RTS 06: The #BizarroGate Aftermath

Welcome once again, gang, to the free READING TO STRANGERS weekly podcast! In this week’s episode, Kevin and Jeremy cover the fallout from #BizarroGate including their reaction to this week’s The Horror Show With Brian Keene podcast and Brian’s open letter to bizarro fiction.

We also present part two of the serial audio book MCHUMANS for your listening pleasure! Enjoy, gang, and remember, if you like what you hear each and every week on READING TO STRANGERS please consider pledging as little as a dollar a month to our Patreon page at Patreon.com/KevinTheStrange to hear exclusive bonus podcasts and get discounts on Kevin Strange’s fiction.

Till next week, gang, keep reading!

What #BizarroGate Is Not

Social media is on fire talking about #BizarroGate right now. But there is a lot of misinformation, some deliberate, some not that is flying around the virtual water cooler we call Facebook.

Today I’m going to address and debunk some of the more common misconceptions and fallacies about #BizarroGate:

1. Kevin Strange is trying to make money from #BizarroGate.

False. This is a rumor started by social justice bizarros on Facebook. SJBs throw wild accusations around with zero evidence to back them up. They’re irrational and they always lie.

My podcasts are free. We have bonus episodes on our Patreon page that we heavily advertise on our shows, just like every other podcast. It’s a common way to make money podcasting.

We also do paid advertising for our shows on Facebook and elsewhere on the web. Again, a podcast paying for advertising is normal operating procedure.

But our coverage of #BizarroGate on READING TO STRANGERS features no ads for Patreon. We don’t even use our intro or outro specifically because I don’t want to profit off of this situation.

You can also look around on the site itself. There is no advertising. It doesn’t matter if ten or ten thousand visitors come to the site. I don’t make a cent. I could easily add Google Adsense to the site, but I’d rather make my money from my books and my podcasts.

2. Kevin Strange thinks he’s morally superior to the rest of the bizarro community.

False. I never claimed to be a moral authority. I’m just a dude who writes fucked up books and thought I was joining a writing community that enjoyed doing the same thing.

I have no idea why the bizarro gate keepers are so fixated on the sex lives of their authors.

Why aren’t they just as concerned with violent felons or thieves or fraud artists in their midst? It’s bizarre and troubling and I have never once claimed to be morally superior to anyone else in this community.

This isn’t young adult fiction, for fucks sake. This is a genre which celebrates books like I’LL FUCK ANYTHING THAT MOVES AND STEPHEN HAWKING and ULTRA FUCKERS.

Why do they give a fuck who or how we fuck people in our personal lives? It’s just a culty purity test to keep their numbers small and their flock obedient. Just SJW virtue signalling bullshit.

3. Kevin Strange started the public fight with Brian Keene in order to get famous.

False. Before this, I had the greatest respect for Brian Keene. I spent a considerable amount of money and traveled 15 hours one way just to be on his show last year.

We had a great time together and he publicly said it was one of the best shows of the year. He promised it would make the best of 2016 year in review episode (although considering the fallout from Bizarrocon 2016, I doubt my appearance made the cut.)

In fact, I didn’t start this public feud. He did. He started it when he accused me of protecting harassers and stalkers and publicly banned me from his show in early 2017.

Before that, I had not mentioned his name once. I suspect he took issue with my blog campaign to end public shaming, an SJW tactic which he loves to employ on his podcast.

Only after I was publicly banned did I respond with a series of facts disputing his supposed eye witness account of author harassment at BizarroCon 2016 which prompted him to accuse me of starting a fight with him before he then blocked me from his social media.

It was only after that public response that I became aware of his role in #BizarroGate. I can’t honestly say that I still have any respect for the man, but I can say with confidence that he brought every ounce of my criticism onto himself.

It’s always a sad day when your idols fall.

4. Kevin Strange exposed #BizarroGate because he failed as a bizarro writer.

False. I am a two time Wonderland Award for excellence in Bizarro Fiction nominee. The only author to be nominated twice in the same category in the same year.

I was among the first authors to be interviewed in the bizarro fiction Facebook group. I was the first bizarro author of the month in the goodreads bizarro group.

I’ve hosted and sat on panels at Bizarrocon. I’m one of the only authors to appear multiple times on the Bizzong weird fiction and bizarro podcast.

To date I’m one of if not the only bizarro author to appear on both Bizzong and The Horror Show With Brian Keene.

My web traffic is higher than any bizarro publisher’s website and most small press horror publisher sites, let alone individual author websites according to Alexa.com.

To say that I’m a decorated and respected member of the bizarro community would not be an overstatement of my achievements in the genre.

If I’m a failure in bizarro, well, then what the hell is everyone else?

5. Kevin Strange hates the author/editor at the center of the #Bizarrogate scandal.

False. On the contrary, I’ve always had a good relationship with this author. We’ve had many great conversations and we sat together for over an hour at Bizarrocon one year sharing beers and geeking out over writing.

It’s really unfortunate that his personal life became the center of #BizarroGate but the personal lives of MANY other authors have been dragged through the mud by Brian Keene and others.

The bizarro powers that be have never once publicly denounced witch hunting or public shaming. #BizarroGate rests squarely on the shoulders of the gate keepers of bizarro fiction for keeping authors’ private lives in play regarding their participation in the genre.

A public denoucement of this behavior by high ranking officials in the genre would go a long way toward protecting the private lives of authors in the future.

So there you have it. If you see any misguided or fallacious posts about #BizarroGate on social media, throw up a link to this post and set the record straight. We have a lot of work to do, together as a community, to fix our broken genre.

The Bizarro Purity Test [My Plea To The Bizarro Community]

There’s a lesson to be learned from #Bizarrogate, and it’s not what many of you reading this right now think it is. See, bizarro fiction is in the middle of a quagmire. An existential crisis, if you will.

They have a very important choice to make and they’re dragging their feet making it. Either they believe all female victims of sexual misconduct allegations or they let the court of law decide innocence or guilt. They can’t have both.

One of the close friends of the bizarro powers-that-be has a sexual criminal past, but no convictions. He wants amnesty. He wants to continue to be a part of the community and to attend BizarroCon.

But the organizers of the event want to be able to publicly shame, humiliate and ban men from their show and their community who they themselves deem a danger to women. No court ruling needed. They can’t have both.

I left social media shortly after BizarroCon 2016 after I attempted to make this point clear (and before the history of their friend came to light) after the absolute highest ranking members of bizarro fiction came to my facebook page to argue with me about the subject. I stayed away for two full months.

But after #BizarroGate broke, my team had to monitor social media closely in order to discern the reaction from the community. And what we found was troubling.

Bizarro is often criticized as being a cult. A small group of authors who speak and act exactly like the powers-that-be tell them to, no more, no less. They move as a unit. Like a flock of birds. And when they say you’re done and you have to leave, the entire community turns on you, publicly shames you, humiliates you and antagonizes you until you leave.

Only now, with #BizarroGate, some of the flock is being “red pilled.” They’re realizing that their leadership might be fallible after all. That maybe it IS time to scrutinize, question, and hold accountable the powers-that-be to their own impossibly high moral standards.

And so, after exposing #BizarroGate, I began to receive many emails from bizarro writers chronicling the wrong-doings of the upper echelon of bizarro fiction. But, and this is important, I need to make this very clear. I don’t give a fuck what they do wrong.

You heard that right. I don’t give a single fuck what these people do in their personal lives, how they treat each other or members of their community. We’re people. We’re flawed. We make mistakes. We fuck up. A lot. All of us. Even the bizarro powers-that-be.

My goal in exposing #BizarroGate isn’t to ruin bizarro. On the contrary, I’ve said all along that I love bizarro fiction. I exposed #BizarroGate to show this community that it needs to DROP ITS IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS.

See, I live by a mantra. That mantra is: “Bullshit ain’t nothing.” Bullshit don’t mean a fucking thing to me. We all fuck up. To err is human, right? I believe in second chances. I believe in redemption. In starting over. In FORGIVENESS.

I don’t want the close friend of the bizarro powers-that-be banned from the con. I want the alleged stalker for whom the bizarro community had no proof against, no reason to belittle and shame, no reason to excommunicate, I want HIM to have a SECOND CHANCE.

I want EVERYONE bizarro has tarred, feathered and left for dead to be allowed a second chance. A chance at redemption.

Bizarro fiction is stuck in an ever narrowing ideological loop called “The Purity Test.” The theory of the purity test is that once a cult or ideology starts to come apart under its own impossible standards, members of the community will be virtue-tested before their opinion is allowed to hold any weight.

In other words, as the moral bar is set higher and higher, fewer and fewer members of the community are able to pass it and are thus expelled. When something huge like #BizarroGate exposes the highest ranking members of the community as fallible, the entire concept of virtue is thrown into question.

Some of the people emailing me are telling me they once questioned my virtue, but after #BizarroGate believe that I’m the more virtuous among us and that the powers-that-be can no longer be trusted. To that I say NO!

I am NOT more virtuous that ANYONE in this community. I am just as flawed, just as capable of mistakes and transgressions and just as in need of second chances as everyone else.

As the Purity Test loop closes around our necks, we will ALL choke on it!

So this is my plea to the powers-that-be and to Brian Keene. Just drop the virtue signalling from this community. Drop the sanctimonious purity testing. It. Will. Destroy. Us.

Ask your community for forgiveness and tell them that the days of witch hunting and public shaming over virtue are OVER. Tell them bullshit ain’t nothing to you. Tell them we’re all adults. The men and women. And that we can take care of each other in this community without resorting to public shaming tactics. We can punish and forgive privately with restraint and humility.

Bizarro can survive #BizarroGate. There is an end to this where we all survive.