Scalzi and the safe space

Brad Torgersen has a theory about why the Chief Rabbit of Whatever will not leave the safety of his warren:

I no longer directly engage Scalzi — on anything. I used to engage him routinely. But an argument is only an argument if both parties take each other seriously enough to argue. In late 2012, I reached the point where I couldn’t take Scalzi seriously anymore. Mostly because I realized that Whatever is primarily his marketing tool, and that by partaking in his comments (and engaging him in argument there), I was merely playing along with the marketing. Marketing which was helping Scalzi financially as well as emotionally, and all I was getting for my trouble was an ever-increasing sense of frustration.

Now I observe Scalzi from afar. And if he occasionally makes me think he could use a good boot to the head, his denizens, (and the sort of person easily attracted to his blog, and therefore Scalzi’s very effective cult of personality he maintains via that blog), make me think this even more so.

You cannot argue with that sort of group inside the walls of its own house. The house and the landlord both reflect back to the group precisely what they each need to hear and see, in order to remain convinced that they — and they alone — have all the right ideas.

And so I remain disengaged. Because (to paraphrase the W.O.P.R.) the only winning move (with Scalzi and Whatever) is not to play.

It might be different if Scalzi ever stepped beyond his “safe space” in order to defend himself and his invective in an environment where he isn’t lord of the manor. But because Scalzi has created a “safe space” in which he never has to be made to feel demonstrably wrong for any length of time longer than it takes him to ban/deride a critic, he is not what I’d call an honest participant in the larger cultural, political, and philosophical debate. He needs his “safe space” too much.

Which is probably why most people (on Scalzi’s side of this) make such a noise about “safe spaces”, in all kinds of different arenas. They have concluded that any forum for interactivity that does not immediately affirm them — and all of their many smelly little orthodoxies and prejudices — is not “safe”, and therefore they will go to great lengths to whine about, pester, or attack, anyone who does not enable them in their need to be “safe.”

Mr. Torgersen is correct about the insidious and pernicious nature of rabbit warrens. They are intellectually enervating; Mr. Scalzi’s inflated opinion of his argumentative skills have always been illustrative of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, but after years of neither permitting substantive discourse on Whatever nor engaging in it outside that safe space, they will have deteriorated from even that low standard.

That is why I encourage SUBSTANTIVE intellectual disputation here. That does not mean that I tolerate the trivial and superficial stuff; there is nothing to be gained in the dialectical contemplation of whether X is or is not a poopyhead. And it is why I accept debate challenges whether they are hosted here or elsewhere and why I accept invitations to a black man’s blog when he wishes to discuss imputations of raciss.

I make no pretense of always being right and that is why I have no fear of taking the risk of being shown to be wrong. But for those who have built up a vast and illusory web of deceit, exaggeration, and spin, the risk of being exposed for who and what they truly are is simply too great. And so they are left posturing to their retarded rabbit choir.

I have to disagree with Mr. Torgesen, however, when he declares that the only winning move with McRapey is not to play. I think the fact that McRapey has stopped his previous practice of divulging his site traffic and his sales numbers, and hidden his previously available blog statistics at Quantcast, is sufficient evidence that shining a light on his web of deceit is also an effective strategy. Here were the last three months of Whatever traffic that were available to the public prior to him shutting it down; contrast them with the year before, when I began exposing his various deceits and con games:

Nov 2013: 407,363 (Nov 2012: 768,725,  down 47 percent)
Dec 2013: 475,543 (Dec 2012: 861,912, down 45 percent)
Jan 2014: 542,192 (Jan 2013: 840,874, down 36 percent)

My own monthly traffic went up 36 percent, from 786,956 to 1,076,538, during that same time period. That monthly average is more than Scalzi’s all-time peak of 1,027,644 in May 2012, which marked the only time Whatever exceeded one million pageviews.

So, disengagement and retreat is certainly an option, but it is a tactic that ensures intellectual stagnation and eventual irrelevance. More to the point, McRapey used to benefit from his appeal to the political moderates and right-wingers who did not realize that he was their self-appointed enemy; like Marko Kloos and David Weber, he had the rare advantage of being able to successfully sell to both sides of the political aisle.

But no longer. Now that he has been unmasked as a particularly deranged leader of the SF/F Left, I suspect there are more than a few of his former fans, perhaps as many as four in ten based on the site traffic, who are no longer willing to support him or his work. The ideological division of SF/F has observably begun and I strongly suspect that the authors and publishers of the SF/F Right will do to the mainstream SF/F publishers precisely what Fox News has done to the mainstream media.