21 Jan

Dear Mr. Gee: you don’t punch down

This is pretty fucked up:

“Henry Gee is an editor at Nature magazine. I’ve met him: he’s smart, he’s interesting, he’s extremely opinionated and often obnoxious, so we have at least one of those things in common. He and Dr Isis have a long-running feud — it may have begun with Gee publishing an awful piece of short fiction called Womanspace, or it may have been something to do with an argument at Science Online, but I don’t know and don’t care.

But now it has blown up in ways that are ultimately going to be damaging to Gee. Dr Isis is a pseudonymous blogger and scientist, and rather vindictively, Gee has outed her. Why? Because she was mean to him.”

(Via Oh, Henry » Pharyngula.)

I’m a science nerd, I even considered a degree down that direction, but realized my passion more aligned with spending time with story. But Nature was one of the magazines I used to pore over in the library, or when I hung out at the college’s science center. I had two stories published there, and it was really one of those full circle, realized dreams moments.

However, I after reading the links and following this up, I can’t in good conscience say that I’d feel comfortable supporting or submitting my work there again given what is done to those who bring criticism.

Criticism is healthy. Henry Gee is in a position of power, and as I’ve said before, you don’t use power to punch down. Mr. Gee did exactly that.

Punching down is a concept in which you’re assumed to have a measurable level of power and you’re looking for a fight. Now, you can either go after the big guy who might hurt you, or go after the little guy who has absolutely no shot. Either way, you’ve picked a fight, but one fight is remarkably more noble and worthwhile than the other. Going after the big guy, punching up, is an act of nobility. Going after the little guy, punching down, is an act of bullying.

I’m far from a prominent scientist, or a major SF figure. But I don’t think I care to be associated with this.

Fuck this shit. I’m out.

You won’t be seeing anything from me in Nature in the future.