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The Attempted Deplatforming You Probably Never Heard Of – Baen Books Forum

The Attempted Deplatforming You Probably Never Heard Of – Baen Books Forum

The policing of speech by busy-bodies is more insideous even than bullying by Big Tech.

I had never heard of Baen Books, and that’s on me. It’s apparently a big player in the Science Fiction genre, something I’m not into, so there’s no reason I would know of it, but there’s plenty of reason why plenty of other people do know of it.

I first heard about Baen Books was when I saw a link to this article at Monster Hunter Nation, Publishing House Baen Books Attacked By Cancel Culture:

Baen Books is a sci-fi/fantasy publishing house that has been around since the early 1980s. They’ve published thousands of titles from hundreds of authors. Baen is notable in our current time period because it is one of the only traditional publishers who does not bend the knee to the woke mob. Our publisher, Toni Weisskopf, truly believes in free speech. Baen’s Bar is one of the oldest forums on the internet. It’s a place for authors and fans to hang out and talk. Today Toni is shutting down the Bar in order to stave off a Parler style cancel culture attack against Baen’s service providers.

Yesterday some nobody, wannabe writer, social justice twit released a hit piece “expose” about how posters on Baen’s Bar were fomenting insurrection or some such nonsense. It was the usual bullshit hit piece (the sad part is, by saying the usual, half the country immediately knows exactly what I’m talking about). It was lots of pearl clutching over regular people not toeing their arbitrary political lines, misquotes, errors, quotes taken out of context, and some flat out lies.

However, this was clearly part of a coordinated attack in order to materially harm our business, because immediately after the hit piece was released complaints were filed with the various internet companies Baen uses for services to pressure them into kicking us off the internet. This hit piece was presented as “evidence”. Without going into details the companies then contacted Baen about these “serious allegations” so last night Baen temporarily took down the Bar forum to protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.

The expose at issue was by a science fiction author writing on his own for his Patreon account, asserting Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence. I encourage you to read through it, and I think you will find that most of what is complained about is not advocacy of violence, but opinions the author doesn’t like, or at most innuendo about violence:

There are also a number of threads on the forum discussing how to equip militia members. During one of these threads, a user asked “The crux of the matter is what does a militia unit do these days? Are they static defenders? Are they light infantry? Are they recon? What exactly, is their role?”

User APPilot, who claims to be a pilot out of Missouri, started a thread on January 10, 2021, titled “Behind Enemy Lines” by saying:

“Is it real enough yet? Are we going to sit by and watch as we did during the late 30’s and let the pograms play out? Are we gonna let the Katyn Forest repeat? Wait until there is proof the bodies are stacking up? The lack of immediacy on the right is disgusting.”

I could go on, but I think you should be getting an idea of the types of comments on the Bar encouraging political violence.

But what really irked the investigator of the Baen comment section was that it appeared there were a lot of refugees from other platforms:

Since the November 3rd elections, Baen’s Bar has seen a surge of new registrants.[See Note 6] While most of these new members have not yet posted anything, some of these users appeared to join the forum because other platforms they used, such as Parler and now-banned Reddits, had been shut down.

For example, a user named Turk joined on January 11, 2021, writing “I heard about this site on a few other forums. Conservative but not rabidly or idiotically.”

So what did Turk believe qualified as “not” being rabidly or idiotically conservative? When someone on the forum praised the police officer who led the rioters away from the Senate floor during the Capitol siege, Turk said, “He should have let them invade the senate floor. Time those POS’s faced a little reality.” The rest of that thread then discussed how the riot wasn’t that bad because not many cops were really hurt (fact check: over 100 were injured, a number of them seriously) and “only” 5 people were killed, which to forum users meant the siege wasn’t that serious.

This view was shared by others on the Bar, with user Arun.tblp describing the Capitol siege as a “peaceful protest.”

The investigator found a small number of comments in a very active forum, and used those to portray the forum as dangerous.

Why would someone spend such time going through a comment section? Maybe it was just to effect a change in moderation of comments, not part of a plan as the Monster Hunter Nation article suggested.  Another author who is published by Baen Books suggests a sinister motive after reviewing the specific comments in question:

He does this in order to obscure what is the single most outstanding feature of the meat of his essay, which is that his argument is entirely based on selective anecdotes—ironically, a favorite argumentative tactic of right wingers. In fact, what he does is exactly what I criticized the Sad Puppies for doing in a series of essays I wrote on the Hugo ruckus back in 2015. (For which I got an Alfie award, by the way.) They would race around and collect a bunch—rather small bunch—of statements by various people, most of whom you’d never heard of, that they considered outrageous and present them as proof that there was a great conspiracy to commit wrong-doing.

The attempted deplatforming is the story here. It’s the weak point of any website. And the comment sections can be weaponized in the deplatforming effort, it’s one of the reasons so many comment sections have closed.  (Remember how American Thinker recently suspended its comments as a precaution?). It is a particular risk to websites that do not have large staff and want to permit free exchange. Commenters who make even violent innuendo are putting websites at risk because there are a lot of people waiting for the opportunity to deplatform others.

The Publisher of Baen Books, Toni Weisskopf, issued this statement:

The moderators are volunteers. The readers, editors, and writers post and interact on the Bar at their own desire. Some conversations have been gone over so many times, they’ve been retired as simply too boring to contemplate again. Sometimes the rhetoric can get heated. We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.

That said, it has come to our attention that allegations about the Bar have been made elsewhere. We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.

It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes. Similarly, the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.

The publisher has been canceled by a sci-fi conference, which was to honor Weisskopf as Guest of Honor.

This is what now might be called a Parler Attack. Parler had been unfairly smeared as the organizing platform for the Capitol Hill riot, when in fact our own and other analyses show that Department of Justice criminal complaints focus far more heavily on organizing on Facebook and Twitter.

Parler got a bum rap, and that bum rap was exploited by Apple, Google, and Amazon Web Services to take Parler down for a month (it came back only through the hard efforts of its team). When someone writes an article claiming that Baen Books sponsors a violent forum, the implications are obvious — deplatforming.

Anyone who is right of center needs to plan for Parler Attacks. We are, though you never know if plans work until they are tested.

This isn’t simply cancel culture. The policing of speech by busy-bodies like the guy who wrote about Baen Books is more insideous even than bullying by Big Tech. A good explanation of how control is maintained through surveillance by citizens appears in an article by Lauren Reiff at Medium from May 2020, The Psychological Impact of the Soviet Union’s Reign & Fall:

The recipe for a successful dictatorial regime would be incomplete without internal, silent policing of thought and action among citizenry. Creating a nation of subdued minds was forever at the top of the communist agenda. This was a necessary prescription for the iron fist of collectivism to work.

The dissident members of a population would need to be stamped out and summarily done away with. The will of the critics would need to be — no, not suppressed — but brutally snapped in half, given to equating resistance with ultimate futility.

That said, the pressures of obedience and ideological conformity operated both horizontally and vertically. Which is to say, the powers-from-above exerted force towards these ends in addition to the population keeping their fellow neighbor in check, for fear that the other might betray their dissent to the authorities. Such was the claustrophobic atmosphere so emblematic of the communist society.

Anyone who works on a campus knows this claustrophobic atmosphere in which there are numerous institutionalized methods of keeping dissidents in line. A mere accusation, even if anonymous, brings the full weight of the bureaucracy down on the target, and any snippet of incorrect thought could generate a petition or protest or attempted cancelation. So people hide, while others hunt.

That’s where we are at in the age of the Parler Attack. Those who refuse to hide need to be prepared.


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One of the roles of science fiction (esp. in its print form) has been to look at alternate societies, ones which may well have values and practices very different from our own. Some of these imagined societies are very disagreeable; others purport to be achievable utopias, others are neither, just strange.

But the underlying theme has been the freedom to explore the possibilities of the human condition without restraint. Given the pressures put on publishers lately, it appears that exercising this freedom may no longer be possible. Because, there are now so many things you can’t say, so many ideas you can’t express, so many falsehoods one is expected to publicly declare to be true.

Overall the science fiction community has been an unruly bunch, and seldom inclined to conform for the sake of conformity. Or to spare others’ feelings, for that matter. So, I guess it doesn’t surprise me that parts of it may find themselves in conflict with our new, boundlessly self-righteous arbiters of what’s acceptable and permissible, and what’s not.

Please let them be deplatformed. I mean it. I don’t see this as a bad thing in the midst of the situation we are in.

Parler is back up. They are back up on servers which stand for freedom of speech. A month ago, those servers were no where to be found.

A market place has been created for those who value free speech.

The tech giants who silence will lose. All a competitor has to do is say, we are not going to AMZN, GOOGLE, FACEBOOK or APPLE you and they will win a horde of business.

Whether you think your speech is edgey or not, you believe it should be free.

I was a reluctant fb adopter for reasons that have come to pass. However I value connecting with my tribes. I am on Parler now and I have cut my fb logins to about 1/10th of what it used to be…and I am working to bring my tribes over to parler. There’s a lot of “me” out there—and that is not anything a smart company should strive for.

I find it very liberating that the left has taken off the pretense that they are anything but Mao’ists. So far as cancel culture goes- BRING IT. You can’t cancel all of us.

    henrybowman in reply to Andy. | February 21, 2021 at 1:09 am

    Parler is back up. They are back up on servers which stand for freedom of speech. A month ago, those servers were no where to be found.

    Let’s not declare “mission accomplished” quite yet…

    “Eyebrows were raised when it was discovered that [Parler’s] new web hosting provider, SkySilk, bans undefined “hateful content” from being hosted by them, with SkySilk “reserving the right to refuse to provide service” to customers that host “racist, pornographic, hateful material or those which create customer service or abuse issues for us.”

    ‘Pro-Free Speech’ Parler Bans Milo Yiannopoulos for Offensive Jokes

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Andy. | February 21, 2021 at 8:14 am

    No one should be allowed to deplatform any legal speech. Allowing such is how this came to pass.

    AlegnaB in reply to Andy. | February 21, 2021 at 8:23 am

    “Parler is back up. They are back up on servers which stand for freedom of speech. A month ago, those servers were no where to be found.”

    Not true. Gab has been around a lot longer than Parler, and it owns its servers. Leftists have been trying to destroy Gab for years. It doesn’t have an app on Apple and Google Play because those companies removed the app from their stores a long time ago. There is an imposter Gab app on Apple. Gab’s logo is a green frog.

    Here the founder and CEO explains, among other things, how they handle threats of violence:

      AlegnaB in reply to AlegnaB. | February 21, 2021 at 8:33 am

      Although, if you consider pornography to be free speech, you probably won’t think Gab is a free speech site since porn isn’t allowed. Gab has three big rules: no threats of violence, no doxxing, no pornography.

Jason Sanford is trying to boost his own signal by going after other authors and contributors. He’s too stupid to realize that a few lefties may buy one of his books to show support, they won’t follow him and buy successive books and he’s now lost hope of every selling a book to anyone to the right of Stalin.

    henrybowman in reply to LukeHandCool. | February 21, 2021 at 1:14 am

    There’s a Wakanda salute? SMH.

    Well, if we’re going to be reduced to virtue signaling via ethnic fantasy, I’m breaking out my Clark Kent long johns.

I find it amusing that this site keeps holding up Parler as some kind of iconic example, when Gab went through everything Parler did, and worse, and handled it much better both technically and organizationally.

And the comment sections can be weaponized in the deplatforming effort, it’s one of the reasons so many comment sections have closed.

Let’s get rid of S.230. That will totally fix this.

    Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | February 21, 2021 at 12:53 am

    Well, it would fix it; it would kill comment sections like this one for good.

    AlegnaB in reply to daniel_ream. | February 21, 2021 at 8:25 am

    I don’t find it amusing. I find it frustrating.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to daniel_ream. | February 21, 2021 at 8:29 am

    Comment sections were being closed in droves early last year by lib media, they did not like pushback against the shit they were publishing. In light of what we know now about media collusion against Trump, I am inclined to think that closure of comments was prep work for stealing the election. In other words that was low hanging deplatforming.

I hate maroons who hav no idea exactly what they re opposing.

Baen books came about, in 1983, as a collaboration with Simon ans Schuster to revitalize the Sci-Fi genre. The genre was still mostly alternate social speculation content, at that time. And, it was losing readers in droves. Baen went another direction, military Sci-Fi. Most of its material is military action based. It revitalized the genre.

So, as most of its writers specialize in military science fiction it is only natural that they would discuss military science matters, including such things as rebellions, revolts, insurrections, coups, and other military related matters. In fact, many of the books published by the company actually deal with these very things. This is how writers work; especially budding writers. They bounce ideas off of each other.

Now, the reason why there is such a big cancel culture, at the moment, is because the liberal Progressives are terrified that the populace will not roll over for them. They are pushing the common man into the position of presenting his complaints in a manner that they will not like at all. And, this possibility terrifies them.

I’ve been a fan of Baen Books since Jim Baen started it. Since it was a small house with only a few editors, whose tastes happened to match closely with mine, I knew that if a book had their logo on the spine I was likely to enjoy it.

Over the past 20 years or so I’ve been aware of the Bar’s existence but never got around to joining it; maybe if it starts up again I finally will.

This Sanford creature’s examples of “advocating political violence” almost all seem to be statements made in the context of discussion about what to do if a second civil war breaks out. If that happens then of course there will be killing; surely that’s obvious. And it makes perfect sense to discuss what might happen in such a case, and what should happen, and what good people ought to do. That’s not advocating violence, it’s contingency planning. The more the left pushes, the more likely it is that the war will come. By trying to suppress discussion of the war they make it more likely.

Especially in a science fiction community that is used to considering all sorts of scenarios that involve a Second American Civil War. There have got to be at least 1000 serious works of SF, published by serious SF publishers, that deal with some sort of SACW, whether in the future or in an alternative past. To say that we must not contemplate the possibility of one actually happening is just moronic.

The publisher has been canceled by a sci-fi conference, which was to honor Weisskopf as Guest of Honor.

Not just a conference. The conference. It’s the Worldcon, the most prestigious SF convention in the world. It only attracts about 5000 people a year, more or less, depending on where it is, but it’s got the history and the cachet. To be a Worldcon Guest of Honor is one of the biggest honors that exist in SF. It awards the Hugos, which are the most sought-after prize in SF.

This year it’s supposed to be in Washington DC, and I had planned to attend it if it didn’t turn into an all-online convention as last year’s did. I also had planned to volunteer to work there. (One of the great traditions of SF cons is that everyone is a volunteer, nobody gets paid; the most you can get is a partial refund of your membership fee, and a T-shirt. I have several volunteers’ T-shirts from previous Worldcons.) Now I won’t; if they’ve had the spite and chutzpah to treat Toni Weisskopf that way then I don’t want anything to do with them. And if next year’s con in Chicago goes the same way then I think I’ll wash my hands of Worldcons for good.

    daniel_ream in reply to Milhouse. | February 21, 2021 at 1:52 am

    I feel like you might be late to this particular party; the entire point of the Sad Puppies/Noah Ward fiasco was that it demonstrated just how far down the SJW rabbit hole the “official” SF cons have gone.

    For those unaware, the action SF author Larry Correia opined that the Hugos and other major SF awards were being awarded on the basis of agenda and politics rather than decent writing, regardless of what the fans actually thought. He organized a ton of his fans (the “Sad Puppies”) to nominate and vote for a slate of conservative/libertarian authors and books. WorldCon retaliated by not awarding a prize at all in categories where the Sad Puppies candidates had won, thus nicely proving Correia’s point.

    I stopped having anything to do with F/SF cons in the mid-2000s; there’s only so many pedophilia scandals and coverups of same one can tolerate before coming to the conclusion there’s something very, very wrong in that community.

      Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | February 21, 2021 at 3:20 am

      He organized a ton of his fans (the “Sad Puppies”) to nominate and vote for a slate of conservative/libertarian authors and books. WorldCon retaliated by not awarding a prize at all in categories where the Sad Puppies candidates had won, thus nicely proving Correia’s point.

      The Sad Puppies nominees were not all conservative/Libertarian. Indeed some of their nominees were so far left that they withdrew because they didn’t want to be “tainted” by getting on the ballot with their help.

      WorldCon retaliated by not awarding a prize at all in categories where the Sad Puppies candidates had won, thus nicely proving Correia’s point.

      That didn’t and can’t happen. The award goes to whoever won. But the left led a campaign for people to vote “No Award” ahead of the Sad Puppy nominees, and in four categories “No Award” legitimately won.

        daniel_ream in reply to Milhouse. | February 21, 2021 at 4:19 am

        You say “the left” as if it were distinct from the WorldCon organizers, which it wasn’t.

        Regardless, the point remains: WorldCon and the Hugos have been about having the right politics for a long time, and are not anywhere near as prestigious as they once were.

        I used to be quite familiar with Rob Sawyer, who lives near here, and at “meet the author” events he was quite open about the fact that Hominids was cooked to win a Hugo award. He and his editor researched the kinds of things that were likely to please the awards committee and the WorldCon member core that actually controls the voting, and pandered shamelessly to their biases. The result is an absolutely awful book that won the 2003 Hugo for Best New Novel.

          Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | February 21, 2021 at 11:17 am

          There is no “awards committee”. The Worldcon organizers have no more influence on the results than anyone else.

          Rob’s a nice guy, though obviously our politics differ. But he is at least open-minded enough to treat religion with a fairness that’s difficult to find among some writers.

          Hominids has its flaws, but I enjoyed it. Given its premises its politics even make a strange kind of sense; it is, after all, about a different species. A fictional species, that bears very little resemblance to what we know of actual Neanderthals. Its obvious political message for current human affairs is so obvious that it’s easily ignored.

          I don’t think I voted in that year’s Hugos, but looking at the other nominees I doubt I would have liked any of them more than this one. As for “pandering” to the voter base, it mostly consists not of writing to please them but of meeting as many of them as possible and becoming their friend, so they will be inclined to read your work, and to remember you when they vote. Rob’s done a lot of that, which is how I know and like him, and yes, that would influence my voting, though I try not to let it.

          While the awards are determined by a vote of the membership, at every WorldCon there is a meeting open to any in person atendee to vote that determines rules for the WorldCon including voting rules, that can take up most of one’s time. In other words the people running the show are busy keeping control rather than help make the WorldCon enjoyable for everyone.

          At the last WorldCon I attended the programming got so woke it was like Tumblr personified in way to many panels, so I decided to check out what the organizing meeting was going on about.

          To put it bluntly, they kept on changing the rules to keep Puppy nominees away from the award, and even from the finalist ballot by introducing more and more complex rules in order to *not* keep the Puppies from flooding the nominations, but to lock them out of the nominations completely.

          I went into detail about that and more of the 2016 WorldCon here:

          Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | February 22, 2021 at 10:51 am

          The Business Meeting changes the rules for Worldcons at least two years out. A proposed rule change that passes at one year’s meeting must be confirmed the next year, and then takes effect for the following Worldcon.

          The changes to the Hugo nomination rules were a genuine improvement. The Sad Puppies found a flaw in the old rules and exploited it; they were right to do so, and the old pharts were furious and looked for a way to prevent it happening again, but the fix they settled on really does fix what was a problem.

          The premise of the old rules was that people would generally only nominate one or two works, not a whole slate of five. Thus the five works that got the most nominations would be the most popular ones, and voters could choose among them. Slate nominations break that, so the new rules are designed to encourage people to nominate fewer works each. That’s a good thing.

          Milhouse in reply to daniel_ream. | February 22, 2021 at 10:53 am

          At the last WorldCon I attended the programming got so woke it was like Tumblr personified in way to many panels,

          Programming? What is programming? 🙂

          @Milhose: I know, I was there. They were confirming changes that year and pushing for more. I outlines that their method wasn’t to make things better, but was done with the intention of preventing anyone but them from having a say. The people arguing for the changes openly said they were doing it to be exclusionary and keep the power amongst the “SMOFS” (Secret Masters of Fandom).

          daniel_ream in reply to daniel_ream. | February 23, 2021 at 10:38 pm

          As for “pandering” to the voter base, it mostly consists not of writing to please them but of meeting as many of them as possible and becoming their friend

          Rob has said on more than one occasion, in public, that the happy, more advanced, peaceful and practically perfect in every way bisexual Neanderthals are allegorical Canadians; the boorish, violent, environment-destroying humans are allegorical Americans. That’s what I mean about pandering to the audience. The 2003 WorldCon was in Toronto.

          This doesn’t even get into the “I had the conservative Catholic character get raped in the first chapter to explain why she didn’t have sex with the Neanderthal later in the book” admission.

          It is not a good book, by any estimation. It’s smug, condescending, the characters are not believable, it pisses all over the “right” targets if you’re a progressive urban SF fan. About the only good thing I can say about it is that it’s honest; it is exactly how Rob feels about his fans and the world.

          And with all due respect, clinging to the “WorldCon has rules” argument isn’t going to hold much water. The rules are whatever the SMOFs want them to be, and whatever they need to be to ensure the SMOFs retain control over their pathetic little dominion. The rules are there so they can publicly claim impartiality while manipulating the vote backstage to get what they want. Everyone knows this. There’s a reason no one really takes the Hugos seriously any more.

        Feralmonkey4 in reply to Milhouse. | February 21, 2021 at 12:40 pm

        they did give out no awards in several categories one of my friends was in a category that was given an asterisk I will take the word of those that were there over any others.

          Milhouse in reply to Feralmonkey4. | February 21, 2021 at 1:31 pm

          As I said, “No Award” legitimately won those categories. Your friend’s work did not win. Had your friend won they would have been presented with their rocket, no matter how much the administrators might have gnashed their teeth about it.

          It is not true and cannot be true that “WorldCon retaliated by not awarding a prize at all in categories where the Sad Puppies candidates had won”.

      slither in reply to daniel_ream. | February 21, 2021 at 6:13 am

      Indeed, the Sad Puppy fiasco was eye-opening.

      As Milhouse also noted, the Sad Puppies recommendation list wasn’t “conservative/libertarian authors and books”. Indeed, one author whose book was recommended describes herself as socialist and thinks that Elizabeth Warren is “not liberal enough”. The list was actually quite diverse by race and gender too.

      And it was explicitly just a recommendation list, not a “this is how you must vote” order. As they said, repeatedly, the important thing was to vote for good books and stories because, after all, that’s what the point is supposed to be.

      And the Worldcon crowd went ballistic. Not because recommending works to vote for was bad. No, there had been lots of people and groups putting out their own recommendations, and yet more campaigning for their own stuff. No, they went insane because for two reasons: 1) people outside their in-group were expressing their opinion, and 2) the Sad Puppies wanted to vote for good stories, period, and not on the basis of the author’s race, gender or “identity”. That was blasphemy to them.

      And by ballistic, I mean there were threats of black lists for everyone who was recommended by the wrong people, defamatory press releases sent to media outlets, you name it. It was all quite horrifying.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | February 21, 2021 at 2:39 am

    We have the Second Amendment. Why? For the purpose of assuring the people are never barred the ownership and use of arms, for the purpose of being able to keep their own government in check (by the threat of force), and for the purpose of throwing off said government (by the actual use of force) when the purpose of the government and the welfare of the people are on divergent tracks.

    This, of course, presumes we have the right to actually take such action against our own (de facto) government. Denying this right denies the legitimacy of the government itself, born, as it was, from violent uprising against (arguably lawful) government authority. Because the claim that we have no such right would make our own government illegitimate, then the claim is actually that we have no right to throw off an illegitimate government. (Certainly, no rational person believes that an illegitimate government has any authority, it certainly does not have the moral right to resist the will of its people when they decide they won’t respect said government’s pretended authority.)

    One would think (well, at least I certainly do) that the ability to talk about and to plan to exercise the aforementioned right to rebellion exists within the “penumbra” of the Second Amendment. What use is a right if you can’t talk about, or make plans, to use it?

    “…the Second Amendment is not for killing little ducks and leaving Huey and Dewey and Louie without an aunt and uncle. It is for hunting politicians…”
    Representative Bob Dornan
    Remark made on the House floor, Jan 25, 1995

      This is great. I want to disagree with him, because these are my friends and acquaintances and I mostly still like them, but I can’t really. As I said, if Toni’s not at Discon I’m not going, and if they pull the same shtick next year at Chicon I won’t go there either.

    CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | February 21, 2021 at 9:15 am


    Like you I have been reading Barn published books/authors for what seems like two decades; damn I am getting older. I remember that Eric Flint’s 1632 was the first Barn book I bought in a small ‘troop store’ pseudo PX in Kosovo.

    For everyone who hasn’t read Baen books; Flint, who wrote the paragraph attributed to ‘another author’, is if not quite a red is definitely pink; he is an avowed socialist. Yet his novels portray protagonists who have individual obstacles to overcome. Not quite Horatio Alger stories but the themes of hard work and perseverance to overcome the obstacles are there.

    Barn has very talented authors who produce quality work. Some are liberal some conservative some libertarian. IMO, most of us are a mix of these philosophies, each of us drawing from our religious background, family and cultural upbringing, education and life experience.

    These guys were the original ‘build your own x’. Jim Barn and many others came together to develop a publisher that allowed authors to pursue what I would say is the core of modern SF/Fantasy. Yes there is a ton of military SF but that isn’t all they offer.

    If you haven’t yet checked out their authors it is definitely worth your time if you have any interest at all in the SF or fantasy genre. Many of their titles are offered for free though that is introducing you to the first book in a series that you will likely become addicted to.

      DaveGinOly in reply to CommoChief. | February 21, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      None of this diversity is surprising. Like most marketplaces, it’s a field in which talent is recognized by the consumers, giving success to the best regardless of their identities or politics.

    puhiawa in reply to Milhouse. | February 21, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    I also. Always my go to. In fact I am re-reading Jim Weber’s Empire From The Ashes trilogy right now.

That’s unusual because there is a whole branch of science fiction which is militaristic in nature. naturally you would draw militaristic talk.

Since I was privileged, if that’s quite the word, with a substantial part in Sanford’s hit piece, I feel a certain obligation to comment about a couple of matters.

In the first place, Sanford is an idiot. No, I don’t mean integrity-challenged or ethically impaired, although he is those things, too. I mean he’s an idiot. Why? Go look at Sanford’s keying on Arun Prabhu, especially with regard to his nickname, from me, of “The Swarthy Menace,” AKA “Swarth Vader.” Leave alone, for now, that Arun and I worked out that nickname, together, after someone on a forum for none-too-bright juveniles charged Arun (south Indian, very dark) with exercising white privilege. So far, though, we’re just talking extremely poor investigative skills, yes? Yes. Right up until that idiot, Sanford, cited to Arun in another paragraph, with it apparently never occurring to him to check to see if they were the same Arun. They were. That is idiocy.

I am often quite surprised at the left’s lack of reasoning power and discernment, generally. In this particular aspect, while I am pretty sure Sanford was being as honest as his limited reasoning powers allowed, note that there is a distinct – and legally significant – difference between advocating violence and advocating being prepared to engage in violence in order to deter violence being done unto oneself. (Note, too, that Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidian Compound were excellent examples of illegal or immoral mass violence being done to innocent people under color of law.)

Note further that, in a smashing display of intellectual dishonesty cum poor investigative skills, he’s putting a quote from John Scalzi into Toni Weisskopf’s mouth. Tsk; how very sad.

And as for ethically challenged and integrity-impaired, Sanford is notable as a man who defended plagiarism and plagiarists. (Ere it disappears from Wiki: “Sanford served as the fiction and nonfiction editor, while York served as poetry editor. Both editors were heavily involved in the debate around the alleged plagiarism of Southern author Brad Vice, with Sanford defending Vice’s work and his essays on the affair being mentioned in the subsequent press coverage.”)

    Nohbody in reply to tkratman. | February 21, 2021 at 9:22 am

    And to further drive the nail in, regarding the “investigation” in question, originally Sanford identified Baen’s Editor in Chief as “Tony”, with the relevant pronouns applied.

    It was later changed, without noting that there was a change, when a comment on the original Patreon post mentioned that it was Toni, and that the EinC was female.

    I mean, in “real” newspapers, it may be buried on A39 underneath a large ad for “Big Al’s Hardware” but they do note that there was a correction to a previously published story.

      Milhouse in reply to Nohbody. | February 21, 2021 at 11:42 am

      And to further drive the nail in, regarding the “investigation” in question, originally Sanford identified Baen’s Editor in Chief as “Tony”, with the relevant pronouns applied.

      Say what?! I hadn’t heard that before. I would say it’s unbelievable, except that I can very easily believe it. Especially since it’s of a piece with his idiotic treatment of the Arun thing, as Kratman pointed out.

      To Kratman’s comment, one quibble: advocating violence, although generally deplorable, is legal. If the standard is, as Toni says, that she won’t ban speech that is legal (and that doesn’t violate the no-hitting rule), then even advocacy of violence must be allowed so long as it’s not directed at another poster. But there’s no reason that should be the standard. It isn’t here on LI, where I know for a fact that certain perfectly legal (but, in my opinion and that of the moderators, disgusting) speech gets censored, and that’s a good thing. I wish more of it were.

        It can be legal or illegal, Milhouse, depending on manner and context. But the point is still that preparing to deter violence is _not_ advocating it.

          Milhouse in reply to tkratman. | February 21, 2021 at 1:47 pm

          The supreme court has been clear that “mere advocacy” is absolutely protected by the first amendment. Perhaps you’re referring to incitement, which to be illegal must go beyond advocacy. It must be both intended and likely to cause its hearers to go out immediately and commit a crime.

          felixrigidus in reply to tkratman. | February 21, 2021 at 3:09 pm

          And the question of whether a specific speech act is “incitement” or “advocacy “depends on the context and the meaning of the speech act.
          Exactly as tkratman said. There clearly is no reason to “correct” him.

Some of my friends wonder why I have such an interest in YouTube channels like the Critical Drinker, Nerdrotic, and Clownfish TV. It’s because of stories like this (and the like the ongoing kerfuffle over Gina Carano) demonstrate that what’s going on in comics books, sci-fi movies and TV shows, gaming, and related forms of entertainment provides a microcosmic view of the over-arching political and culture war. What’s going on in Congress and on campuses is also being acted out between the industry and fans over media content (messaging), the firing and hiring of content creators and makers, and over action figures. What is surprising about it is that the resistance to cancel culture in this theater is being conducted by people who (largely) do not consider themselves “conservative,” but still have an innate sense of justice (and a desire to have a place where they can get away from politics). And many of them are highly entertaining.

And they are a great introduction to young people who have an interest in the genres of sci-fi and comic book heroes to learn the conservative, fair-play, values espoused by many YouTube content creators who also happen to be talking about something in which they (young people) have an interest.

When knitters and SF writers go nuts we really have lost the Country.

Personalize this period of social media censorship and oppression—every single day: Instead of McCarthyism, call it Dorseyism.

I wonder, once again, if creative application of § 230 isn’t needed—as long as it is misinterpreted as it currently is—shouldn’t Parler, for example, be able to argue that termination of contract due to alleged failure to censor violates their § 230 protection? The language does restrict “liability” which can be read as prohibiting certain (interpretations of) TOS.

Both possible outcomes are better than the current state: either courts return to a reasonable reading of the statute (as Justice Thomas urges), or at least it would be applicable to disrupt leftist cancel culture as well.

Of course, § 230 ought to be tweaked so the “good faith” element actually becomes operational. I’d argue an open ideological bent of a site allows certain curation that would be in bad faith if done by people advertising to allow the broadest of free speech. Maybe looking at European countries and how they try and deal with this issue can provide some ideas. Making § 230 protections conditional on non-discriminatory practices if the entity seeking immunity has a certain market share could be a way to improve the current situation. This would allow smaller competitors to enjoy the protections without increasing market access barriers while giants like Facebook and Twitter would have to not censor if they do want to enjoy the § 230 protections.

In any case, the solution to the problem is more complicated than to simply abolish § 230. There are, after all, several interests to be taken into account.

    DaveGinOly in reply to felixrigidus. | February 21, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    How about just allowing everyone to say what they want, allow the police to attend to that which is illegal (LE interdiction against actual illegal content would have a moderating effect on other users), and allow users to block content from abusers so that they don’t personally see it (and to have algorithms to learn what users find offensive and to actively steer them away, or warm them before accessing, such content)? (As an alternative to the last, how about a chat/messaging platform that warns users “complaints of intolerant, offensive, and disturbing content will not be entertained”? In other words, “snowflakes eff off.” An application of the saying “Get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat.”)

      felixrigidus in reply to DaveGinOly. | February 21, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      I’m fine with that, generally speaking.
      The problem is what happens if you remove some content and not other content; the reason for § 230 was that some courts interpreted that act as indicating that any content you leave on your message board is published by you, and you are responsible.

      I do not agree that say the Communist Party of America should be forced to allow anti-communist messaging on their discussion forums if they don’t want to. That should not make them liable for all content they do not remove, regardless of circumstance. Twitter is a different animal though, and there seems to be a good reason to handle it differently.

      If you will there is a conflict of the value of “free speech” and of “freedom of association” without a predetermined “winner”. That is why I think it is more complicated than simply removing § 230. It has an original function that makes sense, even today. But if Twitter and Facebook and the like abuse it in an effort to undermine the intentions of the legislature and with the blessing of the courts the legislature needs to revisit this field. I would not agree with Justice Thomas on that since the legislature actually put their reasoning and intentions into the statute, they, therefore, are not extraneous but part of the text and context that determines what a reasonable person would understand the text of the statute to mean. There is no need for that aside in Thomas’s explanation.

      CommoChief in reply to DaveGinOly. | February 21, 2021 at 6:10 pm

      Alternatively we could simply bring back dueling…..

      Keep the old code of the dual but substitute .22 caliber with a 3 inch barrel, one shot only. Add in mandatory appearance for govt employees when legitimately challenged or they forfeit their job due to poor morality. No exemption for ‘gender’ or age only for infirmity.

      Required disclosure of web pseudonym for legitimate challenges. So if CommoChief makes a truly offensive remark and refuses to apoligize then the offended party gets my contact info to arrange the duel. No ‘cartels’ no work around. No substitutes.

      Very simple did someone say or do something that is widely accepted as offensive? Did the person apologize? If yes then no duel if not then have a duel.

      That would likely clean up much of the modern discourse, IMO.

Baen’s Bar is a remnant from an earlier time, over 20 years old, and most authors have moved on to their own forums and/or FaceBook Pages. It’s become a backwater.

The founder of Baen Books, Jim Baen, was focused on books people enjoyed reading. Baen does have a heavy Mil Sci Fi component, but they also publish fantasy. There authors have a wide range of beliefs, from Eric Flint Socialist, to Colonel Tom Kratman with his Carnifex series. What Baen Publishes is in contrast to the Manhattan curated stuff published by the rest of the Main Stream Publishing industry. All of the main stream publishing industry is on life support due to Amazon, and eBooks. Baen is doing better, and has been on the forefront of experimentation.

Cartoon on the Baen Snafu:

Mathew Hopkins, a UK Lawyer, has been diving into the Baen mess:

Baen also has a free library, where you can download an entire book. Jim Baen’s idea being you will buy more in the series. Amazon has also has them for free I believe – Amazon has a price match contractual requirement. It’s a great way to try out an author. There are some really good books here:

If you are into Guns, Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia, is basically Gun Porn.

1632 by Eric Flint is just a fun story written by Eric Flint, with the local union in a modern day west Virginia coal town transported to Germany 1632, being a heroic presence. Eric Flint was a socialist / union organizer, among other parts of his background.

David Drake’s Northworld takes the Viking Eddas and puts them in a future setting.

And many more.

    mark311 in reply to Ray - SoCa. | February 21, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks I’m need if some light hearted reading and this sounds like it might be just that. My last book was a boring technical work related book, it really would have benefited from some humour ha.

People are missing the point of what is happening in today’s society. All of this cancel culture and deplatforming is an end around to avoid the freedom of speech issue. This is not the first time this has occurred, in history, and has long been a staple of weak, totalitarian governments. Totalitarians can not get the government to control public speech, so they enlist and lean on the private sector, which provides the communication networks.

What makes this so egregious, is that the private sector businesses actually listen to a minority of people, who make outrageous complaints, and then act against the interests of a contractee based upon use restrictions which are so horrendously vague that they can be applied to any speech. All arbitrarily and unilaterally. hundreds of years of legal decisions in contract law, are being ignored. No longer does cancellation of a contract, for violation of that contract, need actual proof of willful violation. It no longer requires notification of suspected violation prior to cancellation. And, it is being done with the concurrence of the government. The US government used to be viewed as working for the people. Now it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Global Financial Establishment.

    venril in reply to Mac45. | February 22, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    This sort of strong coordination between Government, private business, academia, and political parties – all sharing the same political goals – (fellow travelers?) used to be called something… I’ll ask my pal Benito. I bet he knows.

I am a big fan of Baen Books and it is the first imprimatur I look for at the book store and on line. I will double down.

Baen has a large free library, including the first Monster Hunter book. An excellent read.

If not for Baen Books I’d not have discovered David Drake as a kid, and not have had the understanding that his books and essays gave me of how war changes someone who’s been in on the ‘Sharp End’.

If not for Baen, I’d never had read Eric Flint’s 1632, and Flint’s a pretty liberal guy.

If not for Baen, I’d never had had MHI to share with my late fiancé, who loved the stories written by a fellow accountant. Many evenings listening to the audio books and laughing together.

To the Abyss with cancel culture, I stand with Baen.