Censorship, Stalking and the Blogger Blackout

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled book blogging in order to bring you a slice of real life where too many worlds are intersecting.

YA author Kathleen Hale admits in her Guardian essay that she didn’t just tweet and post online about her extreme unhappiness with a one-star review she received on Goodreads from a YA book blogger, she fully cops to stalking the pseudonymous blogger in real-life. Hale received the blogger’s address through misrepresentation, and paid an internet search firm to find her work address and phone numbers.

The Guardian essay (here) reads like a piece of fiction, but it isn’t. And the blogger has decided to stop book blogging as a result of this harassment.

Because yes, it is harassment. Parking in your car outside someone’s home, looking in the windows and backyard to see if the furnishings and the dog match pictures on Pinterest, all constitute stalking. Which is illegal.

Hale’s purpose was to shut down or shout out her critic. Not someone who had stalked her, but a book reviewer who received a review copy of Hale’s book and did exactly what she claimed she would do; she posted an honest review on Goodreads. She didn’t criticize Hale as a person, she criticized her commercially available work.

Which is something that book bloggers do every single day. Because we love reading in general, even if we don’t love a particular book. So we share what we liked, and what we didn’t. We provide our own opinion, not speaking ex cathedra, and all we ask is that our readers use our words as a tool for evaluating what they choose or don’t choose to spend their own time reading.

I use my real name in this blog. I am fairly easy to find. The conduct of Hale and those who support her is frightening, and it creates a chilling effect for any blogger who finds some of the books they read as less than stellar.

That chilling effect I refer to is just another name for censorship. It is a way of frightening people into censoring themselves, so that they do not publish material that the censor finds unacceptable. In this case, it has both worked and not. The original blogger has chosen to stop blogging; her real life has been threatened and she has had enough.

Many of us are taking the opportunity to highlight this offensive behavior and the negative effects it has on the book and reading community. This week, many book blogs are posting a blackout day or week to commemorate this event. The blackout has been organized by Dear Author with this post. She is publishing essays this week to give a brief glimpse of what it would be like for publishing if we all stopped providing reviews. The Book Pushers will also be blacked out for a day, as am I.

Instead of a book review, I’m posting this essay to show my support for Dear Author and the blackout, and to go on record that my reviews will not be written in fear.

I am also a gamer. A female gamer, one of the 48% of the gaming population that identifies as female. (Much as I hate giving in to the need to prove my creds here, I will say that my copy of Dragon Age Inquisition has been on pre-order for months.) Women who write critically about video games and the video game industry are stalked, catfished and receive death threats, unfortunately on a regular basis. I hear an echo of Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu’s treatment in this case where an author stalks a critic, and I am chilled.

But now cowed. And especially not silenced.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-5-14

Sunday Post

Nobody won anything this week, but there are three giveaways going on this week. All gift cards, which is very handy for buying more books!

queer romance monthOctober is also Queer Romance Month, because, as the website says, “Love is not a subgenre”. I’ll have a couple of reviews this month, and my fellow book pushers over at The Book Pushers are doing reviews and/or guest posts every Friday to commemorate what we hope is the first ANNUAL event.

And in other news there are two surprisingly similar attempts to stifle bloggers going on at the same time, one among book bloggers and one in library land. Ellora’s Cave is suing Dear Author and its chief blogger, Jane Litte, for reporting the facts about Ellora’s Cave’s current economic troubles. In my other world, a male librarian who is known in the whisper network as a broken stair has sued two female librarians for publishing on their blogs that women tell other women not to be alone with this guy. If you are interested in details, just Google #teamharpy for a rundown. Both Dear Author and #teamharpy are looking for donations to contribute to what will probably be massive legal expenses. And yes, I’ve contributed to both. This is about prevention of the chilling of free speech through monetary pressure, and I am #notchilled.

Current Giveaways:

$25 Gift Card by Nick Pengelley and Alibi Books
$10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card in the Books that Need More Attention Giveaway Hop
$20 Gift Card from Amazon by Lauren Clark

ryder by nick pengelleyBlog Recap:

A Review: Ryder by Nick Pengelley + Giveaway
B+ Review: Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison
Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop
B+ Review by Cass: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
B Review: Pie Girls by Lauren Clark + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (106)



dear committee members by julie schumacherComing Next Week:

The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenburg (blog tour review + giveaway)
In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins (blog tour review + giveaway)
Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore (review)
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (review)
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets by David Thomas Moore (review)