Irene Gallo, Unrepentant Bigot

(There is an update at the bottom of the post.)

Bigot n. A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Irene Gallo, the Creative Director for Tor Books, is a bigot.

This is not hyperbole. Over the weekend, on a Facebook post promoting an upcoming book from Tor, she posted the following:

There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.

source, alternate source, in case of memory-holing

As somebody pointed out (I’m afraid I’ve lost track of who it was), there is exactly this much truth in her statement: there are, indeed, two groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. Everything else is a lie.

The statement set off quite a firestorm across social media and the blogosphere.

There were several reasons it set people off, not least of which is that it tarred at least two of Tor’s own authors, John C. Wright and Kevin Anderson.

Many of us have been waiting to see what Tor would do, as an institution. Especially in light of the fact that this bigotry was unleashed in direct relation to promoting an upcoming book from Tor. Patience was counselled by many, since this past weekend was the weekend that the Nebula Awards were announced, meaning that the adults at Tor were all likely to be busy with convention activities and festivities.

Well, the weekend is over, and two things have happened.

First, Tor’s Facebook page has taken the official position of “not our problem, dude”:

Happy Monday! We appreciate your comments & would like to remind you that the views of our employees do not reflect those of the publisher.


Also, somebody seems to have advised the redoubtable Ms. Gallo that her spewing of hatred was perhaps a bit unwise, especially since some of it splashed onto the people who actually produce the product that her employer sells, and therefore upon whom her livelihood depends.

So she apologized. For how other people took what she said, of course, not for the content of her statement:

About my Sad/Rabid Puppies comments: They were solely mine. This is my personal page; I do not speak on behalf of Tor Books or I realize I painted too broad a brush and hurt some individuals, some of whom are published by Tor Books and some of whom are Hugo Award winners. I apologize to anyone hurt by my comments.


This, as I pointed out in the reply pictured, is not an apology.

It is a passive-aggressive insult: “I’m sorry you’re so stupid that your feelings were hurt when you didn’t understand what I was really saying,” more or less.

She does not apologize for impugning the characters of a very large number of people. She does not apologize for impugning authors who work for her employer, in particular. She does not apologize for her immaturity in prancing about demonstrating that she’s not part of a tribe she hates. She does not apologize for her bigotry in any way, shape, or form.

She only apologizes for the feelings of people who might have been hurt by what she said.

What she said, then, must still stand.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the very essence of the non-apology apology. She said the words “I apologize”, but in a form that makes it clear that she is not at all sorry, and she damn well wants everyone to know she’s not.

And Tor Books, so far, seems perfectly willing to accept this smearing of its authors, its colleagues, and its reading customers.

Tor used to be a good company. They used to publish an ideologically wide range of authors. They used to treat their readers and their authors with respect.

Also, they used to get no small amount of my book-buying money.

But not anymore.

UPDATE: Tor’s publisher, Tom Doherty, has made a post on the matter. In part:

Tor employees, including Ms. Gallo, have been reminded that they are required to clarify when they are speaking for Tor and when they are speaking for themselves. We apologize for any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused. Let me reiterate: the views expressed by Ms. Gallo are not those of Tor as an organization and are not my own views. Rest assured, Tor remains committed to bringing readers the finest in science fiction – on a broad range of topics, from a broad range of authors.

This is good, and Tor’s now-official stance that the Sad Puppies are simply organized fans is also good.

However, I do not deem it enough.

First, Ms. Gallo did not apologize for her bigoted remarks, she did the passive-aggressive non-apology for anyone whose feelings might have been hurt. Her remarks and her bigotry are unacceptable, and letting her off with an “I’m sorry you didn’t like what I said” doesn’t cut it.

And secondly, while she has since made clear that her views do not reflect Tor’s, she expressed them while promoting a Tor book. That reflects on the company, no matter how much it is now disavowed.

I am, in short, unmoved in my decision to give Tor no more of my money.


13 thoughts on “Irene Gallo, Unrepentant Bigot

  1. Just so. As i pointed out to Tom Knighton just now on his post, this is akin to a finger in a disintegrating dike when in fact a team of civil engineers is needed to repair the damage.

    1. I have every reason to believe Tom Doherty is a mensch, whatever his political views might be. When he founded Tor, Jim Baen was his head editor. When Baen went off to create his own publishing house, Doherty was an investor. In the past, Tor published and supported wildly different authors, politically speaking. Considering that Baen, and authors with views akin to those Poul Anderson held, are the puppy-kickers’ boogeymen, I can only assume Doherty was basically unaware of what was happening with regard to Sad Puppies 3.

      That said, the statement remains too weak. Perhaps he’s just following legal advice, or he’s being cautious and trying not to incite a mob mentality. I can imagine a few reasons for starting with what he said.

      But it’s not enough.

  2. I agree 100%. The non-apology apology is nowhere near enough to convince me to support Tor financially. I don’t care if they keep Irene Gallo on staff — I’d actually prefer they did since firing people for their opinions is reprehensible. However, unless she actually apologizes, admits she was wrong, and explains what the Puppies actually *are* versus what she *thinks* they are, I’m not going to contribute one wooden nickel towards her salary.

    1. I don’t believe I called for any firing. Threatening livelihoods is what the puppy-kickers like Ms. Gallo are doing.

      But she gave vent to her bigoted and demonstrably untrue views while promoting a Tor book, on her Facebook page which appears to be mostly a vehicle for promoting Tor’s product. That makes the non-apology a reflection of what Tor management finds acceptable, and I judge them in that light.

      It pains me not to give money to Steven Brust or Brandon Sanderson, and possibly a few other writers as well. but I will not support a company that openly despises me like this.

      1. You didn’t call for her to be fired but others are. I’m just clarifying that *I* don’t want her to be fired over this — I just want a real honest-to-Bob apology. 🙂

  3. Is there not one more relevant point?

    Third, she is not the first person from Tor to express these views. Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is corporate culture.

    And Ms. Gallo’s little outbreak actually makes four (Neilsen-Hayden #1, Neilsen-Hayden #2, Moshe, and now Ms. Gallo.)

    1. I’m not familiar with every detail of all the back-and-forth, as I’ve been mostly observing from the sidelines, so perhaps the distinction I’m about to make isn’t right.

      To my knowledge, the vicious bigotry spewed by Moshe and the N-Hs was not done in the same breath as promoting Tor’s product. That is, they at least had the rhetorical cover that they could not be construed to be touting the company line, but voicing their own personal opinions.

      That there are now four senior Tor employees who adhere to this irrational hatred is troublesome, no doubt. But Gallo is, as far as I know, the only one who did so while apparently doing her job for Tor.

      That is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

  4. I too find Ms. Gallo’s non-apology insufficient, and also Mr. Doherty’s post. I sent Tor the following e-mail:

    Sirs and Madams:

    You won’t know me, and there’s no reason you should. But I’m one of the people that your employees keeps insulting. I’m one of a large number that’s been told I’m racist, misogynist, a Jew hater, and the general scum of the universe. And I’m done with it.

    You may have Ms. Gallo, Mr. Feder, and Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen-Hayden as employees, or you may have me as a customer. I will no longer make purchase from Tor/Forge, or any Macmillan imprint, while any of them are working for you.

    Stephen M. St. Onge
    Minneapolis, MN, USA

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