An Open Plea

I just got another absolutely sick hate-mail, and I’m done. I’m just damn done. So I’m writing this little ranty diatribe which I may or may not take down soon.

Re: The endless author-critic commentary debate raging. 

While I think that a lot of what is being during this endless discussion is important, and a reflection of how the Internet is changing publishing, fandom, and whatever else, there are some things that are happening that are really revolting me.

Here’s the deal: 

There’s no reason for people to be assholes. People agree and disagree all the time. It’s a fact of life. Disagreements, in my opinion, are important because they cause those involved to challenge their thoughts. It’s fine. How do you expect progress and change to take place if no one is willing to examine the way things are? Adults disagree all the time. It happens. In fact, I’m pretty sure I basically disagree with everyone alive on one thing or another. That’s just how I roll. I don’t take this stuff too seriously. I say what I need to say, and move on.

The simple truth is, this discussion is enlightening, and yes, my viewpoint has changed and evolved a bit since Sunday. There are some fantastic points being made by concerned parties. It’s also really interesting for me to see just how much publishing and fandom is changing, and the challenges that face us all, despite what side of whatever line we are on.

I wrote my Authors Welcome post, because that’s how I feel/felt. This whole issue, and watching it get hashed over day after day, truly is expanding my understanding of the concerns people feel in the genre community. This discussion started out from one thing, and has now graduated into something much bigger, and much more important, that effects everyone who loves SFF. The internet is changing the face of publishing, and allowing author-critic relationships to change. That’s an interesting topic, and a valid point to explore from all angles. And all of these angles are truly enlightening me, and broadening my perspective.

I’m getting sick of it, but at the same time, it’s fascinating.

Then, I started getting some truly disgusting email which I won’t go into detail with here. I’m not the only one. I know others have received disgusting comments, as well.

The point is, discussion stops being valid and useful when people start with the sexual and insulting comments. It’s ridiculous.  People disagree, doesn’t mean anyone deserves that kind of talk. Period. I might not see eye-to-eye with a lot of people, but I recognize the fact that they are people, they contribute to the genre I love so much, and their viewpoints are just as valid as mine, for all that we disagree.

No one needs to be talked to, looked down on, pushed aside, marginalized, brow beaten, or sent sexually explicit email that makes me want to take a shower with bleach. No one. Period. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how much you, or I disagree with (insert person/point here). No one deserves this crap over one issue that will be talked about for a few weeks and forgotten when the next uber-drama comes up.

This is an open plea to the genre community. 

I realize that there will always be disagreements in such a passionate community. I also realize that I will probably piss a few people off before I die. That’s okay. I’m sure you will piss a few people off, too. But please, for the love of (insert whatever here), keep it adult. Realize that disagreements aren’t actually insulting, they are challenging thoughts and preconceived notions and are a valuable tool to societies and people everywhere. They can be uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable doesn’t mean you get to lash out at someone. Disagreements are important and they are bound to happen frequently in such a dynamic, changing world. Just because someone disagrees, doesn’t mean that they are inherently an asshole, nor do they need to have their inbox flooded full of sick, vile, disgusting email.

Basically, what I’m saying is:

Can we please all grow up and act like adults now? 

Let me make this clear. You don’t have to like me. You don’t have to like anyone. I’m not asking for you to like people, or think everyone is amazing. I’m asking you to realize that people, no matter their viewpoints, are just people, and we all deserve respect. 

Hey, for what it’s worth, if I’m a reason anyone has been hated at, then I truly apologize. Here I was thinking we were just expressing ideas, challenging thoughts, and exploring a changing world. I guess all we were doing was having an important discussion so people could find reasons to send other people disgusting hate mail.

Silly me.

12 Responses

  • There is no place for hate mail. NONE.

    I feel sick that you are on the receiving end of this. I almost feel like you should out the person, but the more rational part of me thinks the hate mail should be sent into a black hole.

  • Well said.

  • John

    Some people are just trolls. Often they aren’t even hateful, they just want to get a response. There’s nothing you can do about people choosing to act poorly, you just have to not let it get to you and focus on the positive as much as you can.

  • I’m so sorry to hear this Sarah. You are worth several thousand times more than the hateful trolls.

  • Jeffrey Petersen

    Some people are fundamentally broken in their ability to relate to people, and they only derive enjoyment from being hateful and disgusting. You’re right to call them out for it. Maybe if they see that the response they get is disgust, they’ll look for another way to interact.

    To the hateful trolls, you aren’t showing strength or intelligence, you just make people pity you. Behave.

  • I’ll take your deal. And on behalf of all men who generally at least try not to behave like a dick, I’m sorry for the emotional adolescents who don’t.

  • Ugh, that is terrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you. 🙁

  • I know some give advice along the lines of: develop a thick skin, don’t feed the troll, there are a lot of nasty folks just looking for a reaction….etc etc, but cruel, violent insults are such ugly things. In real life, it’s easier, transient, something you can walk away from, or perhaps take a big stick to. On the net there is anonymity. Cowards love that, I suppose, but you must ‘consider the source’ – defined here as some berk nasty enough to try and be hurtful or frightening. Who cares about the opinion of someone who would write like that? I remember from when I was a teacher, the worst insults and (extraordinarily rare) assaults were not to the strapping great PE masters, but most often to female members of staff. Some idiot kids are just cowards and trolling is perfect for them. I should add that despite this negative post, 99% of the people I taught were great; I suspect 99% of people are everywhere. So try not to sweat the 1% – they have iphones too.

    Onwards and upwards,

    Conn Iggulden

  • Honest truth: I still don’t get any of this. When people openly ripped the Hugo Awards a new one, I expected a little trolling and vitriol. When women openly discussed sexism in the field, I expected the same (sadly). But I cannot fathom why Renay’s original post or anything I’ve seen thus far, barring a handful of really douchey tweets (or ones that could be construed as such), could have raised the hackles so high as to lead us to sexual threats against female bloggers (or fans). The cognitive dissonance involved hurts, and reveals, to some disgusting level, how naive I have been to think there is any topic a woman could talk about that wouldn’t naturally lead to (mostly) men acting like sad excuses for human beings.

    I’m still flabbergasted, even though I probably shouldn’t be. Someone must have switched out the allergy meds for temporary-reversion-to-12-year-old pills.

    All this is a way of saying: I’m sorry you have to go through this, and I am on your side here. This isn’t just bad behavior. It’s reprehensible, disgusting, dehumanizing, and downright wrong behavior. *shakes fist*

  • PLEASE do not take this post down! Add updates, do more posts, but please do not delete posts as you go.

    everyone else has said all the smart stuff, there’s not much for me to add.

    The trolls are just that: small, petty, cowardly human beings who lie to themselves every single day. Is being civil really that difficult for them? Are they such cowards that they have to send hate mail to someone they barely know? If they knew you in real life, would they say these things to your face? of course not!

    this all is just, i can’t even. Part of me wants you to out the coward-trolls.

    The internet was supposed to be place for intelligent discourse. Discourse becomes more interesting when people have differing opinions. it would be boring if everyone agreed on everything. But when people insist on being petty assholes, they are just shitting in the punch bowl.

  • Ashley

    I am truly sorry that you are going through this. Such a horrible experience for no reason. Some people just cannot open their minds and accept others viewpoints, thus acting in horrid manners. It is not acceptable for this to happen, to anyone for any reason.

    But you have to look on the bright side. You are shedding light on the topic, and creating discussion with those that are mature enough to respond in a thoughtful manner.
    “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” –Frank Zappa

  • People are with you, Sarah! You are a force for good… but that means the forces of darkness are now aligning against you. Trolls, orcs, golems, ogres and worse! Be strong! Just call and we will always be there.

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