Only a Link, But One That Matters

I’m putting this here just to make sure that anyone who checks my blog but not twitter or facebook can find it. If you want. It is a major piece of ugliness that has been going on within the SFF community for many years, and which Laura Mixon tracked down and gathered evidence on.  It may not matter to you, which is fine. But it matters to me, because this has an effect on a community that I’m part of, and also has an effect on what stories I get to read.  If you have a weak stomach for abuse, you might want to skip it.

Here is the link.  The discussion is happening there, so there’s probably not much point in saying anything here.  Still, feel free if you wish.



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20 thoughts on “Only a Link, But One That Matters”

  1. Thanks for posting this link… It brought back the memories of some of the “horror” of being a writer in a USENET group frequented by trolls circa the turn of this century… . One of my friends nearly stopped writing because of this kind of troll…

    It was hard to try to be supportive and at the same time avoid the troll… I turned it over in my head trying to grasp how to address the turmoil and self loathing I felt for feeling unable to stop the abuser…. I ended up writing a poem entitled ‘What Price Silence?’ which was later published in the alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo Anthology.

    The troll eventually disappeared [they saw the writing on the ether stream and migrated to facebook]… being the retro-tard that I am, I decided that if fb was good enough for them I didn’t need to use it.

  2. I’d never heard of any part of this problem prior to this post, then Ms. Mixon’s article, but having now read dozens of outlines and timelines, a zillion quotes and comments, and a blog set up to mock RH by posting retractions (“Replay, by Ken Grimwood: Gotta admit, I really don’t know what I was thinking about when I wrote my last review of this book… it’s really good! Damn, I suck!”), I find myself wondering, what’s next?

    I appreciate that in large part the posts etc. I’ve been reading have been written to show solidarity with the targets of this writer’s vitriol, but I’ve seen a number of variations of “We need to stop this in the future”, meaning, I assume, the wanton trashing of an author and/or personal attacks in reviews, and I can’t help but wonder how that could be done.

    If “this” means attacks on social media, I assume the hope would be that people reading the target’s page, tweet stream or whatever would chide the sniper and support the target, but what about book or story reviews? How could those be countered? If someone were to begin trying to turn publishers against a particular author, how could that be effectively handled without trying to force a publication to take sides? And above all, what would be a good way to convince a newly published or unpublished writer not to quit the field when targeted?

  3. What I mean by “stop this in the future” organized, systematic attempts to intimidate, bully, or shout people down. In my opinion, the most important aspect of Laura’s post is that, the more we understand what happened, the more we can be aware of it the next time, and, I hope, have fewer people unwittingly drawn into it.

  4. “What I mean by ‘stop this in the future’ organized, systematic attempts to intimidate, bully, or shout people down.”

    That was clear, but I’m wondering about the actual mechanics of such action. In other words, have you ideas of how it can be stopped?

    In many respects, when RH did was no different than all online ugliness – using a private web site or open forum/social medium to spew vitriol, and in those cases you can’t effectively confront people because they’ll just block your comments in the first case, and in the second, the signal to noise ratio almost guarantees there can be no rational discussion. But this harasser worked on one specific group of people, and that’s why I wonder if there are ways it can be handled within this group.

    For instance, do most published authors, or those who want to be published, belong to trade groups like the SFWA, Mystery Writers of America etc? Do you think it would be feasible for such groups to get together and establish a sort of intramural library of personal anecdotes (PrivateIron’s “collective memory”), “Reacting To/How To Deal With” articles, a section on helping people calm down after a bad review that was a legitimate criticism of the story vs. a personal attack on the writer etc.

    In other words, do you think it would be possible to create a central location for people to “understand what happened [and] be aware of it the next time”?

  5. L. Raymond: I don’t know if that would be possible, or desirable; I guess I’m not sufficiently tuned in to the possibilities of social media. I know that I’d both be pleased about such a thing, and also very leery of it.

  6. I just wanted to saw thanks for bringing this to my attention. As a reader of SF, but not someone who is immersed in it online, i had no idea that this kind of thing was going on. It upsets me that I may not get to read books by authors who were intimidated or didn’t get published/exposed because of acts like this.

    I think what surprises me the most is that this person(s) were able to get moderators to accept that they were the social activists! Hate speech is hate speech no matter who is saying it. Kind of like “no means no.”

    L Raymond: probably a good place to start would be to copy any of the “dealing with rape” literature. There’s not really any difference between physical rape and mental rape (of which this is a good example. Mental damage is usually more difficult to deal with.

    Reading Steven’s responses and your both made me think that. one of the slogans for getting people more in the know about rape and other forms of sexual harassment was “the more you know.”

  7. “There’s not really any difference between physical rape and mental rape”

    Run that by a woman who was raped at gun point, who had police point out she can’t be unraped, who’s been hauled into court and had to defend her clothing and dining habits, who’s has her entire social life critiqued by her hometown press and has to put up with people asking why, if she hadn’t wanted to have sex, did she speak to the man in the first place.

    Perhaps you meant there is no difference between the aftermath of online bullying and rape. Ignoring the fear of STDs, of cancer caused by HPV, knowing that so many states believe the rapist’s sperm has more of a right to control the victim’s body than she does, and the fact that for years after people will still be wondering what the rape victim did to invite it…well, even ignoring all that, I don’t see too much similarity between being cursed out online and living with the lifelong fear of walking alone because society understands boys will be boys and there’s no need to inconvenience a man with jail time, not for one little indiscretion.

    I reject your attempt to diminish rape victims by equating what happens to them to being bullied.

    In any case , my question was about the mechanics of how people who live by the written word might choose to moderate the written word. Like Mr. Brust, I wasn’t sure it’s even a good idea to try it, but I was curious what a member of the affected community thought.

  8. Argh, I’ve finally found time to read not only the post but the comments as well, and now Laura has closed commenting (not that I can blame her, moderating that amount likely took a lof of time). But the follow-up blog dedicated to POC and victims of RH would not be a proper place for me to post since I am neither.

    RH is only the tip of an iceberg, I’m afraid, and the posts about how she could get away with her behaviour for so long make that even more clear. For several years now there have been various -fails and other online discussions about inclusion of minorities. This is, of course, a good thing in many respects. But unfortunately, there is a vocal minority of a minority that has made it difficult for me, a straight white female and thus almost as privileged as a straitght white male, to finish the Fantasy epic I have been working on for a decade. If I don’t include POCs/characters of different sexual orientation/whatever else, I will be a racist jerk. If I include them and get them wrong in the eyes of what likely is just a subgroup of a minority, I will be a racist jerk (jerkess?). Both variants may cause a -fail shitstorm. I actually do have non-straight characters in my story, but no POC ones, and I would prefer not to force myself to inculde something I don’t feel the story needs, but that will probably make me a racist indeed. In short, all that second guessing has taken the joy out of it.

    It is not RH’s fault, it is the fault of a community that allowed someone like her to thrive and that gives me the impression that I, a straight white female with no POC characters in my novel, will not be welcome; nor will my book(s).

    Sorry for hijacking your blog and commenting anonymously, but this has been seething in my while reading the comments on Laura’s blog, and I just wanted it out somewhere. Since you commented there, I hope it won’t be too misguided a step.

  9. Thanks for letting it out. My suggestion is to write the book you wish someone else had written because you want to read it, and anyone’s else’s agenda can get stuffed.

    If you simply wanted to vent–as is your right–and didn’t want advice, then I apologize for my presumption.

  10. Thank you. I suppose you’re right that anyone else’s agenda can get stuffed and that I should ignore all the online -fails and write what I’d like to write. But several years of bullying at school has made me sensitive for this sort of attacks. Too sensitive, maybe. It was not so much the bullies that hurt (there will always be some jerks) but those who stood by and didn’t do anything, including most teachers.

    Thank you for your encouragement. And now I’ll go and write enough words to get my green bar for the day on the Nano boards. :-)

  11. Nah, don’t write you’d like to write. What you’d like to read. :-) And, yeah, I know, bullies suck, and people who permit bullying suck. I wish you all the best. I hope to see you on the stands.

  12. What I like to write is also what I’d like to read. Epic historical fiction / Fantasy with battles and intrigues, and some heroism. :)

    Fortunately, I have some ideas for historical fiction as well, and I’m tackling these right now. The UK hist fic crowd so far had no -gates and -fails, and the few trolls on the forums are the traditional variant an admin can deal with easily. If I manage to get my books out on the shelves there, maybe I’ll find the courage to return to the Fantasy monster lurking in my files some day.

  13. L. Raymond: I apologize for not being clear. In no way did I mean to diminish rape victims. What I meant was that rape victims are also raped mentally and much of the help for rape victims is focused on the mental aftermath. Many rape victims never receive physical care in the first place for a variety of reasons, the first being the mental rape that occurred at the same time which keeps them from getting the help they need.

    My humble apologies for writing such a confused pile of garbage.

    Much of the literature for helping rape victims could also be applied to those who have been bullied. You asked what could be done to stop this from happening in the future. Apply the same ideas and techniques which have been applied to rape/sexual harassment and you might be on the right path.

  14. “What I meant was that rape victims are also raped mentally and much of the help for rape victims is focused on the mental aftermath. Many rape victims never receive physical care in the first place for a variety of reasons, the first being the mental rape that occurred at the same time which keeps them from getting the help they need.”

    This is true. Of course, being right will not necessarily get you anything you care to have.

    Women who are raped without time to adapt can suffer various vaginal injuries that heal in days to weeks. And they may get incurable diseases, just as they could from consensual sex with strangers etc. They may get pregnant; abortion can give further damage that can last a month or more. Apart from incurable diseases and pregnancy they choose not to abort, the physical injuries are likely to be healed within a couple of months apart from possible injuries due to related violence — broken bones, spinal stuff, concussion and brain damage, etc.

    But the mental effects last as long as they last, sometimes for a lifetime.

    “Much of the literature for helping rape victims could also be applied to those who have been bullied.”

    Yes, it’s a similar problem. Mentally, rape is a kind of bullying. Whatever methods actually help rape victims regain functionality would likely work for other bullying — and likely work better when the problems are not as severe.

    Rape is very much an unsolved problem today, and so people have a lot of intense emotions about it. Mention the wrong combination of keywords and they stop thinking and just emote. So it’s hard and risky to talk about. You used a poor choice of words, but there’s no guarantee at all that if you had been much more careful in your wording that you would not have gotten about the same response.

  15. Steven & fans, the link no longer works. 4 several days now.

    I posted comment on this SFF RH situation on David Wilcock’s Divine Cosmos site bc thematically it is like hierarchical control systems discussed & fought by fans there. In these several troll efforts, there is thematic unity of sociopathic, deconstructive control of divergent thought.

    Please note that several SFF sites were PRUNED & SHAPED over several yrs by RH troll’s efforts. Freedom of ideas? Only 4 troll.

    & yes, where were mods during all those yrs of persecution by troll? Why mods’ consent? What’s. Wrong. W/. This. Picture?!

    & again tonight I noticed “NikiWonoto” “of Indonesia” (I take leave 2 doubt either) posting, again, on Cobra’s 2012portal site. Always disparaging, always discord. (But much less traction w/ Cobra fans.) SAME TROLL /group?

    Seth & J Thomas, good ideas 4 solutions.

    Steven, I love ur work. Write 4ever! Be well all!

  16. Laura Mixon now has a PDF of the post on her site, for those for whom the link to the original post is not working.

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