Samuel Collingwood Smith of the Matthew Hopkins – The Witchfinder Generalblog (“We aim to expose corruption and terrorise the guilty without worrying too much about due process”), who has already published two articles about the Baen’s Bar situation and bragged about his efforts to harass Sanford by contacting his employer, now has added a toxic third piece to the series.
The post (which can be found here [Internet Archive link]) deconstructs one of Sanford’s recently-published short stories (here) as the pretext for applying a familiar tactic from the right-wing playbook — suggesting the victim is somehow linked to pedophilia. The title of the post does not warrant quoting, but this excerpt shows that Smith will be taking another run at getting Sanford in trouble with his employer:
…As such it is extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant reading. It is disturbing that a reputable organisation like the Ohio News Media Association (ONMA) would associate with this man, or that a magazine such as Interzone would give him such prominent treatment….
(Interzone published an all-Sanford theme issue in 2010.)
Yesterday Smith had prepared the way for his current article with an inquiry on the DisCon III (2021 Worldcon) Facebook group asking where he should send “an urgent safeguarding concern” about an unnamed “male individual.”
And when given directions, he made the following thuggish reply:
Then today, Smith dropped a link to his blog post in the DisCon III group.
Eric Flint’s 4,800-word “The Controversy About Baen’s Bar” recites a great deal of his personal history as a socialist political activist in the service of deflecting criticism from Baen’s Bar. He even confidently gives assurances about activity in one of its conferences that he says he hasn’t read in two decades. Nothing to see here.
…It is in the nature of jackasses to be jackasses. This is supposed to be shocking news because it’s posted on a virtual bulletin board?
Perhaps my favorite of Sanford’s Oh, my God! moments is this one by a never-heard-of-him who uses the monicker of Theoryman: “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy… And the Left lives in cities.”
I have to make a confession here. Although he doesn’t specify in most cases where he found these comments, I’m pretty sure that Sanford found them in one of the many conferences in Baen’s Bar—the one that goes by the title “Politics.”
I stopped visiting “Politics” about… oh, I dunno. Twenty-three ago? The reason I did is because, as Darth Vader would say, “The stupid is strong with these ones.” I don’t mind arguing with people who disagree with me. But I refuse to waste my time getting into debates with people so dumb I don’t know how they tie their own shoes in the morning. And that’s pretty much the nature of the wrangles in “Politics.” As far as I’m concerned, the conference might as well have a sign over the entrance reading Here Be Dimwits and People Who Imagine Themselves to be Dragons.
Take a look at what Sanford considers an “incitement to violence.” Can it be called that? Well… I suppose—if you’re willing to grant that Theoryman is such an imbecile that he actually believes that “rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy.” [sic]
Well, not much to see here –
…This is the “great menace of Baen’s Bar” that Sanford yaps about. A handful of people—okay, two handfuls, tops—most of whom you have never heard of, who spout absolute twaddle. Yes, a fair amount of it is violent-sounding twaddle, but the violence is of a masturbatory nature.
If only there was a way to tell the spouters who don’t mean it from the ones who show up on January 6 to riot at the Capitol, assault cops, take selfies while they vandalize the building, and try to stop Constitutional duties from being carried out.
Flint contends that even the ones caught doing explicit advocacy, like Tom Kratman, somehow don’t count either:
…If Sanford thinks that a few authors like Kratman are the ones who define Baen as a publishing house, he has the obligation to make a case for it. But he makes no effort to do so. Instead, he ignores most of Baen’s authors altogether and simply asserts that what he says is true because he says it’s true….
…Point 3 — It’s “popular” for people to attack others without fear of recourse or repercussions. Now, for those of us not with our heads firmly up our backsides, we know Baen Books is a publisher with a lot of resources who publishes a lot of varied individuals, from die-hard communists like Eric Flint to Tom Kratman, who might be described as being right of Atilla the Hun on the political spectrum. Jim Baen never cared what your politics were, as long as you could tell a good story. The writer of said article (“investigative journalism” my left buttock) created an account, went onto the Bar, and decided to find the best statements he could in order to use it to bolster his claim that the Bar is a hotbed for far-right extremism. Never mind the fact that the Bar hosts like five groups dedicated to Eric Flint or his collected universes (it might be six now, I don’t know). Our intrepid (so brave, much brave) journalist needed meat for his article (he probably went into Kratman’s forum… even I think those guys are nuts).
Eric Flint’s socialism doesn’t preclude there being Baen’s Bar participants approving violence and coaching insurrection in Baen’s Bar. Or even have anything to do with it. Again, it’s presented here as an attempt to deflect attention.
…If it were just the puppy kickers fighting for relevance, it would be one thing. But it’s not. This is a coordinated attack.
Which, btw, makes it mathematically inevitable that yes, they’ll come for me and you too. Because the left — idiot children that they are — think that cutting off a man’s tongue shows his opinions to be invalid.
So, as irritated as I am and have been at Baen for four years, I’m turning that irritation on the left for making me defend them.
Because cancelling is not only wrong. It’s unmaking civilization. And only the idiot sheep of the left wouldn’t see that….
Cedar Sandersons’s defense, “Baen Books” begins with extensive quotes from Hoyt, followed by her own nostalgic reminiscences about Baen’s Bar.
Anyone who has read my blog or who knows me, knows of my deep and abiding affection for Baen’s Bar, which led me to Baen Books. This week, a ham-handed and libelous attack was made on the forum….
Two other responses were reported by File 770 yesterday —
…It is mildly amusing to see the moderates, a few of whom didn’t hesitate to join the SJWs in pointing-and-shrieking at us, now coming under the same sort of attacks that we’ve been weathering for years. I hasten to point out that Larry Correia is most certainly not one of them, as he has always been a stand-up champion of everyone on the Right and he has disdained every invitation to denounce and disavow both the Rabid Puppies and me. He may not embrace the conflict as we do, but he fights. I have nothing but respect and regard for the man, because the Mountain is not my personal army. The VFM are….
An article to steel the resolve and cure the blindness of anyone unwary enough to underestimate the remorseless malice of the enemy, now comes a column at Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International Website.
Please note the attack was coordinated, using the “Chinese Whisper” techniques beloved by bitter and wrinkle-faced gossipy hags and bloodthirsty communist agitators alike….
Jon Del Arroz, in a kind of unintentional comic relief, spent the day successfully using sock puppets to bait Larry Correia into giving him a great deal more attention, both at Monster Hunter Nation and on Twitter, which is all JDA ever wants anyway.
WILL WEISSKOPF REMAIN A WORLDCON GOH? The DisCon III committee will meet this weekend to discuss “the situation with Baen Books’ forums.”
The range of reactions is as wide as the cultural divide. Here are two articulate examples:
JASON SANFORD. Sanford, meanwhile, is weathering a growing storm of harassment.He sent this status:
I took my Twitter and Facebook pages private for a while because I’m dealing with a serious escalation of harassment over the Baen article. I can’t go into details right now but the harassment is serious.
I’ll probably be offline for a bit to deal with this stuff. However, I just saw Eric Flint’s essay attacking me and I wanted to say I disagree with what he wrote, which was a misrepresentation of my report. Everything I wrote about was based on facts and actual comments in the forum. I even shared screenshots of the comments on social media.
This also wasn’t a coordinated attack on Baen. Hell, aside from a couple of people who gave feedback on my report no one else knew it was even about to publish.
Facts and evidence matter, as does reporting what goes on in our genre. I presented what was being said on Baen’s forum in my report. Baen has previously moderated their forum and could easily do so again.
What is it we do at Baen Books? We publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.
Science fiction has traditionally been a unique kind of intellectual pleasure, a process of glorious intercommunication and inspiration, with ideas flowing from scientist and engineer to writer and artist, to reader and viewer, back and forth, in a delightful mélange of shared thoughts, wild speculation, cautionary tales, reality checks, and the sheer fun of playing with boundaries and ideas. It is not for everyone. But those who enjoy it, take great pleasure in the dialogue.
When the modern form of SF began, with Hugo Gernsback and the other pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the publishers fostered that interaction through letter columns in the magazines and by encouraging science fiction readers to organize in clubs and meet in conventions. Baen Books continued that tradition with Baen’s Bar, a kind of virtual convention and on-line conversation that has been around in some form for over 20 years.
The moderators are volunteers. The readers, editors, and writers post and interact on the Bar at their own desire. Some conversations have been gone over so many times, they’ve been retired as simply too boring to contemplate again. Sometimes the rhetoric can get heated. We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.
That said, it has come to our attention that allegations about the Bar have been made elsewhere. We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.
It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes. Similarly, the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.
Most sincerely, Toni Weisskopf Publisher
Jason Sanford tweeted an update thread responding to Weisskopf’s statement and contesting some of her claims. Thread starts here.
DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon at which Toni Weisskopf will be a guest of honor, answered calls for a statement with this tweet:
… It was lots of pearl clutching over regular people not toeing their arbitrary political lines, misquotes, errors, quotes taken out of context, and some flat out lies.
However, he declined to challenge any specific quotes cited by Sanford:
…I’m not going to talk about the moronic loser or go through all the nonsense in his ridiculous hit piece. Other people are going through it now and carefully cataloging his bullshit. In typical leftist fashion he’s already pretending to be the victim and claiming he’s getting death threats. Maybe he can get in touch with Anita Sarkesian and Arthur Chu for tips.
Correia urged readers to believe what is happening is a “coordinated attack,” that Sanford’s article is being used as the basis for complaints made to Baen’s internet service providers, and Baen’s Bar was temporarily taken down to “protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.”
…However, this was clearly part of a coordinated attack in order to materially harm our business, because immediately after the hit piece was released complaints were filed with the various internet companies Baen uses for services to pressure them into kicking us off the internet. This hit piece was presented as “evidence”. Without going into details the companies then contacted Baen about these “serious allegations” so last night Baen temporarily took down the Bar forum to protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.
…However, lying hit pieces from lefty activists aren’t anything new. We’re used to those. The real issue here is the complaints to the internet companies so they’ll deplatform anyone who doesn’t fall in line. The woke left saw what Big Tech did to Parler and they learned from it. This is a new weapon in their arsenal to beat America over the head with. The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.
Correia then assured readers that Baen’s Bar did not deserve this attention.
…The Bar isn’t a hotbed of extremism. It’s not a hotbed of anything. It’s an old forum that was mostly kept around because of tradition. It was created at the dawn of internet forums. I haven’t used it in years (I had already built up my online presence elsewhere when I started writing for them). But that isn’t the point. Anything that can be a target, will eventually be a target. They’re coming for your business next.
And naturally it took the MHI commentariat all of an hour to test the theory that Baen’s capitulated, reject that in favor of it being a coordinated attack by The Left (complete with the problematic content really being false-flag posts by Seekrit Leftist Infiltrators), assert that this is really about smashing Baen into nonexistence by denying them distribution, denounce such coordinated attacks as despicable lefty tactics, and finally call for a coordinated attack on Sanford’s Patreon account.
… But there is no way in hell that the Barflies, as they are affectionately known, are advocating for political violence. Opinions are expressed, especially in the politics forum, and tempers are running high on both sides of our current political divide, so there’s a certain degree of venting. And there are a surprising number of historians, who can be relied upon to summon up historical examples to back their points. And there are heaps of independent thinkers, who aren’t going to hew to any particular party’s line and can be trusted to step upon any sore political toes in the vicinity. And there are quite a lot of veterans, who know what violence is REALLY like — unlike the vast majority of people who are currently hyperventilating about it in this country — which means the LAST THING they would want would be to instigate violence that is anything except defensive.
… Baen Books is frequently characterized as a “right wing publisher.” That’s as stupid as the notion that the Barflies are plotting a violent coup….
To refresh readers’ memories, immediately after the January 6 insurrection Baen author Tom Kratman made an extended comment on the next move in his Baen’s Bar author forum which began:
So where do Trump and the nation go from here?
He needs to do three things; start his own news channel, start his own party, and start his own well-armed militia as part of the party.
The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high. The militia will be heavily infiltrated; this is a given. No matter; it will not be there for any purpose but to present a serious threat of major combat, and the shame of defeat, and the reality of death, to the tactical elements, police and military, that may be used against the party.
It ought to be made clear that, “I can start the civil war with a stamp of my foot. I’ve refrained, so far, but you cannot count on that restraint under all circumstances. And if I am infiltrated, you are even more so.”…
Today Kratman also left a comment on Correia’s post which begins —
Jon Del Arroz, who has a Patton moment every time he sees there’s some attention he’s not getting (“An entire world at war, and I’m left out of it? God will not permit this to happen!”), also rushed to comment on Correia’s post. His efforts to horn in were recognized for what they were and Correia verbally flattened him. These excerpts are just one part.
Finally, here are other examples of the harassment being directed at Jason Sanford on Twitter. He has received more in direct messages there and on Facebook.
And with respect to the “helicopter ride” political murder meme:
It’s been brought to my attention by some helpful folks that speech not everyone agrees with, and that may have become unlawful speech, has occurred on Baen’s Bar. In order to fully investigate those serious allegations, and any violations of the Bar “no hitting” rule, we will be taking a break from the Bar as of noon February 16th, and encourage all our readers to enjoy their lawful conversations elsewhere for the time being.—Toni Weisskopf, Publisher
Sanford’s report of the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar has been met with retaliation in social media. He tweeted, “Instead of anyone dealing with my report on the Baen Books forum by, you know, simply banning advocacy of political violence there, I’m now getting death threats and harassment.”
When asked by a user how long Baen’s Bar will be on break, Weisskopf replied, “As brief as is possible. But no, not sure yet how brief that brief will be.”
The groups say the merger between Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House (PRH) and Simon & Schuster would create an unbalanced industry with one grossly outsized company, which, among other things, will inevitably lead to less competition for authors’ manuscripts. The takeover would, for instance, result in Bertelsmann controlling a 70% market share in the literary and general fiction market in the United States. Bertelsmann would also control 70% of the action and adventure, horror, political, legal, medical, erotica, and coming-of-age submarkets and 60% of biography.
The letter notes that Bertelsmann’s case for taking over Simon & Schuster is the various threats to its business posed by Amazon’s monopoly over book sales, and Amazon’s increasing power over book publishing, printing, warehousing and many other activities. However, while the writers groups agree that Amazon’s monopoly poses a variety of threats, they contend that the strategy of attempting to address dangerous monopolies by building countervailing monopolies has already been tried and failed.
The Department [of Justice] adopted precisely such an approach in 2013 when it approved Bertelsmann’s takeover of Penguin – even though that deal reduced the ranks of top-tier trade publishers from six to five. The fact that Bertelsmann is now proposing another giant deal clearly proves that the previous concentration of power was not sufficient to counterbalance Amazon’s monopoly and create a more level playing field.
What a Bertelsmann acquisition of Simon & Schuster would do, however, is increase the already huge pressures on the remaining larger publishers to compete with the outsized company on manuscripts, distribution, printing, and procurement. Many predict that the remaining three of the current “Big 5” will be forced to merge with each other to stay in the game, leaving the United States – a powerful and diverse nation of 330 million people – with two dominant publishers.
As was true last year when the Department blocked Quad/Graphics takeover of LSC, Bertelsmann’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster is a threat to democracy and must be stopped.
But the time has also come to recognize that simply blocking takeovers is no longer sufficient. The Department of Justice must begin today to proactively restructure the entire U.S. market for books in ways that also deal with the danger posed by Amazon. In this way alone will the Department fulfill its mission of protecting the interest of the public as a whole, and of every reader and author in the United States, from dangerous concentrations of power and control over America’s authors, editors, booksellers, and readers, and over public debate itself.
According to Publishers Weekly, “PRH execs argue that, once ViacomCBS put S&S up for sale in the spring, the odds were good that the trade publishing industry was in for another round of consolidation, and that PRH is the best positioned to implement a smooth transition.”
If regulators approve, the deal is expected to be completed this year.
The US Postal Service will issue 10 new character-inspired stamps featuring the droids of Star Wars as Lucasfilm celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The first characters fans meet in the first Star Wars film are C-3PO and R2-D2 — and droids have continued to play pivotal roles throughout the series.
Representing more than four decades of innovation and storytelling, the droids featured in this pane of 20 stamps are IG-11, R2-D2, K-2SO, D-O, L3-37, BB-8, C-3PO, a GNK (or Gonk) power droid, 2-1B surgical droid and C1-10P, commonly known as “Chopper.”
The characters are shown against backgrounds representing settings of memorable adventures. The selvage features a passageway from the floating Cloud City above the planet Bespin, introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
The USPS press release also says —
These set of droids are a nod to Lucasfilm’s, as well as its parent company, Disney’s, commitment to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning and the continued collaboration between “Star Wars: Force for Change” and global pre-K-12 nonprofit organization “FIRST” (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
“Star Wars: Force for Change” and “FIRST” have joined forces to expand access to STEM learning to more young people around the world, and to help them envision a brighter, more inclusive future.
Greg Breeding was the designer of the stamps and pane. William Gicker was the art director.
Schrödinger’s Vox is a thought experiment that illustrates an apparent paradox of social media access. In the thought experiment, a hypothetical Vox Day may be considered simultaneously both active with and banned from his YouTube account.
Vox Day/Theodore Beale was expelled by SFWA in 2013 and followers of his blog supplied the numbers that allowed his Rabid Puppies slates to dominate the Hugo Awards ballots of 2015 and 2016. He identifies himself as an original Gamergater. His blog appeals to the many causes of the alt-right, and to followers of “the God Emperor Trump.”
On January 25 Vox Day posted “Google Wants To Fight” [Internet Archive link] displaying a copy of a notice Google sent him saying his channel has been removed from YouTube.
Hi Vox Day,
We have reviewed your content and found severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines. Because of this, we have removed your channel from YouTube.
We know this is probably very upsetting news, but it’s our job to make sure that YouTube is a safe place for all. If we think a channel severely violates our policies, we take it down to protect other users on the platform – but if you believe we’ve made the wrong call, you can appeal this decision. You’ll find more information about the policy in question and how to submit an appeal below.
What our policy says
Spam, scams or commercially deceptive content are not allowed on YouTube.
We have permanently removed your channel from YouTube. Going forward, you won’t be able to access, possess, or create any other YouTube channels. …
And yet his Darkstream YouTube channel and his videos are still available to view, as several mystified readers helpfully pointed out.
Thank you for your account suspension appeal. We have decided to keep your account suspended based on our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service.…
And by now Vox is exasperated that people from the far corners of the world keep telling him they can see his content the same as before:
UPDATE: Please to stop with the retardery. I am completely aware that the channels are still up. That is not the point. It is the account access to them has been blocked by YouTube due to its false and defamatory accusation of “spam, scams or commercially deceptive content” having been previously broadcast. I am fairly confident that I know their grounds for the accusation, which is too monstrously stupid to even mention publicly because you would probably not believe it, but which you should be able to ascertain if you watch the most recent video.
So don’t you understand? He’s banned from accessing his account, not us.
But should we have to suffer, too? Remember what Rorschach said —
None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with *ME*!
Over 300 writers and editors have signed the No Book Deals for Traitors “letter of intent from publishing professionals of the United States,” including more than two dozen from the SFF field.
The text of the letter says:
We all love book publishing, but we have to be honest — our country is where it is in part because publishing has chased the money and notoriety of some pretty sketchy people, and has granted those same people both the imprimatur of respectability and a lot of money through sweetheart book deals.
As members of the writing and publishing community of the United States, we affirm that participation in the administration of Donald Trump must be considered a uniquely mitigating criterion for publishing houses when considering book deals.
Consequently, we believe: No participant in an administration that caged children, performed involuntary surgeries on captive women, and scoffed at science as millions were infected with a deadly virus should be enriched by the almost rote largesse of a big book deal. And no one who incited, suborned, instigated, or otherwise supported the January 6, 2021 coup attempt should have their philosophies remunerated and disseminated through our beloved publishing houses.
“Son of Sam” laws exist to prevent criminals from benefiting financially from writing about their crimes. In that spirit, those who enabled, promulgated, and covered up crimes against the American people should not be enriched through the coffers of publishing.
We are writers, editors, journalists, agents, and professionals in multiple forms of publishing. We believe in the power of words and we are tired of the industry we love enriching the monsters among us, and we will do whatever is in our power to stop it.
SFF authors and editors who have signed include:
Alex Acks (Author)
Charlie Jane Anders (author, Victories Greater Than Death)
Phoebe Barton (Writer)
Lauren Beukes (Author)
Holly Black (Author)
Stephen Blackmoore (Author)
Gwenda Bond (Author)
Cassandra Clare (Writer)
Anya Johanna DeNiro (Author)
Carl Engle-Laird (Editor, Macmillan)
Rose Fox (former senior reviews editor, Publishers Weekly)
Hey, folks, it’s hard to ask for help, especially right now, but Noel Rosenberg is suing me for defamation for my 2018 blog post about Arisia and my experience of their safety processes and their leadership team at the time and everything. Vicka Corey and a couple of friends are kindly running a GFM to help pay for my legal defense.
I expect to be vindicated in court, but I need help….
Noel Rosenberg, former President of Arisia, Inc. (2000, 2018) and Arisia convention chair (2002), filed suit against Crystal Huff in Middlesex (MA) Superior Court on September 17  alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Huff published a 6,000+ word statement on October 25, 2018 ending her connections with the convention: “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again”. Rosenberg says in his complaint:
…Her blog posting also alleged that in addition to raping her, Noel had “stalked,” “harassed” and “intimidated” her. Crystal’s accusations of violent and heinous criminal wrongdoing by Noel are utterly devoid of any basis in reality.
Huff’s attorney filed their answer to the suit on November 11.
In 2018, Crystal Huff published a #MeToo blog post addressed to the Arisia community. Crystal is now being sued for defamation, over two years later, for the content of that blog post.
…Crystal has talked publicly about having earned about $2,000 during the entire year of 2020. Steve, Crystal’s spouse, earns a higher salary, but a good legal defense is simply beyond their ability to fund. This lawsuit must be answered, and for that, Crystal needs support from their community.
Anything you can do to help would be appreciated. If you can add money to this fund, if you can spread the word, if you can offer other kinds of help — please do. Crystal’s work online and in person has touched many lives, between science fiction, feminism, tech, gardening, and political organizing. It would be great to see them receive support in return.
The 33rd stamp in the Literary Arts series honors Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018), who expanded the scope of literature through novels and short stories that increased critical and popular appreciation of science fiction and fantasy. The stamp features a portrait of Le Guin based on a 2006 photograph. The background shows a scene from her landmark 1969 novel “The Left Hand of Darkness,” in which an envoy from Earth named Genly Ai escapes from a prison camp across the wintry planet of Gethen with Estraven, a disgraced Gethenian politician. The artist for this stamp was Donato Giancola. The art director was Antonio Alcalá. The words “three ounce” on this stamp indicate its usage value. Like a Forever stamp, this stamp will always be valid for the value printed on it.
But it’s America, so in the press release Le Guin gets named after Yankee catcher Yogi Berra who’s getting a stamp this year, too.