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Drawing the line

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, these last couple of days. Well, as much thinking as possible considering I’ve been getting about five hours of sleep a night and work is slowly consuming my brain, my soul, and probably my major viscera. (But hey, workshop day is tomorrow! Then I get to relax have severe panic about all the end of month work that I didn’t get done because of the workshop wheeeeeeee.)

Anyway. I’ve been thinking drawing the line. You know. The Line. The Line That Must Not Be Crossed.

It’s an expression that can have some real macho bullshit baggage with it, I guess because it makes for nicely threatening language. See anything involving foreign policy. But that’s not what I mean, here. It’s not about denoting territory in a power struggle, be it between international powers or people. It’s not about maintaining physical safety. Those are the lines you draw outside of yourself, whether you’re a country or a parent with a cranky toddler or someone trying to hold the distance between you and an evil shitbag that doesn’t comprehend the meaning of No–and that’s a whole different matter.

The lines I’m thinking about here are the ones you draw inside yourself. They’re part of the way you define and shape yourself into the person you want to be. They are yours–only yours. You don’t get to force your configuration of internal borders on anyone else, and no one has the right to reach into you and redraw those boundaries.

These internal lines read: if I do this, if I am a part of this, I will no longer be the person I am or the person I want to be. I will no longer be right with myself. Crossing these internal lines will probably never hurt you physically, but will wound you in ways that never heal.

And make no mistake, other people aren’t going to have the same internal lines as you; it’s never easy to hit a point where you think something is unacceptable, but your friend is okay with it. Being human ain’t easy because no two of us are exactly the same, and that’s another thing you have to decide for yourself.

But these lines are important. These are the lines you draw between yourself and the dark.


So why all the navel-gazing? It’s not really my style when I’ve got movies I could be bitching about. As you might suspect already, this is another dispatch from the gift that keeps on giving: this year’s Hugo short-list. In my previous post, I said I’d be doing my best to read all the entries with an open heart. It was the best I could come up with at the time, because my first urge is always to ask what’s fair.

But then I made the mistake of getting lost down the comment rabbit hole of Natalie’s post, and one of the people there invoked Orson Scott Card, Roman Polanski, and Woody Allen as similar situations to the Vox Day being a Hugo nominee. (Insert your own feelings here on if you think that’s even a fair comparison to make on the scale of artistic merit versus complete shitbaggery.) And god I wish he hadn’t done that, because I’d almost managed to stop picking at this particular scab and let it retreat to no more than a nagging itch.

I’ve already searched through this little sector of my soul in relation to Orson Scott Card. (For me, he’s the only really pertinent example, because in all honesty I’ve never really liked Woody Allen’s work.) I fought with myself, blood was drawn, wounds were taken, and I came to the conclusion that I have a line. There is a point at which I can no longer separate the art from the living artist. I cannot escape the fact that my support of their art, however miniscule in relative scale it may be, implicates me in what they then use their platform to do and say. It makes me complicit, if only peripherally, in the harm they choose to do. I said of Orson Scott Card:

If you can separate the art from the artist, maybe that makes you a better person than me. Feel that way if you like. But I cannot support someone who believes that me and many of the people I love and esteem are not full human beings.

If that’s true for OSC, whom I have met and actually liked as a person, it’s just as true for Vox Day. And I’m ashamed of myself for not having considered this sooner. Though I guess that explains why I’ve been so damn uncomfortable about this entire mess.

I may still read Vox Day’s story if it’s in the Hugo packet, because what little of his prose I’ve seen has been downright florid, and I have this “hobby” (some might call it a “problem”) where I watch or read terrible things and then go on seething rants about the awfulness I witnessed. So I might give this embarrassing shitstain in the shorts of humanity that much of my time. Or I might just watch a couple episodes of Master Chef reruns instead. The series where it’s all kids is super cute, after all.

But I will not be putting Vox Day above the No Award line. I gave up Ender’s Game because being right with myself was more important than a novel I treasured as a teenager. This isn’t even a contest.


You don’t have to agree with me. I don’t expect you to. These are my lines, not yours.

Feel free to discuss this with me. Feel free to offer me arguments (I’ll do my best to consider) or ask questions if you’re going to actually listen to the answers. If you think less of me as a person for my melodramatic little choice, well, it is what it is. This is personal. I didn’t make this decision for you, and I sure as hell didn’t make it just to spite some guy I wouldn’t recognize if I bumped into him on the street.

It’s the end of the day, and I feel right with myself.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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