I have attempted to be reasonable.
I have answered questions that were put to me by a hostile group as thoughtfully and forthrightly as possible.
I have attempted to listen and see things from another perspective.
When I took offense, I bit down on my instinct to lash back and instead attempted to find common ground.
When people took offense on my behalf, I encouraged them to stand down by demonstrating how flame wars can be deescalated when an injured party treats his nemesis as if they were a human being.
I have tried in every way to meet the commentariat of File770 half way.
These efforts have been repaid with a range of ugly attacks, which I reproduce below. (You can find the full thread here.)
From Jeffro: “Choices have consequences, including being judged by one’s choices. Being the target of these remarks, I am of course biased. But… really… am I the only person that finds this to be a little scary…?”
The ridiculousness of Jeffro’s statement here almost stuns me. Did he really think that allying himself with a vile homophobic, racist, misogynistic asshole was something he could do with no consequence? I suppose it might be scary to be judged by one’s choices if one makes choices like that, but the solution to that is to avoid allying with shitbags like Beale.
He said he was trying to build bridges. Fair enough. But when people pointed out that a way to prove his bona fides would be to disassociate himself from Castalia House or at the very least cross-post his material elsewhere so that people who didn’t want to go over and jump onto Beale’s site could read it, he rejected out of hand. “They treat me like a rock-star”, he said. “Cross-posting would diminish my market value as a reviewer,” he said. Okay, if that’s what is important to you, but by saying that he made a choice. He chose to continue to ally with a revolting piece of trash like Beale. He knew of Beale’s offensive views and his nasty action, and said it was more important to him to be a rock-star with supposed market value. For him to whine now that no one warned him is simply ridiculous.
What little sympathy I may have had for Jeffro was completely drained away by his whiny self-pitying pile of bullshit post.
From Ann Somerville:
Aaron: “What little sympathy I may have had for Jeffro was completely drained away by his whiny self-pitying pile of bullshit post.”
The self-pitying crap he was doing here was enough to drain my sympathy. And that was after he said he wanted to work with VD because he liked his views on (some?) things. That’s a bit like saying Hitler was okay to hang around with if you like his paintings.
From Kurt Busiek:
Jeffro is the only person I’ve seen complain that when he got on the skate and on the Hugo ballot, nobody told him to decline it. Evidence, perhaps, that those tales of horrifying SJW pressure for everyone to reject participation weren’t as founded as Puppies insisted.
In any case, I think that if the idea that choices have consequences is a scary one, people who think that either need to get out more or, if not, they should stay well away from hot stove burners.
From Lori Coulson:
I read Jeffro’s post, and just shook my head. Beg pardon, but — someone was supposed to TELL him not to be on the slate, or to decline the nomination?!!
I can see where he may have thought that it was ok to be on the slate, but when it became clear that the nominations had been gamed, the ethical thing to do would have been to decline the ballot slot. Somehow, I get the feeling that ethics and honor are not Puppydum’s long suit.
I guess he must have led a very sheltered life, not to know that, yes, choices have consequences and that lying down with dogs means you’re going to itch when the fleas bite…
From Tenar Darel:
(Yeah, I know, kind of late)
Okay, so this is an experiment…I’m putting on my empathy hat on for Jeffro. If lots of people on a blog comment thread were telling me “choices have consequences” over and over in multiple ways, and I came from commenting in unmoderated spaces, that statement might make me nervous. (I’m imagining GG, Requires H or Irene Gallo to help with fitting my hat). If I were used to the war of all against all, I likely would interpret “consequences” as some kind of threat. Jeffro heard the shorthand and interpreted it as a threat, rather than an explanation with a request for some alternate access so the book talk could continue.
Everyone here, summarizing and generalizing extravagantly, was really saying “Hey, you seem like a cool new fan of the genre; come on in, warm your feet at our fire! Oh, and could you scrape off the sh*t on your shoes, or at least leave your boots outside the door so we don’t have to smell them? Oh, okay, you don’t want to do those things. Too bad. Please don’t be surprised if people here start to wrinkle or hold their noses, or even walk away when you come around. You’re inviting us over? Thank you, but we probably won’t come by your place at the kennel. Well because you said that not only will you not clean your boots, but you’re not going to rent office space, and you’ve ruled out moving away from the kennel.”
/empathy hat off
It didn’t sound like he was willing to bend much, even if it did mean he could expand the audience for his book reviews. In his blogpost, he appeared to dislike the extensive questioning of his terms, rather than relishing the opportunity to hone his arguments against really tough critics. Seems sad really. (Huh, empathy hangover).
It never entered my mind that making a simple statement of fact, of the sort that any reasonably intelligent adult by the age of 18 would have figured out (Choices have consequences, including being judged by one’s choices), would be interpreted by Jeffro as anything other than that.
But you’re right. In the crew with which he hangs out, such a statement actually means “I’m going to come over to your workplace and sort you out”, or “I’m going to call your employer and get you fired”, or “I’m going to dig up your real name, e-mail address, physical address, phone number, and the names of all your family members and pets, post all this information on the Internet, and encourage every nutjob out there to harass you with death threats via telephone, e-mail, and in person at your house”.
So I guess I can understand why he interpreted it as a “threat”. But what’s incredibly sad is that he doesn’t understand that that interpretation says absolutely nothing about me — but that it says a very great deal about the people whom he’s chosen as “friends”.
Jeffro may have felt slightly intimidated by being engaged by several people at the same time, saying relatively similar things. A reasonably courteous puppy is a rare sight, so several commenters were drawn to him. To me, it looked a bit like an accidental piling on.
Nevertheless, I know few adults frightened by the reminder that choices have consequences.
I feel a bit sorry for Jeffro in that being paid for writing stuff you love is such a rare beast, that I honestly couldn’t blame a writer for Castalia House who’d said with closed-mouth discretion about his editor, “His checks clear. It was that or pawning the computer and applying to Starbucks,” and refuse to say anything further pro or contra about it. But telling us all how nicely Beale treated him and how he agrees with some of what he says tended to diminish my sympathy.
This is, I presume, the only going to be the tip of the iceberg.
I don’t really have a lot to say here. I will be mocked for saying this, but I am genuinely shocked that my actions this past week could generate this kind of reaction. I don’t have the faintest idea of how to respond, so I will simply repeat what I said on Tuesday. This is some profoundly weird stuff. I think this is just flat out freaky weird. This is incredible. Unbelievable.
I am a fan that writes about old books and vintage games. I am just some guy. Why the vitriol? What is so threatening about anything I have done as a writer? If it is so important that I separate myself from what could be construed as being sort of a rough crowd, then why would this sort of treatment induce me to change sides? I daresay, behaving as if I am both irredeemable and subhuman is incentive only for me to either fight back or drop out altogether. Is that what they want?
But yes, the fact that they can skip straight to some sort of weird hate campaign without even showing me the courtesy of delivering an ultimatum really does kind of insult me. As if I should simply bow to the will of a bunch of anonymous people on a website I never even heard of just because they’ve pitched a fit.
They can’t even be bothered to simply ask me to quit something they find objectionable. They can’t even ask. That’s just too much, isn’t it? I’m supposed to just read between the lines and take the hint, aren’t I? Well that’s not good enough for me. No, I will be shown the dignity of being treated like a human being before I make any kind of change in where I write or what I write about.
I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that I should have it any other way.