writing rengeek magpie mind

July 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

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It's good he's crying mea culpa, but I still hate him.
I note the words "I apologize" or "I'm sorry" are conspicuously absent from his letter.
There is another:
Did I fail to mention, I am 100% guilty as charged, and NO ONE should attempt to cobble up mitigating excuses for my behavior? As with everything else I REALLY DO (as opposed to the bullshit that is gossiped third-hand by dolts), I am responsible for my actions 100% and am prepared to shoulder all consequences, instead of shunting them off to Vice-President ScaryGuy.

Adultly said, Yr. pal, Harlan
Although see here and here for valid points.
That's a very fucked-up apology.
I think the follow-up comments from him on it (mentioning Broadway) make it clear he's just doing this for show. His flippant "I yam who I yam" attitude sounds to me like he's asking for forgiveness in advance of future offenses.
Is it just me? This sounds like a lame excuse for an apology. "So. What now, folks? It's not as if I haven't been a politically incorrect creature in the past...."

Why not just say, without any fanfare: "I was wrong and I sincerely apologize." Keep it simple. Stop acting like this is all funny on some level. Stop the tooting about OMIGAWD LEFT BREAST!

Just my thoughts.
Boy, that really brings a tear to my eye. /sarcasm

Talk about the most wholeheartedly unfelt apology...
Your present userpic is fitting on so many levels it almost isn't funny.
Kurt is so useful.
Not sure how I feel about the apology yet - I think I'm glad he did. But at any rate, the post at Webderland that prompted it was perfect and classy, and I have written a fan letter telling Lynne Batik so (I don't know her but her address was right there on the post).

Most struck by...

"... that female foreign dignitary."

Re: Most struck by...

Yes, after all, she couldn't possibly be important enough to actually remember her name, or her office. I'm glad someone else noticed this.
On a more serious note, while I can give him the benefit of the doubt here on account of my only knowing of his existence through some much prior journals of yours, I can't help but feel he's relying too much on humor to defuse the situation.

I woulda just said, "I am extremely and sincerely sorry for what I have done. I do not intend to repeat it."
The first time I read this, I was conscious only of mild interest and mild cynicism at the words of your link*, "Gosh," when I got to the all-caps bit, and a sense of mild dissatisfaction at the end.

Rereading, I conclude that the idea that as a public apology this is, in fact, an illusion. He's more emphatic than expected, and heaven knows I like having that explicit an acknowledgement that what he did was wrong. That's great. But the paragraph that starts, "So. What now," when I consider it, seems to come down to, "Yep. It was wrong. I'm a guy who does wrong things. Whatcha gonna do?" And the conclusion is overt, complacent mockery.

I'm thinking about this. In the first counseling class I ever took, the prof told us to pay attentions to the reactions we had to clients, because those were probably the reactions they were accustomed to eliciting from people, and we could learn a lot about what their world was like that way, and also that, in some cases, it was probably the reaction they desired to elicit.

Now, I'm considering how the last several lines of that note would make me feel if they were addressed to me (and since it's essentially an open letter, in a way they are). They would make me feel flushed and embarassed and resentful and wrong-footed. They make me feel like a younger sibling trying to hit an older sibling while the older puts one hand on the younger's forehead to keep him or her at arm's length and laughs at them. They're condescending. They're humorous, but people have long considered a pie in the face humorous, too. Those lines make the writer seem impervious, and an assailant foolish.

And I think, if I feel like that, probably that's not dissimilar to what other people feel, and it's probably not far off from what I or other people are intended to feel.

I don't think this is an apology.


* Along with pleasure that you have a tag for "noted without comment" and disappointment that you've only used it once.
Yes. That was my reaction to the ending - he is mocking everyone who is upset by his "Puckish" behaviour. I think, he mis-spelled that, though.

I'm also a bit perturbed. Did Harlan Ellison really write that self-serving "apology"? Is this really a typical sample of his current writing style? I only ever read one collection of short stories he wrote - I still have nightmares from it, but ... I had thought from all the hoopla that he was something else.
delurking to say - oh, dear. I worked (briefly, I'm glad to say) with a man who considered the Annual Christmas Party as an excuse to touch the girls' boobs. He made that kind of 'apology', too. Oh, it was a joke, I was just kiddin', I can't see what the fuss was about but if you insist I'll say sorry, though it's only a bit of a giggle, really. Patronising git that he was. Ellison doing the same thing makes me despise a man who I read and admired a long time ago. I don't admire him now.

I expect better of an sf writer who's supposedly open to sociological and scientific changes in the future. Good grief - Doc Smith and Jules Verne were more gentlemanly than that, even if their attitudes to women were sexist and old-fashioned! Their heroes never groped.

lurking now, trying not to mutter furiously with steam coming out of my ears. That only gives one ulcers, after all.

Silly old bugger.
That's more of the same couched as an apology. Interestingly worded, I suppose.
He sounds like a classic case of the "I'm not really sorry I did it, I'm just sorry I got caught" attitude, actually.
Succinctly put - and I agree.
And thus Harlan is once again, Harlan.

This is not an excuse, but a statment of fact. This is a man who takes glee in having possibly caused a man he disliked to have a heart attack. No apology that ever came from his mouth could be taken seriously, because he doesn't believe that anything he does could possibly be wrong because he is HARLAN! and above such things.

IME, anyway.

"Puckishly yours?"

Hard to receive it in good faith when he signs it like that.

The reduxes don't help much, either.
I'm not sure I'd be quick to dismiss this as a "non-apology." I think he's indeed smart enough to know what he did was wrong. But I think as a writer with hubris, he can't refrain from asserting himself in some way in a written statement.

When I first read about what he did, I actually wondered if he'd have the guts to apologise at all. This is by no means perfect, but as flawed a character as he may be, I can't bring myself to hate him.
Of course he knows it was wrong. He's very clear about that.

What he's not clear about is whether he cares.
Yes, the "Maybe this is what killed vaudeville" and "Should I say, 'This is because I'm a Jew'" bits kind of ruin what apology he did make.
In just a minute, I'm going to stop posting ALL OVER matociquala 's journal on this subject.

But first--

You think he doesn't understand why? I'm reading this as, "I piss people Off. Cool."

Making people mad at you while keeping up a presentation of great good humor is an intense power-play. Among other things, it's a demonstration that you have an effect on them, while they have no power to affect him. And he can go on pushing those buttons as much as he likes. Seems to me he's as happy as a pi-- as a troll in flames.
In an "Aside from that, Mrs. Kennedy, what do you think of Dallas?" way, I take it that nobody was shrieking and yelling over the release of Greasing the Pan at WorldCon?
Ah, delightful. Nice to see that some things really don't change.

Oh, and I guess it's still true that any press is good press. ;-)
The more I read the comments here indicating what a paradox this guy is, the more he comes off as a basket case...
I posted this over on pnh's journal, but here's my feelings...again.

What a nasty way to turn it back on to the people who are expressing outrage. As if it was up to us to police his behaviour all the time. As if it was hypocritical to call him on it if our outrage-o-meter hadn't pinged until now.

The other weird thing about this apology: It follows a similar pattern to the other "explanation for his behaviour" that I've read on the internet. During the Penny Arcade kerfuffle he said he had no idea at the time that anything untoward had occured until he got home and logged onto zee interweb. (I'm willing to believe that both sides got out of hand in the PA skirmish. I heart Jerry and Mike, but they are pretty brash sometimes.) It's just the weirdness of not being able to tell that something had occured. It seems inconsistent that somebody who delighted in pushing buttons could be so unaware of when he'd pushed them.

It's not much of an apology, I'd say. But maybe I'm reading it wrong?
I dunno if this is the place for it, but at this point, with everything crawling over everything and biting like killer Brazillian ants, I feel I need to quote one of my most recent personal LJ posts:

[snip]

I just realized this is remarkably akin to the Don't Feed the Trolls phenomenon on the internet, or parasitically pesky people in real-life.

Assuming that this Ellison chap gets his kicks off of pissing off others (as opposed to just spiting individuals or being in truth a nice chap who continually has one long running bad day), wouldn't it make more sense for the blogosphere to shut the can about him and consequently deprive him of the reaction he thereby gets inspired to continue his antics by?

Probably the best option here---or one of them---would be for people to redirect their inquiries to the gropee, ask her what she wishes done about the situation, if anything (say, banning this Ellison fellow from all conventions for the rest of the millenium), and let those authorized and trained for this sort of situation handle the dirty work of dispensing out a civil suit or whatever the pants have you.

[/snip]
Dunno if this is the kind of thing you had in mind, but I just blogged a suggestion that we redirect the energy and attention away from Ellison and towards finding something positive we can do for female fans...
Another thing that bothers me about the "apology" is the sequence of events: Sure, I grabbed her breast, sure it was wrong, but I didn't realise it was wrong until three days later.
If him realizing it was wrong were the issue, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. Ergo, he either did not realize it was wrong or he did not care.
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