"I’ve been declared unqualified to speak truthfully about my own life"
February 5, 2018 9:16 AM   Subscribe

In the SFF world of the last several years, the so-called "Sad Puppy" and "Rabid Puppy" campaigns (previously), ostensibly about ethics in science fiction--but more often involving targeting authors and fans from marginalized groups--have been causing controversy. An anonymous blogger named Camestros Felapaton has become known for extensive and well-sourced criticisms of the Puppies and the authors that are responsible for organizing them. In a post at a collaborative blog run by several Puppy authors, Puppy organizer Brad Torgersen publicly accused the husband of author Foz Meadows of being Camestros. Based on some initial "detective work" of Lou Antonelli, who previously tried to sic law enforcement on author David Gerrold, the Puppies began a series of increasingly disturbing attacks aimed at both Camestros and the Meadows family.

Starting with the comments of Torgersen's post, author Dave Freer boasted about his l33t Internet sleuthing skillz in supposedly tracking Camestros down, and was cheered on by both his fellow authors as well as their fanbase. Unfortunately, darker and more bigoted accusations were soon being thrown around. The Puppies (both the "Sad" and "Rabid" having essentially joined forces), who have long-standing connections with far-right hate groups and conspiracy theories such as Gamergate and Pizzagate, have been attacking other authors and the SFWA as complicit in pedophilia and other crimes. Sure enough, among their accusations was that Meadows (who identifies as genderqueer) and her husband were in a marriage of convenience similar to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen, authors who had a history of molesting children--including their own daughter. Despite Meadows' repeated pushback on both the Camestros theory and the comparison of her marriage to that of sexual abuse of children, including a deeply personal and emotional blogpost, the harassment has continued. Not satisfied with merely attacking the Meadows family, the campaign turned to attacking their defenders and gaslighting them with the threat that they could end the harassment and doxxing attempts by just admitting their supposed "crime," even though the only evidence of it was essentially based on a single IP address and a whole lot of rampant speculation (as well as the possibility that the Puppies didn't know the difference between the Aberdeen in Scotland and the one in Australia) .

This weekend, Lou Antonelli posted an admission that he "may have interpreted something wrong" and offered a (very) grudging apology to the Meadows family. Freer, who has also admitted that teaming up with fellow blogger Teddy Beale (aka Vox Day) is intended to cause harm, has responded with a screed that equates genderfluid identity with "people who try introducing gerbils or tarantulas to their various orifices for pleasure," but no apology for any of his accusations.
posted by zombieflanders (67 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm glad to see that it is being publicly acknowledged that there is no meaningful distinction between Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, GamerGaters, MRAs and alt-right scumbags. The Venn diagram of those groups forms a perfect circle.
posted by JohnFromGR at 9:24 AM on February 5 [94 favorites]


What can be done by the average person to help victims of extended harassment like this? It’s maddening that someone can have their lives affected in so many horrible ways, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it or help. I repost things like this on fb, but I’m not on any other social media, so even signal boosting is minimal.
posted by greermahoney at 9:38 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


An anonymous blogger named Camestros Felapaton has become known for extensive and well-sourced criticisms of the Puppies and the authors that are responsible for organizing them.

What seems to have brought this hatred of Camestros into the open (Freer apparently taunted him as "Fieldsy" as far back as one year ago, but since nobody caught the innuendo that Camestros was apparently thought to be Foz Meadows' husband it was ignored) is that Camestros happened to follow a twitter thread and discovered the half-baked skeleton of a "Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Guild", apparently the puppies' and adjacents' alternative to the SFWA, and the resulting giggling about "apolitical science fiction" stole the puppies' thunder.

I'm glad to see that it is being publicly acknowledged that there is no meaningful distinction between Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, GamerGaters, MRAs and alt-right scumbags. The Venn diagram of those groups forms a perfect circle.

Add to them Jon del Arroz's "happy frogs".
posted by sukeban at 9:42 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]


One thing must be made clear about this.

This is not an isolated incident on Antonelli's part, who is an Internet Hard Man with a serious anger management problem. Every couple of months, like clockwork, he'll be bullying somebody, people get angry about it and mr gutless coward will offer a pseudo apology before moving on to his next victim.

Freer is a mediocre fantasy writer who should've been content to stay one of Baen's interchangeable Del Monte cans, but who thought that being an asshole on the internet was a great way to boost an undeserved career.

There is no difference between Sad and Rabid Puppies other than a thin veneer of respectability for the former. They're all nazis or nazi sympathisers.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:46 AM on February 5 [52 favorites]


Telling that the innuendo goes right to MZB and not Tiptree, Delany, or any of the other LGBTQ SFF authors who have been married at different points in their career.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:48 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


Three short stories by Meadows, if someone wants to sample their work.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:56 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


It's fascinating to me how these people manage simultaneously to be so dangerous and so pathetic.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:03 AM on February 5 [45 favorites]


hell hath no fury like a mediocre white man
posted by runt at 10:10 AM on February 5 [142 favorites]


It's fascinating to me how these people manage simultaneously to be so dangerous and so pathetic.

It's the other side of the banality of evil, where if it weren't for the enormity of their crimes, you might even feel sorry for these sad, socially maladroit losers.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:25 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


If these writer spent less time online and more time honing their craft, they might be able to win some of the awards that they so jealously covet. But that seems like too much work....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:35 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]


What can be done by the average person

When I get sad or outraged by this kind of thing I put a couple bucks in the swear jar. Every month I send that money to the ACLU, EFF, SPLC or similar.

Another thing to do is write to your congresscritters (state and federal) asking them to actually enforce laws on the books about this kind of harassment. Passing tougher laws is another thing to write about, with care that they aren't the kinds of laws that can be turned against social justice.
posted by poe at 10:39 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


First year in the whole where I haven’t felt a need to participate in the Hugo nomination round to act as a counterbalance to these nazis, so that’s nice at least.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


A great long read on the Puppies (if a couple of years out of date at this point) is Guided By The Beauty Of Their Weapons: Notes on Science Fiction and Culture in the Year of Angry Dogs, by Phil Sandifer.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:40 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Poe, thank you! Both good ideas!
posted by greermahoney at 10:45 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I personally would be very interested to see if that post comparing them to MZB and husband would qualify as libel per se (that is, not requiring proof of damages).
posted by praemunire at 10:51 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Side note: Hugo nominations 2018/1943 are now open. (That latter is "Hugo Retrospective" for works published in 1942. I expect A. E. van Vogt's "The Weapon Shop" to take it for short story.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:52 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


"fascists can you hear it has begun seen the devil the outlived symptom
under the scream impress again shadow ways to do and joins from
everywhere treats my fallen character with no respect to taking goals away taking it all in
diminutive drown to live the hope of anything obscene is so obscure"

-Skinny Puppy, 'Three Blind Mice'
posted by clavdivs at 10:54 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I vehemently disagree with donating to the ACLU considering their history

I less vehemently disagree with writing to Congress and/or focusing on federal issues at all

most good organizers I know are and have been organizing locally against oppressions whether they be race, sexuality, gender, class, etc. if you really want to do something that has an impact on this particular issue, get together a socially conscious science fiction reading group, attend non-violent communication trainings, and make a plan to attend conventions where these fuckwads show up in order to directly push back against them

also, your Congress person is not going to give a nanoparticle of a shit about something like this. the management of the venue, the local council people who see tourism in terms of revenue in their city, local anti-oppression groups who may be unaware of this issue, they're the ones who are going to have the power to make a difference. and they're the ones who listen to individual voices since that's the level they normally operate on
posted by runt at 10:55 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


A great long read on the Puppies (if a couple of years out of date at this point) is Guided By The Beauty Of Their Weapons: Notes on Science Fiction and Culture in the Year of Angry Dogs, by Phil Sandifer.

Yes yes yes. This is my second comment in three days bigging up Sandifer here. I wish he'd let himself be edited, but lordy does he ever have these shitsacks' number.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:05 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


I know these assholes are going to do something this year that will, at least, require me to drag my hungover ass to the WSFS Business Meeting so I can vote on something to keep them at bay. Fuck the lot of them. FROM MY HANGOVER'S HEART, I FART AT THEE.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:05 AM on February 5 [30 favorites]


There's also Aberdeen, NJ.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 11:07 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


With regard to Antonelli specifically:

Following [David Gerrold's] discourse and his level of discourse as a result, I personally wrote a letter addressed to the police chief in Spokane and said I thought the man was insane and a public danger and needs to be watched when the convention’s going on, and I mean it. I attached my business card. I said this guy’s inciting to violence.

I mean...who the fuck does that? Never mind that as usual, the only party here threatening any kind of real-world violence was the party of the right. Who writes postal mail to a police department "warning" them about a perfectly harmless community elder, and staples their business card (!) into it by way of demonstrating their bona fides? Is he, like, developmentally broken?

I used to know SF geeks who all thought they were the smartest person in the room, because they actually were at one point...for a few weeks in sixth grade. They never developed beyond that, and in particular failed to realize that possessing test-validated "intelligence" & maybe having mastered some arcane body of nerdcult knowledge are very poor predictors of becoming a thoughtful, caring or interesting person in later life. This Lou Antonelli reminds me of them: officious, convinced that things acted out on the dirt floor of the petty dramadrome he's made of his life are Important and will register as such to people outside his little circle, and more than anything else in love with the smell of his own farts.

It's a crying shame he and the people like him still seem so prominent in this particular corner of the culture. As many of you have observed, simply being too pathetic for words hasn't in any way kept him from being dangerous.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:21 AM on February 5 [22 favorites]


> clavdivs:
""fascists can you hear it has begun seen the devil the outlived symptom
under the scream impress again shadow ways to do and joins from
everywhere treats my fallen character with no respect to taking goals away taking it all in
diminutive drown to live the hope of anything obscene is so obscure"

-Skinny Puppy, 'Three Blind Mice'"


Maaaaaan, not MORE Puppies!
posted by Samizdata at 11:23 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


I've been following this story on File770. To show my support for Foz Meadows, I picked up her two "Manifold Worlds" books. I haven't read them yet, but my wife has been raving about how much she is enjoying them.
posted by maurice at 11:26 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


The logic here, as is typical for Puppies, both contradictory and vile:

1. Foz Meadows (and many others) get magical SFF publishing and fandom cookies for posing as LGBTQ.

2. But, Camestros doesn't want to be outed as Foz Meadows' husband, Toby, because people might jump to the assumptions that he's gay, in a marriage of convenience, and a child molester to boot.

Freer (and others) are dropping a bunch of classic biphobia and transphobia dogwhistles, (and in the end, devolving into little more than dogwistles). A bisexual person with an (apparently) straight partner must either be a poseur for "bi chic" or privately promiscuous. A genderqueer person is just looking for positive attention. No straight person would be in a relationship with us, so it's a "marriage of convenience." We are simultaneously the most popular people in the room and the ones hated by any reasonable person.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:27 AM on February 5 [43 favorites]


Side note: Hugo nominations 2018/1943 are now open

Over in this thread, folks have been pointing out some of the options they've appreciated.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:43 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Anyway, from what I know SPLC has never backed a hategroup, may be abetter recipient of your money. It;s where mine goes now.
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


[Several comments removed. Let's skip the nth round of reflexive ACLU debate.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:49 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


There's only really two good things about the whole Puppies thing - first, it points out who not to read so I don't have to waste my time, second the obverse is true as well.. oh look.. new writers I should try!

Otherwise, they're rat finks for abusing the good name of "puppies"
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:52 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Anyway, from what I know SPLC has never backed a hategroup, may be abetter recipient of your money. It;s where mine goes now.

I like the SPLC a lot, but they've had some missteps. The most prominent long-term one is the bizarre both-sidesism of their recurring coverage of environmentalist and animal rights activists, and more recently they've admonished antifascist activists in ways which suggest to me that they don't understand that "build cases and file lawsuits" isn't the most direct intervention appropriate/acceptable with fascists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Freer: "There’s a lot of worse that I don’t think you’ve thought of that you could bring down on yourselves – and not from me."

Classic intimidation used by Joe McCarthy BTW.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:05 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


"they don't understand that "build cases and file lawsuits" isn't the most direct intervention appropriate/acceptable with fascists"

Maybe. But more than one hate group has been sued out of existence successfully. More than one leader of a hate group has been bankrupted.
posted by el io at 12:15 PM on February 5 [14 favorites]


What can be done by the average person to help victims of extended harassment like this?

Well...considering all the death threats and SWATing, I think 'conspiracy to murder' is WAY not unwarranted. However, since it's mostly inter-state that means FBI jurisdiction, and I think they're a liiiittle busy with another investigation at the moment. Although, hopefully, the results of that investigation may go a long way towards solving this one :/
posted by sexyrobot at 12:23 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the SPLC has shut down militia training compounds that trained Nazis. They’re pretty much the only good organization in a world of shit.

But more on topic, the MZB/Breen comparison is just flat out weird in addition to mean. Like, is that the only queer marriage he’s heard of? (Also how fucking surreal that Freer goes into a rant about his family crest before he starts this).
posted by corb at 12:24 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


What can be done by the average person to help victims of extended harassment like this?

Other than supporting anti-harassment orgs like Crash Override, I think that the best most of us can do is continue linking Puppy authors to other hate groups, because it seems like every single one of them consider being accused of bigotry themselves to be worse than some other schmuck being proudly bigoted, and they are all incredibly thin-skinned. Not only is it accurate, but it also serves to limit their appeal and marketability, and if there's one glaring weakness in their strategy, it's their sales numbers. They've kind of created a trap for themselves where they can't (yet) make big bucks as individuals on their appeal to bigots and fascists, but also can't to seem too weak-kneed on attacking "SJWs" because their fanbase is almost entirely made up of bigots and fascists. It may also serve to limit their access to resources such as editors and publishers and even retailers that authors rely on to make a living.

Maybe at some point nearly all of the SFF industry will collectively decide that the cost of doing business with people like the Puppies is higher than the potential profits. Apart from those that have already hamstrung themselves with amateur-hour attempts at self-publishing, only so many senders of rape threats and Nazi sympathizers can be repped by some place like Baen before they have to either clean shop or go full NaziCastalia House themselves.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:29 PM on February 5 [18 favorites]


But more on topic, the MZB/Breen comparison is just flat out weird in addition to mean. Like, is that the only queer marriage he’s heard of? (Also how fucking surreal that Freer goes into a rant about his family crest before he starts this).

Because it's a current dogwhistle that "our side" (specifically named: Hines) enabled them in life and was slow to criticize them in death. (Breen was convicted over 25 years ago.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:41 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Because it's a current dogwhistle that "our side" (specifically named: Hines) enabled them in life and was slow to criticize them in death. (Breen was convicted over 25 years ago.)

Yeah. Basically, no argument is too stupid, disingenuous or plainly false to dissuade a fascist from hammering everybody with it. I mean, they codified the whole notion of the Big Lie. The truth is explicitly meaningless to them.

This is one of the things that gets me about them: how samey they always are. When you talked about this:

We are simultaneously the most popular people in the room and the ones hated by any reasonable person.

All I could think was, 'yep,' and hear Umberto Eco saying:
“By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
Always the same fucking playbook. Up side, it makes them easy to spot once you know.
posted by mordax at 12:52 PM on February 5 [21 favorites]


For perspective: Cat Rambo, the main recipient of harassment around pedophilia, was still 10 years away from being born when Breen was first arrested, a fetus when the "Breendoggle" happened, and was still almost two decades away from being published when he was arrested for the final time.

Hines is eleven years younger than her, and was still a teenager when Breen died.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:53 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


I absolutely don't mean to suggest that the SPLC doesn't do good work, but they seem to have a mental model where the work worth doing is exactly what they do and anything more immediate and direct is illegitimate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:54 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


There's also Aberdeen, NJ.

And Aberdeen, SD.
posted by maryr at 1:08 PM on February 5




Slightly baffled that Lou Antonelli et al aren't drowning under what would appear to be a slam dunk of a defamation lawsuit right now.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:13 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


The recent murder by SWATing did actually result in charges, though sadly not murder ones: Suspect in fatal ‘swatting’ call charged with making false alarm, will be sent to Kansas

It should be taken a lot more seriously, of couese, and not just in cases leading to an actual death, but there’s a reluctance to see this sort of thing as a serious matter and not just “pranks”. See also Gamergate.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


Slightly baffled that Lou Antonelli et al aren't drowning under what would appear to be a slam dunk of a defamation lawsuit right now.

That would imply the anonymous Sad Puppy critic blogger is a bad thing to be, rather than that harassment is a shitty thing to experience.
posted by corb at 1:20 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


The suggestion of the libel suit is for the comparison to Breen and Bradley and the associated implication of being child abusers, not for claiming that Foz's husband is Camestros Felapton.
posted by Lexica at 1:25 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]


The Meadowses have a young child, so the idea of going through the grueling process of proving they're not child molesters in a court to the satisfaction of the scum and what would likely be their equally-scummy lawyers might be too horrible for them to want to deal with. And that's before the financial, emotional, and time costs for what has a high likelihood of solving nothing.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:44 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


On the contrary, suing someone into bankruptcy can be a highly satisfying activity (there is no need to prove diddly to the scum or the scum's lawyers, but rather to a jury). Discovery could be unpleasant. But, frankly, having unrebutted charges of pedophilia floating around out there about you carries its own risk and unpleasantness. I bet a coward like that would fold like a deck chair faced with a lawyerly nastygram.
posted by praemunire at 2:25 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


“By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”

One of the reasons why I'm more than a little bit pissed off at the Heathers reboot is that it's a Puppy rhetorical fantasy to portray non-attractive women and LGBTQ people as inherently ridiculous but having enough power to bully others.

Foz Meadows correctly points out that even if they admit Camestros isn't Toby Meadows, that there's been a lot of innuendo about Foz and Toby as people thrown out. However, the puppies are playing the classic troll game of JAQing off or attributing that innuendo to what other people might think, so little of it is likely legally actionable.

Barriss has been charged with involuntary homicide in the Kansas system, which is about as much as they can charge him with given the circumstances and the letter of the law, apparently.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:41 PM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Not conventionally attractive, I should have said. My apologies.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:49 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdeen,_Hong_Kong

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Aberdeen

hey it's almost like British colonialism has left a legacy all around the world, especially in colonized places where the indigenous population has largely been eradicated. who knew!
posted by runt at 3:03 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Incidentally, something I hadn't previously realized about Camestros Felapton, despite having read their writing and possibly (? I don't remember) interacting with them on File 770: "camestros" and "felapton" are both names of syllogisms.
posted by Lexica at 3:33 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Gosh, what will supersleuth Brad Torgersen do when he discovers that hapless stooge Brad Torgersen has been palling around with these disreputable characters?
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:35 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Maybe we can convince some of these idiots to try and sneak onto the Aberdeen Proving Ground as part of their "investigation."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:39 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Slightly baffled that Lou Antonelli et al aren't drowning under what would appear to be a slam dunk of a defamation lawsuit right now.

It's not a slam dunk, at least in the US, because among other things, one would have to show quantifiable damages -- usually economic damage to one's livelihood. It would be difficult to prove in this case, with regard to Foz Meadows, at least, because in the field of science fiction and fantasy literature, no one considers proclamations from puppy quarters to have much truth value. They have a years-long history of spinning up bullshit, bigotry and flat-out lies. When Freer, et al spun up this one, the general response was various flavors of "Christ, these assholes," plus concern/outrage for the hate and bigotry Meadows and their husband had to deal with. It's laudable that Mr. Antonelli has finally admitted he was wrong and offered an apology for it, but it should be clear that nearly everyone knew he was wrong long before he admitted it.

(Ironically, if Meadows and their family wished to pursue defamation, the person they would most likely have the best case against is Freer, who if memory serves lives in Australia, as they do, where the libel laws are slightly less stringent than here in the US. Freer's best defense in that case would be "triviality," ie, that he's not important enough, nor his audience large enough, to have done Meadows and her family harm.)

I will note that this is a subject for which I have no little experience; for years Theodore Beale and his little pals have been calling me "McRapey" because in 2012 he misread a satirical piece I published on my Web site and believed I had admitted to rape (I had not), and when it was pointed out to him that the piece was fictional, continued to repeat it anyway. Every once in a while people ask why I don't sue him for libel, and the answer is, bluntly, he's not important enough to do me harm, and no one with any sense believes him in any event -- certainly not in my field of science fiction and fantasy literature, where Mr. Beale is well-known as a liar and a bigot. He's been literally incapable of damaging my career.

None of which excuses Antonelli, Freer, Torgersen, Beale et al for being fucking bigoted assholes. Their willingness to be fucking bigoted assholes at the drop of a hat appears to have damaged their careers in science fiction and fantasy; why work with people who act terribly when there are so many other people of equal or better talents who are a delight to work with? At this point, being fucking bigoted assholes is all some of these folks have left. But being fucking bigoted assholes, in the United States at least, does not necessarily equate to a slam dunk for defamation.
posted by jscalzi at 4:17 PM on February 5 [75 favorites]


Thanks for that, jscalzi. You’re right, I was thinking of the Australian standard for defamation (e.g., false statement about an individual that damages their reputation, in the eyes of the average person) - I forgot how much it differs from the US laws.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:34 PM on February 5


How could everybody miss Aberdeen, WA. Scots are everywhere.
posted by lhauser at 6:53 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


“Come as you are.”
posted by Artw at 6:55 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I've got a Foz Meadows book in my TBR pile. It just got moved to the top.

I hope that Foz and their family are swept up in a tide of love and positive response so strong that it washes away some of the pollution those assholes spread.

And the excuses are so inane! "I was too busy running a business... " "Pick on somebody who's not running a farm..." WTF do they think Foz and their family were doing before they were all dragged into this, sitting around playing ring toss? It's infuriating.

Life is so short. It's just dumbfounding that these assholes choose to spend their time doing this kind of shit. What a waste. If I had to resort to defaming other people to get known in the community, I'd just stay obscure.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 7:29 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Australian standard for defamation (e.g., false statement about an individual that damages their reputation, in the eyes of the average person)

It's not very different in the US (UK rules are very different), and for some statements - "pervert" claims among them - you don't have to prove specific financial damages. But you do have to prove that it stands a serious chance of damaging their reputation, which means "joke on the internet" is the claim to disprove.

When a woman is claiming a man defamed her, the courts have mostly decided, "eh, joke on the internet - nobody took that seriously." This also covers most online death threats.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:33 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


"It's a crying shame he and the people like him still seem so prominent in this particular corner of the culture."

I honestly think it's related to how rampant Engineer's Disease is in that community, where in some corners you can also substitute subculture knowledge for technical expertise and acquire similar social cachet. I've come to believe it's also related to how deeply entrenched certain kinds of conservativism are (aesthetic, social, political), and David Forbes has done some interesting work making that entrenchment more visible to outsiders.

I've been slowly re-engaging with that corner of the literary world over the last few years, and even the parts of the community that are quite progressive in most ways seem to share the right's deep distrust of outsiders and change more generally--it's just who they see as outsiders and what kind of change they distrust that's different, although there is some overlap (mostly aesthetic). Despite the mainstreaming of SFF in recent years, especially in film and television, Lester del Rey's "get out of my ghetto" sentiment still holds a lot of power there and cuts hard across the political spectrum. I think it makes dealing with abusive people and other problems within the community significantly harder.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:34 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


In terms of subcultural dynamics that make dealing with abusive folks harder, also see the Five Geek Social Fallacies.
posted by overglow at 10:43 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Lou Antonelli has posted an "apology" (Archive.is version of http://louantonelli.blogspot.ru/2018/02/mea-culpa.html) in which he doesn't spell "Felapton" consistently, alludes to "the usual on-line screeching you get if you're not 100 percent politically correct", and complains about people being mean to him.

And a recent tweet from Foz with a screenshot of a comment by Dave Freer: In which Dave Freer thinks it’s completely unreasonable to be asked to apologise for tripling down on blatant, malicious lies because HE thought his deductions made sense. *eyeroll*
posted by Lexica at 10:53 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


I don't know. As I mentioned in the Locus thread, I'm at a point where I can make LGBTQ-inclusion part of the low bar minimum standard for fiction I'll pay for. There's that much inclusive fiction getting published these days, and from mainstream publishers no less. Reviewer Liz Bourke complained a few years ago about more feminist works published than she can touch as a reviewer in the genre. It's becoming easier and easier to find multicultural and global works as well. Strange Horizons just dropped a trans-focused issue, and has been running an extensive series that promises an introduction to 100 African writers.

As Scalzi mentioned, many of the worst actors in this drama already have bad reputations. Unfortunately, a facebook account and a dozen dollars a month gets you a soapbox, so there's no way to cut them out entirely.

It is changing and it's easier to focus on feminist, queer, and multicultural works than it's ever been.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:58 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


In terms of subcultural dynamics that make dealing with abusive folks harder, also see the Five Geek Social Fallacies.

I'm of the opinion that it's something different than that, that is in a lot of these cases a transference or projection of bullying behavior, perhaps that they were either a target of or participated in. That POV is combined with a toxic attitude that sees anyone not operating on their idea of Life's Default Setting (white, male, straight, cis, etc) and getting lauded for their work as "cool kids" or "mean girls" or whatever. A couple years ago, in another puppies thread, I shared some Storify-ed tweets from Alexandra Erin that I think are, if anything, even more relevant now:
I am going to break my swearing embargo to say: fuck Brad Torgersen and Sarah Hoyt for validating a bunch of geeks' impostor syndrome. Larry Correia went to WorldCon once. He felt like an awkward intruder in a space where everyone else knew everyone else, and resented him. You know what most of us call that? We call that going to a con. Doesn't matter if it's your first con or your fiftieth one. I know people who have RAN cons who felt like they were faking it. This is not just part of common nerdom, it's part of the human experience. But introverts, nerds, geeks...people with fringe interests and atypical social skills, maybe we get it more acutely. It's something we share, something we can understand about each other. But fucking Torgersen and Hoyt and Correia have told a bunch of our fellow fans that if they feel that way, it's for a *reason*. They've convinced a bunch of SF/F geeks that they really are not welcome in fandom, that the "Cool Kids" really don't like them. I guess it should be no surprise that the people who so valorize warfare would adopt one of the classic principles of wartime propaganda.
So it's not really a surprise that the puppies, like most other bullies, are always the first and the loudest to demand of their targets "don't be a bully." For all their fulminating about "professional victims" and "safe spaces" they have done more than anyone else in the industry to paint themselves as victims and attempt to recreate what is essentially segregation. This perverse, mirror-universe worldview of SFF history and culture has been internalized by a lot of authors and fans with a lot of resentment. So much so that they believe that works (and in many cases, the mere existence) of writers from or writing about marginalized groups pushing back on Life's Default Settings stories were the aggressive acts that kicked all of this off. The fact that 100% of the available evidence (or at least not created and consumed by fascists and white supremacists and bigots of all stripes) describes the exact opposite situation doesn't really matter to them, and I suspect it never will.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:49 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


As I mentioned in the Locus thread, I'm at a point where I can make LGBTQ-inclusion part of the low bar minimum standard for fiction I'll pay for.

The linked post in this thread by Torgersen concludes with a rant about taste-makers vs. 'the market' that I found interesting in view of the non-intersection between this year's Locus list and this year's Stabby award winners. Although not on the Locus list for whatever reasons, all three novels selected by open, popular vote in a community of 250k Redditors have LGBTQ characters in major and/or viewpoint roles. These books won't win Lambda awards and are definitely open to critique. Their authors are aiming to do more, better, or uh something to reach wide audiences instead of literally nothing, and their own comments seem to imply an understanding that if you're looking for more than simple inclusiveness there are better sources. But what's relevant to this thread is just how far out of touch Torgersen is from 'the market,' and given the puppies' award-envy, it's interesting to see it demonstrated with a popular award.
posted by Wobbuffet at 2:32 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom: "Side note: Hugo nominations 2018/1943 are now open. (That latter is "Hugo Retrospective" for works published in 1942. I expect A. E. van Vogt's "The Weapon Shop" to take it for short story.)"

Or maybe Asimov's "Runaround," which is the first story to explicitly state the Three Laws of Robotics.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:43 PM on February 7


Freer has another rambling, somewhat deranged blog piece up. I think this time he's comparing LGBTQ people to imaginary savages that engage in human sacrifice? It's hard to tell, but it's definitely stupid and not an apology.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:52 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


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