Death: Still alive and being an asshole in Texas.
Note: Normally I bury the author pages by backdating them to 1970 to keep them out of the blog stream as a workaround for the Blogger platform's limitations. I'm shifting this one into the blog stream because it deals with some topical events concerning the 2015 Hugo Awards.
Also note, for obvious reasons, the comment-eating goblins are on the prowl. Comments may be deleted without warning or recourse.
Comments: Lou Antonelli is an American journalist and science fiction writer with an outsize ego and a short temper. Originally from Massachusetts, Antonelli was educated at Columbia University, ran unsuccessfully for Congress, found his way to Texas, and eventually became the managing editor of the Clarkesville Times. He got a late start as a fiction writer, with his first published story not appearing until 2003, but he has made up for lost time, churning out almost a hundred stories in the roughly decade long period following that. Oddly, despite being a former student at an Ivy League university, Antonelli likes to claim to being put upon by those who regard him as a "peasant", and seems to view negative or even indifferent reviews of his fairly mediocre short fiction as being "hatchet jobs". But this is only the beginning of Antonelli's distasteful personality traits.
My one personal brush with Antonelli took place after I opined on Twitter that the reason many people don't like the authors who form the core of the Sad Puppy1 group is that they are assholes, including him in the bunch. (I might add that Antonelli was placed in this company after he responded to being banned from Deidre Saoirse Moen's blog by suggesting she was a Nazi). He reacted to my tweet by confirming that he is, in fact, an asshole. Despite my tweeting on my personal twitter account, Antonelli took it upon himself to track down my work e-mail and phone number, first e-mailing a poorly thought out threat to come down to my workplace and do something or other, and then telephoning my office to confirm I was employed there. The entire text of his e-mail was as follows:
“Geez, you're a LAWYER for the GOVERNMENT and you call me an ASSHOLE? I have a news bulletin for you, 98 percent of average Americans would say you're an asshole "prima facie".I have no idea how most people feel about government lawyers, but I do suspect that the 98% figure Antonelli gives is probably a fairly high estimate of how many consider us to be "assholes". As I work in an office full of government lawyers, one can imagine how well his statement about us went over when I showed it to them. What I don't think he realizes is that I, like most government lawyers, make much less money than we could in the private sector. I'm not complaining about my situation - the law firm life is financially rewarding but has its own downsides - but calling working for the Federal government evidence of "privilege" is kind of silly. But the element that kind of makes Antonelli's whole diatribe completely mind-boggling is that this is a message sent from a man who not only attended an Ivy League university, but whose first action after finishing school was to run for Congress at the age of 25 (he lost, by a landslide). His whining about how he's been "treated like trash by privileged Americans" in the light of these facts seems like the height of hypocrisy.
My parents immigrated from Europe in the wake of the devastation of World War II. They didn't speak English. I was the first member of my family to be a U.S. citizen, complete a public school education, and attend college. I've had to work hard all my life, and I certainly never had a job with the government. I've been treated like trash by privileged Americans like you all my life.
I'll be in D.C. later this week, I have family members who live in Great Falls. I'll stop by the GSA and drop off copies of your Twitter insult. I think people need to know what kind of person you are. As a taxpayer, I resent having my pocket picked for your benefit.
Also, given the size of the Federal budget and Antonelli's likely tax contribution to it, I'd be glad to give him the couple of thousandths of a cent that he probably contributed to my salary, just so he won't feel like he is "having his pocket picked".
This didn't go anywhere, since no one I work for or with regarded his outrage as anything other than the ravings of a clearly unbalanced fool, but it does show that, like most of the Sad Puppy proponents, Antonelli is poorly regarded not for his politics, but rather for the fact that he is a jerk. I'll also note that this was his first communication to me following my single tweet. He escalated from "someone called me an asshole on social media" to "I'll try to get them into trouble at their workplace" right off the bat. Antonelli isn't someone who responded in a measured manner and slowly rose to this kind of threat. No, he's the sort of person who's first reaction is to threaten to do this sort of thing. Anyone who wants to see Antonelli admitting to doing this and issuing some rather inane self-serving justifications can read this comment thread from File770.
One might note that in the linked comment thread, Antonelli announces that far from dropping the matter because everyone other than him reacted like he had gone way overboard, he had decided to wait until closer to the 2016 political campaigns, because he wanted to get his representative to engage in a Congressional investigation into the matter. One might also note that for someone who claims to be libertarian in sentiment, he's pretty quick to run to the authorities over trivialities. Like most internet libertarians, he's a closet authoritarian at heart and a fan of jackbooted thugs so long as they are his jackbooted thugs. Just to be clear here: I called him an asshole on Twitter, he then confirmed my assessment with his behavior, and he thinks that this deserves to be investigated by Congress. Let that sink in before reading further.
More recently Antonelli escalated from merely trying to give people difficulties at their workplace for insulting him to endangering their lives and trying to get them arrested because he didn't like what they had posted on their Facebook pages, writing to the Spokane police department to "warn" them about author David Gerrold, the Sasquan Guest of Honor and emcee for the upcoming Hugo award ceremony, stating:
“I really didn’t know much about [Gerrold] before the Hugo nominations came out. Following his discourse and his level of discourse as a result, I personally wrote a letter addressed to the police chief in Spokane and said I thought the man was insane and a public danger and needs to be watched when the convention’s going on, and I mean it. I attached my business card. I said this guy’s inciting to violence. Somebody—a weak-minded might attack somebody because of his relentless strength of abuse. I think, honestly, I think he belongs in a secure psychiatric facility.”This quote was transcribed by Jim C. Hines from a YouTube video Antonelli appeared on titled Superversive SF Roundtable - The Hugo's Again. To be clear, Gerrold has never written anything that any reasonable person would even remotely consider to be an "incitement to violence". This is simply Antonelli trying to strike back at someone because they had the temerity to say that Lou and his buddies were in the wrong, were rude to have gamed the Hugo nominating process, and would probably find it harder to find friends and professional opportunities in the publishing world in the future. The fact that Gerrold is openly gay and a supporter of LGBT rights probably also factored into Antonelli's decision to try to bring the Spokane police force down onto the WorldCon Guest of Honor.
After the internet dropped on his head, Antonelli apologized, and Gerrold accepted. However, there is still the matter of Antonelli's letter, which is still sitting on the desk of someone at the Spokane police department. Has Antonelli retracted the letter? There is no indication that he has done so, so there is still every reason to believe that the Spokane police still have a letter in front of them telling them that Gerrold is a dangerous person. Then there is also the self-pitying tone of Antonelli's apology:
It’s become public that on July 1st I wrote a letter to the chief of the Spokane Police Department expressing some concerns over potential security issues at the upcoming Sasquan.Let's unpack this a bit. First off, it only because public because Antonelli saw fit to boast about writing the letter on a YouTube video while surrounded by sympathetic ears such as John C. Wright and L. Jagi Lamplighter who all seem to have nodded along, and even engaged in joking banter over the matter. It was only when Antonelli's action got noticed by people who don't have their head stuck deep inside the Sad Puppy colon that he belatedly realized that what he had done might not be regarded as justified. But what if this had never come to light? What if Antonelli hadn't blundered about on the internet talking about how much of a complete jackass he had been? Would he have apologized for writing a letter to the Spokane police department? Would he have thought his actions to be beyond the pale? I really don't think he would have.
I’m sorry for what I did. Without looking at the big picture I reacted in a manner that I thought I was being treated. It was stupid and wrong. My subsequent participation on a podcast was also a mistake because the environment further fueled my fear and I lashed out again.
I’m sorry I bothered the Spokane PD. They probably are ready to throw the butterfly net over ME when I enter the city. And I’m sorry and apologize to David Gerrold. He probably understands why I did what I did better than I do.
I need to ponder the hurt I have caused. To give me time to think, after Sasquan I am taking a half-year hiatus from attending any conventions and/or submitting any fiction.
I think I’ve become my own crazy uncle . . .
But then Antonelli goes on and says "I reacted in a manner I thought I was being treated". This is an evasion - an attempt to shift responsibility away from himself and back onto Gerrold. Except that it doesn't make any sense at all. Gerrold never wrote to the police. Gerrold never said that Antonelli should be placed in a secure mental facility. Gerrold never incited anyone to violence, no matter how much one squints at what he wrote. As in the linked File 770 comment thread, Antonelli seems to be trying to claim that even if his actions weren't correct, they were justifiable, or at least explainable. The problem is that this pattern of behavior on Antonelli's part shows extremely poor impulse control, and more than a little paranoia, traits that many of the core Puppy proponents seem to share. They, like Antonelli, say or do things that normal people look at with shock and dismay, and only after the fact do the Puppies seem to realize that they are well outside the bounds of normal civilized behavior. Some never do realize this, but instead retrench into their ridiculous and reprehensible positions and claim to be persecuted for their views.
Then Antonelli's self-pity takes front and center in the rest of his apology. The Spokane police will be ready to throw the butterfly net over him! He is going to take a half year off from conventions and publishing after WorldCon to reflect! He's become his own crazy uncle! Everything about the last couple of paragraphs of his apology is all about Antonelli and how this is so hard for him. Even when he mentions Gerrold he goes on to say that Gerrold probably understands why Antonelli did what he did, once again turning the discourse back to himself and how difficult this has made his life. He called the police on Gerrold, but when one reads his apology, it is clear that the person who Antonelli thinks has been really wounded here is Antonelli.
Antonelli's wallow in self-pity took an even bigger turn following his public mea culpa. Gerrold, myself, and many others have pointed out that the authors who form the core Puppy proponents had not been doing themselves any professional favors by attacking pretty much everyone outside of their insular little group, which the Puppies interpreted as threats to their livelihoods (which, given that they have spent time actually threatening the livelihoods of others, seems somewhat ironic) rather than merely an observation that people don't like to work with dangerous and paranoid assholes. This came to fruition in stark terms following Antonelli's ill-advised announcement of his letter to the Spokane police department when Carrie Cuinn, the editor-in-chief of Lakeside Circus, a quarterly speculative fiction publication, wrote him an e-mail in which she decided that the magazine would not publish a previously accepted story of Antonelli's. Antonelli then turned around and published the following version of Ms. Cuinn's e-mail:
Mr. Antonelli,One should note that Cuinn sent her message to Antonelli after it became public that he had written to the Spokane police department, but before he issued his self-serving apology. That means she was responding to a man who, to that point, was unrepentant about having potentially endangered David Gerrold and any number of other WorldCon attendees by sending the local police force after them. In a complementary e-mail, Cuinn also made sure to follow-up to honor the terms of her contract, inquiring where to send the "kill fee" for declining to publish Antonelli's story. In a "woe is me" post, Antonelli made this version of the e-mail from Cuinn public after he had issued his apology, talking about how this turn of events showed that actions have consequences. Antonelli didn't bother to mention that his contract had been rescinded before he issued his apology, and also failed to mention that Cuinn had followed the terms of the contract she had signed with him.
I have just become aware of comments you made regarding contacting the police about David Gerrold, over his comments about the Hugo Awards.
While your stance on, and involvement in, the Hugo voting slates is, we feel, a personal choice, and outside of our interests, taking this action moves away from protected speech, and into a concrete effort to threaten someone's safety and livelihood.
Because of this, we will not be publishing your story in our next issue, and would suggest that we are unlikely to be a good fit for your work in the future.
Unfortunately, by publishing this version of the e-mail Cuinn had sent to him, Antonelli either didn't consider or didn't care about the consequences to her. Within hours the editor who had decided she didn't want to deal with Antonelli because he was too dangerous and unpredictable found herself targeted by an internet hate mob that Antonelli had riled up. Soon, Cuinn tweeted:
Less than 12 hours before today's publishing decision led to getting emailed rape and death threats, because evil SJWs something something.Antonelli's action was either hateful and callous if he realized that his post would bring out the internet wolves to attack Cuinn, or merely thoughtless and careless if he didn't. And if he didn't, that's a lapse in judgment that is simply staggering. There are, however, a couple of points that indicate to me that this was not merely a lapse in judgment by Antonelli, because the e-mail he posted was not, in fact, the same as the e-mail he was sent by Cuinn. He edited the e-mail before posting it to leave out an important detail and add some information that made it easier for people to track down and harass Cuinn. The actual first paragraph of Cuinn's letter said:
I have just become aware of comments you made regarding contacting the police about David Gerrold, over his comments about the Hugo Awards. Specifically, the video linked in Jim Hines’s post, here.Note that the last sentence in this paragraph, which specifically references the misconduct that Antonelli had engaged in, was deleted from the version that Antonelli posted. Further, in the original letter, Cuinn merely signed her name. The detail that Cuinn is "editor-in-chief" and the specification that he had received the message from "Lakeside Circus" were both gratuitously added by Antonelli. Had he merely wanted to show that actions have consequences, he could have simply left those details and Cuinn's name out of the post. He didn't. He not only kept her name on the letter, he made sure to delete a link to his own wrongdoing and add further identifying data that would be certain to send a harassment mob after her. To be clear on this point: Antonelli deceptively edited the e-mail he was sent before he made it public in order to make it more inflammatory. He lied in public with the effect of causing harm to Cuinn.
Carrie has reported on some of the private conversations between her and Antonelli related to this issue in a blog post titled A Statement about Lou Antonelli, Lakeside Circus, Harassment and Safety. In her post, Cuinn states that she had to contact Antonelli for him to decide to tell his fans to stop attacking her. And his public message on the subject was tepid at best:
OK, if anyone out there is contacting Carrie Cuinn and castigating her for her decision not to publish my story, knock it off.He didn't tell his fans that rape and death threats are unacceptable. He merely told them to stop criticizing her decision. As she has noted, Cuinn found the threats to be disturbing enough that she actually contacted her local police department about them (and unlike Antonelli's letter about Gerrold, she appears to have good justification for doing so), but Antonelli dismisses the concern by merely saying, "[I]f you're reprimanding her, knock it off". Knowing that he edited Cuinn's letter to him before he made it public, the mealy-mouthed nature of the message to his fans is quite telling.
Given his clear disregard for the safety and well-being of anyone else and his poor impulse control, I don't think a half-year hiatus from conventions and publishing is enough for Antonelli. His constant refrain of "I'm Italian so I'm hot-headed" is an excuse that a twelve year old would be embarrassed to use. This is not an isolated incident from Antonelli - as documented by Natalie Luhrs he has engaged in similar behavior multiple times. This is a pattern of behavior that makes one wonder how many times he has done similar things that simply have not become public. Some people have praised Antonelli for apologizing to Gerrold, but he has never apologized to me, and he didn't even bother to respond directly to Cuinn when she alerted him to the rape and death threats against her that his actions had sparked. How many other people out there are owed apologies by Antonelli? My own opinion is that Antonelli should never publish again, anywhere. I think any convention should think long and hard before allowing him to show up at their venue, let alone invite him to participate in their programming. He's clearly not grown-up enough to operate in the public sphere without endangering other people's livelihoods and lives when he loses his temper over trivial slights and imagined offenses.
The larger point is that Antonelli is only one example of the dangerous and vicious behavior displayed by the various Sad Puppy authors and proponents. Tom Kratman turns up in comment threads and demands the right to challenge others to a physical altercation often enough that the use of his name triggers the spam filter on File 770. He also seems to like calling others "pussy" a lot, which would by considered fairly childish for anyone older than ten. (Further documentation of his shenanigans can be found here). In response to having his Facebook page reported and suspended for some of his racist comments, Michael Z. Williamson issued a tirade in which he claimed that once he found out who did the reporting, he would fly to their home and kick them in the teeth. (Once again, further documentation of more vile behavior here). John C. Wright has written about how the "natural reaction" of straight men to seeing two gay men together is to want to beat the gay men to death with ax handles and tire irons. (And again, further documentation of his jerkishness here). Theodore Beale has posted, among his many other hateful and vile musings, that one day the people of Norway will view the mass-murderer Anders Brevik as a hero for taking a stand against evil leftists2. (And yet again, further documentation of misbehavior here). On a lesser scale, Brad Torgersen can't seem to write anything about the Hugo Awards without coming up with a new insulting acronym to call fans such as CHORF (Cliquish Holier-than-thou Obnoxious Reactionary Fanatics) or HPPC (Hyper-Progressive Pissypants Club). (Dare I say it, further documentation of assholery to be found here). Finally, Larry Correia seems unable to blog about the Hugos without raging about how he is engaged in a culture war against SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) who are destroying science fiction by doing something or other. And so on and so forth.
Antonelli fits right in with the reactionary and violent crowd he has chosen to run with. Don't think for a second that the effect of Antonelli's actions is unintentional: He is a bully who has repeatedly attempted to intimidate and threaten others because they did things he did not like. He only backed off his threats against me when it became clear they were not going to work. He only apologized to Gerrold when it became clear that he was facing widespread criticism for his actions. He only told his fans to stop harassing Cuinn when it became clear that their attacks on her would harm his image. There's nothing surprising about his behavior: Antonelli threatens and blusters until it becomes clear it isn't going to work, then he moves on to a different target to start again. And the larger point is that Antonelli is just acting in the same manner as most of the other Sad Puppy authors, flying off the handle in vicious outrage at imagined provocations. Antonelli's lying, his underhanded tactics, and his attempts to smear others are all simply par for the course for the Sad Puppy leaders. He's not a terrible author - his work is merely mediocre - but like so many of the authors connected with the Sad Puppies, his actions over the course of 2015 have proved that he is someone that is probably too dangerous to try to work with.
Update: On November 15, 2015, Antonelli took to his blog to launch some rather interesting accusations about, and make a bold, albeit entirely baseless prediction under the title You Heard It Here First:
George R.R. Martin will be the next recipient of the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award (The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award).What evidence does Antonelli have to back up this wild assertion that Martin will be named an SFWA Grand Master as payback for being outspoken about the ill manners of the core of Puppy authors? Why, he tells you in his own words: None. Zero. Nothing. He's engaging in rank speculation based upon nothing more than conspiracy theory thinking. He apparently thinks awards are determined by a secret cabal who hand out awards as political favors rather than because the recipients have accomplished something notable with their writing. I suppose it is a comfort to him to think this way, as his own writing is mediocre enough that he would never receive an award nod for it, but to cast these sorts of aspersions about concerning others is pretty bush league on Antonelli's part.
No, I do not have inside information, nor do I have a crystal ball. It’s simply a logical conclusion, especially if you know how the literary leaders of the science fiction community think.
Regardless of the merit of Martin’s literary output, he will get the award as a reward for helping trounce the dissident nominees for the Hugo awards this year (the so-called Sad Puppies). It’s not really any more complicated than that.
What is interesting here is how Antonelli tries to obscure the facts. He calls the "dissident nominees" the "so-called Sad Puppies". One has to wonder exactly what the "so-called" is intended to mean. The "dissident nominees" were, in fact, called Sad Puppies. That is what Larry Correia called them when he started the whole affair back in 2013, and it is what Brad Torgersen called them when he took up the torch in 2015 and put Antonelli's name on the Sad Puppy slate. The term "Sad Puppies" wasn't coined by anyone outside the pathetic little clique of mediocrities that formed its core: They came up with the name themselves. Even the title of his post is a bit of deception, as "You heard It here First" makes it sound like Antonelli is reporting news, rather than making up a bizarre conspiracy theory.
In any event, I would normally not bother to update this sort of silliness from a Puppy. For the most part, Antonelli's actions surrounding the Hugos had already destroyed what little reputation he had before the awards were presented in Sasquan this past August, and as a result there's no real need to bother with reporting on an irrelevant nonentity like he is. But Mike Glyer included his fact-free commentary in his November 15 roundup titled Pixel Scroll 11/15 Scrolled Acquaintance, much to the amusement of many of the people who read that website, both because Martin has more than enough accomplishments to be named an SFWA Grand Master on his own merits with no conspiracy theory needed to explain it, and because there are so many other accomplished authors who are likely to get the nod ahead of Martin, mostly because it is very rare for an author to be named a Grand Master before they turn seventy (Martin is sixty-seven).
In a comment that was mostly about other things, I opined that Antonelli's speculation was "A train of thought worthy of a dim-witted conspiracy theory loving drunkard". And that is where Antonelli decided to show he is exactly that. He created a meme which he posted on his Facebook page, taking a picture of me and reporting my quote as:
Lou Antonelli is "a dim-witted conspiracy theory loving drunkard" - Aaron Pound, Obama admin attorneySo, while purporting to relate what I said, Antonelli sliced my quote and made it say something different than what I actually said. It is only a slight change, so that's not that big of a deal, but it is somewhat curious that a man like Antonelli, who prides himself on being a newspaperman, would be so cavalier with a quote. But the truly hilarious thing about this "meme" is that at no point does Antonelli actually attempt to refute what was said about his speculation about Martin. In short, at no point does he try to argue that my assessment is incorrect. I suspect that he didn't try because he knows he can't. His theory concerning Martin's supposedly impending Grand Master status is a dim-witted conspiracy theory that one would have to be drunk to come up with. Further, had he simply left it alone, the comment would have been a single sentence on the comments section of a blog post that would have soon faded into obscurity. Instead, it will now live on forever as a meme that associates Antonelli with being a dim-witted conspiracy theory loving drunkard.
The other thing about this "meme" is that he claims I am an "Obama admin attorney", which is false, and he almost certainly knows it to be false. I am employed by the Federal government. I do not work for this administration, or any other. I am not a political appointee, but rather I am a civil servant. When Obama leaves office in January of 2017, I will still be working for the Federal government, just as I continued working for the Federal government when Bush left office in January of 2009. The U.S. government relies upon a nonpolitical civil service to function. We are not beholden to a particular Presidential administration. Instead, our job is to ensure the continued operation of the government no matter who is elected. I have helped to implement Republican policies. I have helped to implement Democratic policies. I have worked on projects that I thought were good ideas, and I have worked on projects that I thought were terrible ideas. Either way, I did my job and will continue to do my job. Labeling me as an "Obama admin attorney" is so fundamentally wrong that either Antonelli is clueless as to the nature of how the government works, or he does know, and is lying. Given the volume of dishonesty that Antonelli has displayed in so many other instances, I'm leaning towards the "he's lying" explanation.
Voltaire once said, "I always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: 'O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous!' God granted it." It seems that if there is a God, he granted my version of Voltaire's prayer and sent me Antonelli as an enemy.
My reviews of Lou Antonelli's books:
Other books by Lou Antonelli I have read but not reviewed:
Letters from Gardner
Short fiction by Lou Antonelli appearing in works that I have reviewed:
On a Spiritual Plain found in 2015 Hugo Voting - Best Short Story
1 For anyone who does not know, the Sad Puppy campaign is the brain child of Larry Correia, a mediocre author of fantasy-themed adventure fiction who felt slighted at being nominated for and losing one of the highest awards that science fiction fandom can bestow upon a new author, and decided to try to leverage his fan base into a Hugo nomination for some decidedly ordinary works of fiction he had written. This mutated over the next few years to a full-blown slate in which a collection of aggrieved authors with nothing to actually be aggrieved about exploited a known loophole (that everyone had been too polite to use over the sixty year history of the award) in the Hugo nominating process to game themselves and their friends onto the Hugo ballot, effectively packing the Hugo ballot with their choices even though their supporters only made up about 20% of the voters. Although the Puppy slate was not against the rules, it is widely seen as unethical and against the spirit of the awards. The nominated works from the slate are also very poor in quality, ranging from mediocre down to unreadably bad.
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