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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In “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.
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.