Author Jason Sanford, never shy to speak out on issues affecting the science fiction community, posted an article to his Patreon site on Monday, February 15, – a post available for public reading – that offers “an investigative report about how Baen’s Bar, the private forum run by the science fiction and fantasy publishing company Baen Books, is being used to advocate for extremist political violence.”
As noted but bearing repeat, this post is available for all to read, not just Sanford’s Patreon subscribers. You can find the full text here (and we urge you to do so.)
File 770 published a link and commentary (Pixel Scroll entries #1 and #2 commentary); Sanford has also noted that “Instead of anyone dealing with my report on the Baen Books forum by, you know, simply banning advocacy of political violence there, I’m now getting death threats and harassment. ” (Twitter)
Toni Weiskopf, Baen’s publisher and current Editor GoH for this year’s WorlcCon – Discon3 – responded by announcing a “hiatus” for Forum activity, stating in part “It’s been brought to my attention by some helpful folks that speech not everyone agrees with, and that may have become unlawful speech, has occurred on Baen’s Bar.”
Many readers were not shocked by this revelation; Baen, Baen’s Bar and many of its well-supported authors were prominent in the Puppy Kerfuffle, and have long been referenced as a place unsafe for certain individuals and positions. Weiskopf had published commentary on Sarah Hoyt’s blog in 2014 that seemed supportive of Puppy politics – The Problem of Engagement , stating in part “And yet, I can’t help but think that at some point, you have to fight or you will have lost the war.” That “fight” expressed itself through commentary on Baen’s Bar, the attempted vote-fixing of the Hugo Awards and in various online forums, articles, tweets and posts.
As of now, online discussion continues; although we have not yet seen it directly expressed, there are various hints that DisconIII is expected to say or do something to address the issue. The Worldcon’s website membership section states that memberships are non-refundable (except for transfers), although the website does not seem to address refunds for moral or legal issues.
This is a continuing story that is no doubt just getting started. Making the situation even more fraught and uncomfortable is the fact that this year’s Worldcon is being held in DC, site of the right-wing insurrection of January 6th, and one can’t help but see possible connections – at least in terms of political affiliations.
I for one am not prepared to attend a Worldcon that is associated with these activities, if only owing to their selection of guest(s). Giving one of the biggest platforms in our community to someone who, at best, failed to perform adequate oversite of website activities and has since only offered a weak-sauce response, is unacceptable.