I feel a sickness in the pit of my stomach as I tap away at the keys. Before you throw me on a Goodreads blacklist, boycott my as yet unpublished book, or unfollow my blog, please read through this post. And keep an open mind. Something I’m afraid very few people have been doing on the internet these days.
I DO NOT SUPPORT THE ACTIONS OF KATHERINE HALE!
But neither do I support Cold Ware-era Red-scare blacklisting going on right now by book bloggers and Goodreads.
I’ll be honest, this is the second time I’ve written this post. And about the fifth time in my head. I had it scheduled to run on Wednesday, but wasn’t happy with it, so made some changes. After careful thought, I decided not to delve too far into this topic, mainly because it’s mostly been done. I have a few thoughts I’ll share and a few blog posts I’ll link to, but beyond that, I’m going to attempt to wash my hands (and my mind) of this whole affair.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you can catch up by reading this article. And check your Twitter and Tumblr feed, and Facebook and blogs everywhere. Because it’s being discussed on every media outlet I use.
For another take, check out this post on the Confessions of a Book Geek blog. The author has clearly done far more investigation into this issue than I (read the comments as well), but I also fear has a bit of a bias being a book blogger herself.
To understand Katherine Hale and what is obviously some kind of obsessive/compulsive disorder, take a look at her article in The Guardian from July.
I’ll be honest, I first read Katherine Hale’s catfish article like a car accident on the side of the road. You can’t look away, but you know it’s going to end badly. There was a part of me that was glad she called out this blogger, but at the same time, I felt it was completely unnecessary. She could have let it go and moved on, but had to create an issue out of it.
But while I believe Hale was wrong, I don’t think she deserves to be crucified for it. And neither do authors who have come to her defense. There is currently a Goodreads blacklist which I will not link to, that calls for a boycott of Hale and all authors who support her. To me, this is the pot calling the kettle black. Hale is vilified for attempting to unmask a blogger and essentially silence her negative criticizing voice, so in turn book bloggers are attempting to silence the voice of Hale and anyone who supports her. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We learned that in grammar school people.
I say, voice your opinion on your blog, Twitter, FB, whatever, if you feel so inclined. Don’t buy or read books by authors if you feel that strongly about it, but really, you’ll never agree with everything an author says or does. Why pick this? You might be against abortion, but are reading books by people who support it, but you don’t know. Banning, boycotting and shunning people because they voice a belief is trying to silence their voice. We don’t want to silence voices in this country. At least I don’t. I’d love to hear all opinions, critically internalize and process, then I go on with my life in the manner I see fit. If Hale committed a crime, then follow that line. If you feel she committed a crime, but legally did not, then try to get legislation changed. Voices are good. That’s how this country moves forward.
And as for what Hale should have done, well take a look at this article on Pub(lishing) Crawl for how to handle criticism.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this situation isn’t black and white. It’s so grey it looks like an Abnegation meeting. What we really need is for everyone to calm down instead of this internet fiasco of polarizing sides and people trying to strong-arm their opinion into the right. Really, everyone is right. Authors should have the right to defend their books, in a business-like and appropriate manner. Book reviewers have the right to their opinions, but they should put it forth in a business-like and appropriate manner. Book reviewers have the right to their privacy, and if they choose anonymity, so be it. But personally, I have never posted a review that I couldn’t and wouldn’t defend to someone’s face. Maybe that’s the key: write your review as if the writer is sitting across from you and reading every word, and they’re someone you know.
The internet has made us too callous to the feelings of others and the use of basic decorum in our conversations. Why is it, we as a society have become so polarized, so quick to judge, and so vehement in our stance of perceived right? Have we lost the ability to see both sides of an issue and grant each person their dues? Where are the moderates in all of this? And every other situation? I’m guessing, like me, they’re afraid to speak out, because the backlash can be too much to bear.
And one final side note. Hale asks if she’s being “catfished” in her article. Several people on Twitter have commented that she doesn’t know what catfishing is. To that I say, you’re wrong. Sort of.
Definition of “catfish” from Urban Dictionary:
A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.
Further investigation showed that the term “catfish” is used for any person creating a false internet persona. While this is usually used for romantic endeavors, it is not restricted to that.
Every person posting, tweeting or talking about this issue has their own agenda and bias (me included), and everyone’s thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt when forming your own. But one thing is abundantly clear: Don’t stalk a book reviewer. You will regret it!