For the last few days I've been reading through the early stages of the Hugo Awards controversy and the emerging narratives that have come from it. In doing so it's become clear that were it not for the involvement of Vox that the criticisms of the Sad Puppies slate would be essentially meaningless. With Vox's involvement critics of the Sad Puppies are able to call the entire slate a racist, sexist, regressive movement that is actively attempting to keep minorities out. It doesn't matter that the Sad Puppies slate has nominated women and minorities. It doesn't matter that they have people who have expressed wildly different moralities or political philosophies. The narrative has been established.
It happened when +Zak Smith and +Kasimir Urbanski were falsely accused of being bigots right after the launch of Fifth Edition too. Then the narrative was that of hearsay. "I heard," they would say, "that Zak and Pundit are bigots. That they have exclusively (or primarily) targeted women, people of different colors, and transgendered folk!" When you pointed to them having friends who were any of those things it was dismissed out of hand, as though they had specifically cultivated these relationships just to defend themselves from being labeled as bigots. These men were nefarious actors within the hobby whose evil knew no bounds. That such logic made no sense except within the narrative no longer mattered because the narrative had been established. They were bad people, the worst people you could imagine under the circumstances, so no vile act was beyond the pale.
All nuance disappears and we're all painted with broad strokes. David supports #Gamergate so he must hate all women. Never you mind that he designs games with a woman, plays with women at his table, has a woman Game Master, and has never said an ugly thing about women in his life. John supports the Sad Puppies slate so he must be trying to keep those of us who are different out of the Hugo Awards and away from Science Fiction. It doesn't matter that he's gay, black, and really just likes most of the books on the slate. The narratives have been established.
We get so wrapped up in the narrative about people and things these days that our imagined reality takes over what is actually happening - and this isn't a new thing; it's just more obvious now that we have the internet with its drastically intensified focus and reduced news cycle lifespan. We're more interconnected than ever before with our Twitters, Facebooks, Google+, Linkedin, and so forth. We can't get away from the story and its emerging narrative until it's firmly established in the wider culture. Then the controversies fade into the background leaving behind their established narratives and the destroyed lives of those on the wrong side of the story.
If it isn't clear what I'm saying here is that before you buy into the established narrative on anything research it by going to direct sources and through trusted sites. Don't just follow lockstep with someone because they tell you that this is how it is.