I apologize right now for flogging a dead dog, but this is one more visit to the Sad Puppies controversy. On the other hand, George R.R. Martin has done it, so why shouldn’t I? And neither he nor I are doing this out of some fetish for balance and even-handedness – rather, to highlight what the real crux of the issue is.

And I’m also posting this because of some – yes, far milder, but also more current – instances of precisely the same kind of hate speech and hate-motivated actions he talks about. You’ll find them elsewhere on Teleread, and they surfaced in the David A. Riley controversy.

Martin notes that: “I have had some exchanges with Larry Correia, the founder of Sad Puppies, and Brad Torgensen, who ran the SP3 slate. And both of them tell similar tales: of anonymous phone calls, libel and slander, vicious emails, death threats… death threats! All of these, presumably, coming from ‘my side’ of fandom, those who oppose the Puppies. Do I believe them? I don’t want to believe them.”

On that score, Martin is prepared to stand up for one Sad Puppies Hugo nomination: Laura J. Mixon’s shortlisting for Best Fan Writer, for her exposure of Requires Hate. As he states: “Laura Mixon is a ‘Social Justice Warrior’ if ever there was one. Unlike me, she might even accept that label. She cares about social justice. She hates sexism, racism, misogyny. She wants our field to be more inclusive. She has fought her own battles, as an engineer writing hard SF, and being told that women could not write hard SF. Laura is well to the left of me. She’s also a kinder, gentler, and more forgiving person than I am. And yet she did this, devoted months to it, uncounted amounts of efforts… because someone had to, because lives and careers were being ruined, because people were being hurt.”

Mixon’s own hugely detailed investigations can be found in multiple locations, but here’s one of the best. And she lists some activities of Requires Hate which have far-too-obvious parallels – although also much milder ones – in other more recent contexts, not least the David A. Riley affair. Paticularly these:

She has been involved in efforts to suppress the publication of fiction and reviews for those works that in her sole opinion should not be published.
She and her associates have pressured con-runners to disinvite speakers from panels and readings, constraining their ability to do business.
She routinely accuses people of doing the very harm to her that she is in fact doing to them—of stalking, threatening, and harassing—when they have done nothing except try to get as far away from her as they can.

And, as a follow-on to those activities, “at least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt. She has issued extremely explicit death, rape, and maiming threats against a wide variety of people across the color, gender, sexual-orientation, and dis/ability spectrum.”

As Martin says:

Requires Hate did not flourish all alone. Had she been a lone voice crying in the wilderness, ignored and shunned, she could not possibly have done the damage that she did. She had enablers. Allies. Others who shared her goals and values to a greater or lesser extent, and for that reason were willing to cheer her on, or at least turn a blind eye when she called for writers to be burned alive, or raped by dogs, or have acid thrown in their faces. I am not going to name names here, though I could. If any of you are reading this, you know who you are. Some of you even called for Requires Hate to be nominated for a Hugo as Best Fan Writer… the very award Laura is now in contention for (irony is a bitch). Instead of speaking up for the victims, you wanted to give an award to the person attacking them. You should be ashamed, every one of you.

And just as a reminder, in case anyone needs reminding, threats of actual harm are not free speech – they’re culpable offenses: “Under state criminal codes, which vary by state, it is an offense to knowingly utter or convey a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person. It is also an offense to threaten to burn, destroy or damage property or threaten to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that belongs to a person.” The very laws that guarantee free speech also draw a line when that speech crosses into actual threats. So next time someone threatens your dog – sad puppy or otherwise – know that the law is there for you, let alone when your own person is threatened. Internet anonymity is the only thing shielding the perpetrators of such threats.

Martin reminds me of what one commentator said about the great Australian writer and critic Robert Hughes: that his idea of a middle-of-the-road position was to march a battalion of tanks onto the center reservation and order rapid fire on both carriageways. And that’s where we should all stand. Because ends-justify-means arguments are the resort of fanatics and totalitarians everywhere, and intolerance itself is the enemy, no matter what ideological banner it drapes itself in. It’s what you do, not what you believe, that defines you.


  1. It is unfortunate that the internet seems to encourage some people, regardless of their personal political, religious and social convictions to let loose their baser instincts. Unfortunately people like this often do much to shape the conviction on each side of any issue that the other side is one filled with nothing but hate and rage.

  2. Laura J. Mixon is nice people. And she’s been writing for a long time. I read a book of hers called Astropilots, part of the Omni teen SF line, back in high school. It was really rather good.

    Her husband is Steven Gould, author of Jumper and a past president of the SFWA.

  3. I thought I’d highlight two counterpoints. Abigail Nussbaum and I agree and disagree on why we’re not voting for Mixon for best fan writer (in fact, we’re both No Awarding the entire category this year):


    The tl;dr bit that’s the best (and reflects how I feel about it, sans one point) is actually from one of her comments:

    “My problem is with what the zeal of that exposure reveals about our community, and with the message that I think is sent by rewarding it. You and I obviously disagree about what that message is, and you may be right, but let me be clear again that we do not disagree about the harm that Sriduangkaew has caused.”


    My other point is: it’s being looked at as though this were happening now, and the biggest blowup happened in 2012.

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