On Saturday, I was in Austin volunteering at the Texas Teen Book Festival. There were thousands of teens and adults who were happy to spend the day celebrating books, the writing process, and the creation of a good story. It’s something that I’ve been involved with for four years, now, and it always renews my faith in humanity. To see so many young people going nuts for their favorite author gives me hope that the written word still has power.
Then, as we were standing around talking at the end of the day, someone told me about the article that Kathleen Hale wrote for The Guardian. This proved, I suppose, my theory that words do indeed still have power. Sometimes, they have too much power over people.
I was finally able to read the article this morning and my first thought was that this author is clearly suffering and perhaps doesn’t have a clear voice of reason in her life. (She seemed to have people who both encouraged and discouraged her behavior). Her process and obsession seemed to go beyond just being upset about a bad review. She seemed to so desperately need a reason for this poor opinion. Validate me. Reassure me.
More disturbing, though, was the relative ease with which she tracked this person down. Where did the breakdown occur that allowed Ms. Hale to acquire that initial personal information that gave her the ability to run a background check in the first place?
Why would a book club so freely give out an address instead of referring the author directly to the person with whom they would be interacting?
Why would a publishing contact breach that unspoken professional trust by even confirming that books were sent to a blogger? (Kathleen Hale has repeatedly stated that this information was not given to her by Harper Teen, but that begs the question of who did give her the info and how they acquired it?)
I think what is really disturbing here is the realization that as large as the community is, in the YA book blogging world, we operate largely based on trust. When I send out a request to a publisher for a book, I include my mailing address. This is something that bloggers are encouraged to do because it makes getting the book that much easier. I have never, nor do I now, feel uncomfortable doing this. I trust the publishers because they are professionals and I have never had any reason to change my opinion about this. However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that this whole affair gave me pause. I know many bloggers who go to the expense of renting a PO Box for blogging related mail and I am now seeing the wisdom in this.
It should go without saying that if you can’t bear to read bad reviews of your book, stay the hell off of Goodreads. Don’t even create a profile. It’s not worth your mental health and it isn’t worth the drama. No, really, it’s not. Without fail, every time an author has been “targeted” or “bullied” it has been because of engagement with the people who are giving their opinions. Is seeing a harsh review hurtful? Of course it is! Is engaging with the author of a negative review worth the trouble?
NO. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. No.
I bristled a bit at the generalizations made about bloggers. I do not go to the ridiculous “GR Bullies” website, nor do I have any respect for reviewers that make ridiculous categories on Goodreads like “books that suck”, “fuck this book" or "Authors who are jerks”. (Yes, they have a right to make those categories, but I also have a right to think that it’s a dick move). Believe it or not, most of the bloggers that I know *gasp* think for themselves and don’t let the opinion of one reviewer, or even hundreds of reviewers, sway their opinion. We’re not all clamoring for a spot on the bandwagon.
My book blog means a lot to me. I’d like to think that I write thoughtful and honest reviews, but I don’t always like the books I read and I admit that I have been more and more cautious about posting negative reviews, lately. My fear is that things like this will discourage bloggers from giving honest opinions. I have a family. I have a career. I try to keep these things separate from my blogging. I don’t use my photo or last name on my blog or on Twitter, but I’m not exactly hiding, either.
I have met many, many authors and 99.9% of them have been gracious and lovely. I want to remind myself, and everyone else, that this whole incident is the exception, rather than the rule. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take precautions when you have an online presence, but I would like to hope that things like this give us an opportunity, as a community, to reflect on the nature of online interactions and how we allow the things people say, whether anonymous or not, to bleed into our opinions of ourselves.
It’s also good to remember that on both sides of this whole process, the books, the reviews, the tweets - we are people. We are more than our blogs and authors are more than their books. It’s true.
As I walked to my car after a long day at the book festival, I passed two teens having a conversation and I heard this:
OHMYGOD, this was the best day ever!!!! My mom is going to kill me for buying so many books, but I don’t even care.
Faith in humanity = restored.
Between StopGamerGate2014 and this shitstorm I was introduced to today via Jenny Trout (the Hale incident) there is a whole lot of BULLSHIT flying around the internet recently and it’s the really fucking troubling kind. Why do I feel like Hale is going to be used in a ‘women are unhinged too’ sort of argument to somehow devalue the threats against Anita Sarkeesian? Furthermore… why are people taking such great care TO DEFINE REALLY FUCKING HARMFUL BEHAVIOR AS HARMLESS. STALKING IS NOT HARMLESS “TROLLING” and CATFISHING IS NOT THE ACT OF USING A PSEUDONYM OR SCREEN NAME TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY.
What the actual fuck is wrong with people that you think you can equate toxic behavior with harmless behavior? This is how people fucking get killed and nobody blinks a goddamn eye or then tries to blame the victim for the actions of others that they should have been protected from in the first place.
It’s absolutely disgusting that people are trying to defend monstrous behavior with “it’s just a joke” or “don’t feed the trolls” when that’s not even what the situation is at all. If you are defending people like Hale or the people who are threatening Anita Sarkeesian you need to look at your life and look at your choices and realize you are a sack of shit. Period. Threatening people is not okay at the very least it makes you a bully and is criminal. Hiding yourself from said shit is also not criminal. All of these fucking rape apologists and victim blamers are telling us to take better precautions and then we hide our name or turn off our Youtube comments and suddenly we’re not accessible enough and then it’s our own fault for getting threatened. Take your cyclical logic and shove it up your ass. I am tired of this bullshit circus.
Edit: Also this storify link found withing the body of Jenny Trout’s blog post defines catfishing right away for anyone who might be unclear on what catfishing actually is.
If you haven’t heard of the craziness that is Kathleen Hale, then prepare to be schooled. I need to rant about her exploits in craziness. There are some people who are just so messed up that it baffles me how they even function. Kathleen Hale is one of these people. Maybe her success in getting published or in staying out of prison is that people feel sorry for her. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t look like she could be all that threatening, but looks can be deceiving. After all, I bet that bunny didn’t think Glenn Close looked all that threatening.
Kathleen Hale is a writer.1 Her debut novel came out earlier this year. According to her, there were people who loved it and there were people who hated it. According to her own
confession article, she seems to understand why people might be a little turned off by the book, at first. But then she fixates on one negative review in particular.2 Most people3 tell her not to engage with that reviewer, but she chooses not to pay attention to the warning. Instead, she does background checks, travels to the reviewer’s house (multiple times), harasses the reviewer on the phone (multiple times), checks out the reviewer’s personal social media accounts, and then writes a “pity me” story for The Guardian about how this reviewer wasn’t completely honest online. The story outs the reviewer and gives away some pretty personal information about the reviewer.
Most people aren’t completely forthright on the internet. At least, not in public spaces. There are little things that they might decide to fudge. If a person wants to review books under a pseudonym, let them. Chances are they do that because they feel safer doing things that way. Do you know what might make them feel less safe? An author coming to their house because they made a bad review. That’s
sort of totally fucked up.
And it isn’t the first time that this particular author has done this sort of thing. In 2013, Hale wrote about a childhood acquaintance who made false accusations about Hale’s mother molesting her.4 Her solution, as an adolescent, to finding out that her mom had had charges filed against her was to throw peroxide on the accuser.5 She got arrested, but was released. After this, she monitored the girl’s AIM buddy list. When she finally saw the girl sign-on, she sent her multiple messages. Police showed up at her house and she was shocked. And she tried to grab the spotlight while explaining her harassment of the girl.6
She wanted the pity again, which is really all she deserves.
Well, that and jail-time.
Somehow, she has people supporting her in her bad decisions. There are people on Twitter who have called anyone who points out that she’s a stalker a psychopath or a sociopath. Except that they’re missing that those of us who point this out are empathizing with a person who’s been stalked, doxxed, and humiliated by a writer over a bad review. Yeah, that requires a real lack of compassion. I was unaware that feeling sorry for the victim of a crime was a socially unacceptable thing to do.
I hope that Hale gets the help that she obviously needs. If she doesn’t, then I hope she joins some Luddite organization that makes it harder to stalk people she doesn’t like. And I hope that people will seriously consider putting Hale on their personal author/book blacklists because having an opinion on her books could be risky.
For more on this whole situation, I’d recommend checking out the post about it on Dear Author.
Considering how many blacklists she’s been placed on, maybe I should say that she was a writer. A successful career in fiction may be a pipe dream now. ↩
She also harassed a person who wrote a 3-star review. ↩
Her mom is not one of them. She actually encourages her to continue finding more out about this girl. ↩
“Her” meaning the acquaintance, not the writer. ↩
An action her mother thanked her for. ↩
Her step-mom: You know that girl has bigger problems than you do.
Police officer: You think after everything else the girl needs this?
Hale: Those charges were dropped. We sued them back for defamation of character but we lost a lot of money and now there’s nothing we can do. Just because Lori is messed up doesn’t mean I’m not.
Police officer: Aren’t you the one who attacked her with some kind of chemical? I wouldn’t go around pointing fingers if I were you — you’re the lucky one. ↩
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I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
My right foot has been hurting for a while now. I didn’t want to get it checked because that might lead to having to stay off of it. And that could result in a choice to stop exercising in general. That would lead to worse health issues. And so on.
Yesterday, at Nana’s church, I began to notice that my foot wasn’t just hurting, it was also swollen. My left foot had no swelling, so I had a feeling this was related to the pain. When we got home, I noticed that the swelling was over the painful spots. I decided then that an almost 2 mile walk might do more harm than good.
Actually, the way I was increasing my distance123 may have caused this injury. I may have been doing too much too fast. I went from no walking a few weeks ago to almost two miles. That’s a lot of mileage in a little time period. So maybe I should slow my distance increases.
Anyway, I have an appointment for tomorrow morning to find out what is going on with my foot.
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An author confronts her troll.The Guardian | Oct 2014|I might be a total fucking psycho, but I’m with Kathleen Hale on this one. To falsely accuse someone who has had to deal with sexual assault in the…
But stalking is ok?