writing rengeek magpie mind

July 2014

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writing rengeek magpie mind

Hey, Harlan?

This is so not okay.

***

Comments

juliansinger makes some interesting points in her journal about the problems brought about by personalizing/particularizing incidents of sexual harassment.

Conversations *keep* ending up being about Ellison and his habits of offensiveness (pro or con) rather than being about the fact that someone groped someone on stage and was allowed to get away with it. As I've been saying in the discussion over there, people talking about what a horrible person he is, is clearly *not* any kind of negative consequence let alone preventative measure.
I'm all for public censure.
was allowed to get away with it.

I think the current discussion is indicative of a desire not to let him get away with it.
Do you? The thought makes me feel...wistful. It would be nice to think that this wasn't going to be Another Horrible Harlan Annecdote, that somehow this one would be different, this one wouldn't become just part of his image before the month is out, another piece of the persona he gets press out of.

I suppose only time will tell. But I keep hearing things that boil down to, "Yep, Harlan Ellison is a very nasty man. Why, one time he--" instead of, "Having assaulted a writer at the Hugos, Harlan Ellison will be asked to--" or "--will no longer be--" or "--is now being considered--"

I hope you're right.
The people I know who are upset about this -- myself very much included -- see it as an outrageous example of something that we have seen happen far too often. We can discuss it openly because it's a (finally) public example of something we have all seen far too much of in vaguely-public settings in the field. It needs to stop, and that's what I hear people saying. (The people I'm listening to anyway.)

I could care less about Harlan Ellison, personally. His character is well-established and the Ellison apologists can have him. In this instance, if he can be said to represent something, to me it is SF's past, the history of letting Revered Male Writers get away with whatever they like, and often with an affectionate response. ("That INSERT DIRTY OLD NAME HERE! What a card!")
We can discuss it openly because it's a (finally) public example of something we have all seen far too much of in vaguely-public settings in the field.

I wonder if part of the reason that fandom feels it can be so open in discussing this is because the first public account publically condemning it came from a male -- pnh?

I realize this is pure supposition, but if the first voice out of the gate had been female (or had been less notable), I wonder whether the responses would've shown as much consensus.
I think it's more that Patrick is credible.
Fair enough. I had a moment of doubt while reading the thread (which is what led to my comment), but your certainty is reassuring.
Well, sure.

I don't think there's anything at all wrong with using the sympathetic person in a (relative) 'position of power' (societal power, I mean) to help make and enforce change. That's pretty common, really, in issues of race and sexism and other charged situations.

It's sometimes frustrating, but on the other hand, as I say, I'm all for using all the tactics at our disposal.
But if I had groped Connie Willis or anyone else in public wouldn't con security have removed me? Or some friend of the person I groped take me out?

The personalisation of this is relevant because of this. Whilst there are many, (too many) incidents at cons and fan meetings where people are preyed on, assaulted etc, there is a level of peer pressure that acts on some of these incidents (unfortunately not all of them.) When it comes to big names being assholes (in SF or any other field) we seem to publicly pillory them yet at the same time excuse them real punishment more readily than we do the ordinary person.

...yet at the same time excuse them real punishment...

As I commented elsewhere, I would like to see criminal charges. If the women involved do not wish to go through that further ordeal, I can understand the decision on a personal level, but that leaves the door open for yet another repetition of a long-standing problem.
I wasn't trying to say that no personalization should be done. Just that the pesonalization seemed to be leading to pooh-poohing it.

I'll personalize it in a different way, instead. Hey, Harlan Ellison grabbed her breast. There should be consequences. Certainly on a general SF con-level, and, if Ms. Willis wants, on a personal level.
Well, then, let us away with torch and hoe and bring down the tyrant! (Not.)

Expressing outrage and declaming censure is what we in the Cheap Seats can do about the issue. This is how our displeasure gets communicated to organisers of events like WorldCon, so that they can take measured and concrete steps to kerb this misbehaviour. Anything else is the pervue of those committees and those on the receiving end of the offensive conduct.

-- Steve's not a big fan of "calls to action" against individuals, as such calls tend to end in damage to innocent parties too.
People have been expressing outrage about Harlan Ellison for more than four decades, and he still ended up in a position to assault writers at award ceremonies, and it's not yet clear whether anything will be done to make this less possible in the future. Harlan Ellison makes a good bit of his living and reputation by outraging people. Using other words, that sentence reads, "Harlan Ellison is paid and rewarded for doing those things which cause people to express outrage. The more outrage they express, the more money and fame he gets." That equation could be broken, but it hasn't been yet.

I don't think it calls for torches and pitchforks. I think it calls for taking the goddamned microphone away from someone who's proven again and again that he can't be trusted with it.

The difference, in what we in the cheap seats can do, is between saying, "Harlan Ellison is nasty! We hate Harlan Ellison!" and saying, "Please do not invite Harlan Ellison to be any part of presentations at this function in the future. The knowledge that Harlan Ellison was going to be on stage would make me less likely to attend or publicize any event."

If you think that's unethical rabble-rousing which is likely to harm innocents, I have to say I disagree, but that's fine. I disagree with people about all kinds of things, and it hasn't hurt me or the people I disagree with yet.
I think you are correct.
The difference, in what we in the cheap seats can do, is between saying, "Harlan Ellison is nasty! We hate Harlan Ellison!" and saying, "Please do not invite Harlan Ellison to be any part of presentations at this function in the future. The knowledge that Harlan Ellison was going to be on stage would make me less likely to attend or publicize any event."

yup, that would be one way to handle it. i feel a bit torn about that sort of action even though i participate in it at times -- boycott is a double-edged, heavy-handed sword. i tend to reserve it for a point much further down in the "teach people to behave in a civilized manner" course. (also, FWIW, ellison has said this will have been his last con, so the action's effectiveness is in question.)

i would prefer to start with writing a letter of censure to harlan ellison, and have it signed by many of those who agree that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. or start a letter writing campaign, so people can express it more personally. i like my justice to be direct.

but either way would be better than merely exchanging anecdotes of other nasty ellison incidents, or bringing up how asimov did bad things in his career too as somebody in my LJ did. *rolls eyes*.
The difference, in what we in the cheap seats can do, is between saying, "Harlan Ellison is nasty! We hate Harlan Ellison!" and saying, "Please do not invite Harlan Ellison to be any part of presentations at this function in the future. The knowledge that Harlan Ellison was going to be on stage would make me less likely to attend or publicize any event."

That was the thought I was trying to express... and it's become obvious I did it very poorly. My statement was more of a reaction to some, er, more direct expressions of discontent. that these were in other blogs only adds to the disconnect. (I'm frankly at a loss now trying to remember why I posted that here .

-- Steve's fine with presentations to committees; less so to shipping deceased gophers to Ellison.