Friday, February 19, 2021

The Controversy Regarding Baen's Bar: My Response

(ETA: I wholly endorse Larry Correia's open letter. Every. Single. Word.)

BLUF: Looks like somebody is angling for a Hugo Award in the Related Works category

Quite a few folks associated with Baen - including David Weber, Eric Flint, Larry Correia, and Toni Weisskopf - have already responded to this transparent attempt to cancel a significant SFF publisher -- but I'd like to add my $.02 because the cherry-picking, the hypocrisy, the ideologically-induced reading comprehension failures, and the princess-and-the-pea prissiness of this guy's post are all deeply offensive and should be called out as often and by as many people as possible.

Let's take each claim in turn.

Major Claim #1: "Baen’s Bar has also become well-known in the genre community as a place where racism, sexism, homophobia and general fascism continually pop up."

The link provided in this sentence takes us to a forum thread on another website in which the transgender originator shares screen caps of people in Tom Kratman's conference being rude to her. Now, I'm no fan of rudeness as a general rule, but there are a couple of things I notice about this link:

  1. It's from 2014. If this behavior were a persistent and wide-spread problem on the Bar, surely more recent evidence would've been provided.
  2. The complainant at the link self-servingly elides her own contributions to the flame war while insisting that she's been perfectly reasonable the whole time and that the response of the folks in this conference is an over-the-top and bigoted reaction to what she said. Yeah, sure. Because the Bar is down, I can't search for the entire argument. However, the Barflies I know don't pop off like that for absolutely no reason.   

Now to zoom out a little bit: When a leftist claims that something is -ist, my first instinct is not to believe it. And, I think, I have a very good reason to initially approach such assertions with skepticism. As we all know, bourgie progressives like the writer of the above "expos√©" (and the individual whose negative run-in with the Kratskeller he's using as an example) are absolutely obsessed with how we all talk to each other. But in my personal view, policing our words is often a way to look like you're doing good while actually unconscionably imposing upon other people's freedom and peacocking about your superior social status. 

The pronoun thing, for instance, definitely falls into this category. I will use people's pronouns if I know them. But it should be said that pronouns are only used when you're talking about someone -- so demanding that we use your preferred pronouns is in fact demanding control over how we talk about you beyond your earshot. Who gave you the right to expect total acquiescence to your preferences at all times and in all places from people who most likely have no personal relationship with you whatsoever? Further, people who aren't from one particular rarefied class in our society don't really understand radical gender ideology (because it's mostly nonsense if we're being perfectly frank) and find the singular "they" (or the ever expanding slate of invented pronouns) confusing -- so taking people to task for resisting pronoun edicts is, in many cases, taking people to task for being poorer and less "educated" than you are. (And I put "educated" in scare quotes here because a sheepskin is no longer a reliable signal that you are genuinely learned. I've got one of those things - and from a pretty prestigious public Ivy too - but I don't even think I'm truly educated. And I've been trying to fix that for my entire adult life.)

From what I've observed in my own interactions with the Barflies, a lot of the people who are active on the Bar come from working class and/or military backgrounds; in said milieus, rough discourse is a way of life. Indeed, as a military brat myself, I have personally witnessed how our servicemen routinely roast each other using epithets that would absolutely get a lefty upper-middle-class fella's ears all a-smokin'. At the same time, I have also witnessed how well people handle racial and cultural differences in the very same military contexts. A group of diverse Marines may toss no-no words around like they're candy, but fundamentally, respect reigns among them regardless of race.

Mind you, I'm not trying to say that the people in Kratman's conference at that link were somehow being respectful in a different way. They weren't. Nor am I trying to say that we should just drop all concern about the language people use. We shouldn't. But I still think it's worth pointing out that different classes in our society have different communication styles because it speaks to the shallowness of the left's linguistically-focused approach to justice. Judging people solely by their adherence - or lack of adherence - to the exquisitely sensitive standards of speech of the progressive Brahmandarins is a piss-poor way to find real racists/sexists/homophobes/etc. You have to look deeper. You have to consider action, intent and context. And that brings me to...

Sub-Claim #1a: "For example, a Baen’s Bar user from India was nicknamed “The Swarthy Menace” on the forum by author Tom Kratman. People on the forum thought that was the height of clever humor."

This is what I mean when I say this take-down of the Bar is prissy. The user in question was a willing participant in this particular joke. "The Swarthy Menace" has the same exact energy as "White Mormon Men with Fantastic Racks," which is what we lady-Pups called ourselves in response to false claims that the Sad Puppies were all cishet white men. From the link provided: "This came about due to a left winger from Space Babies claimed Arun was afraid of the Swarthy Menace while debating one of the Colonels books. What made it funny is that Arun is from India." (sic) As you can see, in both cases, the intent was perfectly legitimate: to make fun of people's stupid assumptions. Yet here come the conversation cops to tell all of us that ackchyually, we're being super racist and having fun wrong -- even though literally no one involved was insulted. Mind your own bee's wax, you buttinsky.

Sub-Claim #1b: "Racist comments and innuendos frequently appear in many forum discussions. In a thread last year titled 'Soft Civil War & Trump’s Army,' user Captrandy wrote that political conflicts in the USA could be solved if 'all the angry and non angry white males should stop going to work for a month or so.'"

Okay, let's consider the context in which this was uttered. For the past several years - or more - the commentariat has pushed the idea that white people - especially white men - are the fount of all evil. And in response, the education system, the corporate boardroom, and the government have all consented to the further propagation of this toxic worldview by bankrolling so-called "diversity training" in which whites are singled out solely due to their skin color and subjected to Maoist struggle sessions in which they're forced to confess to crimes they did not commit and to prejudices of which they are not aware.* If you're shocked that this has led to resentment - and to a desire to assert (truthfully, I might add) that white men have contributed and do contribute in a positive way to our nation and the world - then you, cupcake, have zero idea how human beings actually work.**

(*Note: I'm happy to talk to folks about the unique disadvantages certain groups face in this country -- but not if it involves blaming all living white people for circumstances most of them had no hand in generating or holding them responsible for things that might lurk deep inside their ids. Most white people - particularly po' whites - are not all that powerful. And berating people for so-called "unconscious bias" is like throwing people in jail for their dreams. It's ridiculous -- and abusive.) 

(**And now the boogaloo: I think it's a bad idea for white people to develop a "white identity." But if you want to stop that from happening, the last thing you should do is start treating white people as if they're an undifferentiated mass of malefactors. As we can see right now in freakin' real time, all that does is remind white people that, waitaminute, they're white.) 

(And now I think it's time to put a jump on this before this post eats my whole front page...)

Sub-Claim #1c: "In another political thread, user Pugmak wrote 'Simple competence has been declared white supremacy. Knowing how to do your job and expecting others to do likewise is now white supremacy and workplace oppression.'"

See, I look at a comment like that and think, "Where's the lie?" Guess that makes me a racist, herp-a-derp-derp. OR -- maybe I agree with Pugmak's assertion that simple competence is under attack because I've seen documents that have been elevated in "anti-racist" circles that actually do declare that expecting people to show up to work on time and produce tangible results is a feature of "whiteness" that must be stamped out. And maybe I agree with Pugmak because, oh I don't know, I just recently watched a local school system water down the requirements for admission for an area STEM magnet because the racial balance there didn't satisfy leftist bean counters.* (Too many Asians. That was the quiet part they occasionally said out loud.)  

What we have right here is a classic move of the leftist BS merchant: you disagree with my dogma, so therefore you are racist. My, what a convenient definition of racism you have, Grandma!

(*Note: Obviously, not everyone starts life with the same cards. And I don't object to giving disadvantaged people a hand up provided the method is fair and preserves universal standards of excellence. I have written over and over again about the need, for example, to build up academic enrichment opportunities in under-served schools to give poorer kids a shot at getting into top schools on their own merits. So yes, let's talk about what we can do to make the playing field a little more level. But don't sit there and call me racist because I strenuously reject the idea that we have to lower the bar for "BIPOC" folks to make things "equitable". What a crock! If anything, the fact that I have faith in each and every race's capacity to succeed without set-asides proves that I am the true egalitarian.)

So anyway -- that pretty much takes care of the claim that the Bar is some hotbed of -ist and -phobic activity. As I hope I've demonstrated, none of the examples deployed to make the case reveal any such thing. Let us now move on to ...

Major Claim #2:"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."

Turk, as this "investigative report" acknowledges, joined the Bar shortly after the Capitol riot; therefore, Turk cannot possibly reflect the long-standing culture there. And as for the rest of the thread, I'd sure like to see what else was actually said because I trust this writer's interpretation about as far as I can throw it. There's been a lot of exaggerated and/or false reporting on the events of January 6 that the media, the Democratic Party apparatus, and their leftist followers have spread uncritically because they're desperate for justifications for a sweeping curtailment of our rights. So were these 'flies actually "downplaying" the riot? Or were they simply questioning the fevered narrative that it was an "insurrection" that represented an unprecedented attack on our "sacred" democracy? Nobody can know the answer to this question until we can see these users' statements in full with all the context preserved.

Major Claim #3: "For example, as reported earlier by File770, author Tom Kratman has used the forum to urge Trump to 'start his own well-armed militia.' Kratman added that Trump should say 'I can start the civil war with a stamp of my foot. I’ve refrained, so far, but you cannot count on that restraint under all circumstances.'

Wow, this guy really has it in for Kratman. On a certain level, I get it: Kratman is a diamond-hard conservative and not shy about it. But there's a teensy tiny little problem with claiming this statement is a broad endorsement of political violence against one's opponents, and that's this bit:

“The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high.” (Emphasis mine.)

Since I actually know how to read, I know precisely what Kratman means here. Though he's using other words, he's basically saying: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Does the Declaration of Independence broadly endorse violence against one's political opponents? Or does it instead define an extremely narrow criterion that must be met for violence/revolution to be justified? 

Major Claim #4, meanwhile, revolves around people on the Bar predicting and/or war-gaming the Second American Civil War.

In the examples included, the people involved are choosing targets to hit should the boogaloo erupt. One comment cited: “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy... And the Left lives in cities. The question is just how many of its inhabitants will survive...” Sounds bad, huh? Well, yes, on the surface -- up until you recognize that there is no intent to execute until such time as the opposition fires the first shot, which, like Kratman's post above, is pure John Locke and not an unlimited embrace of politically-motivated mass murder.

Major Claim #5: "In a thread titled “Who killed Ashli Babbitt?” users discussed the Capitol police officer who shot Babbitt as she broke into the Capitol. [...] Let’s be very blunt about what Theoryman is saying: He is urging people to kill a police officer who defended the U.S. Capitol once they learn the officer’s name."

And here's where the aforementioned hypocrisy comes in. Where was this concern for the lives of police officers when a radical activist gunned cops down in Dallas? Theoryman's comment here is one of the very few comments mentioned that, in my opinion, probably should fall outside the Overton Window. But let's apply this outrage globally, shall we? If you are disgusted by the proposed doxing of the cop who shot Ashli Babbitt, you should be equally disgusted by the enthusiasm for cop-killing that emanates from the left wing.

And now for some general observations:

1.) This writer says he took screen shots of all the posts he mentioned. But why didn't he include those screen shots in his report? I wrote all of the above on the assumption that the quotes he reported were real -- but there is also a non-zero chance that he's made some of this up. Do keep that in mind. Leftists lie -- and they do it routinely.

2.) 99% of the speech mentioned here is not meant to incite/organize criminal activity. Is it inflammatory? You bet your bippy. But the discussions of political violence here are, generally speaking, meant to be acted upon at some future point after the government has crossed the Lockean line. No one is organizing for imminent lawless action; it's all careless venting in a space that's perceived to be "safe." Honestly, If I were Toni Weisskopf, I'd hold the line and keep those posts up just on principle. After all, leftists call for violence against conservatives every damn day on Twitter and nobody ever gets the vapors. And I'd wager I'd find a slew of even more disgusting stuff if I pecked around a private leftist forum for a bit given how open lefties are in public spaces about their desire to immiserate and humiliate the rest of us.

3.) This writer appears to have focused his attention on the Kratskeller and the Politics conference. But, of course, there are a butt ton of other conferences on the Bar. Why no discussion of those, hmm? Is it because the vast majority of activity on the Bar is not even remotely sensational? Did this guy sign on to the Bar with his conclusion already drawn and then sift through literal years of material until he could find enough questionable content to round out his little report? The mind is certainly compelled.

BLATE: This was a hit piece through and through. No one should take it seriously. Everyone should point and laugh.    


  1. Well said, and excellent breakdown. As a retired military member, I can vouch for our 'use' of inappropriate language... sigh...

  2. While I appreciate the effort you made in dealing with the actual "substance" of the claims against Barn, I believe you are tilting at windmills. True, false, or indifferent, the mob does not care. It feeds on hate. The cowards running Worldcom don't really care either. They just want the mob to eat them last.

  3. Seriously? Only the Progressives "take" it that "way"- so it suits their agenda...much like Larry talked to.

    And they wonder why we dislike them so...