Pixel Scroll 2/18/21 I’d Gladly Scroll On Tuesday, For A Pixel Today

(1) MORE REACTIONS TO JASON SANFORD’S REPORT ABOUT BAEN’S BAR AND RELATED ISSUES.

Cat Rambo draws on her decades of experience moderating online forums, including SFWA’s private discussion forum, in “Opinion: On Baen Books, Moderating Discussion Boards, & Political Expression”. Also part of her background –

…In the interest of full disclosure, I’m technically a Baen author. I have a story in a couple of Baen anthologies and another in an upcoming one. I also was the main decider in the choice to give Toni Weisskopf a Kate Wilhelm Solstice award in 2016 in acknowledgment of how much she has shaped the field. I have never been on their discussion boards, as far as I can remember….

She covers a half dozen subtopics before concluding —

…Online harassment is used by a number of folks to silence other people and it includes tactics like SWATting, contacting one’s employer, doxxing, and worse. Jason Sanford is experiencing some of this right now, to the point where he’s had to take his Twitter and Patreon private, but he’s not the first, nor will he be the last. It is shitty and invasive, and it’s something that can constantly ambush you.

Moreover, stochastic terrorism is a thing, and it’s one that some of the “my wishing you were dead wasn’t really a death threat because I didn’t say I’d do it personally” yahoos are hoping for. That hope that someone will be hurt as a result of their rhetoric flickers dimly in the depths of their creepy little souls, even when they claim otherwise, because here in America, it’s a possibility every time they stir up an audience to think of their opponents as NPCs rather than people. And it’s something that is particularly hard on the vulnerable. If you’re a white male experiencing harassment, know that if you were a woman of color, you’d be getting it a hundred times worse, whether you acknowledge that or not.

So… I don’t know what will happen with Baen’s discussion boards. I hope that they’ll do what sometimes happens as a result of these challenges: emerge as something better and more useful, something that creates more community ties than eroding them. Because it’s a time and place when we need more kind, brave words and less hateful, thoughtless rhetoric, and I feel any efforts to establish that is where true heroism lies. Thank you for issuing the challenge, Jason. I hope people rise to meet it.

Sheree Renée Thomas, who is set to co-host the 2021 Hugo ceremony, gives extended commentary about the implications for the Worldcon in a 16-tweet thread. Thread starts here.

Malka Older, the other 2021 Hugo co-host, aired her views in a thread that starts here.

Leona Wisoker does an overview of the Jason Sanford and Eric Flint essays and where they fit into the immediate present day in “Baen’s Bar Fight”.

… The boundaries of free speech and individual liberty in the wild world of genre fiction is, as I’ve said already, not a new battle. However, right here, right now, today, we’re dealing with a new twist on the old situation: the critical flash point of people spreading and believing dangerous lies for years. This started before Trump came into office. Before Obama’s first inauguration. Over the last ten years, the rise of groups like the channers, Gamergate, Reddit, Parler, Fox News, OANN, and QAnon has boosted those lies into explosive territory.

We’re no longer simply talking about malcontents complaining in a chat room. We’re now dealing with a series of connected, systemically based incidents that are driving credulous people into increasingly violent actions, in groups that are steadily expanding in size. We’re talking about bad faith actors — some in government and law enforcement — who are in it for the money and power, who have and will continue to use that misguided passion to their own benefit, and who don’t care who gets hurt along the way. To wave away the bitter speeches and threats of randos in internet forums is to entirely ignore the escalating situation that led to the Capitol insurrection in the first place….

Simon McNeil surveys posts by Jason Sanford and others as a preliminary to his thesis that those who believe there is an overall sff community are mistaken, and that prospects for the 2021 Worldcon have been irreparably damaged.  “The vexatiousness of the culture wars in SFF – Baen’s Bar and the fantasy of total community”.

…And here we return to two central questions that have been at the heart of genre fiction’s long-running culture war, just who is this community and what, if anything are its standards?

We have here a situation where the genre fiction “communty” consists of several disparate actual groups of people. These people have mutually exclusive definitions of the ideal present notwithstanding what they may want to see in fiction about the future, the past or other worlds. The attempts of mass conventions like DisCon III to serve these vastly disparate communities means it’s ultimately impossible to serve any.

Now I’m honestly quite shocked that there is going to be an in-person WorldCon this year. Between international travel restrictions and the clear and present danger of mass gatherings, it really feels like a live convention in 2021 is unsafe quite regardless of who the editor guest of honour is. With this said, while I do believe that Sandford turning over this particular rock exposed the peril lying under the surface of science fiction I don’t think de-platforming Weiskopf is going to make the convention any less dangerous for anyone unwilling to tow the American conservative line. Frankly, Toni Weiskopf isn’t the problem, she’s merely a symptom of it. Baen, and its stable of Trumpist malcontents is in fact only a symptom of the systemic problem that is the faulty assumption at the core of the SFF communities that there is some overarching and totalizing community for all to contribute to.

It was never true.

All that has changed is that those people who once hadn’t enough power to speak out about John Campbell’s racismOrson Scott Card’s homophobia or Harlan Ellison’s busy hands have achieved enough power through adoption of new technology, changes in social understanding and various civil rights movements to fight back against the people who once kept them silent….

Camestros Felapton saves a thousand words by giving us a picture of his rebuttal to Eric Flint’s defense of Baen’s Bar in “Today’s Infographic: moderating comments”.

Chuck Gannon defended Toni Weisskopf’s statement about the temporary takedown of Baen’s Bar in the midst of a Facebook discussion by dissatisfied Baen supporters. He says in conclusion:

3) Lastly her statement was formulated so that it both showed a willingness to seriously engage the accusations, but without ceding ANY authority or agency over her rights and freedoms as the owner of a business. She did not stonewall the dertractors, did not counterattack, and did not cave, none of which are good strategies NO MATTER what politics are involved. That is smart business. And her tone was so measured and reasonable and *civil* that anyone who takes offense at it is essentially identifying their real motivation: to use this complaint as a weapon in the service of their deeper motive–cripple or kill Baen.

My assessment: she handled this as well as anyone could, and far, far better than most do.

(2) NEW ADDRESS. Perseverance made a successful landing on Mars today. The mission website is here: Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover.

(3) PRO TIP. You’ve been placed on notice!

(4) LET GO OF YOUR AGENDA. Once NPR’s Jason Heller took Sarah Gailey’s latest book on its own terms, he had good things to say about it: “Review: ‘The Echo Wife,’ By Sarah Gailey”.

…I went into Gailey’s new novel, The Echo Wife, with a big expectation for yet another immersive, wonderfully detailed, fictional setting. I was not catered to. There isn’t any real world-building in The Echo Wife because, well, there’s no world to build. It already exists. It’s our own. The book takes place, more or less, in the here and now, and even the rich concept behind its science-fictional premise — namely cloning — keeps a fuzzy distance. Once I got over my initial bout of pouting, though, I gave myself over to Gailey’s latest exercise in character-driven speculation. And I was happy I did…

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 18, 2005 — On this day in 2005, Constantine premiered. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as blonder haired John Constantine. It was, to put it  mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. Its impressive cast included  Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy four percent. Huh. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 18, 1894 – Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Ph.D.  First woman to receive Yale’s Porter Prize (for her dissertation), Cross Medal (as a distinguished alumna).  First woman President of Phi Beta Kappa.  Crawshay Prize (for Newton Demands the Muse).  Voyages to the Moon reviewed by Willy Ley.  Pilgrim Award.  Festschrift in her memory, Zephyr & Boreas (works of Le Guin).  More here.  (Died 1981) [JH]  
  • Born February 18, 1904 – Rafael DeSoto.  A score of covers, a dozen interiors for us; also Westerns, thrillers, adventure.  See R. Lesser ed., Pulp Art; D. Saunders, The Art of Rafael DeSoto.  Here is the Feb 39 Eerie Mysteries.  Here is the Apr 43 Argosy.  Here is the Nov 50 Fantastic Novels.  Yes, descended from Hernando de Soto.  This site says it will be available again soon.  (Died 1992) [JH]
  • Born February 18, 1908 Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as  The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in GalaxinaThe Incredible HulkJason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The RingsAdult FairytalesClonesDracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.) (CE)
  • Born February 18, 1919 Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh, the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and He had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.) (CE)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 92. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.(CE) 
  • Born February 18, 1930 Gahan Wilson. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations which are gathered in a superb two volume collection, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on  A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born February 18, 1931 – Toni Morrison.  A score of novels – Beloved (Pulitzer Prize) and God Help the Child are ours – poetry, two plays (one about Desdemona), libretto for Margaret Garner, nonfiction.  Jefferson Lecture.  PEN/Bellow Award (PEN is Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists).  Medal of Freedom.  Nobel Prize.  Oprah Winfrey: “I say with certainty there would have been no Oprah’s Book Club if this woman had not chosen to share her love of words with the world.”  Today is TM’s 90th birth-anniversary; see this from the Toni Morrison Society.  (Died 2019) [JH]
  • Born February 18, 1933 – Ray Capella.  A score of short stories for us; twoscore covers, five dozen interiors.  Here is Star Quest 4.  Here is the Oct 75 Amra.  Here is the Nov 81 Fantasy Newsletter.  Here is the Apr 01 Alien Worlds.  Here is an illustration for John Carter of Mars.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born February 18, 1936 – Jean Auel, age 85.  The Clan of the Cave Bear, five more; 45 million copies sold.  Studied how to make an ice cave, build fire, tan leather, knap stones, with Jim Riggs.  “The Real Fahrenheit 451” in Omni (with Bradbury, Clarke, Ellison).  Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France).  [JH]
  • Born February 18, 1943 – Jill Bauman, age 78.  One short story, a score of poems, a hundred thirty covers, ninety interiors for us; many others.  An appreciation in Wrzos’ Hannes Bok.  Here is Melancholy Elephants.  Here is the Apr 89 F&SF.  Here is the Aug 92 Amazing.  Here is Thumbprints.  Guest Artist at the 1994 World Fantasy Convention, Philcon 1999, Chattacon XXVI.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born February 18, 1968 Molly Ringwald, 53. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there. (CE)
  • Born February 18, 1979 – Shannon Dittemore, age 42.   Four novels.  Blogs for Go Teen Writers.  Website says “Coffee Fangirl”.  Has read The Importance of Being EarnestGreat ExpectationsThe Screwtape LettersLes Misèrables, two by Shakespeare, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe, Peter PanThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and four by Jane Austen including Pride & Prejudice in the German translation by Karin von Schwab (1892-1940; alas, Stolz & Vorurteil doesn’t alliterate).  [JH] 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark peers over a vampire’s shoulder as he gets shocking news about his online meal order.
  • Randall Munroe got a hold of Perseverance’s schedule.

(8) OVERCOMING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Entrepreneur interviews physicist & author Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein about her new book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred and about sexism and racism in science. They also ask her about her interest in science fiction and about speaking at conventions, even if their fact checkers did allow the proofreaders to get away with calling them “Khans.” (Khen Moore would have been so proud.) “This Theoretical Physicist Boldly Goes Where Few Black Women Have Gone Before” at Entrepreneur.

Professor Prescod-Weinstein, an important theme running through your book is the sexism and racism inherent in science. Crucially, you take time to namecheck those who — like you — did make it through, such as Dr. Willie Hobbs MooreDr. Edward A. BouchetDr. Elmer ImesProfessor Arlie Oswald PettersDr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Marcelle Soares-Santos. It is only through seeing people like oneself that one can imagine being up there too, right?
Yes, that’s valuable when you have the opportunity. But I also know that sometimes we don’t get examples like us. As far as I know, none of those people are queer, for example. It’s important then to be the person who is like yourself. I know that sounds silly, but I encourage students to get people to take pictures of themselves doing physics, so that they can see that they are indeed what a physicist looks like….

(9) OCTOTHORPE. The latest episode of Octothorpe is now available! John Coxon has cats, Alison Scott has a milkman, and Liz Batty has a gecko. They plug Picocon, discuss Boskone and Eastercon, and talk more about their Hugo reading/watching/experiencing. “Ep. 25: Some of the Rocks Are Going to Be More Interesting Than Others”.

(10) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter forwarded his favorite wrong answers from tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Category: Types of Narrative Literature

Answer: You can bet “The Lottery” is a good example of this genre of brief narratives, usually under 10,000 words.

Wrong question: What is a novella?

Right question: What is a short story?

*

Category: All Fairs

Answer: A 1939 New York World’s Fair diorama predicting the look of the city in 1960 was called this, later a long-running animated TV series.

Wrong question: What is The Jetsons?

Right question: What is Futurama?

*

Category: Pulitzer Prizes

Answer: Bruce Catton took the 1954 history prize for his book titled “A Stillness at” this fateful place.

Dumb question: What is the OK Corral?

No one got, What is Appomattox?

(11) IT HAD TO BE SNAKES. Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy makes “A Mel Blanc Discovery”.

Sometimes a gem can be hiding in plain sight—or within hearing distance. A few weeks ago I turned on Turner Classic Movies (my go-to channel) and watched part of Alexander Korda’s 1942 production The Jungle Book, starring Sabu. I hadn’t seen it in a while and it’s very entertaining. But when Mowgli encountered the giant snake Kaa, I listened carefully to the voice and realized it belonged to Mel Blanc. It had never occurred to me before; he’s speaking in a very low register so it isn’t immediately apparent. Then I thought of him performing his parody of a popular radio commercial in a Warner Bros. cartoon, saying, “Beee-Ohhh” and I was certain….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

49 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/18/21 I’d Gladly Scroll On Tuesday, For A Pixel Today

  1. I wish to state that I am a conscientious objector to the culture wars in fandom.

    I will not elaborate on my position and will not respond to any comments about it.

  2. My response to the whole thing is what I wrote to the Discon III staff AFTER READING ALL OF ERIC FLINT’S ESSAY.

    I think the best response is to read Eric Flint’s essay, https://ericflint.net/information/controversy-about-baens-bar/

    After reading that, I’m convinced the foo-faraw is someone going out of his way to be arrogantly correct. Esp. since I have spent time in several of the forums – mostly to do with 1632, and the “no hitting” rule seems enforced to me.

    mark

  3. (6) There’s a cool story here about how Rafael DeSoto discovered Gloria Stoll Karn, one of the few woman pulp artists. Basically, although she attended art school, she was forced to take on a crappy secretarial job during the Depression. In a moment of frustration, she left her portfolio next to the incinerator in her apartment building. The janitor looked at her work, liked it, and brought it to fellow tenant — Rafael DeSoto. He got her work illustrating pulps!

    https://www.recorder.com/Celebrating-a-pulp-fiction-artist-who-broke-gender-barriers-15460797

  4. @mark, Flint says he hasn’t been there in more than 20 years. How would he know what’s going on in places he hasn’t been. (Read the rest of the posts on this mess.)

  5. 1) I think Cat Rambo’s piece is the first time I’ve ever seen someone quote Popper’s Paradox correctly. (Most people elide the middle sentences where he says that he’s specifically concerned about people preaching violence, not people generally preaching intolerance.)

    3) I get that. I myself am neither; I sort-of outline as I go and then completely ignore most of it.

  6. Martin Wooster:

    Can’t say I care much about Culture Wars. I do care about calls to violence and murder though and think they have no place in Fandom.

  7. mark: If you spent time in several forums related to Flint, but never in the Politics area, which Flint has also failed to visit in 20 years by his own admission, then you have exactly as much information as Flint about how accurate Sanford is, which is to say, you clearly don’t know at all.

    More to the point, Flint completely misses how a certain recent insurrection was planned and executed (Along with several other examples of lesser real world harassment and crimes), if he thinks people making nasty comments on forums is always innocent venting, even when they discuss mass murder.

    And I would say the same of mass murder discussed by any political stripe, though it happens at this time in Western countries at least, the political stripe most likely to be discussing it is the far right wing.

  8. Mark’s comment above made me reread Flint’s essay, and that made me notice a fallacy that I didn’t really put my finger on previously.

    Flint says early on that Sandford is “purporting to expose all about Baen Books.” But there’s nothing in Sandford’s essay that supports this assertion. Sandford never claims to write “all about Baen’s Books”, his focus is clearly on the forum Baen’s Bar. Sandford doesn’t even claim to expose “all about” the bar, only one aspect of it: how it “is being used to advocate for extremist political violence.”

    So Flint starts by building himself a strawman – one who makes much more sweeping claims than what the real Jason Sandford does. And a lot of his remaining essay – the way he casually says he haven’t read the Politics forum in several years, and the way he dismisses Sandford’s examples as just “a handful of people” on the forum – can be traced back to this strawman fallacy.

  9. I keep seeing moderate conservatives who are convinced that the bar is a causus Belli (sp?) for the destruction of Baen books. Has anyone at any point seen a lefty/centrist calling for such a thing?

  10. Nickpheas: I keep seeing moderate conservatives who are convinced that the bar is a causus Belli (sp?) for the destruction of Baen books. Has anyone at any point seen a lefty/centrist calling for such a thing?

    No, it’s just the conservative playbook for defense any time they’re called out on on something bad. Instead of addressing the specific bad thing, they pretend that the criticism is for all of some larger thing, in an attempt to make the person(s) making the criticism look extreme and unreasonable.

    Unsurprisingly, this is also a technique used by abusers to gaslight their victims.

  11. (1) Simon McNeil seems to be unaware Orson Scott Card’s homophobia was widely discussed during the 2013 cinema release of Ender’s Game. There was talk of a boycott, as I recall, but I believe the film did badly enough at the box office not to require one.

  12. (6) Jack Parlance’s first genre cinema appearance is the adaptation of Robert Bloch’s ‘The Man Who Collected Poe’ in 1967’s Torture Garden.

  13. “I keep seeing moderate conservatives who are convinced that the bar is a causus Belli (sp?) for the destruction of Baen books. Has anyone at any point seen a lefty/centrist calling for such a thing?”

    This is just my assumption/projection of how I might feel about it: There have been conservative companies and Web sites that have been driven to the brink of extinction for similar issues: Parler, Gab, possibly other I don’t even know about. Those I’ve read about seem to have one thing in common – they label themselves as free speech platforms and allow extremist speech. A conservative may be afraid that whenever a similar site hits the news, that site may be shut down as well. Especially when the pattern seems to repeat itself: first an article, then various news outlets contacting the site’s hosting or payment providers for comments, etc…

    My theory has three weak points, though:
    1. It doesn’t address your question about moderate conservatives. I don’t think a moderate conservative would care much about sites like Parler.
    2. The theory implies a certain degree of whataboutism. I’ve seen some people claim this never happens to extreme left forums. I can’t confirm it’s not happening to the left extremists, and anyway, whataboutism is bad for discussion.
    3. Usually, outlets that are hit by cancellation, are purely virtual. Baen is selling an physical product, so I don’t think it would be possible for people to organize and manage to shut them down.

  14. (7) I’m happy to see xkcd’s detailed schedule. Answers some questions I had…

  15. @Bruncvik:
    ” A conservative may be afraid that whenever a similar site hits the news,”

    But Baen Books is not a “similar site” to Gab and Parler.

    Parler and Gab are/were pure social media companies – they had no operation apart from operating a website where people posted their opinions. When they came under scrutiny for the opinions they allowed, that scrutiny went straight at the core of their operation.

    Baen Books is not a social media company, it’s a publisher who runs a discussion forum as a sideshow. The scrutiny in this case is clearly on stuff posted in the discussion forum, not on the contents of books published by Baen. Baen Books can continue their main line of operation – publishing books – regardless of what happens to Baen’s Bar.

    Yes, the end result here may be that Baen’s Bar shuts down.
    No, that does not mean that Baen Books shuts down.

    (There’s also something to be said about the “similarity” in terms of how Gab and Parler explicitly marketed themselves as places to go when Twitter wouldn’t have you, and how they were havens for right-wing extremists. If that’s how Baen’s defenders see Baen’s Bar, then … well, it’s not really a defense.)

  16. Woo! Title credit!

    Constantine rehabilitated as a movie? I think Reeves is the weakest part of the movie, especially since he is a cypher on the screen whenever Swinton or Stromare also are.

  17. @Bruncvik:

    There have been conservative companies and Web sites that have been driven to the brink of extinction for similar issues: Parler, Gab, possibly other I don’t even know about. Those I’ve read about seem to have one thing in common – they label themselves as free speech platforms and allow extremist speech. A conservative may be afraid that whenever a similar site hits the news, that site may be shut down as well. Especially when the pattern seems to repeat itself: first an article, then various news outlets contacting the site’s hosting or payment providers for comments, etc…

    The missing ingredient in your outline is that those sites agree to Terms of Service when they sign a hosting agreement, and those Terms always forbid them from carrying certain content. You mentioned payment processors as well; they frequently have similar clauses, but obviously with a focus on the stuff being sold.

    For instance, let’s consider Amazon Web Services (AWS), although I guarantee you that almost any hosting provider’s Terms cover the same bases. Indeed, if you find one that doesn’t, RUN! That’s a huge red flag! You may see some variation, especially in the realm of legal adult/sexual content, but most of the provisions will be the same with any legitimate provider.

    Section 4.2 of the AWS Terms forbids sites (“you”) from hosting content which violates “any of the Policies or any applicable law,” and 8.2.c dictates that “none of Your Content or End Users’ use of Your Content or the Service Offerings will violate the Acceptable Use Policy.”

    So what’s in that AUP? Glad you asked. It covers a good deal of ground, but it expressly forbids a bunch of common-sense stuff right up front:

    Illegal, Harmful or Fraudulent Activities. Any activities that are illegal, that violate the rights of others, or that may be harmful to others, our operations or reputation, including disseminating, promoting or facilitating child pornography, offering or disseminating fraudulent goods, services, schemes, or promotions, make-money-fast schemes, ponzi and pyramid schemes, phishing, or pharming.

    Did you notice that bit about “may be harmful to … our operations or reputation”? That’s open to a LOT of interpretation, but it translates roughly to “hurt us or make us look bad, and we’ll drop you like a hot rock.” And right before that, see the bit about violating the rights of others? Pretty sure credible death threats fall under that, and probably most hate speech. Finally, notice how that list of explicitly banned content starts with “including” – meaning you can’t just say “you didn’t list X!” and get away with it. Like I said, practically every hosting provider covers the same ground; AWS is not unusual.

    What this means in practical terms is that, if a website is providing a safe haven to illegal content – like, say, allowing people to conspire to commit a crime – either wittingly or unwittingly, then the site’s owners have to make a choice. They can either remove the content to comply with their hosting agreement… or they can leave it alone, cross their fingers, and hope to fly under the radar.

    Here’s the thing, though. Let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that Sanford is completely full of shit. Suppose for a moment that all of his quotes are out of context, that nobody on the Bar did anything wrong, and that this furor is all just baseless harassment.

    If that’s the case, Baen has nothing to worry about. Every SJW on the internet could send an email every hour to the hosting service, all to zero effect… because they’re not just going to casually cut ties with a loyal customer. No, the provider would take a look at the allegations, compare them to the actual contents of the site, and realize it’s all a load of crap. Even if they did find something, they’d most likely give Baen a heads-up to the violation and allow them some time to remedy the issue.

    (How do I know that? Because that’s how Parler got dumped. Their provider gave them a list of violations to address, Parler refused, and only then did the provider terminate their service… exactly as their agreement said they would.)

    So if all of the Bar’s defenders are completely right about everything, Baen has nothing to worry about. Their hosting is secure, because there’s nothing bad for anyone to find… right? All Baen has to do is throw open the door to the Bar, promise to cooperate with any investigation, and invite everybody to see that there’s no “there” there. They could even create a guest account that isn’t allowed to post, so anyone who wanted to could “walk in,” take a look around, and see the evidence for themselves.

    Curiously, they chose exactly the opposite approach, shutting the Bar down so outsiders can only speculate about what might or might not be in there. That’s a pretty piss-poor way to prove that nothing shady’s going on. In fact, it’s an extremely effective way to fuel speculation about how horrible the content must actually be.

    So why, exactly, are Baen’s defenders in such a panic? Doesn’t make sense.

  18. Oh, in case anyone’s interested, Flint doubled down on his essay’s stance on Facebook a few hours ago. Not hard to find.

  19. Johan P. says Baen Books is not a social media company, it’s a publisher who runs a discussion forum as a sideshow. The scrutiny in this case is clearly on stuff posted in the discussion forum, not on the contents of books published by Baen. Baen Books can continue their main line of operation – publishing books – regardless of what happens to Baen’s Bar.

    It’s not hard to argue that the Bar is an enormous distraction from the business of selling books. Baen as a company as been fairly successful at selling books but this could really hurt them if their distributor, Simon and Schuster, decided to drop them over it. It’s certainly not a good time to be associated with anything that openly advocates political violence.

  20. @Johan P: You are absolutely correct. And I think I raised this at the end of my post, in the third point.

    @Rev. Bob: Thanks for the lesson on AUP. I’m also not familiar with social media, save for what was written about Parler and Gab on Ars Technica, so I wasn’t fully aware what was going on. I would imagine Baen also has a web host, though, so they could be hit. Personally, I know about the Bar only what Stanford wrote, but for me as an outside observer, those quotes were similar to those from Parler that got them shut down. Even though similar people like now defended Parler that the quotes were taken out of context, and that the majority of the discussions there was cordial. I’m just pointing out at the similarities in argumentation then and now.

  21. Baen Books is not a social media company, it’s a publisher who runs a discussion forum as a sideshow. The scrutiny in this case is clearly on stuff posted in the discussion forum, not on the contents of books published by Baen. Baen Books can continue their main line of operation – publishing books – regardless of what happens to Baen’s Bar.

    The contents of the books are a source of criticism, but right now the focus is on The Bar because it really is just that bad.

  22. @Bruncvik: “I would imagine Baen also has a web host, though, so they could be hit. Personally, I know about the Bar only what Stanford wrote, but for me as an outside observer, those quotes were similar to those from Parler that got them shut down.”

    Indeed they do have a web host, as does almost any not-huge company with a website. They also have a payment processor. Both of those could be targeted by anyone who takes a few minutes to find out who they are… which isn’t hard.

    As for getting shut down over the reported comments, remember what I said about Parler? AWS went to them with a sheaf of violations and said “Fix it.” Parler refused, so AWS terminated the agreement. That didn’t erase Parler from existence, though; it just left them without a host. They approached several other services, all of which told them to get bent for the same reasons Amazon had to, until they finally found a company in Russia that was willing to sell them service.

    Go back through that paragraph and find all the chances Parler had to change course before going to Russia. Quite a few, no?

    By contrast, if something is indeed hinky at the Bar, all Baen has to do if faced with a similar warning is delete the offending posts – just as Parler could have but would not. If they played their cards right, they could even blame Those Rotten Libruls™ for forcing them to do it.

  23. @Bruncvik:

    I have no doubt that the majority of posts in Baen’s Bar are not a hotbed of incitement to violence. But, and that the majority of the discussions there was cordial isn’t really a defence here. The ruckus is about the posts that are not.

    If I held out a bucket of Skittles (don’t rightly know how many that is, but for argument’s sake, let us say 10 000) and said “Would you like a fistful of Skittles? Only one is immediately fatal, the rest are fine”, would you say that what I am doing is NOT endangering your life? After all, a fistful of Skittles is such a small amount of the total that I am not statistically likely to cause harm (about 0.11%)?

    I think highlighting the posts is the right thing. I think Baen is close to (but not quite at) doing the right thing (shut down, investigate, make sure it doesn’t re-occur) but doing so in the weasel-wordiest, blame-shifting way possible.

  24. @3
    I agree wholeheartedly! The first time I encountered this term I was sorely confused. I had a hard time in middle school,.so my interpretation of the “pantser” is not only different but unpleasant.

    And frankly, the word “improvisor” is right there.

  25. @Ingvar: I also agree that highlighting the posts is the right thing. And I agree with Rev Bob that deleting the offending posts will get Baen out of immediate danger of being shut down by their Web host. I was merely pointing out the arguments of people like Flint, who say that because the majority of the posts (and all in those forums he moderated) was fine, the forum wasn’t problematic. It’s the same defense I’ve seen for Gab and Parler in the Ars Technica comment section.

  26. @Bruncvik:

    FWIW, I accidentally hit “post” earlier than I wanted to, but Ingvar covered the rest of what I wanted to say.

    Except this, I guess. I’m a bit rusty, so it took me about five minutes to find Baen’s web host’s AUP document, using nothing more than the tools that have been built into Windows for at least two decades now. I won’t post the company’s name, given the circumstances, but the top of the AUP includes the email address which deals with AUP questions. It’s a very standard mailbox; practically every company uses the same username to report such issues. (EDIT for clarity: You know how if you run into problems with a website, you can drop a line to webmaster@ [wherever] to report it? Like that.)

    So, the idea that some grand conspiracy would be required to unearth this information? Pure horseshit. Granted, I do have a background in IT and worked for several years as a webmaster, but this isn’t hard information to find.

    I can also confirm that Baen’s hosting agreement and AUP do indeed have provisions very similar to the ones I cited from AWS, including the “don’t make us look bad” clause.

    Basically, if this were all just some wild crusade to kick Baen offline, Sanford wouldn’t have needed any accomplices. All he’d have needed to do is email a handful of screenshots to the hosting company. He wouldn’t have even needed to write an article and get the community involved.

    When I worked in customer service, I learned that a customer who calls to complain wants to remain a customer. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t bother calling; they’d just go elsewhere. What Sanford has done is the equivalent of calling the customer service line to get a problem resolved… and instead of listening to his complaint, the company’s “allies” are sending him death threats and weaving conspiracy theories.

    This is not rational behavior on their end. At least, not if they’re innocent.

  27. Okay, I confess I skimmed, because wow, the waffle, but I suspect a shorter Eric Flint fb post might be something along the lines of “I like how I get treated by my publisher, I identify with my publisher and think people identify my publisher with me, and I fear that any criticism of my publisher is both criticism of me and endangers the relationship with them that I enjoy, so I hate it when people do that”. Perhaps with a side-order of “Jim Baen was a stand-up guy and those bad people are smearing his legacy” because of course the reputation of a man fifteen years gone is at all part of what Baen’s Bar is doing today.

    Which, y’know, is fine and understandable. Writing can be a difficult career and quite clearly a great relationship with a publisher who pays you (if not everyone they publish…) well and on time and lets you do what you want creatively is a valuable thing. People often feel called to defend their friends, especially when one of those friends cannot speak to defend himself (whether he’s actually under attack or not!). But a little annoying once we hit conspiracy theories (dude’s never met twitter, I guess) and strawmen in order to justify why people are bad people for criticising it and therefore, because they’re bad people, the criticism is bad.

    I’d be less cynical and critical if I’d ever, ever seen Flint show the slightest signs of considering that the criticism might actually have merit – and I don’t just mean this time around, but any time in the past six years. I think he comes at these things with a defensive attitude, and it makes his judgement flawed. I’m bored with it.

    Happy to reconsider if things change, of course.

  28. In his most recent Facebook post, Eric Flint writes:

    Since then, a lengthy counter-attack has been posted on Mike Glyer’s File 770, some of it written by him and some by others, including Jason Sanford. If you’re interested in looking at it, you can find it here:

    http://file770.com/baen-strikes-back-sanford-under-growing-storm-of-harassment/

    What he describes as a lengthy counter-attack is a compilation of reactions, both pro and con, to the Sanford report. Flint is continuing to see what he wants to see, and only what he wants to see, to the point of missing the glaringly obvious.

  29. Sometimes, a self-own is so epic that it speaks for itself. A reply I just got under the Eric Flint post that rcade just linked is one such. I’ve cut a big chunk out of the middle of the Wall O’Text for clarity, and I’ve elected to be merciful and not name the commenter, but he actually posted the following in an effort to prove that Sanford’s article about the Bar was a baseless attack.

    Spare your sanity; look away now.

    Robert Hood To put it most succinctly, as it was explained also in Baen’s Bar, if what happened was actually an insurrection or an attempted coup, there would be a very large number of special congressional elections going on right now. [Lengthy January 6th rant removed. —Bob] Finally, Jason complains that there are people talking in the Bar about a possible Second American Civil War. Well, leftist boys and girls, it is people like Jason Sanford who are going to make it happen with their uncivil, deceitful and oh so arrogant behavior.

    Doesn’t he do a wonderful job of confirming Sanford’s reporting?

    (And yes, I snapped a screenshot of the unabridged comment in case it mysteriously Goes Away.)

  30. @Rev. Bob:
    You know how if you run into problems with a website, you can drop a line to webmaster@ [wherever] to report it? Like that.

    Oh, my vanished youth. I haven’t tried that in decades; too many sites (prudently, because of spam) stopped creating that address.

    (Just got back from reading Flint’s second essay. He sure is good at talking about himself rather than the issue at hand.)

  31. Reactions to the latest Eric Flint post show that there’s nothing that makes right wingers in SF/F angrier than when Mike Glyer quotes them and links to their posts.

    There’s rage up and down the comment thread because File 770 compiled reactions from Flint and seven other pros critical of Sanford. It was so unfair of him to tell people what they said and send traffic their way. He even put them all in one place where others of the same viewpoint could find them easily.

    Perhaps it is time that we asked ourselves this question about OGH:

    Threat or menace?

  32. As a minor aside on Ben’s Bar, the moderation was set at reactive, not proactive. Moderators did not approve messages before posting. They reacted to complaints.

    Then there were several crazy uncles at the Thanksgiving Dinner who most people learned to ignore, realizing that their rants — so soon as their commander in chief, the Emperor Norton, told them to rant — were sound and fury signifying nothing. There was also the newcomer who showed the classic signs of being the FBI plant in the anti-Vietnam-war group.

  33. @rcade: That’s not a new development: I’ve lost track of the number of profanity-laden, spittle-flecked tirades Correia has aimed at OGH for daring to quote his posts.

    Clearly the answer to your question is: Both!

    @Paul Weimer: I’m still pretty meh on the movie, but Peter Stormare is the scariest Lucifer in film history.

  34. Simon McNeil wrote: “I suppose it would be embarrassing for Steve Green if I had, in fact, written a blog post in 2013 specific to that boycott.”

    Not in the least, seeing as I’ve never read your blog and probably wouldn’t recall something you wrote eight years ago even if I did. However, it does puzzle me you were addressing this topic back then, yet implied in the passage quoted above (“people who once hadn’t enough power to speak out…”) that it’s only recently these matters were thrown under a spotlight. I remember discussions about Card’s alleged right-wing leanings at least as far back as the mid-1990s, as well as his links to the Scientology-funded Writers of the Future contest.

  35. …and whilst I’m here, I would like to point out I do know how to spell Jack Palance’s surname, but the autocorrect on my iPhone decided I did not.

  36. @Camestros:

    I just pulled it up via rcade’s link. It is still there and public; I don’t know why you should be unable to see it.

  37. Perhaps I’m simply old enough now that 2013 doesn’t feel that long ago – especially when I can also remember, all too well, the bisexual panic of 1995.

    As I said before, what frustrates me most is that we keep having to have these conversations.

  38. rcade: In his most recent Facebook post, Eric Flint writes: “Since then, a lengthy counter-attack has been posted on Mike Glyer’s File 770”

    <sigh> I wouldn’t have expected Eric Flint to have been one of those hit by the notorious brain-eater which seems to have gotten so many older white male SF writers, but this is where we are. 😐

  39. Flint really wants to turn this into a debate about the publishing house, rather than the Baen’s Bar forum. The publishing house is being criticized, but mostly because it didn’t address the issues at the bar.

  40. @Robert Wood
    It’s so much easier to deny stuff when it’s claimed to be about the publishing house. Then you don’t have to admit that you know little about what’s going on in other “rooms” at the Bar.

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