On Allegations and Ed McDonald

Dear Reader,

I am having a really hard time writing this, mostly because I just have so many thoughts. So many. Just piles and piles of thoughts.

Let me start by saying this. This SFF community is really that — a community, despite the fact that we are spread out across the globe. We pull together. We boost each other up. Sometimes we tear each other down.

With the rise of #METOO, we are now seeing victims come forward and tell their stories. It is a social change, wherein people who have long been voiceless are now given a voice. It is too late in coming, but it is here now and it is so important to foster this movement. To give victims safe spaces to speak, to listen, to give the gift of safety, and of being believed. It’s also important to investigate, find the facts, and allow justice to take it’s course.

I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to all the people in the community who make an effort to be just that — safe spaces for people to turn to when they need someone to turn to.

This week has been a test for the community. A time for us to band together, and a trial for us to see ourselves through. It has been a search for answers to a riddle that didn’t quite make sense.

I want to say thank you to the people in the community who put themselves out there to be safe spaces, and people who continue to do so, people who are protectors and defenders. You are needed. You are valued. I also want to thank the concerned members of the community who investigated this specific issue and gave the facts to all of us swept up in this, and concerned by it.

This is not a small matter. The internet is huge and wonderful, but it is also dangerous. Not everything is what it seems to be. We often forget that there are real people on the other side of that screen, with real lives, and real families and real friends. We forget that we aren’t talking to paper cutouts, but flesh and blood humans who have passions and who strive, just like you and I.

The internet is a place where people can be built up, and then destroyed in an instant. We must be careful. We must be vigilant. Sometimes the line between “the problem” and “the solution” is blurry, gray, and hard to discern. This was, in many ways, a case of that — blurred lines. People taking advantage. Too many voices and so much chaos.

This week has been a wakeup call, of sorts, at least to me. Things are not what they seem. It is important to get the story, investigate and validate the facts. It is important to allow time for proper action to be taken. Sometimes on the internet, we forget that it is “innocent until proven guilty” and not “guilty until proven innocent.”

I, along with other science fiction and fantasy blogs, have been presented by the facts of what happened involving Ed McDonald. We have seen hard evidence, and have combed through it. We have asked questions, and we have received answers.

—————————————————-

I myself have now seen irrefutable evidence that the allegations against Ed McDonald have been falsified. 

I am now aware that Ed McDonald has been targeted for online harassment and abuse, and there is also irrefutable evidence of this. The evidence proves beyond all doubt that one or two individuals have utilized multiple social accounts with the express purpose of spreading malicious rhetoric against Ed McDonald, and making it appear that ‘reports’ are coming from numerous sources, where in fact they all come from a single source. This source has never met Ed McDonald.

It is now very clear that Ed McDonald has been exposed to a long and malicious campaign by someone who has abused the trust and confidence of people, over and over.

— In light of this, it is asked that members of the Fantasy community:

*Do not name the individuals behind the allegations – even if you suspect who they are. The individuals do not deserve any further attention. Their names have not been mentioned here on purpose.

*Do not pursue the individual(s) behind the allegations. Do not cause them any distress. Doing so may impact pending legal action.

*Welcome Ed McDonald as a member of the community. Any further harassment will not be tolerated.

— To prevent gossip, the following overview has been provided to summarise these events:

*A number of social media accounts across multiple platforms have been linked to either one, or at most two, individuals behind the allegations.

*These accounts use different personas (including names, real world locations and background information).

*These accounts have pretended to be different individuals to spread falsified allegations in open and closed groups, and in private chats.

*These accounts have made comments in support of posts made by each other, as well as shares and likes.

*At least one account is in a position of authority in a public internet forum. This authority was abused throughout this case, and ultimately Ed McDonald was banned from the forum after he tried to defend himself against the allegations.

Every person who has suffered abuse has the right to tell their story, to believed, cared for, and their allegations investigated. When demonstrably false reports are made it undermines the victims of true abuse, it tarnishes them, corrodes our belief in the due process of law. It must not. It cannot be allowed to. We must stand with those who have suffered and support them through it all.

As readers, and writers, we love our stories – our fictional stories of good and evil, right and wrong, heroes and dragons. This is not one of those stories, there is little to love here, but the truth has prevailed. I have seen it.

I stand with Ed McDonald.

Sincerely,

Sarah Chorn