New Round of Harassment Against Jason Sanford

The initial round of Baen authors and editors counter-attacking Jason Sanford’s February 15 article “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence” was followed by a hardly unexpected wave of their fans expressing resentment and abuse against him. But now one figure is striving to outdo the field with his own thuggish toxicity.

Samuel Collingwood Smith of the Matthew Hopkins – The Witchfinder General blog (“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.)

Smith immediately promoted the piece to a wide audience by adding a comment with the link to Larry Correia’s latest blog post. And less than an hour later author Jason Cordova rushed to do the same without even stopping to notice Smith had got in ahead of him.

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.

DisCon III subsequently treated Smith’s own posts as Code of Conduct violations, deleted them, and set a new policy requiring moderator approval of all posts to the group.

40 thoughts on “New Round of Harassment Against Jason Sanford

  1. I know this is a stupid question, but does it not occur to those who level false accusations of child endangerment and worse that it makes investigation and prosecution of actual child endangerment and worse more difficult and fraught with doubt? Such a charge is not a magic spell you can wield to win an argument or get revenge without real-world consequences to people who don’t need or deserve the consequences.

    I know these assclowns don’t care what I think and they aren’t concerned about making defamatory claims for the lulz, but this is unacceptable behavior and is harmful to our society, harmful to children and harmful to their cause.

    We are seeing too much of this stuff. Certain individuals have emboldened this sort of behavior: political figures and multi-billionaires. They act without conscience or consequences. I don’t see this ending well, or soon. This is the lowest sort of behavior.

  2. He sent it to us at Ring of Fire Press. We deleted it. Whether his deconstruction of Mr. Sanford’s story is legitimate, it has nothing to do with the matter at hand. We have said enough about this. It’s time to let it die a natural death.

  3. Vile human beings.

    I wonder how many Nice Polite People will keep defending this crap

    Yes, I mean defending the scum defending the Barflies.

  4. I note Fozard’s helpful hints to him with interest, given her previous objections to harassment of fans and convention volunteers. An interesting change of stance, no?

  5. Why is someone who resigned as co-chair, and made a huge melodramatic production out of “leaving the Worldcon volunteer community”, posting responses on DisCon III’s Facebook page?

  6. Has Toni Wiesskopf commented on this?
    I would think that, at the very least, she’d send out a statement to knock it off.

  7. Harold Osler says Has Toni Wiesskopf commented on this?
    I would think that, at the very least, she’d send out a statement to knock it off.

    Oh surely you’re joking. That woman won’t take responsibility for anything, so I wouldn’t expect her to comment as that would upset the members of Baen’s Bar.

  8. I’m still reacting to the fact that someone named his blog after Matthew Hopkins. But I’m not really shocked. It’s a big old red flag. But it seems fitting in this case.

    I’m not expecting a measured response from Toni Weisskopf, either. And that’s yet another level of disappointment for this fan who has purchased lots of Baen books — in the past.

  9. If Baen Books doesn’t do anything to check this rampaging troll and stalker, the company is now right down there with Smith’s fellow doxxers, smear jockeys, and SWATers.

  10. I don’t think that Baen owns this one. I’m not sure he’s ever been a member — certainly I’ve seen no such claims — and these posts are nowhere near the Baen Bar. Let’s not be witchfinders ourselves, K? I think this guy’s more of a JDA than he is a Kratman.

  11. Rob Thornton says If Baen Books doesn’t do anything to check this rampaging troll and stalker, the company is now right down there with Smith’s fellow doxxers, smear jockeys, and SWATers.

    I’d put very, very long odds against Weisskopf deciding to anything to control the violent rhetoric as it’s her core readership that’s doing it. The only thing she could do is keep Baen’s Bar offline but I doubt she’ll do that long term.

  12. Rob Thornton: If Baen Books doesn’t do anything to check this rampaging troll and stalker, the company is now right down there with Smith’s fellow doxxers, smear jockeys, and SWATers.

    I don’t think Smith is a Baenite, Googling indicates that he’s one of Pox Day’s Rabid Poopies.

  13. @ JJ

    Well, I would hope that Baen would metaphorically deprive him of oxygen by denouncing Smith’s efforts. It is absolutely the very least that any civilized Internet being should do in this situation. (Though Cat is probably right in this case.)

  14. I suspect that Weisskopf a) has little to no influence over these people, who strike me as the standard internet drama ambulance-chasers and b) even if she did, why would she? She has pretty effectively written off the non-Baen portion of the fandom at this point, whether that was her original intention or not. (Yes, I suppose there’s the “doing it for sheer decency” bit, but, uh…well, my breath is not bated, let’s say.) Anything that looks like support for Sanford, even as mild as “hey, maybe don’t harass his coworkers” is only gonna piss off her base.

  15. Anyone whose primary qualification is “law blogger” is not worth taking seriously.

    Anyone who feels the need to footnote his credentials in a Facebook comment is so silly as to not be worth caring about at all.

  16. Unfortunately, name-calling in the social media often has nasty consequences for the person being harassed. This could even happen back in the days of mimeo. I recall one incident in AZAPA in 1976 or 7, in which a teenage gadfly (who shall remain nameless) called another member of AZAPA “you moral degenerate” in print. This got the targeted member in hot water at his work. He was an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they monitored such things–they took (and probably still take) such things as “moral degeneracy” seriously. Luckily, the target got off with only a tough session on the carpet, rather than disciplinary measures–that blasted kid could have gotten the guy fired. The rest of us in AZAPA took the snot-nosed kid to task when we found out what had happened. It quieted him down.

  17. I don’t think Smith is a Baenite, Googling indicates that he’s one of Pox Day’s Rabid Poopies.

    And a Gamergater before that. I got an email once from the guy, after a hack at Patreon leaked a bunch of members’ email addresses. I was supporting Randi Harper, a programmer who’d drawn the ire of the GG crowd by writing some autoblocker code that let people protect themselves from abusive social media. He sent a mail to all her supporters, yapping on about some fake bullshit allegations that had been made about her and speculating that my employer would be very interested to know that I was spending the money they were paying me on such a person. I never bothered replying, and I’m not sure anyone else did either. (Ms Harper later closed the Patreon down for unrelated reasons.)

  18. I have a not-so nitpicky nitpick with OGH’s wording here:

    The initial round of Baen authors and editors counter-attacking Jason Sanford’s February 15 article “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”…

    I would call that “initial round” an attack, plain and simple. It’s not a counter-attack unless it is a counter to an initial attack. And while the harassers sure as heck want to characterize Sanford’s article as an attack (on the Bar, on Baen Books, on Baen authors, on The American Way, take your pick), I don’t think they are right to do so.

    That aside, thanks for covering this, Mike. It can’t have been pleasant, but it’s so necessary.

  19. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: In this case, I think I will stick with my characterization. Sanford’s report says things like “Baen’s Bar has also become well-known in the genre community as a place where racism, sexism, homophobia and general fascism continually pop up.” His last lines are “Baen Books has ultimate power over their forum. They could easily ban any user advocating political violence and delete posts calling for the same. They have chosen not to do this. They need to immediately stop allowing their forums to be used for this purpose.” He was not preaching to the choir, he was forcefully calling out Baen management and the users of Baen’s Bar. That his statements were generally accurate probably made them sting even more.

  20. From time to time the accursed running dog Scalzi pops up to say “Please don’t fight my battles for me.” While it does seem that this guy is a) not very nice and b) not under Baen’s direct control, it is somewhat telling that they haven’t.

    Walt Boyes on March 1, 2021 at 5:22 pm said:

    We have said enough about this. It’s time to let it die a natural death.

    That seems a sensible approach.

  21. How obsessed and how much of an attention junkie do you have to be to go through someone’s published fiction line by line to see if you can find something to object to? And then coming up with the most silly and tenuous accusations possible?

  22. @Brown Robin: “I know this is a stupid question, but does it not occur to those who level false accusations of child endangerment and worse that it makes investigation and prosecution of actual child endangerment and worse more difficult and fraught with doubt?”

    Yes, it’s regularly pointed out to them, including by people actually involved in fight the real-world evils. Responses from the lying hate mongers always include some mix of the following:

    • Their hearts are pure and their intentions are good, so any bad consequences are other people’s fault. (That this is directly contradictory to several of Jesus’s teachings never matters. Complainers are just twisting Scripture like Satan himself, as far as the liars are concerned.)

    • Because their hearts are pure and their intentions are good, anyone who finds fault with their work is part of the problem, and likely a willing member of the global pedophile conspiracy. There’s usually attacks on anyone involved with real abuse criticizing them rather than being out arresting more pedophiles for dereliction of duty as such.

    Where the foundational axiom is “I’m right”, there’s not much constructive to be done apart from helping bystanders see what’s up and waiting for the rare moment of vulnerability where someone can be led to see the true consequences of what they’ve done and have a change of heart.

  23. Well, what bothers me the most about Smith and Baen is that if the publisher doesn’t intervene, it feels like stochastic terrorism. Toni & company denounce Sanford and people like Smith do the dirty work.

  24. Rob Thornton: Well, what bothers me the most about Smith and Baen is that if the publisher doesn’t intervene, it feels like stochastic terrorism. Toni & company denounce Sanford and people like Smith do the dirty work.

    Yes, it reminds me of Lou Antonelli setting Carrie Cuinn up for the internet mob, and then playing innocent when she received the inevitable torrent of abuse and threats.

  25. I have now read the Sanford story in question.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, the best way to describe Sam’s “concerns” about the story is “Sam lied his ass off”.

  26. Jeeeeez. The bad faith and predictability of the harassers are equally depressing.

  27. JJ on March 1, 2021 at 7:19 pm said:

    Rob Thornton: If Baen Books doesn’t do anything to check this rampaging troll and stalker, the company is now right down there with Smith’s fellow doxxers, smear jockeys, and SWATers.

    I don’t think Smith is a Baenite, Googling indicates that he’s one of Pox Day’s Rabid Poopies.

    Yes, his connection to US SF fandom is via Vox D. Had a minor run in with the guy in 2019 https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/10/28/vox-day-objects-to-a-two-year-old-post/

  28. I have now read the Sanford story in question.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, the best way to describe Sam’s “concerns” about the story is “Sam lied his ass off”.

    Yes, the story is not exactly pleasant, but then it’s not supposed to be. It’s a dystopian story for fuck’s sake.

    But there’s nothing even remotely objectionable in there. The torture does not happen on screen, but described from the POVs of the children listening to the screams outside. There is no mention of any sexual activity at all. And no child is tortured, there is just the possibility that one – a nasty bully – might be.

  29. Mike – Fair enough. Even taking into consideration what you point out, I disagree; I think that accurately pointing out Baen’s reputation and TW’s choices is a critique, not an attack; I think that “attack” implies a certain amount of unfairness or baselessness to the claim and/or malign motives; but I concede that there is room for disagreement between people of good faith as to what constitutes an “attack.”

    Pax and stuff. And, again, thank you for the reporting.

  30. And the latest Thrilling Episode of Troll Bingo!
    Bingo card entries:
    o Pedophilia tick box
    o Theordore Beale invocation
    o Accuse writer of promoting Bad Stuff present in stories [I remember a kerfluffle whereinm someone reading Bos Shaw stories with significan characters or main characters with borken marriages, took a logical leap which was anything but justified, to claiming that since Bob Sh as was writing about charcters with failed or maling marriages, Shaw was in a personal marriage crise.

    No,. not, and bullshit… and this is a relative of the sort of garbage spewed by “Sam Smith”

    o Gamergate invokation
    o Mation Zimmer Bradley bad blood feud between her and her offpsint invocation
    o homophobic invocation
    o “leftists” smears invocation
    o Christianity Supremacy invocation

    Ones he seemed to have missed:
    o anthrophagy
    o TERFism
    o Benghazi
    o emails
    o Hunter Biden
    o Ukrainians
    o Antifa
    o Patritic [bullshit] upstanding militias upholding democracy in vigilante operations..
    o praising Traditional Motherhood [though he did so the Traditional Family invocation by congruence though it was not overtly direct

  31. @Brown Robin:

    I know this is a stupid question, but does it not occur to those who level false accusations of child endangerment and worse that it makes investigation and prosecution of actual child endangerment and worse more difficult and fraught with doubt? Such a charge is not a magic spell you can wield to win an argument or get revenge without real-world consequences to people who don’t need or deserve the consequences.

    Oh, they know, or at least they’ve been told repeatedly. I suspect that for some of them, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature–actually false and malicious accusations muddy the water and make it easier for people to deny or minimize real crimes. It’s cover/support for statements like “but he’s my friend, I know he wouldn’t do that,” and “yes, something happened, but it was only a joke, it wasn’t serious, he didn’t mean to cause harm, let’s not ruin his career.”

  32. @Vicki: “But it was only a joke.” Reputedly, those were Tyl Eulenspiegel’s last words before he was hanged.

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