Weisskopf, Correia, Weber Defend Baen’s Bar; Jason Sanford Subjected to Harassment Over His Report

In the wake of reaction to Jason Sanford’s February 15 article “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon, Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf announced a hiatus for the Baen’s Bar forum.

Toni Weisskopf today replaced Baen’s Bar — for the time being — with “A Note from Toni Weisskopf” (Baen.com)  [Archive.is link]

To Whom It May Concern:

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.

He concludes:

DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon at which Toni Weisskopf will be a guest of honor, answered calls for a statement with this tweet:

Larry Correia defended his publisher in “Publishing House Baen Books Attacked by Cancel Culture” at Monster Hunter Nation [Internet Archive link].

He threw shade on Sanford’s reporting:

… 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.

As Rev. Bob observed in a comment here:

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.

David Weber, widely regarded as Baen’s flagship author, came to their defense on Facebook. He offered these reassurances:

… 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:

149 thoughts on “Weisskopf, Correia, Weber Defend Baen’s Bar; Jason Sanford Subjected to Harassment Over His Report

  1. Reading how a popular author’s fans respond to their posts on their Facebook page or blog makes me cringe. If you have a decent-sized audience of admirers you can always have the majority praise the correctness of your argument and pillory the targets of your scorn. You don’t have to change your mind on anything ever.

  2. Kurt Busiek: Genius is not constrained by your bourgeois notions of consistency.

    Think how many Nero Wolfe books Rex Stout got out of that perspective!

  3. rcade: Nobody has to coordinate reactions to a story about a major SF publisher allowing commenters to advocate political violence.

    The lesson keeps getting lost which Allen Drury depicted in Advise and Consent where he shows that nobody needs to call up Democratic-leaning editors to coordinate anything — it is their common inclination to write editorials supporting the proposed appointee Leffingwell. And when it comes to my inclination, I don’t need to be talked into covering a major sff news story.

    On the other hand, when I read that Larry Correia had a phone call with Vox Day today I figured coordination is as coordination does.

  4. @rcade:

    Nobody has to coordinate reactions
    […]
    They don’t require private communication by anybody. Social media is an outrage optimization machine.

    And for an easy example, just look at the pro-Baen side in this controversy. It didn’t take long before multiple authors had blog and facebook posts up in defense of Baen. These posts got comments. People piled onto Sanford on Twitter. People came to Baen’s defense here.

    Is this coordinated by someone? What is planned in advance? I don’t think so.

    (And if Flint accepts that it is, does that extend to hos own response too? Should we assume his own post is insincere, and only written because Weiskopf asked him to step up in defense of Baen?)

  5. @rcade: (waves) I see you saved me a little trouble there by quoting part of my comment, but here’s the part that really galls me. It’s common to Correia’s, Weber’s, and Flint’s statements, so here’s Flint’s version:

    I stopped visiting “Politics” about… oh, I dunno. Twenty-three ago?

    And, later:

    I can tell you where these sort of statements are not being made, and are not tolerated. They are not being made because they won’t be tolerated in any of the conferences on Baen’s Bar that I oversee—which is half a dozen.

    So basically, Eric’s sticking up for the character of a forum he hasn’t visited since Clinton was President by saying that his area’s nice and tidy. By that reasoning, I could say that the reports of an overflowing toilet in the hotel men’s room are ridiculous – it was fine when I went in there last month, and the lobby’s pristine now!

  6. @rcade: (waves) I see you saved me a little trouble there by quoting part of my comment, but here’s the part that really galls me.

    How did I not know that was you? Your Facebook photo was giving me a sense of “I know I know this person from somewhere” but I didn’t connect that to the place I was making a comment about you. Auugh!

  7. @Kurt Busiek: One bit in Utopia that has always stuck with me is that the punishment for attempted mopery is the same as the punishment for mopery. Criminals, the Utopians reason, should not be rewarded for being so lucky as to fail.

  8. Rev. Bob: here’s the part that really galls me. It’s common to Correia’s, Weber’s, and Flint’s statements

    Yeah, “I haven’t looked there for many years, and now that this controversy’s come up, I’m still not bothering to go over and look, and yet I can unequivocally state that it’s not actually happening” is not the defense that these kneejerk defenders seem to think it is.

  9. @JJ:

    Well, given that the Bar is currently closed, it’s a mite unrealistic to expect him to go look…

  10. Occam’s Razor is a useful tool for some things. But for questions as serious as “Is this person a victim of murder?” and “Who killed this person?” the standard should be (and generally is) higher.

  11. Well, given that the Bar is currently closed, it’s a mite unrealistic to expect him to go look…

    True.

    When Baen authors vociferously defend the Bar while making it clear they don’t visit the parts that Jason Sanford covered in his report (or even visit the forum at all), it suggests they know there are parts of the forum that have gotten out of hand and they don’t want to be associated with them. Which makes their condemnation of Sanford’s reporting all the more hypocritical.

  12. And if we end up knowing as much about the death of Brian Sicknick as we do about the deaths of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, and if that knowledge supports the idea that Sicknick was killed by the rioters, I’ll gladly agree that he was “killed by rioters”. But right now we don’t even know the cause of his death, and the version that was stated early on by many, including Joe Biden (killed by a fire extinguisher), is pretty much discredited.

    Making judgments about events without facts is a bad thing, especially if the results of those judgments is used to vilify people (“murderous Capitol rioters”).

  13. Murderous means “capable of or intending to murder”. Given I watched the rioters drag cops onto the steps and try to beat them to death, I will continue to use “murderous”, thanks.

  14. Making judgments about events without facts is a bad thing, especially if the results of those judgments is used to vilify people (“murderous Capitol rioters”).

    Seems like a fair descriptor to me when they injured 140 cops. We all saw cops being beaten with flags and other weapons. One cop was beaten so badly he suffered a serious heart attack. The fact he was saved by doctors doesn’t make the insurrectionists non-murderous.

  15. ‘Making judgments about events without facts is a bad thing, especially if the results of those judgments is used to vilify people (“murderous Capitol rioters”).’

    I’ve double-checked with my common sense and I’ve confirmed that calling people storming a building containing Mike Pence while shouting “Hang Mike Pence” murderous isn’t in any sense vilification. They were happily self-identifying as murderous (the gallows was another clue). Perhaps they didn’t mean it but they clearly weren’t worried at the time about appearing to have murder in mind.

  16. Camestros, I’m sure that people doing that, as well as talking about shooting Pelosi, aren’t people I want out on the streets.

  17. Yeah, I’m fascinated by the tender regard for the reputation of the rioters. The “facts”, as in those revealed by their self-filming, reveal them to be a murderous seditious bunch. They can hardly be vilified too much.

  18. Which rioters? The anarchists who have been using BLM and other causes as an excuse for arson, looting and terrorism in multiple cities or the fringe group that scared the Capitol Hill politicians but burned nothing and shot nobody, unlike an as yet unidentified politician’s rentacop on that occasion?

    One rule for all or none for anyone.

  19. Pingback: Opinion: On Baen Books, Moderating Discussion Boards, & Political Expression | The World Remains Mysterious

  20. It’s also interesting how the people who are oh so concerned for the feelings of the police when peaceful protesters say that Black Lives Matter, stop caring about “blue lives” when the police are actually, physically being attacked by armed white supremacists.

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  22. John Hoare: the fringe group that scared the Capitol Hill politicians

    I know it’s probably hard because it’s a 5-syllable word, but it’s spelled “insurrectionists”.

    Violent insurrectionists, who broke into the U.S. Capitol, injured more than 160 Capitol police officers, and came very close to getting their hands on elected representatives of the U.S. government who they were promising to assault and kill. Violent insurrectionists, who were attempting to overturn the results of a fair and legal election.

    In case you skipped out of Government class in high school, that’s a whole host of federal felony crimes.

  23. JJ says In case you skipped out of Government class in high school, that’s a whole host of federal felony crimes.

    As of today, there are now one hundred and sixty three individuals charged with federal felony crimes. Federal prosecutors have said that at least three to four times as many are likely to charged in coming weeks. And I will to bet at least several of them will be charged with murder in death of the Capitol police officer that died. Not to mention attempted murder of several other Capitol police officers. Peaceful, my ass.

  24. @John Hoare
    The oh-so-peaceful “rioters” who broke windows, beat cops with poles and sticks to the point where some have permanent injuries, and erected a gallows on the Capitol lawn? And who came armed with bear spray, Tasers, and at least some firearms, with the intent of stoppign the certification of the electoral college vote, by whatever means necessary?

  25. P J Evans says The oh-so-peaceful “rioters” who broke windows, beat cops with poles and sticks to the point where some have permanent injuries, and erected a gallows on the Capitol lawn? And who came armed with bear spray, Tasers, and at least some firearms, with the intent of stoppign the certification of the electoral college vote, by whatever means necessary?

    One hundred and forty police officers suffered serious injuries including spinal injuries that they’ll never recover from. Many others suffered less serious injuries. The insurrectionists attempted to murder a number of them.

    They were planning on killing the Speaker of The House and would have if she had been caught by them. By any reasonable standard, they were an violent crowd that should be, as they are being done now, arrested and charged with serious federal crimes.

  26. … burned nothing and shot nobody …

    It’s obscene to minimize the actions of a group we all saw savagely beating cops, attacking them with chemical spray, throwing flags, fire extinguishers and other objects at them and dragging one semi-conscious into the crowd for more beating. The only person whose actions you didn’t minimize was the Capitol Police officer (not “rentacop”) who shot a building invader as she was breaking through a door into a room where moments earlier the vice president had been present.

  27. I happened to take a look at Baen’s Bar just around Jan 6-8, mostly because I was curious as to whether the more colorful conservatives there would live up to their rep, or whether it would be a place with interesting and informed discussion of the situation by people with backgrounds in military and alternative history, as I hoped it might.

    The majority of the bar was was pretty much like any other forum. The sentiments expressed by some of the more pro-Trump posters were generally exactly the same as one might find on the many heavy-conservative websites that exist, such as RedState (trump won, the rioters were really antifa, etc. – the usual right-wing media bubble, offensive but not unique, and not worth censoring as this stuff is everywhere in just about every conservative and news website comment section. If you find that threatening, you need to get out more. It’s more tragic than anything else).
    The only really shocking statement was Kratman’s advocacy of a uniformed, militarized pro-Trump militia – shocking because surely someone with his background in the military and history should realize that this is exactly the sort of thing that turns disorganized rioting and anarchy into real fascism; I was disappointed to find someone with such views had served in the US military. The lack of pushback on this on historical grounds by other posters on Baen was disappointing, given the interest in mil-history and alt-history, but perhaps few people there care to venture into his part of the forum.

  28. @DP The only shocking thing was that one statement? How could you have missed the several threads in the KratsKeller forum that were calling for violence before that? Tom K. waited 3 days before posting his screed, but his forum was full of threads of his fans advocating more violence and gleefully anticipating whatever their hero would publish.

    And he inevitably disappointed, by calling for nothing less than an modern American SS.

  29. DP: If you find that threatening, you need to get out more.

    Nope. Just nope. Just because Baen’s Bar was only one of many places where this has been going on, it doesn’t make it any less horrific.

    I’m not buying your attempt to minimize and trivialize the seriousness of the violent language and actions being fantasized about and endorsed there (nor, I suspect, are many other people).

    January 6 demonstrated that such online forums were a major inspiration and organization point for the whackjobs who violently stormed the Capitol and looked for legislators to torture and kill. Such forum activity can no longer be excused as “just talk”.

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

  30. I’m an occasional visitor to Baens Bar and have been for years.
    It’s my “go to” to get a feel for US Conservative – Far Right political spectrum via it’s politics folder.
    Although these days the merely Conservative have been getting harangued/cancelel cultured out of it.

    And yeah, there have been calls for political violence from some of the people there.
    One in particular was talking about organising violent action against those he considered stole the election after the Nov Election.
    Although after a couple of weeks he started stressing “legal actions” against those that “stole the election through fraud” and overthrowing them “legally”.
    To be honest it sounded like someone had pointed out the FBI might actually scan forums looking for likely terrorists.

    That particular poster has a long history for calling for ending the 2nd Republic and replacing it with a 3rd Republic (Apparently Lincoln brought about the 2nd Republic).

    The politics folder is probably more toxic than Kratman’s folder in general.
    Although Kratman and his fans do occasionally openly discuss carrying out organised cancel culture or site attacks on places. I did lay a complaint years ago after they planned an attack on Wiki to alter pages to boost Kratman’s sales.

  31. I just wanted to add that this “fringe group” right-wingers keep defending included active-duty police offers from across the country and currently serving members of Republican state and local governments, also from across the country. I’m at a loss to know how that constitutes any sort of “fringe”, unless they’re admitting that their own elected officials are drastically disconnected from real, normal Americans as a whole, and I don’t think that’s the intent.

  32. Anyone talking about how the election was “stolen through fraud” is already way past reality. (It makes me wonder when they last voted, if ever, or if they think that other voters get to use different procedures.)

  33. @Peace Is My Middle Name: Oh, thank you. I never can remember whether conjugations of l-verbs have double-ls, and you’ve told me why: I grew up American and reading Penguins, Puffins, and Pelicans.

    Does this explain the grey/gray thing, too? For me, grey is a yellow-grey, gray is a blue-gray. I doubt I can blame the UK for that particular connotation, but why I know two spellings mystifies me.

  34. the usual right-wing media bubble, offensive but not unique, and not worth censoring as this stuff is everywhere in just about every conservative and news website comment section

    This is disappointing. If you’re going to advance an evil anti-social agenda, at least try to be original.

  35. DP:

    I also visited the forum some time after the storming of the Capitol. At that time, I read many comments that would have been against the law in my country. That they might be legal in US is hardly an argument for not moderating them on moral grounds.

  36. @Madame Hardy, Does this explain the grey/gray thing, too? For me, grey is a yellow-grey, gray is a blue-gray. I doubt I can blame the UK for that particular connotation, but why I know two spellings mystifies me.

    Grey is the English spelling; gray is the US spelling. To the best of my knowledge, there is no actual difference in color (or colour) values between the two, but, hey, if you want to assign them different hues, there’s no harm in it. After all, it’s the waste of a perfectly good variant-spelling not to have a variant-shading attached. <grin>

  37. Thanks to a British grandmother, I misspelled gray as grey for years growing up, getting it “Wrong” every time and it being corrected, every time, by my teachers, as being “incorrect”.

  38. Madame Hardy, strangely, I also think of “grey” and “gray” as being two different shades — but reversed from yours. I think of “gray” as a light, flat, slightly yellow (or at least not blue) gray, such as the color I’m seeing in the background of comments here. “Grey” is more of a charcoal, perhaps blue-tinged. As you might imagine, this gives me a minor spelling crisis whenever I have to describe a color that’s lighter than grey but cooler than gray, and other variants.

    (Hi everyone! As usual, I’m days/weeks/months behind on my reading, but by chance happened to see that this thread was still active while I was reading it AND had a topic I can comment on. Also, special hello to Hampus; I’m the one who sent you a Twitter tweet on a funeral-style birthday party a few months ago. Always weird to realize that I “know” all of you much more than any of you know me because I read comments here but probably last left one in 2018.)

  39. @Madame Hardy
    You, too? I tend to go with British spellings on l-verbs, the “e” in the middle of “judgement” and it’s 50/50 which spelling of “gray” you’re going to get. (I don’t think of them as the same shade, either. “Grey” is a cool shade, “gray” is a warm one.)
    I read too many British mystery novels, growing up.

  40. Why american and british spelling differs

    Sorry all, could not resist, after seeing the discussion.

    I read a lot of British English books when I was a kid (starting with but not ending with Tolkien), and I was a real pest in my classes in grade school and into junior high because I’d use the English spelling. My teachers would say it was wrong, and I’d drag in a published book and say “how can it be wrong! It’s in this book!”

    Unfortunately they didn’t know enough to explain the different national spelling rules, so we sort of went in circles.

  41. @robinareid
    I had that issue, too, in English class, because I had spent time in the US and read English language books, primarily from the US. I also used to have a Deep South accent that’s mostly gone now. However, for German English teachers in the 1980s and 1990s, British English with an RP accent was the only real English, everything else was just “slang”, so I got in trouble a lot. And if a word wasn’t in the abridged student edition of the OED we had in the classroom, it didn’t exist.

    One teacher gave me a bad mark for using unapproved words and US spellings, so I brought a book into class and showed him the unapproved word. Teacher: “That’s a slang word in an American book.” Me: “It’s a non-fiction book. I’m pretty sure there are no slang terms in non-fiction books.” For the record, it wasn’t a slang term. It was a uncommon adjective that I had found in a book, looked up in a dictionary and sort of fell in love with, so that I used it whenever I could.

    Later, I had a teacher who allowed those students with ties to the US (we had binational German American kids in our class) to use US spellings, though everybody else had to stick with British spellings.

    Eventually, I trained myself to use British spellings, because when I was teaching English, that’s what I had to use and teach. Though I always told my students that there is not just one correct form of English, but that there are several, though the curriculum wants us to focus on British English.

  42. @Cora Buhlert:

    Can’t actually say I recall if we were being punished for non-British pronounciation in year 3-9. For sure when I was in the gymnasium, the one constraint we had was “be consistent”. In my class, we had two or three people who’d done an exchange year in the US. Not surprisingly, they tended towards an American accent (one I wouldn’t be able to place, but know was Arkansas, and one that was definitely Texan) and one tended towards an Aussie accent.

    These days, apparently, I have managed to converge on “probably English, but not from anywhere I have lived” for pretty much every native speaker I have checked with.

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