Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Tor imbroglio and the progressive narrative


I've been . . . not astonished, really, because I've seen it all before, but . . . taken aback, at least, by the depth of ignorance, prejudice and blind, religious-fervor-style 'group-think' displayed by many of those arguing in favor of Ms. Irene Gallo's comments that precipitated the crisis concerning Tor.  I'd like to examine that issue in the context of the wider crisis, because I think it's the key to the problem - even though it may render it incapable of resolution.

I've pointed out previously how, for the liberal left wing and progressive ideology, the 'narrative' is more important than the actual facts in almost any situation.  For example, the New York Post pointed this out in connection to the now-debunked allegations of rape in Rolling Stone magazine against a fraternity at the University of Virginia.  Here's an excerpt.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

The verdict’s in on Rolling Stone. According to no less an authority than the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, the magazine’s story last year on a University of Virginia gang rape was a “journalistic failure [that] encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”

But as with many other stories that don’t fit into the right narrative, the media will continue to draw the wrong lessons.

As an AP article noted, “Despite its flaws, the article heightened scrutiny of campus sexual assaults amid a campaign by President Barack Obama.”

Despite its flaws? You mean despite the fact that as far as anyone can tell, the story was made up out of whole cloth?

Even once the police investigated the claims of the alleged victim, The New York Times reported: “Some saw a more complex picture, saying that the uproar over the story and the steps that the university had taken since in an effort to change its culture had, in the end, raised awareness and probably done the school, and the nation, some good.”

How has the university benefited from the fact that a fraternity has been falsely accused of a horrific crime? And how has the nation benefited from the false but now widespread belief that violent rape, even gang rape, is raging on US campuses?

Wouldn’t it have done more good for people to know that young women are statistically less likely to be attacked on a campus than off one?

But who cares about the facts as long as awareness has been raised?

There's more at the link.

Precisely the same dynamic is evident in the reaction of so-called 'social justice warriors' or SJW's concerning Ms. Gallo's lies about and defamation of the so-called 'Puppies' (sad, rabid or whatever) in her recent comments (similar to the lies that Entertainment Weekly recently had to retract hastily and abjectly, for fear of being sued).  They're indignant - some appear to be frothing at the mouth! - that Mr. Tom Doherty of Tor has publicly apologized for any confusion her comments may have caused, and taken at least initial steps to set the record straight.  Hundreds of their comments may be found at Tor.com beneath his statement.  I urge you to read them for yourself, if only to get an education in 'group-think' and the blindness to reality of the 'ideologically pure'.  Here are a few examples, with my comments in italics following each one.

  • "... everything Ms. Gallo said was true–we’ve all seen the vile things Vox Day has said, for YEARS, and others on his slate aren’t far behind. I’m very disappointed in Mr. Doherty for throwing Ms. Gallo under the bus."  (Why should Vox Day's words be grounds for condemning anyone else?  Who says he speaks for all 'Puppies'?)
  • "Ms. Gallo’s comments are nothing but truth, and no one should be rebuked for speaking truth." (Who says they're true?  On what factual, verifiable, empirical grounds?)
  • "I have to question Mr. Docherty cowering in fear of a piece of sub-human filth like Vox Day.  It appears as though nobody could defame him as he is already an object of ridicule."  ('Sub-human filth', eh?  Do you realize that language comes straight out of the Nazi playbook against the Jews?  Do you really want to associate yourself with them in that way?)
  • "Half of Americans admitted to [an] AP pollster they are prejudiced against blacks. That’s means it’s statistical certainty that some of the #rabidpuppies/#sadpuppies who claim to [be] bigotry-free are bald-face liars."  (Some probably are - but how does that tar all of them with the same brush?  And doesn't the same 'statistical certainty' mean that just as large a proportion of those on the other side - your side - are guilty of precisely the same thing?)
  • "The Puppies (of all stripes) should be publicly ignored. (And privately shunned, if you feel so inclined.) They (as a group) are only interested in crapping all over SF, because most SF readers don’t agree with them on a wide variety of things. They are purveyors of fractal wrongness, and engaging them (as Mr. Doherty regretably has done) is like wrestling with pigs, playing chess with pigeons, or arguing with an idiots." (This Puppy isn't interested in 'crapping all over SF' at all.  Who are you to judge my motivations?  And the expression 'fractal wrongness' isn't scientific, but a cultural meme that often has little or no objective reality or validity.  It's defined by your perception of another person's world view.  If you're qualified to judge them like that, it must mean that they're similarly qualified to judge you.  It works - or doesn't work - both ways.)

Again, more at the link.  Notice how the commenters cited above aren't addressing the specifics of what Ms. Gallo said - they're saying that she's right regardless of those specifics, because of other, often extraneous factors.  "My mind's made up.  Don't confuse me with the facts!"  They also freely insult others, regardless of the fact that they would never accept or tolerate the same insults being directed against them.  To call anyone a 'sub-human piece of filth', as quoted above, is barbaric . . . yet some of them revel in that sort of thing.  That says far more about them than it does about the person they're accusing.

Another favorite tactic of such individuals is to ignore the overall thrust of the problem by nit-picking the details to death.  If someone makes an allegation of a pattern of misconduct, they respond by taking every single element of the allegation, separating it from the others and nickel-and-diming it to death, demanding verification, supporting evidence, etc.  They can (and do) spin out the process in such depth and for so long that others lose patience and walk away . . . whereupon they claim victory because the original allegation "has not been proved" (to their satisfaction, anyway).  I saw an instant example of this when I mentioned on a thread at Eric Flint's blog that I'd written an open letter to Mr. Doherty.  The instant response from someone called 'Tracy' was:

Um . . . John Scalzi is a spokesperson for Tor? I can’t take something that makes such a ridiculous claim seriously, and I’d be surprised if Doherty felt any different. Such a bizarre claim makes it look like you don’t know what you’re talking about elsewhere (and to be frank, your open letter contains a wealth of references to your personal life, but basically nothing about the behavior you think should be condemned in the Nielsen Haydens, Feder, and Scalzi).

Note that she never addresses the overall substance of what I have to say - she nit-picks one detail, misquotes it, then calls it 'ridiculous' and builds the rest of her comment around that 'straw man' before segueing into completely off-topic insinuations.  In this way she can (and does) avoid confronting the wider reality about which I'm speaking - and hopefully distracts others from thinking about that reality while they focus on her nit-pick.  It's a classic example of the tactic.  (Want another, larger one?  Consider the months of deadlock, arguing over procedural issues including the shape of the conference table, that delayed the start of the Paris peace talks over Vietnam in the 1970's.  The nit-picking cost at least hundreds, if not thousands of lives on the battlefield - but that didn't matter to those picking the nits.  They lost sight of the main reason they were in Paris in the first place:  to stop the war and make peace.  Scoring procedural and propaganda points off the other side became more important than the lives that were being lost.)

Those tactics are not going to work in this case.  I've had enough.  So have many other people. Ms. Gallo's words were the last straw for us, as I explained in my earlier posts.  They're merely the latest example of a long-standing pattern of behavior by senior employees at Tor.  I'm not joking about my response, either.  I'm willing to give Tor a few days - a week at most - to rectify the situation and deal with all those involved, not just Ms. Gallo.  If the company fails to do so, I will call for a boycott of its products and publications . . . and I won't do so alone.  I've consulted with a large number of fellow authors and other individuals about this over the past few days.  There are some influential figures involved, as Tor may soon find out to its cost.

If that happens, some readers may be surprised to learn how widespread is the anger and bitterness that has built up during the past few months and years concerning the individuals I've identified at Tor.  Their conduct and attitudes have become inseparably intertwined in the minds of many - including myself - with the conduct and attitudes of their employer.  We don't believe they can be separated.  It's for Tor to prove us wrong . . . but I suspect that's not about to happen, because to my mind - our minds - Tor really is standing behind them, despite Mr. Doherty's attempts to distinguish between the company and its senior staff.

I truly hope it doesn't come to a boycott . . . but if it does, so be it.  We no longer have anything to lose by acting.  Tor, on the other hand, risks losing everything by not acting.  I say that as a former director of companies, with post-graduate business education and a good understanding of the financial pressures on Tor and companies like it.  (Yes, individuals at 'some companies' do talk about such things to outsiders, particularly when they're also angry over what's happening internally.  The numbers are . . . interesting.)

Your move, Tor . . . for a short time.  I truly hope you make the right one before it's too late.

Peter

20 comments:

Rusty Gunner said...

I hate to say this about other SF folk, Mr. Grant, and they weren't always this way, but if you do any signings, particularly out of state, leave a friend to watch your car. You will have folks looking in the parking lot for TN plates now looking to strike a blow for social justice with a key, or a brick, or a knife.

Fail Burton said...

"... straight white dude story" - Nebula nominee Kate Elliott
"White Dude parade" - Hugo nominee Seanan McGuire
"Someday all the straight white dudes will board the ships into the west and diminish. 'Now begins the age of… everyone else.'" - Joel Watson
"... it's not b/c I dislike white dudes, it's because White Dudes rarely examine their privilege" - K. Tempest Bradford
"OLD WHITE DUDES ARE ANGRY THAT EVERYTHING IS ONLY 98% SKEWED TOWARD THEIR OLD WHITE DUDE EXISTENCE" - Chuck Wendig
"White dudely authors being white and dudely and gross, get out of my life." - Anna Hutchinson
"... if a problem isn't seen by a straight white dude, it doesn't exist" - Nebula nominate Veronica Schanoes
"... so great seeing all these white dudes talking about how fucking awesome they are for standing up to G----Gate." - Natalie Luhrs
"The straight white dude perspective is basically the Dunning-Kruger effect apex of all civilization" - Cecily Kane of the Hugo-nominated Skiffy & Fanty franchise
"soooo many of these blowups involve white dudes who think they are princes..." - Solace Ames
"I totally do see the 'Here's a list of recommended white dudes!' thing happening" -Elizabeth Bear.
"Well-educated white dudes with a lot of opinions and just enough smarts to think they have it all figured out make me so goddamn tired." - Sunny Moraine
"the little clique of white dudes grumbling about the Nebula awards" - Damien Walter
"Poor set upon white dude talks about his white dude pain." - Cora Buhlert
"white people scrambling to save face and look more enlightened than the next white person" - Requires Hate


This is from a review of Guardians of the Galaxy at Tor:

"misogynistic, male objectification, sexualize, straight white man, white dudebro, person of color, lack of diversity, blond white men, LGBTQIA, sexual object, rape culture, straight male’s sexual appetite, PoC, sex objects, non straight/white/male, white male superhero protagonists, straight black dudes, Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic character, trans person, slut-shaming."

Multiply that by 1,000.

Anonymous said...

The boycott has already begun.

rlw

Glen said...

The root cause of the problem seems to be that small groups feel they represent the majority of SF readers.

When working on rule changes for the Hugo, why not require a minimum of 5,000 votes cast for best novel, and a minimum of 2500 votes for other catagories? This should be increased over no more than ten year to 10,000 and 5,000 respectively.

If the required minimum of ballots are not received, then it will be a 'No Award'.

One of the driving ideas behind SP was to broaden the number of voters. Requiring minimum number of ballots would do this.


Glen in Texas

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I would point out that even if what Gallo said was true she still had no business saying it in a public forum. Tor is a business. I know that many SJWs have a hard time wrapping their heads around this, but a business exists to make money, not fight culture wars.

That's why "othering" the puppies is so important. If we are sub-human scum then it is OK for them to treat us as they do.

Henry Smith said...

Gallo not only vented her spleen by smearing a huge percentage of SFF fandom, she did it to her own Tor authors, John Wright and Kevin Anderson! That means she is not only vicious and hateful, but also stupid. And Tor keeps this person on as an executive? Excuse me, there's a disconnect there somewhere....

Swoggler said...

The overarching theme in the Tor comments is that one should be able to call "assholes" anything...even "neo-nazis" whether or not that smear is factual. Truth? Piffle. They have no need of it nor a desire to seek it.

Oh and Mr. Grant, your pithy turns of phrase in your blog led me to believe I might like your fiction. I picked up Maxwell #1 and am enjoying it immensely. Good stuff Maynard! Puppies score again.

Paul D Wirtz said...

I also note that Ms. Gallows 'Apology' boils down to I'm sorry you feel that way. Never said anything about her remarks being inaccurate/outright lies, just sorry someone was upset about it.

Mike said...

The problem is bigger than SJWs in SF/F; it's the entire culture. We live in an age where anyone who fails to embrace same-sex "marriage," open borders, and, of course, Social Justice, is a racist, white-supremacist nazi.

Tully said...

Glen in Texas, the problem with your proposal is that there has never been a single Hugo Award that would have qualified under those numbers. So far the maximum number of votes for Best Novel was last year, with a bit over 3000 votes cast.

There is already a minimum-votes rule. Any category receiving votes less than 25% of total ballots is not awarded.

Tully said...

Tor, on the other hand, risks losing everything by not acting. I say that as a former director of companies, with post-graduate business education and a good understanding of the financial pressures on Tor and companies like it.

Same here. The market is changing, and the numbers do not look good for the Big 5 publishers moving forward. Not just in SFF, but in all markets. Technology has moved past them, and the value-added of being a big house is shrinking. It is time to re-think business models for the information age.

kamas716 said...

No need to convince me of a boycott. As soon as I saw that post (which I went and verified on her own FB wall) my mind was made up that I wouldn't be purchasing anything that said Tor on it, nor any of it's affiliated houses unless they took certain corrective actions. I made my intentions clear in emails I sent to Tor and MacMillan as well as on my own blog. To date I haven't seen those actions being taken. So to Tor, No more of my money for you!

Anonymous said...

Funny how they keep dragging Vox into this, and not just because Vox is clearly living rent-free in their heads.

If Tor is so upset about raging a-holes on the internet, then why did they just throw a seven-figure book deal at Scalzi? Whatever other faults the man has, at least Vox doesn't bore you to death, bragging about how tolerant he is while smearing you on Twitter.

And you'll never see a "Mean Girls" moment out of Vox like Scalzi's multiple, ludicrous attacks on Larry Correia. Remember the time Scalzi claimed Correia was a "rape apologist" because Correia advocated self-defense training for women?

I remember a rather notorious "Making Light" comment thread during last year's Puppies imbroglio, in which after pages of vitriol, censoring, deletion and "disemvoweling" of opposing comments, the nastiest sort of personal attacks against the pro-Puppies and general sniveling by the Tor.com crowd, Patrick Nielsen-Hayden was reduced to claiming that he didn't oppose conservatives because hey, he edited David Weber's "Safehold" series for Tor!

If Weber hadn't already established himself as a bestselling author with a huge fan base over at Baen, does anybody seriously think Pat would willingly have anything to do with him? I'm sure Pat has plenty of *black* friends, too...

The Nielsen-Haydens, Liz Bourke, Moshe Feder, Irene Gallo...enough. a pox - a Vox! - on them all.

There are individual Tor authors I'll continue to read and support, including Weber, Brandon Sanderson, OSC and John C. Wright. (And one wonders how long those four will last, given the increasingly shrill tone of the Tor in-crowd.)

But anybody else at Tor, including some really promising new writers I might otherwise be interested in reading? Forget it. I expect I'd be too busy wondering what hoops of political-correctness they had to jump through (and which behinds they had to kiss) to win the Tor seal of approval.

--Wes S.

Swoggler said...

You know, if Gallo resigned right now, when the sound and fury is at its peak, the SF community would forever conclude that she had been forced out by Tor. She'd have no end of support from the anti-Puppy side: job offers, invitations to speak, tv appearances, book deals, etc. Based on what Wright and others familiar with her are saying it sounds like she's got real talent. If she turns these 15 minutes of fame into an opportunity rather than the worst day ever I'll be impressed.

Anonymous said...

I intend to write to Tor Books, Macmillan Publishers, and their parent corporation, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.

Holtzbrinck is a German Corporation. I do not think that they will take kindly to their employees calling thousands of people Nazis and Neo-Nazis on a public forum.

Anonymous said...

Come on at the very least be consistent. If you are going to attack For because of Scalzi's comments what about going after Wright's publisher over his comments. Whoops that would mean both For and Castila Vox's vanity project.

Anonymous said...

Bugger autocorrect. Tor obviously.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Mr. Grant. Truly excellent. A heartening contrast to the flood of posts -including one that would be hilarious if it wasn't a truly frightening glimpse into the mind of a deranged "feminist" (quotes because...that ain't feminism), from the author of the book Mz. Gallo was actively promoting when she made her statement of "true facts" (quoting the aforementioned author) classifying "sad puppies" and "rabid puppies" as residing on a scale that ranged from "extreme right wing to Neo-Nazi" "respectively" (because a major editor at an important publisher doesn't realize that "respectively" is properly paired with "and" or similar, not "to") and declaring that, regardless of where they were on the scale, all the " sad" and "rabid" "puppies" supporters were "unrepentantly racist, misogynist[ic], homophobic" bigoted monsters. Even the women, the gay folk, the "PoC" participants (shoot, how has no one on their side noticed how racist "PoC" sounds? Embarrassing for them) such as, oh, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, and many, many more, a huge number of them simply fans of Larry or Brad's, were all guilty of racism etc... True facts, that author called that pile of ridiculous, disgusting malarky...insert less pleasant term...- ahem...my aside was longer than my opening. *flushes red* Aaanyway, this post was a heartening contrast to all the vitriolic, hate and rage-or-disdain-filled posts written by the folks who still seem to think that the "puppy" campaigns (regardless of which one) are simply web-based arms of the KKK, and as such, owed nothing but hate and cursing. It was nice to read such a steady, toxic-attitude free, civil and thoughtful post. Would you object to my linking to this on Mr. Flint's blog? I'll wait, and if you'd rather I not, I understand, and "WILCO" with your decision.
God bless, sir. ;-)

-Bibliotheca Servare

Peter said...

@Bibliotheca Servare: Feel free, and thank you for your kind words.

Shadowdancer Duskstar said...

The funniest thing I've seen about the various defenses for Irene Gallo that I've read involve removing her ability as an adult woman to think for herself and capacity for restraint (She's an artist! Not good with words! - variations) as well as removing her human agency as well as choice.

So she's... a child? Autistic? Two attributes which normally would make blunders of such magnitude forgivable, but she is neither.

It's her sheer lack of professionalism that astounds.