Neil Gaiman responds to "pencil-necked weasel" insult by Matt Dean [INTERVIEW]

Categories: Politics
gaimandean.JPG
Neil Gaiman vs. Matt Dean
Matt Dean, the Republican leader of the Minnesota House, was quoted in Wednesday's Star Tribune hating on famous local author Neil Gaiman and calling him a "pencil-necked little weasel."

We left several messages for Dean, but didn't get a response. Gaiman, on the other hand, was happy to talk. He was mystified by the vitriol, but has some entertaining theories about where it came from.

UPDATE:
Read Gaiman's reaction to Dean's half-assed apology

City Pages: So how did you first learn that you're a pencil-necked little weasel?

Neil Gaiman: I got up this morning, checked my twitter on my way to morning cup of tea. And two or three people were sending me things saying "What do you think of the fact that you were called a pencil-necked weasel and a thief who I hate by the Republican leader of the House?"

Neil Gaiman image.jpg
Neil Gaiman's neck looks fine to us.
And I thought it was a joke. Obviously this hasn't actually happened -- it's some kind of goofy thing on somebody's blog or whatever, because grown-ups don't actually say things like that. And I clicked on the link and I'm suddenly reading the Star Tribune and there it is. And I'm expecting him to carry on and call me "Stupid stupid-face," and then tell me he's going to have all his friends see me by the lockers or the back of the schoolyard and I better show up if i know what's good for me or something!

It had that sort of completely mad school bully quality. I kept thinking "Is this some sort of weird joke where my friends have taken a real Star Tribune page and then inserted this paragraph to make me laugh?" And eventually I came to the conclusion that no, this is real.

CP: Have you ever met Matt Dean or had any interactions with him?

NG: I've never met the guy, never heard anything from him.

The entire controversy from last year consisted of a Republican blog drawing attention to this speaking gig, using the $45,000, which actually wasn't the true number, but it got picked up.

I received a grand total of $33,600, and I know because I checked this morning. That went to charity. I'd been doing a bunch of library-based events. It was at the end of a week where I'd done a huge pro bono Comic Book Legal Defense fund event, then I'd gone to Indianapolis to receive the Kurt Vonnegut award for literature, and then I was coming home.

I got a message from my speaking agency saying they want you to come and speak in Stillwater, and I said "I'm pretty pooped," and they said "Well, they're paying forty grand."

I said "Isn't that an awful lot to pay for a library in Stillwater?" and they said "Absolutely not, they have this money and it can only be spent on speakers in libraries. It can't even be spent on books or paper clips or staff And they will lose it, and if they haven't spent it their budget will be cut by that amount."

MattDean.JPG
Matt Dean hates Neil Gaiman's neck
I said, "Oh, OK, well then sure."

When I have windfalls like that I don't hang on to them. A third of my fee went to a sexual abuse charity, and the rest to a library- and book-based charity. And then I was done. I didn't actually think anything more about it until suddenly it became a thing in the Star Tribune, which seemed to be saying this was money that could have been used to pay for a football stadium or something.

And there was a brief tiny thing about it, so I posted something on it to my blog. People had been saying, "Well how can you take money from a library? It should have been spent on books and staff!" And so I wrote on my blog and said, "Well, actually it couldn't, and here's the deal."

Also, this is why I set my speaking fees ridiculously high: because I'm a writer, and what I should actually be doing is writing. This is why i have a speaking agency, because they filter this kind of stuff. I don't think I'm even in the top third of what their clients charge. But I've won the Newbery Medal, and the Carnegie Medal, the Hugo, and some Nebulas, I've written some hit movies.

And in the case of the Stillwater thing, MPR actually broadcast the talk. You can still listen to it online, as many many thousands already have. So that sort of amortizes in its own way.

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48 comments
Katrina2000
Katrina2000

Let's examine this. Neil has a talent for which he makes a lot of money. Neil donates to charities (emphasis on the plural) and allegedly Neil has a religion in which he believes and to which he and his family contributes. Well, isn't he just the anti-Christ! Seriously, people, do we get on Steven Spielberg for making money off his talent? Do we question Kate Middleton's religion? Or do we fling poo at Al Gore for making a ton of money off his speaking engagements? This is all so sad. Wake up, folks! It's America and we're allowed to reap the benefits of hard work, believe what we want to, and spend our money however we wish.

Reading some of the comments here, I can easily see why Neil was granted the gifts he has instead of his detractors. Lord knows, some of these posts have even more vitriol than Mr. Dean's comments.

Vannessa Marovatsanga
Vannessa Marovatsanga

it could be weird it could be awkardI say lets forget this dean guy. look at all the attention we gave sarah pailin. Maybe if we ignore this dean guy he'll go away and fade into obscurity instead of getting his own talk show

blackholenebula
blackholenebula

Matt Dean is right! Gaiman is taking money from Minnesota to fund Scientology. Gaiman is worse than a pencilnecked weasel, he's a cult member and the only charity Gaiman donates to isSCIENTOLOGY!. Neil Gaiman is underwriting Scientology. The Scientologist’s listNeil Gaiman in the Cornerstone Newsletter along with Mary Gaiman, ascontributing $35,000.00 in 2009. Being listed in the Cornerstone Newslettermeans you are in good-standing with the cult.

In 2010, Mary Gaiman was awarded the "Gold HumanitarianAward" for her contribution of $500,000.00 to Scientology. This issignificant because Mary Gaiman continues to be Neil Gaiman’s business partnerin The Blank Corporation, which is now Neil Gaiman's Scientology front and howhe pays the cult.

Gaiman is also the "Vitamin Heir" of Scientology. TheGaiman family owns G&G Vitamins which reaps 6 million a year from sellingThe Purification Rundown Vitamins.

Gaiman's two sisters, Claire Edwards and Lizzie Calciole are notjust high-ranking Scientologists, they are the head of RECRUITING and the headof Wealden House, the Scientology stronghold in East Grinstead. These twocannot associate with Neil unless he is in good standing.

T.J. Thomas
T.J. Thomas

I think as far as Dean was concerned, Neil also committed the cardinal sin of donating his fee to charities involving sexual abuse, libraries, and books, all things that Republican politicians act like they don't believe in.

JoeMarfice
JoeMarfice

Neil, you beautiful bastard! Upholding the age-old tradition of "Never taunt a bard!".

Ass vs Class.

Fool vs School.

I love you sooo much!

joniellen
joniellen

OK, so the "pencil-necked little weasel" talk is hardly professional, but it's sort of colorful. And certainly it offered an opportunity for Gaiman to entertain us with an entirely clever comeback. However, the hate talk from an elected official, or any grownup or human being for that matter, is not acceptable. What the hell kind of leader is Dean? Not.

alice
alice

My family drove two hours to see the Stillwater talk. It was definitely worth $45,000.

Freddie
Freddie

Kirk, Gaiman probably would have done the gig for free or for a cut rate had the Stillwater library asked. He does that sort of thing all the time. But they didn't ask because they had to use that money before the end of the fiscal year or have their budget slashed by the amount of money they paid him. Losing that kind of money is really bad for rural libraries, even if it is only allocated for speaking fees, as this money was. And the Legacy Fund was voted into reality by the voters of Minnesota in 2008—not just forced into legislation by politicians.

I'll bet my next paycheck that Rep. Dean is using Gaiman as a straw man to "reform" the Legacy Fund, and people like you are totally falling for it. But Gaiman's fans have crashed Dean's blog (which remained down as of this morning), and Dean has already apologized for at least some of the things he said. I have a feeling all the goodwill Gaiman has built over the years is going to translate to a very short political career for Representative Matt Dean.

punksocks
punksocks

Ha! Great responses Mr Gaiman. I have a friend, who has a friend, who knew someone who got into a fist fight in an Alice Springs (middle of Australia) pub when someone told him he had a long face. Some people have long faces, some have pencil necks: the only thing we know for sure is that someone will find it offensive one day.

vitajex
vitajex

"People who live in glass necks"

Perfect! If I wasn't so jealous of that bastard, I'd love him even more.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

"A $45,000 payment of Legacy money that was made last year to science fiction writer Neil Gaiman for a four-hour speaking appearance."That was from the Star and Sickle Article by: MIKE KASZUBAWrong numbers cast my your favorite and trusted liberal sources like Minnesota Public Radio, the Star and Tribune, and UThink blogs? Even the Comic Book Resources where he later appeared reported these numbers. But hey, I suppose we should take the "pencil-necked little weasel's" word right?Anyway,Having a Library in Washington county pay ANYTHING for ANYONE to come and speak about a book they're PROMOTING, is sick.

Then we have a "pencil-necked little weasel." receiving $33,600, and he knows because he checked this morning. So he says; "that went to charity."

The truly "charitable" thing to do would be to DO IT FOR FREE you self righteous jackass!

Furthermore, this whole piece of legislation called the "Legacy Act" is truly a piece of something. Who knew this "Legacy Act" was to funnel money into the "arts"? It was sold to us as an environmental need. Talk about misdirection on part of our legislators. Just goes to show us that are local media is failing us. Is it not their responsibility to research this for us. They sure did talk and pump this enough. How could they miss half of the purpose for the targeted appropriation in funds and resources? Perhaps I should give them (the media) a break. I'm sure their heads we so clustered F**ked with "anti Bush" rhetoric at that time (2006) to concern themselves with something that most certainly impacts us Minnesotans. Especially when looking at Obama, and how he has been following Bush's playbook almost to the letter. Somehow there's no local media criticism now. Funny....

Question is, how do I get some of this "Legacy Act" funding?I painted my daughter's room in my house, and I consider it art; can I get some moolah from the state for it? If not, why not? My claim is as good anybody elses? Do I need to slap some hand painted unicorns on the wall first? Maybe hold a public showing of my walls?

We have a severe problem within our government people! Just because there is money in their budget, does not mean they should blow it of some worthless author like Neil Gaiman.

Jerry
Jerry

Correction: Neil Gaiman donates to SCIENTOLOGY.

Dannyno
Dannyno

Gaiman says he is not a scientologist.  But he was brought up as a scientologist, because his parents were prominent scientologists.

Rainman1601
Rainman1601

 I can never decide if I am amused, insulted, or depressed by how mindlessly gullible many people are.  First, I find it a bit hard to credit that Gaiman would buy into Scientology.  Second, I would have to see some pretty compelling evidence before I bought it.  (as opposed to the no doubt purely factual information these folks have culled from our friend the internet)  And third, as others have pointed out, it's his money.  Regardless of what else he is doing, he is making money and spending it.  Therefore, he is helping the economy.  Even if it's because some Scientology goofballs are spending his money for him.  Hell, at least he has a real job, as opposed to, say, politicians or religious leaders.

matt
matt

Even if this is true, so what. it's his money to do what he wants. If he made these contributions to the Catholic Church would you be this outraged.

Last time I checked it's a free market. No one forced the library to pay Gaiman's fee. it's money he earned and he can do with it whatever he wants.

Michelle
Michelle

I also went to the event and it was great! It was definitely worth what the state paid him. It was a small audience but he hung around afterwards. I was even able to use it for a class at the U. One of my Writing courses required us to go to events just like this one. There are always plenty of writers speaking in the area but this was a rarity. And with my completely broke college self, this was a Godsend!

For this particular event and author, it was also wonderful because of all the children who attended. Children! Even some who asked questions! I just can't wrap my mind around how this has been twisted into something so noxious.

punksocks
punksocks

OK, my boyfriend just corrected me, it was a "narrow head" not a "long face". Ha!

Lovey
Lovey

Having been to Alice Springs pubs, I can totally see this unfold in my mind's eye.

Fuck this guy ^^^
Fuck this guy ^^^

Ha, you are a fucking idiot.  Everything you said here has made it ABUNDANTLY clear that you did NOT read this article WHATSOEVER.  Neil Gaiman is a class act and, even though I disagree with the Legacy Act legislation, Gaiman's behavior and reason for his doings make total sense.  In fact, it really embodies the CAPITALIST ideology of business.

See here:  Gaiman is NOT a public speaker, he doesn't LIKE doing this kind of work (he would much rather be doing what he loves, which is writing); in order for him to keep down the amount of time he spends public speaking, he charges a very high price (which, as a concept, is fucking SYNONYMOUS with market prices adjusting to supply and demand); now, since he charges a high price, he is asked to speak FAR less often.  Don't blame him, blame the people who passed the legisilation.  Blame the legislation itself.  Blame the fucked up policies that drastically drop budgets because the given organization was responsible with their allocated budget and, thus, had some of it leftover (which is so fucking stupid - yeah, let's punish departments for being "thrifty"... yeah, that's gonna help keep budget costs down).

It's people like you, "Kirk the Conservative Jerk", who epitomize the blind sheep following a corrupt and unworthy politician thanks to propaganda from the worst of the conservative agenda.  And don't get me wrong, I couldn't care less about your politics.  In fact, in case it wasn't made clear in my previous paragraphs, I'm a registered republican and my politics fall WAY closer to the right side of the political spectrum.  It's just that the people like you (and Matt Dean) are completely ruining any respect and positive aspects associated with the republican party.  You make me ashamed to call myself a conservative republican.  Eat a dick and die.

AnnDean
AnnDean

The only charity Gaiman is donating to is Scientology, what a lying scumbag.

Darren
Darren

Gaiman states that it was requested that he take the money so that the library would be able to keep their budget. That budget was not allowed to be used on anything other than library events, if I understand the account in the article. Had he not agreed to take the money, they would have lost their budget. As such, doing it for free would not have been the kinder thing to do.

Jerry
Jerry

The only "charity" Neil Gaiman gives money to is Scientology. And Scientologists often use their members like Gaiman to drain funds and get their members awards and movie deals. Gaiman is on the Sceintology payroll and feeds millions to the cult. His latest "charity" was the Scientology Superpower Center in Minnesota, where the crazy cult members sit in giant gyroscopes and try to move objects with their minds. Gaiman is a cult zombie.

anon
anon

3/10 for effort

Chatoyant
Chatoyant

Kirk is more than a jerk, you are an butthole. You did not read the why yet you think you should have a position on it so you reiterate the crap that Dean said rather than getting a fact or two behind you. Butthole. There are plenty of people to blame for you concern, but Neil Gaiman just isn't one of them.

Jelis
Jelis

Oh sweetie, clearly you don't read. Gaiman does, in fact, do many events for free. Not all of them though, for the simple fact that if he did, then his mail would be chock-full of people clamouring for him to attend some random event. Keeping in mind that Gaiman is a writer and has said himself that he does not want a second career as a public speaker, it's reasonable that he prices himself high, so that such requests are limited. He freely admits that it's pricey. His agents make sure to let people know of that fact before they hire him. Gaiman is free to charge whatever the hell he wants for his services. So if people still choose after learning of his fees to hire him anyway... well that's hardly Gaiman's fault. Your abuse is unwarranted.

Second, that money was alloted specifically for that library to be able to bring in authors to speak at market rates (and by the by, Gaiman's speaking fees are definitely on the higher end for authors, but still within market fee range), that they otherwise wouldn't be able to. It was designated for that purpose; they weren't allowed to use it for anything else like hiring staff, and the funds were about to expire and weren't allowed to roll over to the next year. Which created a situation where they may as well have hired Gaiman. So they did. You want to complain, complain about those restrictions instead.

Third, yes, as a matter of fact, many sources can be wrong about numbers, for the simple reason that many of them do their research on the internet and fail to read properly. So: $45,000 is the figure that Gaiman mentions as his standard speaking fee. This figure is mentioned in one of his FAQ answers. $40,000 is the figure that he says in his blog post and the above interview that the library offered him. $33,600 is the amount that HE PERSONALLY received, after his speaking agents had taken their cut.

Hail_to_the_chef
Hail_to_the_chef

Seeing Kirk's raving buffoon response, I can understand how a raving buffoon like Matt Dean got elected.

guest
guest

I am pretty certain you are in love with Matt Dean, and you are a "stupid, stupid face."Also: stop book hating, you...what were your words? Oh yes, you slef righteous jack-ass

alejo699
alejo699

What an appropriate name you have, Kirk! It says everything I need to know about you -- just like the few lines of the article you actually read told you everything you needed to know.

punksocks
punksocks

You missed "stupid-stupid face" which will make what you're saying a little clearer I think.

Jeremy B
Jeremy B

Did you even read the article? I know, I know, this is a rhetorical question. But honestly...

Blackholenebula
Blackholenebula

No, I wouldn't be outraged because the Catholic church is a church and Scientology is a dangerous CULT that destroys people's lives.

Danb
Danb

Spoken like a true supporter of that nutter pseudo-religion, are you hired by the CoS to talk them up on message boards?

Todd
Todd

A nice rally here by the Sea Org members assigned to defend Gaiman, the scientologist.

Jelis
Jelis

Ah, my bad. Re: point 3: The library paid 45k, he received 33.6k after agent commission.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Book hating?Wow that's not even close to what I was saying.

What I hate is we (the State) have money flying out our ass. Our state is financially bleeding and it needs to stop. Matt Dean's entire point in this house floor discussion was to point out that our state is spending money shamefully.

You would never know this by CP cherry picking of Matt's words.

BTW, wouldn't I be a "jerk-ass"?

Ron Porter
Ron Porter

Neil Gaiman is a hack and to pay him this kind of money when libraries are hurting is obscene.

Darren
Darren

I love how you're using all this evidence to back up your arguments.

Oh wait. Those are unfounded opinions. My bad.

Jon
Jon

All religions are, "nutter pseudo-religions," but we live in a country where people are free to participate in them if they wish. You probably even follow one yourself.

alejo699
alejo699

I agree that spending needs to be more responsible, but, cherry-picking or not, how does it make any sense to call an author names because you disagree with the system that paid him? That's just childish and simplistic.

guest
guest

I truly pity your children for the bullshit you are bringing in to their lives. My heart goes out to them, for you are an ignorant piece of shit.

Jon
Jon

Rather than complaining about anything having to do with libraries and authors, you should spend more time in libraries and reading the works of authors. If you follow this advice, you might even develop some command of the language.

rvm4
rvm4

That would be "you're" not "your."

alejo699
alejo699

Yes, that is in fact exactly what I am saying. You probably have lots of wonderful qualities that are not displayed by your alias or your post.

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