Matters of Importance

“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”
– Robert E. Howard, “The Tower of the Elephant”

This post isn’t directly about Scottish politics, though it has some similarities. It’s about Robert E. Howard fandom and scholarship. For those not in the know, Robert E. Howard was a Texan author, poet and “two-gun raconteur” who wrote hundreds of short stories over the course of a 10-year career. He is most famed for Conan the Barbarian, but was also hugely successful in the fields of historical fiction, westerns, horrors, boxing stories, and humour. For about a decade, I was heavily involved in Robert E. Howard fandom: my other blog won a Robert E. Howard Foundation award for its content, I set up an online guide to Robert E. Howard, I have been cited in academic studies, joined the Robert E. Howard Foundation, and eventually became a member of the exclusive Robert E. Howard United Press Association, which only admits 30 members at any one time.

The REH fandom is one of the most welcoming, inclusive, varied, and downright fun fandoms I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, and to this day I am very fond of the friends I have made over the past decade. Indeed, from 2009 to 2014 I even journeyed to Cross Plains, Texas, to congregate with my fellow REH fans at Howard Days, the yearly celebration of Howard’s life and work. It was with a heavy heart and great reluctance that I stepped away from active Howard studies and engagement, but the aftermath of the referendum prompted me to reassess my life – though a small part of me will always remain in Cross Plains.


In 2009, I was invited to join The Cimmerian blog, the website for the award-winning scholarly journal of the same name. I was thrilled to be part of it, and up until now, I cited my work on The Cimmerian as among my proudest achievements – the premier site for Robert E. Howard scholarship, twice nominated for a World Fantasy Award, featuring contributions by authors and some of the brightest minds in Howard studies.

This week I, along with fellow former Cimmerian alumni Jeffrey Shanks, Mark Finn, and others, asked to have our names, faces, and work removed.

I have become friends with several of the authors on The Cimmerian. They came from all walks of life and all corners of the globe: I was a member of the “international” group, along with Tasmanian author, Keith Taylor, and French scholar, Miguel Martins. I still remain in regular contact with several of the contributors on Facebook and through email. It was through one of these friends that I was alerted to this.

Gentlemen: it’s our duty to report that Barbara Barrett, erstwhile Cimmerian blogger, has been caught engaging in Orwellian “social justice” bully behaviors against REH fans.

An increasingly fervent proponent of feminist thought-policing and Codes of Conduct since entering this overwhelmingly male and non-ideological field several years ago, Barrett has recently weaponized her rhetoric in an attempted ISOLATION and DISQUALIFICATION of the most revered Sword-and-Sorcery expert in pulp fandom: former Official Editor of REHupa Morgan Holmes. His crime? Associating with Hugo-nominated fantasy author and longtime social justice critic Vox Day (A Throne of Bones, The Last Witchkinget al), thus violating Barrett’s cultish SJW narrative.

Unleashing a coordinated assault against Holmes and Day in not one but two separate print a.p.a.s — REHupa (The Robert E. Howard United Press Association) and PEAPS (The Pulp Era Amateur Press Society) — Barrett followed the SJW ATTACK SEQUENCE to the letter:

  • Step #1 — Locate or Create Violation of the Narrative: ENACTED
  • Step #2 — Point-and-Shriek: ENACTED
  • Step #3 — Isolate and Swarm: ATTEMPTED (inexplicably the requisite mob of weak men needed to support her strong feminism has failed to materialize).

In service to her hoary “racism! sexism! homophobia!” attacks, Barrett fell back numerous times on the Three Rules of SJW:


Her goal with all of this is clear: ruin the reputations and livelihoods of two men, put the fear of suffering the same fate into everyone else, and then shame that cowed group of non-ideological male fans into establishing a fem-friendly code of conduct that would facilitate her becoming The Elderly Nazi Den Mother of REH Fandom, allowing her to ban WRONGFUN and BADTHINK wherever she might find it.

The Cimmerian Blog has been defunct for half a decade, but now that one of our former bloggers has been exposed as an SJW, we feel impelled to rise from our slumber to declare that we stand 100% against SJWs and their travelling freakshow of interlocking fetishes and predatory abuses.

As a now-confirmed SJW, Barbara Barrett is hereby EXPELLED from this blog. We have struck her prose from every post, and her face from every picture. Let her name be unheard and unspoken among us, erased from the memory of our august fellowship, for all time. So let it be written. So let it be done.
We publicly express our support, unequivocally and without reservation, for Sword-and-Sorcery expert Morgan Holmes, as well as for fantasy author Vox Day. Both are great and good friends of REH fandom, and of liberty.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the scourge of SJWs in our society — and how to defend yourself against their cretinous attacks — would do well to purchase Vox Day’s instant classic SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police.

I chose not to comment on the situation on my Robert E. Howard blog, because frankly, I was not in the ideal temperament at the time. Barbara Barrett is a friend, a colleague, and an erudite scholar. I wrote to Leo stating, in no uncertain terms, that if anyone on The Cimmerian was to be expelled, their prose struck, their faces scored out, their very names unheard and unspoken, for the “crime” of criticism, then they must do exactly the same to me.

But it’s worse than that, if you can believe it. Note the final sentences:

We publicly express our support, unequivocally and without reservation, for Sword-and-Sorcery expert Morgan Holmes, as well as for fantasy author Vox Day. Both are great and good friends of REH fandom, and of liberty.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the scourge of SJWs in our society — and how to defend yourself against their cretinous attacks — would do well to purchase Vox Day’s instant classic SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police.

We publicly express our support, unequivocally and without reservation… for fantasy author Vox Day.


Who is Vox Day? Mr Day, real name Theodore Beale, is a science fiction author. He is particularly controversial among the science fiction and fantasy community for his views on race, gender, vaccination, immigration, and other issues – views which ultimately led to his expulsion from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and his advocacy of the Rabid Puppies and GamerGate campaigns.

He is, in a word, provocative. For instance, here is a response he wrote in regards to author N.K. Jemisin:

Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males.  If one considers that it took my English and German ancestors more than one thousand years to become fully civilized after their first contact with advanced Greco-Roman civilization, it should be patently obvious that it is illogical to imagine, let alone insist, that Africans have somehow managed to do the same in less than half the time at a greater geographic distance.  These things take time.

Being an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature by “a bunch of beardy old middle-class middle-American guys” than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine, Jemisin clearly does not understand that her dishonest call for “reconciliation” and even more diversity within SF/F is tantamount to a call for its decline into irrelevance. Nor do the back-patting Samuel Johnsons wiping their eyes and congratulating her for her ever-so-touching speech understand that.

There can be no reconciliation between the observant and the delusional.

Here is an article he wrote on the threat of equal opportunities to science:

Between 1988 and 2004, Title IX caused the elimination of 239 NCAA Division One men’s teams and the addition of 682 women’s teams. Those 239 teams represented about 8.3 percent of the total, and the rate of elimination is increasing because, as the proportion of men attending universities continues to fall, more universities will fall afoul of the Title IX proportionality requirement and be forced to cut more men’s teams to stay in compliance with the congressionally dictated ratio. Now, what realistically offers a greater threat to science: a lack of public funding for what has proven to be the red herring of embryonic stem-cell research, or a politically driven 10 percent reduction of the male scientific community in the next 15 years, along with the enforced employment of three times that many female “scientists”?

Of course, this will sound to equalitarians and their sympathizers like nothing more than male whining, but it’s nothing of the sort. Because they are the intellectual driving force of humanity, men will be fine. They will simply continue to do what they have always done and pursue the same challenges they have always pursued, focused on the realities of success rather than its superficial attributes. It is the institutions they are exiting, voluntarily and involuntarily, that will be destroyed instead. It is written that “women ruin everything”; having destroyed the liberal arts, the classics and the pseudo-sciences, it is now abundantly clear that the more rigorous sciences are next on the equalitarians’ destructive agenda. And so, in the not-too-distant future, two plus two will finally be determined to equal five if a women feels that it should, or at least it will as long as she happens to feel that way.

And one of many posts in regards to female education:

As women achieve a higher level of education, their hypergamy cause them to increasingly focus on a dwindling pool of men with whom they are also competing. Those who cannot score an Alpha or a Beta tend to elect to remain single and devote themselves to their careers rather than settle for a Delta or Gamma as their mothers and grandmothers did. In reaction to their disdain, the lesser men are not only less attractive to these educated women, they are also less attracted to them as they learn there is no possibility of satisfying relationships with them.

Why is the problem more distinct in Japan than in the USA, where even more women are highly educated? Because Japan is a more rigidly traditional society and its people are less willing to embrace an equality paradigm that has already failed in the West.

Ironically, in light of the strong correlation between female education and demographic decline, a purely empirical perspective on Malala Yousafzai, the poster girl for global female education, may indicate that the Taliban’s attempt to silence her was perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable.

One can easily find other quotes on Day’s personal blog and elsewhere, for those with strong constitutions.

It should go without saying that I disagree in the strongest possible terms with many of Day’s conclusions and statements, as anyone who’s read A Wilderness of Peace would attest. It is one thing for Leo to advocate the author who wrote these things: in and of itself, it is his site, and he can do with it as he wishes. It is quite another to use language which suggests that all contributors do – and in my case, it is very dangerous and damaging to my reputation and livelihood.

I work in the local community in Scotland. I work with children, disadvantaged adults, people on the Autistic spectrum, community councils, the historical trust, and of course the Scottish National Party. My nation has a gender-balanced cabinet, a female First Minister, a significant number of female members, and has instigated measures to increase female participation in politics. Several of the things Mr Day has written fall under Scottish anti-discrimination laws – if he said these things here, he could face prosecution. And Leo, without any consultation with me or the other contributors, decided to say we all support him.

When Leo invited me onto the blog years ago, he was very clear to keep the blog politically neutral, and to let no political agenda of any sort complicate the scholarship. As such, The Cimmerian had contributors from all across the political spectrum, left and right, liberal and libertarian, and we never let that get in the way.  Now, Leo has all but destroyed that legacy in one stupid, petty action.

Once, I talked about The Cimmerian with pride and fondness to everyone I could. How can I do that, now that it has become a bully pulpit for politics directly antithetical to me and my country, which could end up with serious consequences? Imagine you work in the Scottish government, a local volunteer group, or anything else: would you work with someone who proudly cites their contributions to a website who expresses their support, “unequivocally and without reservation,” for the views cited above? Imagine what people in rival political parties would make of a local SNP member and independence campaigner being linked to such an individual.


I campaign for Scottish independence. I took great pride in our movement’s peaceful, positive message in the face of immense opposition. That opposition had the might of the entire UK Establishment at its back, seeking to crush anything that could threaten their dominion over these isles and their resources. Everyone in the movement has a story about being intimidated, being abused, being threatened. My mother has been physically assaulted three times in the past few years. The car was trashed, the windshield cracked, property vandalised and stolen. Grown men and women have screamed obscenities in my face, my mother’s, the children in my family. I have been called every name under the sun: “Nazi,” “Fascist,” “Taliban,” “Racist,” “Scum,” “Evil.” I do not need to have my name associated with the likes of Vox Day.

Yet I put up with the intimidation and abuse and threats, because some things are worth the struggle. Some things are that important. And frankly, I had spent too long being silent on the matters of Gamergate and Rabid Puppies, because I didn’t feel it was my place. I didn’t want to stick my neck out. But after three years campaigning for independence and facing down all the power of Westminster, I find myself completely unafraid and resolutely unphased by the schisms of fandoms – and it makes choosing sides a lot easier. What fear, what power, could they hold over me, given what I have just experienced?

So, to remove any doubt: I advocate the cause of social justice. I denounce the activities of Vox Day and his supporters. And I publicly express my support, unequivocally and without reservation, for my friend and fellow Robert E. Howard scholar, Barbara Barrett.

UPDATE (26th September 2015): When The Cimmerian closed down in 2010, there were 11 authors on the “About the Authors” page, and 3 other authors who contributed over the site’s lifetime. Since the editorial ritual banishment of Barbara Barrett, 5 of the headline authors have withdrawn their names, work and faces from the blog, as well as 2 of the additional authors, and the family of 1 of the late authors. A total of 8 authors are now exiles of The Cimmerian out of protest for the treatment of Barbara Barrett, and/or the site’s new stance on Vox Day.

Of the 14 authors who contributed to The Cimmerian blog over its five years of activity, only 5 now remain on what has been retitled The Best of The Cimmerian (“A curated, Social Justice Warrior-free archive of material from the classic Robert E. Howard blog.”)


43 thoughts on “Matters of Importance

  1. Marconatrix says:

    Most of us probably have no idea what you’re on about and would have known nothing about it all if you hadn’t brought it up. As if anybody outside of the geeky groups you mention would even care. But it’s you blog and you can vent if you want to 😉
    Hope you’re feeling better now.

    • alharron says:

      It isn’t so much about venting as it is about standing up to bullying behaviour being equally applicable to the referendum campaign, and this whole “war” between Social Justice Warriors and Rabid Puppies/GamerGate/Whoever.

      • Fal Phil says:

        It can be reasonably argued that purging BB, was, in fact, “standing up to bullying” as you describe it. Why would BB pour so much effort into destroying the reputations and livelihoods of 2 individuals, whose only sin was they held different points of view from hers? Are those 2 individuals not human beings? Do they not deserve the respect and tolerance that other human beings are offered? Did she even try to formulate a coherent logical argument to convince them to change their minds before launching her campaign to discredit them?

      • Joshua says:

        1) SJW’s always lie.
        2) SJWs always double down
        3) SJWs always project.

        Looks like we can add to that canon; outing one SJW has the salutary side effect of smoking out additional SJWs who have until then managed to keep a low profile.

        Good job, Leo!

      • alharron says:

        I’m honoured you care so much.

      • dirk gently says:

        The bullying was done by Barbara Barret. Defending against bullying is not bullying, you retard. Now, shut before you prove yourself to be an even bigger idiot than you’ve already demonstrated.

  2. Oh! Henry? says:

    Came across this on a Conan blog.

    So…was Barbara Barrett actually engaging in all the things she is accused of? Was she trying to isolate and shame that other writer?

    Just curious. I couldn’t find any details.

    Criticism is one thing. But if she was attempting to do what she was accused of, then why all the shock when someone strikes back with the same tactic, just more efficiently.

    Just curious.

    • alharron says:

      What went on between Barbara and Morgan (and Leo) is their business, and it is not my place to provide any details.

      The problem is, Leo tried to make it MY business, by not only unpersoning Barbara Barrett for things she has said in what can charitably be called a small forum,but for saying The Cimmerian blog advocated Vox Day – without consultation or consideration of what I or any of the other bloggers had to say. He does not speak for me any more than I do for him.

  3. Dale Rippke says:

    This doesn’t really surprise me all that much. Even if it wasn’t particularly political back in the day. The Cimmerian always took an elitist stance on all things Howard (mostly coming from Leo Grin and Don Herron). Now I don’t have any problem with wanting only the best people writing for their blog, But they would literally go out of their way to denigrate people they didn’t feel was worthy of being a Howard fan, as they did with Ben Szumskyj. They even got Steve Tompkins to start trash-talking Ben. I was pretty good friends with both men and it really distressed me to get caught in the middle of that nonsense. I’ve never really disclosed this before, but that “elitist” stance from the Cimmerian (plus a major case of mental burn-out) was the main reason I left REHupa. Life’s too short when half of your literary friends turn into a pack of teen-aged mean-girls. This stuff with Leo vs. Barbara Barrett is just more of the same…

    • alharron says:

      I had heard a lot about Leo from various sources, but I made a point of judging him purely by my own personal experience – hence this post.

  4. Ross says:

    As a Howard fan and a science-fiction fan who is sickened by the likes of Vox Day, I fully support the stance you have taken. Thank you. I love your blogs.

  5. Dystopia Max says:

    “I advocate the cause of social justice.”

    “Social justice” has no opinion on Scottish independence and will most probably turn on you and yours in a heartbeat if any aspects of its independence threaten living social justice representatives. But given your current path, I do believe a certain conservative pundit is the right guide for you.

  6. SpasticBadger says:

    ” Several of the things Mr Day has written fall under Scottish anti-discrimination laws – if he said these things here, he could face prosecution.”

    That’s funny, you say this like you think it’s a good thing?

    Nice to see you reveal your true colours, you repugnant fascist.

    • alharron says:

      “That’s funny, you say this like you think it’s a good thing?”

      Do I? Because I’m pretty sure I say it like “saying X here is criminal, ergo it reflects poorly on me to be associated with criminal activity.”

      “Nice to see you reveal your true colours, you repugnant fascist.”

      I’m not the one unpersoning people like I’m in Stalinist Russia.

      • dirk gently says:

        Aw, you’re upset that Barret got unpersonned for attempting to unperson two other people.

        Listen to me play the worlds smallest violin, chubster.

      • ronehjr says:

        There is no ‘unpersoning’, Mr Grin is simply removing Ms Barrett from participating in something that is under his purview.

  7. Fal Phil says:

    It’s probably a good thing you are leaving The Cimmerian. Howard strikes me as the type of guy that would appreciate different points of view and not get all queasy inside if he disagreed. He also strikes me as the type of guy that would use dialectic rather than rhetoric to voice his own opinion. Clearly you are a fish out of water, and you should seek a quiet, safe pool.

    As an aside, I watched the Jemisin thing unfold real-time. In her response, she corrected Beale, informing him that she most certainly not was a half-savage, but rather a FULL-savage (emphasis hers). It appears that you and she were offended for different reasons. That’s funny.

  8. deathray Zeke says:

    LOL. Was gonna quote Trevanian’s lovely put-down of British Intel services as being so useless that their ‘feints are so subtle that they go unnoticed’,…..but Marconatrix did it better, firstest. It must really **suck** when you do that Night of the Living Dead Point and Shriek thing and people just chuckle. Cheers

  9. I find it particularly ironic that you are upset by Vox Day’s viewpoints when he speaks only for himself and builds his arguments with a series of syllogisms that can be assessed for veracity (or not). He has not worked to isolate or expel anyone until they tried to do it to him. Interestingly, he and those who stand with him have been far more resilient than those who have attacked them (#GamerGate anyone?).
    Yes, the blog started as “politically neutral.” And re-looking at the sequence of events, it was Barrett that actually crossed the line first. Hers was not criticism — analytical rebuttal of Holmes’ work — but an attack using politically correct narrative to otherwise disqualify and exclude him. Is it so surprising that if you hit, that your target shouldn’t be expected to hit back, harder? Is it surprising that the targets friends come to his defense?
    You could have left your REH scholarship stand on its own; but it’s your prerogative to choose sides.
    Does Scottish independence stem from a need to establish a politically correct enclave or to define a common nation, people and culture? I would think that the freedom to say what you think is far more important for a nation than to join together in self-imposed thought policing. Clearly, you prefer to be inside with the herd and still feel righteous about it.
    So, farewell.

    • alharron says:

      I’m upset because Leo Grin sought to speak for me. Read it again:

      “We publicly express our support, unequivocally and without reservation, for Sword-and-Sorcery expert Morgan Holmes, as well as for fantasy author Vox Day.”

      “We” do no such thing. I and at least three others have said so. As I have said in the article, it is Leo’s prerogative to do what he likes on the website. It is not his prerogative to imply that all the site contributors agree.

  10. Vlad says:

    Fun fact; Vox Day is in favor of Scottish independence.

    You equivocate opposition to Vox Day with your experiences campaigning for Scottish independence, but were evidently too stupid to learn that he completely agrees with and supports your position!

    Also, like most SJWs, you are being patently dishonest, Al. When Barbara Barrett seeks to destroy someone because of their sociopolitical views, it’s just “criticism” and you “unequivocally support her”. When Leo responded in kind, it’s an unbearable “unpersoning”, whatever the hell that means.

    And before you go any further, understand that I am not a friend or follower of Vox, and would not necessarily want my own name associated with his, either.

    But one doesn’t have to be a fan of Vox to see through your pathetic dishonesty, hypocrisy, and stupidity.

  11. CW says:

    It looks like you share the same principles as Leo in that you stand by your friends. From my point of view, you could have chosen your friends more wisely. I find it interesting that you don’t repudiate anything you wrote at the blogsite that you once contributed to, you simply don’t stand by it anymore. You are a mess of contradictions.
    I’ll take my stand with Leo.

  12. Christ. Only an American or one of their neocon disciples in the UK could think ‘Social Justice’ a bad thing. Little wonder they are so loved in the world today…

    • The world is full of sane people i.e. right-wingers who think social justice is a bad thing because they understand equality is a fundamentally bad idea and is the source of all the rot in modernity. Here is one from Eastern Europe! We are far more than you would think. In fact I think in Russia we may be the majority. At least there the majority seem to oppose their kind of social justice folks (Pussy Riot).

      Such a comment is not really suitable to fully explain why sane people must be right-wing and oppose social justice. But basically people who are interested in fantasy literature should be understanding it on their own: how a medieval system, based on personal dependence and hierarchy is FAR superior to modern egalitarianism and atomism.

      Of course, the problem is that this really would require turning things back many centuries: simply being a conservative and preserving current things or turning back a few decades would not do.

      Still, more and more equality is clearly the wrong way forward, so social justice must be opposed.

      As a general rule, “social” means “no”. Social justice means no justice, social science means no science, and so on.

      Vox Day is justified in fighting feminism even when sometimes really pushes things a bit too far, because one of the core problem of decadence today is dropping masculinity and with that the dropping desire to fight, compete, rule, dominate, and more like becoming meek submissive men. This is a classic Ibn Khaldun scenario. Ripe for taking. And obviously feminists are the kind of women who want to reduce it more and more.

      I think you got it the other way around actually. Americans are the LEAST likely to oppose SJWs because they always tended towards a millenial cult of egalitarianism. Of course, countries colonialized by American universities and media, like the UK or Germany, are similar in this sense, or even more, as often the most radical elements of the millenial ideology of “universal brotherhood” got exported. These countries have lost themselves long ago and basically lap up every liberal leftist idea the Harvard or New York Times comes up with. However, there is a big world out there. And a resistance to liberalism. Read your Dugin. And no, it has nothing to do with neocons. Neocons are are just old liberals from the Wilsonian era. It is far, far more paleo than neo. The proper name is: Reaction.

  13. dirk gently says:

    Social Justice is to justice what a rubber duck is to a duck.

  14. ronehjr says:

    What staggering ignorance of how the term originated and is used to police personal beliefs or even normal interpersonal interactions, sometimes at the cost of the ‘offenders’ livelihood. You are what is referred to as a useful idiot.

  15. Malcadon says:

    Wow! Just wow! Grin’s rude dismissal of Barrett was the most petty and childish thing I have read in a while. And to state it in the most outlandishly ironic and self-protective way possible. That was not so much “fighting fire with fire”, but all out “I counter your cigarette lighter with a napalm carpet bombing!”

    Beyond Grin overstepping himself by trying to summarily throw your support for Day, no one should have to put up with someone that touched in the head — its not a conducive enviroment for any sane scholarly discourse! You made the right decision and stayed classy about it. All you can do is move on.

  16. alharron says:

    Well. This has been instructive.

    I’m going to close the comments, because everyone is going around in circles. So let’s see if I can explain, in the simplest language possible:

    1. The editor of a website expelled a former contributor, and used the plural “we” to state “our” rejection of the contributor, “our” support of Vox Day, and “our” rejection of Social Justice Warriors. He did this without consultation or consideration for the consequences such an action would have on me or my livelihood. THIS ALONE is sufficient for me to withdraw my work from The Cimmerian – because he decided to speak for me and others without our consent.

    2. My denunciation of the activities of Vox Day and his supporters Does not equate to disagreeing with him on *every single subject*. I’m pretty sure Vox Day and I agree on any number of things, such as Scottish independence, but that doesn’t mean I won’t denounce his actions on a given subject. Life isn’t black and white, and a broken clock is right twice a day.

    3. If Mr Grin wants to prove what Barbara was said to have done, provide evidence of this supposed “coordinated campaign” to “destroy” Morgan Holmes because of his mere “association” with Vox Day, then at least we would have something to work with. But he didn’t, so we don’t.

    In the end, it’s interesting noting the parallels between the comments I’ve read here, and the comments I’ve received from anti-independence supporters. But enough. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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