As most of you will know now, Lou Antonelli escaped being banned from this year’s world con by the skin of his teeth. And now the internet is raging at the World Con governing body, Sasquan, for the decision.
Not that my opinion matters – after all, I am eminently dismissable for ‘writing angry’ (and god forbid I be angry as a woman, no matter what my reasons) – but it seems to me that Sasquan should have said they were going to ban Antonelli, which was their original decision, acknowledged David Gerrold’s plea for mercy, but tell Mr Gerrold that Antonelli’s behaviour is not just a matter between the two men, but a threat to the safety of all the convention goers.
But they were handed a shit sandwich and told to chow down or be beaten up. They weren’t going to win whatever they did. I’m not privy to the full discussions and there’s apparently a lot not being made public – although what they are making public isn’t being very well expressed 🙁
K Tempest Bradford made a rather strange comment on a post by Jason Sandford, which supported her take on the Antonelli mess (one I vehemently disagreed with).
The point is that even people in this thread are making excuses for why Ellison and Antonelli should be let off the hook or let’s wait and see or oh it was so long ago, but BS/RH? No, that’s such a different story!
It’s not. It’s really not. And that isn’t me saying that we should treat BS the way we are treating the guys. Because she should not be let off the hook for her past actions when her present actions are hella problematic. It’s that the instinct to let these white men off smells strongly of racist, sexist bullshit. [emphasis mine]
The part in bold is literally the first acknowledgement by Bradford that her protegé is still actively evil. Bradford was one of the people arguing that “it was so long ago” was appropriate for the apparently eternally nineteen-year-old Miss Hate, right up until she made this comment on Sandford’s blog.
As letting Antonelli off the hook, this is simply bullshit. No one in the comments on that post is saying “Antonelli should be let off the hook or let’s wait and see or oh it was so long ago”. The only defenders of Antonelli I’ve heard about at all have been his Sad/Rabid Puppy fellow travellers. Even at the very start of this, when all we knew about Antonelli is what he’d done to Gerrold, his apology, and Gerrold’s acceptance, there were easily half of those commenting condemning him outright and saying the apology was self-serving. The others thought Gerrold had been generous and on the face of it, the apology matched the offence. The more information we have had about Antonelli’s behaviour, has meant those praising him for his apology have changed their minds, and more people have joined in to say the apologies are nothing but an abuser’s typical tactic.
No one is letting Antonelli off the hook, not even Sasquan. Whether he’s facing the full consequence of his behaviour is another matter. But the idea that he is being given a free pass is nonsense – and again Bradford knows this. She also knows the only reason Antonelli’s apology was given any consideration by serious people was because the only known (at the time) victim of his actions, accepted it.
This is not the case with Miss Hate. Her apologies were not personally addressed to her victims, and since she has continued to abuse, harass, and defame those people, despite their fervent wish that she leave them alone, the question of whether they accepted her apology, let alone whether you can consider they actually received one, is irrelevant.
Yes, there is undoubtedly a sexist bias in who gets an easier ride, and male abusers are much more common in SFF than female ones. It’s also true that important male abusers have got away with a lot of horrible shit, and still do. But they are being called out, they have been called out, and the attitude towards abusers is changing fast. Which is why Antonelli is being rightly excoriated. Which is why we aren’t prepared to accept Harlan Ellison’s behaviour at cons any more. And why Miss Hate’s past and current behaviour is being examined and criticised.
We can’t adopt a ‘Dear Muslima‘ approach to abusers – that because this or that foul person got away with (allegedly) worse in the past, we can’t deal with this or that foul person in the present until those past foul people are dealt with. Requires Hates/Benjanun Sriduangkaew/Winterfox did real, serious, life changing harm to people, and she is still behaving in the same abusive manner – as Bradford has now acknowledged. She’s not some minor irritant being picked on because she’s not white. Come on, let’s accept that queer Thai women can be just as appalling and dangerous. as old straight white men. Actions have consequences, and she can twist and spin as much as she likes, but those consequences are real.
Ironically, the reason Miss Hate was protected and excused for so long was because she isn’t a straight white man. Winterfox was rampaging around fandom for ten years using her sexuality and racial identity as a shield/weapon against critics – and it worked, just as Bradford seems to argue it should. But now the accumulated rage and pain and grudges of that ten years of getting away with it is coming back to bite her – and she doesn’t like it. Well, tough.
And Antonelli is finding out that his straight white privilege is not going to protect him as much as he obviously thought it would. He’s lost one publishing deal, and he’ll lose others. He won’t be invited to panels, or reputable anthologies This extensive abusive tantrum throwing will come up over and over when his name is mentioned, just as Harlan Ellison’s name is now yoked in many people’s minds with what he did to Connie Willis.
Bradford is incensed that the response to Antonelli wasn’t fast enough or hard enough, compared to what happened to Miss Hate. But it didn’t take ten years to expose Antonelli – it didn’t even take ten days. Writing up an exposé on Antonelli took Natalie Luhrs approximately 24 hours, apparently. Digging up all the twisting, hidden stuff about Miss Hate – the evidence for which she’s been deleting, and much of which took place under a multitude of pseudonyms – took a team of dozens over a month, and they still didn’t get to the bottom of it.
So Bradford’s complaint is nonsense. It was nonsense when I wrote about it a couple of days ago, and her revised whinge is still nonsense.
And all it’s done is make more people aware of Miss Hate, and got them to investigate the full details. So good job there, Tempest. I’m sure your protegé will be so pleased with you.