No More Memory Holes

So remember how Sasquan decided that even though Lou Antonelli violated their Code of Conduct they weren’t going to enforce the Code of Conduct because David Gerrold didn’t want them to?  Turns out that Gerrold wasn’t the only one feeling harassed and intimidated–and he wasn’t the only one to report it.

Meg Frank, the Events Deputy Division Head also reported same against Lou Antonelli and was told by the head of operations, Robbie Bourget, that she had not been harassed and one of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt her into backing down.  Instead of backing down, Meg Frank resigned a week before the convention.  Frank has provided a PDF of emails to back up her assertions.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not.  Here are a some screencaps from the Journeymen of Fandom group on Facebook in which it is clear that Robbie Bourget sees the rehabilitation of offenders back into community as a higher priority than attendee safety:

bourget 1

bourget 2

And here’s Glenn Glazer defending Robbie Bourget when she comes in for some criticism in the same thread. He is clearly putting his personal alliances and friendships over that of the convention. If he doesn’t know you, your opinion and experience are irrelevant.

glazer 1

Edited to add: If you’re interested in the full context: Facebook discussion.  If you’re not Facebook-enabled: screencap (right click and open in a new tab/window). Since someone was complaining about that (screencap–again, right click, open in new tab/window).

Oh, but Sasquan is over and done with! There isn’t anything to be upset about!

Not true.  Both these individuals are heavily involved in con-running and they have the potential to sidetrack and hijack the enforcement of Codes of Conduct in favor of offender rehabilitation in the future.  Robbie Bourget was co-chair of Anticipation, the last Worldcon held in Montreal (note her co-chair). And this is what she had to say in 2012 on the SMOFS mailing list on the subject of harassment and codes of conduct (click to embiggen):

And lest we forget, someone just last year thought this was appropriate to send to the the Sasquan mailing list when they were trying to figure out what their Code of Conduct should be–that someone felt that they could send this to the mailing list speaks to the general mindset of the organizers (click to embiggen):

sasquan mailing list harassment

 

So, yeah. This is a thing. I have no idea how to remedy it except that we can’t keep letting these incidents be forgotten. We can’t be complacent and we can’t pretend that there’s no responsibility to the membership outside of legal requirements. I do recognize and understand that running a convention is a lot of work and is often thankless. But the safety of the members should be one of the top priorities of the convention committee and I simply cannot understand why–so often–it isn’t.

No more memory holes.

Alternate Timeline Hugo Awards

hugo-poop

I think the voters sent a pretty clear message last night on the subject of slates: NOPE.

Wired has a pretty good write-up of the evening.

But, of course, since both faction of Puppies have goalpost moving as one of their main hobbies, they’re claiming this is some sort of victory for them.  I do not think that word means what you think it means.

I

Here’s the full results–you can see that no award was given out in five categories. This is unprecedented in the history of the awards.

That’s all well and good and I’m glad this is how things turned out last night.

One of the things that happens after the ceremony is that all the statistics are released. Including nominating ballots.  And if you look at those, you can see the ballot that we probably would have happened if a minority of people in our community hadn’t decided to nominate via slate.

This is that ballot (to the best of my ability and ignoring the 5% rule).

Best Novel

Best Novella

Best Novelette

Best Short Story

Best Related Work

Best Graphic Story

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Honestly, I can’t figure out how this category would have gone without Puppy influence–Guardians of the Galaxy certainly would have been nominated regardless, and I can’t see that some of the others wouldn’t have been, either.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who: “Listen”
  • Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Been Tried Yet”
  • Agents of Shield: “Turn, Turn, Turn”
  • Game of Thrones: “The Lion and the Rose”
  • The Legend of Korra: “The Last Stand”

Best Editor, Short Form

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Beth Meacham
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Lee Harris
  • Anne Perry

Best Professional Artist

  • Julie Dillon
  • John Picacio
  • Galen Dara
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • Chris McGrath

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

Best Fancast

Best Fan Writer

  • Laura J. Mixon
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Liz Bourke
  • Natalie Luhrs
  • Mark Oshiro

Best Fan Artist

This was the only category which had no slate nominees.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

  • Wesley Chu
  • Andy Weir
  • Alyssa Wong
  • Carmen Marchado
  • Django Wexler

This would have been a very different ballot and one that was both interesting and exciting, particularly in the short fiction categories. There’s so much good work here, work that I am genuinely excited about and work that really shows the direction the genre is heading–not just reflecting where it’s been. It’s a shame that were weren’t able to recognize and celebrate these works and their creators for the last four months.

(I am also very grateful to the 76 people who nominated me. That means a lot, thank you. Maybe next year? We’ll see what happens.)

Hugo Awards Drinking Game

hugo-poopNow, I know that Jason Sanford has already posted one, but certainly our field is large and diverse enough to contain more than one Hugo Awards Drinking Game (drink!).  So, in that spirit, here is my rendition of the theme.

As in years past, there will be live video streaming of the awards ceremony. More information on ways to keep up with the awards ceremony can be found at the official site.

Interpret “drink” however you’d like: in the hope of saving my liver, I’m going to be conservative in my interpretation.

Take a drink every time:

Take two drinks every time:

  • A Sad Puppy wins a Hugo Award.
  • David Gerrold makes a joke about Lou Antonelli’s slo-mo SWATting of the convention.
  • Someone refers to “politcs” or “controversies” or “puppies”.
  • Someone equates editorial control or being vigorously disagreed with to censorship.
  • A dead white male writer is held up as the gold standard of SFF writing.

Take as many drinks as you need to dull the pain:

  • A Rabid Puppy wins a Hugo Award.

Alternate drinking games:

Feel free to make additional suggestions in the comments.

Some Members are More Equal than Others

Broken letters
The Executive Committee of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, would like to address the matter of actions taken by Mr. Lou Antonelli with regards to one of our Guests of Honor, Mr. David Gerrold.

The statement continues on from there–the Executive Committee decided to turn the matter over to the Operations Head, Robbie Bourget, who did determine that Lou Antonelli did, in fact, violate Sasquan’s Code of Conduct. This conclusion was “inescapable”, according to the official statement.

And yet. Lou Antonelli has not been banned from Sasquan, even though that was the original decision of Operations.

Why not? Because Lou Antonelli apologized to David Gerrold and the apology was accepted and because Gerrold asked Sasquan not to ban him.

…and this is where I kind of lose it because Sasquan has publicly stated that Lou Antonelli violated their Code of Conduct to the point where they believed  a ban was in order but they’re letting him come anyhow on a single member’s say-so. Gerrold may be a Guest of Honor, but that doesn’t give him the right to have this sort of power; Sasquan can take his request under advisement, but they are responsible to the entire convention membership and that should be their primary concern. (Laura Resnick lays this out a lot better than I can in the comments at File 770.)

One of Gerrold’s quoted reasons is that Antonelli “deserves” to be able to attend the Hugo Awards because he’s a nominee.

The message I’m getting from Sasquan is that if you apologize enough, if you can convince the person you’ve harassed into accepting your apology, and if you’ve been nominated for an award, Codes of Conduct don’t apply to you. Especially if you’ve promised to be on your very best behavior and not do it again.  Because it’s not like you don’t have a track record of wildly overreacting to perceived slights and then behaving abusively.

We’ve all heard some variation of this over the last few years as more and more people have spoken up about the harassment and abuse they’ve endured at science fiction conventions.  Someone with an inflated sense of his own importance deliberately steps over the line, is called to account, and then they manage to not face consequences for their actions. At least not initially. In the cases of Readercon and Wiscon, there were eventually consequences for René Walling and Jim Frenkel. But it took a lot of work–mostly work by women and non-binary people–to make those consequences happen.

Sasquan, instead of making their convention safe for every member has, instead, made it safer for just one: Lou Antonelli.

Pattern Matching: Lou Antonelli and the Sad Puppies

Pattern (broken)

One of the things I do is match patterns. I’ve noticed a troubling pattern when it comes to the Sad Puppies and I think it’s worth exploring in more detail.

I apologize for the messiness of the timeline, I’ve tried to be as concise as possible.

Lou Antonelli revealed during a podcast that he has sent a letter to the Spokane police regarding what he believed to be the dangerous and unhinged nature of David Gerrold’s discourse around the Hugo Awards. Jim C. Hines posted to Facebook about it about a week after the podcast went live (I think that’s where this got started, I may be wrong).

What Antonelli did was SWATting and is a known GamerGate tactic.

This isn’t the first time Antonelli has tried to intimidate someone over the Hugos. He threatened Aaron Pound via email because Pound called him an asshole on Twitter (note: Pound is a friend of mine and I saw the email in question shortly after it was received). Antonelli took the time to look up Pound’s work email address–which is not connected to any social media–and threaten him. He also called Pound’s workplace to confirm his employment. 

Fast forward to this past weekend. People start calling Antonelli out for the fact that he’d contacted the police, as well they should. That’s unacceptable behavior.  This moved him to apologize to David Gerrold.

Good for him! He apologized as a comment on Hines’s post. Got lots of praise for it! No apology on his public Facebook and I don’t believe he made a public apology directly to David Gerrold.  Nonetheless, Gerrold accepted this apology. But Gerrold also took some of the blame for Antonelli’s actions on himself and called for civility.

See, there’s that word. Civility.  Some people will never be civil enough for their (our) voices to count. Gerrold does not get to decree how we discuss or don’t discuss this incident.

In between Hines’s post, the ensuing discussion, and Antonelli’s apology to Gerrold, another thing happened.  Carrie Cuinn, editor of Lakeside Circus, decided to kill a piece she’d accepted from Antonelli. She even offered to pay a kill fee.

Antonelli decided to post this to his Facebook as a cautionary tale (linked instead of embedded because it’s a large image, right click and open in new tab to defeat the pop-up thingy). Note the complete lack of moderation in the thread. Note the editing of Cuinn’s letter. Note the further information in Cuinn’s post linked above–she received rape and death threats as a result of Antonelli’s action.

His initial response–made yesterday before Cuinn posted in more detail today–was a mealy-mouthed plea to his followers and friends to knock it off:

It wasn’t until after it became clear that Antonelli’s actions were unacceptable to the larger community, that he actually apologized to Carrie Cuinn.  It’s still unconvincing at best and is mostly self-serving.

Have you noticed the common thread in these retractions and apologies? They’re all about Lou Antonelli and they’ve all been made after he’s gotten a fair bit of heat for his behavior. Lou Antonelli is an adult human being who has, thus far, made it to his fifties successfully: has he not learned to think before he speaks?

If Hines hadn’t noticed the SWATting in the podcast and posted about it, would Antonelli have retracted and apologized? (I’d like to see evidence that he did retract his letter to Spokane PD.) Or would he still be pleased with the approval of his fellow Sad Puppies?  You’ll note that the main thing that Antonelli seems to be sorry about is that people found out what he’d done (nevermind that he boasted about it on a public podcast). If it hasn’t been, I bet you anything he’d still be proud of himself.

I think it bears emphasizing that by making a false report to police about David Gerrold, Lou Antonelli placed every single attending member of Worldcon in danger. This is reprehensible. The fact that David Gerrold forgave Antonelli for this is between the two of them; Gerrold does not get to accept Antonelli’s apology on behalf of the rest of the convention membership and to its staff and volunteers.

Making a knowingly false report to police is a crime in many jurisdictions.

The “knock it off” post is more of the same–after selectively editing Cuinn’s email before posting it and after allowing his friends and followers to impugn Cuinn’s business acumen and editorial integrity, he starts with more weasel words: “If anyone I know out there is contacting Carrie Cuinn…”  That’s not an acknowledgement that he’s behaved poorly. This is distancing himself from the actions of the people he has chosen to associate himself with as well as implying that he’ll be unable to publish anything in the future, either.  He’s the victim here–except this is all his doing.

Finally, let’s look at Antonelli’s actual apology.  Again, he didn’t know what he was doing–he thought people would applaud Cuinn’s actions, not go after her. He’s innocent in all of this, he doesn’t know people, he doesn’t have the connections that other people do–except he’s managed to get himself nominated for a Hugo, so maybe he does know some people?

This is a pattern of behavior for him.  He behaved abominably when questioned during his run for SFWA office in 2012–and after behaving abominably, apologized and had the apology accepted (at least for a while). After losing the election, he went on to form an alternative speculative writer’s group, SASS, which is a non-profit and accepts money for memberships but seems to be little more than a vanity project for Antonelli.

His modus operandi seems to be to incite an incident or seek one out, become abusive in some manner, and then only apologize if the target is high profile enough or if enough high profile people notice that he’s being abusive. His apology will contain a lot of language that deflects responsibility for his actions off him and onto other people or communities. Lather, rinse, repeat.  If he goes after you and you don’t make noise about it or if someone doesn’t make noise on your behalf, or if you’re not particularly high profile, you’re not going to get even an attempt at an apology.

I observe that Antonelli isn’t the only Sad Puppy who plays at this game. Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Brad Torgersen do, too. They argue in bad faith and cast themselves as the victims when called out on their terrible behavior. And in this most recent incident, Antonelli has escalated and upped the ante.

Honestly, I don’t know where to go from here. You’re supposed to end these sorts of essays with a call for action. I think I’ll end this with an email I received from someone who spent some time in a couple of rooms adjacent to Antonelli at Armadillocon recently.

A man I’d never seen before walks up to Antonelli and congratulates him on his nomination. This guy wasn’t very tall, maybe 5’9″ tops, but he had one of those big booming Texas male voices that fills a room. It was impossible not to hear him, and honestly, he didn’t care who in the room did hear. He wasn’t hiding anything.

And he starts talking to Antonelli about how well this year’s puppy campaign turned out, and how plans were well underway for next year. Strange puppy did most of the talking, but Antonelli wasn’t arguing with him or trying to send him away. There was an obligatory slam against the SJW scum getting their comeuppance, and someone arrived to have Antonelli sign something. Strange puppy wandered away.

[…]

Fast forward to the Hugo panel on Saturday night and a packed room. Panelists were Antonelli, mod Michelle Munzler, editor Jacob Weisman, Justin Landon, and Marguerite Reed. The mod deserves a medal for keeping things as civil as they were.

So Antonelli is outnumbered and he knows it. He plays the humble card, the “I didn’t know what the puppies were up to” card, the yeah, maybe I got the nomination the wrong way but I wasn’t going to turn it down card. Because of the conversation I’d heard–steam was coming out of my ears. I knew he was lying through his teeth.

Marguerite Reed doesn’t pull any punches. She let him do the humble bit for a few minutes and asked him flat out, if he’d said the following: “In a time when typical literary s-f is dystopian slipstream pornography, it’s nice to be reminded that there is still core s-f out there.”

And Antonelli’s face…changed. The kindly, slightly embarrassed grandfather vanished, replaced by this calculating, sly…evil looking man. He looked Marguerite Reed in the eye and said “A man’s entitled to his opinion.”

For me that was really chilling and an eye opener. In that split second it was very clear he hated her, hated me, you–all of us. He didn’t have to know us, or to have read a single thing any of us had written. To Lou Antonelli we are all part of some vast conspiracy that keeps men like him, men who write real SF, from getting the acclaim he feels they so justly deserve. He hated us solely because we existed, and we dare to think ourselves his equal.

If I had any doubts that what I’d felt then was a misinterpretation, this blog post he wrote three days ago put them to rest.

You can’t reason with that kind of unthinking, blind hatred. You can’t change their minds, or try to be friends with any of the puppies, because for them–not you, them–it’s an all or nothing proposition. It’s not a difference of opinion, or taste in choosing what to read or nominate for an award, it’s ideology. The only thing that would EVER be good enough for them would be for you become a true believer.

Then they’d find a way to beat you up over it, because […] was right. They are abusers and they glory in it.

That, I think, sums it up. The Sad Puppies–and their Rabid counterparts–are abusers. They don’t think anyone but themselves belongs in SFF and some of them are willing to go to absolute extremes to ensure this.

I think there’s only one way to counter this–and that’s by continuing to work to make SFF a larger and more inclusive community, a community where abuse is not tolerated either implicitly or explicitly, one where we work to raise everyone’s voice and call out problems as we see them. And, most importantly: one in which we read and write awesome stories that celebrate and explore all the weird and wonderful ways it is to be human.

Edited to add this screencap of Antonelli’s Facebook, where all sorts of people are enabling him and telling him he doesn’t need to apologize for anything (as before, right click and open in new window/tab to defeat the pop up thingy).