Politician attacks Neil Gaiman as a 'pencil-necked little weasel'

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Dec 14, 2012

Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean doesn't like Neil Gaiman. Actually, his feelings are MUCH harsher than that. He thinks of Gaiman as a "pencil-necked little weasel." What's with all the hate?

And when we use the word hate, we're not exaggerating, because Dean has literally referred to Gaiman as someone "who I hate."

Minnesota House Republicans are taking aim at state funding for the arts, and in the midst of this, the House majority leader singled out Gaiman as a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota."

What Dean is referring to is a 2010 event in which Gaiman was paid $40,000 to speak at the Stillwater Library in Minnesota, which ended up creating a controversy that the writer addressed on his blog:

Obviously I do a lot of speaking for free. The night before I'd done a pro bono 3 hour reading/Q&A as a benefit for the CBLDF in Chicago, in front of 1600 people, who had paid up to $250 a ticket to attend.

Four days before I'd done "An Evening With Neil Gaiman" internet talk with the Jessamine Public Library for nothing, because they asked me to, and because it was National Library Week (although they sent me a wonderful Kentucky nibbles gift basket as a thank you).

In fact most of the talks and appearances I do are for free.

But if you want to hire me to come in and talk, it's expensive.

My speaking fees are high. I keep them that way intentionally. Here's what it says on my website's Frequently asked questions:

"Q. How can I get Neil Gaiman to make an appearance at my school/convention/event?

A. Contact Lisa Bransdorf at the Greater Talent Network. Tell her you want Neil to appear somewhere. Have her tell you how much it costs. Have her say it again in case you misheard it the first time. Tell her you could get Bill Clinton for that money. Have her tell you that you couldn't even get ten minutes of Bill Clinton for that money but it's true, he's not cheap.

On the other hand, I'm really busy, and I ought to be writing, so pricing appearances somewhere between ridiculously high and obscenely high helps to discourage most of the people who want me to come and talk to them. Which I could make a full time profession, if I didn't say 'no' a lot."

For this event, nobody asked my representatives if I would do it for less than a normal speaking fee. (I do sometimes. Normally only for libraries.) I was assured before I agreed to sign on that this money was not coming from the library system, but from the 200 million sales tax Legacy Fund. It was a wonderful afternoon. And yesterday Minnesota Public Radio broadcast the entire one hour talk (although not the Q&A).

And, although I'm not sure that it's anyone's business, when I get money like this, I put it back out again. In this case, 25% of what I get goes to a social/abuse charity, and the other 75% goes to an author/literature/library related charity program.

Debating the budget is one thing, but name calling? Not so cool.

And besides, we've MET Gaiman. And he's neither pencil-necked nor a little weasel.

(via The Star Tribune)