Guess which one is the politician and which one actually creates things of value.
When we can mention Neil Gaiman in a post about a politician getting schooled, it’s a great day in the Uproxx bangbus. Er, office. The Uproxx office. Moving on . . . About a year ago Neil Gaiman accepted $33,600 for speaking at Stillwater Library in Minnesota. He donated the money to a social/abuse charity and an author/literature/library related charity program. Although Gaiman often waives his fee, especially for libraries, his official speaking fee is high for an author, and Neil himself explains why:
The main reason I got a speaking agency, ten years ago, was because too many requests for me to come and speak were coming in. And the speaking requests were, and are, a distraction from what I ought to be doing, which is writing. So rather than say no, we’ve always priced me high. Not Tony Blair high, or Sarah Palin high (last time I read about them, they’re about $400,000 and $150,000 respectively). But I’m at the top end of what it costs to bring an author who should be home writing and does not really want a second career as a public speaker to your event. [via Gaiman's blog, and there's a follow-up here]
The little Stillwater Library was able to afford the speaking fee thanks to Minnesota’s Legacy constitutional amendment, which allocates sales tax monies to, among other things, public arts and cultural events. The library needed to either spend their earmarked money within a month or give it back, so they chose to spend it (don’t get us started on the financial stupidity of public earmarks which can’t rollover to another month or year). Gaiman delivered a four-hour speech in person with about 500 people in attendance, and he says the library never asked him to reduce or waive the fee. They paid him the standard speaking fee and he donated it to charity of his own volition. All in all, nothing out of the ordinary. Fast forward to this week, when a politician decided to raise a stink about it.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean wrote a blog post (link is currently not working) where he mentioned Gaiman’s speaking event and called him a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.” Dean is currently trying to pass legislation which removes a huge number of Legacy earmarks for arts and culture organizations like the Minnesota Zoo (which has been awesome every time I’ve gone there) and Minnesota Public Radio (which is also awesome, as far as radio stations go). His attempt to whip up a fury at Gaiman’s speaking fee to help his legislation pass seems to have backfired, as Gaiman informed his 1.5 million Twitter followers, whose clicks on Dean’s blog crashed it. And both of Gaiman’s blog posts (linked above) about the political grandstanding have been magnificent. Politicians really shouldn’t pick fights with professional writers. It’s like watching a chihuahua nip at a . . . um . . . something big. (That joke is what we call “meta”. By “we” I mean “hipster douchebags”.)
But it gets even better:
Dean, who told The Star Tribune that he “hates” Neil Gaiman, later apologized for the insults during an interview with Minnesota Public Radio — the very artistic and cultural enterprise whose funding he is attempting to endanger.
“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.” [ComicsAlliance]
Shortly afterward, Gaiman tweeted ” Apparently @repmattdean has now apologised for calling me a #pencilneckedlittleweasel. But not for calling me a thief.”
So it seems the politician hasn’t taken back the “thief” accusation yet. On the other hand, we haven’t taken back our comment to Matt Dean that his “hair” *cough* looks ridiculous. Keep it if you want. Look stupid. See if we care. Look like a Washington whore. And you go around sashaying in your tight clothes. You make us want to smoke.
Here’s the “tl;dr” version:
Comic by EvilReads.
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