Monday, August 10, 2015

Hugo Update - How to shoot yourself in the foot, puppy style

Lou Antonelli, an author who had two works nominated by both the sad and rabid puppies for the Hugos this year, managed to well and truly screw himself up. It remains to be seen whether or not he is really sorry for his actions, although his apology seems genuine enough. Details after the cut for people bored with the whole Hugo Mess.

Antonelli, during a depressingly long and pathetic podcast, said the following (transcription by Jim C. Hines):

I really didn’t know much about [Gerrold] before the Hugo nominations came out. Following his discourse and his level of discourse as a result, I personally wrote a letter addressed to the police chief in Spokane and said I thought the man was insane and a public danger and needs to be watched when the convention’s going on, and I mean it. I attached my business card. I said this guy’s inciting to violence. Somebody—a weak-minded might attack somebody because of his relentless strength of abuse. I think, honestly, I think he belongs in a secure psychiatric facility.
So, get this straight... he wrote to the police in Spokane, where Worldcon is being held and where David Gerrold is the Guest of Honor, and "warned" them that the GoH at Worldcon is "insane and a public danger". He did this to a fellow writer and a fellow fan. He did this to the man who wrote the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles". Seriously. He did it to a giant in the field of science fiction. Then he got on a podcast and bragged about his action.

Think about that for a moment. Just let it sink in.

Now, don't sink too far. It was a despicable act, to be sure. But once people heard about it, Antonelli got backlashed so hard that it apparently took his breath away. He didn't waste too much time in apologizing:
Thanks for your polite request for an explanation. I’ve thought about what to say, which is painful to admit.
It’s become public that on July 1st I wrote a letter to the chief of the Spokane Police Department expressing some concerns over potential security issues at the upcoming Sasquan.
I’m sorry for what I did. Without looking at the big picture I reacted in a manner that I thought I was being treated. It was stupid and wrong. My subsequent participation on a podcast was also a mistake because the environment further fueled my fear and I lashed out again.
I’m sorry I bothered the Spokane PD. They probably are ready to throw the butterfly net over ME when I enter the city. And I’m sorry and apologize to David Gerrold. He probably understands why I did what I did better than I do.
I need to ponder the hurt I have caused. To give me time to think, after Sasquan I am taking a half-year hiatus from attending any conventions and/or submitting any fiction.
I think I’ve become my own crazy uncle…
With some caveats, that's a fairly sincere apology for this day and age. The "It's become public" bit and the fact that he didn't actually direct his apology (at first) to Gerrold both bothered me. The second part of that was answered later in the Facebook thread. Gerrold, in fact, accepted the apology:
Okay, I'll say this here and then I'll post it wherever else it needs to be said. And anyone can share it where they feel it needs to be shared.
I do not know Mr. Antonelli. I do not understand why he felt the need to write to write the Spokane PD. And I won't engage in online psychoanalysis or any other kind of second-guessing.
Yes, I was dismayed when I heard about the podcast. No, I have not listened to the podcast. I need to focus on more important things. But as others have pointed out, a line was crossed that shouldn't have been crossed and I'm grateful that so many people spoke up.
More importantly, Lou Antonelli has apologized. I appreciate that. As far as I'm concerned the matter is over and done. I don't have time for grudges. I'm satisfied with his apology, and I hope we can quickly put this behind us and focus on better things.
I sent Lou Antonelli a short private message saying so, and I reiterated my offer to buy him a beer the next time we're both at the same convention. Because that's what I would want if the situation was reversed.
All well and good, right? Action admitted, apologized for. David Gerrold accepted the apology, should be the end of it, right?

Oh no, Antonelli, not realizing when to stop, then took to Facebook to tell his fans that his actions had consequences beyond just him making a fool of himself online. A publisher decided to not publish a story she'd already accepted from him, in light of his actions. He phrased it very lightheartedly, but he named the publisher and included the text of her e-mail:
Oh, from the Actions Have Consequences Dept., Lakeside Circus has revoked its signed contract for my story "Message Found Written on an End Roll of Newsprint":
Mr. Antonelli,
I have just become aware of comments you made regarding contacting the police about David Gerrold, over his comments about the Hugo Awards.
While your stance on, and involvement in, the Hugo voting slates is, we feel, a personal choice, and outside of our interests, taking this action moves away from protected speech, and into a concrete effort to threaten someone's safety and livelihood.
Because of this, we will not be publishing your story in our next issue, and would suggest that we are unlikely to be a good fit for your work in the future.
Thank you.
Carrie Cuinn
You do stupid and bad stuff, you get slapped.
This, of course, had the predictable effect of sending the wild hounds of hate after the publisher, who tweeted this:
Less than 12 hours before today's publishing decision led to getting emailed rape and death threats, because evil SJWs something something.
10:48 PM - 8 Aug 2015
Think about that for a moment. If you get involved in publishing something by this guy and decide not to publish it after all, you might get rape and death threats. Is there any reasonable publisher on the planet that would touch anything written by this guy with a ten-foot pole anymore? If he gets offended, he'll call the cops on you. If his fans get offended, they'll threaten you. Best to not involve yourself with him at all. He's radioactive.

To his credit, he told his "fans" to cut it out:
Ok, if anyone I know out there is contacting Carrie Cuinn and castigating her for the decision not to publish my story, knock it off. She and Lakeside Circus have their right to free expression, also. Lambasting her is certainly not helping things.
And the Hugo for understatement goes to Lou Antonelli, who didn't just shoot himself in the foot with this whole nonsense, he pretty much nuked his own foot off from orbit.

I don't have anything in particular against Antonelli. One of his nominated works, On a Spiritual Plain, had some interesting ideas even if it wasn't my cuppa and needed another draft or two to polish it up.

Contacting the police, if he really did so, was an incredibly stupid thing to do. Calling the cops because a guy who writes his thoughts in plain language on his personal Facebook page offends your sensibilities is a really moronic thing to do. Siccing your fans on a publisher who, rightly or wrongly, decided to distance herself from you due to your actions was also really dumb. He has some good ideas, but clearly he's got poor impulse control.

I'm not feeling a great deal of pity for Antonelli, because he did bring this all down on himself. On the other hand, I've read some of his works and he's not a bad writer, so I'm not feeling the slightest bit of schadenfreude, either. All I'm feeling is utter depression that the negative side of fandom can so easily overcome the great bits. I guess I hope Antonelli can overcome this, learn from this, and come back as a better writer and a better person. And I'm posting about it to remind myself that actions have consequences, sometimes really nasty ones.

On a final note, I'll point out that this post has not one, but TWO links to Antonelli stories in it (the final two links), so you can read and decide for yourself if his work is promising, if you feel the need to find out.

Update: The editor in question has responded to Antonelli's Facebook status about harassing her with a reasoned post that pretty much puts the lie to any good intentions Antonelli may have pretended to have. In short, she contacted him well before tweeting about the problem, and he didn't tell his "fans" to stop until after she went public. Further, he edited the letter he posted to his fans, removing a line that linked to the podcast and adding her title. In addition, she made the decision to drop his story before he posted an apology to Gerrold, which adds to the evidence that he wasn't expecting backlash and wasn't sorry until he "got caught". It's exasperating and frustrating that a man who has the potential to be a decent writer would do this sort of hateful stuff to people he should be considering fellow fans and colleagues. This really isn't the way to become a professional.

Another Update: Sasquan has decided not to ban Antonelli.


Cat Sittingstill said...

I was thinking better of him after he posted the apology, but that is fading as I consider what he did to Carrie.

I can't decide whether this is terminal "wasn't thinking about it" cluelessness on his part or whether he was *hoping* his readers would threaten the editor who cut ties with him. I like to hope the first, but...

Tegan said...

Yeah, I was feeling a little less "what a douchebag" about him, then I learned the timing of what he did to Carrie. I can't accept that he didn't at least have some idea of what would happen when he did that. He's either the most clueless writer in the world (which is certainly possible) or a twisted person who got his revenge through his lapdog fans.

Carrie also pointed out that his word choice was reprehensible and implied that she had done something wrong, even as he claimed over and over that it was his own fault. Methinks he protests too much?