One of the things I love about this country is the First Amendment. That means we have, with a few exceptions, freedom to say whatever we want. However, there are exceptions, like screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Other exceptions are that employers can, and do, limit what their employees can say on social media. The reason is simple. If it impacts said employer negatively, the employee has become a liability. This doesn’t, in most cases, mean the employer can fire the employee for whistle-blowing. But, when an employee’s actions become unprofessional, the employer can take action. It is also when customers of the employer can demand action be taken against the unprofessional employee.
The reason for the above statement is simple. Irene Gallo, creative editor for Tor and who is also associated with Tor.com, made the following statement about Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies on her Facebook page last month. I saw the comment for the first time yesterday and, frankly, it has been eating at me since then. Here’s what she said in response to a question asking what the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are:
“Extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies… they are unrepentantly racist, misogynist 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.”
Now, everyone is permitted to like or not like what made it onto the ballot. All I’ve ever asked is that the nominated works be read before a decision is made. I guarantee you that, at the point when she made her comment, she had not read everything. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s my opinion. Of course, what she is also saying is that all the Tor authors on the ballot who were nominated by either the Sad Puppies or the Rabid Puppies are “bad-to-reprehensible”. That isn’t showing much loyalty or confidence in the work done by her fellow editors at Tor.
But what galls me is how she calls us “Extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi”. To begin with, if she were to really look at who wound up on the final ballot, especially those backed by the Sad Puppies, she would see that there are conservative, libertarian AND liberals represented. There are women and minorities. If I remember correctly, not everyone on the ballot is straight. (I don’t remember because I don’t care what a person’s sexual preference. It has nothing to do with their ability as a writer.)
Then there is the personal reaction. Ms. Gallo doesn’t know me and I don’t know her. So she doesn’t understand what sort of wound she opened for my family by calling me “extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi”. My family comes from Germany and the Netherlands. Fortunately, the family was here before Hitler came to power. But they remember what it was like living in parts of this country and having to defend themselves because they had a Germanic last name. Nazism is and always will be a personal anathema to my family and to be called a follower of that hated philosophy/government is beyond acceptable.
Did she commit slander or libel? No. Did she consider the impact her words would have on other people? I don’t know. Part of me wants to believe that she did not but I have my doubts. She used a number of “trigger” words in her response, words meant to create a negative impression. She did not consider or care about how her allegation would impact fans of those authors she was condemning nor did she apparently think or care about how such a hateful allegation could possibly lead to termination of employment.
I could go on but others have already said what I would. So, I’ll let you read their words. Cedar Sanderson writes about Ms. Gallo’s lack of professionalism with regard to this matter, Sarah A. Hoyt reminds us that this isn’t an isolated incident and Jonathan LaForce has penned an open letter to Tor.
As for me, I might be a Texan — and I know that is a dirty word to a lot of folks who like to kick puppies who are sad — but that simply means I live in a state that still values personal freedoms.