The Hugos – stop playing an unwinnable game

holdfast

We can end the Hugos mess. I’ve posted a way here. tl;dr — mediation. If you have a better idea, I’m eager to hear it. 

You’re on a tennis court. Your opponent serves a ball directly into your racket. You hit back hard. Instead of lunging to return the ball, your opponent ignores it, takes a new ball out of their pocket and serves it at right at you. This keeps happening over and over. Your opponent never returns your balls, just keeps hitting new ones. That’s unfair, so you start taking balls out of your own pocket.

How long would you keep playing an unwinnable game?

We have to stop this. Stop the hyperbole and invective, bad arguments and incendiary insults. Stop pretending we’re fighting a holy war. Stop casting ourselves as the victim. Stop saying he hit me first.

We need to ask ourselves what we want out of this. Stop hitting me isn’t an answer.

Why I’m pushing mediation

Most of us — those who don’t get a thrill from conflict — are sick to death of the Hugos mess. It’s taking away something very important, far more important than an award — our time and energy. Not to mention the time and energy of the writers we love to read. If the Hugos mess has taken one page of fiction from the lifetime output of one of my favorite writers, that’s too high a price to pay. It has to stop.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard a lot of arguments about why mediation wouldn’t work. But I haven’t heard one suggestion for a better plan that doesn’t include waiting for the three years it would take to change the Hugos rules.

Arguments about why mediation won’t work

What is the benefit in assuming a mediation would fail? What is the harm in challenging the other side to drop their insults and hyperbole to engage in an actual face to face, mediated discussion? It’s easy to be a naysayer. Much, much harder to lay down the poison pens and work toward a resolution.

1. It won’t work because there aren’t two sides.
Sure, there are factions, but there are clear leaders on both sides. Some of them could be trusted to be honorable and reasonable in a face-to-face situation.

2. It won’t work because both sides have to agree on what the problem is.
Untrue. All we have to agree on is the desire to find a fair resolution.

3. The puppies don’t want a fair resolution, all they want is to keep fighting.
Maybe. I bet they would say the same about us. If they’re offered a fair resolution process and reject it, then we’ll know for sure.

4. It won’t work because the puppies are [fill in your favorite insult here].
Some of them are unreasonable and behave badly. Some of us are unreasonable and behave badly. Arguing over who behaves worse doesn’t solve anything, it just digs us deeper into the shit.

5. It won’t work because it’s an ideological battle on the mythic level.
Okay, but it’s a holy war of our own making. We can unmake it. Holy wars end when people get sick of the massacres. Or when everyone’s dead. Which would you choose?

6. It would give too much credence to the other side’s ideology.
No, it would require both sides to work around ideology to find a resolution. It might even expose the weak points in cherished ideologies. We might be better for it.

Who wins if this goes on?

If this goes on, the only winners are the people who enjoy the fight — the holy warriors who post insults and bad rhetoric on their blogs and then pop some popcorn.

Are we smart enough to solve a tough problem? If so, it’s time we started acting like it.

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