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Once More, Into the Kennels

Brad Torgersen has added a post to his blog: "Sad Puppies: We Are Not Rabid Puppies."

Larry Correia has also spoken up on MONSTER HUNTER NATION: "I Am Not Vox Day."

I commend them both for making the distinction so loudly and clearly. And I accept what they say. The Sad Puppies are not Rabid Puppies. Larry Correia is not Vox Day. I regret anything I might have done or said that blurred the line, or created a false impression that all Puppies were the same. (Admittedly, having 'Puppies' in the name of both slates does foster confusion). I am glad you set that straight.

But now... sorry, sorry... I have a few more thoughts that have occured to me about Puppygate. Questions, really.

I think we are all pretty clear on where the Rabid Puppy slate came from: Vox Day made it up. He listed a lot of books and movies and editors and writers he liked, told his followers to vote for them, and they did. Pretty cut and dried. And that's the last I will say about the Rabids.

I am a little more unclear on the process that created the Sad Puppy slate. Brad, if I recall correctly (and do correct me if I am wrong), you said that you solicited nominations and suggestions from the readers of your blog. Presumably Mr. Correia did the same on MONSTER HUNTER NATION. Maybe other blogs were involved. Sarah Hoyt? I don't know. In any case, you asked for suggestions, and you received a lot of them. And from those, you produced the Sad Puppy slate.

My question, though... how did you go about the winnowing? Presumably more than five books/ stories/ editors were suggested for each category. Yet you did not throw them all onto a long Recommended Reading list, as happens, say, with LOCUS or NESFA. Presumably some of your fans and readers did not see their own favorites reflected on the final list. So how was the slate selected? Were the books and stories you listed those that got the most votes? In other words, was your process a sort of "primary election," to select candidates for the general? Alternatively, did you pick and choose, putting on some suggestions, discarding others? Did you do that by yourself? Was it you and Larry Correia? You and Larry and some other people of like minds?

In your last blog post, your wrote:

"The objectives of Sad Puppies 3 have been simple and consistent:

● Use the democratic selection system of the Hugo awards.
● No “quiet” logrolling. Make it transparent.
● Boost authors, editors, and works — regardless of political persuasion.
● Bring recognition to people who’ve been long overlooked.
● Get some good promotion for new folks coming up in the field.
● Have fun!

I will take you at your word that these were the aims of the Sad Puppies, as opposed to those of the Rabid Puppies, which seem to be more simply, "Destroy the Hugos, outrage the liberals, and plunge all fandom into war."

I'll give you the fourth and fifth on your list. You did bring recognition to people who had long been overlooked (whether it was a good sort of recognition is another question, but you certainly got their names out there), and you did generate lots of promotion for some newer folks, most notably the Campbell nominees, and, well, the two young writers who have withdrawn.

I would quibble about your third stated aim. Yes, you did include some women and some minority writers and some writers with different political views on your Sad Puppy slate, but... oh, hell, look, I will grant you that one too, for the sake of argument. My interest is elsewhere.

And for aim number six -- have fun -- boy, howdy. Are we having fun yet? I'm not. Are you?

Moving on, though, I would like to focus on the first and second aims.

Number one, you wanted to use the democratic selection method of the Hugo Awards. And we're all in favor of democracy, of course. Except... was your own selection procedure democractic? The stories and novels on your slate, were those the ones that were selected most often, the ones that got the most nominations? If you tell me they were, fine... then you had a primary. But if you tell me that you (or you and Mr. Correia, or you and he and some other Sad Puppies) made judgment calls of your own from amongst the books and stories put forward by your readers... why, that would not be democratic at all. That would be, well, a clique operating behind closed doors. Maybe even a one-man clique, if it was just you.

So tell me, if you would: how did you get from lots of suggestions down to four or five per category? What were your criteria, and who made the final choices??

Which brings me to your second stated aim. "No quiet logrolling. Make it transparent."

The Hugo Awards have been transparent for decades. Not always, admittedly -- final vote totals and nominations were not generally released in the 60s and 70s, and there were always rumors of funny stuff going on behind closed doors. I credit Charles Brown and LOCUS with breaking that down, by making a point of demanding the hard numbers year after year, until the concoms finally began to do so. This year, as for many years now, after all the rockets have been handed out, as the fans begin to leave the auditorium in Spokane, they will be handed sheets with a complete voting breakdown of every category. Sometimes the complete list of nominating totals are included as well; if not, those turn up slightly later. Nominations not just for the books and stories that made the ballot, but for all those that did not. Everyone will be able to see how much they won by, how much they lost by. Hard numbers. Transparency.

(I find these endlessly fascinating myself. Every year, I find myself poring over the numbers at the Hugo Losers party, when I really should be drinking and flirting. What can I say? I can't help myself).

I am sure I would be equally intrigued by your own "primary" numbers. You favor transparency. Would you be willing to show us your own "primary" results? How many people made suggestions? How many books were nominated? How many votes did each of them get? Were any passed over for the slate, and if so, why? Hard numbers, same as the Hugos. Just so, you know, fandom -- and your own Puppies -- can know for certain that no "quiet log-rolling" went on.

One last question. You say you want inclusion. You say you want democracy. And you have already announced Sad Puppies 4, aimed at the 2016 Hugo Awards at Big Mac II. I understand that Kate Paulk of MAD GENIUS CLUB will be running things next year. I presume the mechanism will be the same -- a call for suggestions, which will then somehow be winnowed down to a slate. (If that's wrong, do correct me, I want to have the facts).

So maybe my last question is for Kate Paulk rather than you or Mr. Correia. I don't know. But it's a simple question. When you open up Sad Puppies 4 for nominations...

Can I nominate?

I read a lot of books and stories. I have editors and fan writers and artists I think are shamefully overlooked, same as you. I am a fan too. Can I nominate my own favorites, and be assured that they will be given equal weight to Larry Correia's nominations, and Brad's, and John C. Wright's, and all the other Puppies?

We want democracy. We want transparency. We don't want log-rolling. General elections need to be honest, but primary elections should be honest too. And you guys do NOT believe in any sort of political litmus tests, I know, you've said as much a hundred times... so I know you will welcome my own suggestions for Sad Puppies 4, right? Oh, and PNH and TNH, and N.K. Jemisin, and Connie Willis, and David Gerrold, and John Scalzi, and all my friends in the Brotherhood Without Banners... we all love science fiction, we all love puppies...

Can we play too?


Apr. 18th, 2015 10:02 am (UTC)
Concerning the Sad Puppies not being the Rabid Puppies: to the extent that the Sads did not promulgate their list as a slate, they're not as responsible for the problems as the Rabids are, so in reacting to the complaints, if the shoe doesn't fit they shouldn't wear it. (But I think they did promulgate it. There's a huge conceptual difference between even their slate and a traditional "recommended reading" list.)

But Correia and Torgerson cannot pretend that they did not ally themselves and seek and accept the support of this toxic man. The usual rebuttal is that Requires Hate is equally toxic and she's a SJW. But nobody on the other side allied themselves with her. It was an anti-Puppy, Laura Mixon, who did the research and exposed Requires Hate, while many others joined in the denunciation. Has any Puppy of either denomination denounced Vox Day, as opposed to apologizing for him or unconvincingly dissociated themselves from him?

George, you are entirely on target on the "primary", if there was one. As an average fan who didn't happen to read those blogs, I didn't hear about it, and if there was transparency in its voting I didn't hear about that either.

But there's a larger point. A "primary" of any kind is an attempt to game the system. Whether it's technically legal is beside the point; it's a clear violation of the moral standards of the Hugos, unprohibited only because 1) it would be impossible to write such rules that couldn't be gotten around; 2) it never occurred to anyone that someone would try to do this. (On the lines of the maid who quit when she found a baby alligator in the bathtub, saying, "I didn't mention my objection to this because I never thought it would come up.")

What a "primary" does it what it does in politics: it lines everybody on one side up behind one set of candidates instead of asking them to vote for their own choices. When the other side is disorganized and votes for whomever it pleases, this is a grotesque imbalance that produces grotesque results. The only possible response is for the other side to organize its own political party and hold its own primary. This is what has happened out in the real political world whenever a party has been one-sidedly formed in a non-party political situation. Then the Hugos become a run-off between two opposing slates instead of the joint choice of individual fans, Puppy and non-Puppy alike.

It would be a regrettable transformation, and the collective responsibility for it lies entirely on the Puppies.
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:39 pm (UTC)
"But Correia and Torgerson cannot pretend that they did not ally themselves and seek and accept the support of this toxic man. The usual rebuttal is that Requires Hate is equally toxic and she's a SJW. But nobody on the other side allied themselves with her. It was an anti-Puppy, Laura Mixon, who did the research and exposed Requires Hate, while many others joined in the denunciation. Has any Puppy of either denomination denounced Vox Day, as opposed to apologizing for him or unconvincingly dissociated themselves from him?"

I haven't see much evidence that suggests that anyone from the Sad Puppy movement sought out Vox Day. What I have seen suggests that Vox Day glommed onto an already existing movement whose goals ran slightly parallel to his own, used its already existing symbology, and subsequently utilized the combined numbers of its existing membership with the numbers of his own blog followers to execute a power play in favor of his Imprint Castalia House against Tor.

As far as Requires Hate goes, I'm not sure if discussion of her really belongs with discussion of Vox Day because the two phenomena are pretty different. I do think its interesting that even though she is being used as an example of the left policing its own, the backlash of the left against Requires Hate only started in earnest after it was revealed that her most vicious troll attacks were leveled against people with whom members of the left sympathize - other women of color, minorities, other feminists, and so forth.

I am dubious, as a result, that if the majority of Requires Hate's abominable behavior over the years was leveled at, say, presumably white men with names like Jack Jackson, who wrote Ender Wiggins fan fiction on EnderWiggins.Net, that the outcry against her would have been nearly as severe as what Laura Mixon revealed.

I have no way to prove that of course, but I don't think I've ever seen examples from EITHER SIDE of the spectrum of people really doing much of anything to police the vicious trolls and toads of their own side when they start attacking people on the other side of the line.

Until that starts to happen, I'm not sure how effective the measured dialogue of the few in the middle really will be.
Apr. 18th, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC)
I haven't see much evidence that suggests that anyone from the Sad Puppy movement sought out Vox Day.

Last year Larry Correia put "Opera Vita Aeterna" on his slate. Nobody had a gun to his head, making him do that. In addition -- and I admit that I have this at second hand, not from my own knowledge -- in a number of blog entries, Torgersen and Correia have made references to their campaigns this year being planned by the self-named "Evil League of Evil". This league comprises Correia, Torgersen, a few others...and Beale. He's been part of their group all along.

To quote two wise men:
"Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas."
"That stench don't wash off."
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:07 pm (UTC)
Since when does nominating a work make you in league with or friends with or even mean you agree with a person? There are a number of artists and creators that if you asked me for a list of "top" works for a given year, I would nominate their works. That doesn't mean I agree with their politics, agree with the things they say or agree with the things they do. The quality of a given work is independent of the politics or behavior of the creator. As something of a political odd ball, if I could never nominate works except those of whose authors I agreed with everything they did and said publicly, I would never be able to nominate a work.
Apr. 19th, 2015 12:57 am (UTC)

I am dubious, as a result, that if the majority of Requires Hate's abominable behavior over the years was leveled at, say, presumably white men with names like Jack Jackson, who wrote Ender Wiggins fan fiction on EnderWiggins.Net, that the outcry against her would have been nearly as severe as what Laura Mixon revealed.

The problem with your example is that RH in all likelihood wouldn't have targeted Jack Jackson except early on in her fandom career. By the time her Requires Hate blog came about, her favorite targets were women writers, white or not.
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:31 am (UTC)
"I haven't see much evidence that suggests that anyone from the Sad Puppy movement sought out Vox Day. "

Except you know, that he publishes John C Wright, and the whole "evil league of evil" thing, and the fact that LC picked him for the previous slate knowing he'd piss off liberals, and the fact that the Breibart article talking about the SP slate happened because of Day's Gamergate connections.

But, you know, other than that, not much.
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:43 am (UTC)
Requires Hate has been used by the Puppies and their supporters as "proof" that the Evil SJWs Are Evil, and there have been rather pathetic attempts to claim she hasn't really been rejected.

You have zero evidence that the Evil SJWs Who Are All Evil only rejected her because she attacked targets you like; that's just the latest, increasingly desperate, weaseling.
Apr. 21st, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
I think you are assuming that I am ideologically allied with the Puppies regarding this issue, which is not the case.

In point of fact, given everything George has advised, he and I seem like we're about 85% of like mind regarding everything about this entire affair. If I was posting over on Monster Hunter Nation, my posts would be far more critical of them than they have been of people here.

However, over here, my posts are directed at the people here and if I have something critical to say, I will say it. If people disagree with the content of those posts, that's perfectly fine.

Edited at 2015-04-21 05:08 pm (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC)
No, really, I'm only responding to what you say here.

Requires Hate actually has been rejected and shunned. The Puppies have attempted to claim she hasn't been, based on things announced while word of her exposure was still spreading, but which must have happened even earlier (if not by a great deal.) But since then, nothing, and GRRM pointed that out.

So now you come up with this new form of discounting the rejection of Requires Hate. Sorry, but it's not persuasive.
Apr. 21st, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
My point wasn't whether she actually has been shunned or not. She obviously has been shunned to some degree. But Whether she has been shunned or not is more or less a red herring. Some on the left, including George, have cited her as an example of the left policing its own. But the reality is that she was not shunned because she was an awful person. She was shunned because she was an awful person who claimed to be an ally of the left, but actually spent the vast majority of her blogspace actually attacking the left. Laura Mixon went into great detail pointing out just how much of her trolling was directed at her own supposed allies. In all of the commentary about it from the left, the scale and number of her attacks against minorities and feminists has been a recurring theme. Obviously, the fact that she attacked these specific targets is an important distinction to the people who have talked about it.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to weed out someone who was obviously a grifter running a long con on her readers and supporters. I'm not even saying its a bad idea to expose an ideological 'traitor.' I am just questioning whether it's really an example of what people on the left are claiming.

That is not what 'policing its own' means to me. Policing its own means you call out the abhorrent behavior, no matter who it's directed at as soon as the toads and trolls start to exhibit it.

This is sort of like the communists back in the 1800's expelling a cell of radicals who used a ton of marxist rhetoric... but spent all of their time setting off bombs to kill other communists. And then trying to claim the high ground because they went after the people who were making bombs while hundreds of other bomb makers were freely bombing capitalist buildings without them ever saying a word.

What would have happened, for example, if she had viciously trolled Vox Day? Or John Wright? Or even Torgerson or Correia? My suspicion is that very little would have happened because people would have viewed it as 'debate' rather than the abhorrent behavior that it was. I have seen this happen and so, probably, have you. Mainly because when these sorts of imbroglios break out, we don't look at the behavior of the people on our own side. We are quick to point out what we consider the inappropriate behavior of others, but we make all sorts of excuses for our allies. And in the end, even if we acknowledge that it's over the line, we justify it by saying the other side deserved it because they are such terrible people.

That is why Requires Hate doesn't count. Your side did not shun her because she is a terrible person. You shunned her because she turned her awfulness on your own.

Until both sides start shunning everyone who displays these behaviors, no matter who they direct it at, no progress will ever be made. I would rather the left be in the right, but it's hard to say the left is in the right when the left has just as many toads and trolls ready to sharpen their knives as the right.

Edited at 2015-04-21 08:37 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2015 09:16 am (UTC)
Are you familiar with the phrase "moving the goal posts"?

For as long as the Puppies believed they could claim Requires Hate wasn't being shunned without being laughed at for the claim, Requires Hate "counted." She was, according to the Puppies, proof of our hypocrisy, proof we were fine with bullies in our own ranks, and only objected to Vox Day because he was righteously attacking our hypocrisy. Now forced to accept that Requires Hate has been rejected and shunned (and not "to some extent", but completely), the previously demanded shunning "doesn't count," because she wasn't, according to you, attacking the right targets.

You make me tired, and sad.
Apr. 22nd, 2015 06:47 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I can't have 'moved the goalposts,' because I never established the goalposts in the first place. I am taking my own positions based on my own research, divorced of either side's established positions in this debate. I can't be changing my position on Requires Hate because I never HAD a position about her in the first place. And me acknowledging that Requires Hate has been shunned does not equate to any of the sad puppies doing it because they have no idea who I am and could care less what I think.

My position on this whole issue is simple... your side is taking all of the correct positions, but you are taking them in the most offensive way that you possibly can. Your side is correct, but your correctness is buried under a slew of attacks. Even during this relatively civil exchange on this very civil forum, you cannot seem to wrap your head around the fact that you are not talking to a sad puppy. I nominated no slate. I have read all of the work objectively. I am not subjectively pre-judging everything the other side has written by saying 'I will no award everything' or 'I will no award the categories that only have puppy nominees.'

You say I make you tired and sad. Well, I'm sorry if that is the case, but the one thing that I will leave you with is that you will never convince your opponents of anything if you decide to frame your argument in a way that automatically casts them in the worst possible light. Especially if you decide that you are going to start out by swinging blindly at the relatively neutral.

Honestly, you make me tireder and sadder, not because of your opinions, but because you would rather burn down the entire fandom of science fiction being 'right' than to be at all conciliatory towards those with whom you even mildly disagree.

Honestly, we probably should stop this exchange now. Neither of us are getting anything out of it and it hasn't been productive from the start.

Edited at 2015-04-22 06:48 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2015 10:07 pm (UTC)
Yes, of course, totally reasonable to post a long reply explaining how (according to you) I am wrong on every point and behaving badly, and then declare the conversation over.

What you are missing is that it's the Puppies that declared war. Their organized campaigning to get an item in every categor last year annoyed people, but really wasn't all that far beyond what had been done in the past, and it didn't provoke rage, hurt, or a fear of the Hugos being destroyed. This year, though, they made a serious attempt at keeping everyone but Puppy-chosen works off the ballot, and came remarkably close to success--complete sweeps in several categories. and originally three of the five slots in Best Novel--the least vulnerable category because it's the most popular. It was a serious and surprisingly effective effort to give Hugo voters no choice< but to gibe the Hugo to only Puppy-approved works.

Then on top of that, the chief Rabid Pully, Vox Day, who was a Sad Puppy last year, and is still by all evidence a good friend of the Sad Puppies, announced that he was going to personally ensure that there will never be any Hugos awarded again in any category where No Award wins this year.

That's a declaration of war.

And Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia were extremely slow to make any gesture at all toward dissociating themselves from VD, and those efforts were very mild.

Through it all, they've been hurling insults, putdowns, and accusations of conspiracy and dishonest voiting, treating it as a self-evident fact that no one could have voted for the non-Puppy nominated works or for the winners, because they really enjoyed them, found them fun reading, or for any reason other than rewarding demographics and political correctness over actual good fiction.

And now you're wondering why we're not being nice.

Apr. 19th, 2015 03:47 am (UTC)
Oh, and last year, Vox Day was one of the Sad Puppies. Correia and Torgersen were happy to work together with him, and this year didn't try to dissociate themselves till the backlash got quite bad.

And they still don't want to acknowledge how over the top racist and sexist he is.
Apr. 20th, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC)
"I don't think I've ever seen examples from EITHER SIDE of the spectrum of people really doing much of anything to police the vicious trolls and toads of their own side when they start attacking people on the other side of the line."

On this comment page, just above, I used an excessive metaphor, and Martin told me to dial it down. So I deleted my artisan-crafted nastiness, apologized, and re-framed my point. (If I successfully internalized the lesson, then I became a slightly better person.)

You said "ever". I've pointed out one example. One example is sufficient to render "ever" not actually true.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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