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General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Jim Davis
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Postby Jim Davis » Wed Aug 30, 2006 10:43 am

Barber wrote:I disagree. I don't accept the arguments put forward, nor do I agree that because it happened in a public forum that this is the only reason he got caught.

Willis would have taken offense in any setting, and it would still be solely between the two of them.

You're saying because it happened to occur in a public setting, it's our right to horn in. And it isn't. It doesn't mean that people won't get involved, it means I don't agree it's their right to.


Sorry, I'm still not buying it. Harlan not only groped Willis in a public setting, he, in all likelihood, did it because of the audience's presence. He felt he had to give the crowd what it expected, so he went into Crazy Harlan mode and foolishly went way over the line. Therefore, since it was done for the public's benefit, said public has every right to respond however it likes to Harlan's provocation, even if that involves censure. The audience paid their money to witness an awards ceremony, after all, and a tit-grabbing of a respected author is not, as far as I know, standard procedure in such affairs.

And yes, whatever Harlan and Willis say to each other is entirely their business--but what happened on stage is ours. If you're going to use the criteria of only commenting on topics that you're personally involved in, then you may as well forget debating international affairs (there goes Lebanon! goodbye, Cuba! fare thee well, Iraq!), or a million other things. Frankly, Steve, you're coming off a little paternalistic, like it's acceptable to post a brief "Harlan was wrong," but not to go into any detail about why. Yes, there's a danger of overkill or of folks using this as a way to bash Harlan, but that shouldn't preclude an honest discussion of what happened. (For my part, I'm not going to post anything more on the Pavilion about this, unless Harlan specifically responds to me.)
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"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett

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Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:21 am

Jim -
Paternal? Because I'm defending someone I think is himself being unfairly treated even though he made a mistake?

I'm not saying that it's unacceptable to comment, but the full-on assaults which we've seen here and on other blogs are over the line themselves. I can understand the occasional "tsk, tsk", but that's not what's being written. This has been a gleeful pile-on for, as Josh observed, a momentary lapse in judgement.

Labeling this as a sexual assault, for instance, raises the rhetoric significantly. Was it acceptable, no. Has he apologized, yes. Was this premeditated rape? Of course not, but -- as the old punchline goes -- "we've established you're a whore, we're just haggling over price".

Harlan can't win. He isn't trying to. He's, for the moment, done what he can to make it right. It is the screaming for his head that is continuing the debate, and this in and of itself is over the top.

You can argue all you like, but it really is between the two of them, since Connie Willis really is the only victim here. Sadly, a lot of people are seeking blood on her behalf.

That's it. My last comment on the matter. You can respond and have the last word, but I'm done.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Jim Davis
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Postby Jim Davis » Wed Aug 30, 2006 11:58 am

Barber wrote:I'm not saying that it's unacceptable to comment, but the full-on assaults which we've seen here and on other blogs are over the line themselves. I can understand the occasional "tsk, tsk", but that's not what's being written. This has been a gleeful pile-on for, as Josh observed, a momentary lapse in judgement.


There's nothing "gleeful" on my part--passionate, maybe, but not "gleeful." (I won't speak for others.) This is as painful a thing as I've ever witnessed on Webderland, and I take no joy whatsoever in Harlan's folly.

Labeling this as a sexual assault, for instance, raises the rhetoric significantly. Was it acceptable, no. Has he apologized, yes. Was this premeditated rape? Of course not, but -- as the old punchline goes -- "we've established you're a whore, we're just haggling over price".


You may think it's inflammatory rhetoric, but we have to face facts: if Connie Willis didn't want Harlan to grope her, then it was sexual assault, no matter what his intentions were. The problem is, people hear the term, and they immediately assume it means rape or some other violent act; as I pointed out, it can also cover exactly what Harlan did, and in order to fully understand why the grope was wrong, we have to consider the possible legal repercussions, as well. I'm not calling for Willis to press charges, by the way, though the fact she hasn't doesn't mean that a crime, however minor, didn't take place. (If someone is raped, and they don't report it, does that mean it didn't happen? And no, I'm not comparing the two in severity.)

Harlan can't win. He isn't trying to. He's, for the moment, done what he can to make it right. It is the screaming for his head that is continuing the debate, and this in and of itself is over the top.


Harlan did exactly what he should have, and I find little-to-nothing to criticize about it. (I could've done without some of the post-explanation shtick, but that's just me.) He says he was wrong and he'll apologize to Willis, and as far as I'm concerned, that ends it on that count, which is why I'm not going to post about this on the Pavilion again.

You can argue all you like, but it really is between the two of them, since Connie Willis really is the only victim here. Sadly, a lot of people are seeking blood on her behalf.


I agree; Willis is the only true victim here, though you haven't really refuted my other argument concerning the right of the public to express an opinion, however strong, about this.
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"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett

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Postby Eric Martin » Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:54 pm

I agree with Jim that the public (and certainly Webderland) needs to hash this out. What is Harlan if not a very public writer?

I'm not clear on why some people have a problem with this, and are trying to guilt others away ("this is between him and Connie"), ir implying that any negative comment consititutes a pile-on.

Every post here and on the Pavilion, with the exception of those from strangers, has been very sensitive and even complimentary to Harlan himself. But it doesn't change the fact that an ugly thing happened, that the genre world is abuzz about it, and that we as Harlan's faithful need to sort it out amongst ourselves.

I've noticed that many of the long-termers here have not said a word, and that's fine. But for those who need to discuss it, they should not be made to feel like that's an inappropriate action.

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Postby Eric Martin » Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:56 pm

>This has been a gleeful pile-on for, as Josh observed, a momentary lapse in judgement. <

I'm not sure to what you are referring. Maybe posts on other blogs, but I haven't seen any glee or piling on here. And Josh Olson is still new to this community.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:25 pm

Okay, breaking my "this is my last", since both Jim and Eric post specific questions.

Eric, the gleeful pile-on is not on this site as much as it's in several of the blog links that Jim and others have posted here. "Gleeful" is not meant as in "happy" but as in "I told you so". Harlan's detractors are coming out of the woodwork.

(Josh's newness is irrelevant, BTW, he made a good (IMHO) comment.)

BTW - With Tom and Ellen Datlow's comments we -- finally -- we have witnesses to either the event or the mood afterward. The phrase "If anyone wants to start a petition to have Harlan Ellison get his fucking hands off me, I'll sign it" can be read (on paper) as either a tongue-in-cheek bit of humor or a true angry statement.

Without context we have nothing. Ellen gave us some, Kathy added more, and Tom added still more. And all three seem to be surprised by the dust up. We've got a lot of people passing judgement without knowing the context, and that's very thin ice.

(And weren't both of you staunch advocates for understanding the context in the whole Israel/Hezbollah debate just a few weeks ago???)

We need to agree to disagree whether it's our business. I don't see it your way and am unlikely to convince you to see it mine. For that part, to each our own.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Postby Eric_Martin » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:39 pm

>Josh's newness is irrelevant, BTW, he made a good (IMHO) comment<

Actually, I was pretty unimpressed with his post. More "mountain out of a molehill" spinning. It's clear that this is not a molehill for a lot of people. And whether or not you or I think that's correct, there it is.

The sub-spin is that those who are mountaineering this are doing so for "let's get Harlan" reasons. That's another attempt to undermine the issue at hand.

My own position is on the Pavilion, and the meat of it was that this kind of behavior has long been celebrated in skiffy-land, especially from Harlan, who is expected (and encouraged) to act alternately mean, disruptive or decades-old history of Ellison "acting out" at conventions with the joyful approbriation of the audience and the bemused compliance of the organizers.

For me that's the real issue here. At 72, Harlan is incapable of just standing on a stage to quietly accept and present awards. He has to perform, preferably with an edge, and this time he went too far. There's plenty of blame to go around on this one.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:39 pm

No, no, none of this cult of personality crap, we have enough of that. Harlan is merely a man, who also happens to be a fine writer and fun guy to be around, that's that. Celebrity is a pagan conceit, tricked up by a bunch of hucksters, stewing bat nads around a steaming cauldron--Wall Street is full of them.

This is a private matter between Harlan and Connie. I feel dirty even talking about this further. I don't know Harlan enough to say shit.

Jim is way off base, he has no idea what happened.

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Postby Eric_Martin » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:40 pm

Oops:

...alternately mean, disruptive or clownish. There is a decades-old history of Ellison "acting out" at conventions with the joyful approbriation...

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Postby Eric_Martin » Wed Aug 30, 2006 1:56 pm

>And weren't both of you staunch advocates for understanding the context in the whole Israel/Hezbollah debate just a few weeks ago<

Unless I'm very much mistaken, I did not participate in that one at all, except to say may the best man win, early on.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Aug 30, 2006 2:00 pm

I stand corrected.
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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Aug 30, 2006 2:04 pm

I still want the women to chime in.

rich

Postby rich » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:36 am

Frank, they HAVE been chiming in. A woman is the first one that posted about this incident. I'm not sure what Chomsky has to say about this, but it's clear you need to broaden your reading horizon.

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Postby Eric_Martin » Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:07 am

Yes, there are several posts from different women on the Pavilion.

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Jim Davis
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Postby Jim Davis » Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:18 am

Broke my promise to respond to Ellen Datlow, Keith Cramer, and Cindy. I really am done with the Pavilion now, so any comments from me are staying here.
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"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett


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