Sad Puppies Will Not Die
Because the puppy kickers will not let it die. This piece is a case in point.
In September 2014, the sci-fi/fantasy world was rocked by revelations about the bizarre online past of a much-praised young author in the field, the Thai-born, Hong Kong-based Benjanun Sriduangkaew, one of that year’s finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Sriduangkaew was outed as a notorious social justice “rage-blogger” known by the fitting moniker “Requires Hate” (a shortened version of the title of her blog, “This Requires Only That You Hate”), whose vitriol-soaked takedowns and callouts of “problematic” works and authors had sown fear in the SFF community since 2011. What’s more, Requires Hate also doubled as a prolific troll and cyberbully who mainly went by “Winterfox” but sometimes used other handles.
After several weeks of heated debates, a lengthy, detailed, carefully researched report on Sriduangkaew’s activities under her various aliases was posted by sci-fi writer Laura Mixon on her LiveJournal blog.
It makes for a hair-raising read. Requires Hate’s rants made Jeong’s tweets sound like drawing-room pleasantries. She frequently resorted to graphic threats of murder, rape, mutilation, acid attacks, and other extreme violence. Of American sci-fi novelist Paolo Bacigalupi, whom she blasted as a “raging racist fuck” and an “appropriative bag of feces,” she wrote, “If I see [him] being beaten in the street I’ll stop to cheer on the attackers and pour some gasoline on him,” and “Let him be hurt, let him bleed, pound him into the fucking ground. No mercy.” Irish-American author Caitlyn Kiernan was branded a “rape apologist” whose “hands should be cut off so she can never write another Asian character.”
According to Mixon, Sriduangkaew, often aided by her followers, had at various times tried to “suppress the publication of fiction and reviews” and get speakers disinvited from panels and readings; cyber-stalked sci-fi fans who had crossed her; “chased down positive reviews” in order to “frighten reviewers and fans away” from promoting works she disliked; and “single-handedly destroyed several online SFF, fanfic, and videogaming communities with her negative, hostile comments and attacks.” (All italics in the original.) Moreover, “At least one of her targets was goaded into a suicide attempt.”
Mixon’s post prompted many of Requires Hate’s victims—including some who were not named in the report, such as Canadian author J.M. Frey—to speak up in the comments. Their accounts were shocking, not only for what they revealed about Sriduangkaew’s behavior but for her targets’ reactions. Frey, whose award-nominated, well-reviewed 2011 debut novel Triptych was repeatedly trashed on the Requires Hate blog, wrote:
I nearly stopped writing when this happened. I shook every time I sat down to a keyboard. It took me 75 drafts to turn in a novel (with a [person of color] lead!) to my agent. I cried a lot. … When I saw her site’s links incoming in my website meta data I felt sick. I had to learn how to block them.
Mostly I’ve gotten over it, but every single time I sit down to write a new project, I have to give myself a pep talk about how I have to write what I want… I second guess everything I write now. I waffle, and bemoan, and I try to be good at representation and gender and sexuality in my books, but nobody is perfect and I feared, I genuinely feared putting more books out into the world because I was scared.
Frey also wrote that Requires Hate’s tirades made her scared of more than social disapproval. She began to avoid conventions, fearing that she would run into her tormentor and that the latter “would escalate from words to something horrible, something physical,” such as “come across a dance floor and hit me in the head with a beer bottle.”
Several other commenters also wrote that being targeted by Requires Hate and her minions affected them profoundly. Charles Terhune, an American sci-fi author, said that as a new writer just getting his start in the field, the experience left him “scarred and skittish for a long time”—and wary of “writing anything other than white male characters.” Colum Paget, an Irish writer who found himself on the receiving end of her invective, admitted that he “pretty much stopped writing because of it.”