the last line of "Poet Snow." I didn't laugh when you (it was you? I can't remember) said the ending didn't work for you.

Ginjer Buchanan says that she finds Gardner Dozois's stories consistently funny. I love his stories but they generally don't strike me as being funny. Dying is easy; comedy is hard.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 08:25 am:   

Sean M.---

Wow, that took a lot of effort on my part to scroll up in this thread and find that yes, it was you who said the ending for "Poet Snow" didn't work. Sorry I didn't check earlier.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 08:30 am:   

To continue with the theme of jokes being misinterpreted as serious statements, I thought that Sean was kidding when he asked which Gordon was laughing at.
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Sean
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 08:39 am:   

Oh my. How to write comedy that doesn't work in one easy lesson. (Please send $29.99 to...) I meant to be funny, not serious. Reading fast, 'it' read as referring to 'them' (which would be 'me').

And Charlie, there are reasons I'm concerned about offending you. Personal reasons, having to do with coincidence, my ego, and C.M., who might have passed on some unkind commments I made a few years ago. And now, I await the mail anxiously each day.

Sean "Sean M." Melican
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Sean
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 08:40 am:   

Ack. John done posted his message whilst I was writing mine.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 09:03 am:   

Well, everyone knows I have no sense of humor beyond the scatological. This just re-establishes that sad fact.

Sean, I have no. clue. at. all. what you're talking about, so I'm glad to be able to put your mind at rest, at least for my end of things. Your ego belongs to you, of course, and coincidence seems to take well enough care of itself, but I would sum it up with "no worries."

As for paying attention to unkind comments even if they are made or passed on -- I have two children on the verge of being teenagers; if I let such things affect me for more than a minute or two, I would never be able to get out of the house some mornings.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 09:57 am:   

Wow! I've rarely found Gardner's stories to be funny. They're usually pretty grim. Ginjer has a strange sense of humor.
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Scott Edelman
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 10:53 am:   

But remember -- Kafka' friends laughed so hard that they cried when he'd read THE TRIAL aloud.
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Kenny
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 11:02 am:   

All the fuss makes me suspect that the readership has never watched South Park.
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Cartmon
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 12:42 pm:   

Let's kill 'im!!!
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Thomas R.
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 02:41 pm:   

Gardner himself can be funny, but his stories do tend to be in least somber. Although the one I read in FSF about baseball was a bit more whimsical, but not really funny.

I'd have to think back but I don't think FSF had a forum when macs came out. That one could've been quite controversial and I remember finding it unnerving at the time. It was SF though, no doubt of that.

Also Bedfellows is really not raising as much controversy here as it seems. If you look it's really only two or maybe three guys really hammering away at their offense. Even those of us who didn't like it aren't really outraged or anything. No one is defending it as one of the best story of the year either, which is quite different then what happened with What I Didn't See or what would've happened with macs.

Granted me being who I am I am slightly disappointed that there's never a story so politically conservative or moderate it generates controversy. The story about Alaskan secession could have, as it showed those who want drilling in ANWR with sympathy, but nothing happened. Then again maybe that's good news for moderate conservatives. It's so mainstream there's no controversy. (I doubt that's the reason though. A rabidly moderate author that's critical of both sides would generate controversy as would someone expressing views as Right-wing as John McCain)
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chance
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 04:22 pm:   

Sean said: C.M., who might have passed on some unkind commments I made a few years ago.

Now why would I do something like that, especially when I can hold it over your head for ever more? (And really you need some kentucky jelly for that humor problem ...)

Gordon said: One thing I've been trying to figure out is why "Bedfellows" has gotten such an outcry while Terry Bisson's "macs" (F&SF, Oct./Nov. 1999) didn't.

Some folks had a pretty strong reaction to "macs."
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 04:32 pm:   

Boy, the initial poster of the "macs" discussion completely missed the point--that it was against capitol punishment. Another person in the discussion had to point it out to him. I'm surprised anyone could read it as an "endorsement" of CP. I find that really depressing.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 07:07 pm:   

Thanks for that link, Chance. As far as I recall, it's the only discussion/debate regarding the story that I've seen.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, May 05, 2005 - 09:07 pm:   

Chance,

Ha! You fool. I confessed to Charlie, and received his absolution. So thou hast no hold over me! Er, except for those pictures of me and N...

I keept trying to imagine how kentucky jelly would help me write humor. All I'm getting are some very disturbing images. And metaphors. Lots and lots of terrible metaphors. Particularly with reference to Charlie's fetish for scatalogical humor.

"For smoother delivery..."

"With an oily smile..."

"His humor is slippery, sometimes sliding away before the depths of meaning can be plumbed..."



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chance
Posted on Friday, May 06, 2005 - 03:14 am:   

see? you already made me laugh this morning.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 07:53 am:   

Wow! Yesterday I was reading the New York Times and there was an editorial titled "The Bedfellow Disclosure Act"--and for a sec I thought--wow! they've picked up on the story from F&SF! Alas, after reading the editorial it wasn't so, but for that brief moment my heart beat a little quicker.
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A.R.Yngve
Posted on Sunday, May 08, 2005 - 02:16 pm:   

I watched TV a few days ago and saw President G.W.Bush kiss and hold hands with a visiting member of Saudi Arabia's ruling clan... in public.

Reality trumps satire... :-)

Seriously, if you wanted "Bedfellows" to be really hard-hitting satire, you would've have to be a LOT meaner than "two guys marry".

I wrote a little story (posted once on my old website), called "Red For Black" -- an Alternate History where oil was NOT found in Arabia, but in South America.

In this story, a ressurrected Inca/Aztec emperor demands not only money for "his" oil, but human sacrifices as well -- hundreds every day. And the rich countries give him precisely that.

I never bothered to sell the story, because I thought nobody would publish it...

-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Lord Valve
Posted on Monday, May 09, 2005 - 11:51 pm:   

I see in a thread elsewhere on this board that people are bemoaning the steady 10% per year shrinkage in F&SF subsciber base. All sorts of speculation as to why - fulfillment hassles, glitches, etc.

Ever stop to think that maybe people just don't like SMUT like "Bedfellows?" That's a real turd of a story - not funny, just disgusting. I'm not expecting to see any stories in any commercial mag which don't try to pound the leftist viewpoint into my head with a 10-pound maul - perish the thought - but I draw the line at homo crap like "Bedfellows." I'm gonna leave a piece of offal like F&SF around where my kids can read it? I don't think so. I've been reading SF longer than many of the people on this board have been breathing, and I *know* good stories can be written without resorting to playing the Queer Card. I know because I read plenty of 'em 50 years ago when I started, and plenty since. Sure, I can hear you..."bigot, homophobe, the old fart just doesn't get it." Well, maybe I don't. One thing *you* won't get, Mr. Van Gelder (allow me to offer a prayer to your favorite deity that you are not related to the famous recording engineer, for I am a jazz musician and could not bear the connection) is any more of my sheckels. Add my fat old intolerant bigoted homophobic ass to the 10% shrinkage you're whining about. And anyone who wants a stack of free Harry Turtledove books can find 'em in the dumpster behind my house. You stink on ice, and it's clothespin time. Feh.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 02:03 am:   

How many names is Bromfield going to use I wonder?

It was a weak stupid story, but OTOH it was a weak stupid story. Meaning it isn't worth hating a magazine over. You clearly have other problems.

At the local bookstore they're displaying FSF much more prominently now with the books. They are with the D&D type books, but it's something. The one with Bedfellows is even what I saw.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 04:38 am:   

I recently learned that Rudy Van Gelder and I are related distantly---at most we're third cousins, but more likely the relationship is farther removed than that. I've never met him.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 06:26 am:   

Lord Valve (not his real name, we're guessing) wrote, in part: "Ever stop to think that maybe people just don't like SMUT like 'Bedfellows?'"
_____

Smut. What a fine old-fashioned word; one never hears it anymore. Whether it can have any meaning in this age of pop tarts and mainstream porn is anybody's guess, but I'm all for resuscitating it, if at all possible.

The thing is, I personally didn't get any pornographic charge out of "Bedfellows." Maybe I'm wired wrong.

As synchronicity would have it, I invoked the sacred name of Tom Lehrer in a discussion of "Bedfellows" on another message board, and many years ago he sang the last word about smut:

Smut!
Give me smut and nothing but!
A dirty novel I can't shut,
If it's uncut,
and unsubt-
le.

I've never quibbled
If it was ribald,
I would devour where others merely nibbled.
As the judge remarked the day that he
acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
"To be smut
It must be ut-
Terly without redeeming social importance."


See the whole lyric at

http://www.casualhacker.net/tom.lehrer/the_year.html#smut

JMP("Particle of Sooty Matter")
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R.Wilder
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 07:10 am:   

Wow! I've never made the possible connection between GVG and RVG! And every month I hold in my paws a copy of F&SF and every day I handle at least one of a myriad hundred or so Blue Note recordings. Gordon, if you ever encounter your third (or more) cousin, be sure to tell him he's nutty. As in wiggy. As in groovy. As in dope. As in whatever those crazy kids are saying these days...
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Lord Valve
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 08:58 am:   

>How many names is Bromfield going to use I wonder?

I have no idea who "Bromfield" is; I've never posted
on this board before. However, if he speaks with the
same voice I do, bully for him.

>It was a weak stupid story, but OTOH it was a weak stupid story.
>Meaning it isn't worth hating a magazine over.

As the tip of a stinking iceberg, it's more than
symptomatic. It's definitive . It points a finger
at all of the commercial SF mags. (IASFM/Analog
is no different.) It's one more turd on top of
an already groaning pile.

>You clearly have other problems.

And like any good leftist, you'll be glad to
instruct me on their nature, and assist me
in "getting my mind right." How thoughtful.

>At the local bookstore they're displaying FSF much more
>prominently now with the books. They are with the D&D
>type books, but it's something. The one with Bedfellows
>is even what I saw.

And the subscriber base continues to shrink.

Print/hardcopy is a dinosaur medium. In order to
survive, it will need to be much more responsive
to consumers than it has been until now. When
it was the only game in town, it could run roughshod
over the objections of a captive audience. People
are clearly voting with their wallets. Wake up
or disappear.

Perhaps you lack the perspective I've developed
while reading SF for over half a century. I've
seen it decay from a wonder-filled new universe
into a reeking morass of pontificating leftist
pornographers. Maybe you see this decay as an
affirmation of your own particular mindset; others
are profoundly offended. Ten percent per year.
At that rate, it won't take long. Print SF is
headed for the crapper, and people like me have
their hands on the flush handle. It's *crap*.
Would you let your kids read "Bedfellows?" If
your answer is yes, you're part of the problem.

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chance
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 09:35 am:   

Perhaps you lack the perspective I've developed
while reading SF for over half a century.


Sounds like you are ready to go forth and make your own magazine. Good luck with that.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 10:50 am:   

TR, he's got you pegged, dude! You lefty, you.
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Scott Edelman
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 11:15 am:   

Anyone who considers "Bedfellows" to be pornographic obviously hasn't read enough pornography.

Let's reserve the word pornography for ... well ... pornography.

Regardless of one's feelings about the literary qualities of "Bedfellows," the inclusion of non-explicit references to sexual practices you may not agree with doesn't make the story pornography.
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Paige
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 11:38 am:   

Valve, I hate all this "wouldn't let my kids read this" and "don't let your kids read that" business. Funny how you and Bromfield are all over F&SF for printing "indecent" stuff, but you're in here engaging in ridiculous name-calling (homo crap?? playing the queer card??) and some language that's not quite kid-friendly. Hope your kids don't have Internet access!! (Although you probably have insane parental controls to keep "leftist" websites from corrupting them...)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 12:12 pm:   

I agree with Scott. Whatever one thinks of the story, it sure ain't "smut" by any definition I've ever read of the word.

I've been hearing Rudy VG's name for the past several days during the WBGO fund raising drive. Never heard of him before although I listen to WBGO exclusively and love much jazz and some blues.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 12:16 pm:   

I think I get it.

Bromfield is mad because he got too old to be a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League and now feels rejected and this is just his way of celebrating "Hate Week" all alone. Now that I think about it, I can see a number of examples of _doublethink_ in his posts and he does have a way of focusing on one editor whether Dozois or Van Gelder, to channel much of his rage, rather reminiscent of the way Goldstein was used in _1984_. Very interesting. Just start running when he asks how many fingers he's holding up.

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R.Wilder
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   

Ellen: Rudy Van Gelder is a legendary recording engineer, not a musician. Many, if not most, of the classic Blue Note sides of the 50's/60s onward were recorded in his Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey studio.

http://www.bluenote.com/artistpage.asp?ArtistID=3696&tab=1


http://www.allaboutjazz.com/iviews/vangelder.htm
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 01:53 pm:   

R.Wilder, I realize that he's a recording engineer--it was announced that he engineered some of the major giveaways for the WBGO fund drive. That's how I became aware of his name.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 02:39 pm:   

Lord Valor---

Thanks for your post. Sorry I haven't been able to reply at length sooner.

It sounds like you started reading SF back in the 1950s, yes? Back then, was science fiction considered acceptable reading? Or was it frowned upon? Was any part of the pleasure of reading it _knowing_ that it wasn't 100% approved material?

I know that when I started reading SF in the '70s and early '80s, I had several people tell me in one way or another, "You shouldn't be reading that junk." But of course their disapproval was not a deterrent (as Damon Knight said, the best way to get a kid to read something is to tell them it's forbidden and then leave a copy somewhere that's not easy to reach, but accessible nonetheless). I went on to read stories that challenged conventional thinking and tipped sacred cows. Stories like Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End and Harlan Ellison's "The Deathbird" helped form my mind by pushing the edges of "acceptable" thought.

So after reading your post, I have to ask: Do you really think that if I refrain from publishing stories that do likewise nowadays, I'll be helping the magazine grow? I mean, I recognize that F&SF is a dinosaur, I've said as much before, but your post has me wondering if this is a case of the pot-osaurs calling the kettle-odocus black.

Your cries of "smut" and "pornography" don't convince me, to be honest, considering the reactions we've had to other stories:

* John Peyton Cooke's "Serostatus" (Jan. 04) -- nothing but praise.

* One complaint, I think, concerning Ben Rosenbaum's "Droplet" (June 2002).

* No comments at all about the sexual component of M. Rickert's "The Harrowing" (May 2005).

* I didn't hear anything in response to the bird sex scene in "Red Leather Tassels" (Aug. 2003).

The "on-screen" sexuality in "Bedfellows" consists of one male-to-male kiss and a question of whether there's a bulge in one character's pants. Melrose Place showed more on prime-time television in the '90s. By prevailing standards, "Bedfellows" doesn't even strike me as being especially racy, let alone pornographic.

So I'm wondering what set off your reaction to the story. Is it the political component, or is the fact that the two characters in the story are happily in love and don't come to a bad end because of it? I'm guessing it's the former, based on the way you say "Like any good leftist" in your second post. But if my guess is wrong, would you let me know? I value feedback like yours.

By the way, the reason people confused you with John Bromfield is because he also posted a hostile response to "Bedfellows" and he did so in a thread on the declining circulation numbers in the magazines. You can see it all here: http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/1948.html?1115528694

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Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 03:17 pm:   

"By the way, the reason people confused you with John Bromfield is because he also posted a hostile response to "Bedfellows" and he did so in a thread on the declining circulation numbers in the magazines. You can see it all here:"

Maybe another reason he's being confused with Jon Bromfield is that from past experience, enduring a number of flamewars with Bromfield on other boards, it's apparent that it's his modus operandi that he always invariably changes names - frequently days after the initial heat has died down. The new name will use much the same syntax and word choice of Bromfield but then insist that he's never heard of this Bromfield guy. Usually, if you're persistant and do a lot of analysis of his language comparing Bromfield with the alias and make a strong case, you can usually get him to admit the two are the same but it's generally not worth the effort. Whatever the case, if "Lord Valor" is in fact not Bromfield, it will be the first time since I encountered him, that he hasn't changed names but instead simply let the matter drop. In fact, I believe I've already heard the exact sentiment and maybe even the exact words that "Lord Valve" uses coming from a number of aliases who eventually admitted to being Bromfied: "I have no idea who "Bromfield" is; I've never posted on this board before. However, if he speaks with the same voice I do, bully for him." I've heard it all before.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 04:06 pm:   

And like any good leftist, you'll be glad to
instruct me on their nature, and assist me
in "getting my mind right." How thoughtful.


TR: Oh you're new here. Check the war thread. Specifically "Internment camps" and "American President in London."

I strongly believe more people were murdered in the name of Marx than for Allah and Jesus combined. That even "true Marxism" itself is a recipe for dictatorship, theft, and violence. That Lenin himself was a brutal dictator on par with some of the Tsars. That Scandinavian style Social Democracy tends to encourage stagnation and gives the government too much power over people. I think the French Revolution was largely a disaster. That the idea of "laicisme", where religion is a purely private affair, is a repressive idea. I support NAFTA, the war in Afghanistan, voted for Bush in 2000, Dole in 1996, and oppose Roe versus Wade.

I think you have issues because you're obsessing on a minor story in an ultimately smallish magazine.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 05:12 pm:   

Oh, give it up, TR. We all know you're a lefty, you neocon, you.

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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 05:21 pm:   

I've never been left or neocon, but that's cool. To quote another Tom: Nobody gets me, I'm the wind baby.
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A.R.Yngve
Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 11:31 pm:   

This thread got sidetracked. Someone cries "smut" and the discussion plunges into the Black Hole of Predictability...

Allow me to ask:
*Is "Bedfellows" funny enough?
*Could it have been better satire?
*Isn't the title "Bedfellows" and the political subtext a tad sophomoric? (Politics makes strange bedfellows, see? "Bedfellows!" Get it?)

I won't go into the question of the magazine's political slant, because there's no quota system and frankly, anyone can start their own magazine. Hey, it's free country - and if some readers want to read "THE MAGAZINE OF YESTERDAY'S FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION", that's a different publication.

My point is, if you want to write satirical SF - a fine and venerable tradition, going back all the way to Jonathan Swift - then you have to hit harder - or subtler. Half-measures won't do. No matter where you stand.

-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 12:12 am:   

This is something I find peculiar. There are conservatives and Right-wingers who complain about SF magazines, with some justice I think, but they don't actually do anything about it.

They could start say "Poul Anderson's" or "RA Lafferty's" or something Science fiction magazine. Where all political satire is against the Left and all dystopias are of the Left.
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RVS
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 12:13 am:   

People have really different tastes in satire, though. Obviously, the story worked for GVG. It didn't work for some other people. I don't think it will be helpful to try to craft objective criteria for what makes a good satire. Although I certainly have my own rants on the subject, I don't think they're going to change what tickles anyone else's funny bone.
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Jaye Lawrence
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 12:37 pm:   

As satire, it didn't quite work for me. The satire I find funniest is just an ironic half-twist away from the truth--such as the "Spinal Tap" movie or the Bush-Kerry animation on JibJab.com at election time. The bedfellows of this story were acting so contrary to the nature of their real-life counterparts that I couldn't buy into it as satire or as alternate-history. My disbelief was never suspended.

As RVS noted, though, what's funny to a person is such an individual thing--much like opinions about what's the "best" story in any given issue. I didn't love it, didn't hate it, didn't want to cancel my subscription over it (I just sent in a renewal, in fact). But I'm glad F&SF isn't afraid to push the boundaries, in any direction. A publication that's afraid of taking risks would be a bland read indeed.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 10:21 pm:   

Thomas R, don't try to wriggle out of it. We all know you're a raving lefty. We've been talking about it while your back has been turned, and the concensus is clear. Luckily, I have a membership form for the Socialist Workers' Party that I can forward to you, if you like.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2005 - 10:53 pm:   

I appreciate the fact that Lord Value had his say, fielded a few from the press, and then went back behind the arras rather than remaining to be baited or baiting in turn. Good show.
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Lord Valve
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 12:04 am:   

I've noticed that the people on this board don't fisk
posts. Not my style, but I'll give it a shot.

First, "Thomas R" (to quote Mr. Pfundstein, "Not his
real name, we're guessing") wonders how many names
"Bromfield" will use. I have no idea, and I suggest
you take it up with Bromfield. If I've misidentified
you as a leftist, I apologize for that. At the time,
I was focussed on something else. A not entirely
unwarranted assumption, given the apparent bent of this
particular forum, but an assumption nonetheless.
Mea culpa.

Byron Bailey, who has "heard it all before," has obviously
been trained (and trained well) to holler "eek" every time
this Bromfield character says "boo!" He appears to believe
that Bromfield is hiding behind every bush, and revels in
his expertise at serially outing the miscreant by "analysis
of his language" (etc.) and other techniques garnered (no
doubt) from the pages of "True Detective Stories" or some
other definitive reference work. Well, Mr. Bailey, there's
a new boo in town, so make sure you're eeking in the right
direction the next time your Bromfield sonar starts pinging,
won't you? There's a good lad.

Mr. Pfundstein, who has treated us all to the stunningly
brilliant observation that "Lord Valve" is "Not (my) real
name" may want to eyeball the following Google search
result:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Lord+Valve%22&btnG=Google+Search

This should put the kibosh on any members of the Bromfield
Paranoia Corps who are still jumping up and down with glee
at having once again nailed their nefarious Moriarty. BOO!

"Lord Valve" has been (and will remain) my nom de guerre
wherever I post. It's a monicker I coined during a flamewar
many years ago, and I've since built it into a million-dollar
online business selling vacuum tubes and parts for guitar
amplifiers. I have some small knowledge of such, having
built the guitar amplifiers currently in use on the Allman
Brothers tour. A "valve" is what the British (and most
of the rest of the world, come to think of it) call a vacuum
tube. I'm one of the largest purveyors of these nearly
forgotten devices on the Net, hence, "Lord Valve." I have no
need to run a sockpuppet farm, since I rarely post on moderated
forums. I am also a jazz organist. My "real" name, address,
and phone number are plastered all over the Web. If you need
more bio than that before you apply the next round of flames
to my admittedly ample fundament, start Googling.

BOO! (Eeek? Bailey? Is dat you?)

Scott Edelman seems to think I haven't read enough pornography.
If I countered that with a statement to the effect that he
hasn't read enough Bible, you'd doubtless all scream bloody
murder for the next week. How *dare* I, eh? So I'll let that
one slide, whilst mentioning that I read neither. Edelman's
comment is presumptive at best, ignorant at worst.


So - on to the crux, eh?

OK, Mr. Van Gelder. Your claim that F&SF is on the bleeding
edge, pushing the envelope (etc.) is downright laughable.
Far from being outre, the stories in your mag are just about
as PC as it is possible to be. Contrasted with the gusher of
leftist-generated filth that roars forth from Hollywood (and
New York), spewing from every conceivable media outlet - TV,
radio, movies, books, newspapers, online, you name it - F&SF
differs only in quantity, not in kind. You are solidly in line
with the concerted effort to homosexualize/feminize/emasculate
American society; the people who call such things as a crucifix
inverted in a bottle of piss, a painting of the Virgin Mary
rendered in elephant shit or a picture of some leering pervert
with the handle of a bullwhip shoved up his ass "Art" are your
fellow travelers. They're better at it than you are; in fact,
they've figured out a way to get the National Endowment for the
Arts to pay them to produce their crap. That's *my* tax money
they're laughing all the way to the bank on. In your case, I
have direct control over whether or not you get any of my scratch
to operate with. Not one more thin dime, and that goes double
for Harry Turtledove.

You'd like to know what I find so offensive about "Bedfellows."
You seem truly puzzled; after all, it's "less racy than
Melrose Place." The "two characters in the story are happily
in love and don't come to a bad end because of it." Golly,
whatever could my problem be? "See, we're just like what's on
TV, only watered down a bit." Yes, I do indeed see. A small
puddle of offal will stink less and dry up quicker, so why not
jump right in? So, let me get his straight, now - it's just
a goofy little tale about two guys who are in love. Right?
Well, boy howdy, junior - how could I *possibly* take offense
at something like that? Must be something wrong with me. I
mean, a story about a snarling, drooling Islamo-fascist terrorist
who burned three thousand of my fellow citizens to death in the
middle of the biggest city in America boning the president of
the United States up the ass is just good clean fun, eh? Hah hah,
sure, I get it. Great fun. Yeah, that ol' Osama, he's a character
all right. And George, why, he's so stupid he probably has the
Secret Service tie his shoes for him. Hell, he can't even pronounce
"nuclear." (Neither could Jimmy Carter, and *he* was a nuclear power
engineer in the Navy. Better not mention that, though...shhhhh...)

Maybe next time it'll be a nuke, eh? Ho ho, that Osama, he's a
real card. Two million dead. Hardy-har-har, he used one of them
there nuke-you-lur bomb thingies. Boom! Heh heh... Hey, is he
still boning W up the ass? Wait, I forgot - George was incinerated
in the blast. Better get on the phone to H. Turtledove and have him
whip up another thigh-slapper about Osama getting a hummer from Dick
Cheney. Hey, we can work that "Dick" angle, huh? Hilarious!

You idiot.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 01:14 am:   

A not entirely unwarranted assumption, given the apparent bent of this particular forum, but an assumption nonetheless. Mea culpa.

TR: Apology accepted. The forums here do tend toward being more Left than anything in US politics I'd understand. There's a big British contigent here so it might be a Liberal Democrat or oldschool Labor Party kind of crowd.

Otherwise I think you're being crude and unfair. Also I think you're encouraging a lame story to gain more attention than it merits.

Added to that, I wasn't joking. Many conservatives or Rightists complain SF magazines are against them, but if that's true why not do something about that? Encourage Baen to start an SF magazine or something.

Anyway the best criticism I heard of this story here was that it didn't work as good satire because it was way too implausible and out of character. I think most anything on The Daily Show does a better job at being anti-Bush satire. In fact Bush's wife almost did a better job.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 01:52 am:   

"If I countered that with a statement to the effect that he hasn't read enough Bible, you'd doubtless all scream bloody murder for the next week."

Why do you assume that? It would be a fairly irrelevant response, but I wouldn't think anyone would be offended or irritated by it. I certainly wouldn't.

"That's *my* tax money they're laughing all the way to the bank on."

What, all of it? Boy, I would have thought there were other people paying tax too. You learn something every day...
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 06:26 am:   

Lord Valve---

Since you seemed to have overlooked Paige's comment in this thread and the references in the other "Bedfellows" thread concerning "Netiquette," (see:
http://www.nightshadebooks.com/cgi-bin/discus/discus.cgi?pg=instructions#rules ), I'm going to ask you politely to leave.

I appreciate your articulating your point about "Bedfellows" more clearly, but it seems to me that you're more interested in picking fights with everyone than you are in discussing the issues.

If it helps, pretend that F&SF makes a profit off of this message board.

While you're on your way out, here are two books I recommend---I think they'll be more to your taste than F&SF is:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0765309408/102-8257718-7778554?v=g lance

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0743498747/102-8257718-7778554?v=g lance

Happy reading, and thanks again for your thoughts.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 09:30 am:   

Wow, nice rant Valve. I sure hope American society is being "feminized." It's about time.
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Nick
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 09:45 am:   

I especially love that old "those are my tax dollars" argument. No outrage about billions of our tax dollars spent to murder innocent people in a country that never attacked us, or had the means to attack us, but by God, I'm gonna rant and rave about those pennies coming out of my paycheck that might find their way to the NEA. Gotta love it.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 10:52 am:   

Some comments:

1. Maybe O and W take turns boning one another up the ass. I believe that they had a warm, egalitarian relationship that way.

2. "The Holy Virgin Mary,'' by Chris Ofili is hardly anti-religious. It's a fairly obvious homage to postcolonial discourses of Western religion in Africa, and the use of elephant dung recalls the matrilineal fertility cults that in the modern era have dovetailed nicely into liberatory counter-readings of the Catholic cult of Mary. Plus, Ofili is a UK citizen, he didn't a dime from the NEA. Dope.

3. Eric Flint is a revolutionary socialist, which is just further evidence how useless the lit-crit-for-dummies technique of attempting to determine an author's politics from how "feminized" or "masculinized" the writing is. I'm sure now that Lord Vacuum of Tube will now read his Baen titles with a nervous squint, in case some Communism shows up.

4. If LV is outraged by "Bedfellows" due to its mockery of tragic world events and not due to his homosexuality (I guess he got another concussion between his first and last posts), he must be apoplectic over The Producers.

5. "In the matter of the jass, New Orleans is particularly interested, since it has been widely suggested that this particular form of musical vice had its birth in this city -- that it came, in fact, from doubtful surroundings in our slums. We do not recognize the honor of parenthood, but with such a story in circulation, it behooves us to be last to accept the atrocity in polite society, and where it has crept in we should make it a point of civic honor to suppress it. Its musical value is nil, and its possibilities of harm are great."

-- "Jass and Jassism", The Times-Picayune [ New Orleans], June 20, 1918, p. 4.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 11:52 am:   

Now that we've had several posts rebutting Lord Valve's long one, I doubt he'll be able to stay away . . . and I have no interest in keeping him from having his say (but please keep it civil).

For my part, I don't want to encourage Lord Valve to keep posting and I'm going to leave here this thread. I do recommend those two books; based on reviews and word-of-mouth, I think both books are more classic, 1950s-sort of SF you're looking for, Lord Valve.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 12:58 pm:   

Hi Jon! :-)
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T Andrews
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 01:51 pm:   

I look forward to the time when stories regularly feature homosexual characters without them being there to make a point, satirical or otherwise.

How unsurprising to see Lord Valve lump the women in with the homosexuals. I guess that's his way of being non-discriminatory. Just hate everybody. Jeesh.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 01:52 pm:   

All hail Lord Valve!

No, he's not me, folks. I don't have the antipathy to homosexuality he (seems) to have, no doubt a result of my classical education.

Other than that, he's nailed it - and all you simpering leftists. The only laugh I got out of the story was in Gordon's pre-blurb about the story being "politically incorrect." Hoo! Hoo!

No, Gordon, my short-short "To Not To Be" (posted in another thread), no matter how "badly written," is politically incorrect, as the term is properly used.

Byron, my friend, how's the diet? No doubt your will power is as strong as your language analysis.

All hail Lord Valve! Here's to him not realizing too soon how hopeless it is arguing with the mind-numbed leftoids, suck-ups and bedwetters who infest this site. He's good!

By the way, Turtledove's DAYS OF INFAMY is a real snoozefest. Read the first couple of chapters - for free - in the local library. He puts the "been" in has-been.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 03:38 pm:   

I actually decided against him being you when he had a link to his site.

Anything is politically incorrect to someone in these polarized days. I think Bush's unfavorable ratings are consistently 44% or more in the last year so he's probably not the most politically incorrect target though.

Looking it up I'd say the three Republicans it'd be most "politically incorrect" to trash would be: Laura Bush, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani. All three of those have high favorability ratings even with Democrats. John McCain's consistent popularity with liberals is intriguing and also slightly baffling. McCain's actual record isn't all that liberal.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 06:10 pm:   

I'm still waiting for this thread to somehow transform into a flamewar over abortion or capital punishment.
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 06:14 pm:   

Byron Bailey, who has "heard it all before," has obviously been trained (and trained well) to holler "eek" every time this Bromfield character says "boo!" He appears to believe that Bromfield is hiding behind every bush, and revels in his expertise at serially outing the miscreant by "analysis of his language" (etc.) and other techniques garnered (no doubt) from the pages of "True Detective Stories" or some other definitive reference work. Well, Mr. Bailey, there's a new boo in town, so make sure you're eeking in the right direction the next time your Bromfield sonar starts pinging, won't you? There's a good lad."

Actually, I didn't do any linguistic analysis. I based it on 4-5 instances of past experiences with Jon Bromfield and didn't take much time to analyze the language this time. On analyzing the language, I have reached the conclusion that it might very well not be Bromfield although it still could be Bromfield doing an imitation of Lord Valve. I'd have to do a lot more analysis to reach a conclusion and I don't see the point. However, the language and the style seem to be somewhat characteristic of the one's I've found by Lord Valve by doing a google "news group search." Interesting. There's even an attempt on one forum to boycott Lord Valve's business for his "barrage of troll-like gutter language, insults and generally uncouth, bigoted behaviour."

So, Lord Valve, what brought you here? Wait! I got it. Two lonely trolls find themselves on the internet and decide to do a one two punch on this forum. How sweet? I don't buy there's not a connection between the two.

"No, he's not me, folks. I don't have the antipathy to homosexuality he (seems) to have, no doubt a result of my classical education."

Didn't at least one writer leave the forum at Asimov's from a flame war involving yourself in which the word "homo" was thrown about by yourself?
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Jill Elaine Hughes
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 07:20 pm:   

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Bedfellows!!

LOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEDDDDD IT!! Probably one of my favorite stories I've read in the mag since I became a subscriber. (My second-favorite so far is Flat Diane, another very controversial piece as I recall).

Can we see more stories like it in FSF?

www.jillelainehughes.com
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John W. Campbell
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 08:26 pm:   

Spotted on Lord Valve's Web site:

"I'm not an asshole, but I 'play' one on the Internet. - Lord Valve"

Suddenly, it all makes sense ...

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RVS
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 09:00 pm:   

Flat Diane was WONDERFUL! I lent the magazine to friends to have them read Flat Diane.
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Jeffrey Smith
Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2005 - 10:35 pm:   

Re the comments that "Bedfellows" wasn't biting enough to be good satire, I liked it for its gentleness. It took two people who have ordered the deaths of thousands of innocent people and made them kind of cuddly. A dangerous vision, biting or not.
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Lord Valve
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:55 am:   

Hmmm....

On the off-chance that this won't be no-posted, I'll
venture a reply.

>Since you seemed to have overlooked Paige's comment
>in this thread and the references in the other
>"Bedfellows" thread concerning "Netiquette," (see:
>(nettiquette URL snippo) I'm going to ask you politely
>to leave.

Well, I've been thrown outta better joints than this
for less, so if I'm eighty-sixed I doubt if I'll be
stayin' up late nights chewin' my knuckles over it.

>I appreciate your articulating your point about "Bedfellows"
>more clearly, but it seems to me that you're more interested
>in picking fights with everyone than you are in discussing
>the issues.

Nonsense, Mr. Van Gelder. Everyone in your jolly little
crew took a shot at me; I shot back. If the gentle wrist-
slapping I've administered to your cronies constitutes
a flamewar in these parts, this is mild country indeed.
Step back from your involvement and read their replies
with an unjaundiced eye. They figured they'd be opening
a can of whoopass on some clueless noob; I only returned
as good as I got. My butt is solid Teflon. Flameproof.

It's patently obvious that you *don't* care to consider
my opinions; by awarding me the Royal Order of the Boot
without answering the points I've raised (on some bogus
"netiquette" violation [Netiquette, n. - any rule made
up by the moderator of a board or posters favored by
him/her when confronted with a poster who displays a
contrary position to that of the regulars]) you are
doing no better than sticking your head into the sand.

Perhaps I can clarify. Your magazine does *not* offer
anything that is not abundantly available - for free -
on commercial TV channels. (In fact, you yourself
have already made the comparison.) At the click of
a remote, I can readily drench myself in all of the
queer/feminist agenda so readily championed in your
pages. And, before any of you can point the accusatory
PC finger in my direction, yeah: you BET I called 'em
queers. Unless somebody made up a new rule when I
wasn't looking (hmmm...I seem to have mentioned that
before...) I don't see any problem with using the term
*they* have chosen for themselves. "Queer Eye for the
Straight Guy," anyone? "Queer Nation?" And so forth.
So spare me your derision, please. It's unwarranted.

You are not on the frontier of anything; F&SF is not
only not in the vanguard, it's *rear* guard. Many of
the stories you print are propaganda. Your arrogance
lies in the fact that you think your readers are too
ignorant to know it for what it is. I seem to recall
another story, in which mythical American icon Paul Bunyan
takes it up the ass and dies of AIDS. Is there a pattern
here? You tell me. From where I'm sitting, it sure looks
an awful lot like your mag's slant is to attack anyone
or anything that stands for traditional American values
by tarring it with the homosexual brush. Is this
wishful thinking on your part? Do you *really* want
to see your country laid low?

There was a time when SF was *out there*. It was
forward-looking. It was delightfully clannish. Fannish,
if you will. Insider schtick abounded, and fans reveled
in it. What you print now is *painfully* mainstream - more
of the same-old same old, another cog in the vast America-
dissing machine. Do you pack the nads to be *really* outre?
Could you *dare* to print stories that promote America, that
don't paint white males as ignorant trailerpark crackers?
Stories in which perversion is *not* glorified?

I doubt it. You're not that brave. You're the captain
of a sinking ship, and you're trying to blame it on the
ocean. The boat has a ten percent per year hole in it,
and instead of trying to apply a patch, you're flailing
at it with a fire axe.

Do you know who I am, Mr. Van Gelder? I'm the ten
percent. Most of the ten percenters are not vocal
about it; they just decline to renew when the time comes.
And since they can't let their kids read the smutty
mags, the kids think SF only comes on screens. They
never learn to love the printed word the way I did.

When they grow up, they won't be subscribers either.

Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining, Mr.
Van Gelder. I know better.

Think about it.

LV




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Carole C
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 02:25 am:   

I'm sorry but when I'm reading the name 'Lord Valve', the image I'm getting in my mind is of some kind of exotic transvestite character from the Rocky Horror Show. Can't get rid of it ...

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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 03:27 am:   

"Do you know who I am, Mr. Van Gelder? I'm the ten
percent."

F&SF's circulation hasn't *quite* sunk to 9 people yet...
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 05:37 am:   

Lord Valve---

Anyone who has been reading stories about aliens since the 1950s but still can't understand his own species well enough to recognize that some people prefer same-sex relationships and that there's nothing wrong with it, well, that's a reader I can do without. I'm willing to take my chances with F&SF that there are enough open-minded readers around to keep us in business. If I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll have a good laugh.

Now will you please take your homophobia elsewhere?
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wandcoker
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 08:25 am:   

Lord Valve has proven himself to be the caricature of a bigot. I wonder what his improvisations sound like on organ? Somehow I doubt they have any soul or imagination.
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RVS
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 11:57 am:   

"Do you pack the nads to be *really* outre?
Could you *dare* to print stories that promote America, that
don't paint white males as ignorant trailerpark crackers?
Stories in which perversion is *not* glorified?"

This is so interesting... by re-inforcing traditional stereotypes, etc., Valve feels himself to be establishing a *counter* culture to our "dominant" culture. This effectively reverses the accepted definitions of counter and dominant cultures, to the effect of allowing conservatives to lay claim to victimhood.

There are plenty of science fiction sources that publish stories which reinforce the images he's requesting. Perhaps you could pick up the Left Behind books, Liege Valve?
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   

Some comments:

Lord Valve writes:

"If the gentle wrist-
slapping I've administered to your cronies constitutes
a flamewar in these parts, this is mild country indeed."

Indeed it does, my Lord, and it is. As is the Asimov's forum. ANY criticism of the editor, his choices of stories, or calling bullshit on anything politically correct (no, ThomasR, it isn't just something that is merely polarizing; it is when you say something not in conformance with today's Leftist thought, like not being in favor of abortion-on-demand paid for by the state) is considered heretical and must be purged.

This is why it is so funny that Gordon and Turtledove think they're being daring with filth like "Bedfellows, instead of realizing they're just boring.

"I seem to recall
another story, in which mythical American icon Paul Bunyan
takes it up the ass and dies of AIDS."

Good grief! They actually printed something like that? Can somebody supply the title, to confirm? Wow...if so, Mr. Gordon does seem to have an agenda he's pushing in the mag. The publishers might want to know their profit-driven business is in the hands of an idealogue.


Gordon writes:

"Anyone who has been reading stories about aliens since the 1950s but still can't understand his own species well enough to recognize that some people prefer same-sex relationships and that there's nothing wrong with it."

Well, of course a hell of a lot of people do think there's something wrong with it. Not me, but if you factor in the Moslem world, the Catholic world, there may even be a majority on this planet that does indeed think there is "something" wrong with it. Certainly there are some rather unhygienic sexual practices that gays induldge in, hence the explosion of AIDS and other SIDs in their ranks.

But now I'm curious enough to ask the Big Questions:

Gordon, are you queer? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

If there's "nothing wrong with it" surely you don't mind me asking these questions, nor should you be embarrassed to answer.

As the good lord would say, there seems to be a pattern here...


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Matt Hughes
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 12:57 pm:   

All right, are you happy now? All this rattling on and on about "Bedfellows" has finally caused me to break the habit of years and actually read a story published in F&SF.

And what a tempest in a tea cup. I was expecting hard core gay porn. I was expecting vicious political satire. All I found was an innocuous little take-off on the inarguable fact that Dubya and Osama would be lost without each other, coupled with a gentle reminder that not too long ago -- say when George's dad was vice-president and Osama was a freedom fighter in Afghanistan -- the two of them might very well have walked hand in hand, just as Dubya did with the Saudi Crown Prince, while talking about flowers, a little while back.

Sure, the marrying and honeymooning are pure fantasy, a gilding of the satirical lily, but so what? The end of civilization as we know it, this ain't.

I wonder what it is that makes some people get so het up about what other people do with their genitalia?

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:00 pm:   

Mr. Bromfield---

No, I don't mind answering your question, although (a) I don't think my answer is terribly relevant and (b) I did censor some unnecessarily crude comments of yours. All the sex partners I've had have been women. My wife and I have been married since 1996.

The story about Paul Bunyan is "Paul and Me" by Michael Blumlein. I think it ran in the Oct/Nov. 1997 issue, but that's without checking.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:11 pm:   

GVG:Anyone who has been reading stories about aliens since the 1950s but still can't understand his own species well enough to recognize that some people prefer same-sex relationships and that there's nothing wrong with it, well, that's a reader I can do without.

TR: So you can "do without" over 60% of the American public?

There's a difference between the kind of hatred LV has and people who just disagree that "there's nothing wrong with it." Indeed didn't you publish a story by Orson Scott Card once? Isn't it fair to say he disagrees with the idea "there's nothing wrong with it." Granted I haven't seen him in FSF for years. Is he and people like him no longer welcome as writers or readers?

I imagine many of you will say "yes" and feel quite good about yourself. If so I don't see how you're much different than the current Pope's "a smaller purer faith is better" approach. However in least he's running a religion, you aren't. You're running a magazine, a business. Actively telling readers to skidaddle is not only strange, it's almost economically suicidal.

Nothing Jon or LV said had any impact on me. This strident attitude however is a different matter. I'm willingly to concede though that they pushed you and you said something you personally believe, but hopefully recognize isn't especially wise. However if "doctrinal purity" is really a standard to even read FSF then I think I'll withdraw my subscription as well:-(
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:14 pm:   

That being said the story itself was still silly, minor, and not worth this much fighting.
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wandcoker
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:24 pm:   

It is revealing when people like Bromfield and Valve resort to insults.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:26 pm:   

"I wonder what it is that makes some people get so het up about what other people do with their genitalia?"

Exactly. This attitude baffles me.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:38 pm:   

"I wonder what it is that makes some people get so het up about what other people do with their genitalia?"

Well, let's venture a guess...

AIDS and other STDs will cost the American taxpayers how much just this year?

Unplanned pregnancies and children will cost the American taxpayers how much just this year?

Irresponsible sex will breakup how many families just this year?

Bill Clinton gets the presidential putz serviced in the Oval Office, but let's us all know that oral sex really isn't sex, so now we have grade-schoolers blowing each other at recess.

Hey, I'm libertarian and think you should be able to screw your chihuahua if you want, so Matt, don't tar me with that brush. But to imply that what some folks do with their goodies doesn't effect us all is ridiculous. It does.

Gordon, thanks for the clarification, but maybe you should have experienced some of those censored activities, in order to really be able to judge whether there's "nothing wrong with it," or not.



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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:40 pm:   

Wadchoker writes...

"It is revealing when people like Bromfield and Valve resort to insults."

This, from Wadchoker? Did you type this with a straight face?

Amazing....

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paulw
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:47 pm:   

I knew we'd get around to Clinton sooner or later. How predictable, and how sad.

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wandcoker
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:47 pm:   

Oops. What was I thinking? Guess I forgot about that toxic swill of slime that trails behind you're reptilian hide, Brommy. Maybe you should flick some of that ickor on Lord Valve's shriveled member.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:50 pm:   

That's spelled "your," reptilian hide, Waddie. This seems to be the most common spelling mistake on the internet. One might have thought you'd have learned by now.
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Anonymous
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:53 pm:   

Gordon writes: "All the sex partners I've had have been women."

Lack of desire or opportunity? (g)
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:53 pm:   

Thomas R.---

Thanks for your understanding post. Of course I don't know or care what the beliefs of our contributors and readers are . . . until they start pushing intolerance on others. If Scott Card sends me a story as good as the last one he sent, I'll be happy to publish it. Whatever your beliefs are, they're fine with me as long as they're not hurting anyone.
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Scott Edelman
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:57 pm:   

"The publishers might want to know their profit-driven business is in the hands of an idealogue."

Yep, that Gordon will be in _real_ trouble if his publisher ever finds out what he's been doing ...
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 01:59 pm:   

"AIDS and other STDs will cost the American taxpayers how much just this year?"

Not as much as fast food diets that lead to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, etc. Do you want to pull those MacDonald's commercials from tv?

"Unplanned pregnancies and children will cost the American taxpayers how much just this year?"

Not as much as deaths, injuries and police-court-and-prison costs from drunk drivers. Do you want to prohibit alcohol?

"Irresponsible sex will breakup how many families just this year?"

I suppose just about as many as psychological and physical abuse, gambling and alcohol addictions, lack of interpersonal skills and basic incompatibility. Do you want to make people pass a test before they can get married or have kids?

We don't live atop individual pinnacles, but as parts of an interconnected social matrix. What any of us does can affect some or all of the rest of us. But people's private behavior is their own business, as long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/

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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 02:10 pm:   

Somewhere, amid the clatter of opening and closing valves, past the bromfields we know, A.R. Yngve (no louse) asked some pertinent questions:

This thread got sidetracked. Someone cries "smut" and the discussion plunges into the Black Hole of Predictability...

Allow me to ask:
*Is "Bedfellows" funny enough?
*Could it have been better satire?
*Isn't the title "Bedfellows" and the political subtext a tad sophomoric? (Politics makes strange bedfellows, see? "Bedfellows!" Get it?)


This prompted, in my mind, the impertinent question "If somebody cries 'smut!' in a crowded theater, [insert zen koan or legal gag here]?" But I'll try to stay on target.

I didn't think "Bedfellows" was funny. This was not because I have any animus against Harry Turtledove, who can write hilarious stuff (the straight-faced punning in Toxic Spell Dump never fails to crack me up). And it's not as if I'm offended on behalf of the Dear Leader (whether W or O).

It's possible that I find this subject matter simply too grim for joking, but (on reflection) I don't think that's it. The grimmest subjects, after all, make for the funniest jokes (e.g. death, sex, lightbulbs, Ann Coulter).

Possibly the story, short as it is, is too long. The punchline (_You made me what I am_ or words to that effect) pops up a couple of times (p.79, p.82). There's very little surprise, since the whole content of the story is telegraphed in the first half-page. And there's a structural problem: W & O tie the knot in a courthouse ceremony, lock lips in front of the world media outside, and then worry about how they're going to introduce O to W's conservative parents. Setting aside the fact that our own W is more conservative than his parents, in the alternate universe of the story the whole question is pointless: W's parents already know about the marriage, just like the rest of the world.

This last point may seem like counting-thrusters-on-the-shuttlecraft niggling, but I don't think so. The internal consistency of a fantasy (even a satiric fantasy) is like the integrity of a balloon: if there's too big a hole in either one, the air goes out of the thing.

JM("Man walks into a bar...")P
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   

"But people's private behavior is their own business, as long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses."

Hey, I'm with you! Unfortunately, it's the lib types who are into social control. You ever hear of a conservative wanting to increase taxes on "junk" food? I heard of all sorts of schemes by the Left to regulate food intake, driving, etc., etc., in the interests of taking care of our stupid selves. In fact, sex seems to be the ONLY thing they don't want to tax/regulate.

Matt, you have more to worry about from Socialist Sue (Asimov's site) than little ol' me.



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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 02:23 pm:   

Hey, ever hear of a liberal wanting to prevent a woman from maintaining control over her own body? Ever hear of a liberal who inflicted her religion on others?
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Thomas R
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 02:39 pm:   

Hey, ever hear of a liberal wanting to prevent a woman from maintaining control over her own body?

TR: Well yes. I've certainly heard of liberals who defend Chinese sterilization policies. Also I know of many liberals who oppose legalized prostitution and selling kidneys.

Ever hear of a liberal who inflicted her religion on others?

TR: Not as often, but it happens. Some of the more fanatical atheists or Neo-Pagans come to mind.

I don't think that's what is meant though. Liberal social control is more about shaping society toward progressive ends. Like courts saying gay marriage is allowed when voters disagree with it. Or hate-speech laws in Canada and Sweden.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 03:05 pm:   

Thomas, I don't see liberals trying to pass laws that would put women in jail for selling kidneys or their bodies. If you have a news report of this, please show me.

A fanatical atheist is not a liberal. And an atheist isn't preventing others from practicing their own religion in private. If so, again, please give examples.

How has a neo-pagan tried to inflict his religion on others? As far as I can tell, they just want to be left alone to prace their own religion, the way they choose. Again, examples please.

Even if you provide an example or two, you're talking about a handful of people who not acting in concert. Conservatives who are trying to prevent women like me from having abortions are not just one or two here or there. It's a movement. If I'm mistaken, then please provide examples of massive liberal movements to penalize women for being prostitutes or selling their organs.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 04:17 pm:   

Thank you, Gordon, for taking a stand against the homophobic comments in this thread. I know it's not pleasant to deal with.

I'm glad you chose to publish "Bedfellows." It'll be a sad day when controversial stories are no longer published.

--Vy
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 04:59 pm:   

I misspoke. I meant there are militant atheists who are liberal, not that one inevitably links to the other. There are militant atheists who are decidely libertarian or Right-wing. Ayn Rand, Jon's heroine, is weirdly enough an example of that.

I don't think belief in imprisoning prostitutes or those who sale organs is exactly liberal, but I've never seen evidence it's any less supported by liberals than anyone else. Many feminists I've seen elsewhere indicate even if the woman chooses those willingly she is only doing so because of economic or emotional desperation. A similar argument could be done on abortion as two-thirds of abortions, according to the pro-choice AGI, occur because of poverty. Black women being greatly overrepresented among those who abort. The poorest quintile has went from 4.4 to 3.5% share of the economy since Roe versus Wade.

That some indicate the laws should only go after pimps, well a great percentage of pro-lifers indicate laws against abortion should only punish the doctors. And on China the only criticism International Planned Parenthood offers in its profile is.


quote:

The success of the family planning programme has been handicapped by the traditional preference for sons and large families. Since the population is spread across a vast area it is difficult to make family planning information and services accessible to those living in remote, mountainous and poverty-stricken areas.




So in part their concern is it's not restricting things enough as some still want large families. Their view of Singaporean tendencies toward eugenics is, unsurprisingly, almost glowing.
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RVS
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 05:05 pm:   

Atheism isn't a religion.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 05:12 pm:   

"Could you *dare* to print stories that promote America, that"

Actually, Gordon ran a special-themed American issue. Stupid.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 05:59 pm:   

"Or hate-speech laws in Canada"

Canadians overwhelmingly approve of hate-speech laws as a legitimate restriction on our constitutional right to free speech. We think it's permissible to say, "I disapprove of homosexuality on moral or religious grounds." But you can't say, "Kill the fags!" We see that as a reasonable place to draw the line.

If we didn't approve of the laws, they wouldn't stand. For all its flaws, we have a functioning democracy up here. You can tell that it works because we actually throw out whole governments if they don't represent our principles, as compared to some societies in which politicians are despised but the chances of an incumbent being thrown out of office are about one per cent.


Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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John Thiel
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 06:02 pm:   

I'm glad to see Mr. Pfundstein pointing out that Yngve is not a louse. What it is, he's allowed his say; people who hear this fact rather than seeing it in print might derive "Yngve is a louse" from "Yngve is allowed his say." But the evidence to the contrary of the statement they are mistakenly hearing should lead them to discount the satatement totally.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 06:13 pm:   

Atheism isn't a religion.

TR: Very well faith, metaphysical position, philosophical opinion, ideal, or whatever.

Matt that you vote in hate speech laws says they are democratically done, but doesn't really deny what I said. It is a form of liberal social control on a progressive end.

To be honest I don't think social control is automatically a bad thing. We do need laws even on social things like child abuse. If Canadians think that hate speech laws is another suitable example then that's certainly their right for their nation.

I could do with less Canadian smugness of late. You have a great country, but it's not that great. Added to that we certainly do vote out or take out incumbents. In the last 45 years only two presidents served two full terms. Trudeau was in for 11 years and then came back to be in some more. That could never happen in the US. In many ways you have a safer, less corrupt, friendlier society but don't milk it.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   

On second though you could've meant Japan. I do have a sister there so it's possible. I shouldn't automatically assumed the US. Japan has had LDP rule for like 50 years. Koizumi supported the Iraq war even though most Japanese don't. I don't know enough about the politics there to say if incumbents automatically win, but it's possible.

In fact it wouldn't fit the US anyway. So far in the 20th c. US the longest one party held the Congress, Senate, and Presidency was fourteen years I think. From 1933-47 the Democrats held all that. By definition in a Parliamentary system one party basically controls the legislature in order to have the executive.

So apologies.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 07:16 pm:   

TR: you do change presidents, it's true, but your Congressfolk go on forever, it seems. I mean, I could understand the term-after-term return of congressional incumbents if Americans were by and large delighted with their representatives. But all I ever hear is that you think politicians are crooks so most of you don't even bother to vote when there's no presidential campaign, and those who do tend to return incumbents at a rate of ninety-odd per cent. In recent off-year elections, how many incumbents actually went down to defeat?

Here in British Columbia, the last election saw the ruling party reduced to two seats out of seventy-nine. A dozen years ago, we humbled the mighty federal Tory party; they went from having the largest majority in the history of the Canadian parliament to two seats. In both cases, it was because they pissed the voters off, and when Canadian voters get pissed off, political heads roll.

In the middle of Trudeau's eleven years were two years when he hung on by the skin of his teeth and the indulgence of the New Democratic Party, because after his first term we wouldn't give him another majority. He'd pissed us off, so we taught him a lesson. (I say that with some affection, having been staff speechwriter to his Ministers of Justice and Environment in his third term. I thought he was a great man).

Sorry if our alleged smugness offends. Stretch your mind and imagine what it must be like living next door to the loudest family on the block who are constantly telling each other and everyone else within earshot, and at maximum volume, that they're just the greatest thing ever. Meanwhile you notice that they're always shooting each other up over trivial disputes, jailing each other without trial, leaving their poor relations to suffer without health care and trashing the house of any neighbor they don't take a shine to.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 07:34 pm:   

Liberal social control is more about shaping society toward progressive ends. Like courts saying gay marriage is allowed when voters disagree with it.

This is only a form of social control when it makes gay marriages mandatory: you and you have been living together for some time, so you must be married, etc.

Recognizing gay marriages as legal is something different entirely. When the voters say "He and he may not be legally married" that is a form of social control and actually an infringement of the free practice of religion, as there are religions that have gay marriages.

Noting that gay marriages, which already exist, should have the same legal status as straight marriages is simply an expansion of freedom of association, not an attempt at social control.

And of course, even militant atheists or neo-pagans don't "inflict" their religion on anyone, and I couldn't help but notice that Thomas offered precisely zero examples of this happening. To arch public cultists like Thomas, there mere existence of atheists and pagans in the public sphere is considered "inflicting" their views on him, as they refuse to fall silent even after he explains that he is an adherent of the One True Faith.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 08:24 pm:   

MH:telling each other and everyone else within earshot, and at maximum volume, that they're just the greatest thing ever.

TR: That is annoying. America I think is a good country. It has some good features. The innovation, technology, productivity, private charity, and rates of long-term unemployment are good. It's relatively stable and has one of the oldest continuous constitutions. (San Marino's is older I think)

However it can certainly be arrogant and complacent. It's way too assured of how great it is no matter who's in charge. It's technological success largely comes one the one hand from having a large population where the top 10% are fairly brilliant and on the other the resources to draw in great foreign talent. It's largely ignorant about the rest of the world and not very interested in learning. It's news media cares more about run away brides in Georgia than the most important events in the world. Its people claim to be faithful Christians yet American teens have more sexual partners and pregnancies than almost any modern nation. It's wasteful and obese. Many of its indigenous people reside under living conditions similar to Haiti. And the most annoying thing of all about the US is I usually end up defending it here, or when I talk to Canadians online, because I don't think its as bad as they think. (Also because ultimately I guess I am American so my view of what is "good" or "bad" comes from the bourgeoise American mindset)
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 08:54 pm:   

NM:militant atheists or neo-pagans don't "inflict" their religion on anyone, and I couldn't help but notice that Thomas offered precisely zero examples of this happening.

TR: I try to give links and info, but it's not necessary for every off the cuff statement.

However if you need examples in Vietnam today a largely atheist regime persecutes Mennonites for their faith. In the past Albania under Enver Hoxha inflicted atheism on people.

If you need American examples there likely isn't many, but that's because atheists are a small minority. Still there are certainly atheist philosophies that preach in a matter similar to other small religions in the US. The Objectivists, the Libertarians, Marxists, and some Skeptics. They distribute their literature, denounce "superstition" of other faiths, etc. I'm not sure being told I must read Ayn Rand or Noam Chomsky to understand the world is noticeably less "inflicting" than being told I must read the Bible.

My nephew's grandmother is some kind of Wicca. She was going to take him to a Wiccan ceremony without his, or his Mom's, approval or permission. That certainly seems like inflicting. Besides I meant the more extreme Neo-Pagans and Atheists. If you need to believe they are automatically more virtuous than other faiths that's kind of your business.

To arch public cultists like Thomas, there mere existence of atheists and pagans in the public sphere is considered "inflicting"

TR: Yes, I remember your Nick Mamatas. Flamewarrior and all.

Anyway I'm fine with atheists in the public sphere. Isaac Asimov and Douglass Adams are among my favorite authors. I think it's a shame atheists can't do better in American politics. I took several classes with a lesbian member of Family Wicca. My Aunt's grandson is a Wicca.

Don't assume you ever understood me or that you ever will. You don't and you clearly won't.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 09:49 pm:   

I thought we were talking about "liberals"--not Communists, or socialists. Certainly not authoritarian governments. We were talking about the US.

Thomas, distributed literature is not the same as trying to pass laws that push one specific religion (an extreme part of one religion, at that)onto the whole country.

No one is forced to read atheist literature, although many schools now are forced to teach creationism, even though a very small percentage of Americans believe in it.

You're mentioning an example here and example there. I'm talking about the wholesale passing of laws inimical to most citizens in these United States.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 10:29 pm:   

Ellen is absolutely right. Liberalism and Stalinism are two qualitatively different things.

I wonder if ThomasR would accept the claim that conservative religious people like him are the most likely to try to inflict a particular religion on others if as proof I pointed to Hitler and the Taliban. I doubt he would.

Your version of "some of my best friends are black" is even more ridiculous, Thomas, since you don't even name any real voluntary relationships; one can love Asimov and simply avoid his writings that demolish religion. One can read Adams and gloss over the anttheist jokes. One can take classes with anyone; I hardly shared politics or faith with ANY of my professors. (If I were religious, I'd likely still be Greek Orthodox, a decidedly minority sect with profound disagreements with both Catholicism and Protestantism, so there's no traction there either.) My aunt's grandson is a crank addict, that doesn't mean that I'm accepting of meth use.

Don't assume you ever understood me or that you ever will. You don't and you clearly won't.

Stand down pigeonchest, you already proved me right when you said: The Objectivists, the Libertarians, Marxists, and some Skeptics. They distribute their literature, denounce "superstition" of other faiths, etc. I'm not sure being told I must read Ayn Rand or Noam Chomsky to understand the world is noticeably less "inflicting" than being told I must read the Bible.

Leaving aside the fact that I've never seen any group except for Marxists really distribute literature in any assertive way (say, selling papers on a streetcorner as opposed to simply leaving leaflets around a college campus or relying on the book trade) what you have described as "inflicting" is simply the introduction of atheist ideas into the public sphere, which is what I pointed out your problem was in the first place.

Nobody is interfering with your right to worship or propagate your ideas as you please. However, when I can't buy alcohol on Sunday in certain areas because Sunday is The Lord's Day, then someone's religion is being inflicted on me. When taxpayer dollars go to support the teaching of creationist myth in biology classes or into studying "remote viewing" for intelligence purposes, someone's religion is being inflicted onto me. When two gays cannot legally marry in a civil or a pagan ceremony because of politicians' explicit appeal to the Bible as the foundation of marriage, someone's religion is being inflicted upon them.

Exposure and infliction are two different things. Reasonable people understand that. The only one who do not are those who belong to one of the public cults, and who feel threatened when their exclusive right to enforce their ideas upon others begins being questioned.
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Lord Valve
Posted on Friday, May 13, 2005 - 11:57 pm:   

GVG proselytized:

>Anyone who has been reading stories about aliens
>since the 1950s but still can't understand his own
>species well enough to recognize that some people
>prefer same-sex relationships and that there's nothing
>wrong with it, well, that's a reader I can do without.

ROFLMBFAO! <whew!> Ever hear the old maxim about
not shitting where you eat? Maybe not. 'Scuse me,
son, but I'm hardly in the minority on this one.
And, despite the leftist judges who continue to
legislate from the bench, eventually my side will
win the day. Homosexuality is perversion, and
the Left's attempts to mainstream it are doomed
to failure. I don't expect you to understand
why.

>I'm willing to take my chances with F&SF that there are
>enough open-minded readers around to keep us in business.
>If I'm wrong, I'm sure you'll have a good laugh.

"He who laughs last..."

>Now will you please take your homophobia elsewhere?

I'm having a problem with the "phobia" part of that
word. I don't fear queers, any more than I fear
snakes or scorpions. I wouldn't want a nest of
any of them near my house, though. Disgust and
revulsion are better words in this case. And, to
put the old Lib spin of "different strokes for
different folks" on it, as an American citizen
I have a constitutionally guaranteed right to
be disgusted by any damned thing I want to. The
concerted effort by the Left to make attitudes
like mine a criminal offense notwithstanding,
all the propaganda in the world - including the
stuff you print - will not succeed in indoctrinating
me with the leftist mindset. You, Mr. Van Gelder,
are so immersed in the leftwing popular media culture
that you believe it is reality. You are no more
aware of it than a fish is aware of the water it
swims in; to you, it's just the way things are.
You exist in a 9/10 world, and 9/11 reality is
headed your way like a freight train. Common
sense would dictate that you jump off the tracks,
but then...

LV
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Lord Valve
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 12:22 am:   

Byron Bailey sputtered:

>So, Lord Valve, what brought you here? Wait! I got it.
>Two lonely trolls find themselves on the internet and
>decide to do a one two punch on this forum. How sweet?
>I don't buy there's not a connection between the two.

We're the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.

You remember around two months ago, you got that flat tire?
Yep, Bromfield. That time you stubbed your toe last week,
well, that was me. That bad-tasting cherry tomato you
bit into in that last salad you had? *Both* of us were
in on that one. I mean, it was Jon's tomato, but I was
the one who carried it around in my pocket until it puckered
and softened. That gum you stepped on? Bromfield. That
barking dog that kept you awake all night? I did that one.
We're after you, sparky. Watch your back. Check under your
bed.

BOO!

Start eekin', junior.

Lord Valve
Charter Member, VRC
Wing Commander, Black Helicopter Squadron 7734
Grand Dragoon, Imperial Knights of the Thermionic Clan
And So Forth





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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 01:12 am:   

"How has a neo-pagan tried to inflict his religion on others?"

I don't know about inflict, but personally I've been cornered several times by neo-pagans who have tried to convert me, and uncounted times by atheists trying to do the same. Perhaps that's the company I keep and the fact that I live in a far less predominantly-Christian country. :-)
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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 02:53 am:   

Lord Valve:

I know about that homoerotic dream you had. I know it terrified you. But you don't have to worry. It doesn't mean you're gay. It just means you're afraid that you might be. And when you read about gay activities, your own hatred and insecurities are unleashed. Get over it.


Sorry Gordon, I couldn't resist. :-)
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F. Orlin Tremaine
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 02:57 am:   

Since you make your living working with sound equipment, Valve (I refuse to call you Lord), you'll understand what I mean when I say that your signal-to-noise ratio is unacceptable.

Why are you so prideful of being obnoxious? It actually _is_ possible to have an intelligent debate on whether sexuality belongs in science fiction and whether certain lines have been crossed. Why are you more interested in being abusive than in actually _having_ that discussion? Your bombast gets in the way of your message, and does your cause little good.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 08:28 am:   

"Homosexuality is perversion, and
the Left's attempts to mainstream it are doomed
to failure."

If so, then the American experiment of liberty, justice and freedom shall be a failure.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 10:24 am:   

John Thiel wrote: I'm glad to see Mr. Pfundstein pointing out that Yngve is not a louse. What it is, he's allowed his say; people who hear this fact rather than seeing it in print might derive "Yngve is a louse" from "Yngve is allowed his say." But the evidence to the contrary of the statement they are mistakenly hearing should lead them to discount the satatement totally.
_____

I'm not sure I follow this, so I'll just say that (a.) I was trying to second A. R. Yngve's valiant but doomed attempt to get this thread to talk about "Bedfellows" as a story, and (b.) I was punning, not disrespectfully I hope, on Yngve's name and the catchphrase "Yngvi is a louse!" from an old fantasy novel which is still sometimes read.

JMP("Pratt & de Camp, 'The Roaring Trumpet'")
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 12:48 pm:   

In more primitive times, B and V would have never met. B would have died on the open seas, his vessel floundering while he feverishly tried to read _1984_ one last time. Occasionaly he would look up from his reading and glare at the swarming tiger sharks. "XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX Gardner Dozois XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX liberal sharks XXXX XXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX Hilary Clinton XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX socialists XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX Gordon Van Gelder," he would mutter before burying his head back in the book. Oceania -- er, the ocean -- could be such a totalitarian regime! If you didn't float or swim, you died. Meanwhile, V would have died from electrocution, forlorn and alone. Real men, he believed, stomped homosexuals into the ground and worked with electronics. Alas, gone were the days when he could get away with stomping anyone into the ground without having all their homosexual friends in the police department sending him to jail. Consequently, V was forced to assuage his injured masculinity by indulging in his passion for electronics. The pile of wires grew into a mound and then into a mountain. The bigger the pile, the more of a man he was. V died when the mountain exploded.

Thanks to the internet, though, neither B nor V died quite as described. These two trolls managed to find each other in the desolation of the forums. Oh, they had so much fun together on-line trying to stomp homosexuals, socialists, communists, feminists, liberals, and anyone else they met into the forum ground if not literal ground. B would type in "Hail V!" and get a strange thrill he had never felt before. Meanwhile, V's business collapsed when he started getting more of a tingle from his forum forays with B than he did playing with live wires.

The two agreed to meet at BayCon. They greeted each other tentatively at first but soon went to the bar and downed some beers. Suddenly, B stumbled into V. Their lips met and then B giggled, "Is there a bulge in your pants?" V led B to a back alley, slit his throat, and fed him to the sharks in the bay. V died in the electric chair. Unfortunately, fate can not be denied. The sharks have to eat no matter what. Still, their meeting had not been in vain. On death row when no guard or fellow inmate could hear, V would frequently look out the bars of his cell, his eyes misting with tears, and whisper forlornly, "Yes. There is a bulge in my pants."
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 12:56 pm:   

[i]I don't know about inflict, but personally I've been cornered several times by neo-pagans who have tried to convert me, and uncounted times by atheists trying to do the same.[/i]

Cornered? Like in an alley with a knife to your belly?
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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 12:59 pm:   

I thought we were talking about "liberals"--not Communists, or socialists. Certainly not authoritarian governments. We were talking about the US.

TR: I don't think I ever claimed to be exclusively talking about the US. However if you want liberal there are nations like France or Turkey where religious dress and speech are restricted as against secularism.

No one is forced to read atheist literature

TR: Despite what you might believe no is forced to read the Bible or De Summa theologica either.

although many schools now are forced to teach creationism, even though a very small percentage of Americans believe in it.

TR: Would that this were true. Fact is polls tend to show consistently that a third of Americans are creationists. This is hardly a "small minority." Added to that the majority of Americans think creationism should be taught along with evolution in schools.

I don't deny the US is a democracy so Christian conservative types have an advantage over atheists in making the laws conform to their wishes. If your people had the majority something similar would likely happen. Sweden, France, etc put various restrictions on religious speech. As of right now majority atheist nations are a new phenomena, but judging from the past militant secularist states are quite possible.

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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 01:38 pm:   

I wasn't going to respond to Nick, but I guess not doing so will get me branded cowardly.

I wonder if ThomasR would accept the claim that conservative religious people like him are the most likely to try to inflict a particular religion on others if as proof I pointed to Hitler and the Taliban. I doubt he would.

TR: Of course I would expect those happen. Although the Catholic-Croatian Ustashe might be a better example than Hitler. Still Hitler I guess inflicted a religion mixed from Nationalism/Occultism/Christianity on people. Also Francoist Spain to a degree did that with Catholicism. In the Muslim world you have the FIS who got elected in Algeria, the Iranian Revolution, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Currently the Buddhist(Myanmar), Russian Orthodox, and Islamic worlds seem to be the only places to do that. You could add Turkmenbashi's inflicting of his own odd religion on Turkmenistan, but admittedly a new religion isn't a conservative one. (Then again the Taliban was largely new to most Afghanis, as was FIS electoral victory to Algeria)

However "most likely" I'm not so sure. The most religiously repressive regimes still tend to be atheist states. I'd think the "most likely to inflict" would be Communists and Islamists. I don't see many conservative Catholic regimes in this age. I certainly don't see Orthodox Quakers or conservative Moravians repressing religions these days.

Added to that even in the Islamic world Islamism is not the conservative wing of Islam. (Exempting Saudi) Islamism is generally a radical reactionary movememt against Western colonialism. The major Islamist thinkers had a more Western education than most Mideasterners. Sayyd Qutb studied in the US, Turabi of Sudan got a doctorate from the Sorbonne(or was it Oxford, he studied in both), etc.

So do I agree a conservative religious type is the most likely? Of course I don't. Because that makes "religion" monolithic. Obviously conservative Zoroastrians, Jews, Quakers, Mennonites, etc are not all that likely to inflict religion on others. Do I concede that the most inflicting people are conservative religious types? Again the answer is no. The most inflicting would be whoever is the most politicized. Whether that's Communists, Nationalists, Islamists, or Christian Fundamentalists. Do I concede that some of the most abusive regimes inflicted Christianity on people? Of course I do.

Thomas, since you don't even name any real voluntary relationships

TR: Apologies. There's a WWII vet who's definitely a friend by choice. He's both homosexual and atheist if that matters to you. He thinks I shouldn't have been born as I'm a fifth child and that lower educated people should be sterilized. Still when we don't talk religion he's a very nice guy who I learned a great deal from.

There's also the people I know at college who I do consider friends. Meeting them may not have been by choice, but often friendships start like that.

I'm fine with atheists. I've never had a problem with them in my life unless they feel the need to bother me. I would never try to evangelize or convert them.

If I were religious, I'd likely still be Greek Orthodox

TR: I've considered that as I'm not that comfortable with Benedict XVI, but I'm not sure it fits me well or not. One of my friends is a convert to Greek Orthodoxy, but he did so through marriage. I got the sense just converting on your own is kind of rare.

what you have described as "inflicting" is simply the introduction of atheist ideas into the public sphere, which is what I pointed out your problem was in the first place.

TR: I have no problem with atheist ideas in the public sphere. You've decided I do so nothing I say is likely to change that.

I'm meaning inflicting as in inflicting. That atheists don't have the votes to mandate a national "don't pray" day or something isn't really the issue. I'm talking preaching, browbeating, etc. In some cases where you have a captive audience then proceed to preach at them why atheism is right. That certainly does happen in many universities.

I would hate it if this country ever established that it's a Christian nation. I'd likely leave in such a case. I don't oppose gay marriage if that's what the voters want. Problem is you don't have the country you want. Non-Religion is growing, but still just 15%. So you can't get the overturning of everything you want. That's democracy, not theocracy or a public cult. I think deep down you know this you just like to play games.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 01:46 pm:   

"One of my friends is a convert to Greek Orthodoxy, but he did so through marriage. I got the sense just converting on your own is kind of rare."

My wife is a convert to the orthodox church. So is her priest. I think it's not all that rare in the North American orthodox rite.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 02:12 pm:   

"Cornered? Like in an alley with a knife to your belly?"

No, Nick. I'm sure you're just being argumentative, but if your point is that I could have turned my back or pushed past and walked away rather than listened, you're right. I could have. However, as the people in question have been acquaintances or friends and I have some minimal social inhibitions, I didn't.
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Jim
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 02:27 pm:   

All I can say is thank God I'm at least a good thirty years younger than Lord Valve, and that most folks in my generation actually believe people should be able to live their own lives. Hopefully, his type of closeminded bigotry is quite literally dying off. And good riddance. Of course, their efforts to do away with such pesky things like teaching science (i.e. Evolution) is worrisome, but much like the old guard in China, as they die off, more reasonable open-minded people will be waiting in the wings to toss the dirt on their graves and move forward.

As for Bromfield, who said: "Unfortunately, it's the lib types who are into social control." What country have you been living in for the past five years??? If you're a true libertarian, how can you not LOATHE George W and his conservative croanies? They have done more damage to the rights of the individual than any other government in the history of the USA. Patriot Act is just tip of the iceberg--allowing corporations to gather and sell confidential personal information. Trying to do the same with medical information. Shipping off individuals to foreign nations so they can be tortured. The list goes on and on. No matter how annoying the goodie-two-shoes efforts to infringe on individual rights by liberals in order to institute social control out of misguided effort to do what's good for us, it pales in comparison to how the conservatives have literally moved us toward fascism, with severe invasions into the rights of the individual.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 02:37 pm:   

TR: Of course I would expect those happen.

You miss the point entirely, Thomas.

You brought up liberals, Ellen asked you for examples, you mentioned Communist states. Communist states are NOT liberal states.

MY point is that if you had asked Ellen or me for examples of conservative inflicting of religion, and we responded with "the Nazis" and "the Taliban" you would have very likely rightly objected -- not to the IDEA that those two groups inflicted religion on others, but to the idea that Nazis and the Taliban are best described simply as "conservative." Fascist party-run governments and theocratic warlords are NOT conservative states.

Incidentally, France and Turkey are both poor examples. Much of the French left sees the "secularism" debate for what it is: an anti-Muslim campaign. Chirac and the "establishment" left are hardly so liberal on the issues and hardly that far apart. They no more represent the totally of the political spectrum in France than George W. Bush and Zed Miller do. The French ruling class is simply engaging in a culture war; they ban the hijab in schools, then lower the flags to half-mast when Pope John Paul II died. This has nothing to with liberalism, but is a simple reactionary political campaign run by the two wings of the French ruling class.

Turkey's secular campaign is also not grounded in liberal ideology. Turkish civil society and parliamentary system is quite weak and the military, which retains an enormous amount of political efficacy, is the main secularizing force in that country. Your two examples of left-wing states inflicting secularism are essentially right-wing campaigns.

TR: I have no problem with atheist ideas in the public sphere.

You can repeat this all you like, but you complained "The Objectivists, the Libertarians, Marxists, and some Skeptics. They distribute their literature, denounce "superstition" of other faiths, etc. I'm not sure being told I must read Ayn Rand or Noam Chomsky to understand the world is noticeably less "inflicting" than being told I must read the Bible."

So clearly, you DO consider these things inflicting and have a problem with it. I know, not because I magically decided it, but because you said it!

In some cases where you have a captive audience then proceed to preach at them why atheism is right. That certainly does happen in many universities.

A CAPTIVE audience? Really? What universities have you attended where you were actually held captive by an atheist preacher? I'd LOVE to hear details! I suspect that when I hear them, though, that you'll simply prove my point again: you actively dislike the idea that other people, some of whom may even know more than you, have and share their opinions and reasoning.

Being told things you do not want to hear is not the same as inflicting beliefs on others, sorry. That's the nature of the public sphere: everyone has the chance to persuade. There is nothing onerous about it to reasonable adults.

I don't care at all about all the religious tv channels; I don't care about anti-abortion rallies (except that I'll counterprotest), I don't mind the great heaps of LEFT BEHIND titles in bookstores -- what I do mind are laws that allow pharmacists to withhold prescribed medications on religious grounds, anti-gay marriage amendments based solely on the religious beliefs of their proponents, and real backed-by-the-armed-state laws like that that enforce modes of religious practice onto the non-religious.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 03:05 pm:   

"The Objectivists, the Libertarians, Marxists, and some Skeptics. They distribute their literature, denounce "superstition" of other faiths, etc. I'm not sure being told I must read Ayn Rand or Noam Chomsky to understand the world is noticeably less "inflicting" than being told I must read the Bible."

So clearly, you DO consider these things inflicting and have a problem with it. I know, not because I magically decided it, but because you said it!
********
TR: So I guess I also have a problem with the Bible. After all I indicated it's inflicting to just say I must read it. Not even agree with it or like it, just read it.

It's not the books itself, it's the pushiness. I don't like being told I must read anything. I would never tell you that you must read any Catholic literature ever. I don't even like people telling me I must give Heinlein another try. If I don't want to I'm not going to.

However that kind of pushiness doesn't mean I think anyone should be restricted. I totally defend the right for their to be Communist parties and Ayn Rand associations.

I'm not who you think I am, but as I said you'll never believe that. So this is a tremendous waste of my time.

(Good trick though indicating the French government is Right-wing and only after Islam. Too bad the reality of them restricting Sikh and other religions garb kills it)

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mark samuels
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 04:38 pm:   

It seems to me that the type of liberalism that dominates here on the Nightshade boards has much in common with the philanthropy of Dickens's character Mr. Honeythunder. Cf:

"...his philanthropy was of that gunpowderous sort that the difference between it and animosity was hard to determine. You were to abolish military force, but you were first to bring all commanding officers who had done their duty, to trial by court–martial for that offence, and shoot them. You were to abolish war, but were to make converts by making war upon them, and charging them with loving war as the apple of their eye. You were to have no capital punishment, but were first to sweep off the face of the earth all legislators, jurists, and judges, who were of the contrary opinion. You were to have universal concord, and were to get it by eliminating all the people who wouldn’t, or conscientiously couldn’t, be concordant. You were to love your brother as yourself, but after an indefinite interval of maligning him (very much as if you hated him), and calling him all manner of names. Above all things, you were to do nothing in private, or on your own account. You were to go to the offices of the Haven of Philanthropy, and put your name down as a Member and a Professing Philanthropist. Then, you were to pay up your subscription, get your card of membership and your riband and medal, and were evermore to live upon a platform, and evermore to say what Mr. Honeythunder said, and what the Treasurer said, and what the sub–Treasurer said, and what the Committee said, and what the sub–Committee said, and what the Secretary said, and what the Vice–Secretary said. And this was usually said in the unanimously–carried resolution under hand and seal, to the effect: ‘That this assembled Body of Professing Philanthropists views, with indignant scorn and contempt, not unmixed with utter detestation and loathing abhorrence’—in short, the baseness of all those who do not belong to it, and pledges itself to make as many obnoxious statements as possible about them, without being at all particular as to facts."
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 04:49 pm:   

So I guess I also have a problem with the Bible. After all I indicated it's inflicting to just say I must read it. Not even agree with it or like it, just read it.


Nope, that just shows that you, as you often do when your hypocrisy shows through, changed arguments midstream. What Ellen meant by inflicting has already been described several times. "Pushiness" isn't a part of it. A mass movement to change people's behavior through legislation is.


(Good trick though indicating the French government is Right-wing and only after Islam. Too bad the reality of them restricting Sikh and other religions garb kills it)

And here's a classic example of how you remove facts from context rather than admit that you're wrong. The battle over the hijab has been ongoing since 1989 and until very recently generally ONLY meant the hijab. It's widely agreed that Sikhs and people who wear crucifixes and yarmulkes to school are simply caught in the crossfire over the cultural struggle with Islam.

Indeed, before the rising number of Muslim immigrants, there were virtually no worries about other forms of religious garb in schools. The government, under right-wing leadership, MADE it an issue as part of a reactionary cultural program of immigrant scapegoating.

In the mid-1990s, The Minister of Education ordered the expulsion from schools of all female students who wore the hijab. The French government took no action against Roman Catholic students wearing a crucifix, Protestant students wearing a cross, Sikh male students wearing a turban, or Jewish male students wearing a yarmulke (skullcap).

Tthe regulation against all religious attire was late in coming -- the hijab had been debated for 15 years, the rest only added as an afterthought -- and is still applied very unevenly: many schools DO allow Sikhs to wear elements of their traditional turbans for example, but Muslim headscarfs are treated much more harshly.

Your argument reminds me very much of the Southern partisans who claimed that the KKK wasn't racist when it reformed back in 1915 because they didn't only attack blacks but also targeted some white people who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 05:28 pm:   

Yup you're a waste of my time. The reason atheist groups couldn't make legislation is because they don't have the population numbers. I already said that. You might as well praise the tolerance of the Amish as they're small and rarely vote.

Now before you twist me into a pretzel again the original statement of Ellen's was.

Ever hear of a liberal who inflicted her religion on others?

My response: Not as often, but it happens. Some of the more fanatical atheists or Neo-Pagans come to mind.

I was not referring to atheists, liberals, or Neo-Pagans in general. I was saying there is some more militant members of those groups who would. Just as there are some more militant members of anything who would. Although they may not be liberal in the classic since restrictions on freedoms caused by secularists regimes are in many ways liberal. They descend from the French Revolutionary style Left and ideas of laicisme. They say so. Added to that Communism did spring from the Left even if you can find some theory to state otherwise.

That being said Chirac is a conservative so I will give you credit for not always being wrong. I assumed he was Liberal because he was running against the Rightist Le Pen. (Which from US standards he still would be liberal, but pleasingly this is a more internationalist crowd.)
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 08:12 pm:   

"Homosexuality is perversion, and the Left's attempts to mainstream it are doomed to failure."

Yes and no. When my father was in school, being openly gay would have gotten you killed. When I was in school, being openly gay would have gotten you beat up on a regular basis. These days you can be openly gay in school, and all that will most likely happen is that you might get teased a bit. You lost this one. Gay marriage bans are just the last gasp before the inevitable. Debate and argue all you like, what's done is done and can't be undone. There are too many millionaires, politicians, doctors, soldiers and teachers who are out of the closet and aren't likely to climb back in.

That said, your side isn't going to win, it already has. "Bedfellows" is oddly appropriate, because the right wing should be sending flowers and thank you cards to Osama bin Laden. Without 9/11, the right wouldn't have the power they now have. A lot of normally rational people voted for Bush because he promised to protect them from terrorism, where Kerry was promising... something, I'm not entirely sure what. Bush stood for fighting terrorism, Kerry stood for not-Bush. People said "we'll give up any rights you like, just save us from terror." Regardless of the consequences of that action, it's been done. You will never again greet your friends and family at the airport gate. What's done can't be undone. No amount of bitching on message boards or name-calling is going to change that.

At some point I realized that I was greatly mistaken about current events in this country. I felt that things had gone insane, that a small minority had gone over the deep end, and that I had to do something to retain my freedoms. Now I understand that this country is getting exactly what it wants. The majority is perfectly happy with how things are going. And the majority doesn't like me, doesn't accept my lifestyle or beliefs, and that in general I'm not welcome here. I live in this country on sufferance of the majority. I don't believe in god, I don't believe in spreading democracy at the end of a sword, I don't believe in giving up my personal freedoms in exchange for protection from terrorists that my own government created. Being that I live in a democracy, and being a supporter of democracy, I have to understand that the majority rules.

Once upon a time, I was a Marine. As anyone who knows me can attest, I was quite proud of that fact. It's a hard job, and many wash out. I thought that being willing to die for my country, doing shitty jobs in shitty conditions for shitty pay, I thought that made me a patriot. Now I see that being willing to lay down my life for a country that doesn't want me doesn't make me brave or a patriot, it makes me a sucker.

Our business partner, co-owner of these very boards, just got back from a tour in Iraq. Four days after his return, I spoke to him for about 90 minutes, the first time I had talked to him in over a year. He told me of ambushes, of countless near misses, of bullets flying past and countless tourniquets. He told me of flipping through a photo album and thinking "He's dead. He's dead. Everyone in this picture is dead. That man has lost both legs." This man, a liberal man, a non-christian man, a supporter of gay marriage, spent a year in hell because he felt it was his duty to his country. After having done a tour in the Marines with me, where I met him. He felt that his duty wasn't done and his country needed him again, which is more than I can say for myself. He has returned with a headful of memories he can never forget, to find out that he is a hater of freedom, he is un-American, he is evil.

The right has won. We liberals rant and rave on our livejournals all day about it, because it's our way of coping with the fact that this country is lost to us. We aren't welcome. So why are you spending your time on a liberal message board dedicating to genre fiction, baiting the losers? Why not spend your time celebrating your great victory, your reclamation of your great country?

I don't even know why I took the time to come up with this post. I'm not a writer, I'm completely unable to phrase things the way I'd like to, and nothing I say here will matter anyway.

On a last note, take the politics to the Politics and Religion Board. If you want to talk about F&SF, talk here. If you want to talk about liberal neo-pagans and how they should all burn, take it to the appropriate forum, or I'll whack the whole thread. It's your country, but it's my board.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 08:24 pm:   

LV & Jon are obnoxious and this is leaning toward being more appropriate to P&R.

I certainly do not want any restrictions on liberals, atheists, neopagans, or what have you. If it seemed in any way that I implied otherwise, I apologize.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 08:32 pm:   

Hey, Lord Vulva....

buncha us chipped in and sent you a singing Homo-gram along with a year's supply of anal stimulators Happy trails.

Yers til the Day of the Rope, good buddy.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 09:38 pm:   

I was saying there is some more militant members of those groups who would.

No, actually you said that they did, and that several came to mind.

Which "liberals" came to mind? Well, apparently, the only ones you named at first were two nations far far to the left of liberalism.

Then you tried again and came up with two nations who are not liberal!

And I'm the waste of YOUR time? Christ, you didn't even know Chriac was a conservative and you get off lecturing people on French politics? Grow up, twerp -- the puffing and bluster may thrill them in the dorm room bull sessions, but some of us actually know what we're talking about.
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RVS
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 10:25 pm:   

Nightshade books, thank you for the post and the time you took to write it. I appreciate your sentiments and your point of view.
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Claudia OKeefe
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 10:48 pm:   

"I don't even know why I took the time to come up with this post. I'm not a writer, I'm completely unable to phrase things the way I'd like to..."

You could fool me. That was one of the best personal summations I've read about experiences in Iraq on any board, and believe me, I read a number of them. Thank you for that rational, thoughtful post.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 11:01 pm:   

Yes Nick I know you're you. You'll always be you, it's fine. Probably what works for you even.

However I think what few reasonable people still come here would know that I don't consider liberals, atheists, etc to be any more intolerant than anyone else. I'm just no longer sure many reasonable people come here.

As for me what works for me is not this place. This is the most unpleasant spot of the Net I think I've seen. (Discounting rec.arts.sf, which I never subscribed to) I subscribe to this magazine so I used to in least feel comfortable here. However I've figured I would have to drop a magazine subscription soon because of financial transitions. I intended to drop Asimov's and only buy it occasionally from now on when I go to the bookstore. However I realized months ago that dropping FSF would make more sense. I'd got far more behind on it and the bookstore now carries it in a nice display.

So I'll hopefully still buy a few that look good to me at the store. I'll also hopefully be leaving this place permanently and not renewing my subscription to this magazine.

I want to say this has nothing to do with this silly story or anything like that. As mentioned I still even hope to get issues at times. However I no longer have the time or money to completely keep up with two magazines. I'm too much of a wimp to deal with the people here any longer.

In conclusion, I hope to see some of you elsewhere. You likely know who you are. And I hope to never see Jon Bromfield, Lord Valve, Nick Mamatas, and Lucius Shepard again.

Zai Jian!
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Lord Valve
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 12:26 am:   

>It's your country, but it's my board.

That's right, slick. And both are populated
with far too many pervs. Like I said - not
one more thin dime. F&SF will be broke in
five years.

That sound you'll hear will be me, laughing
last.

And best.

See y'all - I'm outta here.

Lord Valve
American

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RVS
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 01:41 am:   

I'm sorry to hear you're leaving, Thomas R. I don't agree with you, but I was interested in what you had to say.
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Night Shade Books
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 02:17 am:   

>That's right, slick. And both are populated with far too many pervs.

That's what people like you never seem to understand. The pervs have always been here. They came over on the Mayflower, just like everyone else. There have always been pervs, there will always be pervs.

>Like I said - not one more thin dime. F&SF will be broke in five years.

Wrong person, genius. F&SF isn't spelled "Night Shade Books". Although I'm sure Gordon isn't weeping over your absence either.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 02:36 am:   

I'm just no longer sure many reasonable people come here.


Yeah, that must be it. It's not that you talk out your ass constantly or anything, it's that so many of us are unreasonable, what with our knowing what party Chirac belongs to and all that...
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 06:12 am:   

Don't worry, RVS....TR isn't leaving, don't you believe it. He's just gone off to clean his blowhole.

Hey Gordon, here's an idea. How about Red State-Blue State versions of F&SF? You'd have to tweak the stories a little, but this way you'd both be able to keep yer base and placate mental giants like Lord Valve, American.
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RVS
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 10:30 am:   

That may be, Lucius. But I respect Thomas for maintaining a calm demeanor through most of this conversation... the thread's gotten pretty mean at times and I never saw him personally attack anyone, Bromfield aside.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 02:03 pm:   

Ellen Datlow writes:

"Hey, ever hear of a liberal wanting to prevent a woman from maintaining control over her own body?"

Sure, a lot of libs I know draw the line at Partial Birth Abortion. Some want to put substance-abusing pregnant women behind bars until the baby is born; others want manditory pre-natal monitoring.

"Ever hear of a liberal who inflicted her religion on others?"

I've never met any religious type, Christian, who wanted to inflict their religion on others. Please cite me an example of anyone Christian wanting to "inflict" their religion on Ellen Datlow. What's your definition of "inflict"? Probably like Socialist's Sue's idea of the horrible human rights abuses of the Patriot Act. You know, things like making protestors feel "uncomfortable" or not having "Shoot Bush" posters in their tax-payer funded dorm rooms...

The truly offensive thing about "Bedfellows" is the equating of Bush and OBL. They're "nothing without each other." For shame. Was Roosevelt nothing without Hitler? Wilson nothing without the Kaiser? A policeman nothing without murderers?






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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 02:48 pm:   

JB,

Since you obviously didn't bother to read my response to Thomas (who never really responded to my original points), here it is again:

Thomas, I don't see liberals trying to pass laws that would put women in jail for selling kidneys or their bodies. If you have a news report of this, please show me.

A fanatical atheist is not a liberal. And an atheist isn't preventing others from practicing their own religion in private. If so, again, please give examples.

How has a neo-pagan tried to inflict his religion on others? As far as I can tell, they just want to be left alone to prace their own religion, the way they choose. Again, examples please.

Even if you provide an example or two, you're talking about a handful of people who not acting in concert. Conservatives who are trying to prevent women like me from having abortions are not just one or two here or there. It's a movement. If I'm mistaken, then please provide examples of massive liberal movements to penalize women for being prostitutes or selling their organs.
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 04:08 pm:   

"I've never met any religious type, Christian, who wanted to inflict their religion on others."

Wtf? Ann Coulter ring a bell?

Of course, if she hadn't made her headline-getting phrase about forcible conversion to Christianity, few but the Bromfields would have heard of her, so I consider this less an honest response and more a cynical (and successful) bid to grab attention.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2005 - 05:23 pm:   

Don't give up your subscription Thomas. Give up junk food or booze first.
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Michael Samerdyke
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 08:01 am:   

Three thoughts on "Bedfellows."

First, I don't think Harry Turtledove can write humor. I really liked "The Last Article" and "Vermin," but once he had a story in F&SF about a group of monks whose rules forbade having women in the house so they openly went to the local brothel. That was the joke and the point of the story. "Bedfellows" seems on par with that effort.

Second, the publication of the story does reflect political bias. What if Mr. Turtledove had written a story called "Come Back to the Raft, Huck Honey" in which Martin Luther King and George Wallace have a homosexual relationship? Does anyone think such a story would be published? I don't think so.

Third, a cynic might think "Bedfellows" was published to establish an alibi. F&SF goes out of business, and everyone says: "Yeah, the government forced them to close after they published that Bush-Bin Laden story."
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Adam-Troy Castro
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 08:06 am:   

"The offended reactions of some people are enough to establish the existence of people who need to be offended as frequently as possible."
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 10:03 am:   

Michael,
You need a smiley face at the end of your last line to show that you're joking. Which I'm sure you are. ;-)
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R.Wilder
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 10:26 am:   

All this talk of F&SF folding makes me sad. I'm a committed subscriber for life, dammit.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 11:03 am:   

Ellen, I did indeed read your response to the mealy-mouth ThomasR, and you're not addressing my question.

Here it is again, restated:

You and others made a big deal about Christians trying to "inflict" their religion on you. Give me a specific example of any Christian attempting to pull you into church. Sorry, things like wanting to abolish or limit abortion, banning animal sacrifice, or even laws against sodomy and the like are NOT inflicting religion on you. So again I ask: give me an example of anyone trying to inflict their religion on Ellen Datlow.

Thank you.

By the way, I'm an Agnostic, and I don't feel threatened by Jerry Farwell or Pat Robertson one little bit. And Ann Coulter? She's a gadfly who sometimes uses hyperbole to make a point. Chill out, MarkL!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 12:15 pm:   

JB,
Of course, banning abortion, etc is an infliction of their religious beliefs on those who do not agree or hold with those beliefs. If you cannot see that I don't see how I can clarify it any better.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 12:32 pm:   

Jon Bromfield said, "You and others made a big deal about Christians trying to "inflict" their religion on you. Give me a specific example of any Christian attempting to pull you into church. Sorry, things like wanting to abolish or limit abortion, banning animal sacrifice, or even laws against sodomy and the like are NOT inflicting religion on you. So again I ask: give me an example of anyone trying to inflict their religion on Ellen Datlow."

How 'bout those who want to put prayer back in school? Who oppose removing the "under God" clause in the Pledge of Allegiance? Who want to teach abstinence only? Who, in fact, put into place laws that deny funding for sex ed that actually teaches STD and pregnancy prevention? The only reason NOT to teach the value of condoms and so forth is because it is somehow against nature, a sin, not in the Bible, et cetera.

Ditto for homosexuals. The only argument against allowing homosexuals to marry is that the Bible, somehow, somewhere, along with a plethora of strict dietary rules not observed by the Christian right, forbids it. People seem to forget there are two parts to marriage: the religious part, which is a choice, and does allow churchs to decide who they will and will not marry, and which is not legally necessary; and the secular part, which is legally necessary, but whose basis is the Constitution, which is, in principle if not in fact, supposed to guaranteed the rights of all U.S. citizens. We've amended it before, most notably with respect to women and blacks.

What about those who want to remove evolution altogether, or have science teachers allow an "alternative" viewpoint: creationism? Might as well have 'em debate whether the earth is flat or round. Or if the earth is the center of the universe. Hell, the Catholic church accepted evolution not too long ago. Creationism is a product of belief in the literalness of the Bible; forcing it to be taught in schools is, in fact, inflicting religion on others.

Sean
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RVS
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 01:13 pm:   

Ms. Datlow and Mr. Van Gelder (Ellen and Gordon? I hate to keep using formal titles for you when I'm not for others... eh.), I wanted to say that I find it very pleasing that you both feel comfortable enough to express your political opinions so frankly in this public space. It's heartening. Some of the non-fiction editors I've worked with are very much tied into their marketing departments; everything they said, or everything I said when affiliated with the magazine, had to be spun and filtered.

I've read most of the F&SFs since 1996 (I'm behind this year, but I used to read them within a week of when they arrived in my mailbox). And I have to say that I don't agree with those who are alleging a liberal bias in the magazine. It may be an influence, but the magazine definitely represents stories that do not take a liberal perspective by authors who do not take a liberal perspective. Thomas Disch, for instance, who wrote very critically about Ursuala K. LeGuin and the softening or feminization (I don't remember what term he used exactly) of science fiction in The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of.

I apologize for not stating this earlier if the discussion has moved on.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 01:54 pm:   

Ellen Datlow writes:

"Of course, banning abortion, etc is an infliction of their religious beliefs on those who do not agree or hold with those beliefs. If you cannot see that I don't see how I can clarify it any better."

This is nonsense. As stated, I'm an agnostic, yet I oppose abortion. Why? Because I'm convinced it, like euthanasia, cheapens our regard for human life. My world view is that human life, because of it's rationality, is exceptional and must be protected by custom and law. No God needed for this view. Even Socialist/Atheist Sue on the Asimov's forum is opposed to Partial Birth Abortion. Believe me, Sue is not trying to inflict any religion on anybody!

Ellen, there are many, many non-religious people like me who also oppose abortion. Obviously this is not an "infliction" of religious belief, it's an infliction of a moral standard, arrived at by objective values and acknowledgement of human nature. Like not allowing cockfights or gambling in a particular area. Again, no god(s) required.

You may disagree, and you have the right to push YOUR view of morality, like making Christian landlords accept gay or non-married couples as renters. I personally think that's an horrendous violation of a person's conscience. But hey, that's part of living in a democracy.

Once again, can you cite an instance where you personally were the victim of some Christian wanting to "inflict" their religion on you?

Thought so.

Sean, prayer in school is problematic. I'm opposed to public (read Government) schools on principle and would never, had I had any, send one of my kids to one. Given that we do and always will, I don't have really any problem with school prayer, if it's done in a ecumenical sort of way. I'm confident that children are able to think for themselves about this sort of thing. God knows I was! ;-)

Sean also writes:

"The only argument against allowing homosexuals to marry is that the Bible, somehow, somewhere, along with a plethora of strict dietary rules not observed by the Christian right, forbids it."

This is even more silly than Ellen's comment. Sean, show me ONE society in human history that officially recognized homosexual marriage, ONE. That would include pagan, Hindu, Shinto, Moslem, Communistic, Socialist (until just recently), Atheist (The French after the Revolution). Obviously humans, whatever their religious beliefs, even if none, chose not to sanction homosexual marriages, for a lot of good reasons.

And finally, Sean, Creationism is not the exclusive belief of Christianity, and evolution doesn't explain everything.

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 02:31 pm:   

YOu know Jon,
I'm not forcing you or anyone you know to have an abortion. All I want is for people like you to stay out of my bedroom, thank you.
That's the bottom line as far as I'm concerned. Whether you're agnostic, Christian, or Atheist doesn't matter to me.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 02:40 pm:   

RVS,
You can address me as "Ellen." In fact, I wish you would on the BB.

I know I skimmed The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of and I don't know his argument or what his problem was with Le Guin. However....I'd say that whether Disch likes her science fiction or not, it IS science fiction.

Tom Disch writes biting satire of all types. I don't always like it, I don't always agree with it. His classic story "Casablanca" is scarily apt today. He wrote a play about the church's reaction to the abuse scandals several years ago. But I'd be willing to argue that these days and for many years, he rarely writes anything that could remotely be classified as science fiction.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 02:50 pm:   

Michael S.---

Interesting points. Point #2 shows up just how hard satire is. You're right that "Come Back to the Raft" with King and Wallace would fall on its face. But the same satire with Reverend Al Sharpton and Rudy Giuliani rafting down the Hudson strikes me as having great potential (though the humor might not extend much beyond the New York area). The same satire with Reverend Al Sharpton and Michael Bloomberg doesn't have the same potential (to me). The reasons are myriad and we could analyze them for a good while, but we'd wind up, as Mark Twain said of analyzing humor, with a dead frog.

Point #3---you're mighty cynical just to come up with that thought. In the current marketplace, I don't think any fiction magazine needs an alibi to go out of business. And believe me, if we're on the brink of going under, you'll hear about it here and anywhere else where I could enlist people to keep the magazine afloat.

RVS, your question makes me feel like Bill Murray in THE LIFE AQUATIC when Owen Wilson asks if he can call Murray "Dad." Call me whatever you want. The discussion board does make for a weird dynamic, since it's an informal discussion among people who mostly haven't met in person. "GVG" works good for me.
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RVS
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 05:13 pm:   

Sorry, just trying to find my way around etiquette. :-)
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Sean Melican
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 06:46 pm:   

I'll give you four:

1. Ancient Greece: While being excusively homosexual was frowned on, bisexuality was accepted, even encouraged.

2. The Azande of Central Africa allowed young bachelors without access to women to have 'boy wives' as a substitute.

3. In parts of New Guinea, older men would receive fellatio from younger boys, believing that they were passing on their manhood through their sperm. It was expected, accepted, necessary. Homosexual? Not in the way we understand it but equally condemned by Western Judeo-Christian values.

4. In various Native American groups, boys went on 'dream quests' to discover their identity. Some of them found that the symbols in their dreams meant they were female, and so they'd don female clothing and perform female duties, including marriage, where they would by definition be the female, meaning they'd do, essentially, the cooking and cleaning. Not homosexual in the same sense that we understand it (gender is defined not by genitalia but function) but the sexual actions would be homosexual in nature, and accepted.

The difficult is that constructions of gender and sexuality are fluid. Not all groups define manhood or womanhood exclusively by the type of genitalia, as we tend to.

You said, "A lot of good reasons." Name one. One, that isn't based on the Bible.

The general argument, when it isn't tied directly to the Bible, is that homosexual marriage isn't 'traditional.'

But the modern version of marriage is anything but 'traditional.' The idea of marrying only for love is quite recent. Marriage was, even within the J-C tradition, performed more for social functions, uniting families (especially within the royalty, for purposes of uniting kingdoms and so forth) or distributing wealth (dowries). Love was never a consideration. In just about every Western group I can think of, until recently and even in some groups now, women were chattel, property that could be treated as the husband saw fit. Phyiscal buse, marital rape weren't illegal. A widow might lose everything because she couldn't own anything.

Many groups have arranged marriages, in which love plays absolutely no role. In Britain, not so long ago, class considerations were more important than love. In the U.S., it's been only a few decades that interracial marriage has been legally sanctioned.

Of course creationism is not the sole province of Christianity. But, of course, it's easier to distort than debate, isn't it? Many religions have various cerations stories, but I don't see a hell of a lot of people advocating that we accept the vaidity of ancient Greek, Egyptian, North American Indian, et cetera creation myths. What is the evidence that creationists would have teachers teach? The Bible. (And, by the way, don't bother to respond to the dietary laws issue. If a creationist is to accept the Bible as complete and true, then there are an awful lot of laws that they simply don't accept. It's pick-and-choose theology, except when someone picks and chooses something you don't like.)

Does evolution explain everything? No, but neither does the Bible, nor anything else. Evolution, however, does explain the paleontological record. Unlike creationism, which simply ignores evidence. It explains the substantial DNA record showing disparate species related to one another.

Sean

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Matt Hughes
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 07:15 pm:   

Re: Christians forcing religion on the unwilling

At the age of ten I was confined to a grade five classroom in a Kitchener, Ontario, public school with a woman teacher who insisted that every student in the class learn the names of all the books of the Bible.

She had the classroom organized into competitive rows; those who didn't learn their Exodus to Revelation cost their row a star. Those who did not go to church on Sunday cost their row a star on Monday morning. This was not on the grade five curriculum; I went to three other schools that year and none of them taught this stuff, although the Lord's Prayer was compuslory every morning.

Eventually, I got tired of having fistfights with members of my row who wanted to get those stars of approval, so I simply lied on Monday mornings and told her I'd been to church.

So she didn't teach me much religion, but she sure taught me hypocrisy.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 07:18 pm:   

Gosh, I left out Genesis. Must be getting old.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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RVS
Posted on Monday, May 16, 2005 - 09:07 pm:   

There is a group in New Guinea (possibly the same one Simon mentioned) which considers homosexuality normative.

In that society, heterosexual sex is considered to make various spirits angry, must never be done near fields because it would stop the crop, and is instead done outside the village despite the fact that there are poisonous snakes (and indeed, the snakes are said to be drawn to heterosexual couples with the intent of biting them because heterosexual sex is supposed to enrage the snakes). That culture proscribes heterosexual sex on most days of the year - it is forbidden more days than it is allowed.

Many Native American tribes had rites which allowed an individual to take on a gender to which he or she had not been physically born or to take on an androgynous third gender. That person could marry accordingly.

There are places in Africa where older women may marry young women, have them impregnated, and be considered the 'father' of their wives' offspring.

Beyond these examples of homosexuality, the idea that marriage has always been between a man and a woman is ludicrous when one considers the many cultures that practice polygamy and the one or two that practice polyandry.

Also, the idea that one's sexual orientation should be defined by which gender one had the desire to fuck is relatively modern. Older cultures had different poles by which they judged people - in the middle ages, for instance, one was likely to define oneself as sexual or asexual.

One could commit homosexual acts, but homosexuality as an identity grew out of medicalization in the Victorian era.

The Greeks were happy bisexuals, but considered oral sex beyond the pale. The women of the island of lesbos were indeed known for their sexual extravagance - but not because they slept with each other. Their sin was giving oral sex to men.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 12:29 pm:   

Ellen writes:

"'m not forcing you or anyone you know to have an abortion."

No, but those who advocate abortion-on-demand surely want me to pay for it.

"All I want is for people like you to stay out of my bedroom, thank you."

Good grief, who'd want to be in your bedroom? This is a real lefty canard, that conservatives really care what you do with your naughty-bits. It's the CONSEQUENCES of what you do with your naughty-bits that concern society at large. Matt Hughes poses the standard line about well, alcohol, gambling, driving, etc. costs society so do you want to ban alcohol, etc., etc....but this just dodges the issue.

What you don't seem to realize, Ellen, is that really all governments do IS restrict what you can do with your body. You might want to sell your vagina for money; most places won't let you. You might want to trade the labor of your body for a wage under the minimum; society won't let you. You might want to eviscerate kittens in a pagan ceremony; society won't let you. What we strive for, of course, is maximum personal liberty with minimal restrictions. This is the arena of politics, and religion (primarily Judeo-Christian) based morality, like it or not, is the basis of Western Civilization.

And you have not yet given me an example of you personally being "inflicted" with religion, or even abused by the Patriot Act.

Sean writes:

"I'll give you four."

No, you give me none. I said "officially recognized." Even my favorite ancients, the Greeks, recognized only male/female marriages. And, contrary to what most people think, the same-sex couplings were highly restrictive (no anal penetration by a younger male on an older male, for instance). Violations could bring ridicule, banishment and worse.

The other you cite are not apt either. I clearly meant civilized societies not primitive hunter/gathering tribes and clans, wherein all sorts of odd behaviors can exist. When people start to order themselves in more complex relationships clearly it is necessary to establish customs and taboos for the common good.

Why discourage homosexuality? Some obvious reasons:

1) It would take otherwise healthy people out of the reproductive pool, not good when most babies died and you need children to grow up to work the fields, fight enemies and take care of the old folks.

2) Shoot me for saying this, but women civilize males. Young males left to their own uninhibited sexual drives destroy civilization. Look at any American inner city for proof of this. And as more men die young (from hunting accidents, wars) you need those around to care for the females and children.

3) The rather unhygienic nature of certain homosexual acts (since Gordon will censor me, I'll not name them. You know what they are) spread dieases. Remember, no good condoms until the 20th-Century!

and so on....

Matt Hughes writes"

"At the age of ten I was confined to a grade five classroom in a Kitchener, Ontario, public school with a woman teacher who insisted that every student in the class learn the names of all the books of the Bible."

Oh boo-hoo...how did your sensitive soul survive? Hardly the same as being forced to wear a burka and forbidden to read anything other than the Koran, eh Matt? Sheesh!

enough for now.



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Anonymous
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 01:17 pm:   

"The rather unhygienic nature of certain homosexual acts (since Gordon will censor me, I'll not name them. You know what they are)"

Not that there's anything wrong with them!
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paulw
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 02:09 pm:   

To respond to Bromfield's "points":

1. "It would take otherwise healthy people out of the reproductive pool, not good when most babies died and you need children to grow up to work the fields, fight enemies and take care of the old folks."

This may perhaps be valid for some societies at certain points in their history, but no one can feasibly claim that it is true for the US today, and I would challenge Bromfeld to provide an example from history of a society that collapsed in this fashion. Anyway, today overpopulation is the problem, rather than the reverse; in such times, homosexuality may well help survival, and who knows, perhaps is even an evolutionary adaptation for that purpose.

2. "Shoot me for saying this, but women civilize males. Young males left to their own uninhibited sexual drives destroy civilization. Look at any American inner city for proof of this. And as more men die young (from hunting accidents, wars) you need those around to care for the females and children."

Bang. This is a thinly disguised bit of racism, on top of the overt sexism.

3. "The rather unhygienic nature of certain homosexual acts (since Gordon will censor me, I'll not name them. You know what they are) spread dieases. Remember, no good condoms until the 20th-Century!"

Hmm. What homosexual acts are you referring to here? I can't think of any that are not also practiced by heterosexual couples. What you are really objecting to is not sexual preference but sexual activities. While it is true that some sexual acts are likely to spread diseases, I believe the diseases in question are not bigoted and will gladly take advantage of any vector, as witness syphilis, gonorreah, and so on. This is just ignorance, willful or otherwise.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 03:00 pm:   

-Give me a specific example of any Christian attempting to pull you into church.-

You're misunderstanding her concern, and building a strawman. What she, I think, is concerned about is a society that enforces laws that are based on religious belief. The vast majority of anti-abortion activists are acting out of religious belief. Citing late-term abortion is misdirection, Jon, because it's taking an extreme example and using it to represent the whole hog. Simply not accurate. So. When a society tries to enforce laws that are based purely on religious principles, that religion is being forced, with threat of legal consequences, on the citizenry.

A modern example. None of the points that you gave are reasons for disallowing homosexual marriage in modern America. They're just not. If anything, you're arguing that we should encourage monogamy among the homosexual community. One by one:

1)Gene pool: Voluntary removal from the gene pool isn't something that the government should be pushing anyway. You said yourself that you don't have children, Jon. Whatever your reason (which is irrelevant, so please don't tell me) you are personally in violation of your own point. And these people wouldn't be in the gene pool anyway. Better yet, we have plenty of unwanted children looking for stable couples to adopt them.

2)Your second point is almost humorous, if it weren't racist. That's an issue of class structure. In fact, the form of your point would make it seem that the inner city was rampant with violent, homosexual monogamists. Silly. If what you're saying were true, the vast majority of criminals would be gay. I suppose the same would be said of those who most actively wage wars. It's kinda cute.

3)Like Paul said, these acts are not exclusive to the homosexual community. Regardless, nothing in that statement is an argument against the creation of stable, monogamist homosexual couples. Quite the opposite actually.

Please stop trying to rationalize your hate, Jon. You're embarassing yourself.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 03:10 pm:   

Bromfield writes, "I clearly meant civilized societies not primitive hunter/gathering tribes and clans, wherein all sorts of odd behaviors can exist."

Oh my. Where to begin? 'Primitive,' as you've used it, is considered by almost all anthropologists to be a derogatory term, a product, mostly, of Victorian society, in which the Noble Savage was something less than human. I can't think of a single anthropologist who would use the word 'primitive' in such a, well, _primitive_ manner. It was used to excuse all sorts of things, including, you may or may not recall, slavery.

Now we can see where your thoughts come from, and, frankly, reject you out of hand. You obviously have only the most primitive understanding of human nature. And to think that some strange watershed moment of 'civilization' arrests odd behavior?
(What, exactly, is odd behavior anyway? I think people who delight in yo-yos are odd, as are people who collect spoons/plates/dolls/baseball cards/Stars Wars memorabilia/et cetera, but not those who delight in the myriad ways of sexual pleasure.) There are any number of odd behaviors, sexual in nature and not, among Western peoples.

And, curiously, all of the reasons you gave for arresting homosexuality are, in fact, the very reasons it might be accepted today. Overpopulation is a problem now, not underpopulation. Condoms do exist. And used properly, work quite well. As for needing men to take care of women, wow, are you in the wrong century. Women don't _need_ men. Thanks to science, our sole purpose has been almost eliminated. Think of all those stories in which men are eliminated, and society relies on parthenogenesis. I can't think of a single story in which the reverse were true, largely because men cannot, even with science, exist without women. And, women work and do quite well at it. (I'm a stayhome dad, by the way, dependent on my wife for financial stability and healthcare options.)

As for diseases, well, I can't think of a single STD that is solely the province of homosexual behavior. If STDs are the reason you oppose homosexuality (which is a stupid reason) you'd best take a look at what heterosexual people do. There isn't a single sexual act that isn't practiced by at least some heterosexuals.

Sean, who noticed that you dropped the issues of evolution, interracial marriage, and the fluid nature of the meaning and value of marriage throughout history.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 03:25 pm:   

Tim Akers,
Thanks. You've hit the nail on the head.

I'll be out of town from tomorrow a.m. till the end of the month and online only to check email. I wonder if the thread will keep beeping along until I get back (frankly, I hope not).
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 03:27 pm:   

Oh, and I think Jon's just being intentionally dense. He knows I never mentioned "church."
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 04:10 pm:   

Well, I did. I wrote about a teacher who used peer pressure to coerce kids to go to church. Jon kind of glossed over that one, which tells me the quality of mind we're dealing with.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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RVS
Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 - 07:37 pm:   

Jon,

There are some lovely SF books out there which explain why heterosexual sex is disgusting and abnormal. You could check out Joanna Russ' The Female Man or Susie McKee Charnas' series that begins with Motherlines. The cultural logic they use is internal and consistent, and just as solid as yours.

And by the by, many of the Native Americans who traditionally allowed a fluid, third gender, and homosexual marriage through gender reassignment were agriculturalists, not hunter/gatherers. So they were at least as sophisticated as the medieval Christians, to put it mildly.

And by the by the by the by, anal sex (which can increase the probability of STD transmission) can be practiced by heterosexuals too. :-) In fact, the stats that are used to support abstinence-only programs in the US are often derived from a narrow definition of sex. In our country and in others, an emphasis on virginity increases the incidence of anal sex that doesn't break the hymen.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 07:59 am:   

From what I was taught, the highest carriers of STDS aren't gays, but instead teenage girls around 17.
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Jon Bromfield
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 12:13 pm:   

Wow, throw out a few uncomfortable facts and watch the majestic flowering of political correctness!

My citation of reasons societies might want to discourage homosexuality was in response to Sean's demand for same not related to the Bible. Sure, some of the reasons may not be chargeable today (we certainly have enough people on the planet today!) but I'll hold to these:

1) Diease. StephenB to the contrary (please cite source for your claim), the gay community has historically had the highest incidence of STDs of all sorts. The (uncomfortable truth) multiplicty of sexual partners and encounters of gay men, the rampant drug use, all vector social diseases and their consequences. In the pre-AIDs late 70s, my gay friends would brag of 10 or more different sexual encounters in ONE NIGHT!

Of course, heteros also indulge in analingus and buggery, but not to the extent of gay men. Those who would ignore male sexual irresponsibility are still conducting the band.

2) Civilizing effect of women. I resent the charge of racism, tossed out whenever the current pathology of the lower classes is discussed. I mentioned no races, I mentioned an urban area. But let me ask you: if I mention that Blacks, despite being X percentage of the population, commit X + Y (Y being greater than X) percentage of all violent crime, and this is a fact, am I being racist? If I point out that women historically have had a moderating influence on the more base natures of men, am I sexist or just well educated?

But I'll plead guilty to sexism, if you mean I believe men and women are not equal and they both need each other. It's ying and yang, and the Force must be balanced. The two sexes are not interchangeable, but who except for extreme egalitarians want them to be?

Tim Akers writes:

"You're misunderstanding her concern, and building a strawman."

The hell I am. Of course our laws are based on religious beliefs! Where to you think they came from? I'm an agnostic, yes, but I've read history, and, yet again, Western Civilization is mostly an artifact of the Judeo-Christian tradition. To think otherwise is to be uninformed. Currently some are seeking to disassociate our laws from religion, but his troubles me because we've seen from the French Revolution to the Soviet Union how well those attempts worked out.

Finally (*sigh*), I used the word "primitive" in its dictionary definition. It is not derogatory to state that ancient Eqyptian society was more complex than current New Guinea hunter/gathering ones.

Matt Hughes writes:

"Well, I did. I wrote about a teacher who used peer pressure to coerce kids to go to church. Jon kind of glossed over that one, which tells me the quality of mind we're dealing with."

And my point, Matt, was one needs to keep a sense of prespective about these things. Hell's bells, I went to first grade in Florida (1960) and we all were "forced" to say a morning prayer. Didn't kill me. If you're really worried about some religious types wanting to inflict their beliefs on you or your children, you're totally in support of George Bush's war on the Islamic terrorists, right?



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Matt Hughes
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 12:31 pm:   

Jon:

It didn't kill me either. What's that got to do with anything? It did leave me ostracized and physically attacked by an intolerant majority. It didn't matter that I was pretty good at punching my way out of conflicts.

If you think what she was doing was no big deal, then you lack perspective. True, she was only psychologically abusing children, but that was because her authority reached no farther than the classroom door. Given the opportunity, though, she'd have applied the same pressure to adults and to all the world. She was doing God's work and in her mind that trumped the rights of those over whom she had power.

If you don't understand that that woman was a monster, and that her behavior was indicative of a strain that runs throughout the history of Christendom, there's not much point in our discussing it. There is none so blind as he who will not see.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com
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Sean Melican
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 01:21 pm:   

I'll site my source: there's a show on NPR, I think it comes on at 9:00 PM, I don't remember the name, in which a recent study found that the fastest growing population of new HIV cases is in the group of black, middle-aged women. Regardless, no disease is _exclusive_ to homosexuals, so saying that outlawing homosexual marriage (or outlawing homosexuality, period) would reduce (or end) the transmission of disease is ludicrous. Unprotected sex with an infected partner or the use of a contaminated needle is the vector; only people who engage in those practices, hetero- or homosexual, are at risk. Sexual transmitted diseases don't discriminate. Just, well, people like you. And sure, there were some who had rampant sex. Ever been in a male lockerroom? There's plenty of bragging there as well. And guess what? Some of those acquired HIV as well.

"Analingus and buggery." (Buggery? How quaint.) You might want to allow for oral sex as well. It's much more common, and as common in heterosexual relationships.

"If I point out that women historically have had a moderating influence on the more base natures of men, am I sexist or just well educated?"

If you're so well educated, please cite your source(s), as you've asked others to do.

"But I'll plead guilty to sexism, if you mean I believe men and women are not equal and they both need each other."

What do you mean "not equal"? Socially, legally, physically?

"If you're really worried about some religious types wanting to inflict their beliefs on you or your children, you're totally in support of George Bush's war on the Islamic terrorists, right?"

Far as I can tell, the extreme Islamic radicals (no more representative of Islam as a whole than Bush is of Christianity) have shown no interest or effort in enforcing their views on the U.S. They're only aim is to kill. But Bush and his adminstration, _are_ trying to enforce their religious beliefs on U.S. citizens. Creationism, the kind they want to teach, is Biblical. There's no evidence for it, only faith. There was talk of an amendment (notice though that died right quick after the election) of an amendment to ban gay marriage. The reason?... Oh, fer Chrissake, this is the same stuff all over again. What the Christian right are trying to do is rationalize their beliefs, _based on the Bible_, with pseudo-historical analysis. My suspicion, and hope, is that sooner or later all these ludicrous laws will be overturned by the Superme Court. There's simply no legal reason, none whatsoever, that the sex of a person's partner should deny them the same basic rights afforded to all U.S. citizens. At least twice, the law has been altered because, as written, it denied basic rights to groups of people for simply existing. Women didn't have the right to vote. Why? Because of their sex. Blacks didn't have any rights, then slowly and in a painful manner, they gained the same rights as white males. Again, why? Because of the color of their skin. They were discriminated against for simply _being_ something (female and black); and the same holds true now. _Being_ gay does not mean that you will engage in unsafe sexual activity, anymore than _being_ heterosexual means you won't. _Being_ gay does not mean that you are morally or legally inferior to a heterosexual.


Sean
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 01:23 pm:   

StephenB to the contrary (please cite source for your claim), the gay community has historically had the highest incidence of STDs of all sorts.

Jon, that may have been true in the 70s and even the 80s (but even then it may have been largely a cultural myth, based on using gays as a scape goat for the AIDS scare), but now that's changed. I learned this first in high school health class, from people whos job is to educate youth on issues of sexuality, to partly reduce the spread of STDs and the occurance of teenage pregnancy. I really doubt they would intentionally misinform people; although I take into account the use of fear as a deterrent. Many teenagers today (I was never one of them; not that I haven't been irresponsible, but I've saved it for "adults", as in 18 or over and I've always been protective of young teenage girls who don't know better) are very irresponsible when it comes to sex. Which is ironic considering my generation, generation X (which I'm at the bottom edge of) has lived in the shadow of AIDS, where freelove isn't a reality, instead, a relic of our parent's youth. I can't say to speak for the generation coming up, but at my age, I'm almost at a cultural divide. I've known some teenage girls who get drunk and end up sleeping with muliple partners in a single night, usually the asshole types that would sleep around with naive young girls unprotected. They're young, horny, careless, open to experimenting, and naive about their own mortality. Some aren't very bright. Many like to be "bad" and do what they aren't supposed to do. It's cool to be a "slut" in teenage culture. The youth of today is definitely more concious of safe sex, but at the same time its almost made "dangerous" sex even more appealing. The liklihood of getting an STD through unprotected sex is generally exaggerated by the media and authorities, but for teenagers, who practice a lot of unprotected sex, the chances are even higher.

I don't have any statistics on me, and I don't really know where to look, but I've heard this from other sources since high school. I'm sure there's a web site somewhere that would support this.

You're just spouting out the common myth based on your generation, without actually knowing what you're talking about.

In the health class, we did have a man come in to educate us about aids, who had AIDS and was a homosexual. He dealt with the common myths about the disease. Homesexuals being the highest carriers of AIDS was one of them. Young homosexual men are probably up there, relative to say middle aged women etc. But teenage girls are appearantly the highest carriers of the HIV virus.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 01:24 pm:   

I'll add that this statistic applies to Canada but it's likely most of North America as well.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 01:25 pm:   

Jon Bromfield wrote (in part): If I point out that women historically have had a moderating influence on the more base natures of men, am I sexist or just well educated?
_____

Neither. In the Greco-Roman world it was widely (if not universally) believed that the shoe was on the other foot, and that it was up to men to keep uncivilized women in order. (See Juvenal 6 or Semonides for misogyny so intense that it makes "politically incorrect" seem like the shrill squeak of a self-dramatizing pseudo-conservative. As it is, of course.)

Further: in the medieval world, monastaries were relative islands of order and security, and they, of course, minimized contact between the sexes. Monastaries should have been hothouses of violence, if JB's dewy-eyed assertion about the civilizing effect of women on men were true. (In fact, it's just the flip side of the "testosterone is evil" myth.)

JB is nearer the mark in his comments about same-sex contact in the ancient world; it was indeed hedged around with restrictions most people nowadays would consider non-intuitive. But the erastes/eromenos bond was taken extremely seriously by the Greeks, and at least sometimes had a legal force. (Membership in one of these pairings was required in order to join the Sacred Band of Thebes, for instance. See Plutarch's comments about this in his life of Pelopidas.)

But, more importantly, this whole appeal to tradition in order to devalue gay marriage is a snipe hunt. Our society is different from other societies in a multitude of ways. The ancient economy was based on slavery and widely accepted infant exposure. Are we wrong because many, if not most, societies have tolerated these things, and we don't? Obviously not. Social innovations stand or fall on an empirical level, and if it works for us, that's justification enough. And screw the precedents (or the presidents, if you'd rather).

JMP("Parallelogram")
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minz
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 01:26 pm:   

Actually, RVS, Suzy's wonderful series began with WALK TO THE END OF THE WORLD, is continued in MOTHERLINES, then THE FURIES, and finished with CONQUEROR'S CHILD. Just for the record.

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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 01:30 pm:   

Or maybe highest carriers isn't the proper way to put it. In recent years, they were the fatest growing population of HIV carriers.
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RVS
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 05:47 pm:   

Minz,

Of course, thanks! Sorry for misspeaking.
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Simon Owens
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 08:02 pm:   

I was right! This did turn into an abortion thread!
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Simon Owens
Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 08:16 pm:   

"Please cite me an example of anyone Christian wanting to "inflict" their religion on Ellen Datlow."

BTW, there's literally hundreds of laws out there that inflict religion on us. For instance, in most of PA alcohol stores aren't allowed by law to be open on Sundays. To even claim that non-religious folk inflict their non-belief in a similar way is proof of your on-going stupidity.

Moron.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 02:26 am:   

"BTW, there's literally hundreds of laws out there that inflict religion on us."

I think there's a subtle distinction that some people are missing in this discussion, and that's the difference between inflicting the religion, i.e., the attempt to forcibly (physically or otherwise) convert someone to your religion (as Matt's teacher tried), and the inflicting of the moral strictures of your religion on someone else, such as Simon's example of the PA alcohol laws. Both are probably unacceptable, but the second is far harder to deal with as it is now nearly impossible to separate out these strictures from the evolution of law. Further imposition can be resisted, though.

In terms of examples of non-religious people inflicting their beliefs (rather than non-belief; I don't think non-religious people are restricted to non-beliefs: for example, I believe in a large amount of science, including evolution. That's not a non-belief.), someone mentioned the French ban on Muslim headscarves in schools. That's a good example. Another example might be forcing someone to work on their holy day. I have no idea of the law in America, but can a Muslim refuse to work on Friday, for example, and be guaranteed that he/she won't lose his/her job? Or even a Christian on a Sunday?
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Scott Edelman
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 09:07 am:   

Then there's the preacher who just quit his post who had endorsed Bush from the pulpit and told his flock that anyone who voted for Kerry needed to "repent or resign." He had expelled nine members of his congregation because they hadn't voted Republican.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 10:37 am:   

Both are probably unacceptable, but the second is far harder to deal with as it is now nearly impossible to separate out these strictures from the evolution of law. Further imposition can be resisted, though.

This seems to fly in the face of the striking down of laws against sodomy, abortion, the end of "blue" laws (which are in force in fewer and fewer places in the US), "dry" laws (ditto), and the various enforced religious and pseudoreligious rituals that were part and parcel of American public life till about the 1950s.

It's actually very easy to deal with such things; it requires a movement dedicated to pluralism, and that has a core of rationalist, as opposed to superstitious, thought to it.


I have no idea of the law in America, but can a Muslim refuse to work on Friday, for example, and be guaranteed that he/she won't lose his/her job? Or even a Christian on a Sunday?

Nope, but a job is a voluntary association. One need not take a job that has Friday hours if one doesn't wish to work on Friday. If the state, on the other hand, drafted everyone in town to clean the highways on Friday (or Saturday, or Sunday), that would be an unacceptable violation. Or, as in, Greece, if everyone paid taxes to keep the state-sanctioned Greek Orthodox church in jewels and fancy lawyers whether they believed or not, that would be unacceptable.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 12:16 pm:   

"This seems to fly in the face of the striking down of laws against sodomy, abortion, the end of "blue" laws (which are in force in fewer and fewer places in the US), "dry" laws (ditto), and the various enforced religious and pseudoreligious rituals that were part and parcel of American public life till about the 1950s."

I agree with you, Nick. However, I'm not sure that you can remove all aspects of law that have come about from religion, simply because they are so ingrained in tradition and history.

"Nope, but a job is a voluntary association."

One might use the same argument to argue against health and safety at work laws, minimum wages, and so on, on the basis that no one needs take the job if they don't want to. A choice not to work is a theoretical choice, but not a practical one for most people.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 12:55 pm:   

I'm not sure that you can remove all aspects of law that have come about from religion, simply because they are so ingrained in tradition and history.

All sorts of things were once so ingrained in tradtion and history and are now mere historical curiosities, or reactionary ideals held only by the mysterious Others that Americans spend much of their time chewing their nails over.


One might use the same argument to argue against health and safety at work laws, minimum wages, and so on, on the basis that no one needs take the job if they don't want to. A choice not to work is a theoretical choice, but not a practical one for most people.


Health and safety laws, minimum wage laws, and the rest are generally the end result of some level of struggle between capital and labor. The same is true of holidays off, vacation time, "personal time" etc. And I consider these all good things and am universally on the side of labor as regards these issues.

However, that is not the same as saying that one is *enforcing non-belief* on a Muslim employee by compelling him to work on Friday. If someone's beliefs are so stringent that one day a week is literally a day of rest (and that day must be different than the two days already won via struggle and reform), then the accomodation is up to them.

You move the goal posts when you say that the choice is between working and not working. One can find four-day-a-week jobs, open one's own business, use every holiday, personal day, and sick day they have for Fridays, freelance or engage in contract work, work solely inside the Muslim (or Jewish, or whatever) community where closing shop on Friday wouldn't be an issue, work in a store and shop that is open Saturday and Sunday and work those days when other workers are not available due to their beliefs etc. to make one's own hours. When it gets to the point where there are enough believers to strugggle for a change, great, let them, and I'll support them so long as the struggle doesn't hurt others (e.g., they get Friday off, but everyone, Muslim and non, has to work on Saturday to make up for it).


This happens all the time: in NYC, the public schools close for various Jewish holidays. None of them give Good Friday for Eastern Easter off for the simple reason that they serve many more Jewish families than Eastern Orthodox families. When my parents would pull me out of school on Good Friday, it was my business to keep up with the work, not the school's business to shut down that day as well so I wouldn't have to. if I wanted the absence not to "count"; I'd have to bring in some sort of note, but I never bothered to as that was a hassle. If 20% of the students were EO, the story would be different, and rightly so.

(And, as a matter of practice, from having lived in a heavily Muslim section of Jersey City, very little actually shuts down on a Friday, and I was very pleased to have businesses open as usual on Christmas and Western Easter.)

It's a very different thing than either enforcing non-belief since there isn't much actual "enforcement" (and because needing Fridays off actually impairs one's ability to do a job, in a way wearing a headdress or beard, for example, usually does not) or the various workplace reforms that have been won via mass action.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the more mass action there is, the less an issue religion becomes. The utility of public cults falls on the side of capital: it's one of many whips and bludgeons that can be used against workers to encourage them to adopt boss-friendly work ethics in order to receive rewards in the afterlife (but not in the current paycheck), to tie them to race and nation (and thus closer to their bosses), to divide and conquer multicultural populations, etc. Fights to be free from the enforcement of the religion of a public cult often morph into fights to be free from the stricures of religion generally, and that's a good thing, I think.


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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 01:46 pm:   

I read the story and I liked it. It made me laugh in a few parts. It's just a light political satire. I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's nothing spectacular but I don't think it's intended to be. Sure, if it was any longer the joke would get pretty stale fast, but it wasn't. If anything in the story should be seen as disgusting, it's the subject being satirized.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 03:35 pm:   

Nick Mamatas wrote (in part): In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the more mass action there is, the less an issue religion becomes. The utility of public cults falls on the side of capital: it's one of many whips and bludgeons that can be used against workers to encourage them to adopt boss-friendly work ethics in order to receive rewards in the afterlife (but not in the current paycheck), to tie them to race and nation (and thus closer to their bosses), to divide and conquer multicultural populations, etc.
_____

This seems to assume that workers and their employers (those damn bosses) will necessarily be of the same religion or sect. Suppose they're not? Then religion might become the vehicle of the "mass action" you crave.

It also assumes that anyone who doesn't wield capital and is an adherent of a "public cult" is a dupe. If this is true, what makes you think such people will ever be intelligent enough to act in their own interests? In the world of this patronizing world-view, such peons need a patron.

But if it is not true, if people who adhere to religious beliefs are not mere dupes (even if they are mistaken) then there is some value in religion which transcends economic advantage. In that case, there is something important about religion and its attractions that you have not understood.

JM("Mackerel-Snapper")P
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 04:38 pm:   

Read it a bit more carefully; religion can also be used to divide and conquer -- note the employment segregation of Jews in much of Europe of Middle Ages, or the Shi'a/Sunni (or Shi'a/Maronite Christian) conflicts today.

You also make a significant leap of logic from "dupe" to "unintelligent" in order to build a strawman argument. People already are less religious than they were a century ago mainly because no untrue story ever explains or predicts enough to keep everyone duped.

After all a while, people get the basics: germ theory works a lot better than God's vengeance when it comes to explaining disease or developing means to cure or treat them. If God rewards the good, how come so many bastards have the good life while I'm stuck in a mucky ditch? Perhaps it's all a big lie.

At worst, they pick some other backwards cult to join, which becomes the public cult and enforces its own regime. At best, they chuck religious nonsense altogther. Most people these days seem to be picking a middle choice: they mouth some platitudes about some superior being or knowing the universe or whatever (let's call it vulgar gnosticism) but their invisible, magical, Imaginary Friend/friends in the spirit world never make any demands of them. Everyone is their own little Pope, infallable and confident.

The stories told to sooth and anesthetize are never fully functional because they are ultimately untrue (some non-religious stories are proximately true, but even they are very limited). This is not only how religion's grip of society might be weakened in abstract terms, but is how religion's grip on society actually has weakened in concrete terms over the past couple hundred years. There are lurches backwards, semi-dubious counterreadings of religion, and all the rest, so history is hardly over yet, but we do seem significantly better off than we were in 1905 or 1805.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 05:58 pm:   

Nick,

I think one problem in your reasoning is the implicit assumption that religion is separate from social order. In Medieval Europe, as one example, people were part of the religious structure because the social, political, and economic structures were tied to the church. Priests wield substantial power over their flock through the landholders, who were dependent on the church. If a member of the flock were to be a problem for the priest, a quiet word to the baron, earl, duke et cetera could result in serious consequences. As well, the peasantry and a vast majority of the landholders were largely ignorant, and utterly tied to their geography. Did they have any more faith than Americans do today? Some, perhaps, but some adhered to the religious principles simply because they had no other choice. Where else could they go? And how could they stand up to the landholders? It's not as if they could move or change jobs. There's no doubt that plagues and other tragedies were blamed on God's vengeance out of ignorance. (I'm grossly oversimplifying.)

But in our 'great experiment', the social, political, and economic structures work independent of religion. (Or, at least they're supposed to.) Your particular faith is not in the least tied to your job for most people. I don't think that there are substantially less (or more) religious faithful, but that those who choose religion do so solely because of their faith. They aren't obligated to worship as their employers or governoring bodies do. So, the weakening of the religious grip, as you put it, seems less a function of an actual weakening as it does a social and economic freedom from forced worship. Which is what makes the current adminstrations policies particularly galling, in that they're trying to return to a time when the governing body or bodies tie govermental structure to a religious structure. I don't find it unreasonable that a reasonable, educated person could believe in God. There's still plenty of mystery in the world; while I have no doubt in the truth of evolution, I think it's reasonable (even likely) to believe that God built the universe and gave us free will, which would explain why good things happen to bad people. (Your example of bastards and mucky ditches.) It is a matter of faith, which, for many people is utterly incomprehensible, but there are too many otherwise intelligent people who believe for me to believe that they are being duped or misled, or are intellectually weak. Faith and intelligence aren't mutually exclusive.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 06:43 pm:   

Actually, Sean, you made my whole damn point.

Religion wasn't tied to the social order out of nowhere; it wasn't just a bizarre concidence that someone came up with the Divine Right of Kings, instead, of, say, the Divine Right of the Peasant Collective, and nor is it much of one that that ideological story started fraying at the edges at about the same time that the natural sciences began to emerge as a field of more systematic study.

And yes, people are much much less religious today, which again, was the point. I was asked, if religion is such a powerful ideological tool, how could people ever escape it. Well, it isn't that powerful these days, partially because the social order requires a technological and economic dynamism that a theocratic feudal order could not provide (thus the retreat into fiedism; religion said it didn't need to explain the world anymore when it became clear that it could not). However, other ideologies have taken the place of religion to tie people to the social order -- the US being a "great experiment" is a good example of one.

Great, you think it is "likely" that God built the universe and gave us free will. I doubt you have any evidence of any such thing, and it's worth noting that, by a remarkable coincidence, the belief you feel is reasonable is the dominant religious belief of your society. Why not many competing gods? Why not the notion that we live in an illusory world that we need to transcend via meditation and ascetic lifestyles? Why not a harsh notion of predestination? You can pick and choose, especially in the modern era, and you picked what is common to American religious (and individualist) thought. Religion has a lesser role in a social order than it did under feudalism, but clearly it's not independent from it.

There's nothing that makes the One-God-gave-us-free-will position more inherently reasonable than deciding that my dog created the universe three years ago and backfilled all our memories and the history of the world with her infinite so we wouldn't all have the same birthday. It seems more reasonable because it is the position of most of our public cults.

As far as "faith and intelligence" not being mutually exclusive, that's the same strawman built by the previous poster. Individual intelligence isn't the only factor, or even a major factor, in the social potential or limits of a ruling ideology.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 10:04 pm:   

"I doubt you have any evidence of any such thing..."

To quote: Duh. Article of faith.

But, of course, do you have evidence that those who do have faith (whether or not they tie themselves to a particular sect, which I don't) are dupes? Is there a commonality, other than their faith, among blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians; poor, middle class or wealthy; high-school educated, college-educated, or Ph.Ds; male or female? There must be some independent evidence that they are, as you call them, dupes, something else, other than their faith. Otherwise you've got a circular argument: Since they believe in God, they must be dupes; but they must be dupes because they believe in God.

Did evolution occur? Undoubtedly. But it's hard, very hard, to see the complex mechanism that human beings are, and know that we got to here form nothing more than a few random molecules that managed to arrange themselves into amino acids, and that those amino acids become proteins and so forth. If you can't see just how amazing that is, if you can't understand how hard it is to believe that it was nothing more than random chance, I can't explain it to you. (Again: Duh, it's faith.) I've watched my children grow from zygotes (okay, I didn't see the zygote, but I've got ultrasounds from only three months in) and that that single first cell could develop and grow into the enormously complex beings that they are, that seems evidence enough. (I'm not even discussing their personalities or intellectual development, just the raw process of become billions of cells put together in just the right order.) There's no comparison, no metaphor, for that process.

I'm sure it sounds hokey. So what?

Why not predestination? Conflicts with evolution.

Why not many gods? Begs the question as to where they came from; why the first allowed the second and so forth; and undermines the notion of omnipotence which is, essentially, the notion of godhood. A god is not a god if (s)he is limited in power or has a beginning and a potential end. (Contrary to, say, the ancient Greek gods, the Egyptian gods, et cetera.) All of which is opposed to the notion of a single being which stands outside of time and space.

Why not an illusory world? Because by its very definition then there must be something that is not illusory, something that is dreaming (for want of a better word; imagining might work as well) that illusory world. And just who or what might that be?

Other ideologies have taken the place of religion as the overriding social structure -- such as democracies, republics, combinations of the two, tyrranies, so-called communism which was nothing more than an oligarchy of dictators -- but people still find that those structures are empty structures that don't attempt to give meaning. Science, in particular, (do I need to stress that I'm a scientist?), almost by definition, does not try to find meaning in the structures that it determines. To do so would be to violate the basic tenets of science: its constant re-examination of itself. If science were to attach meaning to its structures, (meaning beyond the internal coherence) it would necessarily calcify in whatever imperfect structure it was at the time. But people seek meaning in the world, meaning of the world; to live without that search, to merely _exist_, is a rather pathetic state of existence.

That is, in fact, what capitalism is about: the quest for wealth without any human value placed on such wealth, the acquisition of money for the sake of acquiring it. ("Greed is good.") Which is why our nation is in the sad state it's in, where people no longer take pride in a job well-done, only in a job well-paid. (Not all, and not necesarrily even most people, but those whose lives are solely about acquiring wealth are textbook sociopaths: doing whatever they desire regardless of the harm they do to others. Enron and Worldcom are wonderful examples of capitalism's logical conclusion. The CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and so forth who obtain ridiculous bonuses while labor gets a piddly few percent if anything; and who are given outrageous severance packages while the middle class who are laid off get nothing or next to it.

The vast majority of Americans are people who will never acquire such wealth. Is it stupid for people to seek more meaningful answers than simply money, even if it means taking a leap of faith?

Darwin and Einstein had faith. Guess they were dupes too.

Sean Melican



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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 12:02 am:   

The social role of religion is fairly obvious to me. It's rather easy to explain and predict something like, for example, the Reformation and the attendant ideological changes to Christianity in the context of the rise of capitalism and the decline of feudalism -- as opposed to explaining that God rescinded the Divine Right of Kings because he decided he prefered the proto-bourgeoisie beause they bathed more often.

It's pretty easy to figure out where various religious taboos against eating pork or shellfish, or against overharvesting local waterways come from, when looking at religion as an artifact of the real social and material conditions. It makes less sense to decide that a God who created the whole universe and believes in Free Will would nonetheless demand arbitrarily that people don't eat pork cuz He thinks it's gross.

It's also rather easy to explain why you claim that one God offering free will is more likely than any of the other possible religious scenarios. It's what was common in the time and place in which you were raised. Were we having an analogous discussion in Tibet, you'd be offering parallel arguments about the nature of dharma to deny the One Big God of the West.

When you posit a single omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God who apparently goes out of His or Her way to act as though He or She doesn't exist, well then, explanations and predictions get a bit harder...

Of course predestination does NOT contradict evolution; evolution is a caused set of phenomena after all -- if anything evolution implies predetermined and overdetermined adaptive behaviors.

Nor does a pantheon of competing gods fall apart -- they can be born simultaneously, they can be omniscient as a family unit, there's no particular need for a single infinite God if one conceives of a finite universe or ineffable Titans beyond even the gods, etc.

Insisting that there must be some world beyond the maya doesn't mean much; we can kick the mystery upstairs one flight -- all that is is Atman for instance (see, you can have an omnipotent God offering free will AND a world of illusion).

And then, of course, there is my dog, who demands worship as the true creator and ruler of this universe.

The rest of your commentary is just more of the same smoke. Argument from design and "God in the gaps" arguments make little sense, aren't falsifiable, and certainly don't actually leave room for whatever God you think is out there. You're just kicking the mystery upstairs one flight as I did with the Atman, except that your answer explains nothing at all. There can be no explanation for a "first cause" as David Hume pointed out a couple of centuries ago.

Nor does it make much sense to draw a line at 2005 and say "Okay, everything not perfectly explained to my mind, that of a layman, on this date, is in the realm of God." The same argument was made in 1905. Good thing we didn't stop at ether!

Ditto the stuff about Darwin and Einstein. The torturers of the Inquisition, the slavemasters of the antebellum South, and the 9/11 terrorists had faith too. So was the guy who gave me CPR once and my sainted mama. None of that stuff matters. Arguments from fame or perceived intelligence don't mean anything. Nor does your repeated warping of my position to mean "Religious people are dummies and dupes."

Have whatever beliefs you want; heck, if there are enough people who share your beliefs, feel free to agitate to close the schools on the day you believe commemorates the moment God learned to use the potty by Himself. You can draw a face on a sock puppet and make your children bow before it every Thursday afternoon if you like -- but don't expect me to act as though that is just as good an explanation for the universe and the social nature of the world as a scientific materialist explanation is.

Anyway, as this discussion has followed the inevitable path of god-in-the-gaps and famous-people-love-God and all that other stuff that always comes up when someone suggests that religion may be a social tool and not a coincidentally accurate story about the universe (so much for free will!) I'll bow out for now.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 02:17 am:   

"However, that is not the same as saying that one is *enforcing non-belief* on a Muslim employee by compelling him to work on Friday."

You are quite right. I failed to make the distinction that I had asked other people to make in my previous post. Forcing a Muslim to work on a Friday is not the same as forcing him not to hold Muslim beliefs. It is closer (although not identical--I take your point) to the alcohol laws someone mentioned, i.e., the imposition of rules based on someone's beliefs onto someone who does not share those rules.

"There's nothing that makes the One-God-gave-us-free-will position more inherently reasonable than deciding that my dog created the universe three years ago and backfilled all our memories and the history of the world with her infinite so we wouldn't all have the same birthday."

Again, this is true. However, with this comment and several others, you appear to be requiring a religious belief to be provable or non-provable by rationism or science. Seeing as all theist belief considers a god to be not bound by either rationalist or scientific rules, neither of these can reasonably be used in the argument. Science, for example, has no way of commenting on the existance/non-existance of a diety/multiple dieties. Its nature and construction do not allow such comments.

That is not to say that religion/superstition/whatever are correct, just to say that they are neither provable nor disprovable through science or rationalism.
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Patrick M.
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 06:02 am:   

All hail Nick's dog. (Unless it is a chihuahua or pekingese) (g)
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Sean Melican
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 07:28 am:   

"Have whatever beliefs you want; heck, if there are enough people who share your beliefs, feel free to agitate to close the schools on the day you believe commemorates the moment God learned to use the potty by Himself. You can draw a face on a sock puppet and make your children bow before it every Thursday afternoon if you like."

Ah, derision: the last refuge of the pseudo-intellectual. Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Lord Valve, and now presenting: Mamatas.

"Arguments from fame or perceived intelligence don't mean anything," followed by, "There can be no explanation for a 'first cause' as David Hume pointed out a couple of centuries ago."

Well, which is it? Can we point to philosophers and scientists? Or not?


"Nor does your repeated warping of my position to mean 'Religious people are dummies and dupes,'" after, "People already are less religious than they were a century ago mainly because no untrue story ever explains or predicts enough to keep everyone duped."

I'm just using your words. What should we call those who have faith then? Morons? Fools? Intellectual weak or inferior? It's clear from your adolescent posturing that you have no respect for people who have faith in any deity. With all the fervor of a fundamentalist, you attack without provocation. Feel free to prove me wrong; feel free to show me where I've mocked you. (Other than in this post, which is a response to the arrogant posturing you've exhibited.)

"Were we having an analogous discussion in Tibet, you'd be offering parallel arguments about the nature of dharma to deny the One Big God of the West."

So religious/cultural/social beliefs are tied to time and place. Fine. Then it's a damn good thing you weren't born two centuries ago, or into any number of groups still populating the earth (Africs, China, et cetera, though this is becoming less of an issue with the ubiquity of communication devices) because then scientific materialism wouldn't be available to you.

"Nor does it make much sense to draw a line at 2005 and say 'Okay, everything not perfectly explained to my mind, that of a layman, on this date, is in the realm of God.' The same argument was made in 1905. Good thing we didn't stop at ether!"

Duh. Science is an ever-changing, evolving process. It flies in the face of everything that science is supposed to be to take the attitude that science (scientific materialism, whatever) is in fact superior when science, practiced properly, acknowledges that human knowledge is imperfect. (There are mysteries: What lies outside the ball of energy that existed before the Big Bang? How did it come into being? But, from what I gather from your words, there's no point in discussing such things.) But from what you argue, science is all there is, and thus anything beyond the realm of science is so much mysticism, or superstition, or ignorance or whatever you choose to call it -- anything you pick will certainly be derogatory. In a sense, what you propose is counter-science: since the universe is what it is, why bother looking for deeper explanations? Why bother hunting for neutrinos, super-strings and so forth? I tried, but I couldn't find statistics on the number of scientists who have some sort of faith; but I doubt you'll find that most scientists take the position you do. (The best I could find was a discussion on PBS in which some of the participants admitted to being believers, and essentially arguing what I am, that science does not and cannot search for God, but that it doesn't deny Her or Him or, if you must insist, Them. See Patrick's post.) Most that I know (which is admittedly a wildly unscientific survey) do have some sort of faith, even if they are at times skeptical.

What I can't fathom is how, if scientific materialism is superior, then why are there so many who believe in a deity anyway? By your logic, anyone who finds science to be as accurate and truthful as it is at any given historical point must necessarily find the existence of God to be false; and yet that's patently untrue.

Sean Melican



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A.R.Yngve
Posted on Saturday, May 21, 2005 - 08:13 am:   

I have now posted my short story "Red For Black" (written in 2000) on my homepage, as a kind of reply to "Bedfellows".

Satire should be served like coffee: strong and pitch black, with just a little sugar, and I hope this story serves as an example:

http://yngve.bravehost.com/redforblack.html

-A.R.Yngve
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Saturday, May 21, 2005 - 12:49 pm:   

Nick Mamatas wrote: Read it a bit more carefully; religion can also be used to divide and conquer...
_____

That fact that I disputed what you wrote doesn't mean that I didn't read it carefully. And if you'll reread your own statement above (carefully) you'll see that "can also be" is not the same as "will inevitably be." Religious identity served as a focus for resistance to imperial power all through the British Empire, beginning with Ireland.

If, as you assert, religion is on the decline, then isn't that evidence against the linkage of religion to capital? Blocs of capital are now bigger and more monolithic than ever. This is the Jurassic Age of big fat capitalism.

In passing, I doubt if Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch or any of that ilk give a rat's ass about what house of worship, if any, I attend. I also think that the claim to be able to predict the Reformation is pretty funny. I, too, can "predict" events four or five centuries in the past. So can anyone with access to a history book.

In the last analysis, both capitalism and Marxism are concerned solely with wealth. Since most people are not so narrow-minded, neither economic philosophy can ever adequately describe even the economic activity of human beings.

J("Julius Marx")MP
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David Marshall
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 01:55 am:   

Nightshade Books - I can only agree with Claudia Okeefe. I'm going to save what you wrote in my "research" file, if that's okay. One of the characters I'm writing about is trying to fit into society again after returning from a (fictional, future) war. What you wrote really struck a chord with me.

Jon Bromfield - Everything you have posted here is simply an echo of what you posted on the Asimov's forum. I guess that since the Dark Lord Gardner Dozois (all hail the Great Destroyer of Science Fiction!!! :-)) stepped down, you desperately need Gordon to take up the Dark Lordship...just like W needs O.

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John Thiel
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 08:05 am:   

222 reactions to the story! Turtledove is having an impact like Richard S. Shaver.
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A.R.Yngve
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 03:44 pm:   

Like my Dad used to say, there is no bad publicity. In that respect, "Bedfellows" is a rousing success.
;-)


-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com
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L
Posted on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 07:56 pm:   

It's not a bad piec of satire, but it really doesn't deserve all this attention so I shan't bother to comment on it.



D'oh!!!

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