Wow. did Matt Dean really say that? Did he really call Twin Cities writer Neil Gaiman a "pencil-necked little weasel" who "stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota"? Did he really say, on the House floor, that he hated him?
Wow. I'm speechless. But Gaiman isn't. He's been Tweeting all morning about the story in today's Star Tribune, which reported that Republican legislative leaders are trying to roll back Legacy funds earmarked for specific cultural organizations. Under the Legacy Amendment, approved by Minnesota voters, an increase in the state sales tax will generate more than $200 million this year for the outdoors, clean water and the arts.
Public libraries have used Legacy Fund money to help pay for programs such as Club Book, which brings nationally renowned writers to libraries in far-flung suburbs. And this is where Gaiman comes in. Gaiman was a Club Book guest in Stillwater last year, for which he was paid $45,000. Whether this is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a Hugo Award-winning, Newbery Award-winning, internationally known screenwriter is debatable. Gaiman, the Star Tribune reported last year, donated the fee to charity.
But on Tuesday House Majority Leader Matt Dean, a Republican from the nearby suburb of Dellwood, spoke out about Legacy money going to Minnesota Public Radio and to Gaiman, the author of "Coraline," "Odd and the Frost Giant," and other books for children.
On Twitter, Gaiman fired back. "Sad & funny. Minnesota Republicans have a 'hate' list. Like Nixon did. I'm on it," he posted this morning, followed by, "It's strange watching a grownup high school bully in power. But the bully vocabulary remains the same."
A few minutes later, "Any nice, sane Minnesota Republicans reading this, please vote for someone who isn't a bully with a hate list next time."
And, a few minutes after that, "Bizarrely, the twit who called me a pencilnecked weasel has posted my blog on his and claims copyright on it." Gaiman then posted a link to Dean's blog, which very quickly crashed. Gaiman tweeted one more time to apologize.