I Stand By Irene Gallo

DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST REPRESENTS THE OPINIONS OF AUTHOR CHUCK WENDIG AND NOT HIS PUBLISHER, HIS AGENT, HIS EDITORS, HIS PUBLICISTS, HIS READERS, HIS BLOG SUBSCRIBERS, HIS WIFE, HIS CHILD, HIS DOG, THE PERSON HE KEEPS LOCKED IN HIS ATTIC, HIS TWITTER FOLLOWERS, THOSE HE FOLLOWS ON TWITTER, AMERICA, ALL EARTHLINGS, ALL MARTIANS, POLTERGEISTS, GOBLINS AND OTHER FAE CREATURES, THE BDSM “PONYBOY” COMMUNITY, BEARDOS, WEIRDOS, FRIENDOS, CHUDS, CHORFS, SJWS, ASSHOLES, NON-ASSHOLES, OTHER AUTHORS, OTHER NON-AUTHORS, AND FACEBEES. ACTUALLY, HIS WORDS DO REPRESENT FACEBEES. BECAUSE HE IS THE EMPEROR OF FACEBEES.

Here are the deets as I see ‘em –

Irene Gallo is the creative director of Tor Books, and associate publisher of Tor.com. She has been a boon to authors and to that publisher. And Tor.com is amazing and lauded for its quality and its bravery of material exactly because she is the type of person who helped foster that environment.

The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies were the slate-making Hugo-hammer that fell hard like a meteor against this year’s award season. To mix my metaphors, they stormed the beach of the awards they imagined they were being kept from (despite having had nominations in the past), and took a bunch of noisy defecations in the sand in front of people. And, when called upon it — “Hey, you’re shitting up the place,” they only doubled down, as folks of that ilk tend to do.

Irene Gallo made a statement on her personal Facebook page (note those words: “personal Facebook page”) that said the following when asked to explain the Sad/Rabid Puppies phenomenon:

“There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.”

This, of course, made the assholes angry. Because when you call assholes assholes, they tend to flail around and make louder asshole noises — it is the asshole’s natural defense mechanism.

The result was that the publisher of Tor, Tom Doherty, felt the need to pen a public letter of apology to the other spurned authors and readers (translation: the Sad and Rabid Puppies) assuring them that this has been dealt with because Irene Gallo is a naughty, naughty editor (/clucktongue). You can read that message here: “A Message from Tom Doherty.” You should note that someone thought it was a very good idea to leave the comments open (!) and there are now 100+ comments gurgling in that septic system. You can read them if you care to remind yourself what sometimes gets clogged in the pipes below this here Internet.

That letter ends with the following two paragraphs:

“In short, we seek out and publish a diverse and wide ranging group of books. We are in the business of finding great stories and promoting literature and are not about promoting a political agenda [sic]

Tor employees, including Ms. Gallo, have been reminded that they are required to clarify when they are speaking for Tor and when they are speaking for themselves. We apologize for any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused. Let me reiterate: the views expressed by Ms. Gallo are not those of Tor as an organization and are not my own views. Rest assured, Tor remains committed to bringing readers the finest in science fiction – on a broad range of topics, from a broad range of authors.”

Which, to me, reads like:

a) the publisher wants to publicly shame a woman editor for saying things that other editors have said in the past, and in publishing that apology out on the big wide Internet, they then:

b) want to reassure the horrible people that hey, horrible people, you’re welcome under the tent, too, and we’re sorry for pointing out that you’ve been defecating on our beach for a while, no, no, it’s fine, keep defecating on our beach, we are inclusive to all beach-goers and that includes you feisty beach-shitters too here we’ll even put up a sign BEACH-SHITTERS WELCOME TOO!

This is the publisher that housed a known harasser of women (and said nothing), by the way.

So, we’re talking double — nngh, maybe triple? — standards going on here.

I won’t get into the validity of her words — that is a slippery and easy trip down a particularly cankerous meat tunnel, and I’ll let you take that grotesque journey all by your lonesome, but I will right quick call out two comments by authors associated with Sad and Rabid Puppies.

The first, from Theo Beale:

“White American men simply don’t rape these days. At this point, unless a womann [sic] claims it was committed by a black or Hispanic man she didn’t previously know, all claims of rape, especially by a college woman, have to be considered intrinsically suspect.”

Then: Tor author John C. Wright (of the Sad/Rabid slate, which earned him a historic number of nominations) took great offense at the same-sex pairing that occurred as part of The Legend of Korra cartoon — but hey, why not let him talk about it in his own words?

“I am not unrepentantly homophobic. I am nothing of the kind. It is a lie.

I follow the Catholic teaching on same sex attraction and how one deals with it. In public, I have heaped scorn on those who use a children’s cartoon, one I loved, to insinuate their pro-perversion propaganda in a cowardly and craven way.

I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.

You and people like you who use the false cloak of compassion for homosexual [sic] to lure them into ruining their lives, you are the ones for whom I have no respect. You are the ones who hate them; you are the one who urge them down ever darker paths.”

That, by the way, is from a comment he left on the Tom Doherty letter.

Not a year ago. Last night. In response to this very situation.

(Apparently the best way to deny homophobia is to double down on it? I dunno.)

I’ll let you just chaw on that one for a while.

I find it no small irony that both the Sad and Rabid Puppies — who so strongly espouse freedom of speech, would then endeavor to rob that from Irene Gallo unless, gasp, we’re talking about another double-standard in play? It’s almost like women get treated differently in the world and held to different standards… hmm. *strokes beard thoughtfully*

Regardless of whether or not you agree with what she said, the fact remains: her publisher publicly rubbed her nose in the mess, then threw her under a bus, then threw her body to a pack of wolves. Again: publicly. Not privately. Perhaps this was all part of some legal stratagem or even a legal necessity — but what it feels like is an entreaty by the publisher to appease folks who believe and opine about really horrible things. And any time you want to make sure that your “inclusiveness” includes the most awful amongst us, please understand you’re not creating a safe space for anybody but the abusers. It’s like putting up a sign in your flowerbed: POISON IVY WELCOME.

I stand by Irene Gallo because she is a person who has the right to air her personal sentiments, regardless of whether or not we find them disagreeable. She has that right without being smacked across the nose by her employer in a sanctioned public shaming. I do not agree with Tor’s posturing on this point because it represents a double-standard of sexism and favoritism. I do not agree with Tor because they are opening the tent flap to the worst among us. The publisher is cultivating an invasive species with a letter like that. They are lending them space on the debate floor, turning this whole affair into a clownish, brutal, and bullying mosh pit.

P.S. Comments are off because at least someone is smart enough not to open the sewer grate.

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