My friends are counseling me to stop stirring this up and it’s my intention oblige them. The people that have come to me to talk about what their beef with me is have mostly been everything from civil to downright courteous. I think the exchanges have cleared up a few things for me and generally been positive. But there is one person who showed up to my blog and insisted on crossing a line here. And that’s what I’m going to talk about now.
The guy is Nick Mamatas. You may have seen him lighting up Twitter over recent culture wars topics. You may have seen his piece on H. P. Lovecraft in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Why some big time “real” writer should have the time to come over to my on blog and not just boss me around, but also deliver the biggest insult I have ever received in my life is beyond me. But I think he made a mistake. I think he himself made the sort of mistake that he was attempting to goad me into making. In the first place, this action makes him look like a bully. In the second place, it makes it look like my description of his behaviors as being cultish evidently hit close enough to home that I am a threat to him.
And if you must know, his crushing blow came in response to my request for some kind of time out. This is a person that I was liable to lose my temper around. In every way, he strikes me as being a master sophist. And I’ll admit, I am nobody. Eh, a few people read my column, sure… but I basically I have one person in my circles that I would consider to be what I can only describe as a fan. And to see this guy come into my space and run his gaslighting routine on him makes my blood boil.
But this isn’t eighth grade. I can’t tell him to meet me off school grounds when the bell rings at 3:30. We do not live in a dueling culture. We are not Teutonic Knights. So what can you do?
Well let me tell you.
I believe that Nick Mamatas’s behavior runs as close to being abuse as can be achieved while retaining plausible deniability. There’s only so much of that crap that I can endure while retaining my composure. His cohort is liable to seize on that as me being a wimp or a girly man or a coward and then snicker to each other about it, but so what. I know my limits. When I’ve had enough, I will say so. If you can’t respect that, then that says way more about you than it does me.
And I will say this as well. Nick Mamatas knows nothing about honor. I will not be lectured on it by him. If he knew anything about it, he would have a little something in the way of noblesse oblige. If he knew anything about it, he could have simply answered me with “no, problem… just let me know when you’re ready to continue this.” If he knew anything about it, he would be able to treat me as being someone that deserves to eat at the same lunch counters that he does.
But the nasty stuff he and his crew does actually works. When they drop their routine on novice writers it is intimidating. It makes people want to drop out all together. It makes them want to not go out in public. It makes them wonder why they ever got the notion to write anything for anybody. It makes them doubt the reality of everything they’ve worked to achieve. And to my saying that, he would snub me like he did when I first raised an objection to this sort of treatment: “If that’s all it takes to make you feel like a victim of some oppression, you should get out more and do more things.”
To that I say bullshit. Top tier jazz men don’t treat novice musicians that way. Tabletop gamers don’t treat each other this way. No, there is something going on here that is so weird, so outside the bounds of normal that the only way that I can describe it is as being some kind of cult or something. And I won’t have it.
And then, the jeers and the snide remarks start up again. The gossips speculate. The cult members reassess my status level down another notch.
The tone of their remarks at this point are like those of bullies when they are caught out actually hurting a disabled person on their school bus. “Ah, we didn’t mean nuffin’ by it…. We’s juss teasin’!” Right. I am sure that is precisely the case. The other one I really like seeing is “ah that guy, he’s so sensitive; you know… he really ought to thank us for all the backhanded compliments we gave him.”
Well sorry to disappoint you, but I won’t do that.
And I’m not going to apologize for expecting to be treated like a human being. I’ve had it with this stuff.
Update: Nick showed up in the comments here and I made this offer to him after a brief discussion:
If you want do the “let’s both apologize for each of our parts in this, agree to disagree, shake [virtual] hands and move on” thing I am open to that. Even if you don’t I intend to set this aside and get back to something more constructive. I do not intend to pursue any arguments with either you or the rest of the File770 people any time in the foreseeable future.
I believe he rejected this offer, which I find alarming given the circumstances.
I am setting boundaries here for what I am willing to take from hostile people, because like I say… I have had enough.
I am not looking for trouble, but again, I find this man’s attitude to be genuinely toxic. Maybe I brought this on myself, and maybe I really do owe the guy an apology for what I’ve said about him. I’m open to discussion that. But if I say, “your behavior is borderline abusive” and your response is to keep at it, then that makes me think I have a genuine bully on my hands and that I’m not as responsible for the ugliness as I’d otherwise assume.
I have never had to ban someone before, but I am taking the liberty to delete his comments from this post.
Update 2: I have gotten with Nick and talked things out. We have agreed to drop this and move on. Neither of us bear any ill-will toward each over over this exchange. For those that wanted to read his response to me, it is here.