So, I had a wonderful time at OryCon, which was my first Con outside of my usual “circle of influence”, as it were. I mean, when I went to FenCon, it was my first time at that Con, but I knew plenty of people there. At OryCon, not so much, but that didn’t matter. I enjoyed myself on all my panels. If you saw me there, I hope you found me charming and eloquent, or at least moderately competent. I do have a tendency to keep talking to the point of blathering on.
Fortunately, I was not aware of any harassment or bullying at OryCon. Of course, my lack of awareness is hardly proof of it not happening, or not even being reported.
Bullying, on an online level, has been an issue of late, of course, as evidenced and compiled in this post by Laura J. Mixon. This is the sort of contentious thing I tend not to dip my toes into, in no small part to it not having affected me. Yet.
So here’s the thing, at least from my point of view*: negative reviews, especially and including ones pointing out problematic aspects with regard to gender, race, sexuality, etc., are a necessary and valuable thing. I know that personally I’ve made mistakes along those lines, and done my best to learn from those mistakes, and will in all likelihood continue to make more mistakes that I will hopefully learn from again. Hopefully, my awareness will improve.
But part of that means I need to be called on it. I honor and value that, and will strive to listen do my best not to be all, “but you see…” or otherwise act defensively. I’m certain that Thorn of Dentonhill has problems along those lines which I’ll need to do better on in future books. Let me make it perfectly clear that I welcome having that dialogue so that I can learn and improve.
HOWEVER, there is definitely a line between a harsh, even angry review of a work, and angry, hate-filled vitriol aimed at the artist themselves, and while some reviewers seem to think that line is fuzzy and easy to cross, it’s really quite clear. Attacking and bullying the person, even someone whose work is systemically problematic, is not acceptable. I don’t care who you are, what “side” of things you are on, whether you’ve faced actual or perceived marginalization for who you are or what your beliefs are: No. Do not do this. Shred the work all to hell, but treat the person behind it with something resembling decency.
It really is just that easy.
*- Which is, of course, Full Privilege Bingo of White, Straight, Presumed-Christian, College-Educated, Right-handed Male, so: apply as large a grain of salt as you feel in necessary.