Ripping up the SFF-Scene Requires Hate
November 7, 2014 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Requires Hate, aka Benjanun Sriduangkaew, is a multiple, serial & proven bully, liar & manipulator says fantasy author Juliet McKenna. She and other authors (like Ian McDonald) are taking up arms in the controversy around the machinations of one writer that are shaking up the SFF publishing world.

When Benjanun Sriduangkaew entered the scene as a promising young author, a woman and person of color, a Campbell award nominee , she styled herself as a sweet, positiv newcomer with no internet or SFF history.

It was only when the scene was already awash with rumors that editor Nick Mamatas outed her as RequiresHate - a blogger specialising in caustic book reviews who used intimidation, mobbing and manipulation to systematically target others - very often other aspiring female authors of color - causing them significant hardship.

Full report by Laura J. Mixon (includes number crunching):
RequiresHate's M.O. was to use the rhetoric of social justice and violent verbal attacks, then delete the worst of the evidence. Laura J. Mixon has identified and checked up on 47 victims and summarizes:
Using one of her pseudonyms, BS/RH begins chatter about a writer or a social-justice topic on her blog, a forum such as LiveJournal, or on Twitter. She uses increasingly obscene and insulting language against her target(s). This is done to goad the target (or their supporters, or a particular community) into responding sharply. In their responses BS/RH finds words or phrases she can re-cast as misogynistic, homophobic, racist, or colonialist (sometimes they actually are those things, but for her purposes it doesn’t matter).

Under a variety of pseudonyms, RH not only burned out several online fora. Victims also report damage to their reputation with very real consequences in the offline world:
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
Athena Andreadis

Mixon:
How is Requires Hate able to cut such a wide swath of destruction? A major part of the reason is that for over a decade BS/RH has been cultivating a sizable cast of followers who respond to her calls to help launch attacks. (...)
Some people who do so are simply supporters(...)
Others are part of BS/RH’s inner circle. These people actively work in coordination with her to identify and launch attacks against targets. They appear to be mostly progressive women, and many are women of color. I know this because a number of them have reached out privately to me. They feel trapped and want out. They have provided me with details.
BS/RH draws them into her circle with flattery and friendliness, cultivating a mentor-like relationship with them. She provides a supposed safe, private space online for them to vent their frustrations and fears. Gradually BS/RH pulls them in a tight orbit, a world filled with negativity and paranoia where no one is to be trusted but her. She eggs them on in email exchanges or live chats to say intemperate things about their SFF colleagues. In other words, she incites them to help pick targets.


RH's apology

Benjanun's apology

Feelbetter hashtag for the aftermath:
#requireslove

Further reading, etc.
posted by Omnomnom (151 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
I watched this person go after a trans author I read and have known for nearly twenty years. It was pretty gruesome. I mean, this was not someone you could reason with at all, so I take her apology with the tiniest grain of salt.
posted by Kitteh at 1:27 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I hadn't been following this story at all, and had no idea RH was an actual person in the SF scene -- much less one whose identity was known.

I became aware of her a while ago and she helped solidify my decision to stay out of online SF circles. I wrote about her a little bit here.

One of the things that bothered me the most is that she seemed to have so many apologists in the SF crowd. I actually got into a little argument with a Mefite who was defending her behavior.

This post makes it sound like the community is finally turning against her methods, which is heartening if true. I had felt like her social-justice coloration, and her "woman and person of color" status, were tricking people into condoning and defending her when she was really just a bully.
posted by grobstein at 1:28 PM on November 7, 2014 [10 favorites]


I've given up trying to make any justification for people who bully others online. God, people. Who does this? How do you get to a point where this is okay and even encouraged?
posted by Madamina at 1:29 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think one of the things that helped her get so much traction on LiveJournal was that post RaceFail, many People of Color were very angry, for good reason. Such an environment in the LJ writers and PoC Communities was fertile ground for her.
posted by happyroach at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


As much as I enjoy reading lethal takedowns of Orientalism and other uncreative, offensive flaws in poorly written YA literature, the sort of drama RH got embroiled in is just really tiresome and off-putting. I want to see her deconstruct the works of Laurence Yep or Maxine Hong Kingston, dammit.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2014


I remember when stopped by R. Scott Bakker's blog a few years ago for a while. So very charming.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just a horrendously nasty writer. Just because an asshole is on your side does not make them any less of an asshole, and it was kind of unsettling to see some SF authors kind of high-five the posts on that blog.
posted by selfnoise at 1:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, let's get the memeball rolling:

#HaterGate

"It's about being a civil, decent person in YA fandom."
posted by Apocryphon at 1:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I remember when stopped by R. Scott Bakker's blog a few years ago for a while. So very charming.

Is Bakker implicated somehow? I'd rather not wade into this mess, but that would matter to me.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2014


Oh, FFS. Seriously? As near as I can tell, everyone is coming up assholes in this one. The one blog hasn't updated in the ten months prior, and everything else is a case of someone being an asshole and other assholes being unable to deal with it. The whole weird imputation of mystic community-destroying powers sounds bizarre to me. If your community can't withstand the existence of a lone asshole, then your community was weak and needed better moderators.

And then the ridiculous conspiracy theories. Why does an asshole need to be some kind of uber-secret false-flag saboteur? Everything RequiresHate said in public sounds like the sort of self-righteous assholery of an immature social-justice-type person, utterly convinced of their own purity. The rest of it is interpersonal drama and wankery.

So now she's apologized. Okay. She hasn't said anything assholish in public for a while. Okay. Why are we still talking about any of this? Why are we compiling exhaustive lists with freaking charts over this?

"It's all an act!" Well, so is every word and action taken in public that isn't your screaming id. We are what we do. She says she's learned better and wants to stop being such an asshole. Maybe wait for her to start being an asshole again before we start calling for her to be pre-banned from writing and speculating that she's a forty-year-old man with an Asian fetish?
posted by Scattercat at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2014 [17 favorites]


I assume the only reason we are getting this now -- especially the apologies -- is that her identity was revealed. Yes?
posted by grobstein at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Apologies at that point make sense, if previously the gambit was "Let's just pretend that other persona never existed."

Responding to the apologies by generating a giant list of paranoid charts and passive-aggressive self-righteousness about "healing" is just shit-stirring.
posted by Scattercat at 1:39 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I remember when stopped by R. Scott Bakker's blog a few years ago for a while. So very charming.

Is Bakker implicated somehow? I'd rather not wade into this mess, but that would matter to me.


It was on this general subject.

Personally I think his books themselves are kind of as appalling as his comments so NBD for me, but there you go.
posted by selfnoise at 1:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


More background and links to discussions here, on the fail_fandomanon wiki. (fail_fandomanon is a formerly Livejournal, now Dreamwidth community for anonymous discussion about fandom. It has often been a place where people feel safe speaking out about online bullying and harassment because it can't be traced back to them and make them into targets.)
posted by capricorn at 1:51 PM on November 7, 2014


Athena Andreadis (from the post):
As someone who headed a research lab for twenty years and who hired, evaluated, trained and mentored scads of people, this is my assessment: BS/RH is a long-term repeat abuser. Her efforts to erase or obfuscate evidence have been systematic and are ongoing. The two last-ditch Hugo-Schwyzer-style apologies posted on the RH and BS blogs and tailored to each persona’s audience (I won’t link, my stomach is cast-iron but not neutronium) are simply feints to buy time and cover until allies and colleagues have invested too heavily in the BS construct to back out. Those who insist BS/RH has reformed should read the tale of the scorpion and the frog. In her past iterations, she ravaged communities and treated people like chew-toys. That’s horrible enough in itself. However, SFF is also a professional concern. So beyond emotional damage, we’re also looking at concrete effects on careers and reputations, especially of the less established. We’re looking at crude but serious attempts to disparage contemporaries’ enterprises, eliminate competition and suppress trade.
posted by grobstein at 1:52 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm starting to think that one of the things that defines nerdery is never getting your headspace out of the high-school cafeteria.

Seriously, people, grow the fuck up. No one is going to try and steal your lunch money.
posted by empath at 2:01 PM on November 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


Responding to the apologies by generating a giant list of paranoid charts and passive-aggressive self-righteousness about "healing" is just shit-stirring.

I don't know - I'm not sure I would have believed any of this without some documentation. This is precisely the kind of fandom thing where it can easily get swept under the rug or various lies told about it without someone actually pulling stuff together. I personally would probably have assumed that it was just racist white lady SF fans whining, the kind of thing we saw when white women were called out during racefail, without some serious documentation.

Athena Andreadis is someone whose work I like a lot and whose blog I have been reading for years - she has always seemed honest and level-headed and if she says she feels like she was disinvited to stuff, I am inclined to take that seriously. Also her recent anthology is terrific and while I am sure that it has political failings - like everything does - it certainly doesn't have the kind that warrant disinviting, etc.

I used to read RH pretty regularly - I am super creeped out by that Wind-Up Girl book, that was the first review of hers that I read and thought she was absolutely right-on in her take-down, so that may have led me to give more credence to her other writing than it deserved.

And it did actually materially deter one sale - I did initially want to read those NK Jemisin books, but read RH's review and assumed that there was probably Something Wrong at a level that I was too unsubtle to pick up. Now, if I had been really, really into the idea of reading them, I would have bought them anyway - they were definitely on my "well, if I have a gap in my reading list" list rather than Must Read These Now!!! - but I remember very clearly picking them up and putting them back because I had RH-inspired doubts. I have too many things on my list to read them right now, but I will take another look at them.
posted by Frowner at 2:03 PM on November 7, 2014 [18 favorites]


If your community can't withstand the existence of a lone asshole, then your community was weak and needed better moderators.

Perhaps. I think that some of these communities could have withstood the existence of a lone asshole, but not a lone asshole who was smart about cloaking themselves in the language of social justice.

It's easy to get away with being a bully if you can make other people believe that standing up to you is the same thing as oppression. Having been around for RaceFail, I think the science fiction community (especially on Livejournal) had a lot of fear and hurt -- fear of being on the wrong side of a fight, fear of your friends thinking badly of you, guilt over having contributed (in whatever small way) to the overwhelming whiteness of the field. That's easy to exploit, by a person who claims to have a lot of righteous anger and claims that anyone who'd stand up to them is just "butthurt" or on the side of the oppressor.

And I had my share of "Do I think this person is an asshole because I am timid and conflict-averse, or is this person actually an asshole?" -- mixed with more than a little bit of admiration for Righteous Assholes who are willing to say things I'm mealy-mouthed about... I do think it was a bit of social hacking, in a way, of scared people and hurt people and people who really wanted to get on the right side of things, or at least to not be called out for being on the wrong side of things.
posted by Jeanne at 2:09 PM on November 7, 2014 [33 favorites]


So now she's apologized. Okay. She hasn't said anything assholish in public for a while. Okay. Why are we still talking about any of this?

What's wrong with trying to learn from this kind of well-documented case? As online communities grow up into the mainstream of culture and assimilate broader cultural concerns about diversity and representation and intersectionality and so on, one consequence is that trolls adapt — both the deliberately bad-faith shit-stirrers, and the unconsciously idiotic drama-seekers adopt the superficial appearance and the vocabulary of concern for "social justice." It's not a new thing — there has long been this kind of deliberate drama and conflict-seeking in a progressive mask on college campuses, for instance —  but it's relatively new to online culture and exists now all over the place (endemically among certain circles of Twitter and Tumblr, and dare I say it, here). Liberal-minded and well-intentioned people can be very vulnerable to certain kinds of pseudopolitical trolling; the hope is that familiarity with it can help us all recognize it in the future and think better about how to deal with it.

Why are we compiling exhaustive lists with freaking charts over this?

Because it's really interesting to see a bit of confirmation of some often-informally-made claims about this kind of pseudoprogressive shit-slinging — like that it more often targets women than men, even while at the same time declaring itself feminist. This is really an interesting case study in the evolution of the troll.
posted by RogerB at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2014 [38 favorites]


I only exchanged about five or six comments with Winterfox, all during the span of a few days. That was the last direct contact I had with her, and I never posted about her. But she commented on me, on blogs and on Twitter, for the next three years.

She said the same sort of things about me that she said about a lot of people – that I was racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, a rape apologist, stupid, despicable, and worthless. All this was expressed with intense rage and vicious profanity. She didn’t say that she wished I could be shot in the head or have acid thrown on me, or make any other threat of violence. But I saw her say those things about other people whom she also accused of being homophobic, sexist, racist, and so forth. I was clearly categorized in her mind as the sort of person who ought to be mutilated and killed.

This is why people found her so frightening, and why so many of the stories about her are only told anonymously. It’s not because she told everyone that they should be raped by dogs or have their hands broken with a hammer. It’s because she made those kinds of threats frequently enough, and was so vicious in general, that they became the subtext of everything she said. Another thing that frightened people was her tendency to harass people for months or years after a single encounter, pursuing them from platform to platform, long after ordinary trolls would have gotten bored and moved on. Her sheer relentlessness was creepy, disturbing, and obsessive.
From here, you can read the rest of the comment to see what provoked this.

One thing that troubles me is that some people seem to think this kind of treatment could be okay, as long as it's done to the right people. Like, if the victims actually did say something sexist, say.

Similarly, it is an interesting and disturbing fact that this harassment apparently mostly targeted women-of-color writers, that there was a pattern of punishing posts about LGBTQ issues, etc.. But it wasn't okay when it targeted white women writers, or male writers, either.

RH has had many defenders for years. Her identity has only recently come out, and some of her behind-the-scenes machinations revealed. But her general tenor of viciousness was not a secret -- it was well known. People thought it was okay. What the fuck.
posted by grobstein at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2014 [41 favorites]


So now she's apologized. Okay. She hasn't said anything assholish in public for a while. Okay. Why are we still talking about any of this?

The actual sincerity of her apology aside, Benjanun Sriduangkaew/Requires Hate appears to have a lot to start making genuine amends for. Here's Laura Mixon's overview of BS/RH's organized harassment campaign:
• She has been involved in efforts to suppress the publication of fiction and reviews for those works that in her sole opinion should not be published.
• She and her associates have pressured con-runners to disinvite speakers from panels and readings, constraining their ability to do business.
• She routinely accuses people of doing the very harm to her that she is in fact doing to them—of stalking, threatening, and harassing—when they have done nothing except try to get as far away from her as they can.
• At least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt.
• She has issued extremely explicit death, rape, and maiming threats against a wide variety of people across the color, gender, sexual-orientation, and dis/ability spectrum.
• She and her supporters argue that she punches up, but the truth is that she punches in all directions. The bulk of her targets—despite her progressively-slanted rhetoric—have been women, people of color, and other marginalized or vulnerable people.
• She has single-handedly destroyed several online SFF, fanfic, and videogaming communities with her negative, hostile comments and attacks.
• After an attack, she deletes her most inflammatory posts and accounts and departs, leaving her targets reeling and others who come later scratching their heads, unable to find evidence and wondering what all the fuss was about.
• She has stalked SFF fans online for months and years, simply for posting that they liked an author’s book that she did not, or for speaking up against her when she called their favorite author (often a POC) epithets like “stupid fuck,” and calling them “morons” for liking that author.
• She has chased down positive reviews of authors’ works, to appear there and frighten reviewers and fans away from promoting the writers’ works, interfering with their ability to get publicity for their publications. Of the most extreme cases, lasting at least a year, two were launched against women writers of color.
• Her attacks have not diminished over time; they have simply become more skilled and difficult to deflect. As recently as three weeks ago as I write this, she was lying to her supporters to manipulate them into attacking one of her latest victims.
• She excels at shifting her tone and her strategy, seeming friendly and helpful one moment and vicious and harsh the next. She has mastered the crafting and dissemination of false narratives that seem persuasive to observers who are not familiar with the harm she has done in the past.
If even half of that is an accurate assessment of her M.O. and the real-world damage she was able to do over the Internet, she should hire herself out as a consultant to Gamergate and 4chan on how to run a real dirty tricks operation via Web 2.0.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:22 PM on November 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


Because it's really interesting to see a bit of confirmation of some often-informally-made claims about this kind of pseudoprogressive shit-slinging — like that it more often targets women than men, even while at the same time declaring itself feminist. This is really an interesting case study in the evolution of the troll.

The more I think about it, the more I think it is super important to document this stuff, for the reasons RogerB cites. SF is still a milieu with a lot of intentional racism, structural racism and "I am not thinking reasonably about this because I am ignorant and feel threatened" racism, and it's very, very important to have something to point to where we can say "this is what it looks like when it's not just a person of color responding with a little bit of hyperbole to a bad situation". To me at least, it's very important that writers and fans of color not get tone-policed and not get told that the least little bit of swearing or anger or whatever shows that they are just awful bullies. Having a well-documented case is very useful in that context.

People are always saying that SJ types are terrible bullies and just in it for the attention and the power and so on. This is patently untrue, and it is very helpful to be able to point to someone who actually apparently was acting in bad faith for the attention and the power so that we know what it really looks like.

(Although I have to wonder what led RH down this path....Did she start from a place of sincerity and just get more and more self-justifying?)
posted by Frowner at 2:23 PM on November 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


If even half of that is an accurate assessment of her M.O. and the real-world damage she was able to do over the Internet, she should hire herself out as a consultant to Gamergate and 4chan on how to run a real dirty tricks operation via Web 2.0.

She's pretty much the pretend monster that GamerGate is pretend hunting, taking time to only take shots at people who are nothing like that.
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh god. So this is basically a Ms. Scribe situation, but instead of using shipping as a wedge it's social justice?

Ick.
posted by rewil at 2:27 PM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm just amazed that any troll, anywhere, was actually caught. Can't say I'm sorry.
posted by ransom_k_fern at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Huh. Benjanun Sriduangkaew's novella Scale-Bright is currently on my to-read-soon shelf. I tend to keep an eye out for non-heteronormative SFF, and I picked up Scale-Bright after reading a positive mention of it by (if I'm remembering correctly?) Kameron Hurley, which was pretty clearly made before Sriduangkaew's alter-egos were publicly connected to her.

I'll still read it, I'm sure -- it's already bought and paid for. I wonder if knowing the author is apparently a vile kind of bully and troll will affect how I view it. I will admit that, weirdly, I'm kind of now hoping I don't like it. It will make things less confusing if, as Athena Andreadis says, Sriduangkaew's writing turns out to be "the edgiest identity-politics toolkit swathed in ethereal-purplish prose".

If I do like it, it'll be another addition to my confused, uncertain position on artists' works vs. artists' actions. Finding out about Marian Zimmer Bradley, whose books loomed large in my personal adolescent saga of coming out, was heartbreaking. A few of her books still sit on my bookshelf, with a few by Woody Allen perched equally uncomfortably a couple of shelves higher. Dave Sim and Orson Scott Card aren't there. But I can't unread what I've read of them. I can't go back in time and unenjoy their early works (although I suppose I could read "Songmaster" with a clearer eye to the messages in the subtext now, if I wanted.)

So I kind of hope I hate Scale-Bright. It'll be less troubling than it will be if I like it.
posted by kyrademon at 2:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I am surprised at my capacity to be surprised by the shitty things people will do, for reasons that are not reasons at all.
posted by rtha at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to express my shock at the complicity of the SF community up till now. A roundup post puts it like this:
An open question to pro sci-fi: since Sriduangkaew has admitted she was wrong, can we stop arguing it's okay to threaten women of color with rape and assault if someone we like is doing it?
posted by grobstein at 2:36 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


okay to threaten women of color anyone with rape and assault if someone we like is doing it?

Fixed.
posted by selfnoise at 2:38 PM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


(Although I have to wonder what led RH down this path....Did she start from a place of sincerity and just get more and more self-justifying?)

From the Laura J Mixon piece:
BS/RH’s forum-trolling and destructiveness extends back well before her adoption of social-justice rhetoric (for instance, in one SFF media fan forum early in her career, she savaged other commenters in arguments over SF shows; in gaming forums, she has insulted gamers who disagree with her about videogames)."
It sounds like she glommed on to social justice as a cloak of invisibility for her abusiveness.
posted by misfish at 2:38 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Apparently there are still defenders, maybe someone can make sense of this (from here):
Who's siding with whom.

I'm listing only SFF professionals who have made explicit statements one way or another. I'm not linking to random fans. Also, a lot of writers have sent messages of support to Sriduangkaew on Twitter, but many were told only that she is a young writer feeling some heat for controversial opinions. At least one author has retracted her support and expressed anger at being mislead, so please keep that in mind before judging anyone on the basis of a single statement. The assholes here are making plenty of statements to judge.

Defending abuse Djibril Al-Ayad
K Tempest Bradford (EDIT: retracting my editorializing here until I have links to back it up)
Jaymee Goh (here's a cap of a deleted post where she asks victims to stay silent)
Kameron Hurley 
Keffy R. M. Kehrli (also here)
Alex Dally Macfarlane
Nick Mamatas EDIT: One of the names I listed under "defending abuse" was not a pro writer, violating my own rule. I've removed the name and I apologize for the error.

Defending the victims: Polenth Blake
Kate Elliot
Caitlin Kiernan
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
Tricia Sullivan

Ambivalent: Charles Stross
posted by grobstein at 2:41 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who's siding with whom.

This is kind of gross.
posted by dialetheia at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


I am very curious how the scene will handle her as an author. That's assuming she is as good as my (now shocked) discerning reader friends say. I suspect it'll just blow over.
On the other hand it does seem like a close knit scene with people relying on one another for recommendations, blurbs, panel invitations etc. So if enough people see her as a persona non grata it might hurt her career.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2014


selfnoise: "Fixed."

No. Do NOT decontextualise this. RH's victims were disproportionately women of colour - you cannot handwave that away with 'everybody deserves respect' because women of colour are disproportionately targeted in every avenue of life and that was something RH leveraged in her criticisms.

The broader understanding of social justice does understand the disproportionate way women of colour are targeted by violence and hate. RH used that. And then turned around and attacked women of colour with vicious violent threats and some people thought it was okay. That is absolutely not something you can apply generalities to and still maintain an understanding.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [50 favorites]


I followed this about a year ago, and while it doesn't really affect me one way or another - other than sympathy for the authors she targeted - my takeaway was this: No matter how vile the things she said to and about other authors, can you imagine what it must be like inside her head? The level of self-loathing required to think that this kind of behavior is a good idea must be breathtaking.
posted by JohnFromGR at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Good post. I'm not familiar with the people involved, but as someone who hates fundamentally empty arguments over tone, it's discomfiting to think that if I had followed the SF scene at all, I probably would have fallen for Sriduangkaew's dishonest, aggressively horrible application of social-justice ideals.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:56 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is a little bit of previous discussion on Mefi: 1, 2, 3.
posted by grobstein at 2:58 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I've never known of winterfox/RH other than as a fandom crank, but I heard of her through Fandom_Wank and fail_fandomanon.
posted by sukeban at 3:03 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Assuming that RH is yet another malignant narcissist that is undermining communities, what should communities do about people like this?

I ask because I have been in a number of communities that have had problems with self policing, and this situation seems of a type. Does no-platforming these people ever happen, and does it ever work?
posted by Mistress at 3:21 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


1) I've got no sympathy for her over being outed like this. You live like a troll, don't be surprised to find yourself paying the toll. You thought you were too cool to ever have to walk on the bridge you lurked under, but when you do, the people still under that bridge are gonna charge you too.

2) How did she ever see this ending any other way?

3) I have a theory that there are two basic kinds of people who like arguing on the internet; those who for the most part don't imagine anything about the person they are arguing with, and engage mostly or primarily with the ideas and arguments, because the identity of the person offering them is much less important. Pseudonymous environments can both encourage this behavior, but they can also allow for the second kind, which is folks who do imagine the lives of the people on the other side of the tiny box. For some folks, this makes them more empathetic, more considerate, more willing to be generous in their interpretations. For others, though, it just lets them fantasize about throwing acid in somebody's face for writing the wrong kind of book, or liking the wrong kind of video game.
posted by turntraitor at 3:22 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK, I am going to tell my Requires Only That You Hate story. When I first started spotting references to her stuff, I went to the blog and read a lot of it, including all the comments and discussion. "Requires Hate" has taken down all the evidence and I don't feel up to hunting through archive.org for backup links, so you will have to accept my summaries.

There was one post that summed up the problem with that blog. It was an incredibly nasty screed against American libraries' literacy campaigns promoting YA books to young readers. Her argument was that the whole thing was colonialist condescension towards oppressed nations, because the real message is "you childlike natives of the Third World cannot read real literature, and should be happy with Twilight." 16 pages of well-intentioned comments from readers could not budge her absolute assurance that "there's no illiteracy in America" so this must really be a propaganda push by the major Western publishing houses acting to reinforce global white supremacy. Finally, after an African-American commenter managed to cite enough of his social-justice bona fides to get through, she accepted it, but it still seemed impossible to credit because "all children in Thailand read the major broadsheet newspapers daily!"

I immediately twigged to a remark made by someone on Metafilter several years ago, which (unfortunately) I can't Google. In a discussion of India, several Indian MeFites described a certain kind of upper-middle-class Indian student who was shockingly ignorant about the problems of their own country and in denial about how poorer people actually lived -- but who could talk at length about every real & imagined slight against the subaltern by the Western post-colonial hegemony. Basically they saw all critiques of India as obviously fake since they didn't believe those problems existed; privilege combined with pride. I realized that Requires Hate was the Thai version of the same character.

You know what I would like to come out of this? Sticking a stake through the idea that intelligent adult human beings should turn off their rational brains when they want to be "allies." Privilege is real and it can influence cognitive bias, but if you spot rhetorical fallacies / bad faith / outright cluelessness / bullying, you should call it out and fight back. Science Fiction's had nearly a century of cranky ranting and dimwitted arguments from conservative writers and editors that we've had to sit through -- "social justice" doesn't mean "so now we're obliged to accept more of the same bullshit prose from leftists."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2014 [67 favorites]


I think that some of these communities could have withstood the existence of a lone asshole, but not a lone asshole who was smart about cloaking themselves in the language of social justice.

I find this a little blood curdling to the degree that it runs parallel with some of the stuff in this recent (rather thorough) article concerning Jian Gomeshi's rise and fall, but also darkly humorous ... assuming one can step back and laugh at themselves (assuming that one fancies oneself as sort of social justice type).

I mean, what's the so-common-it's-a-cliche thing we see all the time with ultra-conservative-religious types? A fast talkin holy man wanders into their midst, tells them what they want to hear, ends up embezzling a fortune or molesting children or whatever. So easy to point at it and be outraged, or maybe just laugh at the fools getting what they deserve ... and yet here we have the same basic wolves (albeit in a different sheep outfits) now making a mess of our happy and progressive little flocks.

Reminds me of the line I first heard from a broker friend. "How do you tell if some guy's lying to you? He smiles and looks you in the eye."
posted by philip-random at 3:43 PM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


Okay, drama and personal attacks aside, should I look askance at Ian MacDonald's works because the press he gets overshadows those of Indian SFF authors?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:54 PM on November 7, 2014


I just realised this is the same person who Peter Watts said was kind of an jerk, and then they came by to prove it in the comments as requireshate.
posted by squinty at 4:14 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Awful bullies are awful bullies even when they are nominally on your side. I hope this whole fiasco reminds more people to keep that in mind.
posted by Justinian at 4:36 PM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I would have rather she not share any of my politics, the anti-SJW will be citing her until the heat death of the universe.
posted by Mistress at 5:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Teapot of fucking beans.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:07 PM on November 7, 2014


I used to read Requires Hate intermittently. Without beginning to excuse the documented abuse, she had a lot of good points a lot of the time about sexism and racism in sf&f, alongside or intermingled with the bile. It's a shame she was willing to work so hard to so thoroughly discredit herself.

Defending abuse

I haven't looked at the other alleged defense links, but I think it's a big stretch to describe Kameron Hurley's response as such.
posted by Zed at 5:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


This whole wretched mess has hopefully made one thing clear: If any community, forum, or group wants to pick and choose who gets to be safe, and who gets to abuse and personally attack others based on race, gender, sexuality, cultural, whether they can “pass” as a member of a privileged group, or those who simply fail to toe the ideological line…. then absolutely nobody in that group is really safe.

From here.
posted by grobstein at 5:24 PM on November 7, 2014 [10 favorites]


I haven't looked at the other alleged defense links, but I think it's a big stretch to describe Kameron Hurley's response as such.

Sorry, I just copied that out of one of the linked posts -- didn't get to work through the links.
posted by grobstein at 5:24 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I just copied that out of one of the linked posts -- didn't get to work through the links.

Maybe that's a good example of why publishing a list of people who are with us and against us is not super cool.
posted by dialetheia at 5:33 PM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


Thanks.
posted by grobstein at 5:36 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think it might be dangerous to derive lessons about social justice from this story.

The key to trolls is that they mobilize whatever rhetorical techniques are available. They don't have to care about the content: their goals are orthogonal to the ones they're actually using. A sincere person could probably say 2/3 of what Hate said and do so reasonably. The content is irrelevant: trolls like this can work with whatever rhetorics are available.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]




anotherpanacea: I don't know -- the notion of 'punching up' is specific to the SJ-sphere and lends itself quite naturally to abuse. Folks do need to address how to approach this.
posted by Anything at 6:46 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


The key to trolls is that they mobilize whatever rhetorical techniques are available.

On the other hand, there are certain social mores that make a community especially vulnerable to abuse by trolls. I think it's worth asking if online social justice spaces are setting themselves up for abuse with some of their beliefs.

For instance, these are some widely-accepted beliefs in SJ circles:

1) Oppressed people deserve to vent their rage online. They've been oppressed, and it's not their job to explain things nicely to their oppressors or worry about what privileged people will think.
2) Privileged people have no right to question this venting. That's tone policing, and that's silencing.
3) Privileged people should just listen to more-oppressed people when they talk about their personal experience. In fact, they have a responsibility to listen to what more-oppressed people say so they learn what not to say in the future, and any discomfort they feel with what they hear can easily be due to the discomfort of facing their bigotry.

Each of these things individually may very well be well-meaning and understandable. But put it all together, throw in some doubt about where the boundaries lie, and it gives effectively any LGBT POC troll free reign to blow up the entire community. Because if you're sufficiently oppressed, no one is allowed to question anything you say.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 6:58 PM on November 7, 2014 [39 favorites]


You know what I would like to come out of this? Sticking a stake through the idea that intelligent adult human beings should turn off their rational brains when they want to be "allies." Privilege is real and it can influence cognitive bias, but if you spot rhetorical fallacies / bad faith / outright cluelessness / bullying, you should call it out and fight back. Science Fiction's had nearly a century of cranky ranting and dimwitted arguments from conservative writers and editors that we've had to sit through -- "social justice" doesn't mean "so now we're obliged to accept more of the same bullshit prose from leftists."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:24 PM on November 7 [27 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

Somewhere, Scott Alexander is steepling his fingers and muttering "Good... good... let the trust and cooperation flow through you..."
posted by officer_fred at 7:03 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Because if you're sufficiently oppressed, no one is allowed to question anything you say.

This is where bedrock community standards come in. I've been following this stuff since it went up (Laura Mixon was an instructor of mine at a workshop) and thinking about it in terms of community management, as I do. And the thing is, RH wouldn't have lasted a day here with their usual tone purely on the basis of the "no advocating violence, even jokingly" guideline. We try really hard to be open to different viewpoints, robust disagreement, and, yes, anger, but there are things you Just Can't Do. It gets a lot harder when you're talking about something centered on a private blog and using poorly- or non-moderated resources to pursue harassment campaigns, but if the "death threats are unacceptable" mentality was more pervasive, RH wouldn't have gotten nearly the traction they did.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:08 PM on November 7, 2014 [45 favorites]


The Internet has somehow made us even more savage. That shit boggles my mind.
posted by echocollate at 7:18 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Internet has somehow made us even more savage. That shit boggles my mind.

Doesn't boggle my mind at all. Remember when a big comeback was "I dare you to say that to my face?" Anonymous and safe from instant physical reprisal makes it easy to bust out the asshole.

You try to pull this troll shit in real lift, you rapidly end up getting punched repeatedly, with everyone around going "Yeah, you fucking idiot, you deserve it." You know where you find a troll in baseball? On first base with a massive bruise on his side from the 90mph fastball, seriously regretting the "YOU MAD, BRO" comment he made in the last interview.

The reason trolls exists is there's no consequences to trolling on most of the internet. The reason they're not here is that there's a consequence, you get banhammered and lose five bucks.
posted by eriko at 7:43 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm not convinced the internet did this.

We live in a world where teenagers get shot, where infants are sexually assaulted, where women are kidnapped from schools to be raped, and where people like this go under the radar in social groups for years.

I think the internet lets us see it more from the victim's side, which takes it from three paragraphs on page six of the newspaper to "OMGWTFBBQ????"
posted by Deoridhe at 8:05 PM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


We live in a world where teenagers get shot, where infants are sexually assaulted, where women are kidnapped from schools to be raped, and where people like this go under the radar in social groups for years.

We've *ALWAYS* lived in that world. And, in fact, if you step away from the news and look at actual data, you have never been as safe as you are now, at least if you live in the US. The homicide rate in 2010 are 4.8 per 100,000, which is the lowest we've seen in four decades, and it has continued to drop from there. 2013 was, quite literally, the safest year to live in Chicago IN MY ENTIRE 48 YEAR LIFE. Every category of violent crime is the same. We are safer today than we've been in decades. For most of the people reading this, you are safer from crime today than you have ever been. For some of us old pharts, yeah, we were a little safer in some categories in the early-mid sixties.

The news won't let you think that. But the news doesn't get ratings for saying things get better. They get ratings for saying BREAKING: MASS DISASTER. See the recent shootings in Canada, where exactly one person died. One. It won't even show up as a blip in the stats, and yet, EVERYTHING CHANGED, AMIRITE? TERROR, AMIRITE?

School shootings? Let's go back to 1927 where they didn't bother with guns, they just blew up the school. Nothing new there. Serial Killers? To take two Chicagoland examples, John Wayne Gacy did his dark deeds in the 1970s, and H. H. Holmes did his in the 1880s. Child abuse? The Catholic Church abuse scandal involves acts as early as the 1940s. Indeed, there's a fuckload less abuse in the Church in the 1990s than there was in the 1970s, mainly because people were catching on.

You know, we had trolling in the real world in the US. It was called lynching*. And, while I'm sure many are all for bringing it back, the number of people hanging off tree limbs in the US has dropped to a remarkably low number. The last real lynching that I can recall -- and I may be missing some -- where Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. where both dragged to death in 1998. But it's pretty rare today. It's not so common that people are writing poetry about lynching, right?

But in 1990, do you think you could say "I thought that was mean" and be threaten by rape from dozens of people within the hour? Nowadays? It's hundreds of threats. Threats on the Internet scaring people out of their homes.

There used to be a time where you had to at least pay for the stamp or phone call to make that kind of threat.


* Trigger warning, BTW, on the wikipedia page for lynching.
posted by eriko at 8:37 PM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


I figure in the olden days she'd have mobilised her followers to go on a rampage with wooden clubs, breaking kneecaps and making dissidents eat dung/drink gasoline. All in the name of some political cause.

This shit is really really old.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:41 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


James Worrad responds to the stalking accusations in Benjanun's 'apology'.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:51 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was pretty impressed that both Janice Ian and Jane Yolen showed up to comment in the Laura Mixon thread. That probably doesn't happen a lot.
posted by Biblio at 9:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


All in the name of some political cause.

I'm generally onboard with the idea that bullying and harrassing people in any part of their lives, online or IRL, is bad, but I can't let this particular comment slide because it's a really important point that people seem to keep forgetting. Political causes are always at some level about the intersection of social and economic power in real people's lives. So to dismiss people's political opinions in this sort of off-handed, dismissive, and hand-wavy way misses the point of what politics really are. Every political choice effects real people's lives in specific, direct ways that either hurt them, help them, or some combination of the two. To say "how on earth could sensible people get so worked up over such a trifling thing as politics that they'd do something unpleasant over it!" is not much more insightful or compelling than to say "why should people care about what happens to their lives?" Politics are about power. The most basic form of power is violence. Politics have always involved violence at some level, and as anyone who's ever been tear gassed at a protest will confirm, even the state uses violence as a political tool. It's fine and nobleminded to want this not to be so, but politics will always at some level involve violence. Even if it's nothing more than normalized, state violence like detaining and arresting protestors. There will always be people who resort to violence over politics and sometimes they will be right to do so (as even the US government acknowledges in adopting various policies of aiding violent insurgencies throughout the world). The situation this fpp deals with isn't necessarily about politics in the usual political process sense, but it's definitely about personal politics. People have this weird desire to see politics as some intellectual thing happening somewhere remote that they don't really have to worry about, but it's not. It's a major component of the many complicated factors that determine what options are even available to us when it comes to how we lead our lives.

tl; dr: This situation sounds awful, and people should do better. But please don't downplay the real, unavoidable importance of politics in people's actual lives, or pretend the stakes aren't serious.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:48 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Uh...I seem to have expressed a lot of things I didn't mean to, sorry. I said "political" because I was reminded spontaneously of the groups of young Fascist men sent to intimidate people. II didn't mean to downplay anything. I think political causes are important! It never ocurred to me that it would be understood as a dismissive word. I also think that this is a kind of bullying that specifically puts on the mantle of a political cause because it is important to people.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


2013 was, quite literally, the safest year to live in Chicago IN MY ENTIRE 48 YEAR LIFE. Every category of violent crime is the same. We are safer today than we've been in decades. For most of the people reading this, you are safer from crime today than you have ever been. For some of us old pharts, yeah, we were a little safer in some categories in the early-mid sixties.

This is true for most neighbourhoods in Chicago but not all the neighbourhoods in Chicago. The violent crime rate has been dramatically reduced but at the same time the remaining violent crime has been geographically concentrated in the poorest south and west neighbourhoods. I moved here in 2012 after living in far safer places (Birmingham, England and Southwestern Ontario) and was stunned and frightened at the weekend shooting news with its 50+ shooting incidents, several dead and dozens wounded. Within weeks I noticed it was never ever near me. It was in the south side. It was in the West Side. But never where I lived or went. The areas I lived and moved in were actually as safe or even safer than where I lived in Birmingham or Canada. Which is an interesting difference in realities for people who live in the same city. People of Colour and the poor in Chicago, on average, experience a local murder rate that is up to 10X what myself and my mostly white neighbours in Lakeview and Lincoln Park experience.

So aggregate data might not be experienced data for everyone and pointing out that "we" have never been safer might just make it worse for the people on bad side of the distribution of safety that surrounds the mean experience of the 'we' because it just highlights that they are, in a sense, not us.

Things are safer in Chicago for some but not all.
posted by srboisvert at 4:06 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


You try to pull this troll shit in real lift, you rapidly end up getting punched repeatedly, with everyone around going "Yeah, you fucking idiot, you deserve it."

Especially if you are a woman.

I just realised this is the same person who Peter Watts said was kind of an jerk, and then they came by to prove it in the comments as requireshate.

He did start it by calling her a "rabid animal," which uh... isn't nice, considering what people usually do to rabid animals. I mean, to be fair, she called his con-buddy Bakker a "roach," which often get crushed but, two wrongs... especially since Watts deliberated over his insult, he could have chosen a smarter one.

The Internet has somehow made us even more savage. That shit boggles my mind.

Compared to the savagery a Thai woman would expect from insulting a bunch of white dudes in person?

Mind you I'm pretty much totally unsympathetic with her politics both ideologically and practically. But, scifi/fantasy are an absolute sewer for reactionary politics... and there is nothing with a thinner skin than a nerdy white boy/girl being challenged on his own "home turf." She's an asshole, but sometimes you get the asshole you deserve.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:18 AM on November 8, 2014


Regarding safety, we might be safer from being murdered, mostly, but our safety nets are shrinking and we're pretty unsafe from a lot of, you know, disease and shit. Because of less money for healthcare and preventative shit like eating right. And the women who've always dealt with this shit (though not at this volume) before-- women in any industry with customers/clients who follow them home, call them, etc-- still have to deal with it and frequently aren't taken seriously by authorities either.
posted by NoraReed at 6:29 AM on November 8, 2014


Oops. I got this thread confused with a GG thread (because I got all focused on eriko's comment, not the rest of it) and was trying to bring it 'round to that point. Though the weird career destroying stuff that folks do online all has other meatspace analogs, with folks driven out of town or careers and shit.
posted by NoraReed at 6:33 AM on November 8, 2014


ennui.bz: " She's an asshole, but sometimes you get the asshole you deserve."

So...those people deserved to be threatened with maiming and death?
posted by Bugbread at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


That's exactly the kind of thing we need to learn to get away from. Nobody deserved what happened.
posted by Justinian at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Damn... I had no idea. :( I got into podficcing as a hobby, and after doing one for a friend with PodCastle, they contacted me to do one for one of BS's stories. Ugh, now I feel gross.
posted by cendawanita at 8:02 AM on November 8, 2014


The violent crime rate has been dramatically reduced but at the same time the remaining violent crime has been geographically concentrated in the poorest south and west neighbourhoods.

To be clear, are you saying that violent crime has become not just proportionately worse, but in fact absolutely worse, in those areas? I could readily believe that, but it's not something I've seen suggested before and I'd be interested to know where to look for further information. Also, if that is what you're saying, is it a trend in other cities?
posted by howfar at 8:04 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can we stop saying "troll"?

This person is a psychopath.

I would bet real money they're an animal-torturing, pain-inflicting psychopath. Like most "trolls", they hurt humans as hard as they can because it's fun. And there are no *real* consequences, right? A suicide here, a resignation there. Maybe someone posts a bit less. Whatever. Nothing that *matters*. That's how psychopaths think.

They truly can't understand how a suicide is worse than a rude email.

Trolls are psychopaths.

Most psychopaths live happy, productive lives and are often quite successful. They learn to manage their lack of human emotional connection without torturing kittens. Often they get rich.

When a "troll" acts like this one has, I'm expecting the news story about maimed puppies buried in the rose beds.

Trolls are psychopaths.
posted by Combat Wombat at 8:12 AM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've struggled for a long time with the power differential idea that suggests that if something is unacceptable for a powerful person to do to an oppressed person, that's horrible, but if it goes the other way, it's correcting an imbalance and that's just peachy. Mostly I've been struggling with this on the context of sexual objectification -- trying to work out if it's OK for me to really, really like Thor with his shirt off and enjoy those long, lingering camera shots of his abs or whatever, while also complaining about similar shots of, say, Megan Fox in Transformers. If the goal is to build an egalitarian world, how do we get past that cognitive dissonance? As feminists, we really DO want to build a fair world, and not just flip the patriarchy so men are on the bottom, right?

In the case of objectification, I've sort of settled on greater context within the work as my determining factor of when-it's-OK. It's a problem when the objectified character is there only for that purpose and nothing else, and/or when all characters across genders and sexualities receive a similar treatment rather than singling out The One Hot Girl.

So I think what we need here is a better definition of what is and isn't tone policing. Because yeah, oppressed people absolutely need to be able to express anger -- it's a key part of calling attention to the problem and ultimately correcting it. But as a society we do also have some existing guidelines about how to acceptably express anger, no matter the cause. You don't get to shoot people or destroy property, you don't get to threaten people. Maybe that acceptable-expressions-of-anger line isn't in the right place for discussions of oppression. But if it isn't, we need to talk about where exactly it should be so we can all act accordingly.

And maybe also a better separation of action and actor? As Jay Smooth has said. Because "Wow that book you wrote has some super racist misogynist stuff in it" is a conversation that can go somewhere, but "You, author, are a racist misogynist asshole who deserves to have acid thrown in your face" is... not.
posted by Andrhia at 8:18 AM on November 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


Cendawanita; is this something you can refuse to do without major problems?
posted by Omnomnom at 8:30 AM on November 8, 2014


I found this comment on Laura Dixon's post to be really eye-opening. It clarified some of the things I feel like I've been observing online but really couldn't put my finger on. I've gone ahead and posted it below in case my link gets borked.

Meredith L. Patterson
November 8, 2014 at 3:00 am

The bystander effect is a social predator’s best friend. In the psychology literature, one term to search for is “sociopath-empath-apath triad”: a sociopath seeking to really demoralise someone will abuse them in the presence of a third party who fails to come to their aid. That way, not only does the empath have to deal with the direct effects of the abuse, there’s also a strong likelihood of such lovely knock-on effects as worthlessness (“I really must be a terrible person, if other people think it’s fine that I be treated that way”) or self-doubt (“I guess it wasn’t that bad; somebody would have said something, right?”) A skilled sociopath essentially leverages an apath as a springboard for getting the empath to gaslight themselves. It’s more devastating if the sociopath tricks or persuades someone the empath knows into the apath role, but complete strangers make perfectly good apaths as well.

(N.B.: “sociopath,” “empath,” and “apath” describe roles in a social dynamic, not diagnoses or even personal characteristics. A person with antisocial personality disorder can be manipulated into the empath role. So can an autist. Neurotypical people can and do take the sociopath role, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not.)

I am generally a fan of blocking people up with whose shit I am done putting, but I confess it had not occurred to me, either, until you and Farah mentioned it, that the tradeoff of turning away is increasing the likelihood of the bystander effect. It’s certainly the case that I’m usually one of the last to learn about the latest shenanigans of my community’s problem children. To an extent that’s even by design — if I were getting the news as it happened, it might try to involve me — but making it easier for serial abusers to silo their victims is not a desirable outcome.

posted by Mouse Army at 8:49 AM on November 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


Omnomnom: unfortunately, it's done, back in July. As I said, I had no idea - I'm really just a fandom person who has friends who's in both that and published SFF, but while that's their thing, I never paid attention nor followed the same blogs/conversation, it just never registered because I couldn't find the time to be bothered, and there's also no overlap, tbqh, RaceFail notwithstanding. I just took it on as an assignment. :/
posted by cendawanita at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I know how that feels when you do a piece on someone and then afterwards he turns out to be a terrible person! It happens.
posted by Omnomnom at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Argh, my liver for a better eye to editing. It's Laura Mixon's blog post.
posted by Mouse Army at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2014


Do people like this never watch Dangerous Liaisons?

She may be the best writer of her generation - although her actions suggest such a lack of empathy that I doubt her ability to create characters I would care about - but I have very few sympathies for someone who has been so destructive to so many.

An artist's actions display their character as much as, or more than, the art they create. How much you can separate the artist from the art seems to be a highly variable thing, but how much can you support an artist who behaves like this?

I found out about RH/Winterfox via Peter Watts and Scott Bakker, as well. Peter Watts can be a blunt, harsh prick, and I don't much care for Bakker. None of that mitigates or excuses evil behavior, and that's not even getting *into* the cases where the victims or accusers are more sympathetic.
posted by ProxybyMunchausen at 11:11 AM on November 8, 2014


To be clear, are you saying that violent crime has become not just proportionately worse, but in fact absolutely worse, in those areas? I could readily believe that, but it's not something I've seen suggested before and I'd be interested to know where to look for further information. Also, if that is what you're saying, is it a trend in other cities?

I don't have the links or the time to find them again but I believe what I read was that things just haven't gotten better in some areas. The majority of numerical improvements have come from a few of neighbourhoods that have become remarkably safe and bunch where things have improved but that there are places where things just haven't improved at all. Historically crime was pretty distributed in Chicago.

This page shows the wild range of violent crime per 100K by police district
. From 145 to 2252 incidents. I live in Lakeview which comes in at 396 (probably largely driven by boystown / wrigleyville nightclub and sportsball issues) but still I am almost 6X less likely to a victim of violent crime than the people living in the worst neighbourhood. Wikipedia's Crime in Chicago page has nice map showing the crime segregation
posted by srboisvert at 12:01 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


He did start it by calling her a "rabid animal," which uh... isn't nice, considering what people usually do to rabid animals. I mean, to be fair, she called his con-buddy Bakker a "roach," which often get crushed but, two wrongs... especially since Watts deliberated over his insult, he could have chosen a smarter one.

Seems to me like it was calculated to be a rhetorically proportional reply, and I think it was clear enough that "rabid" connoted "engaging in unprovoked aggression", not "should be put down", like "roach" connoted "disgusting and unwelcome", not "should be squashed to death." (RH's Bakker article is among the things that she's deleted; it's not remarkably inflammatory by the standards of RH's blog, and I wonder if its deletion owes to the cheap irony of attacking Bakker for using sockpuppets.)
1) Oppressed people deserve to vent their rage online. They've been oppressed, and it's not their job to explain things nicely to their oppressors or worry about what privileged people will think.
2) Privileged people have no right to question this venting. That's tone policing, and that's silencing.
3) Privileged people should just listen to more-oppressed people when they talk about their personal experience. In fact, they have a responsibility to listen to what more-oppressed people say so they learn what not to say in the future, and any discomfort they feel with what they hear can easily be due to the discomfort of facing their bigotry.
I basically agree with these (or would agree with a less absolutely worded version.) Having watched these discussions go down one zillion times, it's clear that for a lot of the privileged, no version of any discussion of privilege or anger will ever be polite enough until it causes them absolutely no discomfort, and that wouldn't happen until it was completely non-existent. And, yeah, these principles sometimes give rise to people being right assholes and accusing everyone suggesting they could maybe be less of an asshole of being a bigot trying to silence them. This happens a hell of a lot less often than people being discouraged from talking about inequality, which is the status quo.
posted by Zed at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Good post. I'm not familiar with the people involved, but as someone who hates fundamentally empty arguments over tone, it's discomfiting to think that if I had followed the SF scene at all, I probably would have fallen for Sriduangkaew's dishonest, aggressively horrible application of social-justice ideals.

Right. Which is why this whole thing is an opportunity to rethink that hatred of tone arguments (or the idea that all tone arguments are empty). Or else this will just keep happening. Once you've identified an exploit, either you patch the exploit, or it will just keep being exploited.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:19 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I still don't see how her behavior really relates to tone arguments at all. A tone argument is deployed when there is no other reason to take issue with a comment beyond its tone; if there are other reasons, like harassment and threats of violence, then nobody would really call that a tone argument, they'd just call it what it is. What she was doing is so execrable that it's way beyond what most people target with the tone argument, because it's already a self-evident "no death threats or harassment" argument.
posted by dialetheia at 2:27 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


You know what I would like to come out of this? Sticking a stake through the idea that intelligent adult human beings should turn off their rational brains when they want to be "allies." Privilege is real and it can influence cognitive bias, but if you spot rhetorical fallacies / bad faith / outright cluelessness / bullying, you should call it out and fight back.

The thing is, people do, and it becomes a circular firing squad. Other white allies or whatever will step forward and go "woah, those are fightin' words, and you're just a dumb white person whose obviously trying to keep them down!". Gators exploited this with their fake twitter profiles, but there's always been these kinds of bullshit people in progressive circles who use their minority status as a blast shield for awful behavior.

I've seen it, in retrospect, since i was a child who was old enough to understand human interaction, in everything from arts groups/collectives, homeschool groups, and online discussion forums and such.

Any time there's any kind of special or even just different treatment of specific traits or groups of people, someone will find a way to exploit it as a club or shield. And it's hard to deal with specifically because of the reasons that category was singled in progressive circles.

There's nothing wrong with people asking themselves "should i really be the one to speak up or take issue with this as a white person/dude/straight person/etc?", the problem is both with the people who exploit it and the fuckheads who go "how dare you!". And i mean, even those chucklefucks i can at least understand. The people who exploit it are the worst kind of playground bully who grew up to only be more cold and calculating.

It's a really hard thing to talk about too, because you very quickly start sounding like some weird conspiracy theorist who thinks that minorities are trying to exploit white guilt or whatever. Hell, i winced at some of my own words here because of that. It's a subject and type of person that just utterly disgusts me though. Especially since no matter how hard they eventually go down in flames, if they ever do, there will be a circle of people around them doing the "leave britney alone!" thing and calling the people who called them out sexists/racists/homophobes/insert-term-that-applies.

There's also a whole other post to write on minorities and/or people who start from a disadvantaged position who get some success or a platform, and immediately turn around and start pushing down on the heads of other people trying to climb up who are in their previous situation. Artists finally getting to tour and not wanting to pay their opening acts, even though they easily could, with stupid justifications. Stuff like that.

Mostly though, i just want to run the "how dare you call them out!" people over with a steamroller.
posted by emptythought at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I still don't see how her behavior really relates to tone arguments at all.

I don't either, but i'm wondering what the term is for the crapping on of people who try and call out this behavior. It's a "how dare you! she's a minority and you're not!" thing where they try and dismiss it outright as some kind of prejudice even if the person is like, trying to get people to kill themselves or skinning live cats or whatever.

It's not so much a tone argument as a "you're not allowed to say anything bad about this person from your position of privilege" argument.

What do you call that? Other than being an asshole i mean.
posted by emptythought at 2:30 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Compared to the savagery a Thai woman would expect from insulting a bunch of white dudes in person?

I don't know if you've read the link, but Winterfox was most notorious for her vicious attacks of other WOC and diaspora Asian women. Her favorite tactic in the livejournal community 50_books_poc was to use extreme language against other WOC, and, when they protested, accuse them of being white-identifying, "white on the inside", assimilated, etc. As for whether her anger was righteous or bullying: if you read the comment by Rachel Manija Brown, you'll notice the sentence, "I believe Video Games Anon." When this drama started to be hashed out in the comments of James Nicoll's livejournal, Winterfox's victims started to come forward, mostly anonymously because they feared being targeted, again, with literally years of harrassment and trolling. One of these was an Asian woman who had been harrassed by Winterfox over a nonpolitical disagreement over video game preferences; Winterfox told her, among other things, that her offending opinion about the video game meant that she should be raped by dogs, knowing that this had a particularly vile connotation in the woman's country of origin. Many people in the community chimed in to say that they remembered this exchange, years later, for its OTT racist viciousness. Commenters in Nicoll's journal started referring to this woman as 'Video Games Anon' because calling her 'Raped By Dogs Anon' seemed disrespectful. That exchange is fairly typical of Winterfox's modus operandi, and should be kept in mind when considering the argument that she was only "punching up" or targeting racist white men.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 2:34 PM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


I still don't see how her behavior really relates to tone arguments at all. A tone argument is deployed when there is no other reason to take issue with a comment beyond its tone; if there are other reasons, like harassment and threats of violence, then nobody would really call that a tone argument, they'd just call it what it is. What she was doing is so execrable that it's way beyond what most people target with the tone argument, because it's already a self-evident "no death threats or harassment" argument.

You might think that, but in fact "tone argument" has been the go-to defense of RH for years. For example, it comes up five times in this comment thread, which I looked at only because I was involved in it. I think you could probably find hundreds of defenses of this sort.

So you are coming on a little bit "no true Scotsman" here.
posted by grobstein at 3:09 PM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Winterfox was most notorious for her vicious attacks of other WOC and diaspora Asian women.

This is a really important point. RH/BS seems to have used her reputation as the purveyor of righteous and deserved smackdowns to cloak targeting those of her direct competitors who were already disadvantaged in the field.

This, for me, is one of the more chilling aspects of the story - that she cultivated this image of a righteous person with an unflinching willingness to speak truth to power without softening her anger, and used that image to camouflage her attacks on those whose interests she was nominally defending. That's so evil.
posted by misfish at 3:15 PM on November 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


RH/BS seems to have used her reputation as the purveyor of righteous and deserved smackdowns to cloak targeting those of her direct competitors who were already disadvantaged in the field.

Yeah. It's easy to look at a Thai SF/F blogger raging against Paolo Bacigalupi and go read the Wikipedia summary of "Windup Girl" and be like, yeah, okay, I get it, this is kind of extreme but it's understandable that she's losing her shit about this. But in fact Paolo B was a really atypical RH/WF target, and the rage and threats she'd directed at him were the same things she'd been saying to mostly other women in her peer group, many of whom she cyberstalked for years, for over a decade.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:19 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, for the reasons mentioned in my first comment above, I've now read Scale-Bright.

I'd say there were a couple of moments when something ugly peeked through the writing. I do think I would have noticed them even if I hadn't been aware of all of this. However, they were moments only, and had I not been aware of all of this I probably would have frowned, shrugged, and moved on, briefly taken out of the story but not considering them monumentally horrifying or anything.

And other than that ... it's, I have to say, really good. As a piece of writing, considered without taking into account any externalities ... it's really good.

... dammit.
posted by kyrademon at 4:21 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


So just put her in the box with Orson Scott Card?
posted by Iax at 10:52 PM on November 8, 2014


Kyrademon: Ugly like how?
posted by Omnomnom at 11:14 PM on November 8, 2014


16 pages of well-intentioned comments from readers could not budge her absolute assurance that "there's no illiteracy in America" so this must really be a propaganda push by the major Western publishing houses acting to reinforce global white supremacy.
This is what stands out to me. Here we've got someone who's practically the epitome of internet nastiness, and they've got 16 pages of comments on their blog. Why is it that we as internet users give nasty people so much attention?

As long as we give nasty people this level of attention, there will always be an incentive to be nasty. And by linking to nasty people, we ensure that others' brains get polluted with the nastiness too.

I think the ideal case is if we as a culture develop antibodies against this sort of divisive, destructive drama. For example, on some days I wonder if the internet was a tool created for people to discuss gender issues badly. It's not just bloggers—mainstream news outlets seem to have clued in to the fact that writing about some gender-related controversy is the way to go if you want loads of traffic.
posted by astrofinch at 11:50 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


You might think that, but in fact "tone argument" has been the go-to defense of RH for years. For example, it comes up five times in this comment thread, which I looked at only because I was involved in it. I think you could probably find hundreds of defenses of this sort.

Reading the thread you're citing, though, it seems to me that in that specific instance, the "tone argument defense" is actually being used in a pretty reasonable way. The piece being discussed in that thread is certainly abrasive, but it also does not seem to me to be outright abusive, especially compared to what is described in this FPP. Indeed, this source cataloging RH's behavior, which was linked in the Mixon piece, states: "Her ROTYH reviews, while often pretty nasty in and of themselves, are not the issue. Using violent sexual threats to frighten women into silence for a decade straight is the issue." It does not seem to me as though taking exception to these latter actions requires mounting a tone argument, at least as far as I understand that term.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:26 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll just lay this down here:
Even though Benjanun never gave that benefit of the doubt to any other author. But hell, she deserves the sort of artistic protection she didn't give other artists, right?
Yes, that's the entire ponit. We're not her. We're supposed to be *better* than er. That means no doing the shity things she did.

So yes that means we should extend to hr the basic courtesies she denied others. Because we're not shitheads.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 12:27 AM on November 9, 2014


And other than that ... it's, I have to say, really good. As a piece of writing, considered without taking into account any externalities ... it's really good.

... dammit.


I'm coming to think of it as the Nazi flower garden problem.

You've got a neighbor you don't know that well, but he has a really nice flower garden. You find out he's a Nazi war criminal. Does this mean you must now hate his flowers?
posted by philip-random at 12:27 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nope but some people might not want to support him financially either.

I tend towards the opposite camp but there are probably limits. Like somewhere between "Orson Scott Card" and "Nazi War Criminal Gardender".
posted by Justinian at 1:17 AM on November 9, 2014


the nice and easy thing about Orson Scott Card is that in that metaphor his flowers would all start talking about how the only true way to achieve happiness is through having children especially if you are a woman and started doing weird hybridization shit to all the female flowers that you thought were really fun and interesting and had potential until they all looked the same

also if he kept putting really weird questionable signs about Muslims in the garden

and you looked in his backyard once and found out he was putting his garden gnomes in positions that make you feel kind of creeped out and focus really weirdly on pedophilia and menstruation, which in this analogy is "reading the stuff he wrote in the fantasy genre"
posted by NoraReed at 1:34 AM on November 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Because we're not shitheads.

I dunno, skimming over the various posts, I found enough "you're not pure enough/a race traitor because"-style racist stuff in her attacks, at a level that would get you banned from many racist forums, that I'm more than happy to be called shithead by people who thinks it's perfectly fine to describe many of my best friends (and large swaths of humanity) as subhuman. Because that's fucking not ok in my book.

(Stuff like this is also why I'm happy I stumbled upon SFF on a shelf at my local library when I was a kid, instead of learning about SFF fandom first, since the latter, judging from what they're up to every single time they pop up on my radar, might be the most dysfunctional collection of online communities there is.)
posted by effbot at 2:54 AM on November 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


> "Kyrademon: Ugly like how?"

I'll memail you.
posted by kyrademon at 3:00 AM on November 9, 2014


I just spent 24 hours down the rabbit-hole reading and Googling the history of this brouha. My sympathy for BS/RH approaches zero: she (accepting her self-declared gender) deserves none. She did a lot of damage to causes she claimed to espouse. Her observed trajectory from 2004 ("Which part of the "I'm an amatuerish nobody-writer-wannabe" did you not comprehend? For the last time, I'll say this in bold and underline: yes, I do write fiction!") to 2013 was downhill. I do not think that her relatively brief flirtation with her BS persona changed this, as she continued RH's activities throughout it.

But. If there is one thing I have learned since I stumbled upon SFF fandom in 1977, it is that you never, ever win by becoming what you hate. So yes, I hope we are not shitheads.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 5:33 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


By all accounts, it sounds like the flowers are very nice. But I probably won't be seeing them close-up because I don't imagine I'll pay for the garden tour.
posted by Zed at 12:19 PM on November 9, 2014


If there is one thing I have learned since I stumbled upon SFF fandom in 1977, it is that you never, ever win by becoming what you hate. So yes, I hope we are not shitheads.

I'd personally say that being asshole or not isn't really the issue. In fact, it's a false track as much as being concerned about justice and fairness was in the Jim Frenkel debacle at WisCon, and will lead to a similar unacceptable outcome. The real question should be "How do we protect the community?"

Whether RH/BS is actually sorry or not, or whether she's deleting her past actions out of contrition or to cover her tracks is irrelevant. The real issue is whether she's going to create a new identity and start over again, and whether her clique of supporters will continue to assist her on doing so.

Honestly, if we could permanently ban her from all the online communities and publishing, that would be the ideal solution. Unfortunately that's not feasible. As it is, we're restricted to moderation, monitoring, and being suspicious of people engaging in similar behaviors as those RH exhibited in the past.
posted by happyroach at 1:07 PM on November 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


(Stuff like this is also why I'm happy I stumbled upon SFF on a shelf at my local library when I was a kid, instead of learning about SFF fandom first, since the latter, judging from what they're up to every single time they pop up on my radar, might be the most dysfunctional collection of online communities there is.)

I've been thinking about this, and speculate this might have it turned around? There's a lot of highly visible drama in SF/F publishing over issues of race and gender, to be sure. But I think it might be because the community is actively looking for and trying to address those problems instead of laughing them off or sweeping them under the rug. I'm not 100% sold on this interpretation, but it seems more plausible to me than the idea that all of these lovely, intelligent, highly self-aware people I know in SF/F have never matured past their teens.
posted by Andrhia at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it might be because the community is actively looking for and trying to address those problems instead of laughing them off or sweeping them under the rug

Part of what makes the SF/F scene so awful, I think, is an attitude which precedes actual beliefs about race or gender. It's an engineer's fallacy, the idea that there is a Right System. And accompanying that, the notion that if you are Right, then the person arguing with you is Wrong, and those who are Wrong deserve no quarter, no consideration, no gentle treatment.

It used to be that the SF community thought people concerned with race and gender issues were wrong, and so it mocked and abused them. Now the community (or at least, a very powerful and vocal part of it) thinks those who fail to treat every race and gender question with the appropriate solemnity and come to the proper conclusions is wrong, and so they can be mocked and abused.

And that is why RH is just one of many people making the SF/F scene unbearable for anyone who has a finite tolerance for scene drama. Because while she has been labeled one who went too far, that just means she's useful as a guide to others. You can abuse people as much as she did, and no further, so long as we all agree that they're Wrong.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:51 PM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's an engineer's fallacy, the idea that there is a Right System.

Eh. I really don't think there's more of this to be found in the SF world than outside of it. It's not like the word "heresy" is a recent coinage.
posted by Zed at 4:04 PM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree with Andrhia rather than TFB. When a community (or even a society) is actively grappling with a problem it can make it look like the problem is worse in that community or society than in places where tensions are still swept under the rug. But it isn't worse, it just looks that way because the problems are no longer simply being perpetrated but ignored.
posted by Justinian at 6:15 PM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is an honest question, why can't it be the following rule to decide if a comment is acceptable or not in whatever conversation/community?

Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


Are there some cases where a conversation needs ad hominems? Or personal attacks?

Even if you need to point out someone's behaviour/actions/lack of actions, can't it just be _that_ the discussion point instead of focusing on the person?

It would be so much easier for everybody to detect toxic and bad behaviour before it becomes a lynching mob.
posted by yann at 2:17 AM on November 10, 2014


That only works because we have a separate section where we talk about problematic users and behavior.

Plus, we're perfectly happy to write very critical attacks on non-Mefites here under the "issues, topics, and facts" criterion.

While we can talk about external trolling here, if someone accused another user of trolling or racism, they'd have to take it to Metatalk. And the rule there is that discussing other members is acceptable and people can actually be pretty cruel.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:17 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I haven't read that much of metatalk, but I can imagine that insults or menaces are not accepted, right? Somehting in the lines of "every time you write something, you act like a racist" is ok, and "you are a racist asshole who needs [act of phisical violence]" is not ok. The first form tries to explore one specific thing, the second is just a generic attack towards someone.

So again, it's about focusing on the discussion argument, and not whoever is doing that discussion. So you can say something about somebody, but the discussion point cannot be that person as a whole.
posted by yann at 4:48 AM on November 10, 2014


Oh, no. The mods close threads and dole out bans and timeouts, but they almost never delete things there.

The threats of violence are where things go (way) over the top. I'd think that would be deleted, no matter where you are on the site. But I think I've seen users wish for violence to befall nonusers here, and it's been allowed to stand (although sometimes called out as asshole behavior by others.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:47 AM on November 10, 2014




I'll say this, speaking as one myself, lately i've grown more skeptical of POCs who may be global minorities but are firmly domiciled in their country when they do enjoy not just class but also ethnic privilege, when they contribute to the temperature of the conversation. I used to think this only for the ones who'd dismiss concerns of POCs living in Western countries, but I'm growing convinced the ones who'd get ragey without having to live the reality daily also has no business in butting in excessively. It's just appropriation.
posted by cendawanita at 6:07 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Some of that would be thanks to the UScentrism of much of the internet, where you can be privileged in your own country, but because a vast swathe of people would regard you as a minority if you were in the US, you can speak to that minority's issues with little to no understanding but still get regarded as a solid, accurate source.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:35 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


astrofinch: As long as we give nasty people this level of attention, there will always be an incentive to be nasty. And by linking to nasty people, we ensure that others' brains get polluted with the nastiness too.

Sorry, i just can't buy this one. I think it was in one of the gamergate threads(or possibly the kool aid point post or thread), but there was a great essay recently that brought up the point that "don't feed the trolls worked back when trolling was commenting on right wing forums and calling soldiers "government employees", not when it was posting the pictures of the front of womens houses and sending them death threats until they were forced to move out of fear.

I mean, that didn't specifically happen here, but what kind of harassment does this seem like to you? because it sure feels like the latter to me.

The latter sort of trolling*/stalking/abuse isn't something you just don't give "this level of attention", it's something you call out as publicly and widely as you can and give as much sunshine and air as possible.

Because otherwise, it's just the people TAKING the abuse who have to deal with it, and it gets to fly through the shadows in the darkness maybe poking its head up in a few private or niche forums. Serial abusers like this need to be outed inside and outside their communities.

Otherwise everyone but the people directly being attacked will go "yea, but is it really that bad/widespread of a problem?". If you don't show them, they can't know and will continue to believe what they see, which won't be that much.


It also operates on the false assumption that like classic trolls, these sorts of people operate on "butthurt", or negative reactions, or lulz. This is no longer true. They still want attention, but it's in the form of negative reactions from their targets or just silencing those targets. They couldn't care less what the average internet denizen thinks of them unless that person is directly trying to obstruct them from their goals. More attention can only help here. Because even if you believe in some sort of "don't give them what they want" thing, it isn't part of what they want. The only attention they care about is people who agree with them or cries of pain from their victims.

So yea, i wish people would stop the "don't give them attention" thing. Ignoring them just lets them do whatever they want.

*and trolling really feels like a gross term here, in the same way that catcalling seems like a gross cutesy term for street harassment
posted by emptythought at 10:45 PM on November 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Boycotting the author
Bad Amazon reviews
posted by Omnomnom at 1:17 PM on November 11, 2014


I'm just coming into this today.

What struck me initially was the similarity to an abuse campaign I was peripherally involved with. I admin a Facebook page and web presence for an SF/F fan/writing-support group, and at some point some horror writers from England (we're in the US) reached out to us for help. They were being targeted on Facebook, Twitter and LiveJournal by a guy we knew. He'd come to our meetings in the past, lives in our area, and appeared to be obsessed with us, to the extent that he had made extensive posts (behind fairly transparent sockpuppet IDs) attacking us and our members. But he was clever enough about his use of social media to make those attacks in ways that made it unlikely they'd get back to us.

Anyway, he was going after these British horror writers really hard, calling them frauds, accusing them of trying to suppress the career of a promising young horror writer (him, or more precisely one of his alter-egos). He created an army of sockpuppet Facebook and Twitter accounts and maintained a number of different blogs, on which he just fabulated stuff. There were death threats, accusations of grant fraud and payola, etc.

We couldn't do anything to help. We knew who he was. But his victims knew that, too. He was just using us as some kind of objective bete noir -- he was actually going after them.

What's really coming home to me now is that with one single exception, everyone he went after by name was a woman. True, horror is pretty female-dominated right now, but even the people he singled out as demons in our org, all were women.

I'm not naming names because I don't feel like I have skin in that game to name names and don't want to expose people to further risk, but my point is this: This is psychopathic behavior, regardless of who's doing it. The only difference between our stalker and 'Sriduangkaew' is that the latter managed to convince people with influence that she had talent.
posted by lodurr at 9:00 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, I find Mamatas' original "this is interesting but it doesn't bother me" post on Ello to be pretty fucking creepy, but unsurprising. It's consistent with the moral feeling i get from Mamatas stories in general.
posted by lodurr at 9:05 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also also: Why in the OP was Mamatas removed from the 'pro-writers' list?
posted by lodurr at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2014


I just realized something else - I actually read the terrific On A Red Station, Drifting (by Aliette De Bodard) because it was reviewed positively on Requires Only That You Hate - so there's one example, I guess, of RH reviewing an Asian-French woman writer positively. De Bodard also seems to like RH's new book.

I don't know - I would really like to read RH's book. Just because she's a terrible person doesn't mean she's a terrible writer, and honestly, when I think about it, I consider RH's actions pretty small potatoes beside the incredibly dickish and harmful actions by many male scholars whose work I have read and purchased (and on those occasions when I've refused to buy more of some of their work, I get a lot of incredulity). I mean, Althusser murdered his wife, but who on the left (of the people on the left who would read Althusser) refuses to talk about interpellation? The sheer number of just incredible creepy misogynist asshole male writers and academics - jesus god, I can't even bring myself to start listing them.

Or racism! The last time I visited the Texts for Jane Eyre thread, no one was talking about how insanely racist that book is - and I mean, I like it in many ways and have read it about a squillion times, but racism is one of the structuring logics of the book (not just Rochester's wife - all the women in the book are subjected to a "who is the correct kind of white woman" logic, and the answer of course is Jane and her cousins, not Blanche whatsername, etc).

I haven't made up my mind. On the one hand, SF fandom is small enough that a terrible person can probably be pushed out with a unified campaign. On the other hand, what is even the point of boycotting a novel with an Asian setting and queer themes when half of the other stuff that we read is absolute racist, misogynist garbage?
posted by Frowner at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also also: Why in the OP was Mamatas removed from the 'pro-writers' list?

What do you mean? The OP has no such list. If you are talking about Azarias' post (the "further" link at the bottom of the OP), he is still in the list, there is just no link to his stuff.
The person removed from the list for not being a pro is not Mamatas.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:25 AM on November 13, 2014


My mistake. I'm not sure how I made it. That's exactly the entry I was looking at, and somehow I thought it was the OP.
posted by lodurr at 11:18 AM on November 13, 2014


Peter Watts wrote a more recent take on his interaction with acrackedmoon/requireshate.
posted by squinty at 8:39 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


This whole issue is too close and too personal for me.

Just stopping by to let readers and commenters know that part of the repercussions in the various overlapping communities is of course a lot of silencing and distrust being cultivated between different communities of different minority statuses.

As such, Tade Thompson created a blog with a stated goal of allowing/encouraging discussion in a safe space for people of color to discuss the greater issue, all the minor issues and especially their personal experiences related to and surrounding the issues.

It's called "Safe".
posted by kalessin at 9:30 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Thompson also did a thread for a safe space for all victims of RH:

http://sffpoc.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/the-wider-space
posted by tavella at 11:13 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nick Mamatas is looking uglier and uglier in all this.

I've never liked his fiction -- he's a wonderful stylist and his stories are full of sexy characterization, ideas, and plotting, but they leave me feeling like I've just hung out in a skeevy Combat Zone strip club for about 12 hours straight. All the details I'm hearing about his part in this and his general behavior on the scene just really resonate with that. [Robert N. Lee on Mamatas' history with BS/RH; Mamatas' own ask.fm post, which is basically a have-cake-and-eat-it exercise in whining about concern-trolling while simultaneously reveling in it.] He's starting to sound like a better-camoflaged, more socially-competent version of BS/RH.
posted by lodurr at 11:45 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I took him off my LJ reading list, the last straw being him throwing in with Kameron Hurley's "The victims are doing it wrong, they should just shut up like I want them to" campaign.
posted by tavella at 1:28 PM on November 14, 2014


Man, how am I finding out about all of this today?

I have a history with requireshate--a friend and co-blogger linked me to her back in 2011 or 2012, and I liked the SJ criticism content of many of her reviews even though the vitriol was weird (I didn't know the extent of it, though). Though by the time I found her, she'd already posted this and had focused her efforts largely on people like Bakker, away from Cindy Pon and NK Jemisin. The recent apology, to me, doesn't exist as purely a brush off. I think she genuinely has come to regret the way she attacked other women and men of color, and was beginning to feel that way by 2011. But that doesn't excuse the hurt she caused anyone before that.

I started to distance myself a few years back when she was tweeting stuff about Jews that I felt was antisemitic, but felt I couldn't speak up against it (or probably even unfollow her) without reprobation, and I realized how ungood I felt about the whole thing generally, especially because I have heard she really, really hurt Pon, who is a sweet and lovely person.

I'm not always proud of the way I comported myself online and in snarky reviews before I was published, and I never posted anything close to what she did, but I understand growth and regret and growing empathy for other writers and that sinking feeling you get when you've realized you've hurt someone. I hope she continues growing, no matter what happens with her writing and her career.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:44 AM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


It may be a little late to ask this -- but is there a summary anywhere of what role Winterfox specifically played in Racefail back in the day? This may be a total red herring, but I feel like understanding that might be key to understanding the genre's relationship with race in the years since.
posted by Andrhia at 5:52 PM on November 16, 2014


I could be remembering wrong, but that might have been the 'pyrofennec' incarnation -- I know I know that name from somewhere but I've been having a hard time remembering where. It strikes me now that might have been it.
posted by lodurr at 5:59 AM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Racefail, such a huge disappointment. Over and over and over again.
posted by kalessin at 11:38 AM on November 17, 2014


I read more RaceFail posts and comments than were good for me, back in the day, and I don't remember Winterfox or any of her pseuds being a major player in any of them. As a WoC and SFF fan, there are a lot of people and groups that make me feel unwelcome, and RH/WF/BS is not the source of all of them. There are SFF writers and fans who are only slightly less toxic to interact with than RH/WF/BS and have received only a fraction of the negative attention that she has.

I am not writing this as a defense of RH/WF/BS. I am highly skeptical of her apology, especially the singling out of Cindy Pon, N.K. Jemisin, and Saladin Ahmed. I suspect that this was a deliberate attempt to focus the discussion about RH/WF/BS's scathing reviews of books, instead of her harassment, and abuse, like attacking a rape victim for daring to say that she found something beautiful in her recovery. It's a lot easier to look past scathing reviews than abuse.

I'm hoping that something good results from this, but the self-congratulatory tone of some of the commenters on Laura Mixon's blog don't give me a lot of confidence on that front.
posted by creepygirl at 2:52 PM on November 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


There are SFF writers and fans who are only slightly less toxic to interact with than RH/WF/BS and have received only a fraction of the negative attention that she has.

Oh dear lord yes. Some of them are positively artistic about it. At least RH/etc. had the dubious grace to be up front about her vitriol; most SF/F wags long ago refined their own personal style of aloof, mocking dismissal.
posted by lodurr at 4:06 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


On my facebook feeds, the subject of Will Shetterly, who is possibly worse than RH/WF/BS and who even wrote a book detailing harassment he justified and did in the name of his activism/author's career, keeps coming up. Folks are apparently too afraid of WS to say anything or compare his behavior to RH/WF/BS's.

And it's not like he goes un-called-out.

But apparently folks don't want to call his attention to them.
posted by kalessin at 5:10 PM on November 17, 2014


am highly skeptical of her apology, especially the singling out of Cindy Pon, N.K. Jemisin, and Saladin Ahmed. I suspect that this was a deliberate attempt to focus the discussion about RH/WF/BS's scathing reviews of books, instead of her harassment, and abuse, like attacking a rape victim for daring to say that she found something beautiful in her recovery.

Honestly, based on following her for years, I suspect she focuses on them because these are the only people she feels bad for hurting. She recognizes that she did something shitty in punching down, but not in punching anyone at all.

To my knowledge, she wasn't involved in racefail. The attempts to connect her to it feel a little bit like a way to try and excuse the ugly stuff that happened during the original 'fail.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:10 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I've been really skeptical about the whole "RH must be white" thing, but damned if I didn't notice Alex Dally Macfarlane's twitter handle and how her name comes up again and again in these accounts. People at absolutewrite are making the same connections.

However, it would be really weird if a hate reviewer whose major complaints were about cultural appropriation was actually appropriating someone's culture in the construction of their online persona.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:19 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Honestly, based on following her for years, I suspect she focuses on them because these are the only people she feels bad for hurting. She recognizes that she did something shitty in punching down, but not in punching anyone at all.

Either that, or she's trying to shore up the narrative that she's a fighter against white privilege and racism, who's anger caused her to go too far. Which, combined with the deletion of any embarrassing hard evidence, will enable her "rehabilitation" and acceptance by the mainstream, while her critics eventually get the usual punishments meted out to people who make waves in SF&F circles.
posted by happyroach at 5:29 PM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


On my facebook feeds, the subject of Will Shetterly, who is possibly worse than RH/WF/BS and who even wrote a book detailing harassment he justified and did in the name of his activism/author's career, keeps coming up.

I saw that too! I gave a piece of my mind (in my native language) about what a derail that was.

anyway, I won't comment on the 'is RH white', but I'll say that I couldn't help but notice her English facility. If it was a typical Malaysian or Singaporean it would be not unusual but it's notable for a Thai (speaking as a SEAsian working in the region). So I was just speculating in my (locked) Twitter that she must have gone to either private or international school. Next thing I know, I'm being messaged that RH used to live in the West. Apparently there's also a stalker that leaked her birth cert details that indicated USA as her birthplace.

Which to me just sounds absolutely rich, since one of her go-tos was accusing Asian-Americans for not being Asian enough.
posted by cendawanita at 5:56 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess linking Winterfox to Racefail is a bit of wishful thinking on my part, then. It would be nice to think the community inclined more toward constructive disagreement than not, in the absence of trolls and bad-faith engagement. And it would be nice to think trolls and bad-faith engagement was relatively rare. But... yeah, like I said, wishful thinking.
posted by Andrhia at 6:15 PM on November 17, 2014


It wasn't from a stalker. She posted that she was born in the USA publicly some years ago; the post and forum are still available to see. Which does make her later attacks on other Asian-Americans like Cindy Pon as inferior to her "Asian-Asian"-ness rather ironic.

However, she's consistently presented as a Thai-Chinese woman for at least 12 years, including when she was hanging in forums with some rather racist and sexist folk where it wouldn't have been an advantage. Including snarking at Thai-language spam. So I don't think there's a lot of reason to doubt it.

It still weirds me out a bit, because when you look at her pre-SJW era fandoms you could swear she was stuck somewhere in US flyover country with no access outside of the B. Dalton's and Gamestop in the local mall. Forgotten Realms? Everquest? Baldur's Gate?
posted by tavella at 6:53 PM on November 17, 2014


tavella, that makes perfect sense to me. When I lived in the Philippines in the 80s we only got the most super-mainstream English language stuff, and that was even on the US military base -- it just didn't make business sense to import niche quirky items to an international audience and cross your fingers hoping they'd sell. Though now that the internet makes international shipping less of an issue, I imagine it's possible to access a more diverse range of works.
posted by Andrhia at 5:44 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


happyroach: Either that, or she's trying to shore up the narrative that she's a fighter against white privilege and racism, who's anger caused her to go too far.

I don't think that's inconsistent with those being the only people she feels bad about hurting. We have convenient labels like "psychopath" and "sociopath" that give us a template into which to slot someone, and they prevent us from seeing, as it were, the narrative details of a person's character-design. She may very well literally feel bad about hurting persons of color, or particular persons of color, or particular powerful* persons of color. At the same time it may well be that those feelings have narcissistic motives beneath them.

I'm not making an excuse. I think the behavior is horrible and likely bodes very ill for her future ability to relate well to others.

--
*as she perceives it
posted by lodurr at 6:04 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


SF/F as a field has an abuse of power problem. That problem, specifically, is that the underlying ethos of SF/F fandom is dominated by people who believe in power, and especially that superior reasoning ability ought to confer it. The myth of morally-neutral technology is central to classic SF. When it's challenged, the challenging work is often lionized into a box where it can do no harm. (E.g., PKD, who gets boxed-in as a whacko.) And the Slan-like sense of superiority (I have friends who've been in fandom long enough to remember when 'Slans' was not a pejorative term) can be oppressive.

What's really challenging often about a writer like, say, Octavia Butler, is that they tried to not be that. Hard-core positivists and their fellow-travelers may immediately assume that's an act of insincerity, and try to deconstruct it.
posted by lodurr at 6:11 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


That could make sense, Andrhia. Still, for a large part of that time she was living in Hong Kong, which was ground zero for Asian media access. Hell, I was living in the DC suburbs and SF Bay area over that time and we used to import HK DVDs because you could get nearly anything from there, and usually with English subtitles available.
posted by tavella at 9:01 AM on November 18, 2014


I don't know, I think a lot of people would credit some pretty mainstream media as their entry point into a particular scene, whether that's music, literature, gaming, or whatever.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:31 AM on November 18, 2014


Honestly, based on following her for years, I suspect she focuses on them because these are the only people she feels bad for hurting

Writers weren't the only PoC that RH/WF/BS attacked. They may well be the only PoC that she feels bad about attacking. I have honestly tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I just end up making my head hurt. There's just too much lying for no apparent reason (like why pretend that the BS persona was a newbie to SFF?) and covering up (trying to blame her worst behavior on an imposter) and the massive deletion-fest. If she was trying to speak truth to power, she should have stood behind her words. I can't find a coherent narrative that explains all of her behavior with good-faith motivations on her part.
posted by creepygirl at 5:26 PM on November 18, 2014


Some of it does make sense from a certain point of view.

Outsider, for example, are often regarded as having more credibility. Alternately, it could be seen as a manifestation of the old pattern: Burn bridges, show up with a new name. Delete the paste because you can. Try to make your motives sound pure because you don't want to deal with disapproval of people you've come to respect.

But yes, my head starts to hurt after I try to ramify all those things at the same time...
posted by lodurr at 1:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


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