With the 2015 Hugo Awards drawing near, I have been pondering how one might end Vox Day, the Sci-Fi community's most boogiest of boogie men. I've been reading Vox's blog Vox Populi semi-religiously since last year's Hugo kerfuffle, and if the one unforgivable sin is being boring, then the man may qualify for sainthood. I...I kind of love him now.
Before diving into the topic at hand, I want establish two things. First, "Killing Vox Day" does not mean "murdering Vox Day" or "physically harming Vox Day." As a pacifist, I do not even condone "wedgieing Vox Day." To kill Vox Day is to kill his credibility and to undermine the momentum of the Rabid Puppies.
Second, I have approached this as a purely mental exercise. This is a war game of the sort Vox himself loves so much, not an actual plan.
As in all games, we must first set the board. Let's start with the Boss Monster. Here are a few conclusions I have come to about Vox Day.
Part One: What Type of Opponent?
1). Vox Day is Honest
Whatever you think about Vox Day's opinions, you cannot deny that he states them publicly and consistently in the face of intense criticism.
Being honest does not mean telling the truth per se. It does not mean that what you say is ultimately correct. Honesty means telling the truth as you see it, based on your best understanding of the situation. Vox is acerbic, biased, and prone to fits of exaggeration, but taking these things into account, he generally says what he thinks to the best of his knowledge.
If anything, I've been stunned by how open Vox Day is about his evil, evil plans. In terms of Hugo strategy in particular, his modus operandi seems to be openly declaring his strategy, openly following through with said strategy, and then laughing at his enemies' confused responses.
This makes the move from the non-puppy camp to nuke the Hugos with "no award" votes this year particularly perplexing. Vox has openly stated that he will consider "no award" a victory. Vox's main goal is to drive everyone he doesn't like out of the party, and he's willing to shit in the punch bowl to accomplish it. Sure, he'd prefer to drink the punch, but a lesser victory is still a victory. Why should he lower himself to shit in the punch bowl when his enemies are willing to do it for him?
When Vox says he's going to do something, odds are he's going to do it. When he says he does not care about being part of the Sci-Fi in-crowd, he truly does not care. When he says his ancestry is Native American-Mexican, there is no good reason to deny it. And when he says that the Hugos and GamerGate are but single steps in his hideous plan, you had best believe that as well.
2). Vox Day is Intelligent (and Sane)
One of the things I have noticed about detractors of Vox Day is that they assume Vox is either an idiot or insane. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Vox is an extremely sharp person. He knows how to argue successfully. He can set up a consistent argument, pick out flaws in his opponent's reasoning, and generally defend intellectual positions that few other people can. Why these positions are difficult to defend hardly matters. What matters is that he has the chops to defend them.
If you need an example of this, just look at the arguments he presents in any given blog post and the bleating of his supporters in the comments. There is a world of difference. And this is why they keep coming back – because he is very, very good at arguing for them. You don't rally around a person who consistently loses.
Another good example is this interview on CSPAN where he gives a logical and eloquent argument for the right of American states to secede from the Union. You can tell that the host was expecting an easy kill against a right-wing nut job and ended up with a lively, intelligent debate.
Vox likes to credit his years of strategy gaming for these abilities (Advanced Squad Leader in particular). Personally, I like to credit years of playing Cooking Mama for my three Michelin stars and Mario marathons for my six-foot vertical jump. The more likely factor is that Vox is an avid reader - he displays a more than passing familiarity with philosophy, statistical modeling, and yes, military history and tactics (particularly Fourth Generation theory - more on this later).
Again, this is not to say that his arguments are objectively true, only that he does a good job of flustering, discrediting, and generally taking down his opponents. He can think logically, tactically, and worst of all, strategically. He does not win because of the inherent strength of his positions, but because of his technique in defending them. That is not the behavior of a drooling troglodyte or an insane person.
If we were to engage in a bit of ill-advised armchair psychology, the only disorder we could make a case for is Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Set up an authority in front of Vox, and I will give you 2 to 1 odds he will attack them. Whether the issue is Climate Change, Vaccinations, Economics, or Theology, his default position is to attack every scientist, doctor, professor, and pastor in his path. Moreover, he expends considerable amounts of time and energy gathering ammunition for these fights.
Now whether this indicates ODD or simply that Vox gets off on debate is between Vox and his therapist. What we know is that Vox resists membership in organizations with formal structures of authority and that drawing Vox into a fight is probably the easiest thing you will ever do.
3). Vox Day is a Racist?
Besides, even if Vox believed in racial equality (which he does not), I'm sure there would still be someone out there accusing him of racism. By some metrics of racism, everything a human being can do, from holding a job to not holding a fart, is racist. This does not make Vox any less racist, but it does inform why less people give a fuck than you may expect.
The critical issue is not whether or not Vox is a racist, the critical issue is where he is on the racism rainbow. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I want to be the white man's brother, not his brother-in-law,” and that sounds super-racist. [Note: Upon further research, the original context of this quote was more along the lines of "My goal is social equality, not chasing White women, you dorks." I was still quite triggered by it, and expect an apology/withdrawal from Dr. King] So what is Vox Day? MLK racist, “Grandma, we don't use that word anymore” racist, or straight up Demon-Possessed Nazi Mad Scientist racist?
We can dismiss the White Supremacy charge right off of the bat. The studies that Vox points to justify his claims that Whites are intellectually superior to Blacks and Latinos also indicate that East Asians are intellectually superior to Whites – something which Vox openly admits. And if we know anything about Vox, we know that he considers a superior intellect the essence of superiority.
Besides, Vox openly identifies as Native American-Mexican, two groups that similar studies say are generally less intelligent than Whites. So while "the red card" may work on a strategic level to shield Vox from accusations of racism, playing it is also unthinkable for a true White Supremacist. Admitting to non-White ancestry is admitting to genetic inferiority - take a look at the strange case of Csanád Szegedi for a good example.
Perhaps the most accurate label we can attach to Vox is that of “self-segregationist.” He believes that:
- “Races” are legitimate, genetically determined subgroups of humanity.
- These subgroups have inherent genetic differences – they excel in different things, enjoy different things, and organize themselves in different ways.
- Human beings, at their core, prefer living among members of the same race.
As far as racism goes, this is all fairly tame (check out Savitri Devi sometime). Heck, that's more or less what the majority of humans have believed throughout the modern period.1 Once again, that does not make it any more true or any less racist, but Vox's views on race are, if anything, a bit boring.
Vox likes to say that he is not a racist but rather a "civilizationalist." He sees himself as standing up for White Christian civilization against the forces that seek to destroy it, from the schools of Frankfurt to the madrasas of Tehran.2
Race is important because he believes in a Marxist cabal that is using immigration and racial mixing to intentionally tear down the Christian civilization of Europe. He sees himself as a soldier in a war between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness - race war is just a side issue.
So is Vox Day a racist? By some metrics, yes. By most metrics, yes. But it hardly matters. His supporters support him regardless. Rather, they support him all the more for not backing down to "Political Correctness." His enemies would not hate him any less if he recanted. He has everything to gain from preaching segregation and less than nothing to lose. Call it “Donald Trump Strategy” if you like, but Vox was doing it first.
4). Vox Day Doesn't Care
Why should he? Speaking out has not hurt his financial prospects in the slightest. It has propelled him to infamy, helped him launch a publishing house and revived his video game development career.
Call him a racist, throw him out of the SFWA, deny his ethnic heritage, claim his wife doesn't exist. It will all bounce off. He does not care about your opinion, my opinion, or the opinion of anyone that he does not consider an ally.
Even worse, he knows how to turn these attacks to his own advantage. Call him racist? He'll claim intellectual persecution and start a culture war. Throw him out of the SFWA? That's discriminating against Native Americans. Claim he's not really Native? Now that's racist. Boycott his works? That proves that the SJWs are scared of him. Every counter-attack becomes a flashpoint for rallying up his supporters while any silence is proof that the enemy is on the run.