A Critical Review of Laura J. Mixon’s Essay

Can we please, really PLEASE STOP DOING THIS? … you’re doing the exact same shitty thing that she did to me. … The current harassment of Benjanun Sriduangkaew has nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict that I had to do with her two years ago. … The backlash against her made me feel sick to my stomach very, very quickly. … The answer to bullying is not to bully the bullies…. If she deserves anything, it’s our respect and sympathy.

The quotes above are from a person Mixon identified as a victim of Requires Hate, expressing her horror at the actions of Mixon and her associates. When the people you claim to defend condemn your actions in the harshest of words, reasonable people listen. It is my hope that my essay will help the people involved understand why that person is just as is disgusted by the actions of many people now attacking RH as she was from RH’s actions in the past.

So, with no apologies to George RR Martin, who called Mixon’s piece “thoroughly researched, well sourced, based on verified facts” without ever bothering to fact check it for himself, here is my review/essay regarding Mixon’s work.

[I have started making some updates to my essay. Please search for “*update” to find them.]

[*Update: I should mention that I have left in my essay all the links to RH’s old blog and to its archives, but that those links have stopped working before I had a chance to post this. Since RH’s production of very negative reviews was never in contention, I don’t think anything is lost by not having access to the reviews themselves. In any case, outside of notable exceptions identified in the text, the content of those reviews is not disputed.]

Who am I and why I started this essay

All this started because I was uncomfortable with the fact that when I read Mixon’s essay, it seemed to be frequently mixing and using interchangeably “reviews” and “attacks”. Further, her portrayal of certain events did not fit with my memory of them; I had been aware of the ROTYH blog shortly after its beginning, and had read quite a few of the reviews, although I never participated in any discussion with RH on her blog or on Twitter. The fact my first-hand account of the events conflicted with Mixon’s third-hand interpretation led me to believe that there might be something worth investigating.

It was impossible for me to read Mixon’s essay to the end on my first attempt. It soon proved impossible for me to review Mixon’s essay without also searching for more information by following Mixon’s references, and also doing my own independent investigation. The result, this monstrous essay, is thus part review, and part attempt at understanding events from both long ago.

There is really nothing a reader needs to know about me before they start reading, but I guess I could say that: I’m a man; I’m white; I’m Canadian; I live in Montreal; I’m a SFF fan, although certainly not a “hardcore” fan; I have never attended book conventions; I am not a book reviewer; I have never been published, nor do I have any aspiration to (I don’t even write!); and I have commented on the two threads on Jim C Hines’s blog when Mixon’s essay was published (don’t click those links! My essay has hundreds of internal or external links. If you take the habit of clicking them now, you’ll never finish reading this).

You are right to conclude that I’m “a nobody”.


Just before I get on with my summary, I think it’s important for people to understand what Mixon accomplished with her essay. Mixon produced what is called a Gish Gallop. She created a barrage of accusations and presented them in such a way that it was impossible for the readers to associate each accusation with it’s appropriate “source” and evaluate the evidence for it. The strength of this “argumentation” technique is that it takes so much time to refute it that most readers will give up partway through, and take on faith everything said by the producer of the Gish Gallop. Plus, even if the overwhelming majority of the Gish Gallop turns out to be false, people will fall back on the tiny and insignificant parts that are true to justify and defend the whole work (or the creator of the Gish Gallop will simply fabricate more accusations). In other words, in this case, it’s easier for people not to confront the racism that allowed them to believe the wild accusations in the first place, and rely on the words of powerful white people telling us what PoC to shun, rather than spend hours understanding why they were wrong. Most people will not be able to face the fact that these powerful people, although some may sometimes have had their heart in the right place, are just parroting attacks against a queer WoC without fact checking it, because they will face no consequences when they get it wrong. Indeed, as discussed much later in my essay, people will actually go as far as fabricating evidence, rather than believe their friends are acting in a reprehensible manner.

In my essay, I will review all the claims put forward in Mixon’s “report” by analysing the evidence she provided and by finding additional information when necessary or possible. I will show that although it appears that Mixon acted in good faith, her conclusions are fatally flawed and uninformative due to her arbitrary and inadequate methodology, her personal values, biases, and privilege. More precisely, inappropriate conduct by RH will be highlighted, but the most serious of Mixon’s allegations will be shown to be false; either contradicted or unsupported by her own evidence.

In the first part of my essay, I will show that between 40% and 65% of the allegations Mixon presents are based mostly on the publication of selected negative reviews by RH where she criticised (mostly white) writers for racism, homophobia, colonialism and misogyny. I will also show that only between 14% of Mixon’s 29 cases could be judged to have any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of RH (although I will argue that, depending on people’s specific sensibilities, an additional 27% of the 29 cases could be judge to have some merit).

In the second part of my essay, I will highlight specific parts of Mixon’s essay where she perpetuates or fabricates myths regarding RH, and argue what makes Mixon’s claims false. I will highlight the case analysis that support my claims, as well as provide additional evidence when necessary. These myths are: The myth that RH used multiple pseudonyms to hide her actions, The myth that RH was not stalked, harassed, and the victim of a blackballing campaign to silence her criticism of racism in science fiction, The myth that RH had been involved in significant wrongful actions recently, The myth that RH goaded someone into a suicide attempt, The myth that RH “targeted” PoC (or Asian people specifically), women, homosexuals, and disabled people, and thus, that RH was not “progressive”, The myth that RH is a destroyer of online communities, The myth that RH “attacked” her peers and up-and-coming writers, The myth that RH terrorised writers away from SFF, and finally, The myth that RH is the leader of a cult, manipulating her followers to do her evil bidding.

I will conclude my essay by comparing Mixon’s action with that of RH, will try to find Mixon’s apparent motives, and provide evidence of the consequences of Mixon’s actions. This will highlight my overall impression of the campaign against BS (with or without Mixon’s participation) has had, in my opinion, three main consequences: 1) providing a posteriori justification for the blackballing and harassment of BS by white SFF industry professionals and readers; 2) suppressing criticism of racism and colonialism in SFF; and 3) harassment against BS in a scale and manner bearing important similarities with GG.


I must say that when I started this project, I thought this would take a few hours at most. However, the more I read and criticised Mixon’s essay, the more it became evident that it would be a much greater task and the more I became frustrated with Mixon’s work. At the time, I viewed a lot of it as smarmy, but could not articulate why; or realise that I was largely wrong. [Edited to add: here is link to a dictionary definition of smarmy, instead of the 9200-words essay on smarm linked above.]

Fortunately, the more I went on, the more I understood what Mixon was actually doing. She had not, has she had mistakenly stated, done a “very long, comprehensive, analytical report”. Or at least, not what most people expect such a thing to be. Yes, she had attempted to investigate the facts around allegations of wrongdoing by RH, but the result was not a piece of journalism. It was, when you boil it down, her personal feelings about what she had seen, with a few dozen links at the end. She has not attempted to write an essay that proved her assertions, presumably because she believed her assessment of RH’s actions was correct. She was attempting to share what seem to be her apparent loathing of a particular person’s action, not really prove to us that those actions had taken place, or even to accurately report on those alleged actions. As we will see, Mixon even confessed to this near the end of her essay, saying: that she “shouldn’t have to prove to the court of the internet that [victims have] been sufficiently harmed, or belong to a sufficiently marginalized status, in order to be believed”, explaining that although it’s not really apparent, her essay is really mostly about white people’s feelings of hurt after they were called out for racism by a PoC.

For this review/essay, I’m working from a copy of Mixon’s essay where most of the text is quoted as is, but formatting (including section titles), original links, and emphasis were removed (i.e. I pasted her whole report in MS Word without formatting and cut what looked ugly). I removed all images. When the images were for quotes, I transcribed them; when the images where for data, I transcribed it. Readers of this review are encouraged to follow along with Mixon’s original post, since my copy/pasting/editing arguably altered her work. In the first part of my essay, I have analysed Mixon’s methodology along with each of Mixon’s alleged “attacks” in detail, with the appropriate references, so that people can be free to make their own judgment (even if I offer my perfectly good one). For the second part, I mostly analysed Mixon’s essay in chucks of a few paragraphs centered around the main myths she parrots or creates, cutting and/or rearranging parts of her essay that were less relevant in order to highlight the places where Mixon first brings up mythology.

In some place, I have used block quotes to quote people other than Mixon, or to quote Mixon’s other posts on this topic. I have put those in bold to make sure people did not mistake those words for Mixon’s original essay.

Finally, I note that I tried to ensure that in every case I analysed, I made the effort of assuming good faith from all the parties involved, which was often (but not always) sufficient to explain the actions that took place, even if that did not always excuse the behaviours highlighted.

[I think that the facts of every case are important, but if you are very short on time and want to get an idea of the types of errors present in the cases that form the theoretical foundation of Mixon’s essay, I recommend that you read about the cases of Mary Robinette Kowal, Kari Sperring, Liz Williams, and Tricia Sullivan (Sullivan’s case is very long, but is the literal instigator for Mixon’s essay), along with my summary of Mixon’s 29 cases. I have provided links at the end of each of these cases to take you to the next one.]

Table of contents

(Jump below the ToC)

Who am I and why I started this essay



Table of contents

A beginning is a very delicate time

Sweet, Sweet Data

Cases mostly about negative reviews

NK Jemisin

Anne Bishop

Cindy Pon

Caitlin Kiernan

R. Scott Bakker

Saladin Ahmed

Charlaine Harris

Mary Robinette Kowal

Paolo Bacigalupi

Adrienne Kress

Melissa Goldberg

Karen Lord

Summary of findings on cases mostly about reviews

Incidents other than reviews


Tricia Sullivan and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

Fallout Tactics

Conventions, the perfect place to make friends

Blaise Bailey Finnegan III

Ever the voice of reason


Kari Sperring

Colum Paget

Chelsea Gaither; RH is People! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!

Liz Williams

Criticism of Cat Valente

More recent events

Rachel Manija Brown

Rachel Manija Brown’s story

Be nice; this isn’t 4chan!

Tell me of your moderation policy debates, LiveJournal

1-2, 1-2-3-4chan!

Other allegations against RH


Anonymous Fanfic Writer

Athena Andreadis

Patrick Rothfuss

Anonymous MOC Writer

Anonymous Not Writing Fantasy

Anonymous Reviews

Anonymous Silenced

Video Gamer

Four extra cases for EBA so he can finally learn to spell anonymous

Jonathan McCalmont

Anonymous Media Fan?

Anonymous Threatened Queer (sic)

Anonymous POC Writer; The ice we skate is getting pretty thin

Summary of findings on cases other than reviews

Summary of findings for Mixon’s 29 cases

Cases from screen captures

Screen capture 1

Screen capture 2

Screen capture 4

Screen capture 5

Summary of cases from screen captures

The mythology of Requires Hate

The myth that RH used multiple pseudonyms to hide her actions

The myth that RH was not stalked, harassed, and the victim of a blackballing campaign to silence her criticism of racism in science fiction

The myth that RH had been involved in significant wrongful actions recently

The myth that RH goaded someone into a suicide attempt

The myth that RH “targeted” PoC (or Asian people specifically), women, homosexuals, and disabled people, and thus, that RH was not “progressive”

“Targeting” (in general)

“Targeting “of Asians

Not progressive


The myth that RH is a destroyer of online communities

The myth that RH “attacked” her peers and up-and-coming writers

The myth that RH terrorised writers away from SFF

The myth that RH is the leader of a cult, manipulating her followers to do her evil bidding

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others

The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must

Trying to find Mixon’s intentions

Where to from here?

A beginning is a very delicate time

“[…] white westerners are scared of losing face like they’re scared of little else […]”

Mixon describes her methods about 6500 words down the line of her roughly 9100-words essay. I have taken the liberty of reproducing and analysing them here in full. Since I have offered my methods at the start of my essay, I think it’s only fair that Mixon’s methods be presented as early. Another reason I analyse this section first is that I think it’s the fact that it was originally at the bottom of Mixon’s essay that caused me so much confusion when I read it.

APPENDIX A – Rules for Inclusion

Rules for screencaps – I have removed the identifying information for BS/RH’s targets and witnesses from the screencaps used in this report, in order to avoid singling out people she has already harmed. In certain cases I pared down screenshots to focus on BS/RH’s words, and summarized context below it. Links to the un-redacted screencaps can be found in the links table at the end of the report.

Fair enough, as a general rule, particularly since so few screen grabs are used in her essay. I must say that despite Mixon’s alleged effort, I often found that some of the context was missing or misrepresented, and that it diminished my confidence in what Mixon claimed to have done (see, for example, my analysis of her 2nd screen capture, where the context is clearly misrepresented).

Rules for database entry – To be included in my analysis, the following had to be true:

  1. Requires Hate in one of her known pseudonyms or aliases launched a sustained and energetic attack on a target (not just an occasional sarcastic remark).
  • Attacks include primarily:
  • Cyber-stalking (following the target around to different social media or blogs and deriding, insulting, or threatening them).
  • Implicit or explicit death, rape, and/or maiming threats in email, on Twitter, on Facebook, LiveJournal, or other sites.
  • Multiple, vituperative reviews of their books or stories (one review didn’t count).
  • All entries have at least one credible source. If at least two sources confirm the target, nature, and extent of the attack in its substantive facts, it is flagged as having 2+ sources confirmed.

Both “sustained” and “energetic” are not defined by Mixon. As we will see in the case analysis, contrarily to what Mixon claims, “sustained” appears to mean pretty much anything, including a single insult in an online gaming forum, or even a single rather positive review (that ends with RH recommending the book and saying that she will continue to search for the author’s work in the future, but that also highlighted racial issues within the work). As for energetic, it’s still unclear to me what it could mean. It’s equally unclear what Mixon considers as “cyber-stalking”, but my case analysis will show that Mixon defines it as anything above “reading someone’s blog when you already know you probably won’t like what they had to say”.

In any case, while we can all agree that “cyber-stalking” and “implicit or explicit death, rape, and/or maiming threats” are bad (although I will note that we are early in my essay, and that those accusations remain to be proven in the case analysis. So some of those allegations are in fact completely fabricated with Mixon providing absolutely no evidence for them; the alleged targets themselves don’t even mention them and plainly declare that the only reason for their hatred of RH is that she called them out on their racism). Much more problematic is Mixon’s third definition of what constitutes an “attack”. Nuances about this will be discussed in some specific case analysis, but I think we can all agree that “multiple, vituperative reviews” of an author’s book(s) are generally not an “attack”. This is particularly troubling since as I will show, this type of “attack” represents between 40% and 65% of Mixon’s 29 cases.

When I got to this part of Mixon’s essay (remember that this methods section is at the end in the original) and finally understood what a “Mixon attack” meant, I did a few quick searches. Mixon used the word “attack*” 33 times and the word “target*” 63 times before ever defining what she meant by that. When I finally realised that negative reviews were considered an “attack”, and that authors could be said to have been “targeted” by a single negative review, I understood why a significant part of her essay made me so uncomfortable. The fact that, for example, a review of a single book by an author, if posted in two parts on consecutive days, qualifies as an “attack” on the same level of “death threats” in Mixon’s multiple analysis and pie charts, if anything, is what caused so many negative reactions to her essay.

I’ll make another criticism of Mixon’s definition of a “review attack”. If reviews are to be considered attacks, I think Mixon’s rule that RH writing a single review of someone’s book or stories does not count is unfair. As far as I can tell, most white male authors were only the subjects of a single (very) negative review by RH (this is discussed later in the myth debunking portion of my essay, but for now I will say that this appears to be a reflection of the way RH’s review style and choice of reading material changed over time). Those authors include, but are not limited to: Keith Brooks, Neil Gaiman, JA Pitts, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Jim Butcher, Ed Greenwood, Paul S Kemp, Jonathan Lethem, Kevin Hearne, Mark Lawrence, Ken Grimwood, Ian McDonald, RA Salvatore, Richard Morgan, Daniel Abraham,  Beau Schemery, and finally Joe Abercrombie, who is the subject of two “vituperative reviews”, but does not make the cut as a “target” (this list does not include the many other white men criticised by RH but for which I could not access a formal review on her blog’s archives: James Cameron , Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughn, Peter Watts, Pat from Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, various white male movie and video game creators, etc.).

To be fair, perhaps the inclusion of these white male authors (mostly American, it seems) would require also including women whose work was also the object of a single negative review, but I don’t think many of them have been excluded from Mixon’s essay. In fact, quite the opposite, since some women are included in Mixon’s essay even if their work was only the subject of a single review, contrary to Mixon’s claims. Using this proper definition of a “review attack” would significantly affect the appearance of preferential “targeting” claimed by Mixon (and this still leaves the many positive reviews posted by RH for later in my essay; the overwhelming majority of the work RH recommended marginalised writers).

Finally, I’m willing to grant Mixon that a single credible source for reported attack is sufficient, but I think it’s important for readers to realise that to Mixon, this includes single posts from anonymous commenters on doubtful blogs, as my analysis of her cases will show.

  1. Source types include primarily:
  • Online links to the original conflict, or to web archives of it.
  • Screencaps from Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal posts, etc.
  • Email accounts and forwarded emails from interactions with others, or copies of comment threads.

Nothing wrong with this (leaving aside the fact that since so much of Mixon’s information comes from anonymous online commenters, it appears that at least some of it was probably provided by stalkers of RH, something Mixon appears to be oblivious to).

  1. Other rules of entry:
  • I gathered names of targets at random from online sources by searching on BS/RH’s pseudonyms and following links and references. I solicited for people to come forward at an anonymous Gmail account, loudlysingcuckoo at gmail dot com. I was also given names by other targets and witnesses. I stopped collecting names at 47, and began researching to obtain evidence of the attack. Thirteen names were removed due to lack of evidence.

Obviously, Mixon does not have the same definition of randomness as the rest of us. A random selection of possible “targets” cannot be gathered from searching for RH’s pseudonyms. This lack of definition of how Mixon actually found her “potential targets” is not particularly troubling since I’m sure most of us can guess how one goes about such things. Also, this flaw in Mixon’s description of her methods does not mean that she necessarily failed in identifying wrongdoing on the part of RH (she did identify some objectionable conduct, even if her batting average turned out to be very low), but that her described method cannot be considered a precise description of what she actually did.

However, going on an investigation without setting up a proper methodology carries the possibility that biases guide our way, choosing cases that reinforced our narrative, regardless of their quality or relevance, and unwittingly creating a false narrative in the process. On this point, I note that Mixon identified 47 “potential cases”, of which 17 or 18 (since Mixon removed a case for unknown reasons) were discarded for complete lack of evidence (i.e. less than 1 anonymous poster writing a single post on an open forum). Assuming that the 18th case was valid, but that the person just did not want to be associated with her essay, this means that 36% of the cases Mixon identified were false positives. I find this statistic troubling, particularly in light of my analysis that will show that a clear majority of the other 29 cases are also not supported by the evidence.

  • The dates are approximate. In many cases, BS/RH’s abuse extended over months and years. I often used a date associated with one of BS/RH’s public attacks.
  • I reserved, and continue to reserve, the right to use my own judgment with regard to what should be included in the database. I may be willing to update links and correct demonstrable errors of fact, depending on my availability, but not going to have a lot of patience with nitpicking. These are real people’s lives. They shouldn’t have to prove to the court of the internet that they’ve been sufficiently harmed, or belong to a sufficiently marginalized status, in order to be believed.

To me, this sounds like Mixon is willing correct errors of fact, as long as proof is provided, but that she is unwilling to provide any proof of her claims.

I’ll also note here that I have omitted the “updates” section of Mixon’s essay, located at the very beginning of it. Mixon notably says: “I have […] removed one target from the list, and modified language in Table 1 to reflect input from Rose Fox. Statistics have not yet been updated.” Six months after her report, the statistic haven’t been updated, and the “input” from Rose Fox, essentially disproving an “attack” as baseless speculation/conspiracy ideation on the part of Mixon’s source, is presented only in Appendix B, where Rose Fox’s account is apparently dismissed by Mixon (apparently speculation is more credible than facts). The correction does not appear to have been made in the first 6900 words of Mixon’s essay, even if the alleged event itself is discussed directly in many parts of it.

It’s is unclear what “removed one target from the list” is referring to, as the earliest version of Mixon’s report I have access contains to only 29 “targets” instead of the reported 30.

Sweet, Sweet Data

Once again, I deviate from Mixon’s essay to jump to my analysis of her 29 cases. The description of Mixon’s cases was originally after her Appendix A, in a section called “Appendix B – Database”. You can jump to my analysis of the main text of Mixon’s essay, since I often reference a lot of Mixon’s claims back to the proper case analysis, but I thought it was preferable to order things this way.

Mixon’s Appendix B contains essentially 2 tables (that are obviously meant to be one table that Mixon has separated; the internet is not kind to 7 X 29 tables of data).

In order to analyse Mixon’s table/cases, I will rearrange the data quite a bit. Readers are encouraged to follow along with Mixon’s original essay. I have separated the cases in three categories: 1) Cases where the major allegation against RH is that she has published negatives reviews of a person’s book or work; 2) Cases where the allegation are not only about book reviews; 3) The four cases Mixon adds as “other credible attacks […] not included in [the 29 cases due] to insufficient evidence”, and 4) The screen captures presented by Mixon that are not part of other cases.

I have arranged the cases in chronological order according to the dates given by Mixon. Cases with no dates given are analysed at the end of their respective sections. For all cases, I give the name of the person associated (when available) and blockquotes are used to reproduce Mixon’s description of the cases found in her Appendix B.

I have summarised what I have found at the end of the two main section of my case analysis (reviews/not-reviews). I also make a couple of quick demographic analysis on the basis of my analysis.

[Please note that since some of the cases are hopelessly intertwined, I had to copy some of the content to make sure that each case analysis could be self-contained for future reference. Those cases are mostly those involving white woman SFF writers living in the UK. Feel free to skip a bit when reading those cases if the material feels familiar.]

[Also note that Asymptotic Binary also found a lot of interesting information on a lot of these cases. When it was particularly relevant for one of the cases, I put a link to her post along with the keyword to search for additional information, but her whole post is worth a read. Notably, a lot of the information from sources external to Mixon’s references (which I present in block quotes) are presented as screen captures in her post.]

Cases mostly about negative reviews

Of Mixon’s 29 cases, I identified 12 that were primarily about the fact that RH produced one or more review of an author’s work.

Some of the cases here are about more than just reviews, but since reviews are generally mentioned first by Mixon in her description of the cases, I will post the entire claims here. 7 of the remaining 17 cases could also have been characterised as mostly about reviews, but I treated them as being about more than negative reviews because of Mixon emphasis on the other aspects of the cases, even when the evidence presented did not necessarily support her assertions.

NK Jemisin

August 2010

“Easily the most overrated thing ever to come out recently, and I’m going to assume that people who gush over how groundbreaking it all is have only ever read Tolkien and Eragon.”

multiple vituperative posts re her works, harassment of her readers for liking them. For at least a year straight, WF searched the internet for positive reviews of her books, then appeared there to abuse the reviewer and fans.

Findings: I’ve posted this case in the “reviews” section because this is what Mixon’s starts with in her description of RH’s actions towards Jemisin, but the case is actually a bit more complex.

RH published a twopart review of Jemisin’s work over the course of one week in April 2011 on her blog, but the same review(s) appear to have been posted on at least one other venue in November 2010.

Mixon also discusses in her Appendix B and in her essay instances in which RH is said to have posted comments in reply to people who had reviewed Jemisin’s work favourably. This is stated as a generalized pattern of behaviour for RH, but Mixon only provides one instance of this happening. Mixon’s apparent source for what she describes as a behaviour lasting “[f]or at least a year straight” can be traced back to RH’s review of Cindy Pon’s book. In a comment made in June 2011, objecting to RH’s tone, Rachel Manija Brown manages to find for 3 posts (dated in April, June and August 2010) by RH that criticised different (positive) reviews of Jemisin’s novel. Of note, Rachel Manija Brown only managed to find 3 instances of this behaviour over the span of more than one year, the last one dating more than 10 months prior to her fishing expedition (more than 5 years ago today).

RH published her own review of Jemisin’s work a few months after the last comment identified by Rachel Manija Brown. RH later republished the review on her new blog and expanded on her criticism in a new post that same week. To me, this behaviour is consistent with someone who has a strong (negative) opinion of someone’s work and desires to express it. Having been presumably fed-up with glowing reviews of Jemisin’s work that failed to identify the flaws she saw, RH proceeded to write and publish her own review.

Regarding RH’s comments on the 50 Books POC, most of the discussion that arose from Rachel Manija Brown unearthing those three instances of criticism is still available and is covered in the analysis of the case of Rachel Manija Brown and the 50 Books POC moderation policy debate. Briefly, RH’s behaviour of commenting on other’s positive reviews in a forceful, snarky, and disrespectful manner is addressed, and results in an apparent change in moderation policy with the aim of preventing people from doing what RH had done in three instances the year before. Moving forward, intra-community disagreements would be more severely moderated in order to prevent a situation where a person would be intimidated into not participating for fear of having an opinionated and respected community member publically disagree with them. A moderator writes:

“[Those 3 comments] have a chilling effect on the comm: I know for a fact that some people have chosen not to post about Jemisin, Pon, and any other book that you may in the future review negatively, and that they are doing so because of those comment threads. What’s more, I don’t believe that chilling effect is counterbalanced by any benefit to the comm or the issues that the comm has been trying to serve: it’s just chilling.”

All we are left with is the appearance of community adjusting its norm in the face of disagreement and finding a new balance. There is no evidence that RH continued to comment negatively on other people’s reviews after it was pointed out to her that it was not acceptable.

RH, for her part, appears to support some of Mixon’s claims, she writes: “I’d like to apologize to NK Jemisin […] Yes, I took [her] apart excessively. […] Yes, I yelled at a lot of people on LJ for liking […] Jemisin’s books; yes, I agree, this is pretty bad and frankly a silly thing to do. […] And yeah, I was an asshole for years and said a lot of crap I regret, only I wasn’t big enough to own up to it and apologize then.”

Although Mixon’s report is light on evidence, RH’s own admission that she “yelled at a lot of people on LJ for liking […] Jemisin’s books” is undeniable evidence that RH, at least for parts of 2010, behaved in a manner that most people would consider at least a bit reprehensible, even if her comments were made in good faith.

The “reviewing” part of this case can only be considered an “attack” if one accepts Mixon’s problematic definition of the word. This case concerns a single serialized review where the author is criticised for her books. However, this case highlights behaviour on the part of RH that can be considered problematic: insulting people because of conflict over their respective evaluation of the quality of a book (in 2010 and maybe 2011).

Anne Bishop

May 2011

“misogynistic homophobic turd”

“relentlessly fucking awful”

“irredeemable verbal diarrheaupon which illiterate maggots feast”

Findings: Mixon links to two reviews of Bishop’s work; one in May 2011, the other on January 2012.

The second review, it seems, is created in response to a commenter on her original post made the day prior to RH’s publication of her second post. Of note, this commenter insult of RH and and their attempt to defend Bishop draws this criticism from another participant on the blog: “[…] the comment ’Either way they lose something. This is also true for someone who has been raped.’ which is frankly offensive as a survivor myself […]”.

In this case, I do not find any indication by Mixon that RH is acting in bad faith towards Bishop. RH’s new post appears to be a simple revisiting of an issue in order to respond to criticism.

This case meets Mixon’s definition of an “attack” – writing at least two negative reviews of an author’s book. I file it under writing negative reviews.

Cindy Pon

July 2011

“Stupid fuck” “homophobe” “without any talent whatsoever”. ”MAYDAY, MAYDAY. BIOCHEMICAL WEAPON TO CINDY PON’S COORDINATES AND MAKE THAT DOUBLE TIME”

To reader defending her: insults along the lines of “Your liking for this pile of verbal diarrhea proves what morons fantasy fans are.”

As with Jemisin, WF made a concerted attempt to suppress her works. She searched the internet for positive reviews and appeared in those forums to abuse the favorable reviewer and fans.

Findings: From what I can gather, RH posted a first review of Pon’s Silver Phoenix on February 4th 2011, linked to by RH when she posted a two-part review of the same book on her blog in April 2011. The two parts of the review were posted on the same day, one was a review of the plot, while the other contained mostly selected quotes and comments.

RH also made a first post on June 21st 2011 to announce that she would be reviewing Fury of the Phoenix by Pon, which had been published on April 28th 2009. The quote Mixon gives (in allcaps) is an out of context excerpt from that post, which I will quote in its entirety:


A copy of Fury of the Phoenix has been acquired! In PDF, LIT, MOBI, EPUB, and RTF!

Internalized misogyny still in, internalized racism exceeds estimates, creepy romance continues! New and improved: fleshed out rapist! Most chapters still begin with Ai Ling waking up or going to sleep! Sexual threat very much in! Dubious gender politics, present!


I read this announcement as the thinking woman’s “nuke it from orbit”.

RH follow this announcement with a series of post starting the same day, ending on June 27th, the same day that she posts a review on the 50 Books POC Livejournal. It’s this livejournal review that contained the “stupid fuck” comment, which RH erased when moderator ruled that it could be perceived as a gendered insult (see the case of Rachel Manija Brown for more details).

RH also published a couple of more post further criticising Pon’s work and addressing wider issues of racism.

While Mixon contends that RH’s reviews of Pon’s book are due to “preferential targeting of Asians”, it seems more likely that RH was reading Pon’s work because it was a book she hoped to enjoy because she shared Pon’s gender and, to some extent, part of her racial identity. This could also explain why RH reacted with so much negativity to the racism and sexism she perceived in Pon’s books. Pon’s second book, on the other hand, was probably read with the expectation that she would not like it.

In any case, it’s quite likely that RH would not make the same criticism of Pon’s work she did at the time. She writes, prior to the publication of Mixon’s essay: “I’d like to apologize to […] Cindy Pon […]. Yes, I took [her book] apart excessively. No, I didn’t tell [her] to go die; no, I never contacted Pon directly. Yes, I yelled at a lot of people on LJ for liking Cindy Pon’s […] books; yes, I agree, this is pretty bad and frankly a silly thing to do. […]”.

Although Mixon’s report is light on evidence of RH’s behaviour towards fellow reviewers and readers, the sheer volume of posts by RH on multiple platforms and RH’s own admission that she “yelled at a lot of people on LJ for liking Cindy Pon’s […] books” is undeniable evidence that RH behaved in a manner that most people would consider reprehensible in regard to her dislike of the content of Pon’s books. Specifically, in 2011, RH insulted people for linking a book she hated, and wrote more negative reviews of an author’s work than was strictly necessary.

Caitlin Kiernan

December 2011

“rape apologist” “her hands should be cut off so she can never write another Asian character.” multiple vitriolic reviews and threats

Findings: RH wrote one review of Kiernan’s Silk in 2011. RH’s review is neither completely positive or negative. RH says that despite racism issues she finds: “You’ll be surprised to know that I will still recommend Kiernan and am willing to give her another try.” RH, while she has plenty of criticism for the book, praised its depiction of queer characters: “[…] this book’s sole redeeming point is the queer girls,” and regarding a particular narrative choice by Kiernan: “It’s such a breath of HOORAY FUCK YEAH like you wouldn’t believe.” RH feels that “Kiernan does have a way with words, however, which shows even in this, her debut novel” and concludes with: “I did want to like the book. I didn’t expect it to be perfect about every single SJ issue under the sky, but you can appreciate that it’s tricky for me to write off the ’Asians: so exotic!’ schtick as trivial. […] But I would like to give Kiernan another try, because whatever she writes I can be certain that it’ll be full of queer women, and that is nice. Any recommendations?” The comment section on the post is small, but RH mentions that she has “[…] been tracking down [Kiernan’s] short fiction.”

In the months following RH’s 2011 review of Kiernan’s book, Kiernan referred to RH as “#requires[medication]hate”, has searched extensively for information about RH (“I’ve begun to gather […] evidence […]”), and has questioned RH’s racial and gender identity (“’she’ is not Asian, not female (cis male).” On August 2nd 2014, Kiernan has threatened to reveal RH’s identity. Although quickly erased by Kiernan, she is quoted as saying: “[…] I was given the identity of @requireshate. You may or may not recall my trouble with this asshole, that they labeled me a racist and a sexist. […] I may or may not release the name publicly. […] Knowledge is power, right?” All those appear to be the type of things Mixon accuses RH of doing.

Kiernan also posted a text very similar to this one on her facebook. Within a few hours, her post had more that 80 “likes” and more than 50 comments. Here are selected quotes:

Caitlin Kiernan: [responding to Lynne Jamneck asking what RH had done] Well, for one, she called me a racist on Twitter.

Lynne Jamneck: Well, that’s slander, Motherfucker needs to go down.

Jamie Mason: [Using a meme] Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir? Or another bughunt?

Caitlin Kiernan: Oh, its always been a bug hunt.

Jamie Mason: “Just tell me where they are.”

Allen Parmenter: Nuke ’em from space. That’s the only way to be sure.

I pause my quotes here to note that apparently, to the detractors of RH that have commented on Kiernan’s post, using racist slurs against PoCs and extremely violent language to describe the hate campaign they apparently want to unleash on RH is perfectly acceptable behaviour. It’s calling racists things what they are, that is apparently problematic to them.

James Enge: Damn! I was sure @requireshate was a man […]

Caitlin Kiernan: I was surprised, too. But it only makes their behavior that much more despicable.

I pause again to note that a woman doing the same thing as a man is “more despicable” and that Kiernan uses “their” instead of she, when she knows full well RH is a cis woman.

Stefanie Louise: Oh ew. I recall this particular jackass. Make a special and appropriate hell for them, please.

Joseph Raven Rose: Drag her Aunty Beast! Shame the Spiteful coward!

Liz Williams: Caitlin, I have your back, whatever you decide to do. No fucking way am I letting this ride.

Joseph Raven Rose: If she’s on twitter, I’ll share her name to all my LGBT friends, let social justice mob do their work >:3

Caitlin Kiernan: Liz, I’m going to wait a while and see if someone beats me too it. But I do hope the word gets out that there are people who know.

Joseph Raven Rose: Oh, found her. Her twitter account is private. That rat >_>

Liz Williams: Matter of time. There are a number of people considering their options; no rush. I just emailed you with my personal strategy.

Caitlin Kiernan: Thank you for confiding in me. I feel we’ve already won a little victory, just holding the knowledge.

Liz Williams: Magical intent – power.

Mark Parsons: Get together with other scribes and stick the deserved knife in “Murder on the Orient Express” style.

Robert T Canipe: Get her!!!!

Gordon Ingold Thomaschewsky: If revealed, I wonder if she’d curl up and twitch like a maggot in the light of day. […]

I have no other comment except to note that Kiernan is apparently doing precisely the same things Mixon accuses RH of doing, with the notable difference that there is evidence for Kiernan’s actions.

Getting back to the case, readers will have notice that Mixon provided no source for her quote alleging threats from RH against Kiernan, nor, for that matter, for the alleged “rape apologist” comment that stands in sharp contrast to the rather positive content of RH’s review. Noting that Kiernan herself in her threats to RH made only mention of RF being an “asshole [that has] labeled me a racist and a sexist”, I have concluded that this was the proper section to analyse this alleged attack. I may have missed a second review by RH, but considering Kiernan’s extremely violent response to RH’s rather positive review, it would hardly be surprising if RH later soured on Kiernan and decided it was safer to stay away from such a person.

This so-called quote alleging a threat by RH against Kiernan is probably a second-hand reference to RH (on Twitter) once expressing her feeling that white people in general should have their hands cut off, their keyboard broken, etc. in an effort to prevent them from ever writing another racist book about Thai and Chinese people/culture. From what I understand, Kiernan had been writing about a Vietnamese character, so her impression that this sentiment might apply to her might be more of a case of “if the hat fits” than anything else. [Note: Asymptotic Binary found a lot of interesting information on this case.  Notably, AB provides a quote by Kiernan confirming the above speculation. In other words, Kiernan confirms that RH never threatened her or engaged with her in any way. Search for “What was the source of Kiernan’s ire?” in AB’s post, and read from there.]

This case does not appear to meet Mixon’s definition of an “attack” since only one mixed review was found. Mixon’s assertion that RH threatened Kiernan is contradicted by the available evidence. In any case, as late as 2014, three years after the alleged “attacks”, Kiernan’s main objection to RH’s behaviour was that she was labelled “racist” and sexist”. I file this case under one mixed review with no evidence of any other wrongdoing.

R. Scott Bakker

April 2012

“a feces-clad-serial-masturbator”

“alpha males – paranormal biotruths and rape culture”

multiple vitriolic reviews on Requires Hate blog

“He is sad. Everything about this is a pathetic clusterfuck neck-deep in everything ever wrong with fandom. “

Findings: This actually starts in August 2011, where RH writes at least one post on her blog about Bakker’s work (an interview). On the very same day, Bakker, apparently name-searching in a “sustained” and “energetic” manner, writes a post about it on his blog with the predictable effect of sending his followers on RH (it takes no more than 26 minutes after Bakker’s post for one of his fanboys to comment on RH’s blog). Because of the harassment campaign against BS, I could not access all of the data, but it’s possible that in December 2012, RH published another post discussing rape culture that might have mentioned Bakker.

[*Update: It has been brought to my attention that the phrasing in the paragraph above could be interpreted as me saying that Bakker harassed RH, and that this is the reason why I can’t access the data, or that this caused her to write another post in December 2012. This was not my intention.

To be clear, it’s the more recent harassment against BS, which has nothing to do with Bakker, that has prevented me from accessing all the information I needed to guaranty a thorough investigation of this case. Indeed, it is my understanding that in an attempt to decrease the harassment coming her way, RH has taken down the archives of her old blog in the spring/summer of 2015. The fact that the archives were taken down is the reason why I can’t confirm the existence or the content of the above-mentioned post, not any action by Bakker.

Further, as far as I’m aware, that hypothetical mention of Bakker in December 2012 had nothing to do with anything Bakker might have said or done outside of the work RH might have mentioned in that post.

Sorry about the confusion.]

Bakker, months later, revisits the issue, he says, in part because “Larry at the OF Blog recently mentioned how much he admires the site [ROTYH]”. He follows this up with quite a few posts, maybe too many, with at least another white author, Peter Watts, joining him (all in the span of about 2 week in February 2012). Bakker had apparently taken the habit of calling RH “The Dude”, and defended Peter Watts’ use of “rabid animal” to describe her.

After the first of Bakker’s new series of post, RH mentions the disparity of the responses on her website. She notes that the number of replies she gets depends on whether she criticises a male or a female author’s work. The post on Bakker is mentioned, presumably, for the simple fact that his latest series of post attacking RH on his blog has generated a new series of comments from his followers on RH’s original blog post.

On February 19th 2013, the day following the last of Bakker’s post, RH sums up those posts and replies on her blog. On April 15th, 2012, Bakker mentions RH again on his blog. Since Bakker had criticised RH for talking about what he had said without having read one of his books, RH, shortly after, reviews one of Bakker’s books in two posts published three days apart. The second post contains mostly quotes from the text.

In this case, if only a single victim is to be found, it seems RH is more worthy of the title than Bakker. It’s generally recognised as bad form for writers to respond to reviews, even more so when they identify the reviewer in question and unwittingly send their fans after them. Bakker’s output volume on RH, a simple reviewer at the time, is both impressive and troubling, particularly since from the little I have read of Bakker, he’s obviously typing with only one hand. I further find Mixon’s lack of comment on the behaviour of Bakker and Watts troubling, to say the least.

Saladin Ahmed

April 2012

“Throne of the Crescent Moon…that steaming misogynistic turdpile written by same for same”- multiple vitriolic reviews, since deleted

Findings: RH published a twopart review of Ahmed’s first book a few days apart in 2012. Both parts generated healthy discussion in the comments.

Mixon’s objection to RH’s review appears to fall squarely into the “be nice when calling out misogyny” category. Mixon’s problematic definition of what is an attack is the only reason why Ahmed is included as a “target”. It was only the fact that RH reviewed a single work by this author, but had the audacity to split it in two, that make Ahmed a “target”. RH, apparently, should have waited the 2 weeks that separated the publication of both parts of her reviews and combined them into a single 9500-words post.

A twitter conversation between Ahmed, RH and a few others is also referenced in Mixon’s Appendix B. There appears to be no malice on the part of RH when she enters the conversation. It was a discussion of agency in which many of RH’s friends were participating, and RH appears to have joined the conversation in good faith. Ahmed goes for the “what about the men” gambit almost as soon as RH joins the conversation, which leads a rather long discussion where people are talking past each other. A classic of when people are not having the conversation they think they are having, because they are trying to have a nuanced discussion of complex issues while writing in bouts of 140 characters.

In this conversation, I think Ahmed was trying, in part, to discuss valid points of activism and intersectionality. Under the omnipresent islamophobia of current western cultures, how does one go about critiquing a Muslim man about issues of sexism without creating more harm than good? I kind of agree with what I think he is trying to say, mainly that criticising a Muslim man about the presence of male gaze in his work will not have the same effect as criticising a white man about the same. Unfortunately for him and RH, it turned out that it was not possible to have that conversation on twitter in 2012, particularly in the context where Ahmed was trying to defend his book and RH her review. In other circumstances, I’m sure they could have found room for agreement that RH’s criticism was worthy, but that she probably should have worded it differently in order to avoid unintended consequences.

Of note, RH posted this stern warning (in bold, red letters) to her commenters in order to defend Ahmed’s right to write about Arab culture, even if he is American: “Hey guys, stop talking about Ahmed’s cultural/ethnic heritage. Seriously. That’s not the point. If you are of Arab culture–no no, having been an expat or having studied it at university don’t count–and have particular objections to the way Ahmed portrays the culture or handles Islamic influences, feel free to bring those up. But enough about questioning his authenticity or whatever, mmkay? Not cool.”

All this being said, there can be little doubt that Ahmed was hurt by RH’s reviews and his conversation with her (even if in the conversation mentioned above, Ahmed readily admits that “Elements of your review dinged me deservedly”). This is alas, no reason for anyone to stop reviewing books, even if the performance rage language used by RH in her reviews is considered offensive by some, and uses language that RH herself will later condemn: “I’d like to apologize to […] Saladin Ahmed. […] Yes, I took [him] apart excessively […]”.

This case can only be considered an “attack” if one accepts Mixon’s problematic definition of the word. This case concerns only a single serialized review where the author is criticised for his book. While RH herself considers that her criticism was too harsh, I file this one under negative reviews published a few days apart, rather than negative review where objectionable conduct is present.

Charlaine Harris

June 2012

“FROM DEAD TO WORSE pt 2 – Charlaine Harris a shitbag of bigotry”

Findings: RH wrote a four part review of Harris’ books over the course of 8 days in mid-June 2012. In those reviews, RH notably expresses criticism of racists and misogynists elements in Harris’ text. All are achieved online.

In her Appendix B, Mixon also links to a tweet from what is clearly an account setup to misrepresent and troll RH. I find that this clueless inclusion of material from a troll and harasser of RH by Mixon to be troubling and reflect badly on the quality of Mixon’s investigation.

Since Mixon does not single out anything in particular with regard to RH’s review, it appears that once again, RH’s crime here is publishing a negative review that calls out racism and misogyny in multiple instalments (for what was a rather large series of books), instead of a single post.

This case can only be considered an “attack” if one accepts Mixon’s problematic definition of the word. This case concerns only a single serialized review where the author is criticised for her books.

Mary Robinette Kowal

November 2012

“And suppose that the shit writing…and the racism don’t bother you–in which case are you an amoeba?–what you’re left with is an insipid take on the already insipid ‘fae kidnap a human something true love something’ idea. It’s a regurgitation done without skill, with an extra dose of racism nobody asked for.”

pressured by BS/RH to revise manuscript and publicly apologize for writing about American Indian culture

Findings: RH reviewed one of Kowal’s story and raises issues relating to racism in the work. Kowal herself participated in the comments and solicited advice in how to improve her story. While it could be assumed that beneath the surface she was hurt by RH’s harsh criticism, she had this to say about RH’s review:

“This is really well timed because I was in the middle of a rewrite of this to address some of the concerns about racism that Lavie Tidhar brought to my attention at WFC. Thanks in particular for pointing out the bit about the white magic winning at the end, since that slipped past all of my readers. The fault is completely my own, but the story is doing pretty much the opposite of what I wanted it to do.

So, thank you for your candor.”

Following criticism from a commenter that said, in part: “A story that is doing ’pretty much the opposite of what I wanted it to do‘ doesn’t sound like something that should have been released to the general public”, Kowal adds:

“Agreed. Based on the readers I sent it to, which included people of Cherokee heritage and writers of color who write about issues of race, I had reason to think I was in the clear on the race and colonialism issues. The points being raised here did not come up but are clearly on the page. That is my fault. I don’t believe in an ephemeral muse. The mistakes are mine.

Fortunately, the story is in electronic format so I can address the issues. I am grateful that this dialogue is happening and that people are taking the time to speak candidly about the places where I screwed up.”

Asymptotic Binary also found a couple of interesting posts about this. In particular, a few months after RH’s review, Kowal wrote on her blog about her rewrite. Kowal mentions again that is was a tweet by Lavie Tidhar that alerted her to the racism in her story, but does not mention RH (I haven’t had the time to read the two version, so I can’t say if Kowal managed to address specifically the criticism highlighted by RH). Kowal’s original story was later updated on the publisher’s website.

This is one of the part where the fact that Mixon’s assertion that “BS/RH’s targets may not define themselves as victims” is particularly troubling. In this case, the author welcomed the criticism and thanked RH for it. We are left to conclude that to Mixon, critiquing racism in a piece of fiction in a way that cannot be refuted, worse, that the author can appreciate the truth of the criticism, and strive to improve her work in the future in order to better represent characters of color in her works, is wrong. Frankly, that explanation is not really satisfying and I think it’s false. The only other alternative I see to this interpretation is that Mixon thinks RH should have been nicer when criticism the racism and colonialism in Kowal’s story. Further, Mixon appears to believe that it’s not enough to write this type of criticism in such a way that the author will thank you for it, but that criticism of racism should be nice enough that no third party (eg Mixon) should ever be offended by that criticism.

This type of biased perception of what is acceptable behaviour, i.e. that strongly worded criticism of racism and colonialism is somehow worse than the racism and colonialism expressed in the first place, is common among my people. Kowal is not perfect (just like I’m not), but fortunately, she appears to be behaving like a stellar human being in this case. She recognised that although she may be hurt by RH criticism (I assume, since Kowal gives no indication of this), she was the one that started it by publishing a story with racist and colonialist elements. She accepts that the people she hurt have a right to express themselves, takes the criticism, and moves on. It’s also commendable that she took the time to apologise for hurting others with her writing, something I’m sure she did not intend to do.

This case does not fit into Mixon’s broad definition of an attack, as it is concerns a single review. It’s nothing but a case of RH acting as an activist to improve the representation of PoC in SFF, and of an author striving to get better at her craft. I find it unfortunate that this case gets written off as RH “[pressuring an author to revise [a] manuscript and publicly apologize.” Especially since the instigator of Kowal revision was not RH, but Lavie Tidhar, who actually twitter about the racism in this story in the week following its publication.

I file this case as not an “attack” under Mixon’s own definition (or anyone else’s, really).

[Fast read: Kari Sperring.]

Paolo Bacigalupi

November 2012

“As for Bacigalupi, flay him alive slowly, pour salt, pour acid, dismember and keep alive as long As Possible. ” and ” If I see Bacigalupi being beaten in the street I’ll stop to cheer on the Attackers and pour some gasoline on him . “; On blog: “Bacigaluslkgs;lkjhgsh is an ignorant, appropriative bag of feces.” “Spread the word that Paolo Bacigalupi is a raging racist fuck. Let him be hurt, let him bleed, pound him into the fucking ground. No mercy.”; “despising THE WIND-UP GIRL linkspam: I am not alone!”

Findings: RH wrote a three-part review of Bacigalupi’s The Wind-Up Girl, all linked-to by Mixon, over the course of three consecutive days in 2012. The names of blog post for this review are quoted by Mixon: “first impressions: Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WIND-UP GIRL is exotifying, yellow-fever, offensive claptrap”; “the Bacigalupi hateblogging of loathing, spoilers – THE WIND-UP GIRL still stinks”; “despising THE WIND-UP GIRL linkspam: I am not alone!” (this third part is really just RH linking to other reviewers who shared her views on this novel). RH’s crime, it seems, is publishing content as it was created, rather than wait for 2 days and publish everything in one post.

Of note, Mixon considers Bacigalupi should be considered as a target of RH for these quotes from RH’s reviews: “Bacigaluslkgs;lkjhgsh is an ignorant, appropriative bag of feces.” and “Spread the word that Paolo Bacigalupi is a raging racist fuck. […].” To me, this is nothing more than an attempt at policing how POC should express their criticism racism. The first quote is also illustrative of the kind of humour RH was known for. At the risk of spoiling the joke: misspelling the author’s name is funny because it’s both something racist westerners do all the time (we don’t care enough to try), and because Bacigalupi didn’t care enough about Asian cultures to represent them without racism in his book. (And no, this is not reverse racism.)

As for the other quotes attributed to RH, they come from anonymous sources on FFA. Although this source is of poor quality, I’m willing to accept they are authentic, particularly since they fit with the quote Mixon provides from RH’s blog (“Let him be hurt, let him bleed, pound him into the fucking ground. No mercy.”). To interpret those quotes, I turn to one of Mixon’s own sources, who has this to say: “And I think her rhetoric does at times get really overheated. Yes, she makes lots of “kill whitey” jokes and talks about throwing acid and wishing she could punch Paolo Bacigalupi in the face, etc. I do not for a minute believe she is serious. I understand perfectly well that she’s exaggerating for rhetorical effect, and I think anyone who interprets her statements as literal death threats is being stupid and disingenuous.” I do not necessarily share the last part of that statement, as the recipient of such language, particularly if made outside of the confines of RH’s blog, might very well interpret it differently. In any case, K Tempest Bradford, in a tweet entirely unrelated to anything specific discussed in this entire review, also illustrates the generally accepted interpretation of RH’s “threats” as performance rage/jokes. She says: “Tonight I’m playing the part of @requireshate on facebook. I just threatened to elbow some people in the groin. Next, I’ll start tossing acid.” They were joke meant to convey to her readers how much what she was criticising really was racist. Although, it’s quite likely that Bacigalupi, where he aware of RH’s words, could have been offended by them, or even felt threatened.

RH is then guilty of using hyper violent language for rhetorical effect on her personal blog and quite possibly twitter in order to illustrate to level to which she found Bacigalupi’s book offensive. The first (on her blog) I will disregard, in this case, as satire, but I’ll file the second (on twitter) as objectionable conduct.

Adrienne Kress

January 2013

“Shit plot. Shit prose. Weeaboo maggotry. This book is the epitome of what YA is really about: mass-produced illiterate fiction for illiterate people.”

Findings: RH published a review of Kress’ book (linked-to in Mixon’s essay) in January 2013. It addressed racist elements identified by RH, and it critiqued the writing in general. The review prompted Athena Andreadis to comment: “[…] Add [fundamentally flawed up steampunk] to this the teen-fanfic level of writing and zero level of research of this work and you have a perfect storm of unreadability.”

This case does not fit into Mixon’s broad definition of an attack, as it apparently concerns a single negative review. As in many other cases, RH’s only crime appears to have been mean when calling out racism in a work of fiction on her personal blog.

I file this case under writing a single negative review.

Melissa Goldberg

February 2013

“she’s a fauxgressive liberal dick who believes she’s an enlightened human being, a weeaboo dolt who insists her tedious fetishization equals love and respect. It’s disgusting.”

Findings: RH published two reviews of Goldberg’s self published book. One in July 2012, the other in February 2013. There was healthy discussion in the comments of the first piece about whether RH was out of line with her review. There were a few people on both sides. One commenter had this to say and mirrors the thoughts I had about this particular review at the time and still hold to this day:

“Hybrid Child was written by a self-published author, whose entire readership probably amounts to ten people. […] This isn’t to say that Melissa Goldberg’s book isn’t fair game, because any author that has published anything to the public is fair game. But to have a heavyweight (well, perhaps you’re still only a middleweight) critic deliver a scathing review of a book that’s only ever going to be read by friends and family? Well that feels like bullying, and it also feels more than a little pointless.”

Obviously, others disagreed, among them RH, who went on to publish a second part to her review, saying: “A long while ago I disemboweled [Goldberg’s book] […], and then I found my notes and remembered why I went after this author in the first place. Celebrate! Here’s part two and an explanation on why Melissa Goldberg is a racist little crybaby […]”.

It appears that from Mixon’s point of view, RH’s only crime here is once again that of writing a negative review in two parts. This is particularly significant in this case since some of RH’s own commenters and supporters voice concerns over her original post, namely that this self-published author was perhaps unworthy of RH’s attention, and that she was punching down. I’ll note that the disparity of power between Goldberg (unpublished at the time) and RH (unpublished at the time of the first review, had published a few short stories at the time of the second, and a moderately famous reviewer), is, in my opinion, much smaller than the disparity of power between RH and Mixon (or of most of her associates) at the time of her essay.

I file this case under writing a two part negative review a few months apart and although I won’t have a category for it, I’ll note a case of probable “punching down” in my summary.

Karen Lord

July 2013

 “What the fuck is this shit.” “If this is an experiment to see how much shitty stuff you can cram into one book, in combination with writing that alternates between fucking tortured and fucking twee, and still get nerds to rub themselves all over it like they’re in heat, it’s a brilliant one.”

Findings: In April 2011, RH reviewed Lord’s Redemption in Indigo, saying, in part: “This is one of those books I’m pretty ambivalent about […] But, as I said, this doesn’t mean the book is bad–it could well mean a lot more to other readers–and overall it’s plenty readable. […] Redemption is great if you want something distracting to read or a break between heftier books, and I don’t say this like I mean it’s a vacuous, empty-headed novel but rather that it’s a breezy and fun read.”

The fact that RH enjoyed Lord’s first book apparently lead her to read Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds, which RH reviewed in April 2013, and a follow-up in July 2013. RH mentions at the start of her post how this second discussion of Lord’s book came to be: “Some friends as unimpressed with Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds as I was got to discussing things a bit, I tweeted about this shit a bit, so why the hell not, have a blog post too.”

This case presented by Mixon has the merit of meeting her definition of an attack (two negative reviews of someone’s work), even if most people will object to considering that negative reviews are attacks.

I file this case under writing a multi-part negative reviews a few months apart.

Summary of findings on cases mostly about reviews

As stated, 12 of Mixon’s 29 cases are based mostly around the fact that RH has written harsh review of some authors’ books. I’ve broken down my analysis of Mixon’s cases mostly about reviews in multiple subcategories:

  • Negative review where RH appears to be more victim than attacker: R. Scott Bakker
  • Mixed review: Caitlyn Kiernan (although this case could arguably have been filed in the above category)
  • One negative review or one negative review published in multiple parts in the span of a few days: Adrienne Kress, Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, Charlaine Harris
  • Negative reviews or multi-part negative reviews a few months apart: Karen Lord, Melissa Goldberg, Anne Bishop
  • Negative reviews and use of violent language for rhetorical effect: Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Negative reviews where additional objectionable conduct is present (insulting people for liking a book): NK Jemisin, Cindy Pon

RH has been the victim of racism, misogyny, and harassment at the hand of some SFF authors or their fans.

RH has been shown to use violent rhetoric in her 2012 review of Bacigalupi (and possibly when commenting on twitter) to emphasise her displeasure at the presence of multiple extremely racist elements in one of his books.

RH has been shown to have commented in insulting and condescending manner on reviews of NK Jemisin and Cindy Pon’s books in 2010 and possibly 2011. There is no evidence that this behaviour continued after RH was asked to stop years ago. RH had apologised for her conduct prior to the publication of Mixon’s essay.

RH has published a two part review, months apart, of an author with a presumably negligible readership.

I would argue that 10 of the 12 cases show no evidence of any serious wrongdoing on the part of RH. However, two of those 10 cases could be considered objectionable by some (violent language used on personal blog/twitter to criticise the work of a white male American author, and criticism of a self-published author).

This brings the total of worthy cases to 2 (+2) out of 12.

Incidents other than reviews

The 17 of cases concern mostly events other than review, although it could be argued that for 7 of them, the fact that RH published a negative review of a book or a story from one of the person involved is a significant part of the reason Mixon finds RH’s conduct objectionable.


December 2010

“Dear SMA, our tr***ies generally look much better and classier than you. Even the pre-op ones don’t look half as mannish and buttfuck-ugly. So, about that…”

“Helps that they tend to be tall and slender. Next to them, SMA looks… well, chubby. And shabby. No wonder she’s bitter about Thai tr***ies.”

Findings: The quoted comments are from the 68th post on a forum thread (and probably another one around that). I’ll say that this appears to be a gaming forum in which anything goes. The commenter after RH, rather than being shocked at her words, expresses sadness that he has to leave just as a “catfight” is about to get started. While RH’s language is obviously problematic, it appears to be the same one as ScottishMartialArts uses herself, and presumably the one that she used in the comments prior to RH’s reply. ScottishMartialArts, for her part (note: I’m assuming from the context that SMA is a woman), answers RH in this way: “Yup, you know someone’s a butthurt and bitter third-worlder when they’re defending their tr***ies as a matter of national honor […]”.

My main issue with this case is that it appears that this information is provided to Mixon by one of RH’s stalkers. I won’t link to it here since I do want to encourage that sort of behaviour. Mixon may have acquired the information independently of the stalker, but her quoted reference appears to be a screen capture that the stalker themself had posted on James Davis Nicoll’s post about the revelation by Nick Mamatas that BS was RH (following a call by Mixon for any dirt available on RH). I have searched for “stalk” on Mixon’s blog from her November 6th 2014 post, her follow-up post, and Hugo nomination post, and did not find any explanation, acknowledgment, or apology for that behaviour, so it’s difficult to say if Mixon is aware of this possible issue, or even how Mixon has actually acquired this screen capture. [Note, that same stalker, whose existence Mixon “very long, comprehensive, analytical report” put into serious doubt, has gone on to doxx RH in the summer of 2015. This doxxing was promoted by many of Mixon’s associates and prompted at least one racist white woman writer of SFF to start making shit up in order to justify the self-admitted stalker’s actions and the promotion of the results of their years of stalking RH.]

I’ll add a couple of things. I believe I’m a bit older than RH. Enough so that I’m essentially of a different generation. I’m not on Facebook, I follow around 10-20 people on Twitter, and I almost never participate on online forums. But, if you go back a couple of years (maybe not 5, but let’s say 10, to negate what I believe is about our age difference), I not only said some pretty sexist shit, I would have casually used homophobic slurs as jokes. I’m also pretty sure I was a Nice Guy (TM) at the time (from around 10-15 years old to 20-25 years old). Fortunately, that part of me lives only inside the head of the people I offended back then, and I left no trace of it on the internet. The change itself? Also no trace of it, you’d have to know to see I’m an okay guy (not perfect, but I’d like to believe I’m going in the right direction). RH? She left a lot of traces of her shitty behaviour, but also left traces of her change. Indeed, considering the significant time she devotes to promoting trans rights issues, it’s difficult to imagine she would ever use such a slur again.

In any case, I recommend people read Asymptotic Binary’s take on this.

I file this case under problematic use of language in 2010 (with little relevance today).

Tricia Sullivan and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

October 2012/ July 2014

Mixon, regarding Tricia Sullivan:

pressured to not submit a book set partly in Thailand; when she persisted, a reviewer was pressured to not publish a review, or to make it a negative one

Mixon, regarding Rochita Loenen-Ruiz:

Subjected to public and private smear campaigns, maligning of her integrity, and shunning because she refused to submit to pressure to publicly denounce a target/ falsify a review of target’s book.

Findings: Both these cases do not fit into Mixon’s definition of an “attack”. I analyse them together since they are impossible to separate.

After reading my analysis of this case, it should be rather obvious that it’s the entire reason why Mixon wrote her essay. In fact, Mixon’s entire essay can be considered a pre-emptive strike against possible retaliation toward Sullivan for her attacks against RH. At the risk of making this sound like the plot of Inception, Sullivan’s attacks against RH were themselves a pre-emptive strike to prevent RH from criticising Sullivan’s racist book partly set in Thailand. I will provide a timeline of all the events surrounding this case, and then get back to analysing the specific claims Mixon makes.

Thanks to Alex Dally MacFarlane, who made several primary sources available on her blog, this issue is fairly well documented online.

In 2012, one of Sullivan’s previous novels had been the subject of a favourable review by RH. This was presumably the reason why, on October 25th 2012, Sullivan solicited RH (with the help of Rochita Loenen-Ruiz) to review her manuscript of Shadowboxer, a novel set partly in Thailand. RH replied that she would take a look. Later the same day, RH replied and mentioned several issues of racism she found in the manuscript (with a second, smaller e-mail identifying another racist trope used by Sullivan). RH also highlighted wider issues of colonialism, where a white author appropriates and mangles another culture, with apparently more interest in giving her work the appearance of diversity, at the cost of perpetuating racist stereotypes and silencing the voices actually coming from that culture. RH’s review is available online, even if she no doubt would have preferred to keep it private, since as I discuss later, she had no desire to publish anything as RH for the foreseeable future (and probably ever). It’s very educating and is well worth the read. I really mean that; go read it.

In reply, Sullivan says that she will “shelve” the book, pending a rewrite. Five days later, since Sullivan has showed a desire to improve her writing, RH asked Sullivan if she was willing to discuss her book in a calmer manner than her first e-mail, which she describes as “a long emotional outburst”. Sullivan expresses a desire to do so when her work will allow it. It is not clear if RH and Sullivan had further discussion about this, or the extent to which Sullivan reworked her manuscript, but this was the apparently the last of RH’s interaction with Sullivan. In any case, Sullivan did not shelve her book, whitesplaining the issues of racism identified by a WoC, and later found a publisher.

In July 2014 (shortly before or on the 19th), MacFarlane says that Sullivan contacted her, Loenen-Ruiz, and another person in order to meet at Loncon, and mentioned the forthcoming publication of her novel Shadowboxer and wanting to discuss “its ‘cultural issues’ [MacFarlane said she quoted Sullivan here]”. Although MacFarlane did not share Sullivan’s correspondence, here is what Sullivan had to say:

There is also something that I want to clear the air on. I know that you are all familiar with the history between me and Requires Hate and that I have a book coming out that has cultural issues. I expect to be criticized for it and this is only right and fair; that’s how things move forward.

I am looking at a bigger picture here. Whatever RH may think of me, I wish her nothing but the best in her writing career. I hope that we can all meet on this in our mutual interests of greater diversity in publishing and that we can get a little bit of movement with Gollancz. That’s what I care about. But if it’s going to be awkward and weird, should we rethink?

MacFarlane describes her response:

“I responded to Tricia’s question. What specifically infuriated me about Tricia’s decision was turning from the choice of trunking her novel to respect the problem of white people writing about Thailand […] to claiming that, and I quote: ’I have a book coming out that has cultural issues. I expect to be criticized for it and this is only right and fair; that’s how things move forward.’ […] I very strongly disagreed. I told Tricia that, because of this, ’I find your decision to publish Shadowboxer abhorrent.’”

Despite Sullivan assurance that she “expect[ed] to be criticized for it and this is only right and fair”, she evidently could not handle the criticism, as her reply to MacFarlane illustrates:

I don’t know if ‘thank you for your honesty’ is an appropriate response here, but I suppose your honesty is better than your silent  hostility.

I have given a great deal of thought to what I have written and what I have published. I’m insulted at the implication that this has been a casual sort of thing. You have no idea. I am not sure who ‘we’ are and how I have become the enemy of this ‘we’ –do you speak for all humanity?–but I doubt anything that I might say would make any difference to you since have already decided on your position. I have seen how these things go.

I want to say that I’ll leave it with you whether you think I am a person you can work with.  I admit that, reading this, I am in doubt as to whether I can work with you on the basis that you are talking as if I am a piece of shit. I find this disturbing. I will stand eye to eye with anyone and speak honestly and from the best part of myself. I write from the same place. It’s a long way from disagreeing with someone’s decision to finding it abhorrent. If that’s really how you feel about me then what is the point?

Loenen-Ruiz, for her part, emailed twice to express her opinion that MacFarlane should refrain from commenting on Sullivan’s book because she was not Thai. MacFarlane replied expressing her frustration that Loenen-Ruiz was willing to criticise her forcefully for commenting on Sullivan’s book, but unwilling to criticise Sullivan for writing it, even though both MacFarlane and Sullivan are white. From what I can gather, it appears that what confused and frustrated MacFarlane was the fact that Loenen-Ruiz supported and promoted Sullivan’s book that appropriated Thai culture, while she said things like:

“I haven’t read the final of Shadowboxer but you already know how I felt about the Thai aspects of it.”


“I’ve hesitated to write criticque of Shadowboxer because I am not Thai. I would have preferred if RH had come out and spoken out. I can support RH’s anger, but I can’t support your moral anger because it’s not your place to be angry.”


“If RH says what she has to say in public, I will support her.”


“I don’t support white people’s rage when it comes to appropriation of colored people’s cultures and I’m not apologizing for it”


“You may say I knew how RH felt in private. But she’s old enough to fight her own wars.”


“Trish, I know you worked as mindfully as you could, but even the most mindful work is flawed when it takes from others.”


“Should readers be given access to it? Should you have gone ahead and published? I have no answer to that. Only someone from that culture can tell you that.”

I must admit that I don’t understand Loenen-Ruiz’s logic either, although I can appreciate the delicate position Loenen-Ruiz was in. In any case, MacFarlane expressed dismay at seeing Loenen-Ruiz praise Sullivan’s book without addressing its racist elements. MacFarlane says:

“For my part, I feel strongly that silence is complicity. If I said nothing about the book, knowing it is racist and transphobic, I wouldn’t be neutral; I would be complicit. It’s clear that you feel differently, aid I don’t intend to force you to change your opinion […]”

MacFarlane did not share both of Loenen-Ruiz’s first emails nor her subsequent reply to MacFarlane’s email (one of which contained the quotes I have given above, shared to me by a source familiar with the matter), but Loenen-Ruiz states that she communicated with both RH and MacFarlane re-affirmed her position that she “had no intention of passing judgment on Shadowboxer”, adding: “I did not feel it was my place to criticize Shadowboxer on the basis of its Thailand setting as I was not familiar with Thai culture and if any public criticism of this aspect of the work should arise, it should come first from Thai readers.”

As quoted above, it was quite clear that Loenen-Ruiz was well aware of the potentially racists elements in Sullivan’s book, as well as the wider issues of colonialism and erasure of the voices of Thai people associated with its publication. It seems rather clear to me that Loenen-Ruiz was unwilling to be at the front of this particular fight against racism and colonialism, and hoped that someone would stand up and allow her, without necessarily criticising her friend Sullivan’s book per se, to address those issues publicly. Indeed, in a conversation with BS and another participant, Loenen-Ruiz had previously (July 19th 2014) stated that she had expected RH to publicly criticise the content of Sullivan’s book and expressed her confusion that BS would not do so, stating:

“If RH says what she has to say in public, I will support her. I’ll admit, it’s broken me that she’s chosen not to say a single word. What can I support if she doesn’t speak?”

Loenen-Ruiz also expressed regret that she had “blown up” at MacFarlane for her criticism of Sullivan’s book, saying that she felt MacFarlane had appropriated RH’s “indignation”, not realising that MacFarlane was speaking on RH’s behalf because she knew RH couldn’t safely do so, and that MacFarlane herself had more standing than Sullivan to criticise the transphobia in her book.

BS replied expressing her incredulity that Loenen-Ruiz couldn’t see why she could not criticise the book publicly at all. BS quoted Sullivan’s first email to Loenen-Ruiz and MacFarlane, where Sullivan said that RH was free to criticise her, and “I wish RH and her writing career the best”. BS tried to explain to Loenen-Ruiz that she viewed this as an implied threat since RH had, by all accounts, never given evidence that she had any writing career or aspirations. BS concluded that although Sullivan might be sincere, this might also be a way for Sullivan to say “I know this and I have this over her, if she steps out of line I […] will sabotage her.” Suffice it to say that, as the rest of the analysis of this case will show, RH had much more understanding of the situation than Loenen-Ruiz.

In addition to this, BS also explained why she would never go back to expressing her views in the manner she did when she wrote reviews as RH. In this private conversation with her friend, RH states (I’m working from an image file, transcription errors are likely):

“look, okay, here’s the thing: [Very Racist White Woman Author] is still trying–or has tried at least once–to stir shit up about me. If I say anything about Sullivan’s ultra-racist book, she’ll almost certainly take that as an excuse to target me again […]

I don’t think you appreciate the danger I’m in. you’re asking me to speak up and risk my safety, and resurrect RH so I can go back to being constantly harassed again? have you ever been the target of forum speculation about your sexuality, your ethnicity, your birthplace, your nationality? have you ever received rape threats or read posts about how you’re probably a lesbian rape victim who was left in a ditch? do you have lengthy gossip threads and a wank wikipedia entry dedicated to you? do you stay up at night wondering if [omitted for safety reasons]? do you spend many waking hours wondering about privacy leaks? [omitted for safety reasons]

I mean, that’s just a fraction of the garbage I had to put up with. I am not going back to being in the middle of that and I’m not risking my author identity being put under scrutiny and potentially subjected to that.  and the risk of that is very, very real. there’s a reason I let the RH blog and presence die out. I’ve to manage risk or lose every other night to stress sleep, and probably eventually get doxed. you’ve been targeted before by bigots, but believe me when I say it’s nothing like what I’ve experienced since I was mid-twenties.”

In her exchanges with RH, Loenen-Ruiz also expressed her fear of criticising white people on their racism and showed that she understood very well the position that BS was in. Giving an example of when she was targeted for expressing her views on a matter unrelated to SFF, she concludes: “some people who used to be friends no longer speak to me […] that’s how racism works when you stop being the good brown woman.” Indeed, in her July 21st post, Loenen-Ruiz states:

“This is a thing white allies need to understand, you are still speaking from a position of privilege. For a white person dissent and rebuke and calling out holds lesser consequences than it does for a person of color. If you don’t think that’s true, then perhaps you don’t know how racism truly works. Experience has taught me that brown bodies are almost always expendable and the loss of the voices of people of color is not experienced as loss by the white majority.”

Loenen-Ruiz also showed that she was well aware of the harassment RH had been under, saying: “[…] while I haven’t received as much hate mail or threats as you and [redacted 3rd person], it is still stressful. […] I understand now why RH had to disappear. I am sad about that part of it, but I do understand. […]”. This stands in clear opposition to her later assertions, sent in an attempt to influence a different third party over the framing of the narrative surrounding all of this, that “RH is not a victim. She was never and never has been.” These apparent contradictions in Loenen-Ruiz own communications cast great doubt on Loenen-Ruiz’s general credibility as a source.

Loenen-Ruiz later said that RH wrote her to express that she “questioned [her] decisions on [her] friendships and [her] refusal to condemn [Sullivan]”, which Loenen-Ruiz justified because Sullivan was someone “who had supported [her] and those who [she] counted as friends”. Loenen-Ruiz states that RH “then cut off ties with [her]”, and that it was her impression that MacFarlane had done the same. MacFarlane, for her part, states: “I had private disagreements. […] I no longer wanted to talk to Tricia and needed more time to think about my disagreement with Rochita.”

A July 21st 2014 blog post by Loenen-Ruiz appears to confirm MacFarlane’s depiction of the events so far, but interprets them in a questionable manner:

“I have been told that my silence on a work that borrows another culture means that I am complicit in racism and transphobia. […] It’s not that I don’t care about appropriation, but as a brown woman from a third world country, I know how it feels when outsiders speak out on my behalf. […] For a white person dissent and rebuke and calling out holds lesser consequences than it does for a person of color.”

Please note how no evidence is presented that Loenen-Ruiz was actually told that. MacFarlane only said that as a white ally to BS, she would feel complicit unless she spoke up, and that Loenen-Ruiz was free to do as she wished. As for the correspondence between BS and Loenen-Ruiz, while it’s quite obvious in her replies to Loenen-Ruiz that BS is upset, the exchanges remain surprisingly friendly, and they do not reflect Loenen-Ruiz’s allegations. In fact, to my knowledge, no evidence for Loenen-Ruiz’s many allegations against RH have ever been presented, casting great doubt about their existence.

Fallout Tactics

Following these exchanges, MacFarlane states that she “told a very small number of people a summary of what had happened (ie: I had had a disagreement about a book I found racist) so that I could avoid awkward social encounters with Tricia at Loncon and, to a certain extent, Rochita at Nine Worlds and Loncon.” Both of these conventions were held in early to mid August, 2014.

In parallel to those discussions, it appears that Sullivan learned that BS objected to racist elements in her book. Sullivan writes, on October 3rd: “If a person tells you that my work is this or is that you might ask how it is they know this when they haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet—according to the story they tell about their own identity, at any rate.” This most likely happened in the July 19th conversation with MacFarlane and Loenen-Ruiz alluded to earlier.

In any case, at some point between Loenen-Ruiz’s email exchanges with MacFarlane (July 19th) and the beginning of August 2014, different people had gotten hold of the information that RH was also BS (this is just speculation on my part, but it seems rather clear to me that even as far as October 3rd, the association between RH and BS was still only a rumour in the minds of her attackers.) Notably Caitlín R. Kiernan, wrote on August 2nd 2014 (later erased, but archived by WS):

“Yesterday, I was given the identity of @requireshate. You may or may not recall my trouble with this asshole, that they labeled me a racist and a sexist. […] I may or may not release the name publicly. If I don’t, I know that someone else soon will. […] As it happens, she’s a somewhat celebrated new write […] Well, she can’t hide any longer […] Knowledge is power, right?”

Liz Williams, for her part, would later state: “I had not heard of Benjanun Sriduangkaew before August”, but appears to state that she was the one who shared RH’s identity with Kiernan, stating: “Caitlin Kiernan heard about the situation from me”.

Kiernan also posted a text, very similar to the one quote above, on her Facebook account (I assume on the same date). Within a few hours, her post had more that 80 “likes” and more than 50 comments. Here are selected quotes:

Caitlin Kiernan: [responding to Lynne Jamneck asking what RH had done] Well, for one, she called me a racist on Twitter.

Lynne Jamneck: Well, that’s slander, Motherfucker needs to go down.

Jamie Mason: [Using a meme] Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir? Or another bughunt?

Caitlin Kiernan: Oh, its always been a bug hunt.

Jamie Mason: “Just tell me where they are.”

Allen Parmenter: Nuke ’em from space. That’s the only way to be sure.

I pause my quotes here to note that apparently, to the detractors of RH that have commented on Kiernan’s post, using racist slurs against PoCs and extremely violent language to describe the hate campaign they apparently want to unleash on her is perfectly acceptable behaviour. It’s only calling racists things what they are, that is problematic to them.

James Enge: Damn! I was sure @requireshate was a man […]

Caitlin Kiernan: I was surprised, too. But it only makes their behavior that much more despicable.

I pause again to note that a woman doing the same thing as a man is “more despicable” and that Kiernan uses “their” instead of she, when she knows full well RH is a cis woman.

Stefanie Louise: Oh ew. I recall this particular jackass. Make a special and appropriate hell for them, please.

Joseph Raven Rose: Drag her Aunty Beast! Shame the Spiteful coward!

Liz Williams: Caitlin, I have your back, whatever you decide to do. No fucking way am I letting this ride.

Joseph Raven Rose: If she’s on twitter, I’ll share her name to all my LGBT friends, let social justice mob do their work >:3

Caitlin Kiernan: Liz, I’m going to wait a while and see if someone beats me too it. But I do hope the word gets out that there are people who know.

Joseph Raven Rose: Oh, found her. Her twitter account is private. That rat >_>

Liz Williams: Matter of time. There are a number of people considering their options; no rush. I just emailed you with my personal strategy.

Caitlin Kiernan: Thank you for confiding in me. I feel we’ve already won a little victory, just holding the knowledge.

Liz Williams: Magical intent – power.

Mark Parsons: Get together with other scribes and stick the deserved knife in “Murder on the Orient Express” style.

Robert T Canipe: Get her!!!!

Gordon Ingold Thomaschewsky: If revealed, I wonder if she’d curl up and twitch like a maggot in the light of day. […]

Kiernan is apparently doing precisely the same things Mixon accuses RH of doing, with the notable difference that there is evidence for Kiernan’s actions.

It’s not clear who Kiernan’s or Williams’ source was, but it’s rather difficult to avoid the fact that Sullivan is most likely suspect in anyone’s eyes at that point (even though no evidence is available), particularly since Williams and Sullivan were said to be “close”.

Conventions, the perfect place to make friends

At Loncon (early August 2014), MacFarlane states she met with Loenen-Ruiz:

“I don’t know why Rochita’s latest post doesn’t mention the last day of Loncon, where she came up to a group of people I was sitting with and, as she left, I smiled and nodded directly at her and she smiled back. I made a decision to smile at her because I wanted her to know I wasn’t 100% upset at her, though I still wasn’t inclined to talk to her. A very slight gesture, but not hostility.”

MacFarlane also quotes her partner “Tori Truslow, who has run the LGBTQIA+ track at Nine Worlds in 2013 and 2014,” about her encounter with Loenen-Ruiz and Nine Worlds (mid-August 2014):

“I thought Rochita was an important voice to offer a platform at the con and recommended her to the Race and Culture track, with whom I worked closely and shared resources/space and speakers but did not take a programming role in for obvious ‘being a white person’ reasons. At the con I ran into her and said hello with a smile, I think I asked how she was doing or something. I was genuine, because I take my responsibilities seriously and someone falling out with my partner does not mean I’m going to treat them any differently when they are attending an event I work on. She just sort of smiled awkwardly at me in response. I never behaved in a hostile manner towards her. I have never said a harsh word to her. I have never told anyone not to work with her, or to avoid her. I have never cut her out of anything. Rochita didn’t attempt to talk to me at the con beyond me saying hi to her. She sent me a twitter DM afterwards saying she appreciated my work, which I didn’t reply to because I literally didn’t reply to anything in the few weeks following the con, because I broke myself in the process of running it and was taking time off/adjusting to a new job.”

Loenen-Ruiz, for her part, describes her encounters this way:

“[…] it was clear that [Truslow] was aware of what had taken place between Alex and me. I did hope that she would keep an objective position on this matter. It will seem illogical to many, but the position Alex and Tori occupied in UK fandom made me anxious and fearful when I went to Nine Worlds.

At that time I was afraid of Alex. I did not know what to expect of her and I did not know what to expect of her partner, Tori. I hoped that the issue could be resolved in a professional manner. At Nine Worlds, Alex gave me the cut and I realized that this issue was not going to be resolved. I later heard that a number of people had been made aware of this conflict. Again, I do not know what was said or how it was framed, but I am now in no doubt as to Alex’s and Tori’s hostility towards me.”

Loenen-Ruiz tells us that “after Worldcon [mid August 2014], I was aware that something was going on, but not exactly what. There was talk of whisper campaigns, but I paid no attention to that […]”.

What Loenen-Ruiz paid no attention to is that information concerning the connection between RH and BS had been circulated widely in the month of August 2014. For example, on September 4th 2014, Seth Ellis has this to say in the comments of a blog:

“While I appreciate the discretion in not spreading gossip, I think it’s worth coming right out and saying that there are apparently rumors that Requires Hate and Benjanun Sriduangkaew are the same person. I say this because of the subsequent rumors that the first rumor hurt her chances for the Campbell this year.”

Mamatas also informs us that before he revealed RH’s identity (early October, see below), “Liz Williams had already been sending emails, as a way to warn recipients of the ‘shit-storm brewing’ (that is, the one she was helping to brew) and once any such email got anywhere, it got everywhere.”

In a November 6th comment on Mixon’s essay, Liz Williams mentioned:

“In August, [RH’s] identity began to be discussed in a limited and private way, and not among editors, because of the possibility of a mistake: derailing a young woman’s career over an identity error would have been unforgivable.”

I’ll let that speak for itself.

Still in the same paragraph from that comment, Williams apparently illustrates the kind of “limited and private” she mentions:

“I wrote to Charles Stross on 14th September and made this comment:

I haven’t gone public because I don’t have enough hard evidence, just trust – for me that’s sufficient to take action up to a point, but mileage varies. What’s stopping me: protecting [redacted], and the possibility, however faint, that some ghastly error may have been made and Benjanun is innocent.”

It’s unclear how many other authors Williams contacted in this way (if any), and why she specifically mentions contacting Stross in September, when she just mentioned that discussion of RH’s identity, with unknown participants, had happened in August.

Williams then goes on to say:

“BS was then outed on a thread of James N’s post and by this time – mid September, possibly earlier – it was an open secret.  I wrote to my former editor at Prime [Wlliams also confessed to having contacted at least one other SFF industry professional]:

Apologies for contacting you out of the blue. There is a shit-storm brewing – if you don’t know already, Thai writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew has now admitted to being Requires Hate. I think you’ve published her so you might want a heads-up.”

The self-contradictory nature of that those statements should be evident, but just to be clear: Williams claims that by September 2014, BS had been “outed” on a James Nicoll post, and apparently “admitted to being RH”. As we will soon see, this is also impossible to reconcile with the fact that Nick Mamatas only outed RH in October 2014 (following Tricia Sullivan’s October 3rd admission that she had emailed editors about RH/BS), and that James Nicoll’s post reporting this fact was made on October 10th 2014 (see below).

Further, I note that BS cannot be said to have both accused those of outing her of acting out of a racist intent, and have admitted to being RH before mid-September 2014

On October 3rd 2014, Tricia Sullivan wrote a blog post where she said:

“I don’t have an issue with anyone’s writing or with their right to be published or recognised or their ideas and their work hailed. […] When that same person used their connections to bully and ostracize a close friend of mine, and when that person’s associate behaved in a transparently racist way towards my friend, I informed my publisher [and at least one other editor] of the identities of the people involved […]. And I will not stand by and do nothing when my own reputation is attacked. […] I believe that the movement toward equality in our field […] is robust enough that the efforts of one individual to cause harm and to divide will not bring us down.”

I interpret this as meaning that Loenen-Ruiz had discussed her perceived interactions with MacFarlane and Truslow with Sullivan (i.e. that she felt pressured to criticise Sullivan’s book, even if no pressure had actually been applied), who then took it upon herself to start contacting editors she knew in order to influence them about working with BS in the future. To be clear, I found absolutely no evidence to support any allegations of wrongdoing on the parts of MacFarlane or Truslow (and Mixon presented none), but it’s easy to image how Loenen-Ruiz, a young writer and WoC, might have been scared and felt vulnerable when she felt that she had lost her friendship with MacFarlane and could now only count on the support of people like Sullivan and Williams. Even if she might not have spoken to Sullivan directly about this as I hypothesise, she did write a blog post about it on July 21st. It’s particularly sad to think that it was apparently Loenen-Ruiz’s action in regard to that fear, by making Sullivan aware of them, which destroyed any hope of her resuming her with MacFarlane in the nearby future, or possibly ever.

I also want to bring attention to one sentence I quoted in Sullivan’s post: “And I will not stand by and do nothing when my own reputation is attacked.” To me, this is clear evidence that although Sullivan rationalised and framed a lot of her actions as protecting Loenen-Ruiz, she also considers that criticising her for the publication of book with “cultural issues” is an attack, and that her actions against BS are, to her, a legitimate defence. I must also mention that it’s unclear exactly when Sullivan started spreading the rumour that RH was BS (i.e. whether or not it was before Loncon or Nine Worlds).

Blaise Bailey Finnegan III

Continuing with the timeline, on October 3rd, the same day of Sullivan’s post, established writers discussed Sullivan’s post on Twitter (publicly and with direct messages) and by email (i.e. what some people might call “a whispering campaign”).

Notably, during that conversation, Pat Cadigan pressured Loenen-Ruiz to stand by the predominantly white women attacking RH. When Loenen-Ruiz said that she was not really aware of what had been going on, Cadigan told her: “Well now you do. So do the right thing,” copying this message to Elizabeth Bear, Rachel Swirsky, Tricia Sullivan and Aliette de Bodard. When Loenen-Ruiz told Sullivan that she was in her thoughts and that she should take care of herself, Cadigan replied, copying to Sullivan: “it would help more if you acknowledge that Trish has done nothing to hurt anyone”, a tweet favorited by James Worrad. Cadigan also tried to get de Bodard to agree with this statement by calling her out publicly, along with Loenen-Ruiz, in a another tweet: “@matociquala @rachelswirsky Should be clear that @beep9999 did nothing to hurt anyone. I’d like @aliettedb & @rcloenenruiz to back me up”. Cadigan also mentions having pressured Loenen-Ruiz privately. Mixon’s essay offers no comment on Cadigan’s behaviour toward Loenen-Ruiz, at that time, surely a worse behaviour than asking privately that a friend who shares your worldview not let a racist book go uncommented when you are powerless to express yourself.

Cadigan also expressed her apparent belief that this entire case was really about Sullivan’s right to publish books with “cultural issues”, saying: “Trish is the injured party.” Making clear that at the time, to at least some people, Loenen-Ruiz was viewed only as the shield to protect Sullivan’s reputation as an anti-racism ally, and that BS had not done anything wrong toward Loenen-Ruiz. Indeed, after their initial email exchanges and their awkward meeting at a conference,  Loenen-Ruiz had apparently no further contact with MacFarlane or Truslow, or any correspondence with BS.

Loenen-Ruiz would later state (see her October 17th blog post, discussed below) that she was barely online until mid October and was surprised to find herself in the middle of a controversy. Her participation in the above-mentioned conversation makes this rather hard to believe. In any case, Loenen-Ruiz says that “Nick [Mamatas] told [her] that Benjanun was spreading the rumor that [she] was the one who had outed [RH].” This speculation was, off course, generated because of Sullivan’s October 3rd post.

From the same conversation, it also appears that Sullivan and her associates do not have definitive proof that BS was in fact RH. I’m forced to speculate, but it appears that Sullivan and her associates only got confirmation of RH’s identity at some point in October 2014. The most likely suspects to provide this evidence (before Mamatas confirmed it) were Loenen-Ruiz, who had been BS’s friend for years and shared much of her views regarding racism and sexism in SFF, and Athena Andreadis, who although she was not really one of RH’s friends, had rather solid evidence due to her former correspondence with RH. Loenen-Ruiz would later write, on October 17th:

“In fact, Tricia Sullivan said to me that she already knew that Benjanun Sriduangkaew was Requires Hate (not that I didn’t already know it) but I’ve never referred to them as the same person in conversation. By that time though, the secret was sort of an open secret. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the publishing world didn’t already know. Certainly, Benjanun didn’t hide who she was from certain editors and she told me at one time that she’d also told others. What Tricia did with what she knew is not my responsibility.”

Loenen-Ruiz appears to be rationalising her actions more than anything else. I’m sure Loenen-Ruiz believes herself to be beyond reproach, but assuming information did not come from another source, she may very well have been tricked into confirming BS’s identity. For this to be the case, Loenen-Ruiz would have needed to tell BS’s secret, assuming she ever did at all, after Sullivan’s October 3rd blog post, but before Nick Mamata’s ello post was widely circulated on October 10th. Of course, none of the people working against RH might have had any confirmation of RH’s identity prior to Nick Mamatas post. It’s also possible that even after Mamatas confirmed RH’s identity, RH might still have blamed (rightly or not) Loenen-Ruiz as the person truly responsible for her doxxing, but there is absolutely no evidence that RH did anything reprehensible because of this supposed belief.

In any case, on October 5th (as far as I can tell, but it might have been earlier or later since ello is not really the best platform), Nick Mamatas revealed the RH/BS connection on ello. This information was only distributed widely a few days later when James Nicoll posted about it on his Livejournal (and let me say that when posts on ello depend on promotion from a LiveJournal blog to boost their signal, that tells me all I ever need to know about where that social network is going). Mamatas would later explain: “one reason why I made my ello post was to stop a greater public display on the part of the Angry White Women who would have framed this issue quite differently.” On that point, it appears that Mamatas’s, although it wasn’t his fault, failed. Mamatas also said that another reason for his post was “to hobble further shenanigans on the part of Bees,” which appears to have been successful since BS is evidently the more reasonable of all the protagonists here.

Mamatas said he first heard of people saying it was racist to associate RH and BS in mid-august, after Loncon, but states that this could have been thought of independently of any action by RH. In other words, it’s not clear when (or even if) RH started fighting back against the campaign to destroy her career, or whether RH “invented” the tactic of calling people who made the association racist. It’s also unclear whether BS, assuming she ever did, said that the association itself was racist, or just that the people doxxing her were, an important distinction.

From October 3rd to around October 6th, because of Sullivan’s blog post, MacFarlane was under the impression that Loenen-Ruiz was responsible for outing BS. She wrote:

“At the beginning of October, when Tricia posted about Benjanun and me treating Rochita badly, I was furious at Tricia for the post and at Rochita for outing Benjanun to her, because that’s what Tricia’s post strongly implied to someone who knows all the details (eg: how few of us knew Benjanun was RH), but I didn’t say anything about Rochita then. When I was informed 3 days later by a SFF contact that Liz Williams had called the police on me, I panicked. At that point, I made a few tweets on my locked twitter (20 followers, some duplicates, not all SFF people) and told two friends a bit about the situation, including very strong words for Rochita, who I was still convinced had a role in this mess by outing Benjanun – for that, I apologise. I should not have also talked about Rochita while having a badly suppressed panic attack about Liz’s actions. (Note: Rochita and Tricia have since posted that Rochita didn’t tell Tricia.)”

As far as I can tell, this episode is apparently referenced by Liz Williams as: “Alex MacFarlane’s well-documented online bullying of women of colour […]”, which should tell us all we really need to know about her credibility.

On October 17th 2014, the day after her conversation with Mamatas regarding the rumours spreading around that she was responsible for BS’s outing, Loenen-Ruiz wrote a blog post denying the speculation by some that she was the one who revealed RH’s identity to Sullivan or Williams. Sullivan, 3 days later, also published a post saying that Loenen-Ruiz had no connection to her learning RH’s identity and her sending letters to SFF industry professionals.

As I said, it’s unclear if BS might have speculated with her friends that Loenen-Ruiz had confirmed the RH/BS link before October 3rd, but the evidence I have available makes it very clear that RH already knew back at the end of July 2014 that Sullivan strongly suspected RH and BS to be the same person. I do believe that even if BS had assumed that Sullivan was responsible for the blackballing campaign against her from August to October 2014, she might not have suspected Loenen-Ruiz of revealing her identity until Sullivan’s post suggested it. While BS might have speculated about Loenen-Ruiz’s involvement in her doxxing, Mixon provides no evidence that BS has done so. Considering the Mixon had no difficulty accusing RH of doing terrible things while presenting contradictory evidence, there is no reason to believe Mixon (or Loenen-Ruiz) would not have presented evidence if it existed.

On October 28th 2014, Tricia Sullivan published her book Shadowboxer.

On November 6th, Athena Andreadis, after having let Loenen-Ruiz take the heat for the outing of BS, also confessed that she had began to leak the RH/BS connection some time in 2014. Although it’s unclear how far the information went, and if she might have been the original leak or just the person to provide final confirmation, Andreadis stated: “As more people whom I knew befriended the BS persona, I told Nick Mamatas, who had become a buddy of sorts. A few months ago, I also told three others […].” This date is also the start of a coordinated effort, along with Paul Weimer, Liz Bourke, Elizabeth Bear, Rachel Manija Brown, Juliet E. McKenna, and Laura J. Mixon, to expose the RH/BS link publicly. This completed the apparent work of Sullivan and Williams to stop RH from possibly criticising racism in Sullivan’s book. One can’t help but notice the whiteness of the participants (although I’m sure I missed a few people). Good thing Loenen-Ruiz was pressured to be on board, amiright?

[Note: I have been unable to find any English criticism of the “cultural issues” in Sullivan’s book by anyone (let alone any Thai person). Considering that both Sullivan and Loenen-Ruiz considered the book to have racist content and colonialist implications, this empirically proves the effectiveness of Sullivan’s silencing campaign. *Update: I have been informed that some of the story’s “cultural issues” have been criticised by Maureen Kincaid Speller in issue 256 of Interzone (December 2014).]

[Second *update.

The review in question, read in part:

“Other aspects of this novel are equally problematic. […] I am uneasy too about the ways in which ethnicity is conveyed through the use of fractured English. It is one thing for Sullivan to represent Jade’s rudimentary Thai as pidgin English, but more than one character switches between grammatically correct and colloquial English in the space of a few sentences, for no reason I could readily understand. […]

[…] Jade is also acutely aware that the colour of her skin prompts people to view her as a criminal, and that she is constantly being objectified for being a female fighter. We are told all of this, and invited to sympathise with Jade. But because she is the narrator, there is no mechanism for challenging her other assumptions; for example, the essentialising of Thailand and its people, and her ignorance of quiltbag politics. Likewise, Mya’s narrative conveniently sidesteps her life in the refugee camp, instead using his need for her magical gifts as a way of obliquely addressing Mr Richard’s activities as a child-abuser. It seems that while New York equals reality, Burma and Thailand must remain as the fantastic other, which in itself seems to be a profound if, one hopes, inadvertent comment on western colonialism.”

The reviewer also tells us, in part (private communication, shared with permission):

“I was somewhat constrained in my commentary by the word limit imposed by Interzone, which was 800 words. There are a number of issues I would have liked to discuss in greater detail, particularly the use of Thai and Burmese mythological and religious symbols, and the representation of trans people in Thailand, as well as various other issues involving colonialism and cultural appropriation.

I did give a lot of thought as to whether I should submit the review, in the light of the controversy that had blown up between my expressing an interest in reviewing the novel […] and actually receiving the book for review.

I concluded that the fact of the controversy made it all the more necessary to publish the review, not least as I had become aware that other reviewers were reluctant to discuss the novel. I felt that I would undermine my own integrity as a critic if I suppressed my review. I also believed that to not publish it would be to cave in to peer pressure being exerted on the general sf community to do the right thing by Tricia Sullivan. I was unwilling to capitulate to that peer pressure.”

The existence of this review thus contradicts my assertion that no criticism could be found (although to be fair to myself, I had no access to this print-only review). However, the reviewer does mention that following the publication of Sullivan’s book, people were reluctant to criticise/discuss the book (whatever the reason, as Sullivan can hardly be blamed for everything that happened around that time).]

Ever the voice of reason

To sum all this up, I think we can turn to Nick Mamatas:

“Kiernan, who has no real connection to the other players, hints at spilling the beans to wreck Bees. So it is obvious that leaks are everywhere. Then RH rallies her troops.

The poison pen letter I’ve seen comes from Liz Williams, who promises a shitstorm, leaving unsaid that she has been brewing the storm for more than a year. I noted Sullivan because it was already public.

Now as far as why it is bad to expose a closed pseudonym of someone who splits her time between two dictatorships, even if they deny it and cry race, well, I’ll leave that to you.”

“About the vicious rumors, my understanding is that Bees was very eager to keep her secret, and encouraged people to decry the obvious (that she was RH) as a racist claim. […] So I think, and this is supposition, is that the rumor being spread was that Sullivan was being racist for telling the truth. It was foolish, stupid, and wrong of Bees to do so if this is what happened […]”

I tend to agree with what I read as Mamatas’ understanding of the situation, although I’m not certain he really had all the facts at that time (indeed, he mentions “vicious rumors”, but as far as I can tell, there exists no evidence for their existence, or RH’s involvment in them). BS was minding her own business of trying to be a writer and leaving behind her former behaviour when she was fighting against racism, misogyny, homophobia and colonialism (with its tendency to insult now and ask questions later). Unfortunately for her, Sullivan was quite willing to publish a book with “cultural issues”, but evidently, she was unwilling to be criticised for it, and took preemptive measures to make sure RH was not in a position to criticise her (capitalising from Loenen-Ruiz’s silencing of RH). Many people who became aware of RH’s new identity were eager to blame her for their problems and proceeded to out her. A lot of white people (although not necessarily all of those who participated in Mixon’s campaign, who might have acted in good faith) were eager to get back at RH for calling racist books racists. RH might have attempted to defend herself and stay safe, but no evidence is presented for any action by BS in all of this (which mean these accusations are probably fabricated).


In this admittedly incomplete timeline of events, few people, if any, can be said to have acted honourably. I will note, however, that the only person for which absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing is presented by Mixon is RH. Some people acted as horrible human beings, and if they could extricate themselves from this situation, would probably be horrified of their actions. It is, however, very difficult to stop being white. A few people might well have been acting in bad faith, but I have so little first-hand information that I can’t tell you which ones, and you’ll have to judge for yourself. In any case, it seems that bad faith is not a necessary factor in order to understand most of the events that happened in this case.

Returning to Mixon’s summary of these cases, namely that RH “pressured [Sullivan] to not submit a book set partly in Thailand; when she persisted, a reviewer was pressured to not publish a review, or to make it a negative one” and that Loenen-Ruiz was “subjected to public and private smear campaigns, maligning of her integrity, and shunning because she refused to submit to pressure to publicly denounce a target/ falsify a review of target’s book.” I find that:

  • The “pressure” in this case is telling the author that her work is racist and explaining it in clear terms (and do note that this interaction happened 2 years prior to the publication of the novel, and at the request of the author). Asking someone (who fancies herself an anti-racism ally) not to publish a racist book (that the author freely admits has “cultural issues”) is called anti-racism activism, and is much less worthy of being called an attack than trying to publish a racist book (that will also contribute to the erasure of a culture) in the first place.
  • Asking your friend to support you and denounce said racist book that attacks your culture is also called activism. It’s also what people usually expect of their friends. Doubly so when they ask this from the vulnerable position of not being able to speak up for themself because they fear for their safety.
  • When someone judges that their friends are not supportive of them, they are free to stop being friends, and that this does not constitute “shunning”. From the evidence presented by Mixon, the only thing RH did to Loenen-Ruiz was making her feel bad for letting a friend down. Loenen-Ruiz was deserving of both condemnation by some for letting BS down, and empathy by others for sticking by Sullivan when she was pressured for support by racist people gleefully crushing another WoC.
  • Writing letters to editors, pressuring an up-and-coming woman writer of color to support white people’s actions against another up-and-coming woman writer of color, publicly revealing the identity of a queer feminist WoC living in dictatorships, and starting whispering campaign speculating that people engaged in shunning without any evidence are, to me, at least as worthy of condemnation as anything BS might have done did in this case (which, from the evidence presented by Mixon, is literally nothing, but might have included speculating about the involvement of Loenen-Ruiz in her doxxing).
  • BS might have been engaged in questionable conduct in her attempt at protecting herself from the mob attacking her (but again, no evidence was presented that she ever did anything wrong).

I find this case to be too complex to fit in a single category, but in regard to Mixon’s specific claims, they are unsubstantiated and contradicted by the available evidence. While BS might deserves blame for some of her alleged actions in these two combined cases, they are not the actions Mixon is claiming are wrong, might not even exist (since literally no evidence is presented), and others acted in similar or worse fashion, and are more worthy of condemnation.

[Note: Asymptotic Binary also found a lot of interesting information on this case, notably on Sullivan’s motivations. Search for “Shadowboxer” in her post and read from there (the subject is addressed in two sections of the post).]

[Fast read: Summary of Mixon’s 29 cases.]

Kari Sperring

May 2012

“hounded by Winterfox & followers on Cat Valente’s blog- vitriol leveled at her led to her taking an overdose”

Findings: This case is about the allegation made in the text that “At least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt.”

This entire case seems about a discussion in a comment thread on Cat Valente’s blog. Sperring made a comment on the thread that many felt went too far in criticising Valente (see further down). In the discussion, RH left one comment (out of 116 total comments for the entire thread), that I quote in full:

“Are you seriously saying that you suffer from some deep awfulness because you have a British accent and that makes people mean to you?

Try having an accent that’s not western Europe; try having an accent that’s non-Anglophonic and not coded as first-world. Oh try, do try. Do try it for five minutes or maybe even a day and then you can come back and talk about the terrible awfulness of being humiliated, treated like shit, and subjected to random racism/xenophobia everywhere. Much of which is established by, oh you guessed it, the imperialist legacy! The ongoing cultural hegemony of the Anglophonic west. How little self-awareness do you have?

Oh, and you know what’s really injurious? White westerners appropriating non-dominant cultures whose original voices are erased and marginalized. I’m sorry to tell you, madam, but British culture is anything but “non-dominant.” You are at no risk of being marginalized and erased. Cheers.”

In addition to this, Nick Mamatas informs us that a few tweets were exchanged between Sperring and RH. He describes the conversation as “a fairly mild political discussion about the relative social position of the Welsh within the UK and within the framework of world imperialism.” He later adds “the nastiest I can find in that exchange: @[Sperring] and it’s hilarious you feel you’re dealt with unfairly because of your british accent. that’s funny in any circumstance.”

I have managed to acquire a copy of the exchange in question, which allows us to check for ourselves. The exchange happened on the same day as Sperring’s comment on Valente’s blog. RH was initially talking with another person (which I’ll call “Unknown Person”) to whom she quotes Sperring. Sperring then joined the conversation:

@requireshate: [quoting Sperring] @[Unknown Person] “there were some appropriative remarks. I’m not delighted when my country becomes its myths and only its myths”

@Sperring [not her real handle]: @requireshate @[Unknown Person] Well, there’s a context. But I’ve been elected Sample Imperialist Bitch, so I guess I don’t get to have that.

@requireshate: @Sperring @[Unknown Person] why do you feel it’s a deep awful injustice to be reminded that Britain was and is a white imperialist country

@Sperring: @requireshate @[Unknown Person] I don’t. I’m a historian. But I find dismissiveness of any kind unnecessary. It lead to anger, not dialogue

@requireshate: @Sperring @[Unknown Person] I mean, what makes you think my comment to you is any more of an “attack.”

@Sperring: @requireshate @[Unknown Person] Is [probably supposed to be “It’s”] something that I find objectionable addressed to any country, culture or group.

@requireshate: @Sperring and it’s hilarious you feel you’re dealt with unfairly because of your british accent. that’s funny in any circumstance.

@Sperring: @requireshate The accent creates assumptions about who I am. It gets reactions of varied kinds. One of them is that I endorse our govt.

@Sperring: @requireshate I wish I didn’t, believe me. I despise the governments of the last 30 years.

This completes the entire interactions between RH and Sperring prior to her suicide attempt. Do notice Sperring’s hostility as well as her quickness to turn RH’s very sensible point (i.e. that in the grand scheme of things, there are worse things than having a British accent and that cultural appropriation of British culture is not “a thing” into “[being] elected Sample Imperialist Bitch”.

We can turn to Mamatas for his analysis of this regrettable case, when he replies to a commenter:

“If I had suicidal ideations and attempted suicide after leaving this comment, is it your fault? Are you behaving, right now, as though the person you are talking to online is experiencing suicidal ideations?

If you aren’t—and you aren’t—where does that leave you?”

Mamats also asks this very relevant question:

“Btw, that’s the only RH comment in the whole long thread in which many people argued against Sperring—but it was RH’s comments [that was responsible for Sperring’s later actions], not, say, Cat’s, or Cat’s husband, or or or…”

Indeed, many of the commenters on the subthread started by Sperring are much harsher and arguably nastier that RH’s comparatively gentle mocking in her comment. I further note that Mixon characterises the people commenting on Valente’s blog as “followers” of RH, but gives no evidence that they are any such thing. In fact, this is pure fabrication on Mixon’s part. The other comments take no part in the specific discussions between RH and Sperring (Sperring replied to RH, ending that subthread, but all other comments are on a different thread). In fact, from reading the comments, they appear to be only Valente’s friends that have come to defend her against Sperring’s attack. See, for example, the following quotes:

Cat Valente

“I chose to focus on the beauty and joy I knew here instead.

And you’ve quite nicely taken that away. Thank you. I’ll be sure to remember that no matter who I am or what I do, I will never, never be welcome here. Silly me. I’d managed to forget.”

“The words you are putting into my mouth, that song…it’s gross, and not what I said.”

“But you’re not delighted. Theres something you really dont like about Americans specifically loving Britain. You didn’t respond to commenters, you responded to me, and put a whole lot of words in my mouth, and implied I was appropriating your culture, which is serious business to me.”

“I understand what you’re saying. However, I’m also uncomfortable being attacked for having had romantic notions when I was a kid. […] I’m sorry my husband got upset, go easy on him, too. He had to deal with how upset I am in person today.


“Sigh. Really? You’re really going to slap the hand of someone who loves what THEY’VE taken from an experience in a place that’s foreign to where they came from?

That’s unfortunate.”

Scot Taylor

“Do we Americans now get to berate Neil Gaiman for romanticizing our country? And have you sent equally nasty notes to Connie Willis and Tim Powers, two other A-list SFF writers who had the gall to admire and, gasp, even write books set in your country?”


“For the sake of not starting fights in someone else’s house, I will not write what I really want to, even though your comment irritates me, but honey, seriously? Looking for excuses to take offense much?”

“What bothered me is that you went off on someone who makes a living off of writing in myth, metaphor, and allegory, for writing in myth, metaphor, and allegory, about how put upon you are that people have a romantic view of your country. You chose to do it in a post about something that she very clearly has a singularly deep emotional connection to. You chose to take offense where none was meant, and you did it in such a manner as to make someone feel bad. You didn’t reply to those comments that had made you feel uncomfortable, you went after Cat. When people pointed out that your comment was a bit overboard, you refused to admit that maybe your reaction was a wee bit excessive. This is what bothered me. Being tired of the old stereotypes is one thing, and 100% valid. Going all emo and angsty and nobody understands my pain? Meh. I have a notoriously low tolerance for it, given the aforementioned reasons.”


“Please. I’ve been EVICTED from some of the worst neighborhoods in Atlanta and was robbed when I was nine months pregnant (they stole all my baby stuff).  […]

People love places. They often love hardest the places where they grew the most…childhood, or that awful teetering on the brink of adulthood you do in your late teens and early twenties. That’s nearly universal, and it’s really really not about you.”

“Then why didn’t you respond to the comments? And…you think I don’t know how irritating that shit is? […] Seriously, “I’ve wanted to come visit all my life! Ooooh pretty!” is tame.”


“Kari, I am astounded by the pettiness of your comments.

You read a post about something so deeply personal, about loving a place so much that one couldn’t write about it in fiction, about how hard it was to leave it and how strange it was to be back… and what you had to say to that is “today you made a number of us feel deeply elided and uncomfortable”?


Your comment speaks of such meanness and paucity of imagination and empathy, such a miserable readiness to take offense at imagined slights, that it took my breath away.

Incidentally, you mention several times (three or four) that there are others whom Cat has also made uncomfortable. While I can appreciate and overlook the “lurkers support me in email” argument, the sheer number of times that you said it makes me wonder: who are you talking about, exactly?

You also keep repeating that, oh, it’s not you, it’s the commenters on your post, reading whom has been wearying… but you didn’t address those commenters directly, you went and accused Cat of making people feel, not just uncomfortable and elided, but deeply so.

In short… Wow.”

Getting back on the subject of RH’s interactions with Sperring, upon learning of Sperring’s health issues, and that Sperring apparently attributed some of those issues to her interactions with her, RH reached out to Sperring in early August 2012 with the help of a mutual friend. Having confirmed that Sperring was willing to hear from her, RH sent the following message in the hope of helping Sperring [I’m working from an image file, mistakes are mine]:

“I was shocked to learn that I triggered you into a suicidal downswing. Intent doesn’t matter–nor does it excuse–but I’m genuinely sorry I caused to this. I’m writing this in the hope of putting you at some ease in the sense that I had no active malice. Prior to our interaction on LF and twitter I was entirely unfamiliar with you and had no cause to research your personal line in any way, let alone to look up whether you were prone to depression and thus find an opportunity to trigger you. There’s a reason I said “Ive no idea if you’re white” initially: that’s just how little I knew about you as a person. I’m doubly concerned that you would harbor any lingering feelings of self-blame in the aftermath. This is something that shouldn’t happen to anyone, and I can’t apologize enough that I contributed to it.

Please take care of yourself, and if it makes you feel safer I will refrain from engaging with you in any manner–your well-being is very much the most important thing.”

Sperring, still with the help of the mutual friend, replied to RH the next day:

“That’s a very generous message from RH and I appreciate it. Please could you pass on to her that I’m touched that she took the trouble to do this, and that it’s genuinely helpful. I admire her feminist and anti-racist work a lot of the time, in fact, and while she’s a bit full-on for me sometimes, I do support a lot of her views and aims. I absolutely didn’t expect her to research me — why should she? she has far more important things to do.

I’m neutral about engaging with her in the future. I don’t want to engage on some aspects and I would feel safer knowing I’m not likely to be broadsided by her. On the other hand, I find reading her views informative and valuable sometimes.”

While I have a lot of empathy for Kari Sperring and respect RH views on this matter, I do not agree with Mixon’s interpretation of the facts of this case (“hounded by Winterfox & followers on Cat Valente’s blog- vitriol leveled at her led to her taking an overdose “). I consider that this case is misrepresented by Mixon. In my opinion, and even in the opinion of Sperring, RH did nothing most people would consider wrong in her very limited interactions with Sperring, and others were much harsher in their comments to her. What’s more, RH reached out to help Sperring as soon as she learned of her health issues in order to help in any way she could.

I file this case under “false claims”.

[I will note, however, that RH did not make this conversation available until 2015, almost 3 years after the allegations were fabricated, and long after the publication of Mixon’s essay. In other words, RH refused to use her personal communication with Sperring to defend herself until the harassment against her was escalated by Mixon’s Hugo campaign. This stands in sharp contrast with Sperring’s so-called friends, who were quick to weaponries her mental health issues in their fight against RH’s criticism of racism in SFF.]

[Fast read: Liz Williams.]

Colum Paget

June 2012

“Twitter death threats, stalking. “Behead this person!” vitriolic comments on his blog and RH blog. “futuristic THIRDWORLDIA OF SQUALOR AND POVERTY is always stuck in MORE SQUALOR AND POVERTY and HEY HOOKERS, HEY MISOGYNY.”

Targeting likely due to his receipt of a major European award – the attack focused on a year-old blog post, shortly after news of the award broke.

Findings: Mixon does not define what she means by “stalking” in this case. It’s also unclear why Mixon tries to speculate on the connection between RH’s first review of Paget’s work and him receiving an award. To me, a reviewer looking at an author’s website when they learn of their existence (regardless of how she learned about it) is called curiosity. This case appears to be the entire foundation that allows Mixon to create the myth that RH targeted young writers.

[*Update: I managed to find a bit more about this. In this post, Mixon states:

“SFF writer Colum Paget’s pain, when RH went after him for winning the James White award in lieu of her friend Tori Truslow”

While Paget won the award, Truslow was given a special commendation for her story:

“This year’s panel of judges […] also took the decision to award a special commendation to a second story:

‘Train in Vain’ by Tori Truslow

A special commendation has been awarded only once before in the history of the James White Award, in 2001 – the year of the award’s inception, and this reflects the high standard of the stories on the shortlist this year.”

What Mixon is apparently unaware of, is that RH had criticised the pattern of appropriative and/or exoticising content she saw in many of the story excerpts shortlisted for the award that year, not just Paget’s. This included criticism of Truslow’s story excerpt, as well as the use of “exotic” by one of the judges to praise it.

Truslow acknowledged the issues in her story on her personal blog, an excerpt of which is still available here. As she states, the fact that the judges praised her story as “exotic” made her “deeply uncomfortable”. This, combined with RH’s harsh criticism of this issue in her story, made her pull it. In other words, around April 2012, Truslow wilfully decided never to attempt to publish her story.

As stated below, outside of RH’s criticism of many James White Award stories that year, RH did not interact with Paget until he engaged with her on twitter in May 2012, and RH only mentioned him on her blog when he later wrote a blog post about the twitter conversation.

All of this makes it rather ridiculous to think that RH could have gone after Paget because of Truslow.]

I also find rather ironic that Mixon appears to be offended that RH would criticise someone because of a 1 year-old posts since she is doing so while criticising two years-old posts (and references blogs from as far back as 2001 elsewhere in her essay, a time where RH was, as far as I can tell, literally a child in her early teens).

In any case, I was able to find two posts on RH’s blog that mentioned Paget. One review in June 2012 and one “linkspam” post in February 2013. From the title of the review post, it seems pretty clear that RH was criticising racism in Paget’s work. Paget posts/comments on RH make it pretty clear that is a clueless about issues of racism and colonialism, and that his output is “target-rich” for anti-racism activists, so I’ll assume that the linkspam post was about the same issues. Mixon does not mention anything specifically wrong with those posts, outside of their existence, so I’ll file this quickly in the “objecting to negative review condemning racism” category.

As for the twitter exchanges between Paget and RH, I found the following information. In a Twitter conversation (May 2012), Paget engages RH while she is talking about expats complaining of racism against white people abroad. Right from the start of his engagement with RH, Paget is concern-trolling her and is trying to twist the conversation in order to get RH on the topic of his choice (although I’m sure that to this day, he doesn’t see it this way) [parts of the conversation were omitted for clarity]:

@requireshate: in fact, white expats who complain about racism anywhere… why are you there? in Asia or whatever? why… don’t… you… go… home?

@ColumPaget: @requireshate I have to rise to this, I’m afraid. Do you extend this argument to racially motivated attacks?


@requireshate:. @ColumPaget but just why, oh why, do whites stay in places where they think they’re oppressed by racist locals?

@ColumPaget: @requireshate @Paradox295 @automathic I know indian expats who can leave UK any time. Should they? Should they be bullied out?

@requireshate: @ColumPaget @Paradox295 @automathic do you have a PhD in false equivalencies

@ColumPaget: @requireshate @Paradox295 @automathic no, I believe the two situations are equivalent. How are they not?

@requireshate: @ColumPaget there’s no equivalence between a white expat in Asia vs an Indian person in the UK @automathic @Paradox295


@ColumPaget: @requireshateEarlier you said it was straw manning when I asked about ‘kinetic racism’ i.e. violence, and I can see that…

@ColumPaget: @requireshate it’s ‘another level’. But I would like on a personal level to know where you stand on that?

@ColumPaget: @requireshate @automathic clearly you are okay with name-calling, how about violence? Will you oppose that?

@requireshate: . @ColumPaget my stance is to apply the knee to the faces of all whiny whites.

@ColumPaget: @requireshate do you mean that literarlly? If you saw a white man being beaten on the streets of your country, would you walk by?

@requireshate: . @ColumPaget no no, I would stop by and congratulate the people beating up the white man for fighting off colonialism! sheesh get it right

(Note: I have not read much from Paget, but in the little that I have, I have seen him repeating this behaviour at least once. In the comments on a post about the RH/BS situation, the owner of the blog mentions comments, deleted in moderation, that Paget later says where his: “I’ve been getting other comments about whether my post means I want to kill all men, and similar things.” I think it’s just as unclear to me how Paget could read the post and think to ask such a question as it was to the blog’s owner. I’ll conclude that it’s a hobby for him to derail discussion of racism and/or sexism in this manner.)

It’s unclear if the “Behead this person!” comment referenced by Mixon was made in the middle of the above-quoted twitter conversation or not. If it was, I consider it in line with RH’s quoted tweets: violent language used to mock and shut down an obvious white troll clueless about racism. If the comment was not done it that context, I find it more problematic as its recipient could conceivably feel threatened, even if outside observers would not that there was no real danger. From Paget’s account, it appears that the comment was made during a “private” conversation on twitter between RH and at least one other person (i.e. Paget was not sent the tweet) prior to the start of their exchange and he learned of the tweet from someone telling him about it or from vanity searching.

Paget’s output (in terms of blog comments) on the topic of his encounter with RH is quite impressive. I’ll only mention a few selected quotes and leave the context of those comments for people made of stronger stuff than I am (do be aware that Paget is in the “anti-white racism is real” and “will someone please think of white people” camp):

“RH is not the only person who plays the game of projecting interpretations onto things people say”

“[…] I was one of the people RH attacked, it was the most profound experience of my life […] but really we should be asking ‘What was it that made us so easily pwned, and how to we make sure it never happens again?’ […] [one contributing factor] is the widely advanced claim that ‘There’s no such thing as racism towards white people” or that “Racism is prejudice plus power/privilege’. This was, and still is, widely used to claim that RH’s anti-white rhetoric wasn’t racist […]”

“[…] if we ever get to know what was behind her rampage of rage, it’ll likely be something really bad. […]

[ed. note: I’m going to make an educated guess here, for Paget’s benefit: rampant racism, misogyny, homophobia and colonialism in SFF. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just accept it on faith, if you must. It will make understanding the world around you easier.]”

“My first encounter with RH was on twitter when they called for me to be beheaded for a comment (taken completely out of context) I’d made in an old blogpost. […] I should say here that my experience of RH was that she was pushing an anti-white racist agenda, and also an anti-male agenda. […] Anyways, my attempts to talk with RH, and my blogpost, only made matters worse and eventually resulted in a couple of supremely nasty posts on her blog where she attacked me and all the other James White Award shortlisters in the most unpleasant terms. […] I’d stated the reasons for my disbelief already: That I didn’t believe her political agenda was real, and that I thought she was a false flag operation. I’d stated my reasons for suspecting her, but it seemed that many people in SF&F couldn’t hear me over the color of my skin.”

Paget also talks about the effects of RH’s “attack” on him (note: this sample is very skewed towards the point I’m making, read originals for a more complete and nuanced picture):

“In many ways it wasn’t the threats and insults that *really* bothered me (though they did) it was the discovery that so many people would support them […] It’s very hard to make anyone who has not experienced RH’s attacks appreciate the effect they have on you. You start to think people were avoiding you, or not wanting to be seen with you. You wonder if your rejection-rate is going up. Are people talking about you behind your back? […] the major cause of distress for me has been more ideological than personal: it’s been seeing that causes that I thought I supported appear to be horribly and irresolvably corrupted and self-defeating. […] Overall my experiences in SF&F have been very bad, and it’s not just RH. Time and again I’ve considered having nothing more to do with the community.”

In his comments, Paget also brings up some good points and really hits at the core of why so many racist white people hated RH, but is apparently unable or unwilling to understand his own insights. He writes:

“[…] She once accused me of ‘exotification’ because a character in my story was sitting on a batik cushion. She could make utterly ridiculous accusations look like gospell truth. […]”

“RH had an increadible persuasive power that was almost mind-control, and a lot of people fell under that spell. […] I see a lot of people saying that RH was ‘making good points’ or ‘Challenging xxxxism in fiction’. There’s something that these people aren’t seeing. RH was an elite mistress of the dark art of going into what someone had written and ‘finding stuff’ in there. […] When I tried to speak to people about this, I was surprised at the reaction. Very many of them spoke out in support of RH and what she was doing. If I objected that she was pushing a racist agenda, they told me ‘There’s no such thing as racism towards white people.'”

Paget identified the main reason why the ROTYH was popular with a certain part of SFF fandom in 2011-2013: RH could explain in details why some common elements in books and other media were the product of racism, misogyny, homophobia or colonialism. Paget, apparently still unable to understand RH’s criticisms, is left to interpret what he sees as RH being “an elite mistress of [a] dark art” somehow manipulating people. Meanwhile, to queer men and women, women in general, and PoC reading her blog, even if they sometimes disagreed with her language or some specific details of her criticism, she was putting into words the flaws they could see in the works, but might have struggled to express themselves (or have been too afraid to say). To RH’s detractors, it’s the reason she was so infuriating: RH analysed the racism, misogyny, homophobia or colonialism in a way that white people like myself could no longer deny it, and expressed her criticism in such a way that it was possible to understand the pain those -isms caused.

Before we leave the case of Paget for good, I offer you this gem from a comment on Mixon’s essay: “The only person to every really have any success against RH, I think, is James Worrad, because he never took any of it seriously: more power to him.” By which, I assume, Paget means that Worrad wrote multiple blog posts about RH over the course of a year, has bragged about harassing her on twitter until she had to block him (just think about what it takes to harass someone who enjoys twitter fights), tried to get VD to go after her (harassing her in the comments of her blog in the process), and produced a very very creepy video showing his apparent obsession with RH. Surely these are signs of a person not taking things seriously. To be quite honest, Worrad’s behaviour in all of this is worse than all of what RH has actually done, and I have yet to see a “report” about him.

I file this case as both an example of RH being criticised for writing reviews, and of RH possibly using objectionable language that could be interpreted as a threat by a recipient acting to the best of his abilities.

[*Update: In a comment left on this post, Paget has apparently admitted to stalking (his definition of the term): “[…] I keep an eye on her […]”.]

Chelsea Gaither; RH is People! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!

April/May 2013

Writer who wrote on surviving rape; stalked for 6 months starting in December of 2012. Linked to target’s blog on a near-daily basis for six months, calling her e.g., “illiterate fuck, stupid, hilarious, fun.”

Screencaps of days where blog had 10-15 different twitter referrals all tracing back to RH’s twitter account

Findings: Gaither is one of the only people involved in this entire drama that comes out looking like a dignified human being. So much so that I’m really sorry I have to bring up her case again, since she has expressed her desire to move on (in other words, if you want more information about this case, go read the posts I linked, but do as she asked, and don’t contact her directly). Nevertheless, I’ll analyse her case like all the others, and considering the views Chelsea expressed regarding Mixon and her associates’ campaign, I’ll hope she can forgive me for bringing it up again. Gaither describes her encounter with RH like this:

“That’s the core issue in the original conflict between me and her. I said something she objected to. Because she disagreed with me, she attacked my words without taking my feelings or well-being into account, and that lead to damage, a few heated words on my part, and a pretty ugly episode splashed across a small corner of the internet.”

Gaither informs us that it was the fact that she called “a fictional character a bitch in a review of a book” that started RH’s criticism of her.

Gaither claims that while RH “never spoke to her […] directly”, RH “linked to my blog on twitter on a near-daily basis for the next six months, calling me (among other things) an illiterate fuck, stupid, hilarious and fun […]” and that she had “days where [her] blog had ten, fifteen different twitter referrals and I was able to track every single one of them back to RH’s twitter account”. Gaither later recounts: “The breaking point for me was when she belittled a comment I made about rape and accused me of glorifying it. […] I replied to her on my blog, which lead in turn to several of her followers posting directly on my blog and criticizing how I was talking about my own recovery.”

Regarding her claims of constant harassment for six months, one anonymous commenter on her original post mentioned: “[it’s] only the second time I’ve seen your name come up in as much time […]”. It’s rather difficult so long after the fact to find out how many times RH mentioned Gaither, but considering the apparently small readership of Gaither’s blog and the small numbers she mentions, it’s possible that regular traffic at RH’s blog/twitter (making its way to Gaither’s post) could have been interpreted as constant harassment, even if it wasn’t. As I said, I can’t confirm this speculation, so I’ll complete my analysis of the case by assuming that RH did mention Gaither a few times between her two main blog posts/tweets.

This would appear to be a good example of how apparently innocuous behaviour can have unintended consequences. Is it okay to call out someone for using “bitch”? Is it okay to mock (on your blog and your twitter) an author for her writing? Can rape survivors say something that can be interpreted as rape apologia? Is it okay to call out someone for rape apologia? To me, the answer to all these questions is “yes, but…”.

This case illustrates that even good people fighting the good fight can falter sometimes. Gaither used a sexist slur without thinking enough about it. Unfortunately for both Gaither and RH, RH’s considerable readership (I assume) meant that RH’s criticism was out of proportion with Gaither’s very small fault (in the grand scheme of things). Likewise, RH’s criticism of Gaither for what she thought was rape apologia was probably insensitive, even if it was meant as a way to fight rape culture (without going into whether or not it was justified at all). Apparently, RH approached Gaither assuming that she was as though as her, and ended up hurting her feelings.

Moving on, as I said, Gaither appears to be a very kind person. Much of what she had to say is worth quoting, but I had to choose. What follows are selected quotes from Gaither’s posts about this topic and other comments. As this is very selected, readers en encouraged to read the originals for context (and leave Gaither alone).

 “You know, I really, really, REALLY did not want to revisit this. When it died down I was like yes, now I can get back to normal life. And then it came back up again.”

“The one thing that is not true about our conflict and has never been true is that she’s harassed me because I was raped. […] The current harassment of Benjanun Sriduankaew has nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict that I had to do with her two years ago. […] The deciding factor for where I’d choose to fall in this debate was how the backlash against her made me feel sick to my stomach very, very quickly. […] Even suggesting that I could [forgive RH] bought me a certain amount of backlash. […] As I said, I’ve been terrified in how this statement with effect others, and what it will do to me in the future.”

“Answering hate with hate is not the answer. […] The answer to bullying is not to bully the bullies. The sheer inanity of that statement should make it self explanatory. […] A lot of people will say her side doesn’t matter. That she’s hurt so many people, she deserves to be hurt in turn. I disagree. Not because I will necessarily agree with her side, but because the kind of resolution I’d most like to see, one in which everyone is able to come out ahead, means caring for even those we don’t agree with.”

“I’ve spoken with her […] and we’re relatively cool with each other. We’ve also agreed to respect each other’s boundaries, something she has been VERY respectful of.  […] That’s the core issue in the original conflict between me and her. I said something she objected to. Because she disagreed with me, she attacked my words without taking my feelings or well-being into account, and that lead to damage, a few heated words on my part, and a pretty ugly episode splashed across a small corner of the internet. Eventually we left each other alone. We both moved on.”

“[…] I’m sorry that she’s going through an awful time in her life and I do hope she makes it through this okay. What is happening to her is unjustifiable. She’s in my prayers. I just really wish she hadn’t been the one to teach me how shitty this behavior is.”

With respect for Chelsea Gaither that may well have been very hurt by RH’s comments, I don’t think RH did anything particularly wrong in this case. RH criticised someone for something she said, but circumstances outside of her control have meant that this cause greater harm than could be reasonably expected. In addition to this, I think that having a few random people comment on someone’s blog when RH criticised it is hardly remarkable, although we are all free to object in certain specific circumstances.

I file this case under “false claims”, since I feel many of the facts upon which Mixon builds her case are not proven, but will argue that RH’s conduct is questionable in this case.

Liz Williams

Date unknown

rape victim accused of being a rape apologist

Findings: Absolutely no evidence is presented for the allegations that RH called Williams a “rape apologist” or, for that matter, that RH had done so because Williams was a rape victim, as Mixon implied (and just to be clear, I don’t know or care to know if Williams is a rape victim). Williams herself claims that RH never did anything to her. Mixon appears to take a quote from Williams’s first post about RH on her blog and misunderstands it (see below).

I file this case under “false claims”, but will take this opportunity to talk about some of Williams actions. If you just care about the facts of each case, feel free to skip ahead (link to next section).

Williams, in a comment made on Mixon’s essay, said RH “[…] came to my attention in the summer of 2012 after her unacceptable harassment of a friend; I had not heard of her before this.” As far as I can tell, this “unacceptable harassment” was her very limited interaction with Kari Sperring, who could not cope with the fact that a queer WoC from Thailand might find her concerns about appropriation of British culture and racism against English people by Americans laughable.

In an August 1st 2012 blog post, Williams echoes many of the myths surrounding RH that are mentioned on FFA, one of Mixon’s main source of information (I’m selecting quotes here, so do read her initial post for context):

“[…] Seeks Attention has only very recently come to my own attention, mainly by dint of the online equivalent of jumping up and down and swearing, but has had a long history of trolling in the gaming community and has been flung off multiple comms under a long list of aliases for anti-social behaviour (shows up, randomly spews venom at people, is told to go away – typical trollshit). More recently, she’s discovered the wonderful world of social justice, and is now busily blogging away, focusing most of her attacks on white male writers, but also making a point of attacking women, including transwomen and women of colour (referring to one author as ‘a stupid fuck’: this level of subtle analysis is pretty standard). The usual response to criticisms of SA is ‘she makes some good points’ – she may well do, but those points come with a massive side-order of obscene bullshit that overwhelms the main course.

There’s also been a near constant Twitter feed, since Seeks Attention appears neither to work nor sleep, of threats against specific authors – Paolo Bacigalupi is one – including acid attacks, shooting people and blowing them up. SA has a particular thing about US servicemen and Western tourists, and has suggested mass killings of both. You don’t have to agree with Western warmongering or sex tourism, both of which are pretty foul, to have issues with this. She’s also accused rape survivors of being rape apologists and reserves particular ire for Asian-Americans, basically for not being Asian enough. Or possibly for breathing air – it’s hard to tell. “

The content of those claims will not be dissected here, since literally all of the cases she brings up are mentioned by Mixon as separate cases and analysed in details in my case analysis. To me, it’s a clear case of self-perpetuating myths based on incomplete evidence that creates the illusion that there is more substance/volume to the allegations. I will note, however, that Williams’ behaviour appears to fall under the scope of what Mixon would call stalking (although as I said, I do not necessarily share Mixon’s definition of that word).

In addition to the above quoted for instances of wrong behaviour, Williams provides the following descriptions of RH, in what she would later describe as: “After looking at her site, I considered her to be sociopathic, a view which I still hold, and I don’t engage with sociopaths beyond an initial calling-out. I did so in this case with a LJ post.”

“[…] Seeks Attention is Chinese (lives in SE Asia, educated partly in the UK, widely travelled and on her own admission extremely privileged […] SA has enthusiastically adopted the post Racefail NuSpeak […] the tone argument is used as a get-out-of-jail-free card for behaving like a high school bitch […]

[…] SA was a member of a SW gaming comm which is well known for its racist, sexist and even overtly Nazi-supporting members, […] she did […] produce an Eye of Argon level 90K piece of Star Wars Old Republic slashfic […] She is also […] noted for her drooling support of an author whose, ahem, somewhat negative remarks about the Japanese are plastered all over the fanwank sites – although since SA is Chinese, and the two nations have a history of animosity, the drool might be because of those remarks rather than in spite of them.”

In her post, Williams says that she realises that some people would object to her words and the extent to which she has searched for RH’s past online presence. She said:

“I will doubtless be accused of racism for this post. Frankly, I’d rather be a small scale racist and politically incorrect than an aspiring fantasy serial killer. (I suspect that Seeks Atttention is just socially inadequate, like most trolls, and feeble as ditchwater IRL, but in the unlikely event that she is a potential psychonerd like the guy in Aurora, I’ve passed her details on to the relevant authorities and they can act if they see fit. Hey, if I’m going to be accused of being an Evil British Imperialist Whore [Tm] whatever I do, I might as well make the most of it). […]”

Williams published two other blog post in the weeks following her initial calling out of RH. In the first one, she mocked RH, while in the second, she had this to say (see original for unquoted parts):

“…on the recent internet row […]. Worth it? Absolutely. It’s brought a number of handwringing fuckwits out of the woodwork […]. Chairman Cow has presumably been jumping up and down on Twitter, mooing and bleating and throwing its toys out of its pram […] I’d also like to echo a friend’s recent comments on trigger warnings: you won’t find those here. […]”

This, in combination with her use of phrases such as “post Racefail NuSpeak” in a non ironic manner and “Requires Meds” (see below), tells us all we really need to know about Williams.

Criticism of Cat Valente

We need to back up just a bit. Just prior to Williams’ first post on RH, on July 30th 2012, Williams commented on a blog post by Cat Valente where she was describing her harassment at a convention. Williams said:

“[…] one of your fans – Requires Meds – has repeatedly called for writers to be attacked […] Requires Meds operates anonymously from behind a keyboard, and is a well known gaming troll, so her chances of actually carrying any of the death threats out are probably around zero and I suspect she is merely pathetic. However, I’d be interested to see if you place her in a similar category. I won’t accept ‘derailing’ as an option, either – […] There seems to be a rise not only in misogyny, but also in generally crap behaviour across the SF sphere, and it’s time we put a halt to it.”

On the same day, Valente replied that RH’s “[…] behavior is not my responsibility […]”, to which Williams replied: “[…] I fully accept that you are not responsible for anyone else’s behaviour, however. [paragraph break] Because this thread was about Readercon, and because you’ve answered this question directly, thank you, and I won’t take up further bandwidth with it. I’m glad to know what you think and will take whatever actions I see fit in both cases from now on.”

On August 2nd 201, the day after Williams’ post, Valente posted about a conversation happening on another blog that I can’t help but assume was Williams’ post about RH. The conversation is unavailable to me, as Williams has deleted it. Indeed, on August 3rd 2012, the day after Cat Valente’s post responding to Williams, Williams stated: “In trying to freeze the comments to the long thread, I’ve managed to vanish them, which is an epic piece of net fail on my part.” Since Williams’ does not allow archiving of her blog, the entire conversation is unavailable to me. (I note that this is something that Mixon would likely call “hiding evidence of abuse/harassment”.)

In any case, Valente describes what has been happening to her recently, and it’s worth quoting at length:

“But there is a conversation going on on Livejournal that involves a blogger that I’m sure you all know by this point, Requires Hate. Beginning with comments in my post on Readercon, a post which neither mentioned RH nor had anything to do with her, an idea has surfaced that I have not publicly denounced or blocked her, and so am responsible, on some level, for her words and actions. That I cannot speak on the subject of harassment, even my own harassment, unless I disavow a blogger and book critic that I have never met and only occasionally converse with.

In the course of that conversation, my username was brought up as an example of cultural appropriation. (Why attacking me for appropriation, in my books, in my username, is ok, but RH attacking others for it is not, I am at a loss to explain.) Because my username was Japanese and I am not.”

“As for the rest of the conversation, and the number of times today I have had to say to my colleagues, people who know me and talk with me regularly and yet still cannot give me anything like the benefit of the doubt or courtesy, I don’t really know what to say. It seems pointless, at this stage, to insist that I am not responsible for my fans (and you know, RH blasted Palimpsest, along with a lot of the rest of the SFF readership, blasted it and shredded it and some of those people made it so personal and private, so disgusting and vicious, that I cannot talk about that book at all anymore. She’s hardly an uncritical fan of mine, and she was far from the worst of those critics.) nor for the actions or words of someone I have never met. I have no understanding of why I must answer for her.

I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable with the idea that we as a community of authors feel it is acceptable to circle wagons and demand that other authors denounce and disavow a critic publicly before being allowed to speak on other topics or be accepted as an actor in good faith.”

In the comments, Valente would clarify some issues she had with what was happening to her:

“I had to turn off anonymous comments almost immediately, but funny thing, since they had to start leaving their name, people have been more polite. It’s not so bad in here.”

“Part of the issue here [with Valente being subjected to pressure]  is it’s not a fan. It’s another, well known, well connected author.”

“Weirdly, this author is pretty much using RH’s toolbox to deliver her message.”

“Almost the first comment on this post was someone accusing me of faking my mental issues/need for medication for sympathy. I used the phrase Requires Meds in part to point out how awful it was of the OP to use it.”

More recent events

On August 2nd 2014, on Caitlin Kiernan’s Facebook post announcing that she knew the link between RH and BS and wanted the information to go public, Williams made the following discussion with Kiernan (I have not transcribed all of the comments I have from Williams, and some comments may be missing from my database. See original post, if available, for more context.):

Liz Williams: Caitlin, I have your back, whatever you decide to do. No fucking way am I letting this ride.

Caitlin Kiernan: Liz, I’m going to wait a while and see if someone beats me too it. But I do hope the word gets out that there are people who know.

Liz Williams: Matter of time. There are a number of people considering their options; no rush. I just emailed you with my personal strategy.

Caitlin Kiernan: Thank you for confiding in me. I feel we’ve already won a little victory, just holding the knowledge.

Liz Williams: Magical intent – power.

It’s unclear how Williams reconciles her apparent behaviour here, namely her sharing of strategy with another white author about how they could manage the information about the link between RH and BS with her later assertion that she doesn’t “engage with [people like RH] beyond an initial calling-out”.

In her November 6th comment on Mixon’s essay, Williams would appear to say that she was the one who shared information with Kiernan about RH’s identity: “Caitlin Kiernan heard about the situation from me.”

In the same comment, Williams also mentions:

“In August, her identity began to be discussed in a limited and private way, and not among editors, because of the possibility of a mistake: derailing a young woman’s career over an identity error would have been unforgivable.”

I’ll let that speak for itself.

Still in the same paragraph from that comment, Williams apparently illustrates the kind of “limited and private” discussion she mentions:

“I wrote to Charles Stross on 14th September and made this comment:

I haven’t gone public because I don’t have enough hard evidence, just trust – for me that’s sufficient to take action up to a point, but mileage varies. What’s stopping me: protecting [redacted], and the possibility, however faint, that some ghastly error may have been made and Benjanun is innocent.”

It’s unclear how many others authors, if any, Williams contacted in this way, and why she specifically mentions contacting Stross in September when she just mentioned that the discussion of RH’s identity had happened in August.

Williams then goes on to say:

“BS was then outed on a thread of James N’s post and by this time – mid September, possibly earlier – it was an open secret.  I wrote to my former editor at Prime [Wlliams also confessed to having contacted at least one other editor]:

Apologies for contacting you out of the blue. There is a shit-storm brewing – if you don’t know already, Thai writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew has now admitted to being Requires Hate. I think you’ve published her so you might want a heads-up.”

The self-contradictory nature of that those statements should be evident, but just to be clear: 1) If the information that BS was RH only became known in early August 2014, how was it an open secret by September if no one shared that information?; 2) Williams claims that by mid-September 2014 at the latest, BS had been “outed” on a James Nicoll post, and apparently admitted to being RH. This is impossible to reconcile with the fact that Nick Mamatas only outed RH in October 2014 (following Tricia Sullivan’s October 3rd admission that she had emailed editors about RH/BS), and that James Nicoll’s post reporting this fact was made on October 10th 2014.

Still in that same November 6th post, Williams mentions: “I have already contacted the UK police about the issue, and they have seen fit to begin an investigation.” This appears to be the second time Williams has called the police on RH, and Alex Dally MacFarlane tells us that she has learned that Williams has called the police on her too. Williams later explains, in February 2015, that she has “reported Requires Hate and her UK cohort to the police here in the UK: not under harassment charges in regard to myself, but with relationship to her threats against UK/US military personnel and to Western tourists in Thailand.” I find this rationalisation laughable since the overwhelmingly likely result of her action was to get an innocent activist in prison, especially since Williams, in 2012, said that she thought that the “chances of actually carrying any of the death threats out are probably around zero”, and that RH had pretty much no online activity since 2013. It’s still unclear why Williams would reportedly call the police on MacFarlane.

[Fast read: Tricia Sullivan.]

Rachel Manija Brown

June 2011

“AH HA! rape apologist whiteknighter!”

Stalked for nearly 3 years on blogs and Twitter, called racist, homophobic, etc. in vitriolic language

Findings: First, I note that Mixon presented no evidence for any of her claims in this case. This is a long one and I have access to an admittedly very limited pool of data to work from. It’s impossible for me to know what was said on Twitter, or have access to some comment threads. Nevertheless, a awful lot can still be analysed.

Worthy of note, the references Mixon gives for this case is a link to the 50 Books POC moderation policy debate, and two links to FFA. I do not think it’s possible to read both the original material and Mixon’s anonymous sources and still think sources from FFA could adequately characterise what actually happened. The FFA sources Mixon gives are biased and factually wrong, robbing Mixon’s essay of much credibility. Even more troubling, these sources easily meet Mixon’s very loose definition of what constitutes stalking.

Rachel Manija Brown’s story

Rachel Manija Brown, hereafter RMB, has discussed her case on her blog and in the comments of Mixon’s essay.

Requires Hate harassed me for about three years, in 2011-2013.

I first encountered her (under the name of Winterfox) on 50 Books POC […] Every time someone reviewed a book by certain authors of color, she verbally abused not only the reviewer, but everyone who commented to the post. […]

Posting to the community dropped off noticeably. Several people privately told me that they had left the community due to Winterfox’s abuse. After Winterfox posted a book review in which she called Cindy Pon a “stupid fuck,” I asked Winterfox to stop using personal insults. The ensuing blow-up resulted in the destruction of the community.

I only exchanged about five or six comments with Winterfox, all during the span of a few days. That was the last direct contact I had with her, and I never posted about her. But she commented on me, on blogs and on Twitter, for the next three years.

She said the same sort of things about me that she said about a lot of people – that I was racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, a rape apologist, stupid, despicable, and worthless. All this was expressed with intense rage and vicious profanity. She didn’t say that she wished I could be shot in the head or have acid thrown on me, or make any other threat of violence. But I saw her say those things about other people whom she also accused of being homophobic, sexist, racist, and so forth. I was clearly categorized in her mind as the sort of person who ought to be mutilated and killed. [..]

Her harassment of me followed a pattern. Every time I posted on LGBTQ issues and sometimes when I reviewed a book with queer content [she would sometimes] quote from my post and abuse or mock me, and sometimes her abuse would be on an unrelated topic.  […]

I am not going to post my personal credentials of oppression to argue that my disability, religion, or sexual orientation made it wrong for her to harass me. […] Harassment is wrong. Period. […]

RMB makes several claims.

RMB says that RH harassed her for 3 years, but that she “only exchanged about five or six comments with” her. RMB says that when she posted on certain issues (presumably on her [RMB’s] personal blog), RH would sometimes quote “from my post and abuse or mock me” (presumably on her [RH’s] personal blog), but maybe also on Twitter. This will be discussed.

RMB also claims that she took issue with RH using a personal insult against an author, and that as a result, the 50 Books POC community was destroyed. I will show why I think that this description of the events made RMB is false and does not accurately reflect what has actually happened. Notably, I will argue that I think that if anything is said to have affected the community around that time (other than natural community fracturing and the decline of LiveJournal), was the fact that: 1) RMB, after having indeed taken issue with RH’s insult of an author, later harshly insulted and arguably tone-policed in a condescending manner a WoC on a community dedicated to promoting books by POCs, and 2) dug for one-year-old posts from RH to support her attack. I will also argue that from the evidence available to me, it appears that it was only RMB’s inability to cope and come to grips with the idea that she had insulted, in great part unintentionally, a WoC on 50 Books POC that is to blame for her self-removal from this community. This self-removal was apparently an attempt to use White Women’s Tears (pdf).

Be nice; this isn’t 4chan!

Since RMB tells us that all this started with RH’s review of Cindy Pon’s book, that is where I’ll start my analysis. RH’s review of Pon’s book that was posted to the 50 Books POC community is available online. I’ll the most relevent comments below (the omitted comments include readers showing their appreciation of RH’s review). If you don’t care to read it (and who could blame you), everything important is summarised after the quotes.


There’s nothing wrong with writing negative reviews. But I don’t think this is an appropriate place to post personal insults to the author.
For instance:
non-hetero individuals: 0
Completely appropriate. It’s a comment on the content of the book. But following that up with…
(Pon totally supports her LGBT friends)
[ed. note, the comment “(Pon totally supports her LGBT friends)” by winterfox was a link to Cindy Pon’s about page.]
… is a personal insult. It’s also a personal insult to call the author a “stupid fuck.”
I don’t think this is an appropriate place for personal insults to individuals.

oh no, not personal insults to persons not present. what horror, paging Internet Nannies.

I don’t think mocking people who are present (me) is appropriate either. This isn’t 4chan.

how do you cope with the internet or real life

If you were asking for my advice, which clearly you’re not, I’d suggest to you that someone saying “paging Internet Nannies” isn’t comparable in either type or degree to your implication that winterfox is behaving like a stereotypical member of 4chan. Something for you to consider, perhaps.

For clarity: It seems that my comment here had some sort of racist or otherwise kyriarchist meaning that I did not intend. For that, I apologize.
(Also, I would appreciate it if someone could tell me what that meaning is, because I honestly don’t know. I thought 4chan was just a place in which it’s acceptable for members to insult each other.)
What I mean to say was this: “Unlike 4chan, which is an example of a community in which it is acceptable to mock other members, this (50books_poc) is not a community in which it’s acceptable to mock other members.”
Anyway, I did not intend the comment as a racist or any other kind of personal slur. Again, my apologies.

4chan is known for, among other things, being a subculture of dudebros where homophobic, misogynistic, and racist insults fly fast and thick.
so then.

also, because I can’t be arsed to pay for an edit function, 4chan is also known as an imageboard where anything goes, and by “anything” I mean Nazi images and lolicon.
you’re welcome.

I really, honestly apologize. I was indeed thinking of “anything goes” community norms vs. “no insults” community norms, but I’ve never actually been to 4chan and did not mean to compare you to its members. I certainly did not intend to call you a Nazi or a pedophile.
Again, I am very sorry.

apology accepted, though I figured you didn’t exactly mean to call me a Nazi or pedophile. it just came off as… disproportionate. no hard feelings, however.

[Omitted replies objecting to (parts of) RMB’s accusations against RH.]sanguinity
Moderator Note
First, let me be clear: negative reviews are appropriate for this comm. That includes intensely passionate negative reviews, reviews that use strong language, and reviews that might (or would definitely) upset the author of the book in question.
However, while negative reviews are appropriate, using kyriarchical insults is not. The teeth in the phrase “you stupid fuck” are misogynistic ones: calling a woman “stupid” is a classic sexist attack, and the construction “you stupid (noun)” is also an utterly classic sexist usage. If you feel a need to insult an author, don’t use kyrarchical insults to do it.

uh, okay, I can edit that out. disagree that it’s sexist however; neither “stupid” nor “fuck” is a gendered insult.

Thank you.
And noted. That particular phrase, in that context, sent up red flags for us. When we were subbing in other phrases and other contexts to try to get a handle on just what was sending up those flags, as well as whether we wanted to act on those flags, that was the closest we could come to expressing what we were reacting to. The teeth in that particular attack seem gendered; it has echoes of “you stupid woman/female/cow/b—-/c—/w—-/etc.”
Alternatively, we may be experiencing that phrase as triggery for certain kinds of anti-female violence. (Or I may be; I’m not willing to speak for other members of the mod team on that.)
For the moment, however, thank you for taking that out, and we’re still trying to sort through the issues involved here.

basically I don’t think “you stupid ____” has quite the same gendered connotations as say “shrill” or “hysterical”–I agree that it’s a phrase that could turn up in anti-women violence, or domestic abuse, etc, but as a general phrase it also turns up in situations of child abuse or racial hatred. but I don’t think it’s inherently gendered any more than it is anti-children or racist, even if white supremacists may think non-Aryans are intellectually inferior (because you see “that stupid [insert nationality and/or racial slur here]” too).
triggers are triggers, though, and I’m not invalidating your reaction certainly, just don’t quite see the same thing you do. of course, if I had wanted to be very precise I should have gone “YOU FUCKING RAPE APOLOGIST”

Thanks for the clarification.
What about non-kyriarchical insulting of and jeering at other posters?
I went back into the archives, and there’s definite pattern here:
To be clear myself: I have absolutely no problem with negative reviews. But I think the comments I linked to above, directed at individual posters, go well beyond negative reviews of a book and into insulting the intelligence of the reviewers. It makes for a very unpleasant atmosphere.

That isn’t straightforward to us, and we’re still talking those issues through. I’m going to kick the question of insults up to a new post; I’d like a wider range of input than the mod team can currently provide.
Re the links, I’m not convinced that a pattern of snark or unpleasantness should be in and of itself sufficient cause to draw official rebuke. There are some comm members who comment only when they feel that something sharp or impatient needs to be said (or nearly so), and whose comments have high value for the community.
Additionally, I’m not as yet convinced that there’s a straightforward way of pulling off no one experiencing a “very unpleasant atmosphere”: instituting rules of civility tend to codify a different kind of unpleasantness, while simultaneously denying that there is any unpleasantness happening. What’s more, who experiences that unpleasantness is often asymmetric along white/POC lines. One of the things that is giving me pause at the moment is that almost everyone who has objected in comments and/or pmed me so far is white. Given that, I’d rather move slowly and get input from the wider comm before I institute policy.

Fair enough. It may indeed be that I’m only bothered because I’m white. If the consensus points in that direction, I will wish everyone the best, and continue reading and reviewing on my own LJ.

Here is how I interpret things so far. RH reads a book and is offended by some of the content. She writes a review using, for her, rather mild language. While some people support her review, a few people argue about it, among them RMB. She scowls RH for mocking and insulting Pon (LGBT snarky comment and “stupid fuck”) for which she is mocked by RH. RMB retaliates by harshly insulting RH in return. I’m sure all of you can appreciate how RMB’S behaviour, as a heterosexual white woman could be perceived to be problematic. On a forum dedicated to books by PoC, she tells RH, a queer WoC criticising racism and lack of sexual diversity in a book, to behave, and tells RH that the community isn’t 4chan. Also keep in mind that at the time, RH had participated in that community for at least a year prior to the conversation. She was not an outsider, as RMB implied.

I have no doubt RMB did not mean to act in such an insulting, disrespectful and condescending manner toward a queer WoC, but as they say, hell is paved in good intentions. In 2011, when you run in to tell people PoC to behave and be nice, you don’t go around comparing their behaviour to that of 4channers, particularly if your are nothing but an ally and attacking someone you claim to want to help.

The interactions, using the timestamps from LiveJournal, proceeds as follows. On June 28th, 2011, at 04:49 am (UTC), RH replies to RMB’s 4chan comment with: “how do you cope with the internet or real life.” I’ll note that although insulting, I think the question is little bit fair in this circumstance. If RMB really thought that what was going on until now was 4chan-equivalent behaviour, it’s hard to imagine she could cope with anything. Of course, RMB did not really know what 4chan was at that point, so her ignorance only allowed her interpret it as a personal insult and not as the appropriate mocking that it was.

On June 28th, 2011, at 05:52 am (UTC), a moderator steps in reaffirming the right to post negative review that would upset an author, but agrees judges that the use of “stupid” will not be tolerated because of the “calling a woman ‘stupid’ is a classic sexist attack”.

On June 28th, 2011, at 06:01 am (UTC), RH replies that she disagrees that “stupid fuck” is a gendered insult, but says she will edit it out of the post anyway (which she apparently did, because I can’t find it).

On June 28th, 2011, at 06:07 am (UTC), RMB has been digging up in the 50 Books POC database and found instances where RH had insulted or been snarky to other users. She states that RH’s comments, to which I have no access, are “insulting the intelligence of the reviewers. It makes for a very unpleasant atmosphere.”

On June 28th, 2011, at 07:47 am (UTC), the moderator, in their reply, characterises RH’s comments as “snark or unpleasantness” and does not feel that is “sufficient cause to draw official rebuke.” She goes on to say that this discussion will take place on another thread in order to have appropriate input from the community, saying that this issue “isn’t straightforward […] One of the things that is giving me pause at the moment is that almost everyone who has objected in comments and/or pmed me so far is white. Given that, I’d rather move slowly and get input from the wider comm before I institute policy.”

In the next two days, while the moderation discussion is taking place on another thread, RMB and RH exchange a few messages to clear up the 4chan misunderstanding. RH and another commenter explain, at RMB’s request, what 4chan is, and why if she wished to take the moral high ground, she should not have said what she said. The discussion remains civil and both appear to leave it “in good terms.”

This represents the entirety of RH’s direct interaction with RMB, ever. Ultimately, RH appears to have decided to leave the 50 Books POC community in the weeks or months following the moderation debate. No details are available, but I guess we can safely presume that she thought that her own personal blog might be a better place for her reviews and that the harassment she received (see below) following RMB’s insult and attack were not worth her time on Livejournal.

Tell me of your moderation policy debates, LiveJournal

The 50 Books POC’s epic moderation debate of doom started on June 28th, 2011. Like all such debates, it makes for passionate reading four years after it happened. It has 236 comments which, you will be happy to learn, I will not post here. I will quote however, lots and lots of quotes.

The debate ended on July 13th, 2011. In the meantime, there appears to have been a healthy discussion (although I’m sure a few white people would have preferred not to have it).

First, I’m going to try and analyse RH’s interactions with other people in the thread. To do that, since I have no access to her replies (at least one comment was deleted during the discussion, and others were lost when RH was forced to close her account due to harassment), I’m going to assume that everyone of the 34 deleted comments on the thread were made by RH, and look at the reactions of the people interacting with her.

Here are some selected responses to “deleted comments” (DC):

  • DC1: I also agree (strongly) with this […] I would like WOC to feel able to make the kind of post here that  winterfox did. [might be referring to the Pon review]
  • DC2-3: Next two deleted comments are from the hesychasm case, and are discussed there. I’ll only note here that RH does not cover herself in glory with those comments, even if they do lead to a discussion that affects the future moderation policy in favour of a point RH was raising here.
  • DC4: Obviously not a comment from RH.
  • DC4-5:”And that attitude was the very reason I dropped Debunkingwhite and a host of other “anti-racism” sites run by white folks.”
  • DC6: “WHAT [paragraph break] Also, I can’t help noticing that the author of that particular review is one of the people trying to shut you up.”
  • DC32: [Apparently quoting RH: “it’s unbelievable that from such a random sampling of reviews not a single one warns for triggers”] “Well, I used tags to look for reviews. Since your post about Fury remains untagged although the posts made before and after it have tags, I’m suddenly unsure the sampling is all that random.”
  • DC7: “I know you’re busy at the moment, but I hope you get a chance to tag your post so that future readers can find it and be warned of Pon’s fail.” [The commenter has previously expressed gratitude for RH’s review of Pon’s book, and RH is apparently apologising for not tagging her post with TWs to facilitate searches.]
  • DC8: “No, it looks like you tagged it just right to me, and I’m glad you did. :D” [Same commenter as previous quote, I assume RH went back and tagged her review to make it possible for readers to search for trigger tags.]
  • DC9: “ah, i looked at the OP and then the brouhaha made much more sense. ew.”
  • DC10: “What kind of engagement are you looking for? [paragraph break] I know I am not the only person who thinks you’re not interested in anything other than complete agreement and would not welcome the slightest disagreement in the interpretation or facts presented.” [Next comment is a moderator linking to the 3 comments on the Jemisin book reviews.]
  • DC11: [Deleted comment was in reply to moderator, who is replying again here] “all right, I am curious: If you understand your complaints about Nemisin’s books to be subjective, why were you being so in-your-face about the superiority of your taste and evaluations to everyone else’s?”
  • DC12: “you know, if folks had a problem w your comments in a different post, they should have brought it up then. i don’t like how the pon post was a catalyst for “all the problems i have ever had with winterfox”.
  • DC13: Replies indicate the deleted comment was a question about non-English books.
  • DC14: “One thing that helps discussion a lot is to read what people actually write. […] Which makes another great reason not to discuss the points you made: I’ve got pretty good evidence that you wouldn’t even read it before telling me I’m racist, misogynist, and fail at life.”
  • DC15: “You were literally addressing me.”
  • DC16: “I presume you clicked a wrong “reply” link.”
  • DC17: “Why make that comment on a community-wide post deliberately inviting input from everyone in the community without stating that you only wanted an answer from buria_q? There are a myriad ways of contacting someone directly or simply saying, ‘I have a question for you, buria_q…’ [paragraph break] You’re disclaiming the idea that you did this accidentally, too. Ok.”
  • DC18: [Apparently quoting RH: “you seem to reaaally want to make this personal (“you’ll just assume I’m racist and misogynist and fail at life anyway”) despite apparently disapproving of getting personal.”] “I’m paraphrasing things you’ve actually told people who disagree with you. It might be an incorrect paraphrase. It’s not a personal insult, nor an ad hominem attack.”
  • DC19: [Apparently quoting RH: “on a taste basis”] “That’s goalpost-shifting.”
  • DC20-24: [Discussion between RH? and a single user] “One of the things I asked for discussion of was what is an insult, and what makes some insults different than others. So the two of you trying to parse precisely where the line is, is useful to me. Depending on what we decide here, I may be having to use this thread, and ones like it, to make the call about future exchanges.” [This is a reply by the moderator]
  • DC25: “Linguistic differences in English tend to be very localised by place/time/culture/class/whatevz, yes.” [Comment linked to the previous discussion exploring the meaning of “fuck”]
  • DC26: “Although I wasn’t the one directly affected this time, I appreciate actions taken in the spirit of improving the general situation. Thanks for the apology.”
  • DC27: “I have no problem with anons as anons, it’s trolls trying to be disruptive who use some aspects of anonymity as cover for trolling who can be problems (deliberately).” [As discussed elsewhere, during the moderation debate, anonymous commenters trolled RH and one other person who shared her general opinion on what constitutes appropriate moderation. The moderator later replies: “Done, and sorry I wasn’t on it sooner,” indicating the deleted comment was probably a request to disable anonymous commenter to stop them from attacking RH.]
  • DC28: [Apparently quoting RH: “I find Pon’s writing so fucking offensive that insults are in order] “Cool. Fine. But honestly, as a PoC, what I find offensive about the reviews I’ve seen you make of her and others work mostly lies in the discussion afterwards, wherein anyone who disagrees with what you’ve said in the review is aggressively called out by you, asked for their race, called names for not agreeing with you, etc.”
  • DC29: [Apparently quoting RH: “if you’re objecting to the personal attacks or derisive tone or whatever, sure”] “That is precisely what I am objecting to.”
    [Apparently quoting RH: “even in the comm you linked I’ve engaged with people without asking what their racial identity is.”] “I know that. That’s pretty much the reason I haven’t said anything about your insulting behavior before– it is scattershot, and largely focused on when people disagree with you. Since you often make good points in your ranty reveiws, disagreement doesn’t always happen; however, that does not excuse the times that you have been an ass to people that did disagree with you.”
    [Apparently quoting RH: “uh, no. I admit that I jump the gun on that at particular points (usually due to having dealt with white folks who use similar rhetoric), and of course have been wrong, and I now realize it’s shitty/silencing to do that.] “In addition, it is also a sign that the person who does it is probably uninterested in arguing with whatever point was made. Which, fair call, there exist points that would be futile to seriously debate. However, the points I have seen you try to dismiss or devalue in that way usually aren’t unworthy of discussion.”
    “I’ll stop doing this, honest.” “Not really sure what to say to this, other than I do hope that you will.”
  • DC30: “I don’t know them that well so can’t decide whether they’re merely a very wanky clique or whether this is playing out as a classic White Women’s Tears scenario in which a white woman behaves badly towards a poc, is called on it, then characterises the person calling them out as a bully, and then the kyriarchy dictates that everyone must fall into line to protect the white woman and punish the caller-out. [paragraph break ] The trolls watching this com must be lolzing their socks off at how easily self-appointed white anti-racists self-destruct and try to take us all down with them.”
  • DC31: “And a fourth. [paragraph break] I know plenty of fourteen-year-olds who don’t react to being called out by behaving badly.” [Appears to be responding to “a fourth” anonymous comment from someone trolling RH.]
  • DC33-34: [Searching for a 28k-words comment thread is difficult, and I obviously missed 2 comments, but I think you get an idea of the discussion by now.]

With the possible exception of RH’s comments to Hesychasm (even though they lead to a clarification of the moderation policy partly in favour of one of RH’s points), I think it’s fair to say that RH’s contribution to the moderation debate were in line with the rest of the contributions, even if some people disagreed with her on some issues.

I also tried to get a feeling of what people in the 50 Books POC community thought of RH’s contributions. For this purpose, I searched for instances of “winterfox” in the text and read the associated comments. Here are some selected quotes from commenters in the moderation policy thread. Keep in mind that it’s impossible to accurately reflect all the opinions without quoting everything. Some people quoted, for instance, had a more nuanced positions that what I selected (some of which I quote further down). Some of the quoted comments might also be from the same people commenting multiple times.

  • [One member expressing her surprise that RH would be targeted for her review of Pon’s book] “I checked multiple bookstores in my area for Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix based on the glowing reviews I read here. […] [I] found five other mentions of the book. None of them mention the graphic attempted rape or the extremely problematic ways in which it is handled. And yet winterfox — the one who finally pointed this out and spared me the triggering experience of reading the same sorts of things people told me about my own assailant — winterfox is the one a mod is calling out for sexism?”
  • “I think that winterfox has some very good points — for instance, I think she’s right about the danger of this community becoming a place for white people to show off and ask for ally points […]”.
  • “Winterfox’s critique of Cindy Pon’s writing is useful and relevant.”
  • “i found it kind of invalidating that people focused more on one or two lines and the overall tone [or RH’s review] and hardly at all on why the book was offensive”.
  • “I found winterfox’s review informative […] I don’t see anything wrong with expressing anger over misogyny and internalized racism.”
  • “I considered that the review of Cindy Pon’s Fury book was excellent and thoughtful.”
  • “I would like WOC to feel able to make the kind of post here that winterfox did.”
  • [One commenter object to reducing RH’s reviews to Mixon’s two quotes]”But winterfox wrote an entire post detailing what was wrong with the book. […] while there can be disagreement on whether or not the personal insults were appropriate or not, they were certainly not taking the place of actual criticism of the book itself.”
  • “I think winterfox did a fantastic job in dismantling the fuckery that is Pon’s Fury of the Phoenix.”

Others, which may include some of those previously quoted members, also expressed nuanced opinions, some even condemning RH for some of her comments.

  • “While the difference between attacking the racism and sexism (and other isms) in a text, and personally attacking the author herself, might seem blurry at times, I think when Winterfox called Cindy Pon a “stupid fuck” with “no talent at anything whatsoever”, she had shifted [from] attacking the racism and sexism (and other isms) in a text [to] personally attacking the author herself […] it was a shift I was uncomfortable with […]”, concluding with: “I’m glad that Winterfox seems to have edited her post to remove the quoted statements […].”
  • “I get the feeling that there is some discomfort for some people with negative reviews of PoC works, and I think this is unfortunate…but I see that [winterfox] zirself has conceded the ableist slur and pledged against it. At this point, I don’t see the need for a policy, as it doesn’t seem to be a truly pervasive issue in the comm.”
  • “What would make me stop reading is if the mods decide that the kind of interactions winterfox has with fellow comm members in many of the comments linked here.” [This commenter is referring to the aforementioned 3 one-year-old posts where RH is the first commenter in a positive review of a book and, I assume, either insults the reviewer or declares the books to be terrible.]

1-2, 1-2-3-4chan!

Some commenters on the same thread also discuss the problematic behaviour of RMB. Notably, the 4chan comment is discussed. For this part, I mostly search for “4chan” in the comment thread and read comments around that when I couldn’t understand the context. A few things were obviously missed from such methodology.

On June 30th, 2011, at 05:14 pm (UTC), RMB wrote this on the moderation discussion post: “I have left  50books_poc. It seemed like my presence was having a bad effect on the community, and so I have removed myself from it.” For reference, RMB apologised to RH at 05:30 pm, and 2 minutes later (05:32 pm), RH said that she accepted the apology and offered to move on with “no hard feelings.” I found no evidence that, at the time, RH was aware that RMB had decided to leave 50 Books POC.

At that point, the comment policy debate had been going on for two days, and a few mentions of RMB had been made. Most of them centered on the fact that “both winterfox and [Spiralsheep] were subjected to [racialised harassment] as a direct result of events in this com […].” More specifically, that people were dismissing RMB’s insult to RH, and only focusing on RH’s conduct instead. A moderator would later acknowledge the issue, while also noting the racialized anonymous harassment, described “three […] racialized phenomenon” that had happened in the discussion that resulted in “de facto racialized harassment of poc [notably RH and Spiralsheep].” One of the three phenomenon identified was the “disturbing tendency to reframe the conversation as if winterfox was the only member whose behavior was within the scope of the discussion [on moderation policy and insults].”

Getting back to the comments mentioning 4chan (or the related comments I could find):

  • “I read the 4chan comment the way she intended it, but I don’t think the other reading is invalid. Further, I think rachelmanija also agrees to its validity, and that is why she is apologizing.”
  • “I agree that comparing [RH] to someone from 4chan was over the line, but that does not somehow trump how insulting she was in response […], or how insulting she has been in the past.”
  • “‘This isn’t 4chan’ can be read at least a few differrent ways. One, ‘this is a civil community, not an uncivil community such as, for example, 4chan.’ Two, ‘you are acting like we’re on 4chan.’ Three, ‘you have confused this board with your other internet hangout, 4chan.'”
  • “I suspect that many people, including Rachel, think of 4chan as something more like Fark, home of internet rudeness and sarcasm but not, AFAIK, organized harrassment.”
  • “In my opinion rachelmanija behaved in exactly the same way that she was complaining about in someone else.”
  • “Let me say: I don’t like either Rachelmanija’s or Winterfox’s comments. I don’t think Rachel was A-OK.”

As a result of all of this, a change in moderation policy was implemented with the aim of preventing people from doing what RH had done in the three instances the year before where she insulted or was too snarky toward reviewers of books she didn’t like. The overall impression, from reading parts of that thread, is that moving forward intra-community disagreements would be limited so as to avoid the “chilling effect” that could happen if one respected reviewer insulting another (perhaps more vulnerable) reviewer.

The new moderation policy also addresses another issue raised because of RH’s conduct (discussed in the Hesychasm case analysis). Going forward, it is ruled that “there are legitimate reasons to ask after someone’s racial identity”, but that people wishing to do so would need to ask the moderators to inquire about the person’s racial identity in order to “prevent identity policing among members,” and presumably prevent them from misidentifying someone’s racial identity as RH had done on one occasion in that moderation debate.

There is no evidence that anyone strongly disagreed with the new moderation policy. While there is evidence that this debate fractured the community to some extent, it’s not clear if that was caused by RH’s interactions, the fact that some members might have disagreed with the community’s decision about what constitutes a fair moderation policy, or the “racialized harassment of poc [notably RH and Spiralsheep]” as a result of RMB’s actions . All we are left with is the appearance of community adjusting its norm in the face of disagreement and finding a new balance. No evidence is presented that RH broke the new moderation policy after it was implemented or that the community would not have been able to handle it if she had. In any case, some of Mixon’s sources, although hardly credible in this instance, tell us that RH herself was chased off LJ because of harassment. It’s unclear if this harassment originated from the same sources that had anonymously harassed RH in the moderation debate.

For more discussion about the possible (non-existent) effects of this debate on the community, please see Asymptotic Binary’s post on this topic (which has a lot of information, so search for “community archive page” to get to where this is discussed).

Other allegations against RH

Going back to RMB’s original story, we also see that she accused RH of “But she commented on me, on blogs and on Twitter, for the next three years. […] [She would sometimes] quote from my post and abuse or mock me, and sometimes her abuse would be on an unrelated topic.”

RMB gives no more details about her allegations. RMB does not give the frequency of the comments about or references to her by RH (every day, once every 6 months, or only when a new book was published?) RMB also does not differentiate between “mocking” and “abusing”. Her apparent definition of what can constitute abuse, namely saying that she was “racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, a rape apologist, stupid, despicable, and worthless” contains some questionable elements; some are insults while others are descriptions of behaviour/comments that can be supported by evidence. While I have no doubt that RMB thinks of herself as being none of those things, judging by her insult and attack against RH in the 50 Books POC Livejournal (and the way she now frames what happens), it’s not unlikely to think she may occasionally write things worthy of criticisms.

For example, I have managed to acquire evidence that RH might have criticised RMB on Twitter (without addressing her directly, as far as I know) for some racist passages in her memoir “All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: An American Misfit in India”. Notably, RH criticised a passage where RMB described an Indian man this way:

“A leathery little man had appeared out of nowhere. His diminutive stature, wizened face, and pointy white beard reminded me of a china figurine I had of a gnome riding a pig.

“I have jeep to Matheran,” announced the gnome. […]


The grome beckoned. […]


“Jeep,” explained the gnome.”

I could go on, but by looking at the amount of “gnome” in the next page, I’m just going to assume that this Indian man is called “gnome” for as long as he is in this book. This is just one example, as I do not personally have access to her memoir, but every the PoC I know who has looked at her memoir have noted its blatant racism and wondered why anyone would see RMB as a good anti-racism ally. Admittedly, this is probably also an indication of the very small number of PoC readers of SFF I know who have commented on RMB’s memoir. In any case, I think it’s safe to assume that her published book was worthy of criticism in that regard, and that doing so is not “harassment”.

Although I do not have the specifics, I also acquired evidence that RH criticised RMB on Twitter (still without addressing her directly, as far as I know) about her worthiness as an “ally” to queer people. The straight man in me is rather at a loss to comment on this, but since RH is a lesbian and RMB is a straight woman, and since RMB specifically tried to silence RH’s activism against homophobia in her review of Pon’s book (it was this point RMB engaged with first, not the insults), and that RMB as demonstrated rather questionable conduct regarding her worthiness as an ally in the fight against racism, I feel that RH probably had reasons to to express such views, even if people are free to judge the specifics.

Since RMB has not provided any specific instances in which RH criticised her and she was wrong to do so, I file this case as “false claims”.

Finally, before leave this for good, I direct you to a post by RMB attempting to promote the work of “sff/mythic fiction writers with marginalized identities of various kinds. The majority are women writers of color. Writers who were targeted by Requires Hate are starred.” The list contains 33 names, 9 of them are starred. Of the starred writers, 4 are PoC and 5 are white women. From my case analysis, 7 of those 9 cases do not show evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of RH. Most of the people not targeted by RH are PoC, many of which I have personally bought books from because of RH’s promotion of their work. One would think that compiling such a list would alert RMB to what was actually going on, but RMB does not appear to be capable of such introspection.


June 2011

Cambodian-American reader, mistaken by WF as white and schooled on crying “white women’s tears” when she said that personal insults were inappropriate in the thread & refused to reveal her race when WF baited her.

WF deleted her attacks in the link shown, but a commenter following the thread saved them and forwarded me a copy in email

Findings: This case is related to the case of Rachel Manija Brown and the 50 Books PoC Livejournal community. Mixon also references this case with one of her screen capture. In the screen capture, in reply to Hesychasm that says: “that kind of atmosphere just seems skeezy and uncomfortable to me,” RH apparently replies: “care to look up ‘white women’s tears’?” Mixon describes the exchange as “—BS/RH, as winterfox, mistakes a Cambodian-American woman for white when she won’t identify her race.”

The only really important thing I have to say about this case it that I’m offended that Mixon brings a situation where RH has misidentified a person’s racial identity over the internet in 2011 alongside allegation of death threats. I can’t imagine the kind of essay she will produce three years from now when she sees this. (Edit: removed dead link.)

For those of you still not convinced of the ridiculousness of this case, read on. (To be clear, I have no doubt that Hesychasm was hurt by RH’s words. I’m just opposed to the idea that this somehow belongs in Mixon’s essay. Then again, if we took out all the things that 90% of people would find do not belong there, one might well ask what would be left).

The incident happened during the moderation policy debate on the 50 Books POC LiveJournal community. I’ll highlight the context, illustrate the content of the discussion, and give the community’s judgment on this issue.

The screen capture provided by Mixon appears to be an edited version of the original where RH’s comment is actually much more substantial. During the 50 Books POC moderation debate, Hesychasm and RH apparently exchanged a few messages. At one point, Hesychasm expressed her frustration that RH seemed not to take the substance of her arguments seriously enough, and placed too much emphasis on the racial identity when interpreting what people are saying. Hesychasm notably said: “I’m fine to continue talking to you if you want to stop playing Oppression Olympics […]”. The discussion continued without RH’s intervention as people weighed in on both sides of Hesychasm’s and RH’s argument. Hesychasm later clarified:

“I admit I’m playing a bit loose with the term, so I apologize for causing confusion. To me it’s like this: a white person is never going to win Oppression Olympics, so pulling out a trump card of “Are you white?” (or declaring that someone is white) is a lazy tactic used to stop or derail the conversation. Notice how the actual substance of my comments never got addressed. Would they have been if I answered winterfox in a way they deemed worthy?

As for what could happen in the future, yes, I do think it would be problematic for this comm to become a place where people felt they needed to declare themselves on some race or privilege scale in order to prove their comments are more worthy than others’. Aside from the danger of Oppression Olympics, that kind of atmosphere just seems skeezy and uncomfortable to me. And again, how would all of that support the purpose of the comm?”

Apparently unaware of Hesychasm’s racial identity, RH replied to the comment with this (brackets indicate quotes from Hesychasm’s comment):

[To me it’s like this: a white person is never going to win Oppression Olympics]

and… why would you want to “win”? in terms of race, you don’t even get to enter Opression Olympics. as such you can’t win or lose, because by being white in the real world, you’re already winning all the time.

[Would they have been if I answered winterfox in a way they deemed worthy?]

you’re uncomfortable because you feel it’s unfair that white people and POC might be treated differently because the former have privilege and the other do not. that’s not much to discuss.

[that kind of atmosphere just seems skeezy and uncomfortable to me]

care to look up “white women’s tears”?

A more generous reading of RH’S comment could interpret it as RH trying to tell Hesychasm that she didn’t need to be worried, as only white women would complain on this issue she was bringing up. I don’t think it was the case, and I believe that RH saw Hesychasm as another potential white woman complaining about “mean POC”.

Although RH’s interpretation of Hesychasm’s opinion as indicating she could be white proved to be incorrect, her jumping to this conclusion was based on both her ignorance of Hesychasm’s racial identity, but probably also on the fact that up to that point, it was pretty much only white people who had objected to her language. A moderator of the thread that had started the policy discussion had said: “almost everyone who has objected in comments and/or pmed me so far is white,” later adding: “[…] there were very definite racial patterns in who was asking for moderator intervention and who was expressing approval of [RH’s]posts.”

Regarding her comment, in addition to deleting the offending message, RH would later say: “uh, no. I admit that I jump the gun on that at particular points (usually due to having dealt with white folks who use similar rhetoric), and of course have been wrong, and I now realize it’s shitty/silencing to do that […] I’ll stop doing this, honest.”

Although I read Mixon’s essay as implying that RH deleted her insults as a way to suppress evidence, which might not have been Mixon’s intention, I do not think this is a case where this could be said to apply. When it became clear that RH’s comment was out of line because of its false premise (and has she has said in the quoted comment above, she recognised that this had happened and was a bad thing to do), RH could either delete it or edit it to correct her mistake. Deleting might be a more “cowardly” way out, but considering the way WoC are victims of standards of conduct that are much more severe that white people, her deletion can be understood.

RH’s apparent apprehension at leaving such a comment online later proved justified. Indeed, more than four year after the comment was deleted, it was used as a justification for a blackballing campaign by white women against RH and further used in the creation of the myth that RH somehow attacked Asians and PoC.

Of note, members of the 50 Books POC community were split as to whether a person’s racial identity was relevant to a discussion of conduct on the forum. Ultimately, the new moderation policy addressed this issue. Going forward, it was ruled that “there are legitimate reasons to ask after someone’s racial identity”, but that people wishing to do so would need to ask the moderators to inquire about the person’s racial identity in order to “prevent identity policing among members,” and presumably prevent them from misidentifying someone’s racial identity as RH had done in this case, insulting someone in the process.

I file this case under “unintentional misidentification of racial identity over the internet” without ill intent, in 2011.

Anonymous Fanfic Writer

August 2012

“Winterfox…derived such fun from bullying and rallying the dogpiling of someone that…[for] a lot of people she lost any credibility for her claims of being so far above any of those lowly little immature fanfic writers.” (translated from German)

Fidnings: This case appears to be based on at least third-hand account from an anonymous commenter regarding events prior to 2008 (as far as I can tell, Mixon, learned about this third-hand account from FFA, so her translation is then a 5th hand account. Which is funny because it shows that Mixon never bother to read the original material and its context, which, of course, was in plain old English to begin with).

I also believe that there is something to learn about the fact that Mixon take the time to hide the vileness of the person making those accusations against RH. The omitted portion of the quote (the “…” in Mixon’s quote) said: “[…] someone with so little grip on reality that for a lot […]”. The same anonymous commenter also described the person whose writing RH was criticising as “bat-shit insane”. The commenter later says: “There’s arguing and heated disagreements with people you don’t like, and there’s flaming an unarmed opponent.” Basically, RH is accused of producing quality (and harsh) criticism of the work of someone with apparently limited writing talent (by someone whose obvious ableism gives me great concern about their reliability as a source).

Going farther than Mixon’s “investigation” on this case, a forum conversation from 2008 can be found and there is little there worthy of mention outside the fact that RH appeared to be a respected contributor by some members of the forum and subjected to trolling and harassment by others, proving that racism is everywhere. It appears to be another case of politicised and racialized dynamics skewing the perception of the people relaying the events.

I could file this case under “fanfic writer possibly criticised (in 2008) other (much worse) fanfic writer while not realising that said writer is considered (by someone else) to be unworthy of reply”, but I’m just going to dismiss it under “no evidence”.

Athena Andreadis

Spring 2013

Campaign to publicly shun her and pressure con runners to disinvite/ limit her participation at a major regional convention around the date of release of her anthology (date approx.)

Update 22 Nov 14: The con runner in question, Rose Fox, disputes Andreadis’s account, and no direct evidence exists that con decisions about panel content or reading slots were influenced by BS/RH or her supporters. Independent evidence exists, however, of a deliberate campaign to discredit Andreadis around the time of release of her anthology. Multiple members of BS/RH’s inner circle, including Alex MacFarlane, were in attendance at the con. I can’t preclude the possibility that the efforts of those engaging in the smear campaign on Andreadis, whether directly or indirectly, factored into the con committee’s decision making in some fashion

Findings: Andreadis’ claim can be found into her own post on this topic. To be honest, I felt a little sad reading Andreadis’ essay. Her entire text appears to be little more than conspiracy thinking and speculation. Readers are encouraged to read the entire post, but I’ll summarise it this way: author has difficult time launching career, blames RH for everything that goes wrong despite having no evidence.

For example, the main allegation Andreadis makes “against RH” is that some of her friends influenced the programming at a convention. Not only is this not about RH, but as Mixon notes in her update, the convention organiser has denied the speculation of Andreadis (for more, see also this). This is reminiscent of GG’s attack against ZQ, where the baseless accusation of corrupting a journalist was used as justification for her harassment, but the supposedly corrupt journalist in question (ie the one who would be the most morally at fault) is not criticised.

The rest of the Andreadis’ post contains little more information. Andreadis mentions that “When I told the story to Nick Mamatas, he mentioned that BS/RH had indeed sent him a note about me “spreading unfounded rumors” and “having it in for her” (Note: RH’s entire email correspondence regarding Andreadis apparently consists of one email sent to Mamatas that said: “Apparently Athena has also been spreading the rumour, and passed it to at least one person in private. Peculiar; didn’t think she had anything against me, but one never knows.”). To me, this appears to be in response to Andreadis’ admission that: “A few months ago [written in November 2014], I also told three others [that BS was RH] […], all in strict confidence. One of them was enticed into breaking my confidence [in other word, told BS what Andreadis had said]. She informed me that BS ‘was upset’ and ‘asked what she’d ever done to you that you’d say that about her'”. [Note: The timeline is impossible to guess, but it seems that Andreadis could have started revealing that BS was RH around the same time as Sullivan did.]

The first thing I noticed when I read this part of Andreadis’ claims is how she attempts to frame her actions favourably in relations to the actions of others. She described (not quoted) how she learned RH and BS were the same person because RH had told her in a private conversation about a story she planned to write. When the story was published under RH’s pseudonym, Andreadis easily made the connection. When their friendship had run its course, she revealed BS’s former alias, thus breaking her confidence, but describes it as being done “in strict confidence”, as if this could erase her misconduct. The person telling BS that Andreadis had started to reveal her former identity does not get the same benefit as Andreadis herself, and her actions are plainly labelled as “breaking [her] confidence”.

From Andreadis’ text, it appears that BS was trying to keep the link between RH and BS a secret. While BS was obviously lying about the fact that she was not also RH, her question about why Andreadis would reveal her identity is worth asking. Why try to sabotage a former friend’s attempt at abandoning her problematic behaviour and interact more positively with others? Andreadis gives her reasons in her essay, but they sound like clumsy rationalisation to me (“sweep the domain clear of competition”? WTF are you talking about?). To me, BS’s actions in this case are much more forgivable than Andreadis’.

Andreadis’ post also has this gem: “Nick also let me know that bad people can be good writers, whereas BS/RH’s adversaries were jealous ‘has-beens’. He didn’t answer when I asked if he deemed me disposable as well.” I’m not going to lie Mr. Mamatas, the creation of that self-burn got you a couple of sales.

I file this case under “possibly lying to protect her life and her job when a former friend breaks your confidence and is acting in a manner likely to destroy your career, silence your voice, and exponentially increase the harassment your are facing”.

[Note: Asymptotic Binary also found a lot of interesting information on this case. Search for “Athena Andreadis” and read from there.]

Patrick Rothfuss

Date unknown

“Patrick Rothfuss: down him in vomit, set him on fire, or simply take a machete to his dick? You decide!”

Quote unconfirmed.

Limited public details found on BS/RH attacks, but multiple sources confirm he was a major target

Findings: I have not been able to access RH’s blog before it was taken down, so I have to go only with the evidence that Mixon has provided.

I will assume that quote was posted on her blog in the context of a review criticising the racist and/or sexist content of one of Rothfuss’ books. The quote, to me, is perfectly illustrative of the type of over the top rhetorical language RH often used. It’s very similar to “kill it in a fire” or “nuke it from orbit”. The tone of the quote confirms this.

I file this under use of possible objectionable language (violent language for rhetorical effect), but I will argue in my discussion that most people would not object anyway in this specific context.

Anonymous MOC Writer

Date unknown

“misogynist” – email account

Findings: Mixon is clearly reaching now. Since Mixon give literally no evidence that RH was wrong in calling this man “misogynist”, there is nothing to see here.

Apparently, to Mixon, anyone who has ever called anyone else “misogynist” has engaged in abuse? Notice, also, that an anonymous man of colour getting called “misogynist” gets to be a case in Mixon’s report, but that when white men are called “racist” or “misogynist”, they don’t get to be on the list (as stated, this includes, but is not limited to: Keith Brooks, Neil Gaiman, JA Pitts, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Jim Butcher, Ed Greenwood, Paul S Kemp, Jonathan Lethem, Kevin Hearne, Mark Lawrence, Ken Grimwood, Ian McDonald, RA Salvatore, Richard Morgan, Daniel Abraham,  Beau Schemery, Joe Abercrombie, James Cameron , Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughn, and Peter Watts, etc.).

I was tempted to file this case under “evidence of positive activism”, but I’ll just go with “no evidence”.

Anonymous Not Writing Fantasy

Date unknown

“having seen that ‘throw acid on them’ is a threat for uppity folk not only in my parents’ home country but in SFF fandom certainly put me off a career in writing fantasy.”

Findings: There is really little to say here. The quote above, anonymously posted on a message board, is the entire evidence for this case. The person appears to have never had any contact with RH. It’s unclear if the person was ever a writer in any genre, or if the person has ever entertained the idea of writing SFF seriously.

My conclusion on this case is that, if true, shows that RH’s use of problematic language could be interpreted differently by different people. Different people are also free to judge if such language is appropriate or not. Personally, I never had any issue with it at the time, but I now see that depending on the context (for example: outside the realm of a personal review blog where it’s more difficult to mistake it for anything other than “performance rage”), this type of language can cause considerable harm. Some people won’t get the joke, and we should keep that in mind.

Since RH’s use of toxic language has never been in contention, it’s my opinion that this case adds very little to Mixon’s report.

I file this case as “person offended at RH’s language without ever having interacted with her”, but will label it doubtful.

Anonymous Reviews

Date unknown

“…that was until I posted a review of a work that she disagreed with, at which point I got abused both in the comm, and on her other platforms, and had her bring it up any time I tried to participate.“

“As a WOC I’m used to having my voice dismissed, or being told my opinion is worthless, but I hadn’t expected to have it happen in a community that was supposed to be all about supporting the voices of people like me.”

Findings: This case, although not really documented, would seem to fit in the pattern identified in the 50 Books POC debate. RH herself would later say: “Yes, I yelled at a lot of people on LJ for liking [some author’s books]; yes, I agree, this is pretty bad and frankly a silly thing to do.”

I file this case under “no evidence, but plausible”, but will label it possibly a duplicate.

Anonymous Silenced

Date unknown

“She made me afraid to talk about books — books, for crying out loud — because she disliked them and I would be branded a shitstain and worse for disagreeing. She made me feel unsafe in certain communities including those that were created to support people like me. She made me reluctant to express support for certain authors of color. “

Findings: This case, although not really documented, would seem to fit in the pattern identified in the 50 Books POC debate. RH herself would later say: “Yes, I yelled at a lot of people on LJ for liking [some author’s books]; yes, I agree, this is pretty bad and frankly a silly thing to do.”

I do note that the description is rather vague. Considering that Mixon only ever presented evidence that RH participated in the 50 Books POC, it’s rather unclear what “certain communities” could be referring to, so this cast doubt as to the validity of this case.

I file this case under “no evidence but plausible”, but will label it doubtful and possibly a duplicate.

Video Gamer

Date unknown [“not all that long ago”]

“She said, posting as Winterfox not all that long ago, in a posting that has now been deleted in a semi-private venue, that I ought to be raped by dogs.”

“it would not take you much work to find her calling various and sundry Asian women ‘not Asian enough.’ (You can do that yourself; it makes me sick to do it for you.) So she has redefined us as ‘white on the inside’.”

Findings: The evidence Mixon provides for this case comes from anonymous comments of a blog post. It’s rather hard to tell how many anonymous commenters there are, although the blog’s owner has stated that the comments are not all from the same person.

The date for this alleged event is unknown (“not all that long ago” [said in October 2014]). There is no evidence of where the alleged events have happened. Worse, the statement is made in a way that appears to want to prevent any attempt at investigation (“a semi-private venue” and “in a posting that has now been deleted”). I personally find this lack of specificity and vagueness odd considering how specific the allegation is. It seem to me that if this event did take place as the person describing it believes it did, RH would know who the alleged victim would be, negating the need for anonymity. Further, the only indication is that RH could have been involved is the use of the username “Winterfox”, a name RH abandoned years ago. I also recommend people read Asymptotic Binary’s analysis of this case.

The allegation is also hard to believe considering the fact that there is literally zero evidence that RH has ever threatened anyone with rape prior to this person’s post in October 2014. In fact, many of Mixon’s allegation concern instances where RH is accused of being too aggressive/insensitive in attacking rape culture.

Assuming that the allegation was made in good faith, I find that the following elements could constitute a plausible counter-scenario to the narrative presented. Mixon’s sources have reported that RH has been the target racialized harassment as far back as 2011 (on LJ), and that she has at the very least one active stalker (even if Mixon’s biases did not allow her to see it). Mixon herself, unbeknownst to her, has linked an obvious trolling account setup to misrepresent RH on twitter as one of her sources. It is also well know that feminist women such as RH are likely to have harassers pose as them so that they can attempt to defame them (See AS, ZQ, etc.) It seems more likely than not that if the event described did take place, RH had nothing to do with it.

I file this case under no evidence.

Four extra cases for EBA so he can finally learn to spell anonymous

Mixon describes these cases as “other credible attacks; targets not included in rollups due to insufficient evidence.” Considering the quality of the evidence presented so far, and the fact that Mixon says that she dropped 17 of her potential cases because she found no evidence, I really have to wonder what those 17 cases might be. How can a “case” have less evidence than a single anonymous comment on a message board? Let’s find out with my analysis of Mixon’s four.

Jonathan McCalmont

October 2014

insults and mockery from some of BS/RH’s known supporters after he criticized BS/RH- sufficiently intense to cause him to close his Twitter account and issue a statement on his blog not naming BS/RH.

limited public details available but indications of abuse based on his blog post

Findings: No information is provided about this situation. Since Mixon admits that this case does not concern RH, but rather people who know RH. I’m going to Occam’s razor this case and assume that until Mixon takes responsibility for RH’s stalker and doxxer (who is a known supporter or Mixon and her associates), RH will not be held responsible for the actions of other people.

I file this case under “evidence of no wrongdoing on the part of RH”.

Anonymous Media Fan?

Date unknown

“As one of the WOC in question, I am quite curious why her anger was justified against me for liking different books, movies, etc. than she did. We were on a more or less equal privilege footing. How was her anger (justified or not) at the world as a whole justification for calling me a worthless piece of shit for having different tastes in media?…(To be clear, and as added irony, she was defending a white epic fantasy author while bashing my preference for a particular piece of Asian media.)”

        May be same as Anon, Video Gamer. Links included there

Findings: There are so many anonymous poster in Mixon’s source for this (which is actually not found in the Anon, Video Gamer section), that it’s impossible to follow. It’s quite irrelevant, however, since RH is accused of “anger” against someone for not liking the same media and calling someone “piece of shit”. See also the description of the Anonymous Video Gamer case.

Like Mixon, I file this case under “no evidence”.

Anonymous Threatened Queer (sic)

Date unknown

“I am one of the targets of her maybe-satirical!-maybe-not! threats, and as a queer woman I do not have the luxury of just shrugging it off.”

       May be same as Anon, Video Gamer. Links included there.

Findings: First, my apologies to the person in question. I have followed the naming convention of Mixon, and I’m sorry that you find yourself defined as a “Threatened Queer.” The level of evidence for this case is the same as for the Anonymous Media Fan. See also the description of the Anonymous Video Gamer case.

Like Mixon, I file this case under “no evidence”.

Anonymous POC Writer; The ice we skate is getting pretty thin

Date unknown

“pedophile rapist!”, “I know your masturbatory fantasies now” “rapey, rapey, rapey” “Are you Asian? Are you actually Asian?”

Scathing anonymous Tumblr review appeared shortly after publication of his first story

No direct evidence this was BS/RH so not included in rollups. However, strong circumstantial evidence: (1) attack on Asian SFF writer; (2) insults very much in line with BS/RH rhetoric; (3) gaslighting- verbal assaults swiftly deleted.

Findings: The evidence Mixon presents for this case is of even poorer from the anonymous sources of the cases above. This case appears to concern a single review, which do not fit Mixon’s definition of an “attack”. There is no indication that RH was ever involved. Is RH really going to be responsible of every negative reviews of books criticising racism and sexism for the next 50 years?

Like Mixon, I file this case under “no evidence”.

Summary of findings on cases other than reviews

This summary excludes all of Mixon’s four extra cases as by her own admission, there is either no evidence for the cases, or evidence that RH was not involved in them. I’ve broken down my analysis of Mixon’s 17 cases mostly about things other than reviews in multiple subcategories:

  • Problematic use of language (transphobic slur): ScottishMartialArts (2010)
  • Unintentional misidentification of racial identity over the internet: Hesychasm (2011).
  • Unsubstantiated or false claims: Kari Sperring (2012), Tricia Sullivan and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (2012/2014), Rachel Manija Brown (2012). Chelsea Gaither* (2012)
  • No evidence is presented: Video Gamer, Anonymous MOC Writer, Anonymous Fanfic Writer (Prior to 2009)
  • No evidence, but plausible (linked to the case of the 50 Books POC, i.e. may not be independent claims): Anonymous Silenced (2011?), Anonymous Reviews (2011?)
  • Use of possibly objectionable language (violent language for rhetorical effect): Colum Paget (2012), Patrick Rothfuss
  • Person offended at RH’s language/behaviour without ever having interacted with her: Anonymous Not Writing Fantasy, Liz Williams
  • Possibly lying about her former alias in order to protect her life and her job when a former friend breaks her confidence and is acting in a manner likely to destroy your career or silence your voice: Athena Andreadis (2014)

RH has been the victim of racism, misogyny, and harassment at the hand of some SFF industry professionals and/or readers. This harassment included fabricating dubious claims against RH.

People associated with RH (friends or acquaintances) have been the victim of harassment at the hand of some some SFF industry professionals and/or readers.

RH has used, at least once in 2010, a transphobic slur in an argument with a trans person on a vile gaming forum.

BS may have lied about her connection with RH in an effort to protect herself following the betrayal of a former friend.

Arguably, 15 of the 17 cases show no evidence of wrongdoing by RH. However, 2 of these 11 cases could be said to be plausible, although no evidence is presented and they may be duplicates (people intimidated by RH’s forceful criticism of racism and misogyny in books, and her willingness to insult others who support these depictions). Another 2 of these 11 cases could be considered objectionable by some (violent language used on personal blog/twitter to criticise the work of two white male authors). I did not consider the case where RH misidentified someone’s racial identity over the internet (2012) or the case where RH criticised an author who was in a vulnerable position without appropriate consideration of her feelings (2012) to be instances of wrongdoing, but I also highlight them here because others may disagree.

This brings the total of cases where wrongdoings are identified to 2 (+6) out of 17.

Summary of findings for Mixon’s 29 cases

In total, I found that only between 4 (14%) and 12 (41%) of Mixon’s 29* cases could be judged to have evidence of wrongdoing on the part of RH.

The 4 cases I personally consider objectionable and worthy of mention:

  • 1 case concerns the use of a transphobic slur in 2010 that has lost relevance for years already. RH has already apologised publicly for this.
  • 1 possible case is from 2014 and can be excused by the desire of a victim of severe harassment (RH) to protect her safety (physical and mental health). Even if this case (for which no evidence is presented) were to be true, considering that the person attacking her has not apologised for the severe harm she has caused RH, I won’t hold it against RH.
  • 2 cases concern RH’s tendency, prior to 2011, to forcefully criticise racism and misogyny in books, and insult others who disagreed with her on these issues. RH has apologised for this in 2014 and had already stopped this behaviour for years prior to that apology (ie when she was asked to stop at the time).

For the other 8 cases:

  • 2 cases are related to her behaviour of forceful criticism of racism and misogyny in books with its possibly silencing effects (may be redundant, see above). RH has apologised for this and had already stopped this behaviour for years prior to that apology.
  • 3 cases concern the use of violent language for rhetorical effect on personal blog/twitter to criticise the work of 3 white male authors, 2 cases are in 2012, the other unknown. RH has apologised for this and had already stopped this behaviour for a long time prior to that apology.
  • 1 case concerns RH’s criticism of racism in a marginal author’s self-published book in 2013. RH has apologised for this.
  • 1 case is an instance where RH criticised an author who was in a vulnerable position without appropriate consideration of her feelings in 2012/2013, for which the author accepted RH’s apology.
  • 1 case concerns RH misidentifying someone’s racial identity over the internet in 2011. RH has apologised for this in the days following the event and has stopped this behaviour since.

For those 12 (4+8) cases, I believe I know the racial identity of only 10 people. Of those 10 people, only 3 are PoC. RH has already apologised publicly to all of them, and is on speaking terms with at least one.

[End of the Fast read: Back to Table of contents.]

Cases from screen captures

Screen capture 1

December 21st 2012

*A screen grab of RH’s twitter where she says: “I vote we pour acid down [twitter handle deleted]’ throat and make him eat his own balls”*

Findings: This does not appear to be from one of Mixon’s 29* cases. This is surprising since I think this case (with its single screen capture) is more documented than many of Mixon’s cases and highlights a problematic behaviour of RH. I can only speculate that the fact that this was apparently a white man that might have influenced its exclusion from Mixon’s cases.

This case illustrates the king of hyperbolically violent language that RH’s often used to transmit her judgement on certain issues. For context, this was part of a twitter “conversation” between RH and another person. From what I can gather, the conversation started when RH called him out (using his twitter handle) for sexism relating to something he said/did. A handful of RH’s friends also joined in the conversation once the recipient talked back.

The recipient of the quoted tweet, which was received amid a conversation lasting a couple of hours on December 21st 2012, replied: “@requireshate I won’t enjoy it with my mouth ruined by acid will I? Simpleton.” and, a little later in the conversation, replies “I don’t think you have the power to harm me.” The person, although he says that “[…] [he] can handle you ‘piling in’. You needed help from the get go […]”, is no doubt at least a bit upset about the pile-on from RH’s and her friends calling him out on twitter. In a discussion with other commenters, the person clarifies that he did not feel threatened at all, but objected to the use of such language, described by another commenter, as “[not] death threats. Childish ‘We will chop your balls off, manbaby’ tweets. Cute. Hardline feminists.”

This is symptomatic of a former behaviour from RH that many could consider problematic. Engaging negatively with various people on twitter is a pretty common behaviour in itself, and one can argue that doing so because the person has produced racist, sexist, homophobic or colonialist content is fair game. However, I admit that reasonable people can disagree on what is an appropriate response to someone who would subject others to their prejudice and bigotry. For myself, since there is more racism and misogyny in our world than there is time to reply thoughtfully, I’m not going to make sweepings condemnations, but will reserve judgment on a case by case basis.

In this particular case, I think RH should have the legal right to say what the screen grab shows. It is not a death threat, but expresses a wish for the person to be maimed in a way that is difficult to misinterpret as a real threat. It is, I argue, a thinking woman’s “go die in a fire” or “nuke him from orbit,” quite similar to Leah Bobet’s “@rosefox Then go drown Nick Mamatas in a toilet. Because really it’s years overdue.”

Of course, just because I think someone should have the legal right to say something says nothing about whether I agree with what is being said or whether I think it’s a good idea to say such a thing. While certainly not polite, if such language is repeated (particularly on social media platforms where others are likely to join in), it can quickly cross into harassment. The lines between expressing forceful criticism, engaging in conversation, and just being a troll are easy to pass.

To me, the more problematic aspect of this type of language and interaction is that from the perspective of the recipient, it could conceivably be interpreted as a real threat. Different people have different experiences, and it’s difficult to know how strangers might interpret our words. From that perspective, I think there is rather solid ground to argue that such language, on such a medium, should rarely or never be used, particularly if the comment is directed at a person instead of written on a personal space where the context is easier to make out.

Mixon considers this to be a death threat. For my part, in this instance, I would argue it’s only hyperbolic language, and that people are free to condemn it, as I do, or not. Having said that, to me, there can be little doubt that RH frequently crossed the line between expressing her forceful criticism, just as an overwhelmingly large part white people and men cross the line in expression our racism and misogyny. This type of behaviour, from my point of view, isn’t very well discussed in Mixon’s essay, and is needlessly mixed with Mixon’s anger over RH’s criticism of racism, misogyny, homophobia, and colonialism in SFF.

Since it’s not part of Mixon’s 29 cases, I can’t properly file it for statistical analysis, but I’ll consider this case to be an example of problematic language by RH for the discussion.

Screen capture 2

September 2012

*A screen grab of RH’s blog, it seems, where she says: “Ah, inferior reading. I would naturally be quite happy to oblige with acid in your face though, if that’s the sort of thing you are into.”*

Mixon gives the following context:

—BS/RH, as acrackedmoon, responding to a commenter on her blog who criticized her for using death threats against writers whose work they like and she does not

Findings: This does not appear to be one of Mixon’s 29 cases.

I would argue that the commenter, who will be called Commenter 1 from now on, was not, in fact, “[criticising RH] for using death threats against writers whose work they like and she does not.” In fact, Commenter 1, clearly a detractor of RH, was instead trolling RH and mocking her for doing, in his opinion, inferior reading and reviewing. He was trying to caricature her. To give proper context, I will quote Commenter 1 in full, and underline the specific part of the comment RH quoted in her reply and was therefore responding to.

It’s interesting to see your intellect sometimes get a half nelson on your rage and bring it crashing to the ground (good luck with that, by the way, it suits you far better – then again, lowest common denominators and all, it may not bring you nearly as much traffic or blogosphere fame)

But – you are now faced with the issue of turning that same critique upon yourself. Because the bulk of your rants very definitely follow the “inferior reader” route. You have different contingent triggers than the flaming sword of Greddark crowd, but the principle is the same. This has positive models of gays and/or POCs in – I LIKE it! This has a rape in it – shit-stain fucking misogynist asshole white male neckbeard bullshit scum-sucking nyaaaaaAAAAAGH. Let’s throw acid in his face!!!”

How is this different from the “inferior reader” approach you’re decrying? By dint of a certain amount of intelligent self-knowledge, you’ll maybe want to argue? I know, I know – you’re just having fun. But many of the willfully laddish consumers of genre are smart as well, and operate a similar fun-loving knowingness about their “awesome” superheroes and chain-mail bikini heroines. To that extent, you are a mirror for them, not a critique.

So, to borrow a suitably political phrase, are you part of the solution or part of the problem?

Just asking.

PS – since you insist on constantly referencing something I said last year (three times in less than a month at the last count – are you *looking* at me, RH?), maybe we could have a go at parsing the semantic difference between the phrases “[this] puts us a short hop, skip and jump away from Satanic Verses fatwa territory. “ and “this is a fatwa, you know, like with the Satanic Verses”

It should now be clear that Commenter 1 did not, in fact, object to RH’s language per se, but rather to the nature of the books she promoted.

RH’s complete reply is quoted in full below. I argue that this was not a threat, and that both Commenter 1 and RH both knew that it was not one. These were two people, starting with Commenter 1, insulting one another.

“[blockquote: This has positive models of gays and/or POCs in – I LIKE it! This has a rape in it – shit-stain fucking misogynist asshole white male neckbeard bullshit scum-sucking nyaaaaaAAAAAGH. Let’s throw acid in his face!!!”]

Ah, inferior reading. I would naturally be quite happy to oblige with acid in your face though, if that’s the sort of thing you are into.

At no point have I declared myself a superior reader, by the way. Heh.”

It’s quite fortunate that Mixon put this out of context quote in her essay, since thanks to Commenter 1’s comment, we can analyse what the perception of RH in September 2012.

As already quoted, Commenter 1 thought of RH as someone who only considered a book good if it had “positive models of gays and/or POCs” in it, and never liked anything that did not have this. Commenter 2, replying after RH, acknowledged that RH might favour such books, but offered a much more nuanced position:

“ACM is biased towards praising books for positive portrayals of gays and POC, but I’ve seen her tear up books that were pretty gay and/or POC-friendly for failing in other respects. She does not, as you imply, just reflexively approve of anything that has good gay characters or happens to be about non-white people. Which would distinguish her from, say, the “inferior readers” who automatically gush over Cindy Pon or N.K. Jemisin because ‘OMG POC fantasy YAY!'”

Finally, Commenter 3 agreed with Commenter 2 that Commenter 1’s analysis lacked nuance:

As has been pointed out, the reviews here (I think I’ve read 90+% by now) run the gamut in praising and condemning authors who include or even are PoCs or LGBT persons.

Beyond that, it isn’t a bit odd to compare inclusion of certain demographics with a “knowingness” about stereotyped depictions of gender (I’m referring to the “chain mail bikinis” as signifier to overall poor quality of depiction found in much of SFF)?

The former (inclusion) clearly has a positive real life value, whereas the latter (women as sex dolls, etc) a questionable if not demonstrably negative real life result?

I admit that this obviously a selected part of a very small conversation to which Mixon pointed me, and that my confirmation bias has not pushed me to look further at the perception of RH from the people who actually read her work at the time. Indeed, it was RH’s promotion of books by women, PoC, and queer people, along with her epic takedowns of various authors in the field, that had led me to her blog in the first place. I see no need to dig more.

Since it’s not part of Mixon’s 29 cases, I can’t properly file it for statistical analysis, but I’ll consider this an example of distorted or false claims for the discussion.

Screen capture 4

February 2011

*Unknown person: “Just to let you know, I think I’m going to disengage from this discussion with you. It doesn’t seem to me that you’re interested in have a discussion, but rather picking a fight.

pyrofennec: “You sound so white.”

Unknown person: “I’ll have to take back my earlier comment, because here I am commenting again. This is the last one, I swear!

For the record, I am not white. I am Asian and Hispanic.

And that, I swear, is my final comment in this discussion. XD”

pyrofennec: “‘Kay, Asian-Asian here and bred in Asia. Do you see why to me “westernized Asians ____” being used as an unironic endorsement sounds shitty.”*

Findings: This does not appear to be one the Mixon’s 29 cases. It seems to be from a conversation on a message board between RH and someone else. There appears to be a prior conversation, and although I’m unaware of the specifics, the person in question was most likely using privilege-blind language and arguments.

While much of the context for this discussion is missing, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with what RH has said. Some people might see this type of behaviour (insulting some based on your assumption of their racial identity) as a bit of an asshole thing to do. I think that’s fair, but will note that erasing Asians by substituting Western-Asians is also a pretty asshole thing to do. The distinction brought by RH, that Asians born and raised in Asia do not necessarily share the same cultural background as Asians born in Europe or America, is more truism than offensive. Even in the cases where they broadly do, works by those people will not necessarily have the same value to different people (e.g. Asian-Americans could come to dominate SFF publishing, but if Asians from Asia still have almost no representation in the field, something will still be missing).

Since it’s not part of Mixon’s 29 cases, I can’t properly file it for statistical analysis, but I’ll consider this an example of distorted or false claims for the discussion.

Screen capture 5

Date unknown, probably 2012

*Tweet #1: “@[@handle redacted] @[handle redacted] as for [redacted, but “Bacigalupi”], flay him alive slowly, pour salt, pour acid, dismember and keep alive as long as possible.”*

Findings: This first tweet is discussed in the case of Paolo Bacigalupi.

*Tweet #2: “right now they complain about antiwhite racism that doesn’t exist. they need to be murdered in the streets for the color of their skin”*

Findings: This tweet is not directed at anyone in particular, except maybe to people who complain about anti-white racism. I interpret it, like much of RH’s use of violent language, as a way to make a point with the use of obviously over the top rhetoric. To me, the fact that no one is specified (white people who complain about anti-white racism is an unfortunately large group) makes this type of language particularly acceptable.

As a white man exposed to western people and western culture, I have often seen this type of language used in reference with PoC. I found RH’s reversal of target, something it seems RH did regularly, rather funny and on point. It’s like NOFX’s Kill All The White Man song. While NOFX’s songs is still sometimes the subject of complaints, and I recognised the right of people to complain about it, I reserve the right to laugh at those who do.

Since the second quote is not part of Mixon’s 29 cases, I can’t properly file it for statistical analysis, but I’ll consider this an example of distorted or false claims for the discussion.

Summary of cases from screen captures

The analysis of the screen captures has identified 4 additional cases that will be discussed here, and not integrated with Mixon’s 29 others cases.

On case shows an instance of RH using questionable language (violent language for rhetorical effect) on a questionable platform (Twitter) to criticise the misogyny of a white man (in 2012). Three cases present distorted or false claims (in 2011 and 2012), although one does also identify an instance of RH misidentifying someone’s racial identity over the internet.

The mythology of Requires Hate

This part of my analysis will concentrate on specific myths relayed or fabricated by Mixon in her essay. I will quote some of the relevant parts of Mixon’s essay to highlight where the parroting/creation of these myths can be found, and argue what makes them false. Since most of the evidence for my arguments was already discussed in the case analysis, I will simply link to the relevant cases, when necessary.

The myth that RH used multiple pseudonyms to hide her actions

Friends, the tl;dr of this very long, comprehensive, analytical report is that up-and-coming John W. Campbell nominee Benjanun Sriduangkaew (who is also rage-blogger Requires Hate, who is also several other internet personalities including Winterfox, pyrofennec, acrackedmoon, and others) (oh yes, the list goes on), is VERY BAD NEWS.

Mixon expresses shock that someone, over the course of multiple years, on multiple internet platforms, has used multiple usernames. Beyond the ridiculousness of Mixon’s incredulity, it was actually literally impossible for anyone to know of RH, pyrofennec, acrackedmoon and Winterfox, and not know that they were the same person.

The username pyrofennec, was used by RH to reply to users at the beginning of her ROTYH blog. For example, in May 2011, a user (Hofnarr), commented on RH’s blog index: “Just came here via a rec on io9 and just wanted to say thank you for making me laugh my brains out. I haven’t gotten through everything yet but i will, and i look forward to the experience. Your hate is lovely and warming.” RH replied, using her pyrofennec account (in the colors reserved for the blog’s owner):  “No, thank you for coming over and giving me a read. :)”

In an April 2011 post on her blog, RH says “my article at Ars Marginal”, and links to an article authored by acrackedmoon, making it rather difficult to ignore the link between those two. Sometime in August of 2011, if my interpretation from WayBack Machine is correct, RH changed her ROTYH blog “owner” username to acrackedmoon. Winterfox, RH’s LiveJournal handle, was also unmistakably associated with RH and acrackedmoon since RH cross posted very similar content to different venues (e.g. her review of Cindy Pon’s book). Her Requires Hate pseudonym, present both on her blog and on twitter, was also impossible to associate with anything other than the acrackedmoon username RH used on her blog.

Just in case it wasn’t entirely clear, I offer the following quote:

“I have no love for this person, as she has hurt some very dear friends of mine. However, I feel its only fair to point out that “Benjanun Sriduangkaew” is the only name that was kept as a separate identity. Requires Hate, Cracked Moon, Pyrofennec, Winterfox, Valse de la Lune and the others were always known and acknowledged to be the same entity. She quoted herself, linked and referenced her comments under these names, and several of these names were inaugurated in quick succession over at Ferretbrain, a place where you have to email the mods in order to get them to change your log-in handle for you and thus can’t really pretend to be someone else (your tag changes sitewide when this is done, but references to the old screen name(s) will remain in the comments, which I don’t think can be edited by the user at all).

Calling these things “socks” and such only makes it seem like there was some kind of reticence or shame involved, which there wasn’t. […]”

Frankly, this myth speaks more about Mixon and her associates than about RH. Worse, Mixon has not presented any evidence that that RH has ever tried to hide the fact that they were one and the same. As the quoted comment above states, the only pseudonym not associated with RH was her writer identity, which as I have showed in the case analysis, RH had good reason to what to protect.

Let us hope that this put the matter to rest, and move on.

The myth that RH was not stalked, harassed, and the victim of a blackballing campaign to silence her criticism of racism in science fiction

In the latest dust-up over Tricia Sullivan’s novel Shadowboxer, accusations have flown back and forth about who did what to whom around the revelation of BS/RH’s multiple pseudonyms. There’s been a lot of smoke and noise around the revelation of the connection between her two identities, with accusations of blackballing and stalking and shunning flying about.


BS/RHs identity, denials, apologies, and accusations of banning, blacklisting, or doxxing – I do believe it’s possible Requires Hate has been stalked and trolled. Just because BS/RH has done awful things doesn’t mean that others haven’t done awful things to her. It doesn’t change the reality of the harm she’s done.

We’ve come a long way from “[victims] shouldn’t have to prove to the court of the internet that they’ve been sufficiently harmed, or belong to a sufficiently marginalized status, in order to be believed.” You’ll also no doubt have notice the marked difference in the language used to describe RH compared to the language Mixon uses to describe her own work. Mixon’s essay is said to be “very long, comprehensive, analytical”, while information from the other side is “asserted”, “accusations [are] flying about”, and there are “rumors”. The actions taken against RH, a queer WoC, are labelled a “dust-up”, unworthy of investigation.

What about those “accusation of blackballing” and “rumors that people are stalking her, doxxing her, shunning her, and calling for her to be silenced”? Well, while Mixon does not discuss them in her essay, but she does link to people admitting some of those very things done against RH [according to Mixon definition of those terms], notably in the cases of Tricia Sullivan and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Caitlin Kiernan, Liz Williams, Athena Andreadis). Instead of investigating whether there is any truth to these allegations, Mixon dismisses them, calling them rumors, and even lists some of the perpetrators of these actions as contributors to her report in her subsequent Hugo nomination celebratory post.

Near the end of her essay, Mixon’s words get even more troubling:

I have seen evidence with my own eyes of an email she wrote to a former supporter, in which she admits that even “Benjanun Sriduangkaew” is yet another constructed identity. Frankly, I don’t know who the person behind these many constructed identities is, or if it’s even really just one person.

Mixon appears to be decrying the fact that RH writes under a pseudonym even though she believes “it’s possible Requires Hate has been stalked and trolled.” I have already given proof that RH has been harassed, and is still currently being stalked and harassed (all taken from Mixon’s own sources). I also find Mixon disingenuous in this paragraph, especially in light of the fact that under her own eyes, Mixon claims to possess information proving that one of RH’s former friends betrayed her and forwarded private communication to third parties. It seems that by all accounts, BS is right in taking measures to protect herself.

In any case, Mixon’s apparent call to action in finding the true identity of RH has been answered by RH’s stalker, whose existence should not need much more discussion since they have gone on to doxxing RH in the summer of 2015. This doxxing was promoted by many of Mixon’s associates, notably TNH, and prompted at least one other white woman associated with Mixon to start making shit up (victim blaming in the process) in order to justify the self-admitted stalker’s actions and the promotion of the results of their years of stalking RH.

Just to reiterate, Mixon and/or her associates went from: 1) denying the existence of any wrongdoing against RH (even in the face of irrefutable evidence as part of Mixon’s own sources for her essay), 2) to promoting the results of years-long stalking against RH (a queer woman of color), 3) to finally fabricating justification for the stalker’s actions (even in the face of the stalker admission that they’re doing this for the joy that stalking and hurting RH brings them). It’s a good thing for them their privilege will protect them from any consequences for their behaviour.

The myth that RH had been involved in significant wrongful actions recently

BS/RH’s online attacks against others in the SFF community extend far beyond simply a few youthful indiscretions in her past, foul language, or having posted harsh reviews of some people’s books. Her assaults, using multiple identities, are repeated, vicious, and energetic. They have spilled out across the years, well beyond the edges of fannish and writing communities online. BS/RH’s attacks have destroyed communities and harmed careers and lives in the real world.

Contrary to Mixon’s assessment, the overwhelming majority of the cases she presented and that are supported by evidence do concern “a few youthful indiscretions in her past, foul language, or having posted harsh reviews of some people’s books”. As I have argued in my case analysis, a majority of Mixon’s 29 cases are entirely about harsh reviews and foul language.

The only recent cases (already dating to almost a year ago at the time I write this) are the following:

  • The case of Athena Andreadis, for which Mixon has not updated her essay, but has added a note in the appendix proving that this case is pure fantasy and conspiracy ideation on the part of Andreadis.
  • The case of Tricia Sullivan and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, for which Mixon present absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of RH. Even if one is to grant that RH might have reacted in an inappropriate manner to the actions of her attackers in this case, to me, it’s immoral to condemn RH for those actions without condemning Sullivan and her associates in a much harsher manner in the same breath. Indeed, as my analysis of this case has showed, the disparity between what was actually done by Sullivan and her associates and what RH was alleged to have done when she tried to defend herself is massive.

Towards the end of her essay, Mixon also states:

With regard to the ethics of outing, when someone has demonstrably used numerous multiple identities to assault people without consequences, they have crossed a line. Furthermore, if it weren’t enough to look back and survey the harm BS/RH has done over the years—death, rape, and maiming threats; deception; gaslighting and deletions of incriminating posts; false accusations; terrorizing of fans, rape victims, and people in emotionally or mentally fragile states; and all of these other acts of harm I’ve showcased here—it’s only been in the last few weeks that BS/RH has lied to her supporters about the connection between her Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Requires Hate personae, and to the community-at-large about whether she was actually outed without her permission, by whom, and when.

This is where it gets even more interesting. This is contrary to what Mixon’s essay had been hinting at for thousands of words. Mixon kept trying to insinuate that RH’s behaviour was constant and relevant to her essay. Instead, Mixon now confesses that really, the only things RH has done wrong in the last couple of years is “[lying] to her supporters about the connection between her Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Requires Hate personae, and to the community-at-large about whether she was actually outed without her permission, by whom, and when.”

As discussed in the case of Tricia Sullivan, RH did try to hide the connection between RH and BS out of concern for her safety, but the assertion than RH lied “to the community-at-large about whether she was actually outed without her permission, by whom, and when” is unsupported by Mixon’s evidence and nonsensical. Mixon is arguing that RH lied about having her identity revealed without her consent, and also lied to protect her identity. Both those things cannot have happened. Further, as stated earlier, Mixon’s own sources (notably the cases of Sullivan, Kiernan, Williams, and Andreadis) admitted to having worked behind the scenes to expose BS as RH long before Nick Mamatas confirmed BS’s identity with her consent. Finally, while I’m willing to entertain the idea that BS might have lied to some people to protect her former alias, since Mixon provides no evidence of this, it’s rather hard to imagine of these people could represent “the community-at-large”.

The myth that RH goaded someone into a suicide attempt

At least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt.

I have very little to say about this myth since it’s a reference to the case of Kari Sperring and it’s discussed in more details if you follow the link.

I’m only highlighting this myth because I find it rather vile that Mixon would use Sperring’s mental health in her efforts to demonise RH, when it should have been obvious to her that there is no possible way to unbiasedly interpret the evidence of this case as she did.

The myth that RH “targeted” PoC (or Asian people specifically), women, homosexuals, and disabled people, and thus, that RH was not “progressive”

She has issued extremely explicit death, rape, and maiming threats against a wide variety of people across the color, gender, sexual-orientation, and dis/ability spectrum.

She and her supporters argue that she punches up, but the truth is that she punches in all directions. The bulk of her targets—despite her progressively-slanted rhetoric—have been women, people of color, and other marginalized or vulnerable people.

“Targeting” (in general)

First, despite Mixon’s formulation, the rape allegations appear to be a single very dubious case from an anonymous internet commenter.

As for the other types of threats, Mixon is hopelessly mixed up in her “facts”. It appears that it was Mixon’s consideration of “death threats” on the same level as “negative reviews” that confused her. In fact, not a single threat against PoC, women, or (as far as I know) someone not heterosexual or someone particularly vulnerable is present in Mixon’s cases. Even if I sometimes disagree with interpreting some RH’s statements as threats, literally every single case is about cishet white men.

As for “vulnerable people”, Mixon alleges that some of RH’s so-called victims were suffering from mental health issues. What Mixon does not mention is the fact that her description of those cases are unsupported or contradicted by the evidence she presented, and that those very same vulnerable people argued that RH could not have known of their vulnerability, and praised RH’s response when she realised she had inadvertently hurt their feelings (see the cases of Kari Sperring and Chelsea Gaither).

As for allegation of selection “targeting” in general, although it’s probably rarely in good taste for an able-bodied white man like me to point it out when I see it happening, PoCs can be racist, women can be sexists, and “marginalized or vulnerable people” can also be bigots. There is no reason to believe that hypocrisy, if I understand Mixon correctly, is necessary to understand why a “progressively-slanted” person would criticise “women, people of color, and other marginalized or vulnerable people.” Indeed, Mixon has not provided any evidence that RH criticism were ever wrong. In fact, in her essay, Mixon even acknowledges that the things RH criticised as “misogynistic, homophobic, racist, or colonialist […] actually are those things […]”.

Further, as I have shown in my investigation of Mixon’s cases, this perception of selected targeting of PoCs and women is largely an artefact of her arbitrary definition of an attack. To understand that, readers should know that being the victim of negative reviews from RH represents roughly half of Mixon’s 29 cases (roughly 40% to 65%). Also, quite a few of her cases rest solely on the fact that RH sometimes published her reviews in two parts. One part contained her opinion of the work itself, and another part, published in a separate post the next day, or a couple of days later, contained selected quotes RH had saved by not included in the review.

This publishing of reviews in two parts was not always done by RH. As far as I could tell, RH switched to this type of reviewing at a time when she almost never read books by white authors. Thus, many of RH’s most epic takedowns of white male authors were published long before in a single review, and RH never bothered to review them again, although I uncovered a few cases where white male authors were subjected to at least two reviews, but that were not included in Mixon’s 29 cases.

In addition, as stated before, RH gave very harsh reviews of the works of Keith Brooks, Neil Gaiman, JA Pitts, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Jim Butcher, Ed Greenwood, Paul S Kemp, Jonathan Lethem, Kevin Hearne, Mark Lawrence, Ken Grimwood, Ian McDonald, RA Salvatore, Richard Morgan, Daniel Abraham,  Beau Schemery, Joe Abercrombie, James Cameron , Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Peter Watts, Pat from Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, various white male movie and video game creators, etc.). Most of those where only the subject of one review, but since Mixon included women writers even when their work was only the subject of a single negative review (e.g. Mary Robinette Kowal) or even a single rather positive review (Caitlin Kiernan), they should have been taken into account.

Even if we leave aside Mixon’s extremely problematic definition of an attack, which as I said, is sufficient to discredit her assessment of RH’s work, her “Comparison of US Children’s Book Writers to RHB Targets by Race”, found a little later in her essay, is also inappropriate on several levels. Mainly, Mixon is wrong in claiming that in other to tell whether RH disproportionately targeted minorities, “we would need to compare it to publication data by race [in SFF].” This makes no sense. Mixon’s method (or the proxy she found in this case), is fatally flawed. To see if she disproportionately targeted, we would have to know the books RH was reading. Indeed, it should be rather obvious that as queer WoC, RH wanted to read books by/about other queer WoC (or at least one of those). While reading mostly that kind of books, it’s inevitable that one could end up being vocally disappointed with some of them. No conspiracy theory is required.

Indeed, at the same time that RH was criticism the racism, homophobia, misogyny and colonialism present in the works of white man, she praised the work of many queer writers or PoC. A complete list would be too long to compile, so I’ll only list a small sample of the authors whose books/works I have personally bought/sought based on the strength of RH’s recommandations: Octavia Butler, Genevieve Valentine, Nalo Hopkinson, Helen Oyeyemi, Catherynne M Valente, Zen Cho, Aliette de Bodard, Tanith Lee, Ellen Kushner, Laurie J Marks, Ekaterina Sedia, Lavie Tidhar, Alex Dally MacFarlane, etc. (I could not list everything, as some of my books are in storage). This is a bit shameful to admit, but I think that reading RH’s blog is the only reason I now make the effort of finding and reading books from authors my subconscious prejudiced me to overlook for so many years. In fact, anyone who cares about diversity in SFF could take the time to follow RH on twitter and see that when she is not talking about Hearthstone or makeup, she is tirelessly promoting the works of marginalised people and criticising misogyny, homophobia, racism, or colonialism when she sees it.

“Targeting “of Asians

(She is notorious for attacking an Asian-Hispanic woman in a LiveJournal forum, for instance, for not being Asian enough in comparison to her—she wasn’t “Asian-Asian.”)


“I did not further break POC targets into ethnic groups; however, BS/RH showed a clear pattern of targeting specifically (though not only) Asians, Pacific Islanders, and people of Asian descent around the globe.”

“Demographic Analysis – Summary

The data indicate that BS/RH preferentially targets writers who are POC, women, and people from other marginalized groups, with a particular focus on people of Asian descent.”

“She is notorious for attacking an Asian-Hispanic woman in a LiveJournal forum, for instance, for not being Asian enough in comparison to her—she wasn’t ‘Asian-Asian.’”

Here is my analysis of the entire database of information Mixon gives to support her statement that RH “targets” Asian people:

  • Mixon, quoting an anonymous commenter: “it would not take you much work to find her calling various and sundry Asian women ‘not Asian enough.’ (You can do that yourself; it makes me sick to do it for you.) So she has redefined us as ‘white on the inside’.”

These allegation are unsupported by any evidence provided by Mixon and in fact appear to be regurgitations and misrepresentations of the other statements below.

  • The 4th screen capture presented in Mixon’s essay, where RH criticised a person of unknown ethnic origin for stating something not given by Mixon. In response to the person stating their ethnic identity as Asian and Hispanic, RH clarified her criticism to highlight its colonialist perspective:

pyrofennec: “You sound so white.”

Unknown person: “[…] For the record, I am not white. I am Asian and Hispanic. […]”

pyrofennec: “‘Kay, Asian-Asian here and bred in Asia. Do you see why to me “westernized Asians ____” being used as an unironic endorsement sounds shitty.”

This “screen capture case” is nothing more than RH attempting to discuss the cultural differences between Asians living in Asia and Asians living in western nations. A distinction that is more truism than attack. This is apparently the source for Mixon assertion that RH is “[…] notorious for attacking an Asian-Hispanic woman in a LiveJournal forum, for instance, for not being Asian enough […]”. The fact that Mixon uses a non-western WoC’s desire for representation as tool in her campaign against RH tells us a great deal about Mixon’s cluelessness and prejudices.

(I will note that RH not asking people’s ethnic identity before making assumptions is something RH apologized for years ago. From Mixon’s evidence, it appears that RH has never repeated that behaviour since then.)

  • The 2011 case of hesychasm described by Mixon as: “Cambodian-American reader, mistaken by WF as white and schooled on crying “white women’s tears” when she said that personal insults were inappropriate in the thread […].”

The entire case (which is nothing more than another misidentification of someone’s racial identity over the internet) is discussed at length, but suffice it to say that RH has apologised in the days following the incident (and, again, Mixon does not give any evidence of RH having done something similar since).

  • The case of Cindy Pon where RH harshly criticised her books in her 2011-2012 reviews.

This case is also discussed at length, but is little more than criticising Pon’s book for specific content for which Mixon provides no evidence that RH was wrong in her criticism. RH is also alleged to have criticised people who have reviewed Pon’s book without mentioning elements she found important, a behavior which RH had stopped years ago when it was pointed out to her, and for which she had apologised prior to the publication of Mixon’s essay.

  • Mixon, quoting an anonymous email source where a “Scathing anonymous Tumblr review” is quoted as having said: “Are you Asian? Are you actually Asian?”

Mixon’s justifications for thinking that this could be from RH, even when Mixon admits that she has “no direct evidence this was BS/RH” is the fact that it was an “attack on an Asian writer”. Mixon is thus self-perpetuating a baseless myth.

  • The case of Rochita Loenen-Ruiz where RH is accused of gossiping that Loenen-Ruiz might be the person responsible for revealing her identity following the end of their friendship.

Mixon provides no evidence for her allegations and this case concerns the end of the longstanding friendship between RH and Loenen-Ruiz, and Loenen-Ruiz’s conduct in this case is worse than RH’s.

For those wanting to keep count, that’s: 2 harsh reviews of a single Asian person’s books in 2011-2012; 2 instances (in 2011) of RH assuming a person on the internet was white, learning later that they were part Asian; 1 unsupported case where RH is said to have speculated about a former friend’s involvement in her harassment (no proof is presented that this actually occurred); and 1 case of wild speculation based on the previous cases. That’s it.

What you see here is cherry picking of evidence and self-perpetuating myth. All the more repulsive since so many of Mixon’s 29 cases rest solely on the fact that RH wrote “vituperative reviews” criticising authors for their racism against Asians in their books. Mixon appears to be totally unaware of who RH was and does not appear to have actually read or have been capable of understand the very reviews she characterised as “attacks”. Yes, to say RH, in the past, could sometimes be “abrasive” in her interactions with others would be an understatement, but she was nothing if not relentless in her fight against misogyny, racism, homophobia, and colonialism. That was particularly the case when dealing with racism against Asians.

I’ll speculate wildly myself and assume that RH misidentified a lot more people’ racial identity prior to 2012 (perhaps even other Asian people) (see this link for a discussion of this question in general). I’m sure it’s insulting and possibly silencing to be told that your arguments are the same ones used by white people to silence PoC when you’re just a PoC stating your honest opinion. It’s really a shame that my people have used certain words and tropes to silence criticism of racism and colonialism so many damn times that when PoC use those same words/tropes in environments where a person’s racial identity is not immediately apparent, people can mistake their honest position as indication of their racial identity. It’s a good thing that RH apologised for her behaviour and Mixon could not find any instance of her doing the same time in the last 4 years.

Not progressive

At the time when she was posting reviews on her blog, RH’s politics were obvious to her racist and sexist detractors. As one of Mixon’s own case illustrates, RH detractors, mad that their favorite books by white male authors were receiving negative reviews, were of the opinion that her only criteria for liking a book was if it contained queer WoC.

But – you are now faced with the issue of turning that same critique upon yourself. Because the bulk of your rants very definitely follow the “inferior reader” route. You have different contingent triggers than the flaming sword of Greddark crowd, but the principle is the same. This has positive models of gays and/or POCs in – I LIKE it! This has a rape in it – shit-stain fucking misogynist asshole white male neckbeard bullshit scum-sucking nyaaaaaAAAAAGH. Let’s throw acid in his face!!!”

How is this different from the “inferior reader” approach you’re decrying?

Even Kari Sperring, one of RH’s supposed victim, considered her politics progressive:

I admire [your] feminist and anti-racist work a lot of the time, in fact, and while [you’re] a bit full-on for me sometimes, I do support a lot of [your] views and aims.

In order to show that RH’s progressive rhetoric is “a cynical attempt to coopt it to serve her own ends,” Mixon would have to show that RH was wrong in the instances where she identified issues of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and colonialism. Mixon has never attempted this in her essay. In fact, Mixon’s definition of an attack contains “writing more than one negative review”, regardless of whether or not RH was accurate in her criticism of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and colonialism in those reviews. To reiterate, Mixon has not shown any instances where RH was wrong in her use of “progressive rhetoric”, and has even admitted in her essay that RH’s criticisms where valid.

I get the feeling that what Mixon is trying to say is that is that RH is not a nice person. That to her, you can’t be both a progressive all the time, and an asshole some of the time. There is, of course, no relation between how nice someone is and their politics. Some people will tell the craziest racist shit with a smile. For example, a (former) friend of mine once said, in all seriousness: “I’m not racist, I have nothing against black people, but those damn [First Nations People]…“, and proceeded to say the exact same kind of shit racists say about black people. But she sure was nice about it, and definitely not racist.

The apparent attempt by Mixon, a cishet white woman, to erase the past and present activism against misogyny, racism, homophobia, and colonialism of RH, a queer WoC, would be laughable if the world were not full of racist white people ready to believe her. RH’s activism was clear to see for any non-racist person who had taken the time to read RH’s actual work, even if people are free to disagree with her tactics at the time. Again, fortunately for Mixon and her associates, they will be protected from the consequences of their actions by her privilege, even when they go as far as calling Asian women “Chairman Cow”, “Rabid Animal”, or calling people white mental health issues “Requires Medication”.


It’s rather funny that Mixon ended up winning a Hugo Award for best fan writer. Under normal circumstances, the puppies would have claimed the 5 nominations slots. But, one of the people nominated, namely Matthew David Surridge, had the grace to decline the nomination. Had Mixon not campaigned for the award and enlisted the help of a very powerful white man to promote her work attacking a queer woman of color, the next person to be nominated would have been Abigail Nussbaum, an Israeli fan writer. From what I can see, Nussbaum would have had a good chance of winning under any circumstances (and would have been deserving of it), but she would most definitely have won this year. To take the irony to the next level, Nussbaum herself felt that Mixon was undeserving of the award.

The myth that RH is a destroyer of online communities

She has single-handedly destroyed several online SFF, fanfic, and videogaming communities with her negative, hostile comments and attacks.


Community demolition – Furthermore, BS/RH’s repeated attacks have had a chilling effect on our online communities. Once people witness what BS/RH does to others, they become fearful of speaking up, even mildly, against her or in favor of whatever she attacks. They prefer to remain silent, or quietly leave the field.


This is not the only LiveJournal forum that died out as a result of her hostility. According to targets familiar with LiveJournal, she was also responsible for killing participation in girl_gamers, another LiveJournal forum for fans. She is known for trolling fanfic and videogaming forums as far back as 2001, by some reports. Targets have reported leaving LiveJournal and Twitter and other SFF gathering places, rather than risk an encounter with her. One or two writers have left online discourse altogether, and report that they now hesitate to have contact with their fans.

From Mixon’s cases, it’s rather obvious that “several”, in this case, means only one. Mixon mentions other communities, but since she does not consider them cases, and that I have established that her threshold for the confirmation of the veracity of a case is “one anonymous comment on a forum”, I’ll conclude that these allegations are fabricated and unsupported by any evidence. Also, since apparently those event go back to when RH was in her early teens, I doubt they would be relevant today.

More precisely, that single case it that of the 50 books POC Livejournal community. As my analysis of this case has shown, not only did RH not “destroy” the community Mixon alleges she destroyed, but was actually a generally well respected contributor until the actions of a cishet white woman resulted in racialized harassment toward RH and other PoC on the community. While RH’s conduct was not always perfect, it compared favorably to that of white cishet women on the community. Further, the 50 books POC Livejournal continued even after RH was forced to leave Livejournal because of harassment against her, declining on its own. Do go read the case analysis if you have any doubt.

The myth that RH “attacked” her peers and up-and-coming writers

BS/RH’s targets, by and large, are her peers. An overwhelming 77% of her attacks have been launched at professional writers. The next largest group in the sample I analyzed, at 12%, were readers who spoke up to defend writers whose works they liked, when BS/RH did not.


In addition, I also saw some evidence of a correlation with gathering “buzz” for a number of her targets. In other words, the timing of her attacks often came at the targets who were perceived as up-and-comers or “come-back kids.” They had won or been nominated for awards or good reviews or were receiving other industry attention. But I did not have sufficient data available in the timeframe for publication to confirm this.

First, let’s pause here to remember that the reason so many of RH’s “targets” are authors it that the majority of Mixon’s “attacks” are based on the fact that RH published reviews of their books .

Mixon also doesn’t paint an accurate picture of RH’s power relationship to the alleged targets. For example, 19 of 29 targets are either not dated or dated before BS published any short story (she was first published in August 2012). Even after that date, I think that few people would consider that someone who published a few short stories is a peer, say, Bacigalupi, a white American man that, according to Wikipedia, was nominated or won 22 awards in the last 10 years.

At the time of most of her alleged events, RH was either a reader, a reviewer or a short story writer. In fact, only one case is dated at the same time as RH’s identity was revealed. Hence, the outside world only saw a reader or a reviewer interacting with other readers or with authors. To reiterate, RH’s subsequent successful publication of a few short stories does not magically transform 4-years-old insults into “an author attacking readers” or a 2-years-old reviews as “an author attacking her competitors”. I do not think Mixon’s characterisation of RH in this regard is fair.

Mixon’s impression that “the timing of her attacks often came at the targets who were perceived as up-and-comers” (apparently a reference to single the case of Colum Paget) is also fabrication. It’s nothing else but a perfectly normal behaviour on RH’s part. There is nothing suspicious about a reader, a reviewer or a writer having a tendency to read books ”by perceived as up-and-comers” in SFF, especially shortly after awards nominations/results are announced. It’s what SFF fans do. It’s what reviewers do. It’s what authors do. They seek out books of interest to them to read, review, or to get inspiration/a feeling for their field. For fuck’s sake, promoting authors and increasing readership is why awards exist in the first place.

The myth that RH terrorised writers away from SFF

Rape victims have been hounded and stalked; writers have reported to me that after their encounters with her, they have been unable to write for months on end, out of sheer shock and terror at encountering such violent language directed against them for their work. Readers have been driven away from the field due to the toxicity they’ve experienced or witnessed.

I’ll leave aside the “rape victims” allegations, discussed in the case analysis (which apparently refers to a single person).

Mixon refers to “writers have reported […] they have been unable to write for months on end” following their “encounter” with RH.” It’s difficult to tell what she means because she gives no hint of the nature of the interactions and no reference to whom she is referring to in her essay. None of her 29 case descriptions mentions this. A quick search of the term “stopped” in her article leads to 4 comments by 3 people. Writer 1: “RH reviewed one of my stories. She hated it […] I almost stopped writing. And I am not the only one.” Writer – 2: “This was my debut book that was attacked. […] I nearly stopped writing when this happened.” For Writer 2, the reviews in questions (1 review and 3 “selected quotations” posts) are pretty easy to find. In both cases, it appears that it was only the negative reviewing itself that was the issue. Writer 2 says: “What always saddened me most about her terrible language and disgusting images, her vicious, vitrolic bile, is that anger does not help people improve. I read most of the four posts she made about my work, and I learned a little. But I would have learned more, would have loved to have entered a dialogue with her about helping me become a more mindful and better writer, but I couldn’t. Because I was too busy shaking and crying.”

Writer 3, is actually Colum Paget, who is one of Mixon’s cases. In 2 different comments (out of the many that Paget has produced), Paget says: “I’ve pretty much stopped writing because of it. […]My first encounter with RH was on twitter when they called for me to be beheaded for a comment (taken completely out of context) I’d made in an old blogpost […] In many ways it wasn’t the threats and insults that *really* bothered me (though they did) it was the discovery that so many people would support them […].”

I’m sure it’s quite hurtful when someone calls your work bad, but that’s no excuse to harass a reviewer. As for Paget’s case, I already explained that while I understand why some may object to RH’s use of language when interacting with him, I personally believe that the context in the case shows that it was Paget’s trolling and sea-lioning of RH (along with his cluelessness about racial issues) that prevented him from understanding correctly what RH was telling him, and prevented him from seeing her comments are RH ridiculing him, rather than threatening him.

The myth that RH is the leader of a cult, manipulating her followers to do her evil bidding

BS/RH’s followers – How is Requires Hate able to cut such a wide swath of destruction? A major part of the reason is that for over a decade BS/RH has been cultivating a sizable cast of followers who respond to her calls to help launch attacks. When one of BS/RH’s targets tries to speak up against her, BS/RH publicly positions herself as the victim and accuses her target of doing what she in fact has just done to them, and asks her followers to go on the attack.

Some people who do so are simply supporters—those on the sidelines who see someone who has cultivated their friendship, an intelligent young lesbian woman of color, speaking up about a social injustice. They trust her and believe her version of events. It seems apparent that in many cases they are acting in good faith—though their actions still do harm, as BS/RH’s targets end up being blasted with hostile or suspicious messages from the community, when they in fact have been the victims of an attack by BS/RH. As a consequence, her targets experience a deep sense of isolation, when many people they admire and respect are amplifying Requires Hate’s false narratives about what has happened.

Considering that Mixon gives absolutely no evidence that anyone ever did anything they did not want at the orders of RH. For only case where this is alleged (Athena Andreadis), while Mixon has not updated her essay, she has added a note in the appendix proving that this case is pure fantasy and conspiracy ideation on the part of Andreadis. I will dismiss this myth as the product of Mixon’s imagination.

I will, however, point to the comments of the moderator of the community RH is alleged to have destroyed (see the case of Rachel Manija Brown). This person highlighted three racialized dynamics in the discussion. Their comment is well worth the read and the whole thing discussed at length in my case analysis, but I’ll quote the most relevant part and try to summarise my thoughts about Mixon’s fantasy.

Racialized notions of “proper” behavior […], the sense of what is “not done” is cultural, and some of those cultural differences are also racialized.

Racialized knowledge sets came up in the dispute over what rachelmanija’s 4chan comment meant. I’m guessing that if I were to do a poll to discover who thought of 4chan as “that place where people are rude and mean” and who thought of 4chan as “that place where they take pride in their racism, and even believe that their racism sets them a notch above all other internet gathering places,” you’d find a racial skew in the answers. Thus, the question of whether rachelmanija crossed a line, what line, and how badly she crossed it, becomes a racialized one.


Additionally, there are racial biases in who is perceived to be (or remembered to be) disruptive or a problem. Even in threads and comments where a member acknowledged that rachelmanija’s 4chan comment qualified as an insult and was thus within scope of the discussion, there was a disturbing tendency to reframe the conversation as if winterfox was the only member whose behavior was within the scope of the discussion.

I think those same phenomenon can explain, presumably, why Mixon’s sources thought that “BS/RH publicly positions herself as the victim and accuses her target of doing what she in fact has just done to them”. This perception, I think, is largely based on a biased perception influenced by the racial identity of the people involved (although some RH’s words, like everyone else’s, were sometimes worthy of broader criticism). To be clear, I’m certain the people involved are sincere in their belief that they are true victims and that RH is a true aggressor, but that does not make them objectively right.

This type of racialized perception and reaction is very common among my people. We whites are, as a general rule, scared of little else like we are scared of being called racist, to the point that many of us consider that it’s a worse insult to be called a racist than to subject PoC to our racism in the first place. Worst some of us will gladly reframe the events of the past in order to avoid being called racist for our actions. It’s a kind of preemptive strike defensive mechanism (“better really pound that Poc into the ground, lest anyone think I’m racist”). Off course, not all my people do this intentionally. Those that do know that they aren’t fooling any PoC with this tactic, but fortunately, they also understand that even if they can’t force PoC like them, it’s a great way to scare them away.

Getting back to the more specific claims made by Mixon, RH, using her mind-control powers, is accused of the following:

She has been involved in efforts to suppress the publication of fiction and reviews for those works that in her sole opinion should not be published.

Mixon is referring to the case of Tricia Sullivan and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. The case analysis is very long, but boils down to the following. At the request of an author, RH told her that her book was racist. When this author decided to publish the book anyway, RH asked her friend, in private, not to support the publication of a racist book about Thailand. When RH’s friend refused (her superpowers must have failed her somehow), RH stopped being friends with her, which made her (now former) friend feel bad about herself. That’s it, that’s the extent of RH’s efforts at suppressing the publication of SSF. Making racist writers feel bad about their racist books.

She and her associates have pressured con-runners to disinvite speakers from panels and readings, constraining their ability to do business.

This is a reference a single case, that of Athena Andreadis. As I said, Mixon has not updated her essay, but has added a note in the appendix proving that this case is pure fantasy and conspiracy ideation on the part of Andreadis.

Developing further on how Mixon beleives RH managed to acquire so much power, she writes:

Others are part of BS/RH’s inner circle. These people actively work in coordination with her to identify and launch attacks against targets. They appear to be mostly progressive women, and many are women of color. I know this because a number of them have reached out privately to me. They feel trapped and want out. They have provided me with details.

BS/RH draws them into her circle with flattery and friendliness, cultivating a mentor-like relationship with them. She provides a supposed safe, private space online for them to vent their frustrations and fears. Gradually BS/RH pulls them in a tight orbit, a world filled with negativity and paranoia where no one is to be trusted but her. She eggs them on in email exchanges or live chats to say intemperate things about their SFF colleagues. In other words, she incites them to help pick targets.

Members of the inner circle receive (initially gentle) correctives if they push back against BS/RH’s directives. If they continue to resist, they become targets, themselves—with the added unspoken threat that she can publish their ill-considered emails at any time. They have been her loyal soldiers, and have spoken ill of and acted badly toward other people at her behest.

However, though they are culpable, it is important to remember that someone they thought they could trust is in essence holding them hostage. In a very real sense, they are BS/RH’s victims, too.

It is my deepest hope that when they realize that the community knows her game, her inner-circle members who want to escape her control will feel safe enough to step away from her. And I hope that those who have been harmed by former supporters of BS/RH will find it in themselves to forgive those who lashed out at them, hear their stories, and enable them to make amends.

Let’s back up. “The unspoken threat that she can publish their ill-considered emails at any time”? How can someone be blamed for an “unspoken threat” that is never, ever implied? It seems to me that what RH is blamed for here is absolutely, 100%, inside the head of those former friends. None of Mixon’s 29 cases references any of possible threat of leaking personal communications from her friends on the part of RH. This is the only part in Mixon’s essay where she claims these threats are somehow a thing, and she denies any involvement of RH in their creation.

However, Mixon has claimed that she has “seen evidence with my own eyes of an email [RH] wrote to a former supporter”, and that she received “forwarded emails from [RH’s] interactions with others.” If my interpretation of Mixon’s account is accurate (based mostly on my thorough investigation of the cases and searching for “email” in Mixon’s essay), this appears to be a case of the type of racially biased perception discussed previously in my essay. RH’s former friends’ speculation that RH might leak upsetting information is entirely imagined (from what Mixon shows us), but nonetheless judged to be worthy of mention and reason to condemn RH. Meanwhile, RH’s former friends’ actual, Mixon-proven, leaks of RH’s private communication is not condemned or described as a way of controlling and silencing RH.

For those who have not realised this yet, the “unspoken threat” is probably about Rochia Loenen-Ruiz, who had been friends with RH for years before she decided to support her white friend’s career and “right” to publish a books about Thailand with “cultural issues” over supporting RH’s criticism of the book (since RH could not do so herself without serious personal cost). I can very well imagine the incredible number of emails Loenen-Ruiz and RH could have exchanged over the years of their friendship since they were most certainly sharing similar worldviews about issues of sexism, racism, and colonialism in SFF. Books and authors, some of which are probably friends of Loenen-Ruiz, were certainly criticised without holding anything back. Maybe Loenen-Ruiz, like RH, even liked to make the occasional casual threats to particularly racist authors as jokes. I hope that everyone can now appreciate that in the months following Loenen-Ruiz severe betrayal of RH, BS has not published any of the hundreds or perhaps thousands of “ill-considered emails” she has. This really makes one question the allegation that RH somehow likes to attack Asian people.

My last comment on this myth is that this type of speculation on Mixon’s part, where a single woman somehow manipulates people into doing her evil bidding from half a world away, is also the kind of content in Mixon’s essay that made me cast great doubts on her credibility (even before I completed the case analysis that proved my suspicions). It really boggles my mind, and it clashes with my memory of RH’s actual interactions with her friends.

Reading the discussions generated on the ROTYH blog, it’s clear that this was a community eager to read good SFF and snarky criticism highlighting misogyny, racism, homophobia and colonialism in various works of SFF. Of people eager to learn and develop critical reading skill about something they didn’t always know a lot about.

In fact, RH’s opinion was often criticised, and when that criticism didn’t come from some one of the numerous racist or sexist members of SFF fandom, the issues were discussed, people agreed or disagreed, and all was good and right in the world. RH herself has been called out on some of her language and changed some of it as a result. The 50 Books POC moderation debate already showed how RH, even if she disagreed with some of the criticism she received, was willing to modify the language of one of her review at the request of a moderator, and apologised when other inappropriate behaviour was pointed out. In another instance on her blog (going from memory), a commenter once told her that her use of “butthurt” (a term frequently used in some gaming communities that RH was a part of) was often, in essence, a rape joke. She backed the commenter’s point, and I never saw her use the term again. Another instance is in the case of Melissa Goldberg, where RH was called out for reviewing a self-published author. My point is that the “community” she created was far from a cult, and there is no indication that the friends she made are any different than anyone else’s friends.

Frankly, I’d like to know who Mixon thinks RH is “holding […] hostage” and under her “control”. I’m sure they would like to know too, if only to reaffirm their free will and independent thought.

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others

All this does not even begin to address the issue of Mixon’s essay itself and the campaign of promotion around it.

In some instances discussed in some the case analysis, RH’s conduct was worthy of condemnation. People can disagree about how many or how few, about the proper response to the described conducts, but the conclusion stands. I think it can also be argued that in many (more) cases, much more powerful and privileged members of the SFF community behaved in much the same way, or worse, toward RH.

In fact, for many cases identified here, notably Mixon’s essay and its coordinated release and publicity, if they were to be analysed with the same worldview given lip service to by Mixon, could be viewed as much worse than the very few allegations against RH where Mixon has been shown to be accurate.

Indeed, Mixon has published her essay and at least 2 follow-up posts. In them, she has criticised RH for her writing in the field of SFF (most cases are about reviews) and described her as a troll, an harasser, an abuser, a liar, a blackmailer, etc. This constitutes an attack by Mixon’s own definition of the word (“multiple, vituperative reviews”). Mixon has also discussed RH multiple times on twitter. Going forward with Mixon’s effective definition of the word attack, found by analysing the alleged cases against RH, we find that:

  • Mixon has asked other heavyweights in the SFF community (including, apparently, GRRM, arguably the biggest name in the field today) to help her in attacking RH: “I have asked my friends and acquaintances to signal-boost this post for me.”

This is very similar to Mixon’s assertion that “a major part of the reason is that for over a decade BS/RH has been cultivating a sizable cast of followers who respond to her calls to help launch attacks.”

  • Mixon’s attacks have put pressure on the entire SFF community to shun RH, with multiple letters sent to editors and authors.

This is very similar to accusations she has levelled against RH: “She and her associates have pressured [industry members and constrained her target’s] ability to do business.”

  • Mixon’s essay contained an incredible amount of multiple factual errors (as my case analysis have shown). While Mixon was surely only misinformed about many of the cases she identified, it nonetheless means that she has used false information to target RH. One of her updates to her essay confirmed this.

This is similar to her accusation that RH “was [giving false information] to her supporters to [convince] them to [attack targets].”

  • Mixon has continued her attacks of RH for months, even when RH has expressed the desire for the attacks to stop and to be left alone.

This constitutes “harassment” of the same type described in at least one of Mixon’s cases against RH.

  • Mixon’s attack against RH has silence vulnerable people in the field of SFF. For more on that point, see the section just below.

This is similar to the allegation she makes against RH: “As a result of [her] actions, valuable members of our community have been silenced, harassed, even chased out of the field […].”

Apparently, it’s not what RH was allegedly doing that what wrong, because Mixon and her associtates are involved in the exact same behaviours. It’s who she was.

All this to say that after reading RH’s work when she was a reviewer and her fiction now that she is an author, I can find a more plausible explanation as to why “younger writers entering the field who are not part of the traditional US and UK white middle class” might find RH’s voice, despite her flaws, more friendly than that of the opposition.

The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must

Now might be as good a time as any to explore the effect that Mixon’s report has had of marginalised writers. The following quotes are from the comments on a thread, created specifically for PoC to comment on the situation. The people there has obviously more to say than what I quote, so I encourage people to go read the source, as it offers a clearer picture of what is being said then my obviously selected quotes. I went at this following the thread, so some comments may be from the same people. The quotes I selected are from people that commented on Mixon’s behaviours and that of her associates. Specifically, this means that quite a few of the comments regarding RH’s actions are left out of my selection, as they were not relevant to this analysis. [Also note that a lot of the commenters were probably unaware of the actual facts, having taken Mixon’s essay at face value. Also of note: one has to wonder just how safe that space can really be if Loenen-Ruiz, who has arguably participated in the campaign against RH by spreading false information, leave around 30% of the comments.]

“I’m a WoC who has been trying to get into the SFF world, and the entire affair has left us all terrified, not just because of how much the extent of RH’s abuse has been revealed (and therefore marking us as possible targets should we get published), but because of the fallout and reaction to it. […] I fear PoC are paying the heaviest price, both as potential targets for RH and also being dismissed/ignored/harassed by whites. […] the focus is […] more about white people complaining about being called out on racism. […] Speaking with fellow WoC, the overall feeling is that the discourse has been drowned out by white voices: often self-righteous and not really related.”

“I feel hesitant to comment on this matter on Twitter anymore, because it seems to lead to many misunderstandings with white writers and fans, and because I worry that it’ll hurt my future prospects […] To me, to see white writers act like that on the thread, is to once again feel the intense betrayal of white friends who turn out to be bluntly racist all along. They’ll use this to silence us, I’m sure of it. And then blame us for that silencing.”

“I worry that lumping in the angry reviews creates a divide where there shouldn’t be one. It puts people like myself at a terrible position, because on the one hand, I agree with some of the points RH raised in her reviews with respect to racism and misogyny, but on the other, I also find the abuse she put some of these authors through reprehensible and abhorrent.

These two views need not be mutually exclusive, and yet I feel like that’s what the Mixon report does, in a sense. And sure, the white commenters on that thread could very easily say, ‘of COURSE negative reviews are fine!’ but I only see them using this post as an excuse to stomp on social justice in the guise of caring for the victims, which doesn’t do PoC any service at all. It’s self-congratulatory and self-righteous, and it makes me ill.

I’m going to remember this for years to come, I know that. I’m going to see some of the people who commented on that thread and go, ‘ah, yes, I know who you are’ and immediately distrust them. I don’t like that I’ll have to do that. “

“I too had to stop reading the Mixon post as the direction the comments were taking was… disturbing to me.

It is terrible to find that again we are bearing the brunt of the burden, that we must pay this high high cost.”

“I’ve been swinging from sorrow for the victims, terror of Laura Mixon and Elizabeth Bear, fury at their abuse of power, fear at their abuse of power, anger at freeloaders, anger at bystanders, fury at Benjanun for her actions, and so on.”

“I am so grateful to see a safe space open here, because the rest of the discourse has increasingly made me uncomfortable, disheartened, and not sure who – even among people who I’ve previously admired and have been kind to me – I can really trust.”

“I’m certainly disappointed with the way some of the white SFF pros have begun coopting the discussion and making it all about their career concerns.”

“I, too, am frightened by all this, not just by the white people who’ve hijacked and co-opted the discourse (and to them I have only this to say: how *dare* you?) but by RH […].”

“Describing aspects of someone’s work as racist is not abuse. Threatening people with acid in the face and suggesting they be murdered, tortured, etc. is abuse. The Mixon thread is full of white people claiming that because RH did both of these things, any criticism of their work as racist is now abusive and invalid, and any future criticism of their work as racist should also be considered abuse.”

“The fact that nobody is making that distinction between abuse/threats and pointing out the racism in reviews is infuriating. The fact that white people are making these claims that anybody else who points out the racism in their work is invalid and abusive makes me sickened and scared, because […] I have similar opinions to RH with some books she reviewed […].”

On another website, a poster, while expressing her disapproval of some of RH’s actions in the past, had this to say:

“I also have a lot of her problems with her attackers. Not all of them. There are people with very real grudges. There’s also a huge group of racist white women from fandom who strategize together on anon communities (like faux-progressive 4chans) who magnify her abilities, think she’s Satan, and try whatever it takes to try to bring her down, including pretending to be WoC. […]

Some people are after her because she gave their favorite writer a bad review. In many cases, especially for the most popular writers, those were deservedly bad reviews. And they were the kind of reviews pointing out basic flaws that a lot of critics are too scared to make. I’ll admit to fist-pumping after reading quite a few of them.”

Finally, another WoC commented on her blog:

“Two older white western women and one older white western man in a western country doxxed and blackballed a younger WoC in a non-Western country. [ed. note: The man in question is Nick Mamatas, and as discussed, he did not actually participate in the doxxing of RH.]

That’s a bit shit. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that’s a bit fucking racist, mate.

That’s what G***rgaters do. Their artillery is primarily fuelled by misogyny instead of racism, which is really just a different shade of shit.


Six months have passed. In that time, efforts to bolster true diversity and create nuture safe spaces for minority voices have been undermined by WASPs – the same WASPS who were in a tizz initially – continuing and continuing and continuing to ‘raise awareness’ of RH’s past behaviour, long past the point of what is useful or reasonable. As I said below six months ago; RH has publically owned and apologised for her actions and the damage she has caused, the fact that this is not enough indicates that this was never about taking an anti-harassment stance but of personal vendettas being played out on a communal level.”

As quoted previously, victims of harassment has also spoken out against Mixon and her associates:

Can we please, really PLEASE STOP DOING THIS? … you’re doing the exact same shitty thing that she did to me. … The current harassment of Benjanun Sriduangkaew has nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict that I had to do with her two years ago. … The backlash against her made me feel sick to my stomach very, very quickly. … The answer to bullying is not to bully the bullies. … If she deserves anything, it’s our respect and sympathy.

The closest Mixon comes to addressing any of these comments in her follow-up post is when she says: “Studies show that while we all have biases and, despite our best efforts, do and say racist, sexist, homophobic, or ableist things at times (and when we do, we really need to be OK with having it pointed out, if we want to be fair)”. The multiple requests by PoCs that people need to make a stand and say that criticising racism is okay and that they are too scared to do it themselves, deserves nothing more than 21 words in the middle of a 3900-word follow-up post. The request that white people take a step back and stop talking about this is also disregarded, although I’m in no position to criticise Mixon there.

Trying to find Mixon’s intentions

In Mixon’s first follow-up post, we can understand a little more of what she hoped to accomplish with her essay.

“….If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

This is a quote by Solzhenitsyn that Mixon uses to open her post. Mixon opens her post with a quote that seems to indicate shes view of RH as some evil force, instead of as a human being. The quote laments how difficult it is to “separate them [evil] from the rest of us and destroy them”. Mixon appears to explain a little more what she wants later in her post, when she writes:

“Our community doesn’t kick people out. Ever. People can decide to leave […] But if a person decides to stay, however controversial and destructive their actions have been, they’ll nearly always find someone ready to listen to them.

It’s a salient trait of our community to be tolerant—to a fault—of difference, of clueless behavior, argument, and dissent.”

This is only my interpretation, but Mixon appears saddened that BS was not kicked out of SFF and that BS has instead decided to become a better person and keep writing in SFF (although to be clear, BS had already made that decision in 2013, possibly even some time in 2012). Mixon later tells us: “trust can’t precede the cessation of abuse. Forgiveness can’t come at the expense of basic fairness. Reconciliation can’t precede regret.” This idea that the WoC in front of her might not be guilty of all the crimes she is accused of is impossible for Mixon to believe; just as impossible as believing that she, herself, might be guilty of comparable crimes. This, I think, explains her desire to pursue the matter until she gets her way. It’s a very American way of seeing things.

In the same follow-up post, Mixon says:

Dividing people into camps, branding those who disagree with us (or whose religious beliefs (or lack thereof), skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. offend us in some way, for that matter) as The Enemy—as irredeemably evil—and appointing ourselves and our friends as the sole arbiters of Truth, is a destructive practice. No matter who does it. That was why I wrote my report.

Here, if nowhere else, this single paragraph illustrates perfectly why I loathed Mixon’s essay, and her apparent inability to empathise with others and to evaluate her own actions. Mixon, in an essay that begins with decrying the difficulty of getting rid of the “evil” that is BS, says: “branding those who disagree with us […] as The Enemy—as irredeemably evil—and appointing ourselves and our friends as the sole arbiters of Truth, is a destructive practice”. This branding, you’ll recall, the only branding RH as ever done that could conceivably fit into what Mixon is saying here, is calling things or people misogynist, racist, homophobic or colonialist. While there is always ample room to discuss strategy and tactics in the fight against misogyny, racism, homophobia or colonialism, I disagree with Mixon’s sweeping condemnation, and I find her framing deeply hypocritical.

Unavoidably, given all this, BS/RH’s apologies, promises to reform, and everything else she says about herself or her accusers is called into doubt.

I would not support publicly revealing information such as her street address or that of her family members. Nor would I call for people threatening her. I don’t call for a ban on publishing her; I can’t imagine any publisher is going to pay attention to such a thing anyway, and I wouldn’t want them to. That’s not my job.

But when harm is done to people and the community does not acknowledge it, the burden of that harm falls on the victim’s shoulders, instead of the abuser’s. That isn’t right. We need to acknowledge, as a community, the serious damage BS/RH has done. We owe it to the people she has harmed.

Writers’ reputations have been marred. Their careers were harmed. Readers’ right to choose without interference what they read, and to love what they love, has been impugned. Online communities have withered and died.

To me, this is another place where Mixon really hammers the point that her essay and the campaign of her associates is really not about RH’s behaviour. What is really at stake here: “writers’ reputations, careers, readers’ right to choose without interference what they read, and to love what they love”. I really can’t emphasise enough how revolting this all sounds to me. Why, if Mixon really cared so much about fighting harassment, did she spend the overwhelming majority of her essay condemning reviews that call books/authors “misogynistic, homophobic, racist, or colonialist”? Are we really crying about readers being told that the book they love is racist? Is protecting the markets of racist authors really all that important? Is protecting the feelings of authors who write racist books really more important than protecting the victims of this racism?

Discussions about colonialism, racism, sexism, and homophobia in our works may not be an easy conversation for writers to have, but it’s necessary, and I welcome that dialog. I want to know where my privilege has blinded me. Stereotypes are bad writing, and they are easy to propagate.

I tried to keep an opened mind and assume good faith when analysis Mixon’s essay, but this is a place where it’s really very, very difficult. I’m calling out Mixon on here. What she is writing her is a severe distortion of what she actually believes. I dare anyone to read my very short analysis of the case of Mary Robinette Kowal  or Anonymous MOC Writer and tell I’m wrong. Judging by those two examples, what Mixon really means is that people should only have the right to criticise her and her friends if they’re going to be very nice about it. So nice that not a single racist person on the face of the earth will think you went too far.

Where to from here?

I think we can find what we need to do going forward in certain parts of Mixon’s essay. Mixon told us:

“[RH] routinely accuses people of doing the very harm to her that she is in fact doing to them—of stalking, threatening, and harassing—when they have done nothing except try to get as far away from her as they can.”

Mixon, I say this with as little contempt as I can: you can say whatever you want, but like the majority of readers of SFF or industry professionals, I’m smart enough to make my own judgment when the evidence is presented. I have made mine, others are free to make theirs.

If, for some reason, I couldn’t make my own judgment about whether what is has happened or is currently happening to BS is “stalking, threatening, and harassing”, I would take Chelsea Gaither’s (which you describe as a victim of RH) assessment over yours any day of the week: “you’re doing the exact same shitty thing that she did to me […] I’m sorry that [BS is] going through an awful time in her life and I do hope she makes it through this okay. What is happening to her is unjustifiable. She’s in my prayers. I just really wish she hadn’t been the one to teach me how shitty this behavior is.”

I’d also take BS’s own words about what she wants over Mixon’s speculation: “My objective is not to change minds. If you’ve already made your stand on me, you aren’t going to change it now. […] My priority is to defuse the threat climate. My priority, very simply, is to be left the hell alone.”

It seems to me than BS’s entirely reasonable desire is a better solution than Mixon’s approach: ”if [BS] wants to be seen as reformed, and to participate in the public sphere without criticism popping up in her wake for her past acts [she must…]”. Surely, Mixon would argue that she would not be the one harassing and attacking BS everywhere she would dare participate in the public sphere, but we’ve already heard that a thousand times from GG’s “moderates”.

For anyone who has read my essay all the way here, I thank you. Although RH herself as a subject matter has long lost relevance to any debate regarding the proper tactics used in the fight against various -isms (since she had stopped existing long before Mixon’s essay), I hope you share with me the frustration of seeing actions/tactics worthy of discussion alongside so, so many white people crying over the fact that there were called out publicly on racism, homophobia, misogyny, or colonialism.

In her reviews, RH was almost always on point, hence the desire of people to attack her reputation, instead of her ideas. I’ll share one of her insights, whose truth should be obvious to anyone who read this essay, but that will unfortunately be lost on most white people: “[…] westerners have this thing about exoticising certain cultural norms of Asians. The Eastern Asian ‘face’ is one thing, even though white westerners are scared of losing face like they’re scared of little else […]”.

If anyone wants to comment or email me with corrections regarding matters of facts in my essay, I will be happy to make any necessary corrections, as time allows. As my case analysis have showed, I have a tendency towards open sharing of information and transparency, although I must say that I have kept certain privileged information secret for various (valid) reasons. Do keep that in mind before contacting me (about).