Public Statement Re: Mongoose

I am disappointed today to discover that Mongoose Publishing, with whom I have had a professional and personal relationship for around a decade, have caved to pressure from a libellous petition against me.

The text of their statement will be appended below.

I am certain there are more people out there who support me and my work, the principles of free expression and who understand satire and comedic exaggeration.

I need your support and I need the support of your friends. I think we should be easily able to outdo the amount of support this person’s petition against me garnered.

Just from amongst my friends, my family, my acquaintances, those who know me to even the slightest degree there should be enough people to make this incident and this woman’s petition look ridiculous. When you include my customers, it should be dwarfed.

I understand you might be afraid of sticking your neck out and being associated with me, purely because of the manner of accusations being made against me. They remain untrue, have never been true and will never be true. So please don’t let that hold you back.

If you need reassurance you know how to contact me. I have tried to be reasonable and open about every aspect of this incident since the start. Not that it has done me any good.

A line has been crossed here and it is a very dangerous one.

Someone has set up a counter-petition in support of me (not the other, silly petition that has also been doing the rounds). You can find it here, please sign.

Counter Petition

Many of you will be aware that over the past couple of days Mongoose has been caught up in a controversy regarding a blog post of a freelancer we once hired.

We would like to make clear that we have, and have not had, any plans to hire this freelancer again for any future projects.

We understand that some people have found his previous material upsetting, despite all intentions for it to be humorous. This book will therefore be allowed to lapse out of print, and we will not actively promote it in any way. It will never be reprinted.

Like other publishers, we have a deep interest in publishing a greater amount of female-positive material, and would welcome any discussion of such on our forums.

There have been a few comments raised about an unfortunate phrase that was chosen for a temporary project title on our forums. It was used without sufficient thought as to its implications beyond a reference to a film. It was immediatly deleted as soon as this was pointed out.

We regret any offence given either in private email by myself or on our forums. Our actions throughout this situation, while obviously not a picture of perfect PR, have nonetheless been motivated by a genuine desire to try to understand the other’s point of view and see if any kind of compromise or reconciliation could be reached. At the end of the day, I am a gamer and ex-computer engineer who has found himself running a company – what I know of PR could be written on a postage stamp. However, as I say, the motives were genuine. 

Finally, it has been reported that some… individuals (I would hesitate to call them people) have been sending threats of violence to others. We have nothing to do with that, condemn it utterly and, frankly, those individuals should be ashamed of themselves. There is nothing big or clever in what you have done.

_________________
Matthew Sprange

21 responses to “Public Statement Re: Mongoose

  1. Hello Mate,

    I have to say that I’m extremely disappointed in Mongoose for this, they are taking a position of actively supporting censorship, so I’m going to boycott them.

    You’ve managed to maintain both your cool and your integrity throughout the whole thing which is an admirable achievement. Especially given the kind of fuckwit you’ve been up against.

    I’ve signed the counter petition and as I said on Twitter, you’ve got my support, publicly and unequivocally.

    Steve

  2. hi james.

    to have my total and utter support. mongoose have chosen to bow to knee jerk reactionaries and stifle free speech and debate. i have nothing but respect for you in the way you have handled this. not only as a writer but as a person as well. mongoose have lost one customer and by the sounds of it its not just me.

    peace.

    p.s big fuzzy hugs

  3. Signed…

    I’m really disappointed in Mongoose for capitulating in such a poor manner to something that is clearly based on deliberate misunderstanding and lies. They seem to have forgotton that as a publisher they have a moral obligation to stand up for free speech. Shame on them for this.

  4. Because of this, I won’t buy anything Mongoose publishes until they put everything you’ve written for them back into print, publish something new by you, and actively promote all of it.

  5. This is a sad day. I always thought of Mongoose as a bolder sort of company. I still hope they will realize that you cannot appease maniacs, and reverse this statement.

  6. If somebody wanted to communicate their support of you to publishers by buying your works, which of your works would be best for them to buy and what sources would be best for them to buy from?

    • I would prefer people buy things because they’re cool and interesting, rather than just to lend support.
      I have fiction over on drivethrufiction and smashwords and Amazon, just search for my name.
      Otherwise buying anything from IPR, Paizo, E23 or RPGNOW/Drivethru works. I like it when people buy actual books though, so Lulu is good for that.

      • Thanks for replying. I’ll check out what those sellers have by you and buy (or at least put on my Amazon wish list) whatever I find interesting, especially actual books.

      • Really? Isn’t this a little bit precious? You chose to write stuff you knew, content notwithstanding, would be controversial. You write an article called ‘in defence of rape’ and you act coy?

      • Precious? It’s an unfounded accusation and most importantly a lie. One used to attempt to damage my reputation and livelihood. Did you never get told as a child no to judge a book by its cover?

      • That’s very disingenuous.
        You expect a book like Nymphology or the Temptress Guide not to be judged on its cover/title? Books that include summoning unwilling sex partners and forcing them into sex?
        If that’s satire, then perhaps you could explain what it’s meant to be satirising because I don’t get it, I’m sorry.

      • Not really, no.
        I expect a cover, or a title, to get someone’s attention and then I expect the content to be judged on what it actually is. Temptress was confused, I’ll give you that, half semi-serious, half not. That’s an outcome of my frustration at wanting to do a more serious book about the topic.

        None of these comedy books are meant to actually be used any more than The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming is meant to REALLY be a guide on how to maximise your characters and cheat. True, they have a few usuable bits but their primary purpose is for comedy.

        In a normal game you would happily summon an unwilling creature from the void and bind it to fight and kill and die for you. Is there not a problem when you only get your panties in a bunch because it’s sex rather than death? Many of the creatures involved are sexual predators in any case, or mindless. In the real world we have people constructing gynoids, robo-buttocks, real-dolls and fleshlights. Do you really think in a fantasy world magic would never be used? Have you never run into sex jokes or scenes or magic in any fantasy novel or book? Have you never gone exploring Second Life or roleplay boards where there’s a lot of very freaky sexual RP going on all the time?

        These are satirising all those and the supposed male gamer awkwardness, nerdiness and incapability around women. Oddly most people seem to recognise that this is a stupid stereotype and find it funny while people like yourself seem to think these attitudes are genuinely held and perhaps that’s why you miss the satire in it?

      • “Not really, no.
        I expect a cover, or a title, to get someone’s attention and then I expect the content to be judged on what it actually is.”

        You are not really being reasonable. We don’t live in an ideal world where people have the time and money to buy books and read them to find out whether or not the cover is representative. YOu are also being disingenuous if you think a book called Nymphology isn’t going to raise a few eyebrows; then expecting it not to be judged seems rather calculating.

        “None of these comedy books are meant to actually be used any more than The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming is meant to REALLY be a guide on how to maximise your characters and cheat. True, they have a few usuable bits but their primary purpose is for comedy.”

        What kind of comedy? What is the context of the humour? What is it that you are defending here? Who do you envision buying books with spells such as I have mentioned given that we live in a world and indulge in a hobby populated by people happy to send rape threats to people they don’t like.

        “In a normal game you would happily summon an unwilling creature from the void and bind it to fight and kill and die for you. Is there not a problem when you only get your panties in a bunch because it’s sex rather than death? ”

        My ‘panties’ aren’t in a buch, neither am I a woman, and it’s just this kind of crass comment with an underlying attitude that’s doing you no favours.

        You are making a massive generalisation about certain things that happen in certain settings that’s impossible to comment on. I have never personally played in a game where I summoned an entity against its will solely to be put to death and I can’t think of one that doesn’t provide a context for it. Nymphology is its own context and its reason to be seems to be solely to shock in the worst possible way. What does it actually offer?

        “These are satirising all those and the supposed male gamer awkwardness, nerdiness and incapability around women. ”

        How does the rape spell do this?

      • I think I am being reasonable whereas those who jump to a conclusion and never question it or re-examine it in light of truth are being desperately unreasonable. It’s like complaining about the end of an M Night Film.

        I expect things to be judged, but as what they are. Not what people think they are, particularly if they’ve not read it and/or are relying on second hand, selectively quoted and misquoted sections.

        A joke is not funny when it’s explained but I trust you’re familiar with the comedic principles of hyperbole and exaggeration (fuck knows enough of it has been used to hound me, albeit not for the purposes of humour).

        I appreciate that we may disagree on trolls but I do not think these rape threats are serious. By that I don’t mean that they’re funny or shouldn’t be treated with gravity. Rather I mean that the troll doesn’t mean they’re actually going to rape anyone (or whatever other threat it is – and I’ve also had threats). They’re just trolling with whatever will upset someone because they get off on the reaction and the drama.

        Personally I do not think this kind of problem can be dealt with by acting as though it’s misogyny (or racism, or whatever else they’re using) because they don’t genuinely hold these opinions. It’s attention that they crave, the reaction and they don’t care what they do or say to get it.

        YMMV.

        ‘Panties in a bunch’ is a universal phrase and I don’t think you can entirely hold it against me for getting a little exasperated at this point.

        If you’ve ever summoned an elemental or used a Summon Monster spell you’ve done just that. Even if you, personally haven’t (maybe you don’t play mages or sorcerers) you will at least acknowledge that this is a thing. As are charm spells, love philtres and mind bondage spells.

        Nymphology is a string of bad puns and knob jokes with an underlying and slightly more serious theme of ‘Just what the hell would people do with magic?’

        There is no ‘rape spell’, but the idea of summoning a sexy sidekick satirises any number of tabletop and computer games with companions. Look at the succubus in WoW for example, or going WAY back the dominatrix in Dungeon Master.

  7. I’ve also signed. Grim, I’ve had my own battles with the whiny, pedantic bastards on RPG.net. It’s sad those humorless, over-sensitive, entitled morons are among the most vocal gamers on the Internet.

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