On being discredited

I can see it coming. And to explain what I’m predicting I’m going to quote a couple of science fiction and fantasy books. Bear with me, please, because they are good stories and point in interesting directions.

First of all, let’s talk about the premise of the fantasy novel Steel’s Edge by husband-and-wife writing team Ilona Andrews–part of their Edgers series. In it a young woman named Charlotte lives in a parallel world where magic is commonplace. She flees her native world for a place where magic is weaker called The Edge, and finds asylum and a new life there only to have it violently destroyed by some slaver raiders who kill those she cares about. She heads back to the full-magic world and does her damnedest to stop the slave trade there with others, including the cute hunk of a guy on the cover. (Yes, it’s also a steamy romance. So sue me.)

Here’s the thing I’d like to point out from Steel’s Edge: Her strategy hinges on the fact that a few people in the royal family support someone near the throne who is running the slave trade without knowledge of his sovereign. They cannot just accuse this man because he’s elite and too close to the throne. So Charlotte and her dedicated crew decide to discredit this evil man and make him unacceptable to the royalty and their hangers-on. They’re special and they have standards, and his public exposure will do the trick and make them reject him. If Charlotte & Co. can discredit him and embarrass him publicly by showing how he is running the slave trade in front of the assembled nobles, those nobles will cast him out as unworthy of them. And that was exactly what happens. (Great book and series, by the way.)

The second book with an applicable lesson is A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s a romantic farce where one of the three romances it intertwines has an epic “record-scratch” moment where the guy finds out that the woman he’s interested in has had a sex change operation to become a male and therefore be able to inherit a countship. The rival for the countship tries to discredit the new claimant as “just not being the real thing” but it looks like the former she, now a he, may just pull it off. I’m not going to go into all the delicious details–it’s simply an amazing book and if you’ve not yet read the Vokosigan Saga you’re in for a treat–but here’s the relevant passage to my topic.

The rival, unable to discredit his newly-male opponent, gets caught hiring thugs who (at his direction, albeit through cut-outs) tried remove the new claimant’s newly-acquired *ahem* male member. Most of the counts upon whom the original guy depended for votes, when he was the uncontested heir-apparent, will not even speak to him after he’s found out. And then one of them says something particularly scathing. “There is an unwritten rule among us, Richars; if you attempt any ploy on the far side of ethical, you’d damned well better be good enough to not get caught. You’re not good enough.”

And this leads into the point I want to make. Much of what we’re seeing in the news seems to be about embarrassing and discrediting others. Incontrovertible truth instead of innuendo is my standard on such things. Let me see what’s really going on. Show me, for I might as well be from Missouri. And as the proofs start to trickle in I’m starting to wonder about the “nobility” and “eliteness” of some of our leaders and institutions. It looks like many of them are being discredited right before our eyes.