Hoisting the Black Flag

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

― H.L. Mencken

black flagAs a journalist I have long been appalled at the state of the industry and particularly what passes for “journalism” within the entertainment industry and gaming. As we found out with GamerGate, journalists were being paid for favorable reviews, which is a gross breach of ethics.

Fast forward to today when Entertainment Weekly published what can only be termed a hit piece on Sad Puppies, and founder Larry Correia and Sad Puppies 3 show runner Brad Torgerson accusing them of every PC sin short of miscegenation with a goat, which would probably be considered an alternative sexuality by this bunch.

This complete load of horse tripe was written by Isabella Biedenharn (@Isabella324) and while EW has attempted to walk back their statements since the original article was published, the original link alone which has since been changed http://www.ew.com/article/2015/04/06/hugo-award-nominations-fall-victim-misogynistic-and-racist-voting was libelous.

And yes, I meant that word.

A little primer here. Libel is difficult to prove. For a published article to meet the standard it has to pass a few tests. First it must be provably untrue. The article originally claimed:

The Hugo Awards have fallen victim to a campaign in which misogynist groups lobbied to nominate only white males for the science fiction book awards. These groups, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies (both of which are affiliated with last year’s GamerGate scandal), urged sci-fi fans to become members of the Hugo Awards’ voting body, World Science Fiction Convention, in order to cast votes against female writers and writers of color.

Yeah didn’t happen. In point of fact, as EW even notes in their not-very-correct-correction: The slate (link added by me Ed.) includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

Which Izzy would have known if she’d bothered to, I don’t know, google, the slate. Moreover Sad Puppies is affiliated with neither GamerGate nor Rabid Puppies.

Second it must have actual malice, meaning the attack must have been deliberate. It’s hard to allege a piece which claims that the people behind it are racist, sexist, homophobes, is anything but deliberate. Izzy knew damn well she was trying to harm Brad and Larry.

Which brings us to the third big test — it must damage the target’s livelihood or enjoyment of life. In today’s climate the mere accusation of racism is enough to destroy careers, accusations of sexism or homopobia are enough to cause the “offending person” to have to self flagellate like a Maoist during the glorious revolution before a stint in rehab, and frankly companies which might do things like — I dunno — publish you or buy the movie rights to your book are likely to back off if there’s a shitstorm of “OMG HE’S NOT PC” around you.

Which damages future earnings.

Big no, no.

Now EW has since posted This “correction:”

CORRECTION: After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgerson explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

This is unacceptable. Izzy here has basically admitted she did no research of her own, but took at face value bovine excrement she read on someone else’s site.

This is unacceptable for any journalist. You do your own work, you double check your sources. AND EVEN IN AN OPINION PIECE YOU MAKE DAMNED SURE YOUR FACTS ARE RIGHT

You can defend your interpretation of them, what you can’t do is defend not having the facts.

It’s time to hoist the Black Flag. We on the Sad Puppies side of things have tried to take the moral high ground. We have tried to be reasonable, we have tried to extend the olive branch.

But this is beyond the pale.  They want a war, they can have one.

About Patrick Richardson

Patrick Richardson is a nearly 30-year veteran of the newspaper industry -- until {GIANT NEWSPAPER CONGLOMERATE} decided to save his salary. He has covered everything from local news to breaking national stories for such outlets as PJMedia.com and The Daily Caller.

20 comments on “Hoisting the Black Flag

  1. You forgot one, Patrick. All of us who were public supporters of the Sad Puppies have now been tarred with the labels “racist” and “misogynist”, potentially damaging our future career prospects in ANY field. Can you say class-action ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a statement of opinion; IIRC the term is “mere abuse”. Libel (in the US) requires a false factual claim to have been made.


    • It wouldn’t meet the standard for a class, none of the rest of us are prominent enough to have actually been damaged by the piece.


      • I feel damaged. Feels should be enough. More than enough.

        Actually, we’re tarred by association. I’ve told people about those authors. People will hear about how what I’m reading and recommending is supporting the next Birth of a Nation Baby Hitler Brigade…

        (and I do know a thing or two about libel – I say sue the lot of them, class action, and make it hurt. I’ll gladly donate my chunk to a Sad Puppies Writers Workshop).


      • because everything is permanant on the internet the links remain. and are searchable by prospective employers ect.


        • Which is my point. At my level, they pretty much always google me. I’ve been asked in an interview if I had a drinking problem that would interfere with work.

          I told them we don’t drink at all.

          “But you’ve been identified as a member of the “Barflies”. . .

          So, yes, it COULD affect my future employment.


  2. Many version of the hit-piece were saved with archive.today; see https://archive.today/http://www.ew.com/article/2015/04/06/hugo-award-nominations-fall-victim-misogynistic-and-racist-voting for the whole list.

    In the oldest version (saved at https://archive.today/L5Jw3), the calumnist herself linked to Brad’s blog post with the Sad Puppies slate. Popehat commented on Twitter that this might still legally be opinion rather than fact, but assuming it is a factual statement (as seems to me more reasonable but IANAL) the standard of “actual malice” may be fairly easy to prove: this is at least “reckless disregard of whether it was false or not” and probably even “knowledge that the information was false”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sentence says it all. “EW regrets the error.” This usually means that an editor changed the article, not the author.


  4. The original link is gone. They finally moved it to change the title.


  5. Going to lean towards it not being ‘legally’ opinion since the columnist linked to the SP 3 slate via Brad’s post because she also claims that:

    “…Fortunately, some sane voters allowed well-deserving writers to pull through. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword and Listen was nominated for Dramatic Presentation, and Annie Bellet’s Goodnight Stars was nominated, despite having a non-white, female protagonist….”

    It shows, without a doubt, that the writer did NOT do any research nor EW doing any fact checking before publishing the article .. because Annie Bellet is *ON* the Sad Puppies 3 slate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In short, the author if the attack is a talentless little twit with the ethical standards of – words fail me – the kind of Political Left idiot who wears a Mao cap AND a Free Tibet shirt.


  6. Burn it down, scatter the stones, salt the Earth.


  7. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    And there’s no way this was not deliberate. They took the most hysterical objections on Twitter–hardly a NEWS source–and promoted it as fact. Tor is hopping mad because it won’t get to claim a slate sweep for their ‘agenda’ authors. Though I’m quite certain that on the 4th or 5th ballot, the leftists in attendance will get together behind Leckie and squeak out a win over Skin Game. Because it’s–literary. Cause promoting. And dull as a root canal.


  8. Isabella needs to lose her job. The Sad Puppies list on Torgerson’s page is literally the first thing that shows up on Google. I hope Correia sues.


  9. I am now even more blown away upon realizing that SHE LINKED TO THE LIST after claiming there were no women on the list!

    MY MIND! D:


  10. As a “person of color” or whatever the **** I am supposed to be referring to myself as these day, I was completely offended by the article and anyone suggesting a fine man like Brad is a racist or homophobe or any kind of hater. He has always been kind and level headed from what I have seen of him and we have been internet friends for some time. The woman who wrote that article should be ashamed of herself.
    Also, he’s sorta married to a sister. Did she even try to look into what she was writing about??


  11. So far, everybody is talking, but as far as I can tell, only to each other – not to attorneys. When is the talking going to stop and the actual legal proceeding begin?


  12. […] Gazette – Hoisting the Black Flag [H/T Byron […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: