Debarkle Chapter 30: Hate, Myth and Puppies

This chapter comes in two parts. The first part is intended as a brief overview of events related to the controversial blogger commonly known as Requires Hate. It is a sketch of a common understanding of a set of events and opinions about a real person. The second part takes a step away from the reality (and the real people hurt by those events) to look at the myth that followed. It is the myth-based-on-reality Requires Hate that would become a topic within the events of the Debarkle.

2014’s fandom controversies were not confined to the SFWA or Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy campaign. A distinct issue arose around the review blog Requires Only That You Hate. The blog’s author was a pseudonymous writer, who had worked through a variety of different handles over the years. Under the name “A Cracked Moon” the reviewer had fallen a few votes short of being a 2013 finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer[1].

While the reviewer had used several names over the years, they became more generally referred to as “Requires Hate” — a name that was suggestive of the signature style of the reviews. In particular, the blog had published several reviews heavily criticising books by notable authors for racism and mishandling themes on gender, sexuality and sexual consent. Those reviews had led to high profile internet arguments. In particular, Requires Hate’s reviews had used violent rhetoric towards authors. The extremity of the attacks was viewed as both excessive and trolling by many people but was also defended by some as a hyperbolic way of expressing legitimate issues.

During 2014 matters came to a head when the Requires Hate identity was linked with the pseudonymous science fiction writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew[2]. Sriduangkaew was a Thai writer whose fiction was receiving a lot of positive critical acclaim. Sriduangkaew’s work had led her to become a finalist for the Campbell/Astounding Award for Best New Writer in the 2014 Hugo Awards. With speculation already circulating that Sriduangkaew and Requires Hate were one and the same, the connection was confirmed by the editor and author Nick Mamatas who had been an advocate for Sriduangkaew’s work.

While Requires Hate’s high profile disputes with famous authors were widely known, during the controversy several other people who had known her online made credible claims about her engaging in bullying or emotionally abusive behaviour. In dual online apologies in her Requires Hate persona and in her author persona, Sriduangkaew acknowledged that she had hurt people emotionally by her actions online[3]. With many people digging into her internet history, her earlier online presence on the social media/blogging platform LiveJournal under the moniker Winterfox and also on an RPG forum known for ‘toxic’ internet culture, had also been revealed. In addition, Sriduangkaew was targetted by online harassment sites including Encylopedia Dramatica and Kiwi Farms. Sriduangkaew’s real name and identity were also exposed, helping fuel further harassment.

Author Laura J Mixon attempted to establish a long-standing pattern of behaviour by Requires Hate in a report that classified a set of interactions by her under various names over several years. While extensive, the report would come under a range of criticisms for its methods, accuracy and the ethics of singling Sriduangkaew out.

In a different timeline, discussion of Requires Hate and the Mixon Report would likely have been a massive topic within fandom in 2015. Events would prove otherwise. However, as a consequence, many of the inter-connected issues within this topic were left unresolved. In particular

  • how fan-spaces should respond to allegations of bullying
  • the role of race and gender and power disparities in fan spaces and in online disputes
  • the extent to which people can change and which people have the right to forgive

Multiple narratives surround the issue and unpacking even some of them is beyond the scope of this chapter. Indeed, with many of the original posts no longer available (and many that are, including the Mixon report, only available in archive form) it would be a substantial challenge to reexamine events.

However, while there was a real person in these events and real harm caused to many people, it is a quasi-fictional person that begins to play a role in the events of the Debarkle. The quasi-fictional person is Requires Hate the myth, a character based on people’s superficial reading of the events above and extrapolated into a personification of supposed left-wing intolerance. In reality, there was little or no interaction that I can find between the real blogger known as Requires Hate and the key figures gathering in support of Larry Correia’s Sad Puppy campaign. However, as the scandal progressed in 2014, “Requires Hate” would be cited as an example by supporters of the Sad Puppy campaign as an example of what they claimed to be fighting against.

In this mythological version, Requires Hate was characterised not as an outlier in terms of vitriolic rhetoric or behaviour but in choice of target. For example, here is Larry Corriea:

“The fun part of this for me is watching all of the politically correct writers freaking out this week about how her behavior is totally unacceptable. How career sabotage, fake reviews, slander, libel, trolling, doxxing, and threats are the worst things ever… Yet, I wonder… Where were all these people when it was me getting attacked?
Oh, that’s right. I’m on the other team, so anything goes against non-SJWs.”

And a few days later:

“You know, all the stuff Requires Hate did to the wrong people. The threats, harassment, and slander weren’t special or unique. My side is used to them. Hell, according to the SJWs I’m a racist, sexist, homophobic, wife beating, rape apologist. None of those things are true, but it doesn’t matter to the SJWs. I’m a foe, and thus must be shunned. They stick as much stuff like that out there as possible in order to build a narrative about their targets. It is pervasive. The uninformed read those things and believe them.”

At Mad Genius Club, Dave Freer also had strong opinions on the matter:

“Yes, they’re up in arms because they finally figured that one of their leading SJW (Nominated for Hugo? Much better than Larry, naturally. I mean he just taught hundreds of victims how to defend themselves. She abused victims and was thus adored by the SJW. Much more deserving./sarc off) was actually also attacking them. Now, the little graphs are pure GIGO, of course (I can explain, but trust me. Math-stats is something you can trust me on). We’ve had the same sock-puppet here. Winterfox IIRC. So, I suspect, have many others… but we, and anyone else not among the chosen ones, the darlings of the Traditional Establishment, are not going to rush off and tell the enablers and encouragers of this conduct that we don’t like it. We just deal with it and move on, because it happens to us all the time.” [4]

Again, Freer, like Correia, claimed that the style, intensity and volume of abuse that was being attributed to Requires Hate in the Mixon report were commonplace for writers like himself. For Freer, it was not the violent language or the people saying they were victimised (he implies that they should just “deal with it and move on”) but the criticism of racism or homophobia or misogyny that were the issue. He followed up this claim a week later:

“They’re trying to please, to “be good”, but the perpetrator will find something to give them a beating about. So they will try even harder to second guess and oblige the perpetrator’s every whim. They are, de facto, entrapped slaves. It’s vile behavior, whether done by a man to his partner, or ‘Requires Hate’ or Rose Eveleth to an unsuspecting scientist (yes a week on, and SJW behavior has changed… not at all. See how they learn and fix). It’s remotely possible the abuser is unaware of their own behavior, but it is more likely that they enjoy it, and rationalize its acceptability – ‘he deserved it.’ ‘I only hit her because I love her’, ‘it’s because I want more women in science, he deserves it’ or ‘I’m punching up.’ “

What had angered Freer on this specific occasion was the controversy over a sexist shirt worn by a scientist in an interview about the Rosetta Project[5]. One of the people who had criticised the shirt was the podcaster Rose Eveleth[6] which is why Freer mentions her directly after Requires Hate. In reality, the scientist in the shirt did face a social media storm but what Freer avoids discussing at all is that it was Rose Eveleth who was the one who faced a sustained bullying campaign and death threats:

“Science and tech writer Rose Eveleth was not a fan of the outfit, pointing out on Twitter how the choice reflects the pervasive attitude about women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM). The relatively mild critique was not well-received by men on the Internet, however, who responded with death threats and assertions she should kill herself.” [7]

Eveleth had not done any of the things that Requires Hate had been accused of and yet Freer lumped together criticism of pin-up style pictures on a shirt with claims of systematic internet bullying and with domestic abuse by men towards their wives, while wholly ignoring that the only real name he used was actually the victim of a bullying campaign.

At Sarah Hoyt’s blog, there was a similar sentiment in the comment section that being targetted by trolls was easily dealt with. One of the regular visitors at her blog commented on the Requires Hate allegations saying:

“The problem isn’t really that people have been hurt. The problem is that it got used to hurt people she classifies as the “wrong” people like you said. It’s OK to hurt us, but their own? That’s unacceptable. The irony is that when a troll attacks one of us? We smack them down and move on. It’s really not that difficult…provided you’re not afraid of being labeled as something you’re not.”

T.L. Knighton

Sarah Hoyt reiterated the same theme in another post:

“And of course their problem…is not that she did all those things, but that she used the tactics against the “wrong people” i.e. fellow “social justice warriors”, people who want to eliminate patriarchy and who are sure white privilege is hiding under their bed, ready to pounce out as soon as they relax — People who think that everyone who doesn’t think like them commits thought crime and should be silenced. That is, they are upset because tactics they sanction and use against people like us are being used against them.

In the same month, Hoyt would work Requires Hate into a long post complaining about Barack Obama.
The consistent presentation of Requires Hate by Hoyt, Freer and Corriea was that conservative writers were routinely facing such bullying. In addition that what constituted “bullying” was criticism about racism or other “social justice” issues and therefore that they were all just as much the victims.

As we will see when we move into the events of 2015, this pattern would continue. A mythical “Requires Hate” only loosely based on actual events, would stalk through the rhetoric of not just the Sad Puppy campaigns but even some of their opponents. The mythical version was cited as a kind of counter-balance to the existence of Vox Day as if the primary complaint about the real person had been one of ideological intolerance.


19 thoughts on “Debarkle Chapter 30: Hate, Myth and Puppies

  1. “Mixon would go on to ask people to nominate her for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer on the strength of her report.”

    Do you have a cite for that? I remember a lot of people promoting her for a Fan Writer nomination, but I don’t remember seeing her do it herself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Know as” should be “known as”.

    Good approach to building in the aspects of the RH story that are relevant to the Debarkle. Puppies respond with typical self-aggrandizing bad faith.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When Larry says, “Hell, according to the SJWs I’m a racist, sexist, homophobic, wife beating, rape apologist.”, I don’t think he realizes that in his public statements, he has unintentionally indicated that he is four of those things.

    I point this out a lot, based largely on my experience being educated at a boarding school located in the American south that mostly catered to wealthy southerners: People who are racist (and sexist, and homophobic, and so on), rarely view themselves as such. They know that racists are bad people, and they don’t see themselves as bad people, so they can’t be racist. They just cloak their racism by saying they have a “realistic” view of races, or cloak their sexism by saying they are just assessing the differences between men and women, and so on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, and no one, absolutely no one called him a “wife beater”. That’s his distortion of when a high school classmate of his wife’s got wind that Correia was buddying up with VD and called her to check that she was okay – something which was totally Correia’s own fault for being friends with a vicious misogynist. 🙄

      Liked by 5 people

      1. That’s a consistent pattern for Larry: He takes something mundane and blows it up into “I received torrents of hate!”, and he doesn’t recognize his own racism, sexism, homophobia, and rape apologia as such.

        Actually, that’s a consistent pattern for all the Pup and Pup-adjacent individuals. They consider the fact that people point out their rampant racism to be horrible and scurrilous attacks upon them rather than the legitimate criticisms that they actually are.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. He doesn’t simply “blow it up” — he lies. They paint the mythos that accountability is persecution because inferiors are not supposed to be able to criticize and hold those who see themselves as naturally dominant to account. That would mean that they aren’t the righteous superior who always have the right take and are in control of the society when they should be. They are supposed to be allowed to attack marginalized authors and accuse them of rigging and cheating on the Hugos but others aren’t supposed to be allowed to criticize and refute those accusations. The more who did — and especially if they were high status figures like David Gerrold and George Martin — the more lies they had to spin to paint opposition as attacks and their behavior as justified.

        That’s why the U.S. Republicans made wilder and wilder claims about the Big Lie and why the QAnon conspiracy theory kept swallowing up wilder and wilder conspiracy theories to keep going. If you can make the claim and you get support and no push back, then you’re dominating and have power. If you get push back, your dominance is being challenged and any strategy is justified in suppressing that and establishing your proper right to dominate. Right now, sitting Republican politicians are making up wilder and wilder lies on the Congressional floor about the January insurrection even though we have video tape of the insurrectionists chanting for their blood, beating cops and smearing their feces on the walls. Their entire policy platform is simply to keep themselves dominant and unchallenged.

        The Puppies were deeply flummoxed by people not accepting their lies and so those people were evil persecutors unfairly challenging their natural dominance. And it got wilder and wilder — Lou swatting Gerrold on the grounds that he was dangerous, claims about Tor controlling the entire SFF publishing field that were patently untrue, etc. Beale claims any time he gets caught out that he’s just playing 4D chess, Brad using sock puppets because he kept getting owned at Making Light, Hoyt’s lie that all the marginalized authors are profs trying to get tenure — it’s just a steady stream of garbage. And it doesn’t matter to them if they lie to us because we’re a howling horde of inferiors supposedly calling them names. If they can get a few people to join with them in supporting the lie, they’re happy.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. “Brad using sock puppets because he kept getting owned at Making Light,”

        That was one I missed. The frustrating think is that you somtimes can get the fealing that the truth doesn’t matter, if the lie comes from the right person and I don’t know how this can ever be fixed again.


    2. “They just cloak their racism by saying they have a “realistic” view of races..”

      The “I’m not racist, I’m experienced!” defense. I have heard this one so many times.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve actually enjoyed the things I’ve read by Sriduangkaew. I can see why she’d still have an audience even after Requires Hate and everything. I’m not in a rush to go and pick up any of her work as there’s a lot of excellent writers out there who aren’t horrible people too, but if I stumbled across a second hand copy of one of her books I’d be tempted to give it a try.

      Can’t say the same of any of the Puppies I’ve tried to read, even the ones who still have careers like Larry. They’re shitty people and fairly mediocre as writers as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hadn’t enjoyed the couple of stories by her that I’d read prior to her unmasking as a vicious abuser; I thought they were mostly frilly language and short on story. So it hasn’t been a hardship for me to avoid reading her work since then.


      2. I don’t avoid her stories if they appear in one of my regular reads, but I won’t seek anything else out. I have found her more recent work okay. Similar to JJ, I found her earlier work to be an impenetrable word salad. Poetic but impossible for me to figure out what was actually going on.


      3. Sometimes I like style over substance. I also liked the glimmerings of SE & E Asian mythology throughout the few things I’ve read. These days we’ve got Ken Liu and RF Kuang for that though. And hopefully with more visibility we’ll get even more 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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