… or the time a far left hate mob convinced the AHWA to bow to pressure and remove me as Executive Editor of Midnight Echo magazine over some mild tweets that had nothing to do with the AHWA.
It’s been nearly six months since I was visited by an online hate mob, and you’re probably wondering why I’m choosing to speak out now. I was going to stay silent but I’m angry about the Australasian Horror Writers Association’s (AHWA’s) continued treatment of me, a foundation member, since the altercation. For example, before the Australian Shadows Award winners were announced in June, they interviewed all the previous year’s winners but pointedly excluded me (and only me). It’s galling given that I won the award for editing the AHWA’s anthology, Dead of Night, so they actively chose to spite me and not promote their own project. Also, after a six-month delay, the AHWA committee has just announced plans to publish Midnight Echo again. I have thoughts about this that I will detail in a future blog post, but for now, I want to explain exactly what happened with the AHWA and Midnight Echo and why I am so angry. Here is the original article that I have kept unpublished until now:
I want to set the record straight. Earlier this year, I endured an authoritarian social media hate mob that resulted in me parting ways with the Australasian Horror Writers Association’s (AHWA’s) magazine, Midnight Echo, and a writing group. The decision by the AHWA committee to remove me from the Executive Editor role at Midnight Echo was hastily made in contravention of AHWA association rules, without allowing me due process. It seems in 2018, one’s employment is based on the whims of volatile, mentally unstable people on the internet.
On top of that, sensitive personal correspondence was leaked to people outside the AHWA committee. I am enraged at the injustice of this process, and this unprofessionalism, so I am revealing what happened here. If I am to be judged, let it be in the light.
I was called a fascist multiple times (including ‘fascist freak’), a Nazi, a right-wing nutjob, and other insults not worth repeating. Why? Because of three tweets on my personal Twitter account where I said [about an upcoming Superman comic where he fights against the KKK in the 2010s, not the 1940s]:
- Islamic terrorism is a threat of more social relevance today than the Ku Klux Klan (a dying hate group with about 3000 members, or 0.00001% of the US population).
- (or even Antifa, a violent group of far left thugs, is a more socially relevant threat than the KKK, which peaked in the 1920s).
- White supremacy is not what ails Western society (in the context that there are graver threats, such as terrorism).
- Writers should write bold stories that tell uncomfortable truths.
These comments are not racist. They are not fascist. They are not abusive. They are not offensive. These comments are objectively true, whether you agree with them or not. I stand by them.
A mob of crybully social justice warriors across a handful of social media threads didn’t agree with my comments – to the point they pressured AHWA and a writing group to censure me for my “dangerous opinions” (actual quote). The AHWA committee distanced themselves from me and issued a statement about “building a safe and supportive community”, which infers I was somehow a danger to members’ safety. That’s a long bow to draw from three tweets, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. They said they wanted “an inclusive community, one that reflects the diversity of voices within the region.” Well, they did not want the diversity of my voice in that mix, despite the many years of service I’d given them.
It’s all cowardly bullshit.
After pressure from the hate mob, the AHWA committee demanded that I remove any reference to Midnight Echo or AHWA from my Twitter profile, which I did straight away. They also demanded an apologetic statement, and that’s the line I refused to cross. I did nothing wrong. My tweets were clear, had nothing to do with the AHWA, and required no further clarification to appease far left authoritarians.
I will not bend my knee to the mob, not now and not ever. Given my long-standing support of the AHWA, I assumed the AHWA committee would stand by me. I was bitterly disappointed when they chose instead to throw me under the bus.
The hate mobs characterised me as some right wing extremist, but that’s wrong and stupid. These authoritarians view anyone left of Marx as right wing. In reality, I have both liberal and conservative views. For example, I strongly believe in equal, individual rights (especially freedom of expression), justice, meritocracy, and classical liberal values, but I also believe in personal responsibility and national borders (and the sanctity of the cultures they protect). I’m pro-freedom, pro-capitalism and anti-communism. Most importantly, I am against identity politics of all kinds, be it white supremacists, black supremacists, radical feminists, etc.
Collectivism based on superficial traits such as skin colour or gender is a dangerous threat to individual rights.
I am a normal, moderate guy who expressed logical opinions on a social issue unrelated to my role as Midnight Echo Executive Editor. Some people disagreed with my opinions. Only a few years ago, no one would have batted an eyelid. Now, in the age of hysterical censorship by a fringe of oversensitive yet overzealous leftists, I am literally Hitler (or to be precise, “Goebbels”, to quote someone from the mob, but same difference).
The people in these types of hate mobs are not normal. They are the alt-left. The far left hate mob is the extremist fringe of Western society, and their kind is gathering power in the arts and academia – traditional strongholds for formerly progressive, now regressive, thinkers. These people are black and red flag-waving anarcho-communists. They are genderfluid, man-hating third-wave feminists. They are hateful anti-white bigots. They are authoritarian and intolerant of any opinion other than their own cult-like ideology. They want to tear down the classical liberal values upon which Western society was built. Their agenda is to usurp, repress, and destroy.
These people are the extremists. Their views are not the norm, and it is crushingly disappointing that the AHWA committee caved to this small group of extremists because of their own far left, authoritarian leanings.
I’ve since learned the names of these people, and it’s clear the loudest voices were there to settle old scores. Their fake outrage was a convenient way to sharpen old, dull blades. Not one of these people voiced any disagreement to me. Like the cowards they are, they slunk around and pressured the AHWA behind my back. Rather than engage me, they shared my tweets to their own echo chambers to validate their warped views.
The worst was the former friends and colleagues who turned on me. I’ve given them no cause to slander me, but some were only too happy to jump on the hate train. I can only assume they have self-esteem, personality, or mental problems.
The AHWA rationale for severing ties with me as editor was the supposed damage to their reputation my allegedly harmful opinions caused. However, very few in the hate mob were actually involved in the AHWA or Australian horror in any way. AHWA membership hasn’t suffered. There are no obvious signs of anything negative arising from my tweets at all.
I’d hoped the AHWA committee would have taken into account my professionalism in keeping my personal views, however mild, separate from my editing duties with them. I have never been political in my work, and I would have continued that way. I simply write and edit the best stories I can. No agenda.
But the AHWA committee members lacked the professionalism to understand that, and it is the AHWA that has paid a price. By siding with these fringe lunatics, AHWA has set itself back months. They came to me to resurrect Midnight Echo. I was the only person with the drive, enthusiasm, and ability (editing, layout, design, and mentoring other editors) to bring their flagship magazine back to life, and I did it in spectacular fashion. Issue #12 was widely acclaimed and shortlisted for both the Aurealis Award and Australian Shadows Award. My involvement was a net gain for the AHWA’s reputation. But they sided with the fake outrage mob – people who did not support AHWA then and will not support AHWA in the future. People with axes to grind. The AHWA committee sided with strangers and chose to betray a foundation member and long-serving volunteer. This betrayal from people I once considered friends, people I mentored, people I supported, has angered me beyond words. It’s baffling.
What disturbs me about this whole situation is that these people work in horror. The genre is all about confronting opinions, but somehow, these people lose their minds when it comes to a few factually accurate tweets they disagree with. It’s weak.
Only well after the AHWA had made their decision to remove me from Midnight Echo – and after I threatened further action – was I given any reasonable opportunity to have my perspective listened to. I have declined to challenge the AHWA committee’s decision further as it would sap too much of my limited time and energy.
However, I am absolutely livid that someone on the AHWA committee chose to leak my correspondence on this personal and sensitive matter to a person outside the committee. My complaints in this regard have not been followed up, but I can make AHWA members and others aware of this shocking lack of professionalism.
You have been warned.
The bigger picture
My authoritarian hate mob experience is part of a larger pattern, call-out culture. Around the same time I endured the hate mob, conservative author Jon Del Arroz was pre-emptively banned from attending the Worldcon SF convention for thoughtcrime. Jason V. Brock’s StokerCon workshop was cancelled because he made a snarky comment about singer Pink’s performance. I’ve seen way more abhorrent opinions from left-leaning authors go unpunished or even celebrated! Outside of publishing, a man has been convicted of a hate crime for a bad taste joke (teaching his dog a Nazi salute) in the UK and YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook relentlessly censor conservative views, creating echo chambers that feed the regressive leftist narrative.
While it’s natural to assume shitty behaviour gets punished, it’s only opinions outside the alt-left cult that attract mob-induced contrived outrage. Reading the Twitter feeds of some of my accusers is enough to make anyone with moderate views want to rinse their eyeballs. They are dumpster fires of extremist, left-wing, degenerate, collectivist bigotry: anti-white, anti-male, anti-West, anti-capitalism, anti-science, anti-conservative and anti-moderate. Also, it’s an eye-opening experience to read the social feeds of past and present AHWA office holders and prominent AHWA members. There’s some straight up misanthropic, unprofessional crap in there. Anything I’ve ever said pales in comparison.
So only certain opinions attract the outrage of these pathetic fringe extremists. My mild opinions were deemed the wrong opinions, even though they had nothing to do with my AHWA role or writing in general.
We live in dangerous times.
Why does this matter?
Take this authoritarian attitude to its logical conclusion. I work primarily in horror, a genre that by definition challenges readers in ways no other genre can. In this current climate of hypersensitivity, it is only a matter of time before the horror genre is sanitised so it does not offend, challenge, or confront reader’s emotions.
Mark my words: they will come for horror.
Sensitivity readers are becoming a thing, and there is increasing craziness about cultural appropriation (a concept with which I disagree). These publishing trends disturbs me. Genuine diversity requires diversity of thought. Great writing challenges readers, and writers should challenge themselves to write from many points of view.
I’m all for authenticity in fiction, but if boundaries are not pushed, we risk, as a society, a kind of dangerous groupthink – the same kind produced in social media echo chambers. The kind that mobbed me.
Horror will become a front line in this culture war.
What’s next for me?
I am a foundation member of the AHWA. I have been involved with the association at every level since it was founded, so I’ve decided to remain a member. I will continue to be a member long after these alt-left extremists are gone. However, this situation has left me feeling disgusted.
I am done, professionally and personally, with every one of my accusers and the AHWA committee members who have betrayed my trust. I know who these people are, and I refuse to work with them on any future project. I will never forget.
I will stand for free speech and combat the evils of collectivism where I can, when I can.
I will follow my own advice and continue to write brave stories that challenge readers with sometimes uncomfortable truths.