An open letter to Kate Paulk

Kate Paulk has a poorly written piece that is a reply to an article here. You can read Paulk’s piece here http://www.tangentonline.com/articles-columnsmenu-284/2955-jousting-with-straw-puppies-by-kate-paulk

Most of it is a confused claim about Ancillary Justice, which she doesn’t back up with anything other than the moving target of Puppy opinion. Her piece is intended as a reply to this article http://uncannymagazine.com/article/the-call-of-the-sad-whelkfins-the-continued-relevance-of-how-to-suppress-womens-writing/ by Annalee Flowers Horne and Natalie Luhrs which examines the Puppy critique of Ancillary Justice by comparison with the points raised in Joanna Russ’s notable book ‘How to Suppress Women’s Writing

Here is what I’d say to her:

‘Since the success of Sad Puppies 2 in bringing a handful of differently philosophical works onto the Hugo ballot…’

Different in what way? Because if you say they are conservative then you are conceding that it really was about politics and contradicting all the denials. More importantly none of the Puppy leadership have ever established that the recent Hugo nominees were all somehow the same ‘philosophically’. It is a claim without substance but one that you have kept repeating.

‘…there has been a stream of articles, blog posts, tweets, and every possible other outlet imaginable decrying the evil of the Puppies and how the campaign is the reactionary work of a collection of redneck, white-supremacist, homophobic, Mormon men trying to keep everyone else out of the field. Seriously? The last time I looked I don’t have the equipment for that, and I’m running Sad Puppies 4.’

No, not seriously. That is what is called a ‘straw man’ argument. Many people have objected to what the Sad and Rabid Puppies (notable how you censor out the Rabid Puppies from your account). Have some complained about the politically extreme elements in the Rabid Puppy campaign? Of course because that campaign really was politically extreme.

Do you have the equipment to do everything in your straw man? No. Neither did Sad Puppies 3 and Brad Torgersen. The disruption to the nominees was achieved by the combination of Sad and Rabid votes. The word for pretending that it wasn’t is ‘disingenuous’.

‘Of course, every time someone posts a lengthy critique of Sad Puppies, it usually comes with a lovingly constructed set of Straw Puppies who are then deconstructed and proven to be just as horrible as the author set them up to be.
So it is with the latest offering from a pair of self-described feminist geeks, Annalee Horne and Natalie Luhrs. Their article can be found in Uncanny Magazine issue 7 (http://uncannymagazine.com/), for those sufficiently masochistic to wish to wade through it, and makes extensive reference to How to Suppress Women’s Writing, by Joanna Russ.
They begin their construction of the Straw Puppies with the assertion that Sad Puppies 3 was an “attempt to take over the Hugo Awards” (which failed). To someone with little or no knowledge of Sad Puppies that bland assertion (unreferenced, of course) would probably go unchallenged. The truth is simpler: Sad Puppies 3 aimed to bring works to the Hugo ballots that would normally not be nominated. Nothing more, nothing less.’

An attempt to get things nominated that otherwise wouldn’t be? Sure. Nothing more, nothing less? That isn’t even disingenuous it is simply false. Quotes? Sure there is no shortage of quotes. Here is Brad Torgersen in the posts that announced Sad Puppies

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/announcing-sad-puppies-3/
Brad claims it is about fighting affirmative action:

Likewise, we’ve seen the Hugo voting skew ideological, as Worldcon and fandom alike have tended to use the Hugos as an affirmative action award: giving Hugos because a writer or artist is (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) or because a given work features (insert underrepresented minority or victim group here) characters.

Brad claims it is about fighting the WorldCon zeitgeist:

So, SAD PUPPIES has tended to push back. Against the Worldcon fandom zeitgeist.

Brad claims it is about politics.

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/how-you-can-aid-the-valiant-sad-puppies-3-campaign/
As noted in earlier SAD PUPPIES 3 posts, the point of the PUPPIES campaign 2015 is to try to get both people and works onto the ballot who are both a) wholly deserving and b) unlikely to ever be there, due to Worldcon’s ever-skewing and ever-more-politicized voting trends.

And this is just a tiny sample of things said by notable Sad Puppy leaders – in this case taken from the most authoritative posts on the topic.

‘Immediately after this libel,’

As a writer you should have access to a dictionary. Look up the term ‘libel’.

‘This tactic is itself a clever little piece of misdirection, making the authors’ views of the Sad Puppies appear to be so well known as to need no cites or references. In short, common knowledge, not the strawman they are setting up to dismantle.
The authors go on to imply that all Sad Puppy supporters had the same view of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (they didn’t: some thought it was an excellent space opera, others thought it was decent enough but certainly not the best of the year, and others thought it stank).’

Again with the straw man disingenuousness. Brad Torgersen (remember the guy who organised Sad Puppies 3 and who we quoted above associating it with fighting affirmative action) cited Ancillary Justice as an example affirmative action.

‘Leaving aside the rather unfortunate fact that it wasn’t (that honor went to “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” for good and sufficient reason),’

Certainly the work cited most often was If You Were a Dinsoaur, My Love, although it was notable how often Puppy supporters forgot that it didn’t win a Hugo and did win other awards. Nor was the opinion of notable Puppy leaders consistent and by your own argument it is awful to generalise about Puppy opinions. I suppose it is OK when you do it.

‘There has been a lot of unpleasantness thrown around in the wake of the Sad Puppies campaigns, but at this stage at least 90% of the unpleasantness has come from those who are against everything the Sad Puppies say or do – those who position themselves as the guardians of the Hugos and so forth.’

Really? ‘CHORFs’ ‘Marxists’ the endless rants from James May or your comments sections?

‘It certainly wasn’t the Sad Puppies who did their best to No Award the Hugos into oblivion.’

Well according to Puppy leaders No Award was the objective of your Rabid Puppy ally.

‘Nor was it Sad Puppies who committed actionable libel,’

The lack of anybody being actually sued for libel would suggest that it wasn’t anybody. However it was certainly a puppy supporter (Lou Antonelli) who made a police complaint to attack the Hugo Award ceremony guest of honour.

‘or unleashed such vicious harassment on the Sad Puppy favored nominees that several withdrew their nominations. That honor goes to those who take the authors’ view.’

The word for this is ‘lie’. Notable the people who withdrew kept having their own motives explained to them by Sad Puppies. Evidence of ‘pressure’ from non-puppies: zero. Evidence of unreasoning by Rabids, evidence of Brad Torgersen DIRECTLY contradicting what a nominee who withdrew said about her own motives?

Here is Juliette Wade replying to Brad Torgersen who had been busy claiming her true motives:

http://file770.com/?p=22293&cpage=2#comments
Brad Torgersen, you are pretty brazen, trying to speak for me, and I would appreciate it if you never attempted to do so again. I was entirely unaware of the Sad Puppy connection because I had deliberately been avoiding looking at your wall, much less your blog, for going on two years. My maintenance of our friendship was out of courtesy. I guess I was too idealistic, thinking that Sad Puppies might be over and that you would just be talking to me about some Hugo recommendations, but I do like to think the best of people. It should not be my responsibility to go and look up whether a person is being dishonest every time they say they like my work. Just to be clear, you have clearly got no idea of my motivations and are trying to spin them to your benefit. I was appalled by your actions in the Sad Puppy business last year and obviously made a mistake in thinking that you should be taken at your word (with the understanding that people include all relevant and important information when they are informing someone of something, which you did not do in this case.) I would never, ever have wanted to associate with Sad Puppies after last year, because of the depth of my anger over their behavior. I felt sick that you had deceived me and betrayed my confidence, and the fact that you denied having done so is irrelevant. You, and your actions, were what I was avoiding in pulling myself off the list.

Notably you then do the same thing. You declare you know better than the actual people who withdrew. Did you find that dictionary? Look up ‘elitism’ – setting yourself up as somebody who claims to know better than the little people is not a good look.

The problem here is the full retreat from reality. Pretending that things are what you want them to be rather than what they are is the road to madness.

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31 comments

  1. James May

    To a savage, technology appears to be magic. Your devotion to lesbian post-structuralist linguistic gibberish about “performative” and Spivak pronouns but without understanding those origins reveals why my researched explanations seem like a rant to you. Like a Solomons islander who builds a bamboo F4F Grumman Wildcat in the hopes it will return, your Cargo Cult mindlessly chant lesbian liberation dogma like the Yangs chanted “E Plebneesta.” Like an incantation, you hope social justice will emerge if only there are enough Leckian SF novels about the “genderblindness” and androgyny Conan the Barbarian stole from noble women during the Hyborian Age, when he forbade incest and imposed “compulsory heterosexuality.” The funniest thing about my so-called “rants” is you are in effect accusing the mostly forgotten primordial ideology you worship like Dagon of being a series of delusional rants; I agree. Reading Judith Butler is like reading the Necronomicon and then going nuts.

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    • Mark

      Bonus points for the Lovecraft references, James. Seeing all the places you pop up makes me thing you must have fingertips of steel to pump out that much commentary every day! Have you considered NaNoWriMo? You’d be a shoo-in to hit the word count, and if not you could just inflate it with copious quotes cut-n-pasted from twitter.

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      • James May

        How about “The Patriarchy Stole My Luggage,” and then enshrine it in some kind of studies courses across America including a crusade in comics, tech, gaming and SFF together with goofball theories how tigers only know they’re heterosexuals because they use pronouns every day to reassure themselves? I love how your lesbianic cult sees itself as a “back to nature” movement, back before men created “heterosexuality.” Remember, you’re the ones who gave Kameron Hurley two Hugos for her paranoid claim men have erased noble women from military history… plus stole their luggage. LOL

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      • Mark

        If that’s the sort of thing you’d enjoy writing then go for it, James. If you do sign up for NaNoWriMo then let me know, I’ll watch your word count with interest – I’m told that impressing the watching public is what drives people to write so many words in such a short space of time.

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      • James May

        Well, Mark, thanks for taking time out from hiking the Inca Trail and climbing erupting volcanoes to let us know how nobly and manly you ration words. Your word restraint is admirable.

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      • Mark

        Goodness, that does sound manly, doesn’t it? If I do undertake those adventures one day, I guess I can apply to join Brad’s club.

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  3. CPaca

    “Lesbian Feminists are Plotting to Eat My Soul” would be a great title if he wrote a book. I might read it.

    I can see Stross doing it as a story – taking the title *literally*.

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