Minnesota GOP leader declares war on Neil Gaiman

Murisan sez, "Minnesota House Majority leader called author Neil Gaiman a 'pencil-necked weasel' that he 'hated' for earning $45K from a state arts fund for speaking at a library." The $45K in question was specifically earmarked for bringing authors to suburban libraries, and Neil donated it to charity.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean said he reminded Urdahl of the "importance of making sure he has [Republican] caucus support" for Legacy funding for arts and cultural heritage projects, an area of spending that Dean acknowledged had rankled some Republicans. "MPR, it's safe to say, has been a concern in the past," said Dean.

Dean also singled out a $45,000 payment of Legacy money that was made last year to science fiction writer Neil Gaiman for a four-hour speaking appearance. Dean said that Gaiman, "who I hate," was a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota."

GOP targets Legacy funds for MPR, arts


  1. GOP hates the cultural elite because it is the only elitism they can’t afford.

  2. Psst…Cory? Headline says Wisconsin, story says Minnesota. I assure you they are different places.

  3. Would saying he stole money be sufficient to count as an accusation of a crime? I’m thinking defamation here.

    1. Generally speaking, statements made in legislative session are not actionable in criminal or civil courts.

    2. It’d probably work to waste a lot of someone’s time and money but a response like that is sinking to the level of the inept demagogue.

    1. Mary Tyler Moore > Laverne & Shirley

      Mary Tyler Moore > [Laverne & Shirley + Happy Days + That 70s Show]

  4. Apparently some other sources are claiming that he lives in Wisconsin, but he lives in Minnesota, as does the library in question.

  5. “Stole?” That’s his speaker’s fee, and they willingly paid it. There was no deception. Complain about the people who decided to pay it if you like, but not the person who was saying “this is my price” totally above board, especially since he turned around and donated the money to charity.

    I doubt Mr. Dean donates all his speaking fees to charity.

    It’s also regrettable that a public figure uses words like “hate” so easily.

  6. This is an attack on a constituent by this obviously corrupt politician, since Neil lives in Minnesota and (presumably – since he’s not GE) pays taxes there.

  7. Glass houses Matt Dean,
    Why do I get the feeling that if somebody does a little poking around they’ll find you that you’re a government welfare queen just like Michelle Bachmann

  8. Well, obviously Minnesota House Majority leader Matt Dean hates charities. Duh.

    Two specific charities, in fact. He hates them, and he hates Neil Gaiman for giving them the money that Minnesota had allocated to Gaiman.

    I wonder which charities Dean hates so much. Gaiman does not identify them in the linked blog post. Probably some organizations that provide educational opportunities, since clearly Dean is a classic Know-Nothing.

    Incidentally, has anyone compared Dean and Gaiman by collar size? I’m betting I have a thicker, more manly neck than either of them!

  9. Neil Gaiman is one of my heroes. I’m rereading one of his books right now.

    As far as this House Majority Leader Matt Dean goes… Christ what an asshole.

  10. Every so often – and this is one of those times – all I can think of to say is, “What the *fuck* is wrong with you?”

  11. I’m not sure Mr. Dean realizes what he has just done… Throwing down the gauntlet where Neil Gaiman is concerned will gain you the wrath of the interwebs, not points in the political arena.

  12. http://boingboing.net/2010/05/10/neil-gaimans-awesome.html

    This went around when he originally made this speech. I recall the hullaballoo, and essentially it boils down to “keeping the riff raff out. Otherwise I’m turning down speaking engagements 24 hours a day.”

    I’m not faulting him, nor the library for engaging somebody I consider to be a true rockstar writer. (Comparing that honorarium to a politico’s speaking fees are probably not something we want to do either.)
    If the government doesn’t want funding to be spent above certain thresholds, or with more and stricter oversight, that’s what the laws are for.

  13. Welcome to America, Neil. It’s the price we all pay to live in this wonderful country: People so dumb it makes your teeth hurt.

  14. Are you still shopping at Target? Perhaps gay marriage isn’t the only reason to take exception with Target’s support of MN PACs that are charged with supporting primarily GOP politicians.

    I’d like to see if the Target supported PAC helped this guy’s campaign. Of course, we only recently got this kind of visibility.

    1. Nope, have been true to my personal boycott for a year+ now, first motivated by the anti-gay funding and then learning more about their general funding of right wing interests.

  15. What really gets me is that Rep. Dean is likely not giving his $31,140 per year salary to charity, and since Neil is a Minnesota resident who likely buys near his house, his taxes are a part of this entire fund. The GOP is not a serious political party.

  16. Psst. When you hit the FB share button, the headline that the Rep was from WI still appears!


  17. Mr. Dean should count his lucky stars that Neil is such a gentle soul, because he commands a hoard of rabid fans who would gladly burn the Midwest down at Gaiman’s command. One tweet and this guy’s family would never be able to find where they buried his head. Instead, I’m sure Neil will just chuckle while sipping tea and politely explain to this nincompoop why he’s so very stupid.

  18. i was so mad i went and posted this on Neil Gaiman’s facebook wall. that’s right! i did it! i just told on Dean. BOOM! WHAT?!

    i dont understand the need to attack Neil, unless this was Dean’s ploy to publicize his idiocy which typically leads to re-election here in ‘Merica.

  19. Surely you can just imagine Mr. Dean picking up American Gods and hurling it across the room in disgust before making it through the first hundred pages, if that?

  20. Dean could have just mentioned Gaiman’s script for the Beowulf movie. Lot to hate right there.

  21. Actually Mr G doesn’t live in Mpls anymore, he does in fact live in WI. I assume the speaking happened in MN. Either way it doesn’t matter where he lives/pays taxes if he donated the money. Just another reason that he is an amazing person.

  22. I love how stupid republicans are. Everyone knows you do not mess with artists. They will turn your public persona, your credibility and image, and eventually the memory of your corpse into satire. Even Scalzi once noted that science fiction writers destroy planets before breakfast — do you really want to get into a war of words with one of them?

    Republicans: Hell-bent on re-learning the lessons of the 18th century, the hard way.

    1. When thinking about this, I’m struck by the disparity between two diametrically opposed quotes by two of the greatest authors America has produced: Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut.

      “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel” – Mark Twain (unconfirmed attribution)

      “During the Vietnam War, every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder six feet high.” – Kurt Vonnegut

      1. The statements are only apparently opposed: for Twain was speaking of getting into a dispute with a newspaper and its publisher; while Vonnegut was speaking of “respectable artists”, and NOT of “the editorial boards of every major newspaper in America” – or even newspaper publishers as a group.

        When I think “artists”, I don’t think “the owners of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times”.

        Who does?

        1. I find that the statements are in conflict. Vonnegut was almost certainly referring to authors, playwrights, and screenwriters, while the purported Twain quote refers to journalists (and did specifically refer to journalists in the first real source I could find). Both groups are writers who write words. They simply use different media with different presentations. Why are Twain’s journalists so powerful when they write in a newspaper while Vonnegut’s authors are so irrelevant when they write in books, or for the stage or screen?

          1. Well it just seems to me that the only people who actually do buy ink by the barrel are newspaper publishers, and not the scribblers they employ.

          2. ….or should I say, that the only people who bought ink “by the barrel” in Twain’s own day were newspaper publishers.

            That quote is rapidly becoming obsolete and inapplicable in our age of electro-screens.

  23. Matt Dean just made a mistake. He picked a fight with the wrong author.

    I’ve been reading the Sandman series lately, what a great time, reading those books is like enjoying a dream while you’re still awake. Going to order his novels soon and re-read my Marvel 1602 issues.

    Dean can eat a turd.

  24. Perhaps the Republican misunderstood, and believed the speaker was “Neil, Gay Man.”

  25. I think anyone who reads Neil’s Blog post (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2010/05/political-football-in-teacup.html) will understand this situation completely. He makes his rates insanely high so he can spend time doing his real job (writing) and not out traveling and speaking. The money was set aside specifically for such a purpose and would have been lost otherwise. All of this points to a logical conclusion. It sounds like Matt Dean just has his panties in a twist about SF writers for some damn reason. Perhaps he hasn’t taken the time to read Neil’s blog himself.

  26. The only theft from Minnesota seems to be whatever the state pays Mr. Dean. It is astounding that legislators still think they work for their party and not the public.

  27. And yet Republicans have no problem with a community college in CA (the near bankrupted state) paid Palin $75k.

    Talk about being robbed.

  28. It’s not that we have people so dumb it makes your teeth hurt. The problem is that we put them in charge.

  29. Mr. Dean probably hasn’t read a thing not written on a 3×5 card in years.

    It would be the height of foolishness to expect him to have read any fantasy, science fiction, young adult, or much of anything else, illustrated or not. Japanese Amimé would just blow him away into fits of apoplexy.

    I’d bet the only book he’s got is some yellow pages hanging on a nail in the out-house.

  30. Clearly, Dean is not man enough to call someone a “pencil-necked little weasel” to their face. He’s probably more used to stabbing people in the back, then running away.

    He’s obviously also a hypocrite if he claims to be Catholic and is spouting off nonsense like that quote. A little investigation might reveal that he’s guilty of more theft than the theft he accuses Gaiman of.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s already wasted more of Minnesota’s funds simply through the combined response to his infantile tantrum.

  31. Sorry guy, I think you’re mistaken. It wasn’t Neil Gaiman who stole the money from the state of Minnesota. It was the state of Minnesota who stole the money from the people of Minnesota. What happened after that initial theft is much less important than the cardinal crime of theft through threat of violence.

    While accepting government largess in general is questionable, calling Gaiman out for it, when you yourself are a highly paid affiliate of the crime syndicate in question (in this case, a crime syndicate called the ‘Minnesota State Government’) is typical GOP hypocrisy.

    1. The State of Minnesota stole money from the people?

      How, exactly?

      And “taxation” is not a valid answer, before you even begin to mention it. Stealing is quite another matter, and you know that very well.

      1. Stealing:

        To take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force.

        Some people certainly gladly and happily pay their taxes. The money is not stolen from them.

        Others do not want to pay their taxes, hate to pay them, and only do it because they know if they don’t armed enforcers will come to their house and commit violence against them. In their case, the money was indeed stolen, by any reasonable definition of the term.

        And no, their neighbours having voted to authorise the theft does not make it right, because their neighbours have no claim to it in the first place.

        1. Sorry zyodei, that’s not quite the way it works. You didn’t wake up one morning to a tax bill out of the blue.

          It’s a social contract: you want to enjoy the benefits of living in our state, you help pay the rent. You object to that? There’s the door. Find another state that’ll put you up for free.

          1. In a rational world, I decide I need certain services and I happily pay for them.

            The world is not rational, people are not rational, you are not rational. /fantasy

        2. Stealing: To take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force.

          Emphasis added.

          You’re welcome.

        3. Might I suggest your next mailing address include Somalia, then? Since the idea of no government seems to suit you, walk your talk.

          Perception (in this case yours) does not equal reality.

          1. kleptocratic socialist dictatorship.

            Lol, never mind the multi-national corporate influence on the Western world’s friendly behavior toward that government. A socialist dictatorship would be horrible, just as a libertarian utopia would be horrible, just as the closest we’ve been to laissez faire the more miserable the majority of citizens have been. The proof is in the pudding, progressive countries have been the most successful.

            Now you can go back to fantasy land.

        4. Then “they” may not call Emergency Services, drive on the roads, use the water, have their garbage picked up, or send their kids to school.

          High or low, fair or unfair, taxes aren’t theft. They fund “the general welfare” we the people are supposed to promote. Didn’t you watch cartoons as a kid?

        5. Uh, no, Zyodei, if you want to live in a country but you have to be brutally forced to abide by the social contract there, it’s not the country stealing from you, it’s you being a fucking criminal who is only kept in check by expensive tax-funded goon squads. If you don’t like it VOTE WITH YOUR FEET – or work to change it – instead of whining like an overfed randroid.

          If you stay, the state is not “stealing” from you when you pay your taxes. You are not under duress imposed by anyone other than yourself and your forefathers. Stop whining and start walking, or stay here and try to revise the tax system; either way taxation is distinct from theft regardless of what you do.

          You would have nothing without the efforts of your fellow man. Stop being a fucking ungrateful sponge, or strip naked and move into the wilderness and live like a beast. Don’t pretend your philosophy is more than banditry if you take what’s given and have to be forced to give back. Jared Diamond is an overprivileged clown and “kleptocracy” does not adequately describe a nation that allows tax protestors to leave the country freely.

          Now, federal forfeiture and imminent domain laws, that’s not taxation, that’s outright theft, and I’ll freely admit it. But stop with the taxation-is-theft crap, it’s childish nonsense.

        6. Others do not want to pay their taxes, hate to pay them, and only do it because they know if they don’t armed enforcers will come to their house and commit violence against them. In their case, the money was indeed stolen, by any reasonable definition of the term.

          And no, their neighbours having voted to authorise the theft does not make it right, because their neighbours have no claim to it in the first place.

          Then they better not trespass on the taxpayers’ roads. They’re gonna get mighty hungry.

          1. The state owns them, and the taxpayers maybe sometimes can have some effect on the actions of the state.

            And where, pray tell, does the state get the funding to maintain its roads?

            In a less serious note, you’re a hoot, guy. :)

  32. I’m sure the library could have (perhaps it did) sell tickets or profit in other ways to make up for the expense. The option is always there.

    I’d think this guy is more mad about the fact that the 45k could have been better spent at a time of cut-backs. That would at least have been a valid point and it’s too bad he had to go and misdirect his anger like this.

    1. Except that is not how public funding works! You don’t get to use the money for something else (read Neil’s blog where he explains, but also I speak from years of experience in libraries where the funding is so specifically allocated it makes life seriously frustrating sometimes).

      The thing is, this guy? He’s a member of the organization that is THE REASON funding works like that which means it’s his job to know that the library was only doing what it was told to do with the funds it had been allocated.

      Which means he’s either an idiot who doesn’t know his own job or he’s an asshole pretending outrage over something he knows very well isn’t an outrage.

    2. The money for the speaking fee didn’t come out of the library’s funding or budget. It was part of a special fund that came out of tax money and could ONLY be used for the purpose of paying authors to come speak. They were literally legally unable to use it for anything else. And if they didn’t use it, they would lose it. So they used it! Validly and legally and perfectly appropriately!

      1. Sure, although what’s wrong with ‘losing it’? Presumably that means that it’s been unallocated at the end of the fiscal year and then goes back to the state for next year’s round of arts funding. The only thing you lose is that you haven’t taken up the available opportunity.

        That’s not what I’m advocating though, I’m just saying if they wanted to they could e.g. have charged $100 per head and then used that money to expand the library, or put forward to next years budget. Is it not more of a win that way – you get a great speaker AND more books for the community.

        I don’t think the library is wrong, just saying that some options could give you more bang for your Gaiman buck.

  33. Wiscesota sounds like my kind of state, if they could just get the leadership to sober up.

  34. What a lot of commenters seem to be missing is that the money he was paid was actually NOT his speaking fee, per se. They didn’t contact him and say, “How much would it cost to come talk to us?” They contacted him and said, “Hey, look, we have $40,000 left in the Legacy fund for bringing in authors to libraries who couldn’t afford them otherwise. We can’t use it next year and we can’t use it for anything else other than bringing in a speaker. Want to come talk and we’ll give you the money?”

    In short. He didn’t ASK for $40,000. He was offered it. The money had to be used, or it would be lost. It could ONLY be used for bringing in an author to speak, not for salaries or books or anything else. He took that money and gave it to charity.

    He has also said that, despite what his listed speaking fees may be, he is generally willing to discount them for libraries if they ask. These people didn’t ask. They offered an amount. He accepted the engagement.

    1. If that is what happened, it’s even worse than what the politicians are complaining about. I know this is standard practice, but it’s nearly criminal. The idea of wasting money because otherwise you “lose” is incredibly wrong. The money does not become “lost”, it goes back to the state, where it could be used for one of a thousand starved programs. Would you blow your unspent grocery budget by overpaying for milk, while your kids needed new shoes?

  35. I remember early in my career being aghast at how fiscal budgeting works. You set aside money for a *thing*. You need to use it. If you don’t, next year your dept gets less money and then less *things*. So there is seemingly waste and end-of-fiscal-year hurry we must spend this RIGHT NOW scheduling. Too bad Old Matty Dean-o isn’t clear. In other news, someone please buy Gaiman a comb.

  36. I have a funny feeling that a character very like our Mr Dean will be making an appearance in an upcoming Gaiman story. A very unfortunate character, to be sure, with less than savory habits, predilections, and mannerisms. Who knows? The pen is mightier…

  37. Dean said that Gaiman, “who I hate,” was a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”

    …He added, “Hey Gaiman: tell your mom I said thanks,” and then cackled till he snorted blood out his nose and collapsed. Dean went into critical condition and later died of what doctors describe as “Terminal Shit-for-Brains.”

  38. Very strange quote. The “hate” part seems like an aside, unrelated to the speaking fee issue.

    Maybe Gaiman stole his girlfriend back in high school…

  39. According to the Wikipedia, Mr. is an author too: “Also an author, Urdahl has written a book about former members of the Minnesota Twins baseball team[5] and about famous Minnesotans.[6] His two latest books have been historical fiction set in Minnesota during the Dakota War of 1862[7][8]”


  40. I’m another outraged Minnesotan here.

    I don’t think this state’s GOP should attack anyone who Alan Moore gives the nickname “SCARY TROUSERS!” That’s just asking for it.

  41. ooops. The Dean who hates Mr. Gaiman is Matt Dean. Too much deans for an article.

  42. Rutgers only paid Snooki 35K and she is a REALITY TEE VEE STAR Gaiman is just a guy who puts words on paper, clearly this favoritism is unfair to illiterates everywhere. I am mad as heck! :)

  43. I wonder how much in state taxes Neil has paid over the years. In the eyes of the Objectivists and Randroids who infest the Republican party, isn’t he just taking back the money the state “stole” from him in the first place?

      1. Interesting response — disemposting seems to lie somewhere between disemvowelling and account suspension.

        1. It would be so much easier if people just wouldn’t respond to such obvious threadjacks.

  44. Just for more background, the Legacy Fund is a special sales tax that was actually added to the MN state constitution after being approved by a majority of Minnesota voters. The use of the proceeds is mandated by constitution to go only towards nebulously defined “arts” and “outdoor/environmental” programs.

    It basically works as a grant program. An appointed board oversees the distribution of Legacy funds to a variety of applicants (State/Local government agencies, non-profits, etc.) for specific programs.

    Here’s where the facts end and the editorializing begins. The Legacy Amendment has been in short a boondoggle. The actual use of these sales tax dollars (like funding for MPR who has boatloads of cash in member and corporate contributions) differs greatly from how it was sold to the public. What’s more, the amendment passed shortly before the economy went into the tank. So now that times are tight, we have a huge slice of the budget being determined by constitutional mandate and the whims of an unaccountable board. Now more than ever we need a thoughtful balanced approach to state budgeting.

    While, I certainly don’t fault Mr. Gaiman here, I do think the whole Legacy Amendment should be scrapped. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of a constitutional amendment once it’s passed.

  45. Whaaaat, @tempbot, a logical reasonable disagreement with the Gaiman-fawning??? This is messing up my world view.

  46. This guy is bitching about $45K that went to a writer? Hmm. I wonder how that stacks up, percentage-wise, to the amount of public money that goes to building/upgrading sports facilities in Minnesota with public money. Funny how he isn’t screaming about that. $45K? LOL. ANd how classy is it for him to call Gaiman names like they are in junior high?

    1. Taken over by the libertarian troll.

      Honestly, can’t Antinous give him the occasional holiday?

  47. The Stillwater library is off the hook for not booking Ayn Rand. She’s dead. That being the case, they had to find some other author. Why not Neil Gaiman? Really, are there any living authors that the Minnesota GOP likes?

  48. Twain was speaking of the power of the press – and Vonnegut wasn’t. Not diametrically opposed at all.

    1. From the MPR article noted above, Dean said:

      “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.”

      HAHAHAHAHA – He has to have his mommy come stay over when his wife goes out of town?

  49. Ah, another Rat Speaker, I see. Somebody send this guy a packet of double-edged blue blades; he appears to have run out of amusing evil.

  50. Wow, this explains a lot… Dellwood (Matt Dean’s district) is on the NE side of White Bear Lake. Part of the same neck of crazy-woods that Michelle Bachmann represents.

  51. Perhaps you don’t know that The Chaos Magician, Grant Morrison is his friend… probably not a good idea to mess with him.

  52. FWIW, Gaiman actually lives in Wisconsin, but nearish the Twin Cities.

    The whole thing is pretty amusing because wow, what an idiot.

  53. Didn’t this all happen like a year ago?

    …yeah, May 2010.

    I mean, sure, it’s an entertaining takedown, but sheesh, there’s like all kinds of stuff going on in the world today. Stealth Helicopters! Cinco De Mayo! Gravity Probe B! I guess if you’re really desperate, I’m sure Michelle Bachman has said something bizarre and stupid in the past 12 hours.

  54. Neil certainly isn’t to blaim. And I’d love to see him speak. But if my library had 40k to spend on author appearances I’d rather have a few slightly cheaper ones than one artificially expensive one.

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