You may recall that yesterday, Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean got his website crashed after he called Neil Gaiman “a pencil-necked weasel” and a hated thief over a reported $45,000 speaking fee at a library.
Gaiman, naturally, fired the next round at his blog:
1) It’s funny. Sad that this is the kind of thing that elected officials say in public, but still funny. It’s the kind of thing that you expect to hear at school from fourteen-year old bullies, before they tell you that they’ll be seeing you by the lockers with their friends, not what you expect to see from an adult.
while revealing that
4) I don’t like being called a thief. I’m pretty sure that I know what thieves are and do. In this case, Matt Dean’s claiming that I “stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota”. (I’m not sure where the $45K number comes from. I just checked: I actually received $33,600 from the Minnesota Library System for a talk that was then broadcast and is still up [look down to second section].)
Meanwhile, Dean spoke with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and revealed that he had repented of his rash words after being schooled by his mother:
“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.”
Dean still feels that the Stillwater Library was using its money unwisely and that the funds used to do it — the Legacy fund used to pay for various cultural initiatives — should be opened up to competition.
Gaiman got some heat at the time the speaking fee was revealed, but it’s not out of line for speakers. This list of the highest paid speakers has Donald Trump at the top with $1-$1.5 million per engagement. Al Gore, Sarah Palin and Bill Clinton get around $100k.
As we see it, one of the key aspects of this whole brouhaha is the resurrection of the whole “pencil necked geek” insult, which was pioneered by wrestler great Classy Freddie Blassie. Considering that Minnesota once elected wrestler Jesse Ventura as governor, it all seemed to have come full circle.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.