Complaint About Term “Neo-Nazi” Results in Foz Meadows Post Moving from Black Gate to Amazing Stories

Black Gate published Foz Meadows’ analytical essay “Unempathic Bipeds of Failure: The Relationship Between Stories and Politics” (archived version) on December 7.

As it originally appeared, the post included these lines  —

For the past few years, the Sad and Rabid Puppies – guided by an actual neo-Nazi – have campaigned against what they perceive as the recent politicization of SFF as a genre, as though it’s humanly possible to write a story involving people that doesn’t have a political dimension; as though “political narrative” means “I disagreed with the premise or content, which makes it Wrong” and not “a narrative which contains and was written by people.”

Vox Day, who was not named in Meadows’ piece but is the subject of the linked We Hunted the Mammoth article, immediately published an objection to her “neo-Nazi” characterization, and asked Black Gate to remove it.

I have written to John O’Neill, my former editor at Black Gate, asking him to remove this false, malicious, and materially damaging libel directed at me, and by extension, the Sad and Rabid Puppies. As I was a long-time contributor to Black Gate, Mr. O’Neill knows perfectly well that I am neither a neo-Nazi nor a National Socialist, I have never been a neo-Nazi or a National Socialist, I do not belong to, or subscribe to the tenets of, the German National Socialist Workers Party or any subsequent facsimile, and I do not appreciate the libelous attempts of Ms Meadows, to publicly and falsely assert that I am “an actual neo-Nazi”.

On December 11, Black Gate truncated its version of Meadows’ post. What remains now are two introductory paragraphs and a link indicating the rest can be read at Amazing Stories. (The link is not yet operative, for reasons outlined below.)

Foz Meadows explained for File 770 the steps that led to her essay originally appearing on Black Gate:

I pitched John a piece about the relationship between politics and SFF back on November 14th; he expressed an interest, and I turned it in to him on December 8th. He read, approved and posted it to the site himself.

The day after it appeared, O’Neill wrote to Meadows discussing reaction to the post.

Checking my email, I found two missives from John on the subject. The first warned me that there was some ugliness about insults and doxing me in VD’s comment thread; he said he’d been getting threats from VD’s readers, that VD himself had sent a lengthy email demanding a retraction, and to let him know if I started getting harassed.

The second email was longer: as VD lives in the EU where there are laws about Nazi affiliations, John said, he (VD) was concerned that being called a neo-Nazi could have adverse legal consequences for him, and though John expressed his agreement with and support of what I’d written, he nonetheless didn’t want to risk Black Gate being the source of an actual legal difficulty for someone else. As such, he asked if I’d consider changing my wording as a personal favour to him. I didn’t want to do that for a number of reasons, not least because we’re at a point in history where refusing to acknowledge the neo-Nazism of the alt-right, with which VD is openly affiliated, is a major contributing factor to its normalisation. To me, this was a statement worth defending. VD denies being a misogynist while saying that women shouldn’t have the right to vote, denies being racist while spouting white supremacist dogma, and denies being homophobic while defining queerness as a defect and a moral failing: that he would additionally deny being a neo-Nazi while defending anti-Semitism and espousing xenophobic, ableist and ultranationalist views, among others, fits the established pattern of his behaviour. His dislike of the label doesn’t moot its applicability, and as I pointed out to John, I’m hardly the first person to call him one, whether online or off. John agreed again, but reiterated his preference that Black Gate not risk responsibility for getting someone else in legal trouble, however hypothetically.

O’Neill proposed several ideas for removing the controversy from Black Gate.

Initially, it was suggested that I could either change my wording in the piece and write a footnote explaining why, or else move it to my own blog with a link remaining at Black Gate. However, John also mentioned that Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories had contacted him in support of what I’d written and was willing to back me up on it, and would I consider transferring the unaltered piece to his site? After a further back and forth with both Steve and John, I agreed to that. However, owing to various emails getting caught in spam filters, there was a miscommunication about timing between Steve and John: Steve wanted to research and write a footnote of his own before posting the piece to Amazing Stories, while John assumed it was good to go. Hence the current state of affairs where the truncated version is up at Black Gate, but linking to a URL that hasn’t yet posted the rest.

Essentially, then the issue is this: a man who happily uses feminazi as an insult, gives commenters who think Nazis are preferable to feminists a space on his blog, and who has publicly said that people have a right to be anti-Semitic, thinks my calling him a neo-Nazi is both inaccurate to the point of being libelous and concrete enough to potentially get him in trouble. Rather ironic, really.

Meadows’ expects the essay to reappear before long at Amazing Stories.

Black Gate’s O’Neill published the essay without having committed to keep it online when the inevitable objection came. That one would be coming could be predicted based on Vox Day’s success in extracting apologies from Tor Books’ Tom Doherty and Irene Gallo  after Gallo referenced the Rabid Puppies as a neo-nazi group on Facebook in 2015.

141 thoughts on “Complaint About Term “Neo-Nazi” Results in Foz Meadows Post Moving from Black Gate to Amazing Stories

  1. @Mark – It’s really on the level of “I’m not fired because I quit!” isn’t it.

    Er, no. That’s much too adult. It’s more like “You’re not the boss of me.” My daughter first said that when she was two. By the time she was eight she was able to articulate why I wasn’t the boss of her. So, somewhere between those two ages.

    Why is it so heinous (and this is not a rhetorical question; I really am curious) to call a white supremacist/fascist/KKK wannabe or whatever a Neo-Nazi? It seems like trivial hairsplitting to insist on an exact term instead of a broad category and then to threaten with lawyers if someone casually uses the broader rather than your preferred term.

  2. @Cheryl S: Because for many folks on the political right, “Nazi”, not to mention “racist” and “fascist”, are not tools for describing things in the universe. They are just incantations to be used against one’s enemies to cause them injury, like “Crucio”.

    Observe how the word “fascist” is used on the Web site of National Review, one of the leading neoconservative magazines in the US.

  3. @Cheryl S

    If someone reported that a foot was petulantly stomped while he was saying it, I wouldn’t disbelieve them 🙂

    Unfortunately “trivial hairsplitting” is one of his favorite things, because it allows him to grandstand everyone into exhaustion.

  4. @Andrew Hickey: No it doesn’t. He’s a Nazi, plain and simple, and the evidence for that is every single thing he’s ever said or done.

    If we go that route, then every misogynistic, racist, white supremacist, and authoritarian guy would be a nazi – which is not the case. Instead, it helps them generate fake outrage, call themselves victims, and makes it harder for us to recognise modern fascist tendencies.

    It’s simply poor tactics.

    @Aaron: There is plenty of evidence for Beale’s adherence to Nazi ideology. His “alt-right” manifesto espouses every major Nazi policy.

    Does it? Real-world nazism was stridently anti-Christian. It was strictly Germanic, while Beale’s manifesto more appears to be positive to all sorts of different forms of nationalism (and thus can not in and of itself be fascist, even though it might inspire actual fascists).

    Like I said to Andrew, we already have plenty of accurate terms that can be used to factually describe Beale, without having to hang “nazi” onto him as well.

  5. Real-world nazism was stridently anti-Christian.

    From what I understand, it was as Christian as any government the US has had – which is to say, it claimed to be Christian. I know this is an area that has been muddied a lot by both anti-religious and religious types, so I’m not entirely certain, but I know that Hitler at least at times claimed Germany was a Christian nation.

  6. I would also add that, despite protestations to the contrary, Beale is stridently anti-Christian.

  7. @Seth Gordon, well, that was an unpleasant rabbit hole to fall into. I now believe up is breakfast and orange is the new bicycle. I’ve also doubled my capacity for cognitive dissonance, which might prove to be useful over the next few years.

    @Mark, my kid wasn’t a foot stomper, but she did get really red in the face on a regular basis. My imaginings could go either way.

    @Karl-Johan Noren, why should anyone be concerned with the exact hairsplitting necessary to put Neo-Nazis here and garden variety neo-fascists there? Or the temper tantrums that ensue from a lack of exactitude?

    I mean, I sort of get it. I do not like be called “a female,” although I’m certainly female. However, it’s not like I can litigate to avoid anyone using an article when describing me.

  8. you know, at Nuremberg, they didn’t fall for this line of logic. It was no excuse to have been “just following orders”, and when your little child declares one day that they are no longer to be referred to as Tommy or Sally, but should instead be addressed as Prince or Princess BoatyMcBoatface, you smile indulgently and wait for the moment when they no longer want to be addressed that way, preferably in front of all of their friends, and you accede to their demands, without relent or interruption.
    Of course, they’re able to laugh about it…years later…but they’re still embarasse

  9. I think Popehat has previous form in laughing at T Beale. I suspect he’d be happy to assist in arranging legal defense (not that I think it will come to that)

    Be interesting which court he files suit in, assuming he does – he can’t do it in the US as he’d have to appear, which would bring the IRS in to play, and filing in Italy would bring his pronouncements more into the light, which probably wouldn’t be a good idea, as discussed above.

    Though actually being organized enough to file a lawsuit would be more of a concrete outcome than most of Beale’s failed/failing ventures.

  10. @Mike – RE: “MODERATOR’S ANNOUNCEMENT:”

    Cripes. Don’t think I want to know what twere the posts that didn’t make it past moderation.

    @Camestros

    *[for the record I don’t think Vox is a neo-Nazi. A misogynistic crypto-Fascist who pushes anti-Semitic propaganda and who likes to celebrate violent extremist murderers and supports men sexually assaulting members of their family but maybe not a neo-Nazi]

    The “all but in name” definition?

  11. snowcrash on December 13, 2016 at 5:01 pm said:

    The “all but in name” definition?

    An inconsistent commitment to terminological exactitude 🙂
    He is not a neo-Nazi in the same way a submarine is not a ship.

  12. @Bob K:

    either Beale has made anti-Semitic comments or he has not.

    To resolve your obviously painful doubts on the matter, please read Teddy’s blog post of August 4th 2014.

    Happy now?

    Somehow, I doubt it.

  13. I’ve seen those belt buckles.
    Which “Gott” did Adolf consider “mit uns”?
    Maybe he was pedantically splitting hairs too.

  14. I think those focusing on saying VD isn’t a Neo Nazi due to this one particular trait or those particular words VD may or may not have or said or maybe doesn’t perfectly align with whatever definition of Neo Nazi you agree is the definition are in danger of losing sight of the forest for the trees. Is the kind of bigotry and social harm that we refer to as Nazism the sort of thing that you can be close but not cross this line or that line and it somehow makes any sort of meaningful difference to the overall harm that person is causing or to their support of the concepts of Nazism? Can we agree that whatever degree matters to you for the abstract purposes of using a term or not, that he’s way past close enough in all the ways that matter in the real world? We’ve been talking a lot about how bigots often try to downplay their actions/words by denying labels that they know are considered to represent a degree of socially unacceptablility that they are keen to avoid – I think we should take care not to feed into those efforts even by accident or coincidence.

  15. Kip – point to you for connecting the dots, those poor larches! And it frustrates me that they tried to cut down the trees instead of just adding more larches to change the swastika into a blob. The larch is such an amazing tree, one of the few conifers to turn colours and drop their needles in the fall, we have some local versions called tamaracks around here and they are gorgeous especially up in the Rockies, makes me sad to see it used this way sigh.

  16. As a resident of Italy. I would have thought Vox Dei would be more worried about being called a Facist than a Nazi. Aren’t Italy’s laws aimed at repressing the fascism that bedevilled its past? To me it seems that being ables to claim instead that one was a National Socialist would be exactly the sort of dick move, I mean, useful cover Vox would take.

  17. Simeon Beresford on December 14, 2016 at 5:04 am said:

    As a resident of Italy. I would have thought Vox Dei would be more worried about being called a Facist than a Nazi. Aren’t Italy’s laws aimed at repressing the fascism that bedevilled its past? To me it seems that being ables to claim instead that one was a National Socialist would be exactly the sort of dick move, I mean, useful cover Vox would take

    I would have to check the text of the law, but no. If for no other reason than that the latest incarnation of Mussolini’s regime was the puppet state of the Republic of Salo’ which he founded after being freed by the Germans from imprisonment. The Republic of Salo’ enthusiastically supported the Reich and its anti-Semitic policies, and started rounding up and carting off Italians of Jewish descent, most of whom never came back.

    There are actually three different pieces of legislation regarding this: one of them is Title XII of the Italian Constitution, which forbids the reconstitution of the Fascist Party, the second one is the so called Legge Scelba, which is the executive degree of the above, and institutes the crime of “apology of fascism”; it covers both the National Fascist Party, the Republican Fascist Party, and the National Socialist Party of German Workers, aka the Nazi Party itself. The third one is a later law that is today the chief way to prosecute hate crimes in Italy (Italy doesn’t have a hate crime law, which is a hot topic right now) and prohibits and prosecutes propaganda in favour of ethnic, racial, or other kind of discrimination, and the instigation of acts thereof. This is the so called Legge Marino. And TB definitely falls foul of it, whether or NOT he is a neo-Nazi or any other kind of Nazi.

  18. Wikipedia article unfortunately only available in Italian.

    Of course, like with many things in Italy, the severity of our laws is tempered only by their application, meaning that there are parties in the Italian Parliament who also fall foul of this law.

  19. And it frustrates me that they tried to cut down the trees instead of just adding more larches to change the swastika into a blob.

    Kind of depends how fast they wanted it to change.

  20. Oh Monty Python, I had a silly walks poster on my bedroom door as a teenager and made a dedicated effort to tape every episode played on PBS years ago on our ancient (even back then) vcr ha ha

    “Father was Home Secretary and mother won the Derby.” lolol

    Kurt – typical human response to a problem involving nature: try for a quick fix that backfires instead of a long term solution that actually works with nature’s nature, not against it. Like Australia’s cane toad problem, for example * sad chuckle*

  21. The fact that publicly displaying the swastika is illegal in Germany might have played into the decision to cut the trees down. Plus, they might well have feared that the swastika forest would become a pilgrimage site for Neo-Nazis. Rural East Germany such as the area where the forest was located has a higher concentration of those, so I can see why they wouldn’t want to attract even more.

    That said, I also think they should have come up with a different solution than cutting down the trees or at least not all of them.

  22. I also think they should have come up with a different solution than cutting down the trees or at least not all of them.

    They didn’t cut them all down. It’s explained at the link.

  23. @Camestros – wonderful

    An inconsistent commitment to terminological exactitude ?
    He is not a neo-Nazi in the same way a submarine is not a ship.

    @Anna Feruglio – thanks for that information!

    And, via sources close to the issue, this from the AP:

    “Usage
    “Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or “so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement says about itself.
    Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.
    EmPHAsis added to the last section.
    Haven’t hit the post yet today….

  24. @Steve Davidson

    I know nothing, I’m afraid, but the advice above about trying Ken White of Popehat stands – I know he’s previously put people in contact with relevant lawyers in the UK and other EU countries for speech cases.

  25. Italy arrested, tried, convicted and jailed scientists who failed to predict an earthquake. It’s a very silly country.

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