Some good stuff…

Some good stuff elsewhere on the web: Why Chick Lit is Bad For America

What Ben Told Harlan Ellison

I admit, I feel a small sympathy for Harlan in his initial fumble; it's easy to see how a man of a certain time and place and character might thoughtlessly act thusly, and I don't judge him quite the same way I would if, say, Jed did that to Susan at the Hugos. (It is to laugh at the very thought, and perhaps that's a reassuring measure of how far we've come.)

But at the same time that I sympathize with Harlan's action, with the way he was conditioned to such actions, I also think that all of us, however subject to our own cultural conditioning we may be, should be able to rise above that conditioning. We must be able to admit, in the cold light of the next morning, that our pre-programmed sexist/racist/etc. behavior is a relic of an earlier, brutal, age. If we are not to be condemned as brutish relics ourselves, we must repudiate that monkey behavior.

We must uphold the standards of civilization, even if we sometimes (inevitably, all of us) fail at enacting them.

Harlan's offense was neither the first, nor the worst. But it was symptomatic of an ongoing difficulty in the field -- one that has had women confiding in me on the point of tears -- and Harlan's offense was very public. So he draws the fire for a larger category of problem.

2 thoughts on “Some good stuff…”

  1. Well, he’s posted further on his own forum about this. What. A. Jerk.

    > HARLAN ELLISON
    > – Thursday, August 31 2006 21:21:38
    >
    > …AND MARK:
    >
    > Would you be slightly less self-righteous and chiding if I told you there was
    >
    > NO grab…
    >
    > there was
    >
    > NO grope…
    >
    > there was
    >
    > NO fondle…
    >
    > there was the slightest touch. A shtick, a gag between friends, absolutely NO sexual content.
    >
    > Would you, and the ten thousand maggots who have blown this up into a cause celebre, be even the least bit abashed to know that I apologized WAY BEYOND what the “crime” required, on the off chance that I HAD offended? Let me ask you, Mark:
    >
    > 1) Were you there?
    > 2) Did you see it?
    > 3) Are you standing on your soapbox to chide me via 3rd/4th-hand reportage by OTHERS who weren’t there?
    > 4) Do you also buy the infinite number of other internet brouhahas that turned out to be misreported?
    >
    > Here it is, Mark; and for any others who fit the shoe:
    >
    > In the words of that great American philosopher, Tony Isabella,
    > “Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.”
    >
    > Does not anyone READ WHAT I WROTE within fifteen minutes of learning of this? Does not anyone wonder why, if it was such a piggish thing I did, as one of those jerkwad blogs calls it, Connie Willis hasn’t, after twenty-five years of “friendship,” not returned my call on Monday … or responded to the Fedex packet of my posting here on Monday, which Fedex advises me she received at 2:20 pm on Tuesday?
    >
    > Can the voluble and charismatic Connie not even pick up a phone to tell the man whose work she “admires deeply” that he has gone a bridge too far? Is she so wracked by the Awfulness of it that she is incapable of saying to his face, you went too far? No one EVER asked her to “bell the cat.” She decided that was her role toward me, long ago. And I’ve put up with it for years.
    >
    > How about it, Mark: after playing straight man to Connie’s very frequently demeaning public jackanapery toward me — including treating me with considerable disrespect at the Grand Master Awards Weekend, where she put a chair down in front of her lectern as Master of Ceremonies, and made me sit there like a naughty child throughout her long “roast” of my life and career — for more than 25 years, without once complaining, whaddays think, Mark, am I even a leetle bit entitled to think that Connie likes to play, and geez ain’t it sad that as long as SHE sets the rules for play, and I’m the village idiot, she’s cool … but gawd forbid I change the rules and play MY way for a change … whaddaya think, Mark, my friend, am I within the parameters of brutish pigginess to suggest if she WAS offended, then I apologize … even if you and a garbage-scowload of asinine pathetic internet wanks get up on their “affront” and tell me how to behave?
    >
    > I’ve sat here for four days, quietly, having done as much forelock-tugging and kneeling as I feel — as I — I — not you — not fan pinheads in far places who jumped and bayed and went after me in a second — but I –who is responsible for my behavior — as I feel is proper. And for four days I’ve waited for Deeply Outraged and Debased Connie Willis — an avowed friend and admirer of my work for more than a quarter century –to get up off her political correctness and take her pal off the gibbet.
    >
    > I spent more hours traveling this benighted country, for eight years, state after state after state, lecturing in defense of women’s rights and passage of the ERA than any of you have spent mouthing your sophomoric remonstrances.
    >
    > As the Great American Philosopher Tony Isabella has said, “Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.”
    >
    > My last word on this clusterfuck. If Willis wants in, she knows where you all are. She knows where I am.All the rest is silence.
    >
    > Harlan Ellison
    >
    > P.S. Including Mark’s post that precedes this one, I URGE YOU all to post this everywhichwhere, and let the poison drip where it will. Gloves come off now, onlookers.

  2. What’s sad about that response is that Harlan focuses on the fact that Connie’s behaved badly towards him in the past (in his opinion), and doesn’t seem to understand that the problem isn’t simply that he behaved badly toward her in response — that response would be entirely understandable, and essentially a private matter between the two of them, though of course, the watching public might have its opinions about the tackiness of it all.

    But he completely misses the fact that the problem people are complaining about is in the specific nature of this one sexist piece of behavior. And I think that’s tragic, in a way — that someone who probably has been, in his own way, an ardent feminist and advocate for women’s rights can’t see and acknowledge this blind spot in his behavior. Harlan’s allowing his personal response to Connie, his perhaps justifiably and certainly understandably hurt feelings, etc., to cloud the matter.

    V. understandable. V. human. V. sad. 🙁

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