Monday, April 6, 2015

Death rattles can still be annoying when you're trying to concentrate

This weekend saw the convergence of three totally unrelated events that I will relate through the magic of words. Also known as "lying."

In the first episode of Wolf Hall, Lord Norfolk (I think) yells at Cromwell about how France belongs to England; and he's willing to go to war to get what rightfully belongs to them.

In the Passover story, we remember how we were slaves, but now we're free to get drunk--and also how we can never be truly happy when remembering the death of our enemies.

In the science fiction community, the nominee slate for the Hugo Awards was announced; this year, the nominees largely--almost wholly--belong to a slate that was put forward for political purposes by some right-wing Americans.

What ties them all together? Well, in this scenario, the organizers of the right-wing voting block clearly see their position much like Norfolk sees his in Wolf Hall: science fiction belongs to us and we'll go to war to make sure that people recognize our right.

I believe more in the Passover story. (And also in history: Norfolk never conquered France, though he made a good show of it.) That is, we have a long way to go; and the rise of equality isn't a straight-line; but I really do believe that the arc of history is towards something like justice. Maybe we weren't anything as dramatic as slaves in our lifetimes; maybe we were just exploited labor; maybe we had our loving relationships overlooked and violated by state power; maybe we were considered the objects and minor characters in other people's stories; maybe we were told we couldn't do or be something because of who we were. But however bad things were (and are), it seems like things are getting better for justice and tolerance and fairness.

So when I see something like a right-wing movement attempting to "take back" the Hugo Awards, it doesn't seem like the spear's tip of a coming wave of bigotry and idiocy. (And, sorry not sorry, folks, but the argument that runs "this art is too political, let's read stories where there are no politics" is a pre-Copernican level of idiocy: it's idiocy all the way down.) This sweep seems like the death rattle of a movement that has really lost both the war and any understanding of what they were fighting for. (Uh, the Hugo Awards? That's your big goal this year?)

But still, a death rattle can still be annoying. For instance, right now, I'm sure there are good works that would've been nominated, but that got pushed off because of this political bloc voting. I'm so looking forward to the day after the awards ceremony, when that information becomes available.

Here again, Passover comes to my rescue: at the end of the seder, we recall we are free, but that we have more work to do when we say, "Next year in Jerusalem." So:

Next year, may we have good works on the awards lists, good works that have won by merit.

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