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Internet Explodes Around Irene Gallo

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Irene Gallo Tor Creative Director-smallIf you’ve been following science fiction publishing for the past 48 hours, you may have found yourself asking, “Who the heck is Irene Gallo?”

The talented Ms Gallo is the Creative Director of Tor Books, and the associate publisher of the marvelous Tor.com, where she’s done some exemplary work. On May 11, in response to a question on her personal Facebook page, she wrote a quick and rather clueless assessment of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies movement:

There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.

Virtually no one took notice of Irene’s comments until Vox Day tweeted a screenshot on June 6th, and Larry Correia took note of it on Facebook, saying:

Irene Gallo is the Creative Director at Tor… I think we should share the love. Everybody deserves to see this wisdom in action.

As of today, Larry’s post has generated 169 responses, most of them scathingly negative. Many also left comments on Irene’s original post, pointing out that she was walking a fine line, tacking a personal opinion onto a post linking back to Tor.com, that was promoting a future publication from Tor Books. Robert Boyer summarized it thusly:

Here’s the big problem for Irene. If you look through her page, which has been screenshot six ways ’til Sunday by now, she posts all of her ongoing WORK projects and constantly references it. She is toast if anyone sues her, like for example the Tor authors that the Sad Puppies slate selected and she called “bad-to-reprehensible.” Excellent. Way to rep the company and your own authors.

Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher

Matters accelerated from there. Best-selling author Jim Butcher, in a comment on Larry Corriea’s Facebook page, said:

She is making actual, factually untrue statements here… She might be a really wonderful individual, in person, but her facts are dead wrong, bordering on libelous, and taking such a position in public on a hotbutton issue really undercuts Tor’s credibility as a politically neutral, or even tolerant, business.

Tor author John C. Wright, who was nominated for six Hugo awards this year through the Rabid Puppy ballot (including three nominations for “Best Novella”), addressed the issue on his blog on June 8.

I had no idea she had this opinion of me, or so much contempt for the books she adorned so skillfully…

Irene Gallo should have been penning me polite notes of congratulation on receiving an historically unprecedented number of awards for the prestigious Hugo Award, and rejoicing that any victory for me or for Mr Anderson (who would be receiving his first ever Hugo for his life’s work producing over 50 bestsellers) would reflect well on our main publisher whom we both loyally serve, Tor Books…

The question here is not Irene Gallo as a private person uttering these libels. The question here is why she is repeating the libels issued by Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Moshe Feder, who are likewise highly ranked editors within the corporation.

This implies, but does not prove, that we are not dealing with private opinion but the official stance of the corporation. I have asked my editor to have Tor Books rebuke this libel. Time will tell.

Tom Doherty

Tom Doherty

On June 8th Tor publisher Tom Doherty took the unusual step of writing an open letter at Tor.com addressing the issue, with a thinly disguised reprimand of Ms. Gallo.

Last month, Irene Gallo, a member of Tor’s staff, posted comments about two groups of science fiction writers, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, and about the quality of some of the 2015 Hugo Award nominees, on her personal Facebook page. Ms. Gallo is identified on her page as working for Tor. She did not make it clear that her comments were hers alone. They do not reflect Tor’s views or mine. She has since clarified that her personal views are just that and apologized to anyone her comments may have hurt or offended…

Tor employees, including Ms. Gallo, have been reminded that they are required to clarify when they are speaking for Tor and when they are speaking for themselves. We apologize for any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused. Let me reiterate: the views expressed by Ms. Gallo are not those of Tor as an organization and are not my own views.

In the last 24 hours, the industry has rallied behind Ms Gallo, strongly condemning both the authors who pressured Tor into making a statement, and Tor for making one.

There are far too many posts and comments to cite here, but I’ll quote a handful, starting with a very well written (and extremely funny) article by Chuck Wendig, author of The Blue Blazes and Blackbirds, “I Stand By Irene Gallo.”

I find it no small irony that both the Sad and Rabid Puppies — who so strongly espouse freedom of speech, would then endeavor to rob that from Irene Gallo unless, gasp, we’re talking about another double-standard in play? It’s almost like women get treated differently in the world and held to different standards… hmm. *strokes beard thoughtfully*…

I stand by Irene Gallo because she is a person who has the right to air her personal sentiments, regardless of whether or not we find them disagreeable. She has that right without being smacked across the nose by her employer in a sanctioned public shaming. I do not agree with Tor’s posturing on this point because it represents a double-standard of sexism and favoritism. I do not agree with Tor because they are opening the tent flap to the worst among us. The publisher is cultivating an invasive species with a letter like that. They are lending them space on the debate floor, turning this whole affair into a clownish, brutal, and bullying mosh pit.

The Mirror Empire-smallIn “The Revolution of Self-Righteous Dickery will Not Be Moderated,” Kameron Hurley, author of the David Gemmell Award nominated The Mirror Empire, writes:

Then I found out that a Tor Books employee who made an off-hand comment about The Geek Feminist Revolution a month ago and clarified the term “Sad Puppies” in the comments on her personal Facebook page got a public dressing-down from her employer after somebody complained that she’d, you know, said a true thing.

OH THE IRONY.

In his article “America’s Largest Sci-Fi Publisher Gives in to Reactionary “Sad Puppies”,” Jay Hathaway at Gawker writes:

On Monday, 79-year-old Tor founder and president Tom Doherty gave Gallo a public dressing-down on the publisher’s blog and apologized to the Puppies for “any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused.”

Doherty asserted that “media coverage of the two groups initially suggested that they were organized simply to promote white men, which was not correct,” and listed a handful of women and people of color on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies’ slates.

But the problem with the Puppies was never that they only nominated white men. It was that head puppy Brad Torgersen and his supporters bashed previous Hugo winners as beneficiaries of “tokenism and affirmative action, for the sake of the sexuality, gender, and ethnicity of the authors themselves…”

You can see why there might be some confusion about their supposed commitment to diversity.

And Carolyn Cox at The Mary Sue, in her article “Tor Condemns Creative Director Irene Gallo for Posting About the Rabid/Sick Puppies on Her Personal Facebook,” writes:

Isn’t it ironic how quickly free-speech-obsessed Internet jerks forget their censorship concerns when it’s an influential woman (particularly one with “SJW values”) that’s being silenced?…

That being said, and without painting all puppies with the same brush strokes (not all puppies!), it’s worth noting that Vox Day has a history of racism and misogyny (“White American men simply don’t rape these days. At this point, unless a woman claims it was committed by a black or Hispanic man she didn’t previously know, all claims of rape, especially by a college woman, have to be considered intrinsically suspect”).

Tor author John C. Wright, who earned a personal record of nominations on the Puppy slate and once condemned the Legend of Korra creators as “disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth” for writing a same-sex relationship between two women, also posted a homophobic response last night to Doherty’s piece. Regardless of the women and writers of color nominated as part of the Sad Puppies slate, Sad Puppy leader Brad R. Torgersen’s stated mission implies that diversity and representation are ruining sci-fi.

I mention all this because, in the same way that anyone truly concerned about ethics in game journalism (lololol) should distance themselves from Gamergate, if you are a Sad Puppy and feel you have been unfairly characterized by Gallo’s comments, then you probably would be better off in a movement whose leaders don’t have such unsavory and visibly specific views.

On Facebook, support for Ms Gallo among her peers has been swift and strong. Paul Witcover (Tumbling After, The Emperor of All Things), writes:

Oh for crap’s sake — Tom Doherty pitches a loyal employee under the bus in his eagerness to defend the poor, put-upon puppies — another profile in gutlessness from a mainstream publisher. Really shameful.

Black Gate author Michael Canfield (“The Whited Child“) writes:

So now the Sad Rabid Puppies want someone ousted for something she said. Thought crime! How socially-justicey warriory of them.

And Black Gate author Jeffrey Ford (Crackpot Palace, The Well-Built City Trilogy) writes:

It’s always in the back of my mind, but it strikes me today that this might be a good juncture for me to express my absolute admiration for the job that Irene Gallo has done at Tor.com. Her work there is revitalizing the field through the diversity of voices being represented, the introduction of incredible new writers, the use of great editors like Ellen Datlow, Ann VanderMeer, etc., and for putting a stake squarely in the heart of the belief that electronic publication would mean the diminishment of wonderful illustration and cover art — long a life line of the field. Man, the art work is astoundingly good.

Tracking down additional articles (and there are many) is left as an exercise for the reader.

As of June 9th, there has been no additional comment from Tor or Ms. Gallo.

23 Comments »

  1. Proverbs 29:11 – “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

    There’s not much holding back on any topic, anywhere, in social media these days.

    There are quite a few topics I’ve avoided in The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes posts because I don’t want to write a primarily negative post. And there are some pastiches and subjects I would be more than willing to unload about…

    Comment by Bob Byrne - June 10, 2015 8:04 am

  2. I found it most telling that Mr. Beale saw the facebook post two hours after the comment took the screenshot (which clearly shows this) and decided to *sit* on it for a month and only release it last weekend.

    Comment by Princejvstin - June 10, 2015 8:44 am

  3. At this point, claiming that Brad Torgersen and the Sad Puppies “stated mission implies that diversity and representation are ruining sci-fi” is indefensible. Surely Torgersen and his associates have gone blue in the face by now explaining, and re-explaining, and repeating, and re-linking their explanations, that all they care are about is good fiction. Not the race or sex of the author. Their position–agree with it or not–is that the fiction being nominated and voted for Hugos is of sub-par quality.

    Given that they’ve said this dozens of times in multiple venues, why continue to claim that third-parties can read between the lines to find their true intentions?

    Comment by Sean Stiennon - June 10, 2015 10:45 am

  4. My other thought on Irene Gallo’s defenders is that they seem to believe “neo-Nazi” is a trivial insult on the level of “poopyhead”, and not a serious accusation that could easily be considered libelous.

    Comment by Sean Stiennon - June 10, 2015 10:51 am

  5. > There’s not much holding back on any topic, anywhere, in social media these days.

    Bob,

    You and I are in complete agreement on this. The narrative here seems to be the story of a series of over-reactions.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 10, 2015 11:12 am

  6. > I found it most telling that Mr. Beale saw the facebook post two hours after the comment took the screenshot (which clearly
    > shows this) and decided to *sit* on it for a month and only release it last weekend.

    Prince,

    Say what you like about Theo Beale, but he knows how to hold his ammunition.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 10, 2015 11:13 am

  7. > Given that they’ve said this dozens of times in multiple venues, why continue to
    > claim that third-parties can read between the lines to find their true intentions?

    Sean,

    I think the implication is that much of their explanations have been unconvincing. It’s their actions that matter.

    An interesting example is John C. Wright, who condemned the creators of The Legend of Korra as “disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth” for portraying their heroine as lesbian.

    In his response to Tom Doherty’s letter, Mr. Wright tries to refute the accusations of homophobia against him by saying:

    “I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.

    You and people like you who use the false cloak of compassion for homosexual to lure them into ruining their lives, you are the ones for whom I have no respect. You are the ones who hate them; you are the one who urge them down ever darker paths…

    Your evil, vile, repulsive philosophy of pure selfishness is what I hate, not the homosexuals you use as a shield for that philosophy.”

    So yes, the Puppies are offering sometimes lengthy rebuttals for the accusations against them. But in many cases, those rebuttals are just adding more supportive evidence.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 10, 2015 11:25 am

  8. I haven’t seen any evidence that Mr. Wright treats homosexual people with anything but kindness and respect, so I’m not convinced “homophobic” is accurate. I like to think it’s possible to have a moral disagreement with someone without hating or fearing them.

    Comment by Sean Stiennon - June 10, 2015 11:39 am

  9. This is a tainted subject, it does more harm than good to everything/one that is foolish enough to get involved in it. Best to stay the heck away at all costs because both sides are too large, too well-read, and too good with the written word for any clear ‘winner’ to ever be decided. And we aren’t talking world hunger, a lethal disease, or global warming, this is about a science fiction book award… sheesh.

    Comment by Scott Taylor - June 10, 2015 11:54 am

  10. > I haven’t seen any evidence that Mr. Wright treats homosexual people with anything but kindness and respect

    You and I are just going to have to disagree on that, Sean. When the creators of a TV show are called “soulless sacks of filth” for the simple crime of showing two women holding hands, I can’t see that as any kind of respect whatsoever. That seems to be an attack on an entire lifestyle, pure and simple.

    > I like to think it’s possible to have a moral disagreement with someone without hating or fearing them.

    There I agree with you. However, Mr Wright’s loud claims that he “hates” creators who portray homosexuality as normal, tell me I have to share an industry with someone who preaches hatred and intolerance.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 10, 2015 12:06 pm

  11. > This is a tainted subject, it does more harm than good to everything/one that is foolish enough to get involved in it.

    Scott,

    I understand the urge to turn your back on yet another dust-up in fandom.

    But there’s a lot of confusion and high-volume accusations on this topic, and I thought a simple summary of the facts of the case would help all those e-mailing me asking what it’s about.

    Comment by John ONeill - June 10, 2015 12:10 pm

  12. A question I have is if those white knighting Ms Gallo (wendig, hurley, etc) would be running around with torches and pitchforks if she had said and behaved the opposite. If she had attacked the anti-sad puppies in a similiar vitriolic and unprofessional manner (and I dont just mean her words, but also her reaction when she got pushback).

    I, personally, think most of them would…

    >>I found it most telling that Mr. Beale saw the facebook post two hours after the comment took the screenshot (which clearly shows this) and decided to *sit* on it for a month and only release it last weekend.<<-princejvstan

    Ive seen a few people bring this up and act as if it lessens Ms Gallo's actions and I dont get it. If the anti-puppies suddenly discovered, or it was suddenly revealed that Vox, or Wright, or Torgerson, or Corriea had written/done something in years past that was eggregious and unprofessional, people would have no issue with it becoming a point of of contention.

    Comment by TW - June 10, 2015 12:45 pm

  13. John: I was speaking more about Irene putting her career on the line to comment, not you cataloging the process.

    Comment by Scott Taylor - June 10, 2015 5:19 pm

  14. […] enough summary. ((A fuller summary can be found on BlackGate). A few […]

    Pingback by I Stand By Irene Gallo | Alas, a Blog - June 10, 2015 7:39 pm

  15. @John

    Well that’s the thing. “Holding Ammunition” does point to that Beale wasn’t so offended as to point it out immediately. He waited to tactically unleash it at a time of his choosing and cause chaos and dissent.

    @TW. As far as her actions, given some of the things that Mr. Beale has said, perhaps right wing nationalist and extremist would have been technically more accurate than neo-nazi.

    A visit to Beale’s blog and the comment section of the rabid puppies therein is illuminating of what they really think and believe.

    So, yes I do forgive Irene her use of the word, because there’s not that large a difference between neo nazism and the views espoused there by Beale and his supporters.

    Comment by Princejvstin - June 10, 2015 8:14 pm

  16. @Prince—what have I said or done that has been racist, misogynist, or homophobic? Why do I deserve to be called a Nazi?

    Thanks John for the update. I think people are cementing who they will or will not vote for soon. I’m very close to finishing my homework myself and voting.

    @Scott—I agree that the science fiction/fantasy field is vast. Considering that a fraction of people vote for the award I think it isn’t possible to determine who truly is the best of the best.

    I’m not involved in the industry beyond being a fan but it seems that there has been a publishing revolution since the advent of the ebook. Some companies, like Starbucks, have publically announced that they have put politics before profit. Tor seems to have joined that group. I think if one person speaks out it doesn’t make a pattern but when five or six top level editors at Tor speak out then it is systemic. That is their right and who am I to tell them how to run their business? I will say that I vote with my pocket book and I have been deeply insulted. I see no reason at all to buy Tor books as there are plenty of good books and publishers out there to choose from. The leaders of the Sad Puppies have asked us not to boycott Tor but I’m not up to listening this time. Doherty needs to clean house or embrace the road his lieutenants put him on. Until he cleans house, the Hugo nominations are the last dollars he’ll ever get from me.

    Comment by Wild Ape - June 11, 2015 12:04 am

  17. I don’t think that Jim Butcher Comment is from the Jim Butcher we are thinking of. I follow Jim Butcher’s Facebook Author Page, and the account those comments were made from is not it. It is possible he has two pages–many authors do–but two public ones?

    A small thing, but it seems odd he would comment in this way after being conspicuously silent for so long.

    Comment by darangrissom - June 11, 2015 1:31 am

  18. @Wild Ape

    Do you consider yourself a Rabid Puppy? Irene’s statement referred to the Rabid Puppies as Neo Nazis. It looks like from your comment that you consider yourself a Sad Puppy. She didn’t call the Sad Puppies Neo Nazis.

    Comment by Princejvstin - June 11, 2015 8:59 am

  19. @Prince—-really? Maybe you should go back and re-read it:

    “There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.”

    What makes me furious Prince is your piss poor attitude towards me. A rational and empathetic person would say, “I don’t know you or have any proof that you are a racist Nazi. No one deserves to be called that unless they are truly THAT reprehensible.” Instead, you chose to hop over any sense of humanity and respect and LIE. I’m sure it comes natural to you to lie and distort and promote character assassination but….it is just that I have trouble thinking about standing in your shoes. I just don’t see how any rational person could justify that kind of vitriol and to seek to destroy someone for something so trivial. I have very few things that I feel so passionate about that I need to exterminate a person or ruin them, let alone a WHOLE GROUP of people. Apparently someone who votes their conscious about his favorite story and who has a different political opinion is enough to shed all of your civility. That is monstrous.

    Comment by Wild Ape - June 11, 2015 9:56 am

  20. Wild Ape,
    A. “Respectively” in the Gallo quote above ties neo-Nazi to Rabid Puppies
    B. Beale founded Rabid Puppies
    C. Beale advocates that some races are more intelligent (superior) than others (which is sort of Nazi-ish)
    D. Beale even advocates that a number of races are more intelligent than Askenazi Jews (which is pretty of Nazi-ish)
    C. Beale proposes that Anders Breivik will someday be regarded as a hero the equal of George Washington for his massacre of large numbers of schoolkids aged 14-18 (among others) to protest immigration (which is very Nazi-ish)
    D. His method for bringing peace to the middle east, namely that Israelis kill Palestinians in a 25:1, 100:1, and 1000:1 ratios for each Israeli solidier, civilian, or child killed — respectively — is pretty textbook Nazi occupation strategy
    E. Beale on women … oh hell there’s not enough time in the day…

    So, yeah, it’s easy to think of someone like Beale as a neo-Nazi even if he protests he likes Jews. His similarities outweigh his differences.

    So when you hitch your wagon to a guy like Beale, people are likely to assume you aren’t put off by these beliefs of his, and those beliefs trend toward Nazi. And then people might express a piss poor attitude toward you. I know I pretty much have a piss poor attitude toward anyone who justifies massacring school kids.

    Comment by scottken - June 11, 2015 2:10 pm

  21. @Scott—see the newer post about this and I’ll address what you say.

    Respectfully,
    Ape

    Comment by Wild Ape - June 11, 2015 10:15 pm

  22. […] https://www.blackgate.com/2015/06/10/internet-explodes-around-irene-gallo/ […]

    Pingback by Does Eric Flint ENJOY Beating Up On his Friends? | The Arts Mechanical - June 14, 2015 1:57 am

  23. […] Puppies slate was characterized as “being right-wing, neo-Nazi,” by Tor editor Irene Gallo, who also added that they were “unrepentantly racist, misogynist and homophobic,” and […]

    Pingback by Sad Puppies Didn’t Lose – Science Fiction Fans Did | Black Trident Media - August 25, 2015 3:01 am


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