From Women in the World:
Let me know which one or ones you think look best!
“Nielsen-Haydens, your fellow travelers, and media goombahs . . . I MOCK YOU! I MOCK YOUR ASININE INCESTUOUS CLUSTERFUCKED LITTLE CULTURE OF DOCTRINAIRE PROGRESSOSEXUAL MEDIOCRITY MASKED AS SUPERIORITY! You are all dolts. You are moral and physical cowards. You are without ethics, without scruples, and if you weren’t so patently pathetic, I’d say you might be dangerous.
Fuck you. Fuck you all. The forces of the progressive pink and poofy Xerxes were met at the Hugo Hot Gates, and repelled by a few brave dudes and dudettes with the stones to stand up to your bullshit.”
So that was Brad Torgersen, talking about two editors at the science fiction publisher Tor. Torgersen is the leader of the “Sad Puppies,” the public face of a bunch of right-wing science fiction writers whose proudest achievement is gaming the Hugo award nominations this year.
(Note also the homophobic “pink and poofy” comment. Not Torgersen’s first homophobic comment, either.)
So that’s the kind of rhetoric Puppies engage in.
Well, okay, it happens. I’m not bothered by Torgersen losing his temper – almost everyone does, in these situations. (I am icked, but not at all surprised, by Torgersen’s homophobic comments.)
So, anyway, Irene Gallo, who (I think) is in charge of cover design at the science fiction publisher Tor (which has published more than one Puppy author), was asked on her personal Facebook page “what are the Sad Puppies?” Gallo replied:
There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.
This is impolite, and hyperbolic, and you could argue it’s inaccurate as well. For instance, one could argue that Rabid Puppy leader Vox Day is not literally a neo-nazi, but merely a vicious fascistic racist misogynistic trans-and-gay-hating anti-semite. I think that’s a specious distinction, because many English speakers use “neo-nazi” to refer to racist anti-semitic fascists in general, whether or not the person in question has actually joined the Nazi party; but it’s a distinction that reasonable people might make.
And, in my opinion, the primary goal of the Puppies isn’t to end social justice in sf/f, but merely to find a way to win a prestigious writing award without having to earn it through merit. (That’s certainly what the history suggests). But reasonable people might disagree.
A lot of Puppies have been arguing that it’s unfair to refer to Sad Puppies like Torgersen as “neo-nazi.” But Gallo straight-out didn’t do that; she called the Rabid Puppies neo-nazi, not the Sad Puppies.
It’s true that she refers to the puppies collectively as “unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic.” Although probably this isn’t true of every single Puppy, it’s no more unfair to characterize the Puppies by their leaders’ statements than it is unfair to characterize Republicans by the positions of George Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. And multiple Puppy leaders have said things that can be fairly interpreted as racist, sexist, homophobic, or all three.
And certainly, that all the Puppy nominated works were terrible is a reasonable opinion to hold.
I don’t think the way Gallo wrote would be a good way to open a respectful dialog with a Puppy supporter. But that’s fine, because Gallo was writing on her personal Facebook page. She’s not obligated to pitch her words to Brad Torgersen’s or Vox Day’s oh-so-delicate ears.
That was back on May 11. Vox Day screencaped it immediately, but didn’t publicize it until he could use it to create a distraction from the Nebula Awards. So he tweeted it, and his loyal followers exploded in the predictable way, many of them (including Day himself) demanding Gallo’s “resignation.”
Tor’s founder, Tom Doherty, responded with a blog post that sucked up to the Puppy narrative and apologized:
We apologize for any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused. Let me reiterate: the views expressed by Ms. Gallo are not those of Tor as an organization and are not my own views. Rest assured, Tor remains committed to bringing readers the finest in science fiction – on a broad range of topics, from a broad range of authors.
Okay, enough summary. (A fuller summary can be found on BlackGate). A few thoughts:
1) As many people have pointed out, Doherty seems to have a notable – and sexist – double-standard. Harry Connolly writes:
For years, Tor editor Jim Frenkel was widely known as a serial sexual harasser at conventions. What was done about it? Not much, for a very long time. Eventually, he was encouraged to resign after the public outcry became too much, which was announced with typical corporate blandness.
Last year, Tor contracts manager Sean Fodera publicly attacked one of Tor’s authors, Mary Robinette Kowal, in a typically gross and sexist way. […]
Did Tor CEO Tom Doherty release a letter apologizing publicly for Frenkel’s or Fodera’s behavior, while insisting that they should have been smarter about separating the personal from the professional? Of course not. For one thing, Frenkel’s shitty behavior happened while he was representing Tor Books at public events. For another, they were dudes and their victims were women.
However, it took Doherty less than 24 hours to issue a letter of apology for Gallo’s comment on her personal Facebook…
2) Trying to get someone fired because of their political opinions is terrible.
We can have a country in which people can feel safe and secure while stating political opinions. Or we can have a country where people live in fear and are subject to losing their livelihoods if they ever say anything that gets people angry. Everyone who is now trying to get Irene Gallo fired for what she said on Facebook has shown they favor the second option.
3) Prominent Puppy Dave Freer once wrote:
We should look rather harshly on anyone who takes their grudge – whatever it is, and says ‘gee I don’t like Joe Writer. I can’t get at him any other way, but let’s hurt his ability to make a living. That’ll teach him.’ […]
So far, to best of my knowledge, the Puppies, both sad and rabid, and their followers have avoided attacking things which make people a living.
Freer has changed his tune now that so many Puppies are calling for a boycott against Tor until Irene Gallo resigns or is fired. Freer doesn’t explicitly advocate the boycott, to be sure; but he weasels out of opposing it, and adds “I will hold off on buying any books from them in the meanwhile.”
Hopefully Freer will return to the principles he once claimed to believe in.
4) Happily, I’ve seen many people in the sf/f community stand by Gallo. A chorus I’m pleased to join.
5) I’m going to end by quoting Chuck Wendig at length; his entire post is excellent.
I find it no small irony that both the Sad and Rabid Puppies — who so strongly espouse freedom of speech, would then endeavor to rob that from Irene Gallo unless, gasp, we’re talking about another double-standard in play? It’s almost like women get treated differently in the world and held to different standards… hmm. *strokes beard thoughtfully*
Regardless of whether or not you agree with what she said, the fact remains: her publisher publicly rubbed her nose in the mess, then threw her under a bus, then threw her body to a pack of wolves. Again: publicly. Not privately. Perhaps this was all part of some legal stratagem or even a legal necessity — but what it feels like is an entreaty by the publisher to appease folks who believe and opine about really horrible things. And any time you want to make sure that your “inclusiveness” includes the most awful amongst us, please understand you’re not creating a safe space for anybody but the abusers. It’s like putting up a sign in your flowerbed: POISON IVY WELCOME.
I stand by Irene Gallo because she is a person who has the right to air her personal sentiments, regardless of whether or not we find them disagreeable. She has that right without being smacked across the nose by her employer in a sanctioned public shaming. I do not agree with Tor’s posturing on this point because it represents a double-standard of sexism and favoritism. I do not agree with Tor because they are opening the tent flap to the worst among us.
I got paid to make this cartoon because of my Patreon supporters. Thanks, patrons!
Transcript of cartoon
There are two women talking. One has streaks dyed in her hair; the other has black hair.
STREAKS: We can’t talk about gay rights without talking about the history of homophobia which–
BLACK: Stop GAY BULLYING me!
STREAKS: Pardon me?
BLACK: Anyone who disagrees with the queer agenda gets called a “homophobic,” “intolerant” “bigot!” That’s BULLYING!
STREAKS: Look, I’m not talking about you. It’s not personal. But can I talk about the general social context?
BLACK: Of course!
STREAKS: Great! Like I was saying, in a context of bigotry and homopho–
BLACK: GAY BULLIES! I’m being GAY BULLIED! HELP! HELP!
Although – as you’ll see – I have criticisms of all these works, I also think this is one of the best Hugo lists I’ve seen in this category. All four non-puppy nominees are standout mainstream comics, entertaining and well crafted.
Of the sf/f comics I’ve read that came out in 2014, my favorite – combining wonderful craftsmanship, idiosyncratic and enjoyable drawings, and a strange writing style that takes a ton of science fiction and superhero tropes and smashes them in a blender to come up with something new – was The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple.
Look at those faces! Simultaneously grotesque and looking just like ordinary boys we’ve all seen. All of this is very distinctively Dalrymple: The painterly but (mostly) desaturated colors, the crows, the characters who look as if they might be ill, the gorgeously rendered world. He’s pretty and ugly at the same time, and that’s a neat trick to pull off.
“Idiosyncratic” is the word for this whole graphic novel – there’s just no one out there like Dalrymple. If I could, I’d vote for it for a Hugo. (I did vote for it for a couple of comics industry awards.)1
(The rest of this post is below the fold, because ridiculously long.)
Effective altruism reading material for busy people is a useful link-list for people who’d like a quick guide to the Effective Altruism (also called EA) movement.
Here’s a quote from an EA primer by Scott Siskind, which is included in the link-list:
But they are decidedly not natural when facing a decision about charitable giving. Most donors say they want to “help people”. If that’s true, they should try to distribute their resources to help people as much as possible. Most people don’t. In the “Buy A Brushstroke” campaign, eleven thousand British donors gave a total of ÂŁ550,000 to keep the famous painting “Blue Rigi” in a UK museum. If they had given that ÂŁ550,000 to buy better sanitation systems in African villages instead, the latest statistics suggest it would have saved the lives of about one thousand two hundred people from disease. Each individual $50 donation could have given a year of normal life back to a Third Worlder afflicted with a disabling condition like blindness or limb deformity..
Most of those 11,000 donors genuinely wanted to help people by preserving access to the original canvas of a beautiful painting. And most of those 11,000 donors, if you asked, would say that a thousand people’s lives are more important than a beautiful painting, original or no. But these people didn’t have the proper mental habits to realize that was the choice before them, and so a beautiful painting remains in a British museum and somewhere in the Third World a thousand people are dead.
If you are to “love your neighbor as yourself”, then you should be as careful in maximizing the benefit to others when donating to charity as you would be in maximizing the benefit to yourself when choosing purchases for a polar trek.
This is the sort of thing I find tremendously alienating, because it sets up supporting the arts, or supporting historic artifacts, as a bad thing. This is pretty common among EA rhetoric, I suspect because many EA people genuinely don’t care about art – especially “high” art – and think that people who do care are just preening for attention.
It’s true, of course, that money is fungible and therefore ten bucks donated to preserve a painting could instead have been used to protect three to six people from malaria for six years. But the same could also be said about the money spent on a video game, or on internet access, or on taking a trip, or eating out with friends, or on going to a movie, or anything else that EA folks might like doing. There isn’t an either-or choice between giving to help the needy and supporting the arts, any more than there’s an either-or choice between giving to help the needy and occasionally going out to a movie. Most people in a position to give to charity, can do both.
Unless the expectation is that 100% of every person’s money beyond the bare minimum needed for survival must be spent on saving lives, it seems weird that EA people often pick on the arts in particular. To be honest, this is the sort of thing that made me go “fuck EA!” when I first heard about it.
Nonetheless, I do like giving money to help people in need. And, given that this is one of my goals, I definitely want to give that money in a way that will be the most helpful possible. I think EA’s evidence-based approach is great, and I’m glad sites like The Life You Can Save and Givewell exist and can help me make decisions.
I don’t think I’d like it if EA guided everyone’s donations to charity. I don’t feel certain that the metrics they use are necessarily correct. Evidence-based is good, but sometimes evidence-based thinking is vulnerable to the streetlight effect. A scattershot approach, in which people use a zillion different approaches to deciding what charities to give to, is less vulnerable to the streetlight effect than a focused approach.
But in the real world, not everyone uses EA’s approach, and it’s not realistic to worry that everyone will. And so I find EA a useful and positive movement. And I do think that it’s a good idea for a large number of people (but short of everyone) to give to charity based on where their money can do the most good for the greatest number of people.
Anyway, as it happens, I’ve been put in charge of giving away $5000 to the charities of my choice. I was thinking of using The Life You Can Save’s Best Charities to Donate to page as a guide, probably giving the largest amounts to Against Malaria and to The Fistula Foundation, and smaller amounts to some other charities there. But I’d be interested in anyone’s else’s thoughts or suggestions.