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Red Writer: I stand with Irene Gallo.

Near the middle of The Grass King's Concubine there's a three page section where one of the protagonists (Aude) explains to one of the inhabitants of the Grass King's reign the basic principles of socialist. It's in chapter 17, pp.217-19, if you want to check. It states, pretty much in black and white, that the character -- and the author, as it happens -- is opposed to a system in which a small number of people have the bulk of the wealth and power, at the expense and to the detriment of the many. I believe this to be true and I included it in the book on purpose. Both Grass King and its sequel, A Fire of Bones which I am working on at present, are overtly, deliberately, avowedly political books. I'm a political writer: more, I am an openly socialist writer. And I'm proud of it. No insult calling me a communist or a pinko or any such thing can offend me, because this is who I am, at core; these are my principles and I hold to them. A system which favours the few over the many is broken. A system in which wealth trickles upwards from the poorest, the excluded, the disprivileged, is immoral. Oppression, deprivation and exclusion are the fruits of unregulated robber-baron capitalism, and the latter in the form in which it currently exists is industrialised feudalism.

A few weeks ago, Tor books art editor Irene Gallo, writing in her own space and under her own name, not in relation to her employer, called Theodore Beale aka Vox Day, the leader of the self-named 'Rabid Puppy' movement which is presently trying to spread the culture war between hard right and centre-right in the U.S.A. a racist, sexist, neo-Nazi. And she's right. I'm not going to provide links here to prove this: I have no interest in giving the man the clicks. But google him, look at his website and you will quickly find that Ms Gallo wrote no more than the truth. Today, Mr Beale is spear-heading an attack to get Tor to fire Irene Gallo, for daring to stand up to him, and getting his followers to write letters to this effect. He does not like what she said. And he wants her silenced and punished.

Mr Beale defends his own abusive language in terms of the U.S. free speech laws, and has used that to launch racist, sexist, homophobic and bullying attacks on many people within the sff community. He has a *right* to be abusive, he tells us, over and over. But he does not believe that this right to what he calls 'free speech' should extend to anyone who contradicts him, or talks back. He does not believe that Irene Gallo has this right. Oh, he has wrapped this up in a specious argument about her position in the industry, but she made her remarks about him in her private capacity. While he abused his membership of SFWA, the official body for professional SF writers, to use the sfwa twitter feed to make a vicious racist attack on writer N. K. Jemison. For this, he was thrown out of SFWA. If anyone has demonstrated an abuse of position, it's Beale and not Ms Gallo.

Mr Beale believes in freedom only for himself and those who agree with him. He believes he has the right to police the words and lives of everyone else and punish or destroy them if they offend. He is the perfect robber capitalist, dreaming of a world in which the rich -- and he is very very rich -- control everything, from resources and awards to bodies and thoughts of those who he considers his inferiors. He's trying that today with TOR books.

And this red writer is standing here in his way. The US culture war does not belong in our genre, which is global and not the property of any one interest group or political belief. Do I want right-wing books and writers in my genre? Yes, I do. Writing belongs to us all. Do I want *only* right wing books and *only* white, straight, American male writers? No, because that is counter not only to the roots of sff -- which lie in the work of writers of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and political views -- but to my personal principles, which believe in inclusion and support for the many rather than privilege for the (predictable straight white male) few.

I stand with Irene Gallo.

Or, and if you want to go and denounce me and my books as communist, feel free. I'm not ashamed of my politics.

Skirt of the day: denim.


(Deleted comment)
Jun. 15th, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
The thing is that the more moderate puppies have endorsed Beale, though, and not put space between themselves and him. And all of them have happily flung insults at anyone who disagrees and tried to silence debate. They are all signed up to an agenda that sets out to shut out women writers, writers of colours, LGBT writers and any writer who does not share the puppies' political views. That in itself is racist, sexist and so on.
Should good right wing sf be eligible for a Hugo? Absolutely. There are many writers I read and enjoy whose politics are to the right of mine. I'd be happy to see them on the ballot. (Indeed, why Edward Willett's wonderful Marseguro, which won the Aurora Award in 2009 was not also on the Hugo ballot that year baffles me.) Should any group be able to control and dominate the awards for their own ends? No.
The puppies seem to think that work by women and writers of colour, and LGBT writers would not make the list without special treatment. They have said so, over and over. They treat the award as if it should be only for straight white men. That's a deeply political stance, and a deeply reactionary one.
They are now trying to silence a woman who spoke up against them: this is a familiar tactic of the right -- they demand free speech for themselves but deny it to those who oppose them, especially if those people are not just like them. Irene Gallo works for Tor, yes, but she belongs to a historically marginalised group -- women. That the puppies have gone after her this way, rather than, say, demanding that Tor cancel John Scalzi's contract because he 'slandered' them also speaks volumes. They assume that they have the right to police her speech, because they assume they have more rights that she does. Classic sexism.
Women have exactly the same rights of free speech as men. It's not for me to question what Gallo should or should not have said. It's not for Beale, either.
The puppies are using the 'not all men' argument, which is a classic way to derail and to turn attention from the actual problem onto the much more socially familiar ground of undermining the speech of those who come from positions of less historical privilege.
Jun. 15th, 2015 09:25 pm (UTC)
She said they were "two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively", which means Sad Puppies = extreme right wing, Rabid Puppies = neo-nazis. I suppose not all the Sad Puppies think of themselves as "extreme" right wing, but she did make the distinction between the two groups. And objectively, what the Sad Puppy cause is promoting is pretty retrograde.

And if one's reply to her statement is "We're not ALL neo-Nazis, just some of us are!" I feel like one hasn't really got a leg to stand on. If they choose to associate with Vox Day and John C. Wright, and read their stuff and agree with them, and promote their slates--especially given that they're buddy-buddy with the Gamergaters--it's a case of lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.
Jun. 16th, 2015 02:02 pm (UTC)
Well, folks in the Sad Puppy faction could have said something on the lines of “yeah, Beale is pretty out there, but we’re not responsible for his opinions, and calling him a Nazi is over the top”. Indeed, IIRC, a few weeks ago, when Torgersen and Correia were feeling pressure to disassociate themselves from Beale, they said stuff along those lines. And said that they had no obligation to go any further in denouncing Beale. But now that Beale has whipped up his own minions into a state of outrage, Torgersen (I don’t know about Correia) is rallying to Beale’s flag, which makes Torgersen’s previous “I am not Vox Day” protestation ring hollow.

(No, you can’t say that he is just taking a principled stand against inflammatory political remarks, because it’s not like he was doing the same favor for victims of Beale’s own invective.)
Jun. 16th, 2015 04:51 pm (UTC)
I stand with you, and with her...but there is a thing to learn here.

Yes. This.

Respect and tolerance and all that come on a two way street. Mr. Beale may not know the street exists, but lots of other non-leftist folks do.

Perhaps this whole mess might have been avoided if Larry Correia had not found his nomination greeted with hoplophobic concerns in lieu of readers commenting on the quality of his work. Ms. Gallo's comments are the unremarkably logical result of the ideological echo chamber that exists in the "big" publishing world.

I don't want her to lose her job. It would be nice if she (and others) read a little more widely, or perhaps developed a slightly larger social circle so that she (and they) would know that there really are nice people outside of their limited world view.
Jun. 16th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC)
Tolerance matters, I agree. And indeed, it should go both ways. But assumptions about the nature of either side do not help -- and you are assuming that those of us who are not pro-puppy are narrow-minded and narrow in experience. I can't speak for Irene Gallo, but I read books by writers of all kinds of political and social backgrounds and from cultures other than my own and by people who are not like me. I hold the views I do after a lifetime of thinking and reading and observing and listening, not because they come from an echo chamber of any kind.
I am very happy to engage in positive debate, but I can't see how this can happen if assumptions of this kind are made by either side. And I come from a culture in which people who are not the dominant group are expected always to make extra effort to understand those who are dominant, and to make allowances, and to listen and be nice -- but cannot expect to be treated with the same respect in return. So perhaps you can understand that I am wary of being asked to be more tolerant while also being assumed to be unthinking or narrow-minded. Particularly when the request comes from someone I don't know.
Jun. 16th, 2015 08:49 pm (UTC)
I am wary of being asked to be more tolerant while also being assumed to be unthinking or narrow-minded.

This. A thousand times, THIS.

Crazy(because folks on *that* side of the aisle seem to forget this is the dynamic they're subjecting us to!)Soph
Jun. 17th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
I owe you an apology. My use of "and others" was not intended to mean you personally. I have a lot of firmly held beliefs. I even have more than a few preconceptions. But I don't know you or your work well enough to make such a suggestion. If you took "and others" to mean you specifically, then I apologize.

Thank you for being a pleasant hostess. It is a rarity in this thing. To the extent that there are sides, it is a rarity all around.

As a matter of being equally courteous, I'm going to snip the rather lengthy response that I had prepared. I don't see the point in consuming your bandwidth.


I will make one modest point. The SP slate, as deplorable as all slates (open or whispered) are, is a response to a lack of courtesy. It could have been avoided if the literati had been mindful of the fact that the diverse world in which we live includes a fair number of people that honestly disagree with their perspective. Perhaps if the literati had remained focused on writing, editing, reading, and otherwise supporting the best SFF regardless of political content, then we wouldn't have this mess. Rule #1 should always be to write the best story one can. Let the chips fall where they may.

As a nod to GRRM, Eric Flint, and a few others, I will gladly acknowledge that there were/are non-political issues in play as well that many pro-SP folks seem quite willing to overlook.
Jun. 18th, 2015 10:29 am (UTC)
Thank you! And thank you for being courteous, too.
I'm British: I don't see a lot of the discussions that go on around the Hugos at cons, and I don't read about them that much either, as to me they are mainly a U.S. thing. I am aware of this because it came up with the voting at Loncon last year, which was in my country. So I can well believe there has been discourtesy and that is regrettable. I tend to believe that all fiction is political, but I also believe that there should be space for all perspectives. I don't always agree with the politics of, say, Poul Anderson, but I love his books!
Jun. 19th, 2015 11:22 pm (UTC)
I'm just a reader....not a writer.

And I readily agree with the need to allow all perspectives to be heard. One factor....and there are several in play, IMO....is that there are people in the literary/publishing world that are more supportive of authors/artists that reflect their admittedly leftist view of the world.

This has been a steady trend in the US for 40 years give or take across a broad range of fields and interests. The Hugo kerfuffle is just the signal of that regrettable trend finally reaching the SFF publishing end of things.
Jun. 20th, 2015 10:02 am (UTC)
I'm British, so I can't really speak to the US circumstances. And British ideas on politics tend to be rather different to US ones, too!
I'm with DAW, though, and while I don't read everything they publish -- not enough hours in the day! -- I think they have writers from right across the spectrum: Lisanne Norman, Edward Willett/E. C. Blake, C J Cherryh on the more conservative end of things (all great writers, too), to people like me on the left, and all sorts in between.
As I said, I like a mix.
Jun. 16th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yes! What you said.
In a fight getting angry and lashing out without being careful to pinpoint your response is giving your opponent a gift. Beale knows this very well and that's part of why he presents as so obnoxious. What Irene said was ill considered to downright foolish, but like the rest of you I will defend to the last her right to her own opinion.

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