I would not support the passage of a law mandating that every citizen of the planet fervently admire and adore Neil Gaiman, and face severe ostracism if they fail to acknowledge quite how wonderful he is.
In some circles, this is a controversial opinion. But I feel I must stand by it. I respect people’s freedom to make ridiculous decisions and believe inexplicable things.
Neil Gaiman’s fuckin’ awesome, you know.
A year or so ago, a library gave Neil quite a lot of money to come and talk to an audience. He gets asked this kind of thing fairly often, being a popular and successful guy. But he’s a writer, and so he has writing to be doing, and he chose to deliberately price his speaking engagements very highly, with the intent of putting most people off asking him.
But there was a library in Minnesota, which had $40,000 lying around as part of a tax allocation, specifically there for libraries to spend on getting authors to visit. It was about to expire, and wouldn’t be renewed if it wasn’t spent, so Neil said okay. He went to the event, spoke to 500 people for an hour, answered questions for another hour, and donated the fee to a couple of charities.
He put any fuss over it to bed at the time, and that was that.
Until this week, when a Republican Congressman called Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000“.
In a way, this shouldn’t really be about Neil. The lesson this guy most needs to learn is one about being instinctively cruel and hateful and inflammatory, particularly when you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re talking about. It shouldn’t just be about not shitting on someone with millions of fans who won’t take kindly to uninformed criticism.
But Neil’s response is a masterclass in being an excellent human being.
His takedown is all the more impressively bad-ass when you realise he’s not even trying be bad-ass. He just responds with honesty, sincerity, and kindness, and the utter badass-ness happens naturally and effortlessly.
I like “pencil-necked weasel”. It has “pencil” in it. Pencils are good things. You can draw or write things with pencils. I think it’s what you call someone when you’re worried that using a long word like “intellectual” may have too many syllables. It’s not something that people who have serious, important things to say call other people.
That Amanda Palmer’s caught herself a good one, there.
And it got even funner yesterday when the guy’s mother made him apologise. Though, only for the name-calling. He was still very careful to make it clear that facts don’t interest him.
Late edit: Oh god, it just keeps getting better: