Just recently, a blog reader sent us a link to an article in the Huffington Post calling out 14 authors as Badly Behaving Authors:
What bothers us about this article is that the Huffington Post, which is supposed to be a highly respected website, has lowered itself to the level of the Goodreads bullies, putting these 14 authors (regardless of what they have done) out there for everyone to see, calling out their behavior as if they are saying: “Look everyone! Look at these badly behaving authors! Don’t you just hate them? Doesn’t this just make you want to stalk and attack them?” If you don’t believe us on that, take a look at some of the comments below the article. It’s disgusting!
It is also particularly disturbing when you consider today’s atmosphere where author hatred is growing at an alarming rate, especially with the existence of Goodreads and the bully culture Otis and his team have cultivated on their site.
We here at STGRB have been blogging for a year to stop this kind of BBA culture — putting authors out there as targets so they can be stalked, harassed, and threatened. We know of several authors who’ve had death threats laid against them and who’ve even had people call them on the phone and threaten them in their own home. And here is HuffPo encouraging this behavior.
What’s even worse is some of their reasons for labeling an author as badly behaving are so asinine, we don’t even know how to express our disdain for it. For example, this is what the article says about JK Rowling:
Look, we hate to add her to this list. Her books are awesome. But we have to separate the person from his/her work, and after looking at the evidence, it’s all there. In 2007, she and Warner Bros. filed a lawsuit against a small publishing house that was publishing a school librarian’s encyclopedia of Harry Potter lexicon. But what makes her a jerk mostly is the way she reacted to the lawsuit. She said that she had stopped work on a new novel because the suit “decimated [her] creative work.” (um, then maybe don’t file a lawsuit? Lots of people who aren’t the original authors write guides to famous fantasy worlds. It’s not unheard of.) “I really don’t want to cry,” she stated during the trial. She called the encyclopedia “an act of betrayal.” Wow, this sounds like a soap opera. Then, this year, when her pseudonym was exposed, she put out a statement about how betrayed she felt by the law firm who released the information, and she made a super big deal about it. Yeah, we realize the situation wasn’t what she wanted. But guess what? She made a ton of money off it. When exposure means you’re suddenly on the bestseller list and making you millions more dollars, it looks really ungrateful and horrible to complain about it (see Jonathan Franzen and Oprah).
First of all, HuffPo has no right to call JK Rowling a badly behaving author for trying to protect her copyright. Secondly, she had every right to say she felt betrayed by the law firm that exposed her pseudonym. They are professionals that she hired. She was holding them in confidence. It was THEIR JOB to keep that information from leaking. To call her a BBA for saying they betrayed her is ludicrous!
But this isn’t really the part that bothered us the most. If you take a look at this article in The Guardian called, When Readers Become Stalkers, that tells the horror stories of authors who’ve been stalked and attacked IN PERSON, it says:
Other obsessives have confined themselves to emails or letters. Paul Lomax, who was convinced he and JK Rowling had met on a train before she wrote the Harry Potter books and had a special connection, was banned from contacting her in 2007 after bombarding her with letters, culminating in a death threat comparing her to the murdered playwright Joe Orton.
In the same year, Patricia Cornwell went to court to seek an injunction against her “cyberstalker”, a writer called Leslie Sachs who had accused her online, inter alia, of plagiarism and antisemitism. More recently, James Lasdun devoted a book, Give Me Everything You Have, to being cyberstalked by someone he’d taught.
Writers have been the objects of stalking, one-off harassment or warped erotic pursuit since the beginnings of literary fame – Byron was stalked by his ex-lover Lady Caroline Lamb, Edward Bulwer-Lytton by his estranged wife Rosina – but these ordeals seem to be becoming more common, partly, perhaps, because authors are on show more often (continuously, if on Twitter), and partly because the internet gives disturbed readers another, potentially unmediated way of connecting with them.
You see that?
“The internet gives disturbed readers another, potentially unmediated way of connecting with them.”
And here is the Huffington Post listing authors like JK Rowling as Badly Behaving, stirring up readers’ anger at her, when she has ALREADY BEEN STALKED AND THREATENED!
This is exactly the kind of behavior we would expect from the GR bullies and Amazon trolls. And when we show our readers (with screenshots and links) the bullies’ despicable behavior toward others, particularly authors, and when we put them on lists, we’re not doing it for the same reason in mind as the author of this HuffPo article. We’re not saying, “Look everyone! Look at what these people are doing! Don’t you hate them? Don’t you want to go out and attack them?”
When we do what we do, we are WARNING our readers about the danger of bullies out there in the cyber world. When we show our readers what the bullies do, it’s to show them what could happen to them if they cross the wrong people. And we list the bullies on our site so our readers will know who to STAY AWAY FROM so they can avoid the same pitfalls that other people have fallen into when they were attacked. We ALWAYS tell our readers to STAY AWAY and to NOT ENGAGE.
But this article in HuffPo is not only mean-spirited, it is no better than the BBA lists the GR bullies have created to single out authors they don’t like as targets and start hate campaigns against them, stalking, libeling, threatening, etc.
Poorly done, HuffPo. Very poorly done!