We are halfway there.
Within eight hours of the debate challenge I issued to feuding bloggers John Scalzi and Vox Day, Vox responded positively in the comment threads of the original post.
“I would certainly accept any such challenge, regardless of whether the debate was sexism, racism, or any other -ism. I'd even accept you as a potential debate moderator despite our own differences of opinion on such issues.” – Vox Day, February 3, 2013, 12:27 a.m.
Half of the debating lineup is on board. But what about the other man?
Within an hour of my debate challenge post, John Scalzi mysteriously posted an ad hominem attack against his opposition. Scalzi now states that he will make a charitable contribution at the end of 2013 in lieu of further acknowledgements of Vox Day, who has agreed to debate him in a neutral venue.
There are problems, however—and not only the obvious issue of the transparent distraction-and-evasion tactic. As I examine John’s four “charities,” I see an ideological slant here as well: One is an organization that seeks political favors for the abortion industry via the Democratic Party. Two others are blatantly partisan advocacy organizations for identity group political causes. If the objective here was to end world hunger by avoiding Vox Day, I submit that John has fallen short of the mark.
Nevertheless, I think John’s idea of charitable involvement is a good one—however flawed its execution may be. Therefore, I hereby announce that the Vox Day/John Scalzi Internet Debate, should it ever occur, will benefit Children International.
Children International is a reputable, politically neutral organization that should be acceptable to all, regardless of their views on abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. I will open the donations by pledging to donate at least $200 myself; and we can solicit further donation pledges on Vox Populi, the Whatever, and my blog.
But what about John Scalzi?
John seems to have adopted the rather elitist position that he is too big a player to debate Vox Day. One of his readers bolstered this stance with the following comment:
“You are a famous writer and he is… a nobody, really… whose only current claim to fame is that he has the attention of a famous writer.”
Time for a reality check. Stephen King is a famous writer. Ken Follett is a famous writer. John Scalzi is a successful genre writer who is reasonably well known within the science fiction community and in some sectors the blogosphere. But the fact remains that most people outside these narrow confines don’t know who he is.
Nor is Vox Day exactly a household name. However, he has participated in interviews with Ron Paul, Dinesh D’Souza, and other figures who are legitimately household names. His blog has a wide following. Vox is a published author, and one of John’s fellow members of the SFWA. I don’t know which man made more money as a writer/blogger in 2012; but I don’t think we need to carry our comparison that far. John Scalzi and Vox Day are equally matched.
Should John Scalzi agree to this debate for the benefit of Children International, I will volunteer to function as moderator. My ground rules will be as follows:
- This will be a civil, professional, and dignified debate. I will not allow ad hominem attacks, profanity, or excessive sarcasm from either man.
- This debate will be fair and ideologically balanced. The questions will be equally weighted so as to favor neither Vox Day nor John Scalzi.
- Specifically, I will challenge Vox regarding his views of women in the political process (which I am on record as opposing). I will challenge John regarding the premises behind his now-infamous “straight white male” essay—which generated a lot of controversy on the Internet last summer.
John, since you seem to have an aversion to direct contact with Theodore Beale, I will also act as an intermediary between the two of you as we work out the details. Consider this an open invitation: You may contact me at your leisure. If you peruse my site, I think you will find that I am by no means hostile to you, and at the ideological midpoint between you and Vox Day.
The choice is yours, Mr. Scalzi: Will you stubbornly remain behind your walled compound, basking in the fawning praise of your cultivated and like-minded following? Or will you agree to participate in a collegial and gentlemanly exchange of viewpoints for the benefit of charity, and the cause of intellectual diversity on the Internet?