Saturday, September 27, 2014

Worrisome …

… The Threatening Meltdown That Got a Book Blogger Kicked Off Twitter.

… Is This The Most Hated Man in Books?: Twitter vs. Edward Champion.

I know Ed. He used to review for me. I like him. Sure, he can be a wild man. But he's not a bad person. In fact, he can be very caring. I am not exonerating him of his share of blame in these matters. But there has to be a better way of resolving over-heated disputes than censorship of any sort, including banning someone from Twitter or whatever. Everybody should take a deep breath and calm down. Hey, it sure has got a lot of people talking, and for writers, what Oscar Wilde said is true — the only thing worse than being talked about is … not being talked about. 


  1. I do not know Ed. I do know, however, that he went after me rather vigorously a year or so ago; his verbal assault was excessive, crass, inappropriate, and ad hominem. Nevertheless, I have nothing bad to say about Ed. He is unique. That is one problem. The real problem, though, in what you have posted is the dangerous free-for-all that exists in social media. Isn't it odd that some people will "say" things online that they would never say to a person's face. Everyone in the "Ed versus the world" dispute ought to back up and shut up for a while. The entire episode is very sad. I hope Ed assesses it all somewhat objectively and learns from the experience (and the mistakes made by him and others). No one can dispute his intelligence and enthusiasm. But he should not give people opportunities to dispute or attack his civility and decency. Here is a message for Ed: Hang in there, Ed. Live and learn.

  2. If a sexual harassment suit arises from this recent episode, I can understand why Twitter feels it needs to distance itself from the mess, for legal protection. This isn't "censorship" – any more than the New Yorker is "censoring" me when it declines to publish something that I write. I have more sympathy for the woman he was trying to humiliate sexually on Twitter (for a photo she never consented to in the first place), rather than than Ed Champion. I am sorry for Ed's problems, but I don't find him so "special" or talented that the world has to make an exception for him. Why was he enabled for so many years, by so many editors who should know better? This isn't Shakespeare, after all, it's a lit-crit shock jock, and they are a dime a dozen. The editors who enabled this fiasco should be called to account.

    The bigger issue here is where the book culture is going as a whole: people without a real love of the language, people without any knowledge of our literary history (or really any history at all), people who often write in a vivid, but clumsy and turbid way that nevertheless generates clicks through an attack-dog approach to the field, are dominating the airwaves. Why?

    Ed didn't get the lesson from earlier this summer. Maybe he'll get it now. And get help. I wish him all the best. I also wish the best for his victims.

  3. "Overheated dispute"? He repeatedly threatened to reveal the name of a man who took naked pictures of her if she didn't restore a deleted comment on her Facebook page. That isn't a "dispute"; it's an act of harassment. Sexually menacing threats born of irrationally perceived slights are not the behavior or a "wild man"; rather, they are the acts of a sick and abusive person.

    His "share of the blame in this matter" is 100% Her "share of the blame" is 0%. The victims of unhinged sexual harassment do not "share the blame" in their own victimization.

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  4. His share of the blame is certainly 100 percent as regards the threat. I simply think the matter could be settled at a lower decibel level. My dealings with Ed when he reviewed for me and at other times have always been perfectly cordial. Cynthia, of course, is right that Twitter is hardy obligated to put up with Ed's manner of tweeting. Of course, I come from an older and coarser generation.

  5. All the foregoing contains the reasons why I avoid Twitter and Facebook. And I have every now and then abandoned Blogger for similar reasons. The civilized restraints on free speech are too often missing. Too many people are unwilling to censer themselves. A person should never say anything to anyone else that he or she would not say either in church or to a parent. Is that too simple-minded? Perhaps. But it avoids problems.