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The Nice Guy Defense

Battle Woodstock

Announcement 1: I’ve posted the first two chapters of Red Hood’s Revenge.  Enjoy!

Announcement 2: Congratulations to Theresa Ryder, who wins a copy of STRIP MAULED on the Facebook Fan Page.

ETA — Announcement 3: Doc has offered an explanation in the comments on my previous post.

#

Doctor Pus at Library of the Living Dead Press put out a statement regarding the cancellation of their LGBT-themed zombie anthology.  I appreciate that he takes responsibility for the decision, and that he offers a kill fee to the authors, but nothing in his statement changes my initial anger and disappointment.

Most people in the LLD comments jumped to Doc’s defense.  (As did some on my own blog.)  The editor of the cancelled anthology started his own thread to defend Doc.  They talk about how LLD has published gay writers and gay-themed stories before, and that he’s a good person who’s always been supportive of LGBT people and issues.

To those commenters, I want to say this: I believe you.  When I read Doc’s statement, I don’t get the sense that he’s an evil, hateful man.  I believe he’s published LGBT works before — after all, he initially accepted a gay-themed zombie anthology.  A raging homophobe never would have allowed the project to get to that point.

My anger is not because I believe Doc to be an evil, homophobic, hateful man.  My anger is due to his actions in this situation.  Based on his words and the editor’s first statement, this anthology was pulled for fear of people’s reaction.1  For fear of what the bigots might say.  Whatever his personal views on homosexuality, I find that disappointing in the extreme.

I don’t want to just pick on Doc here, so let’s make me the target.  I consider myself to be supportive of LGBT issues.  Heck, I’m the one who made both Sleeping Beauty and Smudge the fire-spider gay!  That doesn’t give me a free pass.  I still screw up sometimes, and when it happens, I deserve to be called on it.  If I say or do something hurtful, the fact that I’m a nice guy doesn’t change the fact that I’m hurting people.  Nor does it excuse that fact.

I’ve seen this defense many times.  “But he’s a good guy, and you have no right to be angry!” or “He marched for civil rights — how dare you accuse him of racism!” or “He was the first to publish [female author].  It’s ridiculous to call him sexist!”

The nice guy defense misses the point.  Say I edit and publish another anthology and end up with a ToC of white male authors.  That’s likely to cause some (justified) anger. So my friends jump to my defense, pointing out that I’m a wonderful guy.  So what?  The conversation was about my actions in choosing an all white, all male contributor list, not over whether or not I’m a nice guy.  By focusing on the latter, you ignore and derail other people’s legitimate concerns and complaints.

Discussion is welcome as always, but I’m not really interested in another round of criticizing Doc or LDP.  I think that point was made pretty well yesterday.

—-

  1. The editor now says there were concerns the anthology would be seen as a gimmick, and that it wouldn’t have good stories.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 92 comments — Leave a comment )
seanan_mcguire
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Everybody messes up. Everybody says hurtful and horrible things, or makes wrong choices. The idea that my being nice ninety percent of the time makes me untouchable when I decide to rampage across someone's inner Tokyo has always struck me as faintly insane.
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Well maybe if you'd just give Tokyo a break every once in a while! I mean, seriously. Haven't you ever considered rampaging across London? Or how about Paris? Wait, I've got it. Next time, rampage across Poughkeepsie. It'll be quite the change of pace.
(no subject) - seanan_mcguire - Feb. 12th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 12th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
nick_kaufmann
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
The editor now says they were afraid the anthology would be seen as a gimmick, and that it wouldn’t have good stories.

Sorry, but any publisher that puts out an anthology called ZOMBONAUTS, about zombies in space, can't say they were worried this one would be seen as gimmicky and wouldn't have good stories.
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
Though in that case, I don't think you'd have the fear of offending astronauts. But yeah, I'm confused by the new explanation.

At this point, I think I just want to wait and see what, if anything, Doc has to say once he's back online.
That's not quite the point - (Anonymous) - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: That's not quite the point - nick_kaufmann - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: That's not quite the point - polenth - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: That's not quite the point - nick_kaufmann - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: That's not quite the point - celtic_catgirl - Feb. 12th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: That's not quite the point - bodlon - Feb. 12th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: That's not quite the point - jimhines - Feb. 12th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
You've said everything I'm thinking. A person can do a great many nice things and still do something dumb or hurtful. The nice things don't undo the other things.

That's like saying volunteering at the food bank every week for ten years makes it okay to starve someone to death in your cellar.

Frustration point: why does the reason this antho keeps getting pulled keep changing? First it was a shadowy cabal of homophobes, then it was the EiC being afraid of a hypothetical shadowy cabal of homophobes, and now they're afraid that their contributors aren't smart enough to write something appropriate?
bodlon
Feb. 12th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Argh. That was me.
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Whoops--sorry! Call me Linker. - (Anonymous) - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Whoops--sorry! Call me Linker. - jimhines - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
angelabenedetti
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC)
I think part of the problem in this kind of situation (racism, sexism, homophobia, that kind of sensitive, hot-button topic) is that nice people believe that it's horribly evil and hateful to be racist, sexist or homophobic, and for some reason when Chris says, "What you just said/did was kind of racist/sexist/homophobic," Tracy actually hears, "You are a slime-sucking racist/sexist/homophobe!"

Too many people don't seem to get that you can make a mistake without being a slime-sucking whatever, or that people can point out that one mistake you made without accusing you of being a slime-sucking whatever. I've seen a lot of flamefests gets tarted over this discontinuity. Ironically, if these same nice people didn't see racism, sexism, homophobia, and cetera as Horribly Evil, they probably wouldn't have this knee-jerk defensive reaction about having their (or a friend's) racist, sexist or homophobic mistakes pointed out.

The editor now says they were afraid the anthology would be seen as a gimmick, and that it wouldn’t have good stories.

Umm, that's not actually much better. :/ He seems to think that the only stories one can tell about GLBT characters are gimmicky, which...? What? And he's published gay-themed stories before? Were they all gimmicky? That doesn't make any sense.

Angie
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
Definitely. And looking at my original post, I suspect I was pissed off enough that I blurred the line between "this action is unacceptable" and "you're bad people."

The frustrating part, for me, is that we all screw up. I grew up a straight white male in a middle class suburb. No matter how much I work at it, that upbringing affected me. I still find myself stumbling over stupid assumptions or beliefs. I do what I can to squash them out, but if I just assume I'm a nice guy and deny they're present at all ... well, that seems much less helpful to me.

I'm a little rambly this morning. I hope that made sense.
(no subject) - angelabenedetti - Feb. 12th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - phaetonschariot - Feb. 12th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
sartorias
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
Good point--I am not thinking well of commenters who, even if their ire is justified (and I agree), keep on about what a brimstone-eating, scum-sucking excrescence the guy is. He fucked up, so, yeah, let's talk about how he fucked up, and how we can learn from that so we don't fuck up. The rest feels too much like playground pile-diving.
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
I suspect my initial post may have contributed to that. I was pretty pissed about the whole thing, and I didn't filter that anger as much as I usually do when posting online.

Which isn't to say the anger wasn't justified; only that I probably contributed to blurring the line between anger at the people's actions and broader condemnation of the people involved.

At this point, I do hope to hear a clearer explanation from the publisher. And I hope he'll be able to hear that the way this was done has hurt and angered people, and find a way to avoid the same thing happening in the future.
(no subject) - beth_bernobich - Feb. 12th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
snapes_angel
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
There's no reason why it could not have both been a gimmick, and have good stories. One does not necessarily preclude the other. A themed anthology is like a writer's prompt. XD Yuo want stories, good ones, written along a theme/prompt.
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
I find myself wondering what the difference is between a gimmick and a theme. Was Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies a gimmick or just a really quirky theme?

Speaking for me alone, I've found that themes can help me to stretch the writing muscles, and come up with some fun ideas and stories I might not have otherwise written.
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Feb. 12th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 12th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
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mroctober
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
I think we need a book about Gay Mummies. And the endpapers can be done in tana leaves!
beth_bernobich
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
We can call it Heather Has Two Mummies.

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(no subject) - icecreamempress - Feb. 12th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bodlon - Feb. 12th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - livia_llewellyn - Feb. 13th, 2010 12:57 am (UTC) - Expand
sixteenbynine
Feb. 12th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
So in other words, he was worried that it was the GLBT community that would take offense and not people with a knee-jerk rejection of homosexuality?
rosefox
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
The same community that was lining up to submit stories, yes.
riverrocks
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
The editor now says there were concerns the anthology would be seen as a gimmick, and that it wouldn’t have good stories.

In my experience (as a curator of performances, which has similarities to editing anthologies), every theme has the potential to become a gimmick and it is a major part of the job of the editor and/or curator to find the authors/performers/etc. that will help take the book/event/etc. from gimmick to solid enjoyable remembered recommended experience. Sometimes we are lucky and the open call brings in everything we need. Some projects need extra care and attention to shine, particularly when the topic is one connected to a history of oppression and/or marginalization.

also, I want to repeat/reinforce the idea that the issue here is the action, not the person. Being labeled a big "scary evil" thing like racist or homophobic just presents people with an excuse to declare themselves hopeless and refuse to change. It's difficult but important that when we're challenging behaviors like this that we focus on the actions themselves and not allow the conversation to be derailed or deflected by what you so aptly labeled the nice guy defense (or any variety of others).


cuddlycthulhu
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
Well put as always. I agree 100%
celtic_catgirl
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
just read the first 2 chapters or Red Hood's Revenge, kinda wish I hadn't because I want to read the rest NOW. I guess I'll just have to drown my sorrows in Pride and Predjudice and Zombies...
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
If I had the power to speed up time and the publishing process to get the book out today, I would :-)

(I should probably finish proofreading the pages, though. Already found and fixed several rather embarassing goofs.)
samhenderson
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
The weirdness increases. As for gimmicky - one could say any theme is gimmicky on one level or another. Why would this be more gimmicky than stories by POC, or a feminist antho, or humor or end of the world?

And if you're concerned about publishing trivial, not-good stories, then pick, I dunno, good ones?
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
There seems to be a lot of miscommunication going on. The fact that the editor's original announcement has apparently been deleted doesn't help matters. I see a lot of people guessing at motives or reassuring that they must have had good reasons, but all I can go by is the words said by the publisher and editor. And now the editor is deleting some of those? Oh come on.

So I have no idea what to make of the gimmick explanation, and I'm hesitant to do anything until the publisher gets the chance to get online and explain whatever he feels like explaining.
sixteenbynine
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Just posted another take of mine on the whole thing here.

http://bit.ly/958Rtw
timwlong
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Statement from the owner of LotLD
http://libraryofthelivingdead.lefora.com/2010/02/11/the-queer-bent-anthology-an-explanation/page2/#post39

"The reason I pulled the LBGT Anthology was NOT from complaints from the straight community, it was from complaints from the LBGT community. They were upset that an Anthology written by straight authors could cast a bad light on the gay community. I had no complaints from the straight authors."
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Statement from the owner of LotLD
Thanks. I added the link to the top of the post about 10 minutes ago :-)
cathschaffstump
Feb. 12th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
I know that this might not be the most appropriate question, but does Smudge have a support organization in your universe?

Catherine
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
He does not. But both the fire-spider and the goblin communities are surprisingly open and accepting. For goblins, nobody cares who you're sleeping with as long as you can fight. For fire-spiders ... well, when your entire species can set things on fire, you learn to treat one another with a bit more respect.
(no subject) - cathschaffstump - Feb. 13th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC) - Expand
swan_tower
Feb. 12th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
I think you're slightly conflating two things here, and it's worth pulling them apart to see them both more clearly. (My apologies if someone has said this already; I'm in a rush and don't have time to read through all the comments.)

1) The "nice guy" defense. It is possible to be both a generally nice person and someone guilty of X prejudice. So "he's a really great person!" doesn't answer the charge. (It doesn't answer any charge other than "he's a jerk!")

2) The "supportive in the past" defense. Whether one has an agreeable personality or not, it's possible to take actions that are supportive of a particular marginalized group. Publishing LGBT works in the past, or marching for civil rights, or whatever, does go some way toward establishing that the individual doesn't have X prejudice as a general thing. However, in the present moment, they've chosen not to stand up for the thing they stood up for in the past. So in this case, I don't think Doc is a homophobe; I do think he's chosen to bow to the homophobes, apparently out of fear. His past actions help defend him against the first charge, but not the second.

We need an adjective that means "afraid of homophobes." It would possibly describe Doc, and definitely would describe his decision to pull the anthology. Homophobophobic?
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
Check Announcement #3 at the top of this post for a link to the "real" reason the publisher pulled it, which is very different from the editor's first (now deleted) statement.

---

Hm ... okay, you're going to make me think about stuff now. How rude!

I'm with you on #1, that "He's a nice guy" is basically irrelevant.

#2 ... I think I see what you're saying. Much as "he's a nice guy" is valid against "He's a jerk," saying "He's been supportive in the past" could be a valid response to "He's a homophobe/sexist/racist/etc."

But in both cases, I think it fails when you ignore criticism of a specific action and respond as though it's the person as a whole being attacked. (Which, admittedly, my first post probably blurred a bit.)

Will need to think about this one more....
(no subject) - swan_tower - Feb. 12th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 12th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
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apricot_tree
Feb. 12th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
I do see a difference between people who support and spew hate and discrimination and people who say something stupid and thoughtless or make a mistake. We all say stuff we either don't mean or don't think about before spouting off. That may or may not include the prejudices we all bear and work towards overcoming. (And I think we all have these.) That doesn't mean I don't think people shouldn't get called on such things. If no one calls me on the dumb thing I did, I have no opportunity to see it as a dumb thing and do better.

But I worry that we sometimes firestorm these things so badly, that it makes it harder for people deal with lapses intelligently. If you say, "Apricot, that was a dumb thing you said." I can at least say, "Oh crap, you're right. I'm sorry." You can accept my apology, and we all try to move on and better ourselves. If you call me a name, my defenses go up. Your message might get lost. I don't have an answer. Just my two cents. (And I use "I" and "you" figuratively, not literally.)

Edited at 2010-02-12 07:06 pm (UTC)
apricot_tree
Feb. 12th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
Jim, I know you don't have time to follow all of us who follow you. (You'd never get anything done!) :)

But if you have the chance, could you take a look at my post: http://apricot-tree.livejournal.com/251511.html?

I would appreciate your take on the subject, as a published author.
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Will take a look. (Started to read, but was immediately distracted by icon awesomeness ;-)
(no subject) - apricot_tree - Feb. 13th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC) - Expand
derekjgoodman
Feb. 12th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Jim, I'm not sure if this is the proper place to put this, but I'm not sure where else it would go and I think it needs to be said.

I have seen some talk of boycotts, and I would like to urge people not to do this. If you are upset you have every right to rant about it, but a boycott doesn't just hurt the publisher. All of us LotLD authors do in fact make royalties off our books, small as they are, and a boycott would hurt the authors, many of whom are as perplexed and hurt about this whole situation as anyone else.
jimhines
Feb. 12th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
I've got no objection to the comment, and I tend to agree. Much as with the Macmillan/Amazon thing, the talk of boycotting Macmillan meant hurting a lot of authors who had nothing to do with the situation.

Perplexed is a good word for it. I'm past most of my initial anger, but I'm still very confused by the whole thing.
(no subject) - minionjoe - Feb. 12th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Clariffication on LotLD - timwlong - Feb. 12th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Clariffication on LotLD - jimhines - Feb. 12th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Clariffication on LotLD - (Anonymous) - Feb. 12th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Clariffication on LotLD - timwlong - Feb. 12th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Clariffication on LotLD - jimhines - Feb. 13th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 13th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC) - Expand
icecreamempress
Feb. 12th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
As a member of the LGBTQI community my ownself, it is not usually my expectation that when someone says "I'm cancelling the LGBTQI anthology because it might upset people" the "people" in question are the LGBTQI people.

So at best, Doctor Pus made a tremendous faux pas in his wording of his original announcement.

And to be honest, I don't believe him. Full stop. All I've seen is writers, many of them LGBTQI themselves, disappointed by the cancelling of the anthology. The pressure from "the LGBTQI community" to cancel the anthology is simply not something I believe in.
jjschwabach
Feb. 12th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
You're an evil, evil man. Now I have to wait until July to see what happens next!
jimhines
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
::Excellent::

I would do an evil laugh, but I'm still working on that with my voice coach.
(no subject) - jjschwabach - Feb. 13th, 2010 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
jabberwockpie
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:50 am (UTC)
Squee! Princess story!

But first you have Armand "wearing a jacket of dark green velvet that matched his eyes" and then later on you have "“Danielle?” Beatrice’s brown eyes, so similar to Armand’s".
jimhines
Feb. 13th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
::Scribbles a note on the page proofs::

I have no idea what you're talking about. I think if you'll check that sample again, you'll find that the line reads "a jacket of dark green velvet that brought out his eyes."

At least, that's what it will read once the corrected file finishes uploading...

(Thank you!)
(Anonymous)
Feb. 13th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
most likely, the anthology was canceled because it sounds like a joke. an lgbt-themed zombie anthology? thats so random. its the kind of the thing that probably no one would buy, and so why spend money on publishing it?
http://www.google.com/profiles/Critteranne
Feb. 13th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
Really? I like the idea, and so do a lot of the other posters. Do you think there are no LGBT horror fans? Of course there are. Or horror fans who have no problem reading stories about LGBT characters?

Anyway, is it any more random than, say, the themes of Frontier Cthulhu or History Is Dead? It depends on how it's done, of course, but that's true of any other anthology theme. There have been great LGBT anthologies in all fields that avoided being dumb or boring or unpopular with readers.
linkspam_mod
Feb. 19th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
Your post was added to a linkspam round-up.
dharma_slut
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
I do not think that "gay folk having concerns that they will be badly represented" equals "homophobia."

And it's kinda classic, the way that every single post the gentleman can control, has been deleted. All the threads in his own forum, every followup post in answer to his last ultimatum-- which is incoherent and tells us nothing about the actual fate of the antho-- all gone with the wind.

hmm... that would make a good title for something, wouldn't it?
jimhines
Feb. 19th, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
"I do not think that 'gay folk having concerns that they will be badly represented' equals 'homophobia.'"

I have no idea what happened behind the scenes, and like you said, it's harder to understand when the original posts are being deleted. But my sense is that there was a massive miscommunication between the publisher and the editor, and the editor just came away with the wrong idea originally.

That's a total guess, though.
(no subject) - dharma_slut - Feb. 19th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
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