Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Neil Gaiman is not a thief

And Matt Dean is an ass:

Dean also singled out a $45,000 payment of Legacy money that was made last year to science fiction writer Neil Gaiman for a four-hour speaking appearance. Dean said that Gaiman, "who I hate," was a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota."

I had no clue who Matt Dean is before this evening, but (like nearly everyone else who is a fantasy fan, judging by his sales numbers) I am fond of Neil Gaiman.  Methinks most politicians would be wary of breaking onto the national stage in such a fashion.

Now, reasonable people can argue the existence of a taxpayer fund devoted to arts and culture spending, especially in these straitened times (even though it was voted into place).  Reasonable people can, even more, debate how to handle the funds within the program--although instituting a process of competing for grants when the various entities will most likely wind up with the same level of funding creates an added stupid tax.  What is not reasonable, however, is an ad hominem attack against Gaiman here.

There is a lot more to the story of the fee, how much it is, and why it was paid (and what Gaiman did with it: hint, it's not gathering interest in his bank account) than Dean chose to give context for.  Long story short, Gaiman purposely sets his fees high in order to dissuade people from hiring him as a speaker, the library offered to pay the full market price, as they were in a use it or lose it situation, and he filled the smallish auditorium at the library where he was hired to speak.  It's also worth noting that this money was specifically earmarked for the purpose of paying authors market rate to come speak to suburban libraries, at least as far as Gaiman knows.

Moreover...Well, I'll quote Gaiman singing Dean's ass here (emphasis mine):

I do not know whether this man is calling me "a thief" because:

A) I charged more than he's comfortable with for a talk, or
B) People happily pay me a lot of money to come and give talks, or
C) He thinks I gave the talk wearing a stripy sweater to an audience of people who were there at gunpoint and afterwards took their wallets, or
D) He's against the principles of the Free Market, and feels that governments should regulate how much people are paid to talk in public.

But for whatever reason, it seems kind of weird, and is a lie. (Yes, I gave the money to charities - a sexual abuse one and a library/author one, long ago, when the cheque came in, well before this ever became a political football. But that seems completely irrelevant to this: I don't like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing.)

Who is Neil Gaiman to charge $45,000 for a speech?  He's a man who can get people to pay him $45,000 for a speech.  He's no more a thief than the folks who sell Godiva chocolates are thieves, and for a Republican to choose that to bitch about is rich indeed.

By the by, it appears Dean's momma made him apologize:

"My mom is staying with us right now because my wife's out of town," Dean said. "She was very angry this morning and always taught me not to be a name caller. And I shouldn't have done it, and I apologize."

By this quote I can only assume his wife and mother have decided between themselves that Dean cannot be trusted to be on his own; I think they're right.

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