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bear by san

February 2017



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bear by san

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.


There is, after all, a big difference between an inappropriate grope motivated by misguided tomfoolery and an inappropriate grope motivated by a genuine disrespect for the woman.

i agree, and i concur that he sees this as the former, and there seems to be some evidence that he and connie have the sort of relationship where he'd lead himself to believe this sort of thing was among the foolin' repertoire.

and i am also not calling that an excuse. i call it an explanation. i call it an explanation because he says he's willing to apologize for what he did to connie; this bit is just to tell the rest of us that he wasn't actually disrespecting connie. the explanation makes sense to me. it's certainly not the first time that i've seen jackanapery go wrong because one party thought it provided more leeway than the other(s). or because somebody just didn't THINK too hard, because hey, they were comfortable with each other. or because something that's ok in private is mistakenly carried over into the public sphere.

so i don't think this is an apology at all, and treating it as such will lead to many of the conclusions people here have come up with already. i believe that he thinks he owes one person an apology, if she is offended, and that one person is connie. the rest of us he owes a statement that what he did was wrong. he made that statement, he made a phone call to connie to see how she took it all; as far as he is concerned he's doing the right thing. and i think that for many occasions, this would be the right thing. if A wrongs B, A owes B an apology, not necessarily the rest of B's friends.

unfortunately he's having a huge disconnect here. because if you do things in public that make your audience feel that you've dissed or even attacked one of their own, you've thrown them into a tizzy as to whether they should have intervened, should have made it clear that community expectations do not allow for such behaviour. and if you didn't actually mean to do that, then you have failed as an decent person in that moment. the best thing to make up for that quickly is an apology. and the best way to do that is to not explain, but to just say sorry without reservations. (me, i like explanations with my apologies, i like to know what motivated the idiocy, so we can, you know, avoid going down that path again. but lots of people conflate that with excuses and won't have it, not at the same time.) oh, and you can't joke around while apologizing either.

i don't think he groks that aspect of it at all. and it'll all fall down on that. which is sort of unfortunate because i perceive him as wanting to do the right thing here, within his own code of ethics, and that's actually good to see.
I think you are right.
so i don't think this is an apology at all,

I guess this is the only point on which I'd disagree with you. I think an apology to the public is implicit in his public admission of wrongdoing. But I do agree he botched it.