Dean apologizes for ‘pencil neck’ comment

Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean of Dellwood is apologizing for calling author Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel,” but isn’t backing off of his criticism for Gaiman collecting a $45,000 speaking fee from state taxpayers.

Dean originally made the comment while talking about changes to how the state’s Legacy Funds for the arts are distributed. Dean says he’s sorry he called Gaiman a name but thinks he shouldn’t have taken the fee for speaking at the Stillwater library last year.

“My mom is staying with us right now because my wife’s out of town,” Dean said. “She was very angry this morning and always taught me not to be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”

Gaiman reacted to Dean’s comments by saying Dean was engaging in “lunatic schoolyard rhetoric.” Gaiman said he gave the speaking fee to charity. The funds were collected through a sales tax dedicated to the environment, the outdoors, the arts and cultural programs.

Update: Gaiman gives a full explanation of his speaking fees here.

  • Craig Ranapia

    Does Rep. Dean’s mother have an opinion on her son also calling Neil Gaiman a thief? Perhaps some legacy funding should be directed towards buying dictionaries for state legislators.

  • http://gmskarka.com Gareth-Michael Skarka

    Rep. Dean is very lucky that Mr. Gaiman doesn’t have a vindictive streak — publicly committing libel by saying someone is a criminal is a pretty slam-dunk case for a lawsuit…

    …or an impeachment, for that matter. Governments tend to look poorly upon people who commit actionable offenses while in office….

  • ribblefizz

    “My mom is staying with us right now because my wife’s out of town,” Dean said.

    What does this imply? That he can’t be left in the house on his own?

    This whole thing gets weirder and more ludicrous as the moments pass.

  • Bradley G

    Has it not occurred to Mr. Dean to blame the people who authorized the use of funds on the speaking engagement, rather than blaming the recipient? It wasn’t Neil Gaiman’s job to look after state funds responsibly, that’s the job of the people who WRITE the checks, not the folks who deposit them.

  • nudnik

    I’m picturing Mr. Dean pouting with his arms crossed when mommy made him apologize, like my six-year old does when she knows she’s misbehaved. Sadly, it required parental intervention to get him to own up, not adult rationality.

  • http://40yearoldfanboy.blogspot.com/ Vinnie Bartilucci

    Advice to public speakers who choose to attack people with a sizable fanbase…

    The person’s fans likely are far better at social media than you. Before you have time to get back to your office, it has likely circled the earth twice, picking up more vitriol with each pass. By the time you hear about it and start forming an apology, it is far too late.

    “Think twice, and then say nothing”

    –Old Sinanju Proverb.

  • Matt Hunt

    Neil Gaiman is a cultured gentleman, in addition to being an artist and a professional communicator. Matt Dean? I’d say the professional communicator sized him accurately.

  • Matt Hunt

    Rep. Dean would do well to recall that, “When the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over.” Mr. Dean’s conduct has identified him clearly.

  • Matt Hunt

    Rep. Dean would do well to recall that, “When the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over.” Rep. Dean by his conduct has betrayed himself clearly to those who have seen the wolves.

  • Eric
  • Mattt DDeen

    Matt Dean is a guy with a generous life long public pension, solid gold health care for life paid by the State of MN and a whole bunch of state perks, per diem and decades of state salary. And his family had it all the same before him. He was suckled on the state teat.

    Cut this Matt Dean off from the public money and see what happens to this Grinch. I bet he would starve in a year.

    Maybe I am wrong, Matt is quite portly, it may take 18 months.

  • Ferguson

    Has Gaiman identified the charities to which he donated the speaking fees? He says one charity which received a check was for preventing sexual abuse and another was an unspecified author/library charity.

    Can he produce the checks? Is he listed as a donor in the acknowledgments? Or is this another Blank Corporation/Scientologist deal?

    If he did donate the funds, are his gifts tax-deductible? If so the net result is essentially the same ie he pocketed a whole lot of money.

    How could he do this while being honorary 2010 head of the American Library Association? It reeks of self-dealing and greed.

  • Mike

    Why would people think he owes it to them to PROVE he gave the money to charity. He was paid to speak – he spoke. He has a long and easily trackable history of giving large sums of money and time to charities. He certainly isn’t required to produce checks or anything else.

  • Cass

    Gaiman seems rather irrelevant to the issue about the Legacy Funds.

    If Gaiman hadn’t taken the speaking fee, had decided to speak pro bono or skipped the library entirely, it’s not like the money could be used for books. It couldn’t be used for salaries. It couldn’t be put towards maintaining the library. It would’ve been taken away. The library had a choice: get someone (Neil Gaiman) to speak or just lose the money.

    If you’re going to get upset at someone it would be whoever designed the fund in the first place, not professionals doing their job.

  • Paul

    Ferguson seems very confused, and an above commenter is correct: Neil Gaiman doesn’t have to prove anything in regard to what charities he gave the money to. He was paid for a service, and that should be the end of it. Self-dealing and greed? Really?

  • Lorelei Kaena

    Who doesn’t trust him in the house alone, his wife or his mother? Neither speaks well for him.

    Also, Neil Gaimen is not a thief. That lie also needs to be apologized for. He was paid for an appearance with funds set aside for exactly that purpose, which were apparently use or lose at that point. Seems well-used to me.

    Grow up, Matt Dean.

  • Megan

    Oh, what I would give to be able to like many of these comments. I think the idea of calling him “pencil neck” and “thief” are on the same line. Gaiman is far from a thief – he’s a gifted writer (or storyteller, depending upon how you want to look at it), and he has given so much back to society. If he wants to call GAIMAN a thief, perhaps he should first look around him at other politicians and government employees, and then reconsider his thoughts.

  • Lauren

    I’m still so confused by this. Dean is angry for Mr. Gaiman for… what, exactly? Taking money that otherwise would have essentially vanished and giving it to charity? I agree (as does Mr. Gaiman) that the money should be allowed to roll over and be used for other things, but that’s the state’s fault for allocating the funds that way. Dean was obviously elected based on his ability to dish out childish personal attacks rather than examining facts and working to change policies for the better.

  • InfuriatedSciTeacher

    Does it matter if Gaiman donated his speaking fee or not? His fee came from a tax designed to fund the arts; that tax went to its stated purpose. If he decided to donate his fee to charity, tax deductable or not, that’s a separate (and noble) act.

    Ferguson> do you understand how tax deductions work? it would take $45k off of his taxable income, not go directly into his pocket. Given the number of books the man sells, the tax break from $45k is likely to be negligible. Whether or not he can produce the checks is between him and whatever revenue agency is involved, and frankly none of your business.

  • Elizabeth

    How old is this Dean? 14? Seriously, he should be embarrassed on multiple accounts.

    Accepting a market rate for speeches – and then giving a speech – is not thievery. It it was a Palin getting the $$ I doubt Dean would complain.

    I usually vote Republican, but this session is testing my loyalties!

  • Rith

    Really, this is Neil Gaiman we’re talking about. I have no doubt in my head that he didn’t donate that money. You’ll find, that unlike politicians, authors are much more prone to truthfulness, honour, rationality, and intelligence.

  • Dano

    I applaud the way Mr. Gaiman handled this. I deplore anyone in a public speaking position who does not first think about what they are going to say. Also, I don’t understand this random number business. Dean says Gaiman accepted 45,000 when the true number was closer to 34,000. Maybe I’m just a poor person, but it seems to me there is a huge difference between those amounts (at least enough to buy a car.)

    What was said about the use or lose situation: I’m sure Matt Dean wanted the money not to be used so it could reallocate to his interests. I’m not saying all Republicans are against the arts, but NPR is barely with us anymore due to Republican legislation. Also, someone brought up a good point about libel. It is a serious accusation to call someone a thief, especially when that someone gave the money to charity a la Robin Hood (if Mr. Gaiman were indeed a thief.) Alas, this situations isn’t so much robbing the rich to give to the poor — it’s more like, I don’t know, giving out of your own pocket and the goodness of your heart.

  • Michael

    Gaiman uses the “donation to charity” strategy for pure self-aggrandization. Some intrepid reporter needs to follow his charity donations and money trail. For example, does purchasing via auction, a portrait of Amanda Palmer (donated by the artist to RAINN) and then claiming the cost of the work as a tax-deductible donation a legitimate charitable donation?

    The donor (Gaiman) ends up with an item of real or sentimental value AND gets a nice deductible to boot.

    And no, there is little or no on the record proof of Gaiman’s charitable “donations”. ALL of his so-called charitable donations are done with tax strategies in mind. The only place where you can legitimately find hard numbers for huge sums of donated Gaiman money is in Scientology newsletters.

    That’s the story people, that’s what Matt Dean should focus on, don’t let Gaiman, a master of PR, obscure the real facts here – he accepted an enormous speaking fee while honorary 2010 head of the ALA and offers no proof of where the money was allegedly re-distributed.

  • Diana

    @ferguson, Gaiman has that high of a fee for a reason, and if he didn’t do that fee it would have gone to some other author, or lost. He gave it to charity and if you knew ANYTHING about Mr. Gaiman you would not be asking for some type of proof.

    He has a lot of history for donating and just being an all around wonderful person, among being a wonderful author.

    Gaiman is the bigger man and took the money but dispersed it for charity. That is all that needs to be said.

  • Ted

    To Ferguson,

    You obviously don’t understand how charitable donations work. If they were tax deductible, it is not an amount that he no longer has to pay in taxes. It just means it is not factored into his personal income. IE say I make 100,000 this year. My tax rate is (made up number here) 30%. So now I owe 30,000 in taxes. If I donate 30,000, my taxable income is now 70,000. I still owe 21,000 in taxes. That donation doesn’t wipe out my tax burden it just means I won’t get taxed on the amount I donated. Otherwise every 2 bit right winger would be pumping all they could into any politically active conservative church to avoid paying taxes and let those churches fund their campaign ads.

  • Jake

    I love that there are actually a few astroturfers here militating against the corruption and misdealings of authors and librarians, LOL. Oh God! You mean he’s the honorary head of the ALA – and he took a speaking engagement?

    I think you guys got lost on the way to a different comment thread – it’s OK, we know you tend to become confused when you get separated.

  • http://welltemperedwriter.wordpress.com Genevieve Williams

    Michael, Gaiman was the Honorary Chair of National Library Week, not the honorary head of the American Library Association. There is no such post. While calling for facts, you might try checking your own.

    Taking a tax deduction on a donation does not render it illegitimate, so I’m not sure what your point is.

  • Igor Goldkind

    uh, Michael: you are an asshole.

    That’s my eloquent appraisel of your statement and it’s intent.

    Did you get that?

  • Aimee

    @Rith and Michael:

    Gaiman doesn’t have to prove that he donated it to a charity, because it was a fee for service. A service he provided. Therefore, he can do with the money whatever he likes.

    @Rith: you claim authors lack truthfulness, rationality, and honour? Matt Dean called Gaiman a thief for accepting a speaking fee that was offered to him. Dean also exaggerated the amount. Dean only apologised after his mother made him do it. Yes, politicians are truthful, rational, and honourable

  • Rose

    It appears that Ferguson is commenting without knowing all the facts or reading Mr. Gaiman’s reasons for the sizeable speaking fee. Since the link was provided I can only imagine it’s because of laziness and disinterest in anything but their own opinion.

    I can’t ever recall Mr. Gaiman ever being remotely linked to Scientology, so why was that brought up? And, considering Gaiman was approached to speak and the amount was agreed upon by both parties from a fund that was in a use it or lose it position, how does it become that he is self-dealing and greedy?

    Ferguson’s comments reek of self-righteousness and ignorance. It seems that he/she can’t allow the facts to get in the way of a good rant.

  • val0rie

    Why wouldn’t Mr. Gaiman be well compensated for his time? I’m sure the library benefitted immensely from his engagement. That he would, in turn donate the money to charity – not suprising.

    Gaiman is widely admired and well respected – because of his hard work and natural talent.

    Matt whatshisname? Maybe the library should offer him a free library card in exchange for his “speaking” engagement/ puppet show about “name calling”.

  • Shad Gray

    Ferguson sounds like a Birther crying out for Obama’s birth certificate. (ie Idiot)

    My Gaiman is not under criminal investigation. He has no need to disclose his financial records. Doing so would disclose how much his mangers get paid.

    He doesnt need to disclose where the money went. Doing so could cause those charities to loose revenue from other sources (who might think that their contributions should go to a “needier” charity.

    And in case you dont understand how allocations work, usually if the money isnt spent, they loose it AND receive less next year. (Im not sure that was the case here, but I’ll bet it to be true).

    Again… this is a poorly set up system of which Mr Gaiman is not responsible.

  • Kristine Duffey

    Aren’t we all capitalists here? A price was set, the library agreed to pay that amount, the service (speaking engagement) was performed, and money exchanged hands. There should be an end to the discussion there. I don’t go back to the grocery store angry because I had to pay full price for my loaf of bread rather than get it for free or at a discount. It’s all the same concept. If that’s the argument that Dean wants to make then all of the tax payers in the state could call Dean a thief for accepting a paycheck every month. Would Dean like to give that back? It’s tax money and I could argue in the same vein as Dean that it is an exorbitant amount given that I’ve never heard of him before and he seems rather poorly educated. Apparently, his own wife and mother can’t leave him alone for a second and he’s incredibly unclear about word usage and economics. I think he should give back at least ¾ of his salary and half of his health benefits. He can keep his retirement up to the amount that a social worker in his state is issued for service. Any more than that and by his own definition Dean is a thief.

  • SDF

    Rose, You do know that Neil Gaiman’s late father pioneered unsavory PR strategies for Scientology and was a prominent Scientology operative?

    Neil Gaiman’s mother, his sisters in E. Grinstead (UK) are all prominent members of the cult as is his wife Mary McGrath, also an ardent Scientologist. His current inamorata Amanda Palmer is also from a family with deep ties to Scientology.

    Gaiman is heir to a vitamin fortune, G&G vitamins which earns substantial sums from the Scientology purification ritual and was implicated in the misuse of vitamin-treatment for children afflicted by Chernobyl radiation?

    You should really acquaint yourself with some basic Gaiman facts. Go on, do a little google search – won’t hurt you, might actually help you.

  • C-Rod

    This is so silly! The man is an author, it’s his job to write, he gets paid for it. When an author becomes popular he may also get paid to speak, thats his job. Now I am a janitor, thats my job, I get paid for it. I make $22,000 a year. If someone offered me $50,000/yr to do the same job I would be stupid not to take it. Same goes for Neil. He would have been stupid not to take the money. Neil is not a stupid man.

    What I would do with that $50,000 or he does with that $45,000 or $34,000 is no ones business! If I wanted to buy a sportscar or go to Vegas with it thats my business, If Neil wants to do the same he could but because he says he donated it to charity, people question it? Mr. Gaiman, some advice next time this happens forget charity, buy a sports car pick me up and lets go to Vegas!

  • JD Rhoades

    Even if true, who gives a rat’s hindquarters what Gaiman’s mum and dad did? What possible bearing does this have on this story? Do you seriously contend that a person should be ostracized and subjected to suspicion becuase of the actions of his parents?

    For shame, SDF. For shame.

  • Kat

    @C-Rod He is certainly not a stupid man. He is rather, a greedy, venal man who buys into his Twitter mythology and a man who REALLY loves it when an untalented, histrionic “singer” desperately looking for a third act and a benefactor sends naked, snuff photos of herself to him in the hope of starting a relationship. And what do you know? It worked! Go Amanda!

  • Anastasia

    bottom line (as so many have pointed out)

    this was a fee for service. Both parties agreed to the fee. The Library didn’t have to agree — they could have gotten a less expensive speaker.

    scientology has nothing to do with it.

    wealth has nothing to do with it.

    philanthropy is immaterial.

    Bottom line — there was a contract, that both parties agreed to, and fulfilled.

    Where is the theivery in that?

    A professional has the right to charge whatever they want for their service. A consumer has the right to refuse to pay it. That is what the free market and capitalism is all about.

    I thought republicans supported business? WTH is the problem here?

  • Patricia Babbitt

    This is the most bizarre misuse of taxpayer money I have ever witnessed. What does this ass-clown do for a living? Attack people who donate to charity?! Minnesota, why is Dean in office? He needs his mother to tell him when he has done something terribly wrong?

  • Anastasia

    @C-Rod — Yes!

    I guess the whole thing is so inconsistent with what republicans claim they are for… business… small government… less regulation. Dean sounds like maybe he is in the wrong party — anti business, more government regulation….

    He must secretly be a spy sent in to take down the republican party from within, by making them look utterly ridiculous.

  • http://:jdhroades.blogspot.com JD Rhoades

    My, my. Some bitter and jealous people here tonight.

  • Peter

    @Kat: How in the hell is donating money he could just as easily have kept for doing his job being greedy? And why bother bringing his wife into this? And what is “Twitter mythology”? Last I checked it was a very real thing.

  • Michelle

    Shame on this Congressman. Good luck in the next election. Goodness.

  • Dave O

    Neil Gaiman is quite honestly one of the nicest people I’ve met. He’s also not exactly a big fan of Scientology either, regardless of his parent’s involvement.

    He once quit a job at a major British paper because they wanted him to write a fake piece on how D&D makes teens worship satan.

    Some of you people disturb me.

  • Wacko

    @kat jealous much?

    How about we replace Matt Dean with his mother. She seems much more level headed and in charge then her son . Matt, your wife is out of town so your mom comes to take care of you?!? Sounds like the majority leader could of used a press savvy person to proof his press releases and avoided all of this.

  • Lucas

    Do weasel thieves steal just weasels? Or do they also steal ferrets, otters, and wolverines? In the case of the latter, how do they arrange for transportation?

  • Russ Rogers

    Rep. Dean seams to think that Neil Gaiman is a “thief” for getting paid $45,000 for a few hours work. Question: How much is Joe Mauer making per hour of game play? How much is the Minnesota Taxpayer subsidizing the Twins Stadium, thus the Twins and thus Joe Mauer’s salary? Gaiman is at least as well recognized, respected and acclaimed author as Mauer is a Baseball Player. If Author’s could win “Hitting Titles,” Gaiman would have several.

    Let’s face it, Rep. Dean wants to micro-manage the money that the Voters have put in the hands of the Libraries. Because the will of the people doesn’t seem to be good enough for him. He seems to be in favor of a Big Brother, BIG GOVERNMENT telling local libraries how to spend their money. Blech. Is that what libraries need, MORE regulation? Is that was the Republican Party is about?

    Trust me, the Stillwater Library got WAY more than $45, 000 worth of publicity and good will out of investing to have Gaiman come speak there.

  • Joel Noonan

    Throwing insults at a prolific author doesn’t seem like the smartest thing a politician could ever do.

  • Sean

    @SDF Scientology is irrelevant to the issue, and check your facts. Neil is married to Amanda Palmer. You’re such an idiot…

  • Liza

    Neil Gaiman – you horny old dog you! Of course you need all the money you can get now!

    Financing a career for Ms. Palmer, a woman with no discernible talent (except as she says for giving blow jobs) takes lots and lots of exorbitant speaking fees!

    Keep talking old chap!

  • CRB

    Neil has never, ever, ever mentioned Scientology in all the years of interviews and journal posts that I’ve seen (show me one–I’ll gladly read it) since I became a fan.

    He’s talked about his Jewish heritage–and proudly, at that–but I’ve not heard one peep about his affiliations (which are, yes, there) with Scientology. From the looks of it, he’s as big of a Scientologist as I am a fundamentalist Christian… that is to say… NOT AT ALL.

    Also, what does this have to do with being called a thief? Hmm? Oh wait, that’s right–NOTHING. get over yourselves, children. That includes you, Matt Dean–you’re nothing but a child in a grown man’s body. Why is your mother visiting you because your wife is out of town? Are you really that stupid and incompetent? RESIGN IMMEDIATELY. Idiot.

  • DeaNadia

    It seems to me that personal attacks on Dean or Gaiman are out of place. What Gaiman’s family does with their money or what his personal religious beliefs may or may not be are also irrelevant. I can’t believe that Gaiman is being put in a position where he has to defend what he does with money that he earned by providing a service. If they did not wish to pay that price, they should have asked for a discount or found a different speaker. The money was earmarked for specific purposes, Gaiman talking to them fit the criteria, they wanted the money to be spent instead of simply taken away, so they paid the fee to get what they wanted. And lest anyone forget, the Legacy Fund contacted Gaiman, not the other way around. I could see Dean’s issue with this if Gaiman had approached them & they used money that was supposed to be spent on other things. This was not the case. Change the restriction on what can be done with the fund, or keep your mouth shut when they spend it the only way open to them.

  • Chris

    CRB – Oh to be able to return to the joyous state of childlike naivete which you enjoy!

  • Michael Corinthian

    Liza, you batty little critter, you! Of course you need to chime in!

    Creating drama in your own mind where none really exists (perhaps you could use some oral sex in your life to fill the void?) takes very little in the way of mental capacity or effort.

    Keep on blowing hot air (practice, practice, practice)! Perhaps you’ll attract a mate yet!

  • Ashley McCall

    Matt Dean – do yourself a favor and stop talking, it seems like every time you open your mouth, it just gets worse.

    You are proof our political system could use quite a bit of weeding – how does a moron like this get elected?

  • Lex

    Greedy, greedy Neil Gaiman. Are we sure the Legacy people contacted him first? He seems to be the type who would know aout unspent piles of money in the public trough.

  • BillJ

    Yikes! The Gaiman Sea-Org Scientology supporters are out in full force tonight!

  • LQ

    The catty comments (jealous fangirls?) and bizarre conspiracy theorists make me feel like I’ve wandered into an alternate dimension! Here I was expecting to just find a bunch of libertarians ranting abound spending tax money on, well, anything… How odd.

  • M. S. Dow

    @ Michael:

    You wrote: “And no, there is little or no on the record proof of Gaiman’s charitable “donations”. ALL of his so-called charitable donations are done with tax strategies in mind. The only place where you can legitimately find hard numbers for huge sums of donated Gaiman money is in Scientology newsletters. ”

    Not true. I used to be the Donations Coordinator for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund back in the late 90s. Mr. Gaiman was by far the biggest contributor and rain maker, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. He probably still is, but I have no direct knowledge of that.

  • MalibuBeach

    @LQ Take a good hard look at Gaiman who (beset by the raging ego and vanity which afflicts so many men in their fifties) insists on using head-shots taken in the 80s and 90s when he last looked presentable.

    Pencil-necked weasel doesn’t even begin to capture him.

    I don’t think jealous fangirls are in this mix – there aren’t any.

  • Natasha

    SDF – How is Neil Gaiman’s belief system even a factor in this? I don’t care if he’s a Scientologist, a Baptist, or an Occultist. The man was paid for services rendered, and if he wanted to spend every last cent on Farmville dollars, it’d be no ones business but his own.

    By the way, freedom of religion? Not just for the ones you’re okay with.

  • Eruantien

    I find it ridiculously ironic that the people who champion unrestrained capitalism are the ones screaming foul over a man providing a service and being paid for it. Does that mean that Sarah Palin needs to start giving her speeches for free, instead of charging $100,000?

    Hey, here’s an idea. All government representatives stop “stealing” from the tax payers and work for free. No more expense accounts, no more drivers, no more pensions, no more free health care, no more private jets zipping them all around the planet for free. Matt Dean agrees to do that, I’ll respect him. Until then, he’s just another hypocritical idiot trying to make a name for himself by making ignorant comments designed to appeal to the less intelligent members of his party who are incapable of research or independent thought.

    As for Gaiman’s religion, how many of you making snide comments about Scientology (which he has never claimed to practice) are the type who rages about how the ACLU, atheists, etc. are persecuting Christians? Guess it sucks when people treat you the way you treat others. I also suppose none of you who are labeling him greedy have ever accepted unemployment checks from the government and have no intention of collecting Social Security. Guess what, those programs take money from tax payers, something you’ve labeled greed.

  • Dee

    It’s completely irrelevant if Gaiman gave the money he earned to charity or not. He shouldn’t have to prove anything as he earned it fair and square by providing a service he was paid for.

  • Fred

    Why is it so important what Mr. Gaiman did with the pile of dollars earned?

    Being a parrot doesn’t make it ‘taxpayer money’:

    - the funds originate from taxpayers and are spent in accordance with the plans devised by people, chosen by the people, for the people;

    - if those plans seem unreasonable to you then contact your elected representative and complain about it, or vote for the other guy the next time;

    - the moment the money was handed over to Mr. Gaiman for services rendered it stopped being taxpayer money and became Mr. Gaiman’s money;

    - what Mr. Gaiman does with his money is none of our concern, if he wants to buy 170 tonnes of bottled water from Kazakhstan or a truck from his local dealer, it is his right to freely choose to do either

  • Outraged

    @Natasha That’s right – steer taxpayer money to someone whose family is a MAJOR player in a cult which engages in human rights abuses and who derives a substantial income from an inherited fortune built on vitamins sold to the Scientologists for their purification ritual.

    To my knowledge, Gaiman has NEVER said he is not a Scientologist – he can’t. He deflects the question or as skilled as he is in the art of misdirection, points to something else or answers questions not asked or manufactures a fake crisis.

    There’s too much at stake, money, country houses, luxury hotel stays, Jags and luxury cars, obscenely-paid gigs etc. He has to carefully triangulate it so as not to put his fading-writing career in additional jeopardy.

  • Mara

    The single most troubling issue for me is the conflict of interest inherent here. Gaiman as honorary chair of National Library Week which carries with it the endorsement of the ALA, surely understood that accepting any speaking fee from ANY library in 2010 could be construed as a significant conflict of interest or at least an ethical misstep. He could have declined the Stillwater invitation when he learned of the source of the payments and the constraints attached to it and offered to bring in someone of greater stature – say Michael Chabon.

    If the folks at Stillwater were adamant about having him, Gaiman could have offered a free, no-strings attached talk on another day – he is only 50 or so miles away.

    The Stillwater library and its patrons would have been able to celebrate 2 authors and Gaiman would have done the right thing. But alas no tax deductions or “checks for a Gaiman charity” were attached to that second course of action.

  • Eruantien

    @Outraged: Since you apparently know everything about Gaiman, how about you share the source of your infinite knowledge with us all? As Wikipedia says, citation needed.

    How about you focus your “outrage” at the people really hurting the state. If $45,000 is your definition of obscene fees, you might want to take a good long hard look at the fact that your state (and virtually every other state containing a major league sports team) spends huge amounts of taxpayer cash to build sports arenas for insanely wealthy team owners. If Gaiman doesn’t “deserve” $45,000 for a speaking engagement, then I think it’s safe to say those millionaire and billionaire sports team owners should never receive huge sums cash from the government to build their new stadiums.

    But that would get in the way of you hysterically ranting about conspiracy theories involving crazed, closeted Scientology members skulking about searching for surplus money in arts programs so they can use their subliminal mind control powers (that they learned in Scientology 101, no doubt) to coerce innocent little librarians to pay them large sums of money to turn around and donate to charity.

  • Adacia

    Can I borrow some tinfoil-hats? I want to make baked potatoes.

  • BadSeed

    BBC: Your family were Scientologists.

    Neil: Yes.

    BBC: Are you?

    Neil: No.

    BBC: You’ve moved on.

    Neil: Yeah. I mean it’s… I love my family.

  • iMark

    @Outraged – you wrote: “To my knowledge, Gaiman has NEVER said he is not a Scientologist – he can’t. ”

    That would be true, except for the fact it isn’t.

    Here’s an except from a BBC interview with Neil last year:

    BBC: Your family were Scientologists.

    Neil: Yes.

    BBC: Are you?

    Neil: No.

    More details here:

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/07/04/the-bbc-interviews-neil-gaiman-about-books-comics-and-scientology/

    My apologies for letting facts get in the way of the various ad hominem attacks against Gaiman.

  • Freya Day

    I’m surprised the name calling on the part of the state rep and he said he hates Gaiman, for? and called him a thief? The state rep. Dean is paid by tax monies and he gets quite a few benefits along with, i’m sure. I don’t think state reps and fed reps should be paid as if it were a career, they should be required to have a job in the real world.

  • Meiry

    Sounds like the money was used for the exact purpose it was intended. If you have a problem with that purpose then take issue with your fellow politicians. Just another politician pointing fingers instead of doing something productive to deal with the budget crisis.

  • James

    Does it occur to anyone else that all of the attacks against Gaiman here echo each other, almost as if they’re coming from the same mouth with different names?

  • DaveZ

    Wow, what a backwards thread…

    The backers of a conservative Republican politician are arguing that paying a fee for service to a private individual with taxpayer money gives the government the right to invade the man’s privacy and finances, to verify that the funds went to charity. A “Big Government” argument if ever I saw one.

    The backers of a liberal author are arguing that this is a fee-for-service business transaction, and tax funded or not, it doesn’t make one bit of difference whether it went to St. Helen’s of the Blessed Shroud Orphanage, or if he flew to Vegas and bet it all on green. Once such a transaction is concluded, its none of the government’s business. A Free Market argument, pure and simple.

    The latter argument makes far more sense.

  • http://www.ultraist.net M Kitchen

    It seems silly to play “political football” with a writer in print… especially a world class writer in print… you’re very likely to provoke them into writing a response… and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will write a better response than you.

  • DeaNadia

    Thanks to BadSeed &iMark for providing the link. I’m sure it’s a complicated and uncomfortable subject for him given it involves his family (which he loves) and a past belief he seems to have left behind. In the end though, the debate on his religion has no place in this. Would you be outraged if he was using the money to help a church, or are you only concerned when you don’t approve of what someone does with money they earned?

    Gaiman himself pointed out he would’ve probably given them a discount, but they didn’t ask for one. And it technically wasn’t the library’s money. It couldn’t be used to buy them books or pay the librarians salaries or anything else they might have needed. It was part of a fund that had restrictions on what they could do with the money and it had to be used by a certain time. We don’t know if they tried to get other authors, but couldn’t according to scheduling conflicts. We also don’t know where the money would’ve gone if they hadn’t used it by the deadline. All we know is they contacted his speaking representative, were quoted his standard fee, said yes, he was going to be able to do it so he said yes, and next thing we know, personal attacks & silliness abounded.

  • Melissa C

    So many people arguing with lies. For Mara and those complaining that Neil Gaiman took money from the library, no, he didn’t. You ought to look at the links provided. The money came from the Legacy Fund, not the library itself. Gaiman frequently waives fees for libraries. Now is it a problem that the money from the Legacy Fund is “use it or lose it” and can’t be spent in other areas? Yes, but that’s not Neil Gaiman’s fault, that’s the fault of those who set up the fund that way. Who Neil is married to or who his parents are have nothing to do with it.

  • Tabitha

    @James I thought the same exact thing each time I read a subsequent negative comment. It’s interesting that they all have a common thread and are written in a similar fashion. It’s almost as if someone has a wee bit too much time on their hands. Hmmm . . .

  • Nicki Chafetz

    Mr. Gaiman has talent. People pay dearly for exposure to that type of talent, especially young people, especially young writers, who hope to learn something of what it takes to get the job done. That makes Mr. Gaiman a higher-valued commodity.

    Mr. Dean cannot likely garner that kind of speaking fee. He is likely jealous of the type of talent that can garner such a fee. (I know I am. I wish it were me, but I wouldn’t deny him his FEE.) Because of this talent, end of life and looking back, Mr. Gaiman will have much to show, will have left us, the public words that live on past his death. Mr. Dean will have no such legacy. If he did, he’d be garnering the hefty checks.

    Why is it always thought that artists should work for free: that their work is value-less?

    These ideas can be reduced into a few self-evident formulas.

    Gaiman = talent = high paying fee.

    Dean = less talent = paper-pusher = no speaking fee = higher likelihood of jealousy = higher probability of making ass of one’s self in this particularly public fashion.

    I am in favor or, as one commentator above suggested: cutting Dean off from the public teat and having him live on his own “talents.”

  • Ron

    Dean really should step aside and let cooler heads lead. His party and our state deserve better.

    And, he might want to lawyer up.

  • suzieQ

    @MalibuBeach – http://journal.neilgaiman.com/ the latest post has a /current/ picture of him at the bottom. Yeah, try again. Does this make me a jealous fangirl? maybe. Do I mind? no, because, like a lot of his fans, his writing has engaged me, moved me, and inspired me.

    And what does it matter if he uses old pictures for his book jackets? I think he probably doesn’t even have to much of a say in that, as it seems like something the publisher would have more control over. The publishers have way more control over the aesthetic aspects of books than anyone has recently admitted.

  • Luci

    There’s a lot of trollolololing going on in these comments.

    Neil Gaiman’s family being Scientologists != Neil Gaiman supports Scientology. And if it did (which it doesn’t) it would still have no bearing on this situation.

    Equally, Amanda Palmer and her career have…absolutely nothing to do with this whatsoever. Don’t like her music? Well, that still doesn’t make any difference here.

    You are aware that making unfounded accusations that have no bearing on the situation smacks of “my argument is weaksauce”, right?

    Kind of like calling someone a pencil-necked weasel.

    Anyhoo.

    The facts as I see it are:

    a) money in the fund needed to be used up by a certain time or it would be removed; this is a bad system leading to misuse of funds and should be revised.

    b) neil gaiman’s time comes with a high price tag, but nobody is forced to pay it and no deception occured. yes, he could’ve done it for free, but the high price tag is because he’s well aware this would be in high demand and he wishes to spend his time writing books instead.

    the high price tag is to *dissuade* people from soliciting him to speak publically, unless they *really* want him there and can afford it.

    and despite this, he’s still made concessions for libraries in the past, but this did not occur as this was not asked for, and this was not asked for due to point a).

    c) it was a transaction for services rendered, at a pre-agreed price, and the services were delivered. Is it a high-price to set for someones time? Absolutely. Does Neil Gaiman need the money? No he does not. And neither of those things make any difference or mean that it’s stealing, likewise if the money went to charity afterwards or not.

    (Though personally I have no reason to doubt Gaiman if he says the money went to charity, and it seems to make more sense it being redistributed in this manner where it can be useful, rather than being wasted.)

  • Luci

    Oh god. I hadn’t even read the comment which decides to gripe about old photos of Gaiman being used in book jackets.

    That’s also completely irrelevant.

    And utterly hilarious.

  • Basil

    This illustrates the utter foolishness of the Legacy amendment. Supposedly for the DNR, instead its a perpetual slush fund without oversight. If I own myself, I should own the fruits of my labor. Its not yours, I don’t owe it to you. If you feel I do, then you simply cannot agree to the principle of liberty and self-determination. The south pre -1863 used the same rationalization, it was for the “better good”.

    Whether the guy was worth it or not, its not your money to take and throw around on luxuries, when there is a 63% unemployment rate amongst architects and engineers (AIA confirms this), foreclosures remain at crisis levels, and the state budget is billions in the red. This irresponsibility and disrespect for people who are struggling too hard out here to have elaborate expenses such as this. If he was worth it, than certainly the library could raise the money, sell tickets, bring the guy in and cover the costs. First Avenue does it all the time.

    I do criticize the legislator for his language, the writer was not a “pencil-necked weasel”. However, many of the boomer or boomer influenced writers on this page ARE. Grandpa was right, Pop, you are an indulgent sponge.

  • Dave

    Wow!!!!

    What the hell right does a politician have to criticise an artist for charging money? Did it matter what he did with it? No!! but the fact that he donated takes away even more right of that stupid politician to libel Mr Gaiman as a thief.

    I mistakenly thought Republicans were for free-market economy!! Perhaps Mr Dean will prove me wrong by just charging a living wage for his public services, and speaking regularly, but from this day for free .. probably his Mommy would have to write his speeches in future though!!

    ..

    On second thoughts, this is hilarious!!!! Keep it up Dean, the Democrats must love the reaction your speeches get

  • Joy

    I think Neil Gaimen’s writing is fantastic and I would love to hear him speak. My kids love Neil Gaimen. In fact, he is the only author enjoyed by both my husband and I as well as our 3 children. I don’t know him personally and have never met his wife, Amanda Palmer so I can’t really speak to his character. However, I do enjoy his blog and if his writing and tone say anything then he is a decent, fun-loving person. I would never presume to judge a person based on their religion or their parent’s religion – my own mother taught me better than that.

    Yeah, Neil. You win, as always. :)

  • ddrt

    What about the fee we pay every year for having corrupt bastards in charge of our country? I think that’s a little more important than insulting a creative mind for collecting what little he can while he’s still relevant.

  • Nancy

    There are some sick Gaiman-haters on this thread. I can guess which political party they belong to.

  • Narnia

    oh WOW – what a thread!! lol! umm, well, after reading the article i was just coming down here to post – hey Neil! nice work mate! and then found all this hullabaloo! all i have to say is: an artist has the right to be paid. ;o) Take it easy Neil! Enjoy the free publicity mate! hehehe.

  • Ginny

    Good gravy I can’t believe how far this debate has strayed from the topic. Maybe Neil is a Scientologist, maybe he’s not. It’s irrelevant, people! Why does it matter what his beliefs are? Are we not granted freedom of religion? Nor is it relevant what his parents were involved in or where the money went. As it was stated before, he owes nobody proof of where it went. He was paid for his services and it’s as simple as that. He’s certainly no thief and his physical appearance is such a ridiculous off-shoot that it actually made me laugh. How is it that him using old head-shots of himself got thrown into the mix? This is completely silly. Talk about playground fights. Many of these comments seem to stem from people groping in the dark for any insult they can find. Are cooties to be the next factor of this story? Or maybe in reality Neil is just one big doo-doo-head Booger breath? Lol, this is just incredibly stupid.

  • Joan

    Stop feeding the trolls people. They’re just trying to get a rise out of you.