The Baen’s Bar situation is an interesting one.
For those not in the know, Baen is a sci-fi/fantasy publisher, one of the few, if not only, major publishing houses that are still independent and not locked up under a corporate conglomerate. Currently ranking eighth among fiction publishers, total, Baen publishes authors across the political spectrum, from Eric Flint to Tom Kratman. Their current head editor, a real nice woman named Toni Weisskopf, is a firm proponent of free speech, and the only thing she requires from her authors is that they’re able to write a good story. On their website, they have a forum known as “Baen’s Bar”, a place the company’s founder, Jim Baen, could have conversations “of cabbages and kings” with authors, editors, and fans alike. Built in the days before social media became a big thing, Baen’s Bar still exists, mostly attended to by a small group of the old guard who never made the jump to mainstream social media and a small contingent of newer folks that got tired of mainstream social media.
Somewhat recently, a writer known as Jason Sanford, a guy best known for short sci-fi stories, political leanings, and defending Brad Vice’s plagiarism of Carl Carmer, took it upon himself to do some hard-hitting investigative journalism into the posting habits of the Baen’s Barflies (what the forum regulars are known as). He published his findings on his Patreon site the other day, accusing Baen’s Bar of being a hotbed of “racism, sexism, homophobia and general fascism”. It is worth noting that most of the linked evidence in his investigation leads not to actual posts on Baen’s Bar, but to posts on other blogs, doing their own hot takes. On top of that, several of the posters his article cites suddenly joined the forum, which had been mostly quiet for the better part of a decade, after January 6th. It is also worth noting Mr. Sanford made no attempt to contact Baen directly and air his concerns; in fact, unconfirmed reports are saying that complaints have instead been lodged directly to the server host of Baen’s website, allegedly in a bid to get Baen’s entire website shut down. Given Mr. Sanford’s history, the credibility of his cited evidence, and the fact that this sudden wash of inflammatory posts did not appear until after events at the Capitol, I personally do not believe his article was written in good faith, but hey, you be the judge. His article can be found here.
Several Baen authors came out with statements defending the publisher, including a statement from David Weber on his personal Facebook page, and another from Larry Correia (which also quotes David Weber’s statement in full, and can be found here). Also, yesterday, Toni Weisskopf came out with an official statement from Baen, which can be found here. In it, she states that Baen’s Bar will be temporarily shut down while the company conducts an in-depth investigation of its own regarding Mr. Sanford’s allegations. This is largely being regarded as the smart move: Baen can find out for itself and prove or disprove the allegations, and let their website host service know they’re handling it. It’s a common sense move that’ll hopefully keep the host service from shutting their site down out of hand.
Cue Jon Del Arroz, comic artist, author, and general pot stirrer. Never one to let a perfectly good controversy go to waste, he has been decrying Baen’s move as “caving to the SJW mob” on virtually every social media platform he is on (YouTube link here), and doing his level best to make conservative writers look like the crackpots the left thinks we are. And, when rightfully called out for stirring the pot, Mr. Del Arroz and his followers are now trying to claim that “Larry Correia and his mob” are blaming him for getting Baen’s Bar shut down.
The mental gymnastics required to follow that logic warrant a gold medal and a corporate sponsorship.
Baen is one of the last publishers left that does not require their writers and editors to adhere to a certain political ideology in order to work for the company. A lot of other people in the publishing industry openly do not like Baen for this reason, Mr. Sanford included. This reads less like a good-faith exposé and more like an attempt to screw Baen and its authors and editors over by deplatforming them. Given what just happened with Parler, whether you agree with it or not, the evidence points in that direction. This means that if you are at all a believer in the First Amendment, you need to be paying attention to what’s going on here.
As for Mr. Del Arroz and his antics: He needs to sit down and let Baen work. Just because I happen to share a writing credit with the guy (we both were published in the same anthology last fall), does not mean I’m endeared to the guy at all, or afraid to tell him when he is out of line. Which, in this case, he is.
In the meantime, what can you do to support Baen? Buy their books, and tell your friends to do the same.
UPDATE: Eric Flint has weighed in. You can see his statement here.