An Hypothesis Concerning Bigotry

Godley Statue toppled

Evidence indicates that the earliest human societies were hunter/gatherer, with men the hunters and warriors, and women the gatherers and nurturers.

That division of identities has remained pretty much universally throughout history.

Women’s activism over the past 200 years or so has eroded that relationship, leaving males in general to feel threatened at the loss of their own identity. If women can do man’s work, what use is there for males?

Parallel to this is a perception of some races as more advanced than others. In a nutshell, European nations married technological advances to a rapacious nature and briefly conquered the world.

Racial activism over the past 200 years has eroded that relationship, leaving whites in general to feel threatened at the loss of their own identity. If subjugated peoples are allowed to achieve equality with whites, what value is there for whiteness?

Parallel to these is a perception that wealthy people are intrinsically better than poor people. Wealth has been assumed the main measure of success, quality, and capability. That some poorer people rise to this level is taken as proof of concept for intrinsic superiority. There are those meant to rule and those meant to be ruled.

The rise of an educated Middle Class and educated poor threatens that relationship, leaving wealthy people to feel uneasy. If everyone becomes equal, what use is there for rulers?

Put these three together and you have a picture of white males in general, but particularly rich white males, threatened with loss of their identity.  (Along with people suffering the Stockholm Syndrome of inferiority—such as Evangelical white women supporting the notion that Eve was created to serve Adam.) In essence, rich white males have no identity beyond their wealth; even charitable giving is simply reaffirmation of their wealthy value. Fear breeds anger, which breeds abuse and oppression.

The trouble for males, especially white ones, and most especially rich white ones, is that oppression leads to rejection of identity roles by the subjugated. Since the 1990’s in particular, American White Males have fucked themselves by hoarding more and more. As the American Dream becomes increasingly unobtainable, new generations are opting out of identifying themselves by their work, their household roles, and even their genders. They are discovering an identity of true individuality.

Vincent Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, and the open-source movement have provided a means for the oppressed to disengage from an oppressive society. The heretofore dimly perceived tectonic shift of the Information Age is becoming clearer, and it spells a toppling of more than a few statues. Those icons are merely metaphoric, as evidenced by things like the crumbling Republican party.

For decades, I’ve watched men retire, go home to fish and visit relatives, and die within a few years from lack of purpose. I’ve seen marriage after marriage collapse after children leave home and the work of managing a family disappears. The people I’ve seen survive those transitions have invariably possessed an individual personality beyond those roles, often through hobbies.

The lesson is pretty clear: Accept society’s definition of your role and you’re going to die when it’s taken away; define yourself as something other than that and you’ll survive with joy.

The young don’t really care what we think of them, and the future is theirs. If the rest of us hope to survive, we need to follow their example.


Confessions of a TFT Addict

The Fantasy Trip Legacy Edition

(Plans change. This post was originally slated as the introduction to a book of The Fantasy Trip essays, now found in issues of Hexagram. Watch for my TFT fencing article in Hexagram #6!)

My game design career started with selling a four-paragraph review to Steve Jackson Games’ Space Gamer magazine. Why Space Gamer instead of TSR’s Dragon? Because I was a Steve Jackson junkie.

In 1981, my game group had dumped AD&D in favor of The Fantasy Trip, at my own instigation. I wanted characters who, no matter how experienced, had good reason to fear wolves in a pack and goblins in a gang, and TFT supplied that. Along with skills instead of classes, and tactics instead of abstract one-minute combat turns. TFT provided a reason to use miniatures for more than just pretty. All that in literally 150 pages instead of literally 472.

I GMed The Fantasy Trip for years to the exclusion of all other RPGs. Our group played TFT long after Metagaming (its publisher) went out of business and TFT went out of print. I scoured hobby stores for supplementary material, photocopied and ringbound every magazine article I could find, bought Gamelords’ The Forest Lords of Dyhad and Warrior-Lords of Darok, and prayed for the two remaining books of that setting to be published. Prayed for anything new to be released.

No exaggeration, I still wake from the occasional nightmare that I’m traveling, stumble across some hobby store in Texas, find an unknown TFT-related title in a bargain bin, and don’t have the cash on me to pay for it.

So when I landed a full-time game design job in my hometown, at Game Designers Workshop (publishers of Traveller), I asked for a special dispensation to launch a non-GDW fanzine, The Fantasy Forum, in my free time.

As I recall, GDW let me run a little ad in their house organ, Challenge magazine, and even let me print out the ’zine on the office copier. And of course I submitted an ad to Space Gamer. Other addicted fans subscribed to this little quarterly. Content submissions soon exceeded the bulk-rate page count. To fit Howard Trump’s solo adventures, I had to print them in 6-point type with 1/8th-inch margins. (In retrospect, I could have published those separately and printed monthly.)

Gen Con 20 in 1987 was my first big convention, and as a brand-new industry pro, I approached Steve Jackson to shake his hand and goob over The Fantasy Trip. When I asked about the prospects of a new printing now that Metagaming was defunct, and Steve told me how much cash Howard Thompson wanted for the title, I gasped, and something inside me died a little bit.

So you can easily imagine my delight when Steve regained the rights in 2017 and launched a Kickstarter shortly thereafter to print a new, deluxe edition. That boxed set now stands in a place of honor on the very top shelf of my RPG collection, right next to the big ringbinder (“liberated” from The Armory) that holds my cherished collection of original TFT material.

And you can imagine my pleasure to be writing this introduction to a collection of essaygs honoring The Fantasy Trip.

Thank you, Steve, for the years of wonderful memories, playing The Fantasy Trip with my friends.

Liberally Biased Professors

“I thank God, we have not free schools nor printing … For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from both!”

~ Sir William Berkeley, (1606-1677) Royal Governor of Virginia

Something I often hear from Conservative family members is that college professors have a Liberal bias.

Ergo higher education has a Liberal bias.

At kindergarten (and pre-kindergarten, and nowadays pre-pre-kindergarten) all the way through high school, we can …

  • Vote for a school board to preserve our Conservative values.
  • Raise a ruckus to enforce prayer in school. (Granted, we can already pray there, just not officially lead prayer.)
  • Apply pressure to let teachers teach from the Bible. (Granted, they can already talk about the importance of the Bible in our culture, along with the Qoran in Arab nations, or the Tao te Ching, or whatever else those godless heathens in other countries read. But we can’t teach directly from the Bible like in those glorious one-room schoolhouses of the 1800s.)

Public schools we can influence. But at college level, education is out of our hands.

Higher education has a Liberal bias. Could that be why college costs so much in our good ol’ U.S.A.? God knows we don’t want to be manufacturing no more uppity Liberals.