Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, had received a record-breaking number of votes for the Hugo finalists. Whatever else the Puppy campaigns had done, they had led to a substantial number of people voting in the Hugo Awards. In early August nobody except the people counting the votes knew how the majority of voters had voted. On the last day of July, Nicholas Whyte updated his round-up of how multiple bloggers had stated they had voted. He observed:
“This final snapshot doesn’t change the picture much; the three front-runners for Best Novel remain close to each other, and No Award remains in front in the other categories.”https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2501905.html
If the pattern of voting among these bloggers was reflected in the final voting then ‘no award’ was going to win several categories. Ambitiously, Jim C Hines made multiple predictions of how events would play out.
For others, early August was a time of retrospectives including posts from Sarah Hoyt, John Scalzi and long-standing Worldcon member Chris M. Barkley. Barkley was direct about his opinion of the Puppy campaigns:
“I consider what Brad Torgenson, Larry Corriea and Theodore Beale have collectively done, is a direct attack on what fans, writers, editors, publishers and literature itself. And I consider this attack on fandom and the Hugos is a personal attack against me.”http://file770.com/the-2015-hugo-awards-perspectives/
Barkley was less keen on using ‘no award’ as a response though:
“I repudiate the No Award movement and those that support it. I believe that a No Award given in any category damages the prestige and reputation of the awards. I will vote No award above a nominee in a category ONLY if I can determine if it is warranted by my personal standards and taste, NOT because it was part of a knee jerk reaction to what has happened or for any other political concern. Those who do so blindly, without any consideration of the work itself, are, in my opinion, NOT ethical votes. (And I can report that I cast at least one vote for a nominee in all of the fiction categories.)”ibid
Among the retrospectives was a podcast/live-stream by the Superversive SF blog on August 1. The show was a round-table discussion of the events around the 2015 Hugo Awards presented by Jason Rennie of Sci-Phi Magazine and podcast (a Puppy nominee for Best Fancast), John C Wright, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Brian Niemeier and Lou Antonelli among others. Rennie kicked off the discussion saying that he had “never been involved in anything this entertaining before”. Wright and Lamplighter pointed out that this was the first time they had voted in the Hugo Awards despite having gone to Worldcon before because they hadn’t understood the voting process previously. Lamplighter also suggested that it was unlikely that “no award” would win Best Novel because of the range of works on the ballot. Later, the discussion turned toward Worldcon guest of Honour novelist and screenwriter David Gerrold who had been consistently critical of the Puppy campaigns. It was at this point that events took another twist. Hugo finalist Lou Antonelli had this to say:
“I really didn’t know much about [Gerrold] before the Hugo nominations came out. Following his discourse and his level of discourse as a result, I personally wrote a letter addressed to the police chief in Spokane and said I thought the man was insane and a public danger and needs to be watched when the convention’s going on, and I mean it. I attached my business card. I said this guy’s inciting to violence. Somebody—a weak-minded might attack somebody because of his relentless strength of abuse. I think, honestly, I think he belongs in a secure psychiatric facility.”1:00:28 http://backup.superversivesf.com/2015/08/01/superversive-hugo-livestream/ transcript by Jim C Hines https://www.facebook.com/jimhines/posts/10153555284599283
The other guests did not react strongly to Antonelli’s comment and he didn’t elaborate on why he felt the need to contact the police department of Spokane (where Worldcon was being held). However, the following day he elaborated on what he saw as a commercial threat from the critics of the Puppy campaigns:
“Some of the most vocal people in the Puppy Kicker camp should hope there is not a sweep of No Awards because they crossed the line in attacking some authors into that’s called “exaction” under organized crime statutes. They threatened someone’s income or livelihood. It’s not extortion because no physical threat was employed, but when people say certain authors will never get published again, or that they will have to use a pen name in the future, they are committing exaction. Certain editors at Tor books – and one of the MCs at the Hugo ceremony – are guilty of this.https://web.archive.org/web/20150812083539/http://louantonelli.blogspot.com/2015/08/are-hugos-relevant.html?m=1
Of course,if the No Award threat fizzles, there’d be no cause for action in a court, but if an author – especially one who had a contract with Tor – loses out to No Award, they could sue for damages. That’s probably the real reason Tom Doherty wrote the response he did to the hateful bilge sputtered by Irene Gallo about the Sad Puppies. His lawyers advised that he’d better distance Tor the company from its editors in case an exaction complaint is filed after the Hugo results are announced.”
Antonelli didn’t name Gerrold specifically but “MCs at the Hugo ceremony” was probably intended to refer to Gerrold. The idea that Gerrold had “threatened” the livelihood of authors connected to the Puppy campaigns had become a truism on Puppy-supportive blogs and it had its roots in comments Gerrold had made on Facebook in April (see chapter 41). Gerrold had discussed how the campaign had likely damaged the reputation of Brad Torgersen:
“But the one thing that is growing more and more likely … the architects of this squabble will have indelibly damaged themselves in the eyes of the SF community. There are invitations and acknowledgments that will never be offered — not because it’s a blacklist, but because nobody wants to hang out with assholes.”https://www.facebook.com/david.gerrold/posts/10205360779551319?pnref=story
In context, Gerrold’s comment was an observation rather than a threat but it had become part of a list of grievances among supporters of the Puppy campaigns.
Antonelli’s comments were not initially noted and it would take a few days before the wider community of fans became aware of them. File 770 carried a report on Antonelli’s comment and Jim C Hines published a transcript (quoted above) on his own Facebook page. Antonelli offered a full apology on Hines’s Facebook page saying:
“Thanks for your polite request for an explanation. I’ve thought about what to say, which is painful to admit.It’s become public that on July 1st I wrote a letter to the chief of the Spokane Police Department expressing some concerns over potential security issues at the upcoming Sasquan.I’m sorry for what I did. Without looking at the big picture I reacted in a manner that I thought I was being treated. It was stupid and wrong. My subsequent participation on a podcast was also a mistake because the environment further fueled my fear and I lashed out again.I’m sorry I bothered the Spokane PD. They probably are ready to throw the butterfly net over ME when I enter the city. And I’m sorry and apologize to David Gerrold. He probably understands why I did what I did better than I do.I need to ponder the hurt I have caused. To give me time to think, after Sasquan I am taking a half-year hiatus from attending any conventions and/or submitting any fiction.I think I’ve become my own crazy uncle…”Lou Antonelli, Facebook comment
David Gerrold stated the he believed Antonelli’s apology was sincere and also asked people to now steer away from negativity
“But here’s my request. If you, the person reading this, are seeing those kinds of negative messages, then I invite and encourage you to please make a serious effort to steer those conversations away from further personal attacks. It doesn’t matter what side anyone is on anymore. Further attacks serve no one, they hurt all of us. I want people to come to Sasquan to have a good time. Let’s have it be an opportunity for healing and celebration. It doesn’t matter anymore which “side” you think you’re on — we’re all science fiction fans, this community belongs to all of us, and it’s time to start rebuilding it as a place where it’s fun for all of us. Please.”David Gerrold quoted here http://file770.com/david-gerrold-on-lou-antonellis-apology/#comment-315364
Unsurprisingly, Vox Day’s attitude to these events was more combative, stating that “All SJW tactics are legitimate when used against them.” However, the broader appetite for further conflict was not at Day’s level but events escalated regardless. Between Antonelli’s original statement and his later apology, the editor of Lakeside Circus magazine Carrie Cuinn had written to Antonelli, withdrawing an offer of publishing one of his stories.
“I had previously planned to published a story by Mr. Antonelli in an upcoming issue of Lakeside Circus. After hearing his statement of his actions, I contacted him and withdrew the offer. (And another email asking how he wanted the kill fee sent to him.) After that, Mr. Antonelli apologized to Mr. Gerrold, who choose to accept it, and I thought the matter was settled.”https://web.archive.org/web/20170922021721/http://carriecuinn.com/2015/08/10/a-statement-about-lou-antonelli-lakeside-circus-harassment-and-safety/
After his apology, Antonelli chose then to post Cuinn’s letter on his Facebook page, ostensibly to show people the consequences of making bad choices but without explaining the letter had been sent before his apology. Antonelli also included Cuinn’s name, title and name of the magazine. As a consequence Cuinn was then subject to abusive emails.
Despite the further issues with Antonelli’s actions, the executive committee of Sasquan chose not to ban Antonelli from attending the convention after further apologies from Antonelli and a request from David Gerrold not to ban him. This itself caused its own controversy, as the initial communication did not mention Carrie Cuinn. It was later clarified that Cuinn had been consulted but the decision lead the Events Deputy Division Head/Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony to resign in protest at allowing Antonelli to still attend.
After months of conflict, the controversy around Antonelli’s actions only added to the fears that the bad-blood from the Puppy campaigns would lead to physical confrontations at Sasquan. Whether those fears were justified or not, one person certainly was not going to be turning up in person.
“I turned my back on your freakish community and everything it stood for as soon as I had the opportunity to see it clearly for myself at Minicon in 1997. I dutifully did my panels and never went to another SF convention or attended another SF-related event ever again. I don’t associate with losers, child molesters, or creepy rape enthusiasts, and SF fandom consists of little else. I never submitted a short story to a science fiction magazine or submitted a novel to a science fiction publishing house because I didn’t have any professional respect for most of the community’s incompetent institutions.”https://web.archive.org/web/20150808205304/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/those-who-serve-and-know-not.html 
These comments were from a post where Day responded to Chris Barkley’s summation of the event of 2015. As the self-appointed supervillain of the story, Day went onto explain his motivation for his ongoing campaign against “SJWs” and fandom.
“All the SF community had to do was leave me alone and I would have left it alone. I did so, more or less, for 16 years. You didn’t. For over ten years I was repeatedly attacked, unprovoked, by various members of your weird little community. I ignored most of their repeated jabs, their libels, their false accusations, their nasty insinuations, and their insults. Out of sheer contempt, I ignored most of their attempts to obtain my attention. But when John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, N.K. Jemisin, and Steven Gould, among others, made an attempt to publicly destroy my reputation, I decided I would not ignore it any longer.”ibid
Nor was Day finished but rather, 2015 was just a beginning:
“So, you’ve got my attention now. And you should have known better to draw the contemptuous eye of the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil upon you. Because the Rabid Puppies, and the Dread Ilk, and the Ilk, and worst of all, my 391 397 Vile Faceless Minions, are coming for you. Not just this year, not just next year, but always and forever until you are gone. By all means, cry more about how much we hurt you; the VFM like nothing better than the taste of your tears.ibid
The Sad Puppies want to fix what the SJWs have done to the detriment of science fiction over the last three decades. I respect that, although I think it makes more sense to demolish a building and build anew rather than attempt to shore up a termite-infested structure. But Rabid Puppies are not Sad Puppies. We want nothing more than to crush SJW bones, drink SJW blood, and leave a smoking hole where every SJW institution used to be.”
Day went on to describe everybody who may have followed the No Award strategy as “unwitting minions” of his.
Day was bullish about his campaign against the so-called SJWs and he had reason to feel that the tide was turning in the culture war. Day had several rhetorical tactics he used against accusations of racism and misogyny:
- never apologise or back down
- use obfuscations of his position
- use verbally aggressive rejoinders and counter-accusations (such as accusing people of being pedophiles).
On the national political stage, somebody else was following a similar strategy and Day was delighted. When businessman and candidate for the Republican Party Presidential nomination Donald Trump responded assertively to accusations of sexism from Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Day was effusive in his praise for how Trump handled himself:
“This is how you handle it when someone calls you sexist, misogynist, or whatever other label they seek to use to discredit, disqualify, or distract you:”https://web.archive.org/web/20170119072523/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/trump-crushes-feminist-speech-police.html
The term “SJW” or social justice warrior had been current for several years but the general understanding of the term was of overtly left-wing people with a particular concern for issues around sexism, racism, homophobia and other societal-wide systemic prejudices (e.g. prejudices against the disabled). Day was defining the term more broadly to include even mainstream conservatives:
“Megyn, YOU are a part of the big problem the USA has. Every SJW, every self-appointed thought policeman is a part of the problem. And it is time to start making sure that every time they try to play thought police, we cram that concept right down their throats.ibid
“The big problem this country has is being politically correct.” It’s certainly one big problem that gets in the way of discussing any of the actual issues that matter.
It was good to see Trump put Kelly in her place. I have never understood the conservative affection for her. She’s a feminist, she’s PC, and she’s pro-immigration, ergo she is on the other side.”
Day had for years presented himself as a dedicated enemy of the left. This stance had enabled him to make broad alliances with people who would otherwise disavow some of Day’s more extreme positions (such as his statements on marital rape, or his support for terrorist murderer Anders Brevik). However, Day’s long term political frustrations were not directly with the left but with mainstream conservatism and the establishment of the Republican Party. For Day, conservatives had been repeatedly conceding ground on issues such as immigration, race relations, LGBTQI-rights and (of course) gender equality. Using “SJW” to refer to a Fox News host though was a stretch even for Day but he had another term to play with.
Over recent months, Day had begun to pepper his posts with a new term “Cuckservative”. The term was also being pushed by his allies Milo Yiannopoulos at Breitbart and self-styled investigative journalist and self-help guru Mike Cernovich.
In July Yiannopoulos explained the term at Breitbart after its use had been noticed in national media:
“Thus, “cuckservative” can mean many things. It could mean conservatives who are afraid of social exclusion and kowtow to the liberal media establishment. It could mean conservatives who play the left’s game of identity politics, accusing their internal opponents, such as Donald Trump, of being racist or sexist or rapey for spurious or opportunistic reasons.https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2015/07/28/cuckservative-is-a-gloriously-effective-insult-that-should-not-be-slurred-demonised-or-ridiculed/
Another popular use of the term is as a reference to conservatives who “virtue signal” with meaningless platitudes to suck up to places like MSNBC. Or it could just mean Lindsey Graham, Karl Rove, or, yes, Jeb Bush.
Mike Cernovich, a lawyer and blogger who has used the hashtag enthusiastically, describes what it means to him: “A cuckservative is a Republican who enjoys watching his friends on the right, and indeed his entire country, get screwed by the radical left.”
The use of “cuck” as an insult had already become entrenched at the infamous image-boards 4Chan and 8Chan and was derived from the term “cuckold” both in its original meaning for a man whose wife is being unfaithful but also for a sub-genre of pornography in which a husband watches another man have sex with his partner and specifically where the other man is Black.
By August of 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Centre was describing the origin of the term and how its usage was a common connection between the 4chan, GamerGate, and overt White Supremacists:
“The origins of the term are unclear. Its first known usage was in a tweet from @Drunknsage, a veteran of last year’s GamerGate controversy. On January 14, 2015, he tweeted at two users, “I’ve been over using that insult lately c—lord, c—servative, democ— c— sucker, list goes on.” The term even has its own hashtag, #c—servative, often used for ultra right conservatives to attack the Republican candidates as being weak or ineffective.https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/08/07/getting-cucky-brief-primer-radical-rights-newest-c-servative-meme
What is certain is that it fermented in the racist depths of the Internet, a rung below even Reddit’s recently deceased /r/CoonTown, on sites like My Posting Career, The Right Stuff, and 4chan’s /pol/, before seeping into civilized discourse.”
While “SJWs” were the imagined enemy of GamerGate and the Puppy campaigns, Day did not regard the “cuckservatives” as a new battle, rather they were two sides of one coin for him:
“It’s increasingly clear that the cuckservatives are the SJWs of the Right, being the self-appointed speech police:”https://web.archive.org/web/20150810203718/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/cuckservative-speech-police.html
The implication being that the broad coalition of people who believed they had been fighting a culture war against creeping political correctness in such arenas as video games or science fiction books, should now turn their energies towards fighting the more moderate sections of conservatism.
What’s more, Day was ready to codify his strategy and had his own publishing house to help him. On August 15 Day announced the cover and publication date of his new book of political essays.
“As I mentioned previously, SJWS ALWAYS LIE: Taking Down the Thought Police will be released on August 27, 2015, the first anniversary of #GamerGate. I thought those of you looking forward to the book might be interested in seeing yet another excellent cover by JartStar.”https://web.archive.org/web/20201108091638/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-bonfire-of-sjws-approaches.html
Day promised that there would be chapters on GamerGate and on the Hugo Awards. The release date would also be just a few days after the announcement of the Hugo Awards. Whatever the outcome of the vote, Day would be ready to roll onto his next campaign.
Meanwhile, fans from across the US and beyond had begun to head towards Spokane, Washington. Ominously, the state was in the grip of a massive wildfire season. As the start of Worldcon 2015 approached on 19 August, smoke and fire were heading towards Spokane.
Next Time: August Part 2
-  http://file770.com/sasquan-sets-new-hugo-voting-record/
-  http://www.jimchines.com/2015/08/10-hugo-predictions/
-  https://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/08/12/the-goat-kicks-back/
-  https://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/08/02/teoat-locus-review-hugo-voting-closes/
-  http://backup.superversivesf.com/2015/08/01/superversive-hugo-livestream/
-  Lamplighter corrects herself and says she may have voted for one thing before
-  around the 34 minute mark
-  http://file770.com/david-gerrold-on-lou-antonellis-apology/
-  https://web.archive.org/web/20170722120044/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/08/come-see-violence-inherent-in-system.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fvoxpopoli+%28Vox+Popoli%29
-  item 6 http://file770.com/pixel-scroll-810-where-the-scrolled-things-are/ and http://file770.com/sasquan-decides-not-to-ban-antonelli/
-  http://file770.com/carrie-cuinn-straightens-out-sasquan/
-  https://peripateticmeg.com/2015/08/28/sasquan-exit-stage-left/
-  I quoted this before in chapter 5. Coincidentally, the Nielsen Haydens also attended the same con but there’s no indication they encountered Day.
-  see earlier chapters
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Washington_wildfires