Civility, eh?

by Sunita

In last week’s ugly meltdown in the m/m community (it was too mean-spirited to get the kerfuffle tag), there were quite a few unpleasant and inaccurate statements thrown around. There was a lot of pity-party action as well. But one post really stood out for me, because it so thoroughly encapsulated the hypocrisy and vituperation of the discussion.

The issue took off when one of the biggest m/m reviewers posted a defense of her decision to not review romances featuring trans* characters on her blog. This defense, which was described as unsolicited, came from an author who had been reviewed once or twice on the blog, but whom I hadn’t seen online lately in my usual venues. He had popped up a few days earlier to make his first-ever comment on a DA post, posting long, self-promoting comments in an already long comment thread (his first comment* was more than 1600 words).

But that appearance was positively self-effacing compared to the Big Defense: 2200 words on how authors and readers should practice civility and authors should turn their attentions to writing The Great LGBTQ novel, rather than criticizing inconsistent reviewing policies by the most influential blog in the genre.

His civility message was undermined in a couple of ways. First, the post itself was overwrought and incoherent almost to the point of incomprehension. Second, the lecture on civility was a textbook “What Not To Do” example: it began with by comparing the critics to by suggesting the critics were treating the reviewer as if she were equivalent to the Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials and, unbelievably, went downhill from there. The last sentence of the opening paragraph described the critics as being from “The Greek island of Hyperbole.” Yes, irony is indeed dead.

More choice bits (all describing critics, either of him in other places or of the persecuted reviewer):

the whole hyena pack — snarling safely behind their aliases and silhouette picture boxes

feeding frenzy

They made a discussion into yet another toxic waste dump in the m/m dialogue

the paper bags of burning poop go flying across a book forum

to whine and rage that a novel with m/f scenes or certain trans aspects doesn’t get attention on this site is small beer.

certain fans, who are always few but somehow always shrill, bitching …

some absolutely unnecessary corrosive nastiness and ad hominem attacks go on in the forums.  And now they even want to devour a whole forum.

some folks will spew acid and abuse over how a romance progresses in a narrative

the shrill voices, the nitpickers, the label-makers, those with the bullhorns.

trying to bully review sites

all the small… so very small… bitching sessions

I wasn’t going to link, but since someone will accuse me of taking these words out of context, go see for yourselves.

In a response to a comment, the OP defended his Godwin’s Law moment by saying

I quite deliberately phrased my lead paragraph in an outrageous way for effect.

I thought, hmmm. That’s possible. Why don’t I see how he talks when he’s not writing in a deliberately outrageous way? Google is my friend, and I found this interview pretty quickly. He’s talking about his new publishing venture, which you’d think would be time for optimism and positive discussion. Not quite. He took the opportunity to insult his fellow Canadian writers, in answer to the question, “What do you find is different about being a Canadian writer? Do you ever feel pressure, even writing speculative fiction, to make your works reflect national ideas?”

I have absolutely very little respect for Canadian literature as a whole. Most of Canadian literature is crap. It’s crap because it’s young. Of course it’s going to be crap. We’re a young country. There is an incredible amount of snobbery in this country over genre fiction versus literary fiction. I don’t have a lot of respect for the literary authors who are, frankly, subsidized.

Yes, I’ve always thought the problem with writers is that they get too much money to write their novels. Especially in those countries that are stupid enough to think art is worth government support.

But wait, it gets better. I wondered if maybe the sudden appearance at big blogs was tied to promotion for his newish publishing company. So I checked out the website. There are seven books listed for sale, six of which are by this author. The seventh is by an author with a female name that sounded familiar. Back to my buddy Google, where I found this interview:

A few years ago, I was writing erotic thriller novels under pseudonyms, and fans responded to my character, Teresa Knight, who’s a sexy sleuth, a gal who’s smart and can handle herself.  One reviewer called her a “feminist icon,” which put me over the moon.

He’s referring to this review.

There aren’t two different authors published by his press, there is one author with two names. No other authors are listed as forthcoming. We’re basically looking at a self-publishing effort disguised as a press. But the casual and not-so-casual reader will think he has a second author at his press, because there are different biographies for the two authors (the biographies at the “about” page say they live in different cities).

So, let’s recap. An author writes an “unsolicited” diatribe about civility in which he insults the critics of the reviewer he’s defending. His own interviews make clear his (lack of ) commitment to civility when discussing authors and their work.  On top of that, he misleads potential readers of his work (and authors who might be interested in submitting to his press) by making it look as if he is not the only author publishing at his press. And I’m supposed to take advice from this dude?

I’m sorry, Canada. Let’s just treat him as the exception that proves the rule. You know, the rule that Canadians are basically decent and honorable people.


*[ETA: While adding links, I just noticed that the comment at DA makes some of the same points as the Great Defense.]

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