I was off-line most of the weekend, and I'm very glad that I was. The latest Twitter-rage-athon that I've see storified all morning appalls me. In retrospect, no matter how justified the comments, the whole ordeal smacks of verbal savagery and makes the entire community look bad.
The discourse was so incoherent and violent, one author asked if the objections to Jonathan Ross as emcee were because he was a white guy. He couldn't understand the rage, because he, like me, didn't know who Jonathan Ross is or why everyone was so upset.
Ranty tweets that essentially consisted of the sentiments FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, WHAT THE FUCKERY? weren't very enlightening either. A group that I belong to was very helpful in providing some insight into the matter, otherwise, I was as lost as everyone else.
I am trying to recall the last time I ever saw an announcement bungled so badly. This whole thing is obviously yet another PR disaster that could have been averted with a little advance planning and a better presentation. Unfortunately, the LonCon3 committee got excited and squeed all over Twitter, which was about as professional as pissing down their legs.
To his credit, Ross did try to engage civilly but was essentially shouted down. There was no communication. No one can listen when everyone is screaming.
People scream when they feel like they are not being heard. I totally understand women's frustration in that regard. Trust me, I do. However, I'm disheartened when I see a post like this from Sam Sykes and see other male bloggers who shall remained unnamed but are likewise worried over the same issues.
They feel, rightly so, that if they speak out they will be castigated.
And some women will say: Good, they deserve to see what it feels like.
I'm not one of those women.
One group's safety should not come at the expense of another group's. If we do that, then we have learned nothing and can claim no moral high ground whatsoever.
Anger at the LonCon3 committee is justified. They botched everything about this from the beginning to the end. For the record, having read a few articles about Ross, I can be the first to say that I'm not enthralled with his comedy. In lieu of all of the recent issues within the SFF community, I would not have recommended him as an emcee. LonCon3 knew this would be an issue and proceeded in spite of that fact.
However, regardless of what you think of Jonathan Ross and his comedy, he should not have been savaged the way he was on Twitter. While his comedy is off-color and antagonistic toward just about everyone, he does (or did, anyway) want to be a part of the SFF community. We have now lost any chance of engaging him in productive discourse on the topic. After the way he was treated, he'll run screaming from any of us, and frankly I can't blame him for that.
The objective must be to create a safe environment for everyone. If we cannot achieve that one goal, then we have failed to communicate. Worse still, we have stifled the voices of people like Sam and those nameless bloggers, who have rallied to our side in the past.
Communication is a two-way street that implies listening as much as talking. We need to stop screaming AT one another and begin talking TO one another. Otherwise, we'll never communicate enough to solve the problems before us.