[Photo removed at the request of Keith Stokes. Offending image
[UPDATE: Keith Stokes continues to play a game of cultural revisionism, regularly changing the filenames of his photographs to prevent people from seeing what happened for themselves. The photo, as of Tuesday, can be found on this page.]
This is not just a matter of “Harlan being Harlan,” as Ellison’s defenders will likely phrase it. This is not a matter of being politically correct. These are the actions of a boorish pig. It is unacceptable for anyone to get away with this. And the almost total silence of the science fiction community on this is appalling.
It’s one thing to goof around at a party — when the people know the other people involved and a little bit of this kind of nonsense sometimes occurs.
But when a woman goes up on stage and cannot be respected as a writer, particularly a writer who’s as great as Connie Willis, when she must be groped and demeaned as a sex object in front of an audience, then the time has come to re-evaluate the merits of the organization that hosts the awards ceremony, as well as the has-been “legends” who go up to claim and present awards.
Likely, speculative fiction writers will remain silent about Ellison’s groping. After all, Harlan Ellison will go after them or make phone calls or engage in sociopathic behavior or essentially intimidate anyone who disagrees with him. His loyal cadre of sycophants, who accept his every word and action without question, will stand back in awe as the man that they have inflated beyond belief continues to walk mighty and unquestionable steps.
If the SFWA has any balls, they will demand a censure. If Connie Willis has any dignity, she will demand a public apology. If Harlan Ellison has any honor, he will atone for his despicable conduct rather than revel in it.
If Harlan paralyzed a writer for life, would it be a case of Harlan “just being Harlan?” How does one writer stand so above the pale?
Goblin Mercantiel Exchange: “The difference, then, is quite stark: it’s between dead-enders and people who actually have some kind of connection to the 21st century world at large–you know? The 21st century? Where shit like this shouldn’t happen?”
Gavin Grant: “What’s up with these dirty old men? They’re taking all the fun out of being in the genre and not inspiring anyone with anything but horror and the urge to vomit and throw out their books.”
Catherine Morrison: “So Harlan Ellison. What to do with him? The even more sad part of all this is that I don’t think people will particularly remember this in a year or two except as part of Ellison’s general assiness. Because groping a woman without permission doesn’t get you shunned in this world.”
Laurie Mann: “Connie is a much better role model for writers than Harlan Ellison.”
Lis Riba: “What does a woman have to do to get a little respect in this industry?”
UPDATE: From Come Love Sleep on Gaiman: “(he basically says, he’s not gonna touch this situation with a ten-foot barge-pole, and other woman have been accusing him of being “complicit by [my] silence” in Harlan’s “public attempt to rape Connie Willis”, which is pretty stupid. Under those circumstances I’d find it pretty hard not to be really pissed off.)”
UPDATE 3: As reported by C. Billings in the thread, Harlan is now claiming that he did not grope, grab or fondle Connie Willis: “Would you, and the ten thousand maggots who have blown this up into a cause celebre, be even the least bit abashed to know that I apologized WAY BEYOND what the “crime” required, on the off chance that I HAD offended?” (The full response is in the thread.) Further, on the Harlan Ellison message board, messages criticizing the grope are being removed and IP addresses are being banned.
UPDATE 4: The thread has turned into what Ron has correctly styled “a shit-flinging contest” (and I am just as guilty). I have disabled comments. I suggest full contact jujitsu at your local gym as a surrogate.
UPDATE 5: Video and screenshot.
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.