Thursday, August 27, 2020

The clubbable Sherlockian

 There's a word out there that comes up in certain Sherlockian circles that I find rather questionable, and that word is "clubbable."

"Suitable for membership of a club because of one's sociability or popularity," according to Oxford.

"Fit to be a member of a club," according to

The actual meaning of "clubbable," of course, depends upon the club in question, or more specifically, the person or persons deciding who should get into that club. It's a vague term used in exclusionary situations where someone wants to get by without setting specific qualifications and would rather keep things at "only letting in people we like." Because if "clubbable" is about getting along with the club members appropriately, we all know who we get along best with: people we like.

"Clubbable" is one of those old white guy words you can hear coming out of the mouth of a stuffy cartoon high-society caricature of the sort that our current fictions tend to do better than. Racism and sexism get called out specifically. Bias against those who are specifically different gets spoked to specifically. "Clubbable" has certainly covered a lot of sins in its time, and maybe it's time we stopped using it to cover up any future transgressions.

It's 2020, guys, time to be as honest as we can, because lord know the dishonest are taking their game to whole new levels, and we have to be able to recognize truth, even in settings where nice people are doing nice things. It's kind of what Sherlock Holmes was all about, wasn't it?

Some folks are concerned with "cancel culture," and we've seen it raise its head in Sherlockian circles, right or wrong. But we shouldn't pretend it wasn't always here in a more subtle, backroom fashion. The Sherlockian holding a grudge against a few other Sherlockians and quietly taking shots in private settings has been with us for a long time, while that person maintains a public face that keeps them oh-so "clubbable." Others of us are not quite so shy with our opinions, for better or worse. But at least it's on the record, which will probably keep us "unclubbable" if the gatekeepers of clubbiness disagree.

Objective standards for any job candidate are the norm for businesses, and if a club is taking a more business-like model, qualifications and best-candidate traits make perfect sense. You hire for the best employees to get the job done you want done. For an actual social club, though? We all get to pick our friends, but if you want to claim to be something more and rise above the mediocre, sometimes you have to allow some differing opinions in. Maybe let yourself be challenged a little bit.

I doubt Sherlock Holmes would have found much use for the imprecise nature of "clubbable." And probably wouldn't have worked to fit into the mold of any club that demanded such. (Ah, good old crabby Diogenes Club.) It also sounds a bit like you're someone who wants to do nasty things to baby seals, but I'll let that alone for this diatribe.

I've probably clubbed enough for the moment.

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