Alpha Centuri
Working on a poster for my brother's Alpha Centuri site.

Just Say It Means Vagina...
It started as a joke. 

In the 1970's, liberal writers used the term "political correctness" as self-satire to deflate blind extremism in themselves by gently poking fun at the tendency.  In the 1990's the phrase fell into the wrong hands and has been used to bash some pretty good, decent impulses in civil society ever since.  "Political Correctness" is a phrase so insidiously pejorative that if you had hired a think tank so blatantly grasping and evil that they had decided to call themselves "The Selfishly Ruining Everything for Everybody Foundation,"  it still would have taken them years and years and billions and billions of dollars (just to cover the cost of  postit notes and whiteout) to come up with anything half as corrosive.

Think about it.  Nothing could be called "Political Correctness" and sound like a good idea.  First there is the "political" part.  Although we all have our views on how we'd like our countries to be run, the actual business of governing is considered by many average citizens to be pretty dirty.  When we say someone is being "political," we usually mean that they're kind of lying.  Politics and religion are subjects that the etiquette book folks  advise us to avoid at the dinner table.  So right here at the beginning of the phrase we have the impression of aggressive mendacity.  In other words, you're starting out already in great danger of being what the kids like to call a "douche."

And that's even before we get to the "Correctness" part.  There are few terms that are more of an affront to the American soul.  (I mean U.S. American here, but I think we can probably include everyone from Canada down to Terra Del Fuego on that one.)  We like to think of ourselves (whether we are or not) as free and unfettered, unfenced in, rebels who fight the law even if we know the law will win, mavericks quitting our jobs and figuring out a way to call it "going rogue," etc.  "Correctness" we associate with prissy, uptight people with metaphorical sticks up uncomfortable parts of  their anatomy. This image of ourselves is so strong in fact that even the prissiest, most uptight person you know with the biggest stick up the most uncomfortable part of their anatomy still thinks he or she is a rebel in some way.  Ask them sometime.  They've probably got a Harley t-shirt wrapped up in plastic somewhere in their house that proves it.

Imagine if we called the idea that when a group of people decides they don't want to be called something anymore and we agree to call them something with less bad associations "Civility in Speech."  Would Bill Mahr have called his show "Incivility in Speech"?  Would people say, "Well, this joke may be a little un-Civil, but..." or "I don't know what the Civil term for those people is now, but..."  All the above would tend to make the speaker sound like what the kids like to call a "douche."  And when you think about it, isn't calling someone a name they've told you hurts their feelings one of the hallmarks of douchery?

But we're stuck with "Political Correctness" now.  People feel downright proud of themselves for casual douchebaggery towards whole segments of the population they may or may not know anything about.  Political Incorrectness may even serve as the moth-balled Harley t-shirt that makes them able to think of themselves as a True American Rebel.

There is a work-around though.  I found this out the other day when I saw that in 2003 Arizona had decided to rename Squaw Mountain Piestewa Peak.  Surprised at this civil move from the state that is currently guilty of the most infamous example of legally sanctioned intolerance since the 1960's, I decided to investigate.  It turns out that in 1992, Native American activist Suzan Harjo got on the Oprah show and said that "squaw" meant "vagina" in Algonquin.  Etymologists are not sure this is 100% true.  There are lots of words in Native American languages that kind of sound like "squaw" and just mean "woman."  What is true is that White people have never used the word as a compliment.  There's been nothing in the way "squaw" has been used for a couple of centuries now to really separate it from secretly or even not-so-secretly being a dirty word for the female anatomy.

Innocent or not, the damage is done to the word "squaw" now.  After years of complaining from Native Americans falling on deaf ears, one little hint that this word was really a naughty word for lady parts has erased "squaw" off the map - literally.  Idaho, Maine, and Arizona have renamed mountains, roads, waterways, and islands to get rid of the word.  The American Ornithologist's Union even renamed a duck.

What's amazing to me is that I never heard about any of this.  I might not have been paying attention at the right time to the right thing, but the whole "squaw" brouhaha completely passed me by.  I remember in the seventies and eighties how people laid down on the floor kicking and screaming when Native Americans objected to sports teams being represented by cartoon Indians with big noses and googly eyes.  People acted like not being able to do the tomahawk chop or whatever it was at a Braves game was on par with spitting on their grandmas.

This a thing I've never understood about Civility in Speech.  What does it cost you to stop saying something that offends someone else?  Yes, it is embarrassing to be the one who didn't get the memo about a term being declared douche-y.  It happened to me on the Oriental/Asian thing.  I grew up in a part of the country so homogeneous that it was ethnic to be Methodist.  It's one of the only places outside Sweden where you can go into a store and find that hair colors of all shoppers range from light brown to white-blonde and all eyes are blue, green, or blue-green.  I didn't know any Asian people.  Someone had to say,  "Oriental is considered offensive now. Hadn't you heard?" No, I hadn't.  A moment of embarrassment for me, but we all managed to go on with our day. 

If you find yourself thinking,  "You know what's really holding me back?  My life would be so much smoother if I could just call someone a n**ger if I want to," let me tell you something about yourself.   You're a racist.  Not a little racist, either.  You're a great big ol' racist. Not being able to use offensive words is only holding you back in the same way not being able to wear a white hood to the grocery store is.  You need to be held back.  It makes things much nicer -- and safer -- for the rest of us.

Anything short of that and being careful about the words you choose is not going to hurt you.  It may be awkward to use new terms until you get used to it.  You may have an embarrassing gaffe if you forget or don't get the memo that you need to edit your vocabulary.  If we called this word thing "Civility in Speech" then maybe it wouldn't be a big deal for the etiquette people to publish columns in newspapers or websites that listed which terms had been declared "in" or "out."  I think I remember them doing that in the 1970's.  We laughed a while about the idea that our "mailman" might now have to become a "personperson" but since our "mailman" was actually the old mailman's daughter, "postal worker" or "mail carrier" turned out to be less awkward verbiage than we'd been using before.  And so, we all went about our day unharmed -- which is how it should be if we could just get rid of this notion that there's something romantically rebellious about douchebaggery.

You know, I think I have heard that "politically correct" was a term used by Victorian pornographers to refer to the vagina...

(no subject)
I'm trying out a costume Dave converted for me today.

Kam in Vortex

Bill Hupe and FanLib: Why I'm Here in 1000 words or Less
I'm starting this Live Journal for two reasons:  Bill Hupe and FanLib.

As with all bold, declarative, headline-ish statements like the above, there are actually a host of more mundane reasons that I will spend a good deal of time talking about while you sit there and wonder "Since when did Bill Hupe have anything to do with" or  "Who the hell is Bill Hupe?" or  "Will there be any naked pictures of Spock draped over a stack of fanzines?"

Actually the first sub-reason for my being here is not terribly mundane at all.  I was hit by a pickup truck while riding my bike in March of 2009.  I suffered what is misleadingly called a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.  I'm weeks away from finishing neurotherapy -- weeks away from being truly and officially well, in other words. I am in the happy, but a little overwhelming position of having my short term memory finally reconnect with my long term memory.  Both of these repositories of the experiences we call life are also hooking back in to my ability to reason, weigh, evaluate, and connect.  So here I am, sorting back through my life like it's a big scrapbook that fell out of the top shelf of my closet, trying to get all the pictures back in order, wondering whatever happened to....?

Which leads me in a surprisingly direct line back to Bill Hupe.  I illustrated fanzines for him from around 1986 to some time in the late nineties when I got a new job and drifted away from fandom for a while.  He was a pal, easy to work with, supremely generous.  He was the person who got me firmly hooked on Anime.  He'd mail me boxes full of vhs tapes of  shows like Vampire Princess Miyu, Urusei Yatsura, and my beloved Ranma 1/2 for free in the days before DVD when no one was selling anime and there was no station in the U.S. was broadcasting the stuff.

It must be stated:  Bill Hupe published some of the worst schlock to ever see the mimeographed page.  The nadir for me was the time I, greedy for the reward of another box of Rumiko Takahashi goodness, agreed to do a cover illustration for a novella length 'zine (that Bill published, but did NOT write) in which Picard is inflicted with dementia by some mecha-baddie.  There were scenes where Riker changed his captain's adult diaper.

Let's move on, shall we?

Despite the fact that he published some of the purest of the pure and total crap that made its way through Kinkos in the 1980's, Bill had pretty reliably good taste.  His recommendations for things to watch and read (usually not things he himself had published) were almost always excellent.  I might have missed Blackadder and Red Dwarf entirely if not for him.

And now he's dead.

I went on a Google Quest to find him last week.  Bill always knew everyone and everything.  He was computer savvy back in the days when only the geekiest of the geeks thought it was worthwhile to own one of those fancy TV-typewriters. Bill was a natural to be on the Internet. If I could find him, I thought, I could find links to everyone.  Bill was a linker.  He hooked folks up with their fannish drug of choice, be that programs about Japanese adventure teams based on characters from esoteric Buddhism or 'zines about Picard in diapers (with a very tasteful cover, I might add.) 

But now he's dead. 

He didn't die of anything dramatic according to accounts.  His health got bad.  I think he was ten or fifteen years older than me.  That is still very early to die of bad health... but it happens.  It's disturbing to get to the age where when you go hunting for old friends, one in every ten or so is dead.

Bill had left fandom in a flurry of controversy in the late nineties. (It just sounds too Victorian to say he left around the time of the turn of the century, doesn't it?)  It was something over reprinting out of print 'zines.  Really he just got too big.  The weight of his 'zine empire collapsed in on itself like a dying sun.  An editor who worked with him had volunteered to take over the whole thing.  This inevitably led to the whimper not bang ending of someone eventually finding the rented storage unit packed to the leaking tin ceiling full of 'zines and manuscripts and art that was being auctioned off by the storage company people for non-payment. 

Wonder if anyone bought my Picard in diapers picture?

I guess I saw the Hupe Empire at its very height right before The Fall.  In 1996, he invited me to visit while I attended my one and only MediaWest con.  His house was... I think it may be sadly misleading to think of where he lived as a house.  It was a giant dealer's room staging area where people happened to live while they worked on putting together fanzines and duplicating tapes.  We collated and bound 'zines while we chatted in the same way another host might have a coke and eat some peanuts with you.  It was astonishing.  He packed me off with a box of impossible to find British and Japanese cult TV  he'd been duplicating in one of his room full of VCRs while we were talking and the manuscript of some completely awful TOS novel he wanted a color cover for by the end of the month.   It was a great night. Fannish Baroque.

But now he's gone.

Even after I found out he was dead and had left no website spiderwebbing out to the fannish universe, I kept looking for him for a while.  Momentum and inertia, I guess.  And I found Fanlib... well, not, per se.  It is long and un-lamentably gone.  I found the wake of the giant controversy that had accompanied this corporate sponsored attempt at fan-mining that was still rippling outward. 

I had missed it. Entirely.

It's hard to believe I heard no hint of this.  This was almost THE BIG ONE that we've all been half-anticipating for so long -- the ultimate Pan-Fandom epidemic; the moment when Big Media finally figures out an insidious way to co-opt and shut us down not by stomping or starving us out as we have so long feared but rather by making us tame and docile as we eagerly lick at a drip-bottle of carefully rationed corporate approval.

I have no excuse for not knowing.  The Fanlib-quake was pre-brain injury.  I am not gafiated.  I still write and/or illo almost every day.  I work with Cher Petterson on her Valjiir site the same way medieval monks worked on the Book of Kells.  I do the thing seeking to perfect the pure loveliness of what it is to what I know it can be for the ultimate glory of Pristine Fannish Bliss.  I almost don't care if anyone reads it anymore.

Well, almost.

Now, as my brain starts to gingerly travel down still-tender but sweetly familiar neural pathways, I miss those links.  I once more want to be connected to fandom which has been such a part of who I was, and am, and probably will be.

So, here I am. 

Looking for links.

Are you still out there?
Young Spock

(No, Spock is neither naked nor draped on fanzines.  But it's not Picard in diapers... So, there is that...)

First Post
Hello, live journal-verse!  This is just a place holder debut posting to test out what all the buttons do...

Illo from a Valjiir story
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