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Minn. Republican Legislator Rips on Author Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (l.) w/ M.T. Anderson at Midwest Booksellers Association trade show in 2009

Republicans now targeting a hard-working author for being too successful at what he does.

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45 Comment(s)

  1. I love Neil Gaiman. I don’t like the petty name calling that this Republican stooped to. I do have to ask though, how anyone can justify paying ANYONE regardless of political party, religious preference, or any factor, $11,250 an hour to speak. Especially when most individuals who are asked to speak are rich anyway.

    $11,250 an hour. Tax payer dollars. Think about that next time you hit a pothole or rant about schools not getting enough money.

    Again, I love Gaiman, do not agree with and strongly am against such name calling, but have to agree that $45,000 is a large sum for any person to be paid for 4 hours of speaking.

    Jadiaz | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  2. Money to support the arts and artists seems justifiable; I doubt it was really a fee just for the speech.

    And it is no where near as bad as Republicans paying LeAnn Rimes around $200,000 to sing at a fundraiser…

    Sam | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  3. Sam, I have nothing against money for the arts. The article says Gaiman was paid $45,000 to speak for 4 hours. That is ridiculous.

    The LeAnn Rimes is ridiculous, but doesn’t bug me. Here is why: It was not tax payer money. If Democrats, Republicans, and Independents want to waste their donated cash go for it.

    Gaiman was tax payer cash. Not ok.

    Jadiaz | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  4. The guy’s speaking fee is a non-issue. Free market and all of that -- as he clearly discusses in his blog entry.

    The real issue is whether it is a reasonable use of public dollars. The only answer to that is, I think, that the legacy amendment passed a statewide referendum, grants to get that money go through some sort of approval process, and in this instance, the stillwater library’s grant was approved.

    dbb | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  5. I actually don’t have a problem with Mr. Gaiman’s speaking fee. It’s pocket change compared to our tax dollars being thrown at those institutions that ruined our economy to bail them out. Mr. Gaiman charges a certain amount to speak — as do other bestselling authors, musicians, actors, politicians, and so on.

    His being on the bill is going to bring in hordes of people — taxpayers too, remember — who normally might not have an opportunity to say, pay $50 to hear David Sedaris speak. Think of it: Sedaris charges $50+ for his speaking engagements. He brings in crowds 800, 900, 1000+ people at a time. I am sure Sedaris charges in the same range as Gaiman to do his gigs. No one held a gun to the Stillwater’s Library’s event organizers’ heads to bring Gaiman in. They got tons of publicity out of it, they got young people coming into the library who otherwise might not have, and anyone, anyone who wanted to could have attended.

    I’ve heard Gaiman speak a few times, and he’s charming and personable and tailors his speeches to the occasion — unlike Terry Gross, who was paid $5,000 (I believe) a few years ago by LSW to come to Duluth to speak and gave the same canned speech she gives everywhere else.

    And it’s more than four hours — I am sure the prep time to speak for four hours was at least triple that. You have to take that into account. And hurrah for an author being able to command this kind of speaking fee.

    The personal attacks, name-calling, and mocking people’s appearance seems to be the weapon of choice among right-wing extremists everywhere these days. I see that kind of childish and bullying behavior going on with the right-wing extremists locally too. It’s not winning these idiots any points; too bad they’re too stupid to realize that.


    calk | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  6. “The personal attacks, name-calling, and mocking people’s appearance seems to be the weapon of choice among right-wing extremists everywhere these days.”

    Followed by…

    “It’s not winning these idiots any points; too bad they’re too stupid to realize that.”


    Danny G | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  7. The problem is not Mr. Gaiman charging that price, nor any other speaker. As has been stated, they can charge what they please and what they can get others to pay.

    The problem is that 1 library used $45,000 to have one person there for 4 hours. That is to much! Duluth has had to cut back on branch library hours because of funding. $45,000 could have paid for 1 or 2 people to staff a library for more hours for a year.

    It was waste. Both parties are guilty of this kind of wasteful spending. Just because the undividuals charge that much doesn’t mean it is right to pay it with tax payers dollars.

    Jadiaz | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  8. Jadiaz, I see your point, but, on the other hand, the library most probably recouped some of that money by selling books. And, like I said, they gained a lot in terms of publicity and bringing awareness of what they provide.

    Which is better, having some midlist author appear for less $$ and five people show up, or having Neil Gaiman show up and fill the place? Stillwater is in the metro area, so they’re going to draw audiences from outside that one city, as well. You know, the Duluth public library hosts authors too, and don’t think someone like Greg Mortenson came here a few years ago to speak for free.

    calk | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  9. It seems to me that the problem is not that Gaiman gave a speech, or how much he was paid, but that the legislator has chosen to attack him personally and even use words such as “stealing,” which borders a slanderous accusation. Elected officials should take care to conduct themselves with more maturity and dignity than that, as well as choose their words and attitudes more carefully.

    Julian | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  10. Jadiaz: Do you know what the Legacy Fund is? Do you have a clue as to how a grant program works? Do you know that the citizens of MN voted to increase their own sales tax to dedicate funds to arts & cultural activities (the other half of the fund goes to the environment/hunting/fishing stuff)? Are you mad that the Symphony, Ballet and Art institute get tax pay dollars from the same fund? Seriously, I need you answer.

    TimK | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  11. I just pulled this factoid below off of MPR’s website. I thought this was an interesting consideration, that the money paid Gaiman was specifically allocated for programming, and it was an issue of “use it or lose it.”

    “Gaiman charges a lot of money for his speeches, he acknowledges, but part of the “problem” here is the legislation that created the Legacy Fund. The money can’t be used for books, or computer equipment. And when the library paid Gaiman his fee, it either had to spend it, or lose it a month later.”

    Smart of them to get the biggest bang for the buck they could get. Seriously, this man draws crowds wherever he goes, for good reason.

    TimK is right, how many arts organizations receive government funding? The library received this money from the state and allocated it as best they could, bringing in a great author who appeals to a broad range of people.

    calk | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  12. The money used to pay Neil Gaiman was part of the MN Legacy Fund which could not be used for book, library staffing, etc. etc. etc.

    Bad Cat! | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  13. Some legacy … “I got to see Neil Gaiman!” says kid one.

    “I wanted to read his book, but my library closed due to lack of funding,” says kid two.

    Just because this money was set aside for “Arts ect.” doesn’t mean it’s right when the state has such huge budget problems. Use the cash to truly advance arts by buying books, etc. Not wasting it on one 4-hour speaking engagement.

    Jadiaz | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  14. By the way, I’d rather have my tax dollars used to bring an author of Neil Gaiman’s stature to a metro area library than have my tax dollars used to build an $800 million football stadium I will never ever set foot in — unless Springsteen performs there or something like that.

    calk | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  15. Jadiaz: you don’t understand how the fund works. The Legacy Fund is a statute (law). It has a mechanism for its funding source (1/2 of 1/2 of 1% of sales tax) and a mechanism for how it can be spent. The whole point of the law was to protect arts (and natural resources) funding from the big budget swings of the past. Yes, we have problems in our state budget. Legacy Funds are not part of that problem. They don’t draw from the general fund or take away from other parts of the budget. Don’t be hatin’ on shit you don’t understand.

    TimK | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  16. It does not help that House Majority Leader Matt Dean doesn’t understand how the law works either.

    TimK | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  17. All I know is that M.T. Anderson’s glasses are infuriating.

    Danny G | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  18. Jadiaz,
    here’s a link to an interesting blog that will help set this entire brouhaha in its proper context.


    calk | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  19. B-man | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  20. Perhaps I’m not making myself clear, I’ll try again.

    1. I condemn the name calling. It is unfair, unjust, and does nothing but inflame tensions. It is completely inapropiate.

    2. I love Neil Gaimans works. He is a fantastic author.

    3. I realize how the legacy fund works. My critiscm is that the money could be better spent. Even leaving it in it’s current untouchable seperate from the budget form. That $45,000 would have been better spent acquiring new books, cd’s, ect. or having a hands on teaching event for children about the arts. The long term impact is minimal with a speaker coming in as opposed to resources that money could have acquired that would benefit not just those able to attend that event.

    4. Neil isn’t my issue. Frankly I can care less how much he charges. More power to him for getting all he can. Also kudo’s to him for donating the money to good causes. That is awesome.

    5. I am also against tax payer dollars going to a football stadium (as are Republicans. It is Dayton pushing for the deal).

    Jadiaz | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  21. B-Man, it received international attention. Story here in today’s UK Guardian:

    Neil Gaiman hits back at US politician’s theft accusation

    Jadiaz, I’m sure if Gaiman spent 4 hours with his audience at this event, it had a huge impact on the 500 people who were there. My kid isn’t fond of Gaiman’s work, though she’s met him and several other famous authors, and heard them speak. Meeting her favorite authors has had an incredible impact on her life. In fact, meeting Lemony Snicket when she was young had a direct impact on her wanting to learn to read, so she could read his books. Don’t under-estimate the impact on people of the privilege of spending 4 hours with a truly inspiring speaker who knows how to relate to kids and adults. It enlarges their worlds as surely as a “hands on teaching event about the arts.” Sometimes, even more so. Do you know, my kid met Suzanne Collins last year, and was so inspired, she inspired all her friends,who then devoured the Hunger Games series? Maybe some kid got all his or her friends charged up after meeting Gaiman in Stillwater.

    It’s just sad that we’re throwing money at the wealthy, and then fighting over the allocation of public funds to libraries.

    calk | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  22. Ahem…
    1 -- It was not $45,000. It was $33,600. Still a lot of money, but not quite 45K, if you are going to use a factoid over and over it’s probably best to get it correct.

    2 -- The funds where donated (long before any attention was paid to this issue) to two charities, one against sexual abuse, one supporting a library.

    3 -- OMFG artists getting paid good money… and taxpayer money too! nooooooooooooooooooooooo. I guess artists are supposed to charge below market wage to government institutions eh?

    4 -- Dean was more or less forced by his mom to apologize.

    5 -- Thank fucking god for the legacy fund

    edgeways | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  23. There will always be ways that “money could be better spent.” MN as a state voted that it would dedicate money to support both the arts and conservation/exposure to nature for its citizens. Neil explains the situation better than most could imagine to attempt books in a library are worthless if people aren’t coming to read them; writers are worthless if people are not reading them. Neil Gaiman filled a room that would otherwise have been barren on a Sunday afternoon and helped a community realize the value of their library. There are plenty of battles to be fought about how/when funds are spent -- this should not be one of them.

    jtpm | May 5, 2011 | New Comment
  24. Exxon/Mobil is getting BBBIllions in corporate welfare and we’re supposed to worry about a paltry 33k to an artist?

    it’s CORPORATE welfare, stupid.

    zra | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  25. Edge, I already said I’m all for Artists making money and getting all they can. Also I applauded Gaiman for giving the money to charities. Furthermore the one article used $45,000 as a number, but if it being 12k less makes such a difference to you then fine that $33,600 still had better uses. Lastly I condemned Dean for his actions. Try reading everything before ripping on it.

    Zra, Claire already beat you to the name calling, but it’s nice to see people on here still feel the need to do so *insert sarcasm*. Also who the heck was talking about corporations? Way to jump out of left field with that topic just so you could get aforementioned name calling in.

    Jadiaz | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  26. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that in one paragraph (and many other previous posts) jadiaz spouts opinion after opinion on this topic and the very next paragraph he derides me for doing the same?

    Namecalling? That would require civility. Fuck civility. I’ll return to civility when it is first visited upon me. I’m done being nice to people who would stick a knife in my back with one hand and stick their free hand in my pocket in the name of “sacrifice” only to hand my sacrifice over to a corporate shill.

    zra | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  27. To clarify: Neil Gaiman was paid $45,000 for the speaking engagement; $33,600 is the amount that actually went to him after agent fees. So that’s where the confusion over the dollar amount comes from.

    shana aue | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  28. We should all be more civil in our politics. The only way we’re going to reach any sort of reasonable and functioning society is to calmly and rationally consider important issues. We -- as indivduals rather than officeholders -- can be forgiven the infrequent (I stress infrequent) intemperate language. But, we should hold any such behavior against our elected officials.

    That’s what this is about.

    Gaiman did nothing wrong. The Legacy funds were spent within the rules of the program. If, as a voter, you think it’s worth discussing the merits of the Legacy fund, do so civilly. If, as a voter, you think it’s worth discussing the mentality of public institutions that lead them to hurry near the end of a fiscal year to spend parts of their budgets that won’t “roll over,” do so civilly. (By the way, I don’t mean to single out the Stillwater library -- many public institutions do this sort of thing and it begs the question: are they being good stewards of public resources.) If, as a legislator, you want to make headlines by acting like a buffoon, I will not vote for you and I will discourage others from doing so.

    Namecalling by Matt Dean is entirely unacceptable. Namecalling by some on this forum is only slightly more palatable.

    Will | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  29. In response to accusations by Jadiaz of my “namecalling” on this thread: there’s a BIG difference between someone slamming someone by saying he or she is a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota,” and someone calling out a bully as a stupid idiot. The right-wing extremists in this town are bullies. Read their blog, listen to that one’s podcast. It’s all personal attacks against individuals, politicians, the DFD, and local activists. There’s no substance there, no discussion of issues and ideas. I hate bullies. I think bullies are stupid idiots.

    I do wonder if this Dean guy would have had such a conniption over an author being paid from a public fund the same sum as was Mr. Gaiman, if that author were, shall we say, Ann Coulter? I doubt it.

    This is why the Republican right-wing extremists who pull these kinds of shenanigans have **zero credibility.** This reminds me of what happened locally with Sharla Gardner and the Sister Cities program. It was all about politicking and grandstanding. If Jay Fosle had been the one going to Japan instead of Sharla Gardner, Todd Fedora wouldn’t have raised a ruckus at all. What’s happening to Neil Gaiman is exactly the same kind of b.s. as what happened to Gardner. And Dean’s even saying that he “hates” Gaiman demonstrates what this is really about.

    Claire | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  30. Since I’ve been called out here…really? I’m a right wing extremist? Really? REALLY?

    Danny G | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  31. Claire, there is little difference between calling somebody a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota” and calling someone (in this context) a stupid idiot.

    In each case, the namecalling is motivated by a specific personal political perspective in an effort to vent one’s anger/resentment/etc. (or perhaps in Dean’s case to get attention) without regard to the value of civil discourse.

    The little difference there is, as I pointed out earlier, is that we must expect more from elected officials. But, you’re still poisoning the discussion and I’ve read enough of your posts to know that’s not your intent and you can do better.

    Will | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  32. Will, we’re going to have to respectfully agree to disagree, I believe in calling out bullies on their b.s. I do agree with you, though, that elected officials must adhere to a higher standard than we’ve seen from Mr. Dean. I would hope his constituents would let him know that such childish namecalling of one of the most highly-respected fiction writers in the world is unacceptable. Glad his mother made him apologize.

    calk | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  33. I think we all can agree bullying is wrong. I think we can all agree calling out a bully is a good thing. I believe what Will was pointing out was that when you call a bully out for name calling by calling them names, i.e. “idiot” and “stupid idiots,” all it does it put you as low as them. Claire you often have great points but you sank as low as Dean by calling him a name instead of just pointing out he was wrong. You also then called an entire group of people names. Seems like bullying and unnecessary name calling to me.

    Jadiaz | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  34. Eh … Palin (both snowily grifter, and abstinent baby mamma) get $100k/hour. Shut it.

    Lojasmo | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  35. Gah. Wish the forum allowed proper threading. My comment was in regard to jadiaz’ butthurt about speaking compensation.

    Lojasmo | May 6, 2011 | New Comment
  36. This is why I love Neil Gaiman. His revenge against Dean will be sweet.

    From the Strib:

    “If I actually wanted to come after you, dude, I could,” Gaiman said of Dean. Gaiman said he would not file a lawsuit, but was considering other options that would be “so much more fun than going legal.”

    calk | May 7, 2011 | New Comment
  37. Lojasmo, my problem isn’t with Gaiman. Not him speaking. Not him receiving the cash. Not with him charging what he can get. Not with anyone making money.

    My problem is the state spending that money for a 4 hour speaking engagement reguardless of who it is, when in my opinion those legacy funds could have been spent on things that would last years and more than 500 people could enjoy (and yes I know that’s not allowed as te legacy fund now stands. That’s my point though, it should be).

    You all keep jumping on me like I’m attacking Gaiman. I’m not. None of my posts went after him. They went after how the funds were spent. As the story involves Gaiman I used it as an example.

    I already condemned Dean for name calling. Alot of you latched onto Dean and keep dragging that up. My focus is on the money. Any money wasted on any speaker like this. Although I explained that already. Perhaps if you all read what I wrote instead assuming I am only upset about Gaiman and then attacking me on that point when we all agree he is an awesome author and deserves what he can get someone to pay him.

    And don’t jump my shit for calling out others who call names. If you are going to rant about how wrong it is for one person to do so, and then turn around and do it yourself, well get called out. Nothing wrong with condemnimg the behavior, or calling a bully a bully, but name calling can’t be justified because you feel it’s ok in your situation. At least Zra just came out and said he doesn’t care about being civil.

    So again in short Lojasmo, my problem has not been anyones speaking fees, it has been how the state, both Dems and Repubs, spend money and place ridiculous rules on how certain things can be spent. Please get your facts straight so you can bitch about my “butthurt” correctly.

    Jadiaz | May 7, 2011 | New Comment
  38. OK, back to the subject of a world-famous, award-winning author being paid a fair market rate for speaking to 500 people at a public library, an event that brought in untold numbers more persons all over the country and beyond, since it was broadcast on MPR and is still accessible on MPR’s website. What really burns me up about Dean’s bullying of Neil Gaiman is that libraries and other publicly funded organizations in this state may be more wary in future of bringing in authors of Mr. Gaiman’s stature to speak at public events that are free to attendees. And authors of Mr. Gaiman’s stature, who can pull in healthy fees for their appearances, may be reluctant in the future to speak in this state.

    And who loses if libraries and other organizations cut back on such programming? We do. Some people think it’s enough for libraries to buy books and let people find them. It’s not. Library programs like Neil Gaiman’s appearance introduce people to books, to authors, to libraries. Introducing young people to books and libraries through an author event benefits all of us, and improves quality of life for all of us. It’s sad that some people can’t see the larger picture, because they’re wearing blinders when it comes to the importance of arts and culture to our lives.

    calk | May 7, 2011 | New Comment
  39. Eh. Print is dead.

    Danny G | May 7, 2011 | New Comment
  40. That’s a good point Calk. How many amazing writers will be offered gigs in Minnesota and figure “It’s just not worth publicly being called a Theif. Get Toronto on the line!”

    Bad Cat! | May 7, 2011 | New Comment
  41. can we then scrutinize our share of the tax breaks the Koch Brothers received, or the BBBBillions in (taxpayer funded) subsidies and grants the oil industry gets?

    How about the way Mississippi spends the tax dollars it gets from the federal government to shore up its economic infrastructure (they get $2.03 back for every dollar they send to DC)?

    after all, it is *your* money the government is giving away.

    think David Koch is going to invite us to the next garden party at the mansion our tax dollars bought? i think not.

    think Exxon’s gonna drop the price of a gallon for your subsidy contribution to their coffers? not bloody likely!

    at least in the case of funds for the *arts* or *public broadcasting,* (et, al) the funds that’re being used are for the most part used to further the public good instead of lining some rich fucker’s pockets, financing “research” that ultimately should be conducted at the expense of the company doing it, or going to shore up a state’s operating expenses because they can’t do it by themselves…

    zra | May 7, 2011 | New Comment
  42. Quoted for Truth:

    “OK, back to the subject of a world-famous, award-winning author being paid a fair market rate for speaking to 500 people at a public library, an event that brought in untold numbers more persons all over the country and beyond, since it was broadcast on MPR and is still accessible on MPR’s website. What really burns me up about Dean’s bullying of Neil Gaiman is that libraries and other publicly funded organizations in this state may be more wary in future of bringing in authors of Mr. Gaiman’s stature to speak at public events that are free to attendees. And authors of Mr. Gaiman’s stature, who can pull in healthy fees for their appearances, may be reluctant in the future to speak in this state.”

    The fact that Gaiman let MPR release his talk, without any further payment, for what appears to be perpetuity, is surely an important component of this discussion, in terms of the value of the service. And surely, to authors around the world, we now look like a bunch of backwater hicks with kneejerk tendencies. | May 8, 2011 | New Comment
  43. So who was saying something about Minnesota getting a bad reputation with writers…?

    Neil Gaiman’s follow up to “1602″ -- The Gutters webcomic

    Bad Cat! | May 11, 2011 | New Comment
  44. Hah! Justify away. Point is, an obnoxious amount of money for those type of services is just that. Even worse when it’s taxpayers money, regardless if it was allocated or not. It’s still money that could be spent on bringing the classics to kids in poverty areas, keeping the shop open longer or whatever. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s a professional athlete making millions, or the head of Exxon, it is indicitive of our fucked up society. Until people quit supporting it, it will continue to get worse. You won’t find me in a Timberwolves jersey (although I love their mascot) or supporting a speaker that is charging that much money on the backs of the taxpayers. Yeah, I know Zra. I buy gasoline. I love fossil fuels. That’s another discussion for another day.

    @Claire. Sorry, but many of you libs are the worst of all bullies. Intellectual bullies might not be the correct moniker, although it probably fits best. This blog is loaded with people like you, who love to make others out to be evil or stupid or, even worse, a conservative. And because you feel it’s your sandbox, it justifies your behavior while calling others out. Shame shame. Am I one? Yup. At least I have the nuts to admit it, albeit it in the cloak of blogdom. Oh, and please don’t label Danny a republican. It sullies their good name and I think Danny would agree that he’s an equal opportunity troll with no general affiliations.

    Jim | May 12, 2011 | New Comment
  45. Hah! I just found out an interesting factoid: The Minnesota Legacy Fund, the fund that some people say is huge waste of money, theft because they didn’t vote for it, or an example of poor governmental spending was added to the Minnesota state constitution because the majority of Minnesotans voted for it to be there!

    We voted for it, we got it put in the state constitution, we are benefiting from the services it provides, yet we’re bitching about it?!?

    If you’re going to complain about the expenditure of money or how it was used, be sure to include your comment “and I expressed these opinions by voting ‘No’ for the Minnesota Legacy Fund in November of 2008″.

    About Minnesota’s Legacy Fund

    Bad Cat! | May 12, 2011 | New Comment

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