writing rengeek magpie mind

August 2014

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writing rengeek magpie mind

noted without comment

Harlan Ellison issues a public apology.

Would you believe that, having left the Hugo ceremonies immediately after my part in it, while it was still in progress ... and having left the hall entirely ... yet having been around later that night for Kieth Kato's traditional chili party ... and having taken off next morning for return home ... and not having the internet facility to open "journalfen" (or whatever it is), I was unaware of any problem proceeding from my intendedly-childlike grabbing of Connie Willis's left breast, as she was exhorting me to behave.

Nonetheless, despite my only becoming aware of this brouhaha right this moment (12 noon LA time, Tuesday the 29th), three days after the digital spasm that seems to be in uproar ...YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!

IT IS UNCONSCIONABLE FOR A MAN TO GRAB A WOMAN'S BREAST WITHOUT HER EXPLICIT PERMISSION. To do otherwise is to go 'way over the line in terms of invasion of someone's personal space. It is crude behavior at best, and actionable behavior at worst. When George W. Bush massaged the back of the neck of that female foreign dignitary, we were all justly appalled. For me to grab Connie's breast is in excusable, indefensible, gauche, and properly offensive to any observers or those who heard of it later.

I agree wholeheartedly.

I've called Connie. Haven't heard back from her yet. Maybe I never will.

So. What now, folks? It's not as if I haven't been a politically incorrect creature in the past. But apparently, Lynne, my 72 years of indefensible, gauche (yet for the most part classy), horrifying, jaw-dropping, sophomoric, sometimes imbecile behavior hasn't--till now--reached your level of outrage.

I'm glad, at last, to have transcended your expectations. I stand naked and defenseless before your absolutely correct chiding.

With genuine thanks for the post, and celestial affection, I remain, puckishly,

Yr. pal, Harlan

P.S. You have my permission to repost this reply anywhere you choose, on journalfen, at SFWA, on every blog in the universe, and even as graffiti on the Great Wall of China.

Comments

*sigh* Me, I wasn't there. All I know about it is what I heard online "Did you hear? Harlan grabbed Connie Willis' breast!" Um...yeah...and in front of hundreds of people (or so I assume). I can see this happening several ways, from the deliberately offensive, to the joke that went over like the proverbial lead zeppelin. And I think that if Connie Willis was offended by his behavior, and wants an apology, it is hers to ask for. And I am equally certain that if she was offended and tells him, that a sincere apology will be forthcoming (if it hasn't happened already). I don't think that the online lynch mob that wasn't even there deserves an apology. There are a lot of folks out there who "hate" Harlan Ellison...and most of them have never so much as been in the same room with him.

Harlan has offended a lot of people over the years, and I can understand why. Having spent some time with him behind the scenes at a book signing one day, I got to watch him metamorphosize into "ranting and raving Harlan Ellison". But behind the scenes? People don't believe me when I say that I thought he was sweet. And maybe because he was nice to me, I am biased. But what if the two lines online were "John Scalzi grabbed Connie Willis' breast. The audience was horrified." Or "Patrick Nielsen Hayden grabbed Connie Willis' breast." Would the wolves be howling for blood, or just saying "Dude, that was *so* out of line"?
If Scalzi had done something like that? Dude, he's mine and I love him.

But you shoot your own dog.

The fact of the matter is that Ellison assaulted at least two women at Worldcon. One is a friend of mine; one is a writer that I respect and have never had an unpleasant interaction with.

I am so within my rights to disapprove that it's not funny.
When I say "mine" above, I mean, of course, my friend. *g* It occurs to me that other people may not know my verbal shorthand.
Not trying to start any Scalzi rumours, just needed a name. I guess I'm just trying to figure out what should be considered an "assault". As I said, I was not there.

And it's probably a good thing Isaac Asimov is dead. He had a reputation for regularly feeling up women at conventions. I know one fellow that Asimov got by mistake in a crowded elevator.
*nod*

I don't think John would ever do something like that (for some odd reason, women (and men, and small children) tend to run up to John and hug *him*.) but if he did, I would pillory him.

And that's actually what this is. A good old-fashioned New England pillorying.
I don't think John would ever do something like that (for some odd reason, women (and men, and small children) tend to run up to John and hug *him*.) but if he did, I would pillory him.


Oh, things like his entry on "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai" in the Rough Guide to SF Films. I liked bits of his blog, I enjoyed "Old Man's War", but his "Buckaroo Banzai" comments made me consider proposing marriage. Of course, both of us are married with kids, so it was only a brief fantasy....

Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

I've seen tons of people in my lifetime act one way towards me and others, and act like kittens the next around other people. All I'd like to see for once from certain types of individuals is, at the very least, less arrogance and a little more humility. Not like I'm counting on anything. I'm not asking for his head, and perhaps I shouldn't let traumas from my childhood influence my judgement, but I'm simply not impressed by his "apology". And I'm well aware it really isn't my business whose friends are whose. It's just that this thing has brought up a lot of past issues for me.

Even though I don't agree with her on the pr0n issue, this post

does do some justice about my feelings about other people's defensive attitudes towards their friends-

http://caitriona-nnc.livejournal.com/142264.html

Again, not my business with who one chooses to associate with, I'm just not fond of people telling what others should do or think because their individual experiences were so positive.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

I'm just hoping that people who were not involved can back off and let people who were handle it. As I said, I have no idea what happened.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

There are some eyewitness reports in the comment threads here and at Patrick's place.

The thing is, all SFF prodom *is* involved. For us, this is about standards of behavior in our community, and whether we're going to permit a male writer who happens to be an honored elder of that community to get away with abusing other members of it--one of whom also happens to be an honored elder.

This has gone on in the past, and been swept under the rug. People will tell you who not to get on an elevator with, but you know what?

I shouldn't have to know that. And the young writers coming up after me are as entitled to a workplace free of sexual harrassment as any working woman or man in the world.

As far as I'm concerned, that's what this is about.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

Thank you.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

I am not an SF pro. I have no desire to write anything. I don't have enough time in my life, currently, to get involved heavily in fandom. But I read SF/fantasy, I watch some shows, one of the ways I identify myself is as a fan.

So no, I'm not gonna back off.

As part of the larger fandom, I think that this is an important discussion to have, particularly if we can continue focusing less on, "Yeah, Harlan sucks," and continue working on, well, a clear understanding of what we're trying to move towards here. (I should make it clear that while there's been some Ellison bashing, I think most of what's been said has been fairly straightforward and not vicious.)

To answer several earlier questions, I don't want Harlan's head on a platter. If someone I liked had done this (like, I dunno, Bear), I'd be requesting similar kinds of things.

I just want it known that this kind of stuff isn't welcome. And honestly, while Asimov was a nice guy and all, he shouldn't ought to have been doing that either.

Private encounters where people want to be consenting adults, fine. Private encounters where there isn't consent, not so fine. Public enounters where the lines are not clear, not fine.

I also, in a larger sense, want an atmosphere where women are fully welcome. /I/ usually feel fine. Other folks I know don't. I've worked (just by being myself) at making women more part of some aspects of fandom; I'll continue working on that. It's not that I think we're excluded. I just think some attitudes in some parts of fandom need to be worked with.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

<== I'm with her. In more ways than one.

SF fan. Therefore, one of the people involved.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

I have someone at work, I call him our resident dirty old man, who's helpful and friendly and rather inane, and someone who can get past his talking about the weather and nothing else might call him sweet. He's the person to call in certain kinds of crisis, and he's got me out of at least one potential disaster.

He's also backed a couple of the girls into corners and kissed them, or tried, on the mouth. He offers people candy, gives backrubs but only when asked or given a reason to think it's wanted -- the worst he's done to me is a pat or a grab to the shoulder, but I've been told by several sources that I ahve body language that tells people I won't put up with things.

Re: Oh, I'm not denying that people who do that kind of thing can't be sweet

Oops, hit the wrong key at the wrong moment and posted half a message.

My point is, nobody is all one thing. Harlan Ellison is sweet. He's also a pretty darn good writer. He's also a person who's made other people who didn't deserve it weep, or humiliated strangers for his own pleasure.

And now, he's also assaulted someone.

Which makes this no longer a question of whether he's a nice guy, or capable of beign one. It's got nothing to do with who he is, or what he's like. It's about a criminal act.