John Scalzi posted the above tweet a few days ago. It seems to have drawn quite a bit of attention to the Marion Zimmer Bradley paedophilia scandal, as I noticed a spike in Google hits for this post I wrote on the topic. That was where I took a close look at how, after Bradley was exposed as a child molester in 2014, certain right-wing sci-fi writers (largely asociated with alt-right guru Vox Day) tried to build a narrative — contrary to evidence — that liberal authors like Scalzi were covering up Bradley’s crimes.
I wrote the post in question back in 2017, so it’s a little out-of-date now. Given the renewed interest in the topic, I thought it was time to run a follow-up. In this post I’ll be looking at three subsequent incidents, each of which shows how a number of right-wing authors clung to their narrative no matter how many facts needed to be twisted along the way.
Exhibit A: Vox Day’s Infogalactic
For one of the neatest, cleanest and most succinct examples of facts being swept under the carpet to aid the narrative, let us head to Infogalactic, a wiki run by Vox Day. The site started out by copying Wikipedia’s content in its entirety before altering a number of articles to fit Vox’s ideology. Infogalactic has an article on Marion Zimmer Bradley which, like most of the other articles, was copied from Wikipedia; when it was first carried across, it included the following paragraph:
Since the allegations were made public, a number of famous science fiction authors have publicly distanced themselves from Bradley and her work. Among the first was John Scalzi, who within a day of the allegations being made public, described the allegations as “horrific”. Hugo Award winner Jim C. Hines wrote “All of which makes the revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley protecting a known child rapist and molesting her own daughter and others even more tragic.” G Willow Wilson, World Fantasy award winner, said she was “speechless”.
Now, take a look at this edit, carried out by an administrator called Fenris:
With no explanation whatsoever, Fenris has neatly removed the paragraph acknowledging that John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines and G. Willow Wilson condemned MZB’s crimes. The facts included in that paragraph contradict Vox Day’s narrative that progressive SF authors are all trying to cover up for Bradley, and so they had to be deleted.
This is particularly grotesque when we consider that, as I detailed here, Infogalactic has a page defending Ella Draper, a woman currently on the run from the British authorities after abusing her children:
The above passage from Infogalactic’s article “List of alleged pedophilia elites” is lying. Its claims that Draper was “never accused” and wasn’t even aware that her children were being abused fly in the face of the facts as recorded in the judicial document. Instead of listing the evidence against Draper, Infogalactic repeats her long-debunked claim to have been framed by a cult of Satanists — a claim that fits the narrative of the Pizzagate/QAnon movement, which Infogalactic supports.
The passage in question has been on the site since 2017. That’s how long Infogalactic has been complicit in an attempt to cover up for a child abuser. Nobody involved with the site has made a squeak of objection.
As we can see, Infogalactic’s stance on child molesters shifts according to the narrative.
Exhibit B: David Freer vs Jim C Hines
The distorted version of the Marion Zimmer Bradley scandal given by Vox Day and his supporters was reflected in this 2018 blog post by David Freer (who, fittingly, is an author of alternate histories). The context here is a little complicated: suffice to say that there had been a botched doxing attempt on blogger Camestros Felapton, which led Freer to mistakenly believe that Camestros was the husband of author Foz Meadows; Freer’s response to this information was to compare their marriage arrangement to that of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband, fellow paedophile Walter Breen. Jim C. Hines objected to this comparison, and received the following reply in Freer’s post:
So that’s my side of the story. If you want to go along with Commissar Hines and denounce me, go for it. I have brothers at my back and my side. And for the record I can find no statement by Commissar Hines denouncing the left wing feminist lesbian-bi MZB or Breen, or expressing any sympathy or support for their victims, so one has to ask: why does HE finds it suddenly so bad to have someone compared to them?
Mea culpa. As Jayne points out Jim Hines DID once post about them, and, for Hines, it was quite a good post. It didn’t make a point of the fact that they used their association with fashionable left wing causes to run cover, just like Harvey Weinstein. But let’s apply the commissar’s own rules to him. He believes in guilt by mere association and failure to condemn and ostracise with sufficient vigor. I don’t. But his game, his rules. So: has he condemned his associates who were silent, or even tepid or slow? Has condemned the political side they called their own, and groups they belonged to? Nah. Because it’s _different_ when he does it.
This is extremely revealing. First, Freer claims to have done reseach and failed to find evidence that Hines condemned Bradley. However, a few seconds on Google would have revealed that Hines responded to the Bradley scandal with a lengthy analysis and a discussion about how similar crimes could be avoided in the future. Evidently, Freer hadn’t actually done any research at all: he had simply bought into the narrative peddled by Infogalactic and its ilk — that no progressive authors had condemned Bradley.
When his mistake was pointed out to him, Freer’s immediate response was to try and undermine Hines by accusing him of failing to call out his associates who were silent on Bradley — but, predictably, he failed to identify any of these “associates” by name. This is a classic example of moving the goalposts.
Exhibit C: Difster vs Cat Rambo
Moving back to Vox Day’s circle, I’d like to introduce a fellow who calls himself Difster. His main claim to fame is in setting up a website called QuickFund, an alt-right-friendly alternative to mainstream crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter; this turned out to be short-lived, and appears to have achieved little attention beyond this article at PJMedia
In December 2017, Difster called upon Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. to condemn Marion Zimmer Bradley, tagging then-SFWA president Cat Rambo:
Note that SFWA is the only organisation targeted by Difster. Bradley did indeed belong to SFWA prior to her death in 1999, but she also belonged to other groups including MENSA and the Society for Creative Anachronism, organisations that Difster shows no interest in calling out. Nor, indeed, does he mention the publishers that put out Bradley’s books, including Del Ray, DAW and Baen (which still has a section on its website promoting her work). It is doubtful, then, that he believes that when a public figure is unmasked after death as a paedophile, then every single group they were associated with in life is obliged to issue a formal denunciation.
So why did Difster single out SFWA? Could it possibly be because SFWA expelled Vox Day in 2013, and has consequently been on the hit list of Day and his followers ever since? What we’re witnessing here looks less like an effort to see justice done and more a ploy to score points in an Internet argument.
Now, as I’ve already shown in this post (and, at greater length, in my post from a few years back) the narrative adopted by many right-wingers in SF/F was that progressives supported Marion Zimmer Bradley. Any evidence from to the contrary is either whitewashed altogether (as at Infogalactic) or confronted with a set of moving goalposts (as at David Freer’s blog). Cat Rambo was in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation: any denunciation of Bradley she could make, no matter how substantial or thorough, was liable to be dismissed or distorted by alt-righters.
And so, Rambo responded with snark:
By “proven paedophile running for congress” Rambo was referring to Roy Moore, subject of allegations of sexual misconduct with multiple women and girls as young as 14. Difster, the day before he tweeted at Rambo, voiced support for Moore and dismissed the accusations on the grounds that “it wasn’t that long ago that young teenagers were getting married”:
Difster’s support for Moore also led to him starting an argument with Corey Feldman.
I’ll have to acknowledge that Cat Rambo’s description of Roy Moore is wrong. He was never convicted, so it is therefore unfair to call him a “proven pedophile”, even if one personally finds the accusations against him credible. It would have been reasonable to make this point in response to her. But this is not the point that Rambo’s opponents made: instead, they tried to twist her comment into somehow supporting Bradley, as per the narrative.
Jon Del Arroz, an author with ties to Vox Day, responded in a December 15 post called Science Fiction Publishing Is Pure Depravity:
SFWA President Cat Rambo made a vile attempt to downplay Moira’s Greyland’s story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Marion Zimmer Bradley. To someone like Rambo, MZB’s identity as a feminist and gay icon is far more important than the real human who was hurt.
Sick. She refuses to disavow a dead pedophile and deflects. Why? We can only speculate, but from what I’ve observed in Sci-Fi fandom in conjunction with Moira’s story, MZB and Breen are not isolated incidents. The exposure of their story frightens the gatekeepers of the industry who have pushed an agenda of this lifestyle for decades.
Del Arroz makes a string of assumptions, most notably that Rambo views Bradley as “a feminist and gay icon” — ignoring the fact that Bradley had already lost this status in 2014 when her paedophilia became mainstream news. Again, the narrative that all progressives support Marion Zimmer Bradley is trotted out.
The next day, Superversive Press editor Jason Rennie chimed in with similar thoughts:
It is simply unconscionable that anybody could treat the horrific sexual abuse of an innocent child as a matter worthy of such flippant disdain. Superversive Press would encourage all people of good conscience to call for the immediate removal of Cat Rambo as SFWA president, and Superversive Press has no interest in working with people who share Cat Rambo’s indifferent attitude towards child sexual abuse committed by writers the SFWA has honoured and awarded. Who knows what other crimes she would ignore, defend or cover up for writers the SFWA approves of?
Note that neither Del Arroz nor Superversive mention the fact that Rambo was replying to Difster. They portray Rambo’s tweet as being a response to the revelations regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley, rather than the alt-right’s weaponisation of those revelations. It is Vox Day’s followers who are crassly using the crimes of Bradley as a stick to beat Rambo and SFWA with — and yet Rambo is the one portrayed as being flippant.
Even if Cat Rambo didn’t choose the best examples in her response, her general point about motes and beams is valid. As I mentiond earlier, Vox Day’s Infogalactic is complicit in attempting to cover up the child molestation committed by Ella Draper — but I have yet to see the Superversives of the world pass judgement on that sordid little affair.
The willful misinterpretation of Cat Rambo’s 2017 tweet persists: earlier this year, Del Arroz claimed that Rambo “notoriously mocked the Moira Greyland” (sic). Rambo’s sarcastic response to an alt-right web developer has, against all logic, mutated into an attack on Bradley’s abused daughter — at least, as far as the Superversives are concerned.
If we wish to see victims of hideous crimes being mocked and disparaged, we need look no further that the Superversives. Both Jon Del Arroz and Superversive Press have worked with Vox Day, who dismissed the teenagers murdered by Anders Breivik as “larval quislings”. Superversive has also published work by Brian Niemeier, who wrote a post defending James Fields (the murderer responsible for the 2017 Charlottesville car attack) and deriding Fields’ victim Heather Heyer for having been overweight. If anyone’s mocking victims it’s the Superversives, not Cat Rambo.
One of the comments left on Brian Niemeier’s post supporting convicted murderer James Fields.
Vox Day’s circle has adopted “SJWs always project” as a mantra, but all of the projection here is coming from their end. Covering up child abuse? Just see how Infogalactic tells outright lies in order to defend wanted child-abuser Ella Draper. Mocking victims of terrible crimes? Look no further than these people whooping and jeering at those murderered by right-wing terrorists.
Wading through all of this is grim but, I believe, necessary to get a clear idea of how these people operate. To Vox Day’s circle, the crimes committed by Marion Zimmer Bradley are ultimately an excuse for cheap point-scoring and an opportunity to draw attention away from their own unsavoury dealings. Still, I’ll give them credit for one thing: they put together a narrative that at least seems convincing — until you take a look at the facts.