EDIT: I’ve added the responses from Toni Weisskopf, David Weber, and Eric Flint at the end.
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.
I’m not going to talk about the moronic loser or go through all the nonsense in his ridiculous hit piece. Other people are going through it now and carefully cataloging his bullshit. In typical leftist fashion he’s already pretending to be the victim and claiming he’s getting death threats. Maybe he can get in touch with Anita Sarkesian and Arthur Chu for tips.
However, lying hit pieces from lefty activists aren’t anything new. We’re used to those. The real issue here is the complaints to the internet companies so they’ll deplatform anyone who doesn’t fall in line. The woke left saw what Big Tech did to Parler and they learned from it. This is a new weapon in their arsenal to beat America over the head with. The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.
Toni Weisskopf is a strong believer in free speech. She publishes books by republicans, libertarians, democrats, and socialists, it doesn’t matter what we believe as long as we entertain our readers. Toni doesn’t tell us what we can or can’t speak about. She is a rarity in the bland oatmeal world of traditional publishing. Most of the publishing world adheres to a rigid left-wing monoculture, and those who work there who don’t believe that way have to keep their heads down or face repercussions. Professionally she is a brilliant editor, personally, she’s a single mom with a special-needs daughter, her family were Jews who escaped the Soviets, her great-uncle was THE Weisskopf on the Manhattan Project, and she’s my friend.
But of course the commenters over at the hit piece and other cesspools are already plotting about how they’re going to get her banned from everything in society for hosting all this dangerous hate speech.
I’ve tried to warn people about the growing danger of Cancel Culture for years. Too many people who are nominally on my right side of the political divide are still debating philosophy and pontificating about moral equivalence things like the Red Scare from decades ago, while right now the left is actively mastering how to weaponize technology in order to crush the free exchange of ideas. You need to wake up and catch up.
The Bar isn’t a hotbed of extremism. It’s not a hotbed of anything. It’s an old forum that was mostly kept around because of tradition. It was created at the dawn of internet forums. I haven’t used it in years (I had already built up my online presence elsewhere when I started writing for them). But that isn’t the point. Anything that can be a target, will eventually be a target. They’re coming for your business next.
If you would like to help out, please spread the word. Go buy some Baen Books and help support publishers who don’t give in to bullies. Everyone needs to stand up to these dirtbags.
EDIT: Here is Toni’s official response:
To Whom It May Concern:
What is it we do at Baen Books? We publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.
Science fiction has traditionally been a unique kind of intellectual pleasure, a process of glorious intercommunication and inspiration, with ideas flowing from scientist and engineer to writer and artist, to reader and viewer, back and forth, in a delightful mélange of shared thoughts, wild speculation, cautionary tales, reality checks, and the sheer fun of playing with boundaries and ideas. It is not for everyone. But those who enjoy it, take great pleasure in the dialogue.
When the modern form of SF began, with Hugo Gernsback and the other pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the publishers fostered that interaction through letter columns in the magazines and by encouraging science fiction readers to organize in clubs and meet in conventions. Baen Books continued that tradition with Baen’s Bar, a kind of virtual convention and on-line conversation that has been around in some form for over 20 years.
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.
EDIT 2: And here is what bestselling author David Weber had to say about this idiotic hit piece. Just like I said above. “The usual.” David is probably our most famous author currently working and a lot more of a statesman than I am.
So, Jason Sanford thinks that Baen’s Bar, the online discussion forum that Baen Books has maintained for its readers for around twenty years, is “Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence,” to quote the title of his self-righteous, biased, and intellectually dishonest hit piece.
Which, in case you haven’t already deduced this, is in my opinion — I realize I am sometimes guilty of a certain lack of clarity — a pile of horse shit.
I haven’t been on the Bar regularly in quite some time, and when I have been there in the last few years, I’ve tended to lurk rather than posting myself. Mostly, that’s because I do not have the time to engage with readers there the way that I would if I didn’t just lurk. There’s way too much conversation back and forth, too many fascinating rabbit holes to dive down, too many “oooooh, shiny!” moments. And there is enough online interconnectivity — now, as opposed to when Jim Baen demonstrated his forward thinking yet again by creating the Bar — that I have manifold other ways to reach people.
But there is no way in hell that the Barflies, as they are affectionately known, are advocating for political violence. Opinions are expressed, especially in the politics forum, and tempers are running high on both sides of our current political divide, so there’s a certain degree of venting. And there are a surprising number of historians, who can be relied upon to summon up historical examples to back their points. And there are heaps of independent thinkers, who aren’t going to hew to any particular party’s line and can be trusted to step upon any sore political toes in the vicinity. And there are quite a lot of veterans, who know what violence is REALLY like — unlike the vast majority of people who are currently hyperventilating about it in this country — which means the LAST THING they would want would be to instigate violence that is anything except defensive.
But once upon a time, back when there was genuine free speech in this country, one was ALLOWED to vent, to express opinions, to worry publicly about current political trends WHOEVER YOU WERE. You didn’t have to be on the “right side” of some self-appointed Guardian of Public Morality™ or the Currently Correct Way to Think.™ All you needed to be was an American citizen exercising your right to state an opinion. There are times when I regret closing in on 69 as opposed to 19 at this particular time in history for reasons that have nothing to do with age, because I remember how it’s SUPPOSED to work. I remember how we were SUPPOSED to have the right to disagree with one another without having hateful labels — Libtard, Commie, White Supremacist, Racist, Nazi, Whatever-The-Fuck-I-Hate-Worst — applied to us by people who simply don’t want to hear what we have to say and make the monumentally arrogant assumption that they KNOW what we are REALLY thinking, no matter what we SAY. Or what we actually DO, for that matter. And if we don’t prove that we Agree with Them™ by worshiping — publicly — at THEIR altar of who must be canceled or silenced, we must be evil, corrupt, VILE human beings out to overthrow All That Is Right and True™. I wish that my kids, who are CURRENTLY 19, would be in a position to remember the same “how it’s supposed to be” that I do, but how likely is that, really, in a world where politically motivated hit jobs like this have become the norm?
Baen Books is frequently characterized as a “right wing publisher.” That’s as stupid as the notion that the Barflies are plotting a violent coup. Baen Books doesn’t care what the political orientation of its writers — or their fiction — may be as long as the stories are good, as long as they engage and entertain the reader, and as long as there is a market for them. If Baen has a deep bench of conservative readers, that’s because so many other publishers are avoiding the kinds of stories they want to read and Baen is filling that void. Well, that of the fact that Baen Books tries really hard to publish GOOD stories that reasonably attract readers on their merits, as well. But Baen publishes conservatives, libertarians, socialists, and everything in between.
That doesn’t mean that Toni Weiskopf, as an individual, doesn’t have political views or that she — personally, not as an editor and publisher — doesn’t prefer some “flavors” of stories over others. But Toni is also a businesswoman, and she understands that her job as a businesswoman is to provide the best quality stories to ANYONE who likes a good SF/fantasy story, regardless of political orientations. And she understands — unlike some people — that that means publishing stories and allowing opinions to which some people might take exception. Well, as far as I’m concerned, anyone is entitled to take exception to anything he or she chooses to take exception to. That doesn’t give him or her the right to cherry pick, use partial quotes, take things out of context, or resort to all the other filthy, underhanded, unscrupulous, contemptible tactics people who produce hit jobs like this routinely reach for.
I know Baen Books. I know Toni Weiskopf. I’ve known her for 33 years, when she was barely old enough to drink. I knew Jim Baen. I knew his philosophy. I know his legacy, and the way both that philosophy and that legacy continue in the publishing house that he founded. And because I know all of that, I know one other thing, as well —Baen Books is not allowing the Bar to advocate for violence. The notion would be laughable, if it were not so vile, so politically motivated, and so contemptibly calculated to “deplatform” a publisher of whom the moral pygmy behind the hit piece disapproves.
EDIT: And here is another response, from way over on the opposite side of the political spectrum, bestselling author Eric Flint, who also recognizes this hit piece smear for what it is. He goes into a lot of details about just how slimy it is.
I disagree with Eric A LOT. (heck, even in this one, the Sad Puppies didn’t just collect quotes from nobodies, because we also got lots of big editors, and authors up to GRRM, saying stuff that validated my claims! ) but this is an honest stand up piece (and too long to cut and paste here, so go read it) and Eric goes into a lot of detail about just how sleazy and dishonest the “investigator” is.