Non-Fiction November and other plans

Now that the spooky season is over – and I read plenty of thrills and chills, with The Hound of the Baskervilles, and several Phyllis Whitney & Victoria Holt gothic romances (posts forthcoming), I’m ready to move on, at least partially.

I will be finishing Dracula – I am listening to the audiobook, and it is going to take as long as it takes. It is an amazing experience, though. I try to get in a chapter or two a day, and I am not quite to the midpoint. I have a little more than 9 hours left.

But while I finish the audio of Dracula, I will be joining the Classics Club in reading some Victorian novelists, and will be participating in Non-Fiction November, reading Juliet Barker’s loooong and well-regarded biography: The Brontes (Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family). I plan to pair this read with one of Charlotte’s lesser-known classics, Shirley.

I also plan to continue rereading the early Mary Russell books. I reread The Beekeeper’s Apprentice last week, and found it to be even more wonderful than I remembered!

Aside from that, I will probably start pulling together some seasonal reads, and some children’s classics, which are always great fun during the holidays!

Monthly Book Haul: October 2014 edition

1. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (Book 5 in the Heroes of Olympus series); 2. The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde (Book 3 in The Chronicles of Kazam); 3. The Fall by Bethany Griffin (stand alone retelling of Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher); 4. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (book #1 of the Roosevelt trilogy of biographies); 5. The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning (Kindle First selection); 6. The Nutcracker by ETA Hoffman (Penguin Christmas Classics are so pretty); 7. The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters (stand-alone YA by the author of the amazing In The Shadow of Blackbirds); 8. The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue (looks absolutely astonishing); 9. Talon by Julie Kagawa (first in a new series about dragons); 10. A Merry Christmas and other Christmas stories by Louisa May Alcott (Penguin Christmas Classics); 11. Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker (Southern gothic); 12. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Book 3 in The Raven Boys series); 13. Christmas at Thompson Hall and other stories by Anthony Trollope (Penguin Christmas Classics); 14. Compulsion (The Heirs of Watson Island) by Martina Boone (more Southern gothic); 15. Every Breath by Ellie Marney (Holmes pastiche from Down Under); 16. My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (holiday theme short stories by awesome authors like Rainbow Rowell); 17. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe (Victorian gothic); 18. Annotated Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and David Shapard (these are the ultimate annotated Austen editions).

So, yeah, October might have been excessive. Maybe?

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan DoyleThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Series: Sherlock Holmes #5
on 1901
Genres: Classics - Victorian, Mystery
Pages: 256
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Goodreads
Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?

I read this a few years ago, but never got around to reviewing it. Then, in light of the season, I decided to do a reread, which actually turned into a listen because I picked up the audible version of The Hound of the Baskervilles for $2.99 since I already owned the kindle version.

I listened to the version that was narrated by Simon Prebble. It was just under 7 hours long – 7 wonderful, engaging, atmospheric, melancholy, ominous hours.

I have not read all of the Holmes canon, although I’ve read a lot of it. Doyle wrote four Holmes novels – this was the third of four. I have read the first two: A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four. I have not read the final novel: The Valley of Fear. Of the three I have read, The Hound of the Baskervilles is by far my favorite. I really enjoyed this book.

The mystery itself is interesting, with a touch of the supernatural (that turns out to be plain old human avarice).

“The devil’s agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not?”

The spectral dog was a great plot device, and Holmes is at his most arrogant. More of a novella than a novel, the mystery is neatly solved, although Holmes does, because of his hauteur, put the object of the nightmarish events in dire risk of harm.

I actually enjoyed listening to this book more than I enjoyed reading it, although both were a lot of fun. Simon Prebble did a terrific job with the narration. This is a perfect read for an dreary October evening.

Sherlock Holmes says:

Quote: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Hound of the Baskervilles“The longer one stays here the more does the spirit of the moor sink into one’s soul, its vastness, and also its grim charm. When you are once out upon its bosom you have left all traces of modern England behind you, but on the other hand you are conscious everywhere of the homes and the work of prehistoric people. On all sides of you as you walk are the houses of these forgotten folk, with their graves and the huge monoliths which are supposed to have marked their temples. As you look at their grey stone huts against the scarred hillsides you leave your own age behind you, and if you were to see a skin-clad, hairy man crawl out from the low door, fitting a flint-tipped arrow on to the string of his bow, you would feel that the presence there was more natural than your own. The strange thing is that they should have lived so thickly on what must always have been most unfruitful soil. I am no antiquarian, but I could imagine that they were some unwarlike and harried race who were forced to accept that which none other would occupy.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Uncle Silas by Sheridan LeFanu

Uncle Silas by Sheridan LeFanuUncle Silas by Sheridan LeFanu
Published by Penguin Classics on 1854
Genres: Classics - Victorian
Pages: 528
Source: Purchased: ebook
In Uncle Silas, Sheridan Le Fanu's most celebrated novel, Maud Ruthyn, the young, naïve heroine, is plagued by Madame de la Rougierre from the moment the enigmatic older woman is hired as her governess. A liar, bully, and spy, when Madame leaves the house, she takes her dark secret with her. But when Maud is orphaned, she is sent to live with her Uncle Silas, her father's mysterious brother and a man with a scandalous-even murderous-past. And, once again, she encounters Madame, whose sinister role in Maud's destiny becomes all too clear.

With its subversion of reality and illusion, and its exploration of fear through the use of mystery and the supernatural, Uncle Silas shuns the conventions of traditional horror and delivers a chilling psychological thriller.

I have no idea who is supposed to be depicted in that cover image, but jesus h. christ on a popsicle stick is he (she?) ever frightening.

Uncle Silas was a group read on my goodreads group, and qualifies as early gothic horror for purposes of R.I.P. It is an early example of a locked room mystery. It reminded me a lot of one Wilkie Collin’s sensation novels, and shared many of the same tropes. There were so many things going on this book that I could write pages and pages and still not cover it all, so I’m just going to blather on for about another few paragraphs, and then wrap it up.

Maud, the main character, was an archetypal Victorian heroine – innocent, unworldly, trusting, and endangered. There are Bluebeard elements to the plot, along with a smattering of Cinderella. It is frankly atmospheric, and LeFanu attempts to – and succeeds – in invoking a sense of dread and confusion in the reader.

The book begins:

It was winter – that is, about the second week in November – and great gusts were rattling at the windows, and wailing and thundering among our tall trees and ivied chimneys – a very dark night, and a very cheerful fire blazing, a pleasant mixture of good round coal and spluttering dry wood, in a genuine old fireplace, in a sombre old room. Black wainscoting glimmered up to the ceiling, in small ebony panels; a cheerful clump of wax candles on the tea-table; many old portraits, some grim and pale, others pretty, and some very graceful and charming, hanging from the walls. Few pictures, except portraits long and short, were there. On the whole, I think you would have taken the room for our parlour. It was not like our modern notion of a drawing-room. It was a long room too, and every way capacious, but irregularly shaped. A girl, of a little more than seventeen, looking, I believe, younger still; slight and rather tall, with a great deal of golden hair, dark grey-eyed, and with a countenance rather sensitive and melancholy, was sitting at the tea-table, in a reverie. I was that girl.

Divided into three volumes, the plot is generally broken into three sections. The first involves the death of Maud’s father. This is all scene-setting and background for the real action. Maud’s father is a frustrating character, and I remain aghast at his reasoning, which can be summarized as:

1. My brother has been accused of murder for financial gain.
2. I am dying, and I’m going to leave my daughter an enormous fortune.
3. Which will pass to my brother if my daughter dies before he does.
4. Yes, that brother. The one who has been accused of murder for financial gain.
5. Best idea ever: make him the guardian of my daughter!
6. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, stupid man. Everything can go wrong.

Volume Two takes us, with Maud, to Bartram-Haugh, the ancient manor house that is also the residence of Uncle Silas. And this is where things really start to get weird. There is a locked room mystery – the unresolved death of a man to whom Silas owed a lot of money in a locked bedroom at Bartram-Haugh – which is neatly solved at the end of Volume Three. Maud begins with a strong sense of duty, believing that she is going to prove that her uncle is not a murderer, that his expulsion from polite society has been unfair and unwarranted.

The grounds were delightfully wild and neglected. But we had now passed into a vast park beautifully varied with hollows and uplands, and such glorious old timber massed and scattered over its slopes and levels. Among these, we got at last into a picturesque dingle; the grey rocks peeped from among the ferns and wild flowers, and the steps of soft sward along its sides were dark in the shadows of silver-stemmed birch, and russet thorn, and oak, under which, in the vaporous night, the erl-king and his daughter might glide on their aerial horses.

Well, that didn’t go well.

Things get going in Volume Two, and culminate, in Volume Three with a glorious collision of crazy. There are secret marriages, governesses with divided loyalties, laudanum addiction, peg-legged servants, and, ultimately, a bludgeoning with a pointy hammer. All in all, this book is a heaping platterful of Victorian gothic what-the-fuckery that must be read to be believed. Not that you will believe it, because it is all deeply far-fetched, and completely nuts, which, of course, makes it sort of awesome.

This is a minor classic, overall, but is strangely compelling. Like a trainwreck, I could not look away!

The Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

The Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria HoltThe Mistress of Mellyn Published by St. Martin's Griffin on 1960
Pages: 330
Format: eBook
Goodreads
Mount Mellyn stood as proud and magnificent as she had envisioned...But what bout its master--Connan TreMellyn? Was Martha Leigh's new employer as romantic as his name sounded? As she approached the sprawling mansion towering above the cliffs of Cornwall, an odd chill of apprehension overcame her.

TreMellyn's young daugher, Alvean, proved as spoiled and difficult as the three governesses before Martha had discovered. But it was the girl's father whose cool, arrogant demeanor unleashed unfimiliar sensations and turmoil--even as whispers of past tragedy and present danger begin to insinuate themselves into Martha's life.

Powerless against her growing desire for the enigmatic Connan, she is drawn deeper into family secrets--as passion overpowers reason, sending her head and heart spinning. But though evil lurks in the shadows, so does love--and the freedom to find a golden promise forever...

I rarely post full-blown reviews of new releases on my blog, and in honor of #bloggerblackout, and in response to #HaleNo, I won’t be posting any until November 1.

This is a review that I cross-posted on Booklikes, under the title “The Corrosive Effect of Female Ambition,” but it never got posted here. It will fulfill one of the categories in my Back to the Classics Project.

There is basically a straight line from Jane Eyre to Rebecca by du Maurier, to Victoria Holt.

When I was just a girl, it was the 1970’s, a time of great change. The first wave of feminism – concerned with legal/structural barriers to inequality like suffrage and property rights – had largely ended, at least in the Western world, and the second-wave had begun. The second wave of feminism broadened the debate to other barriers to gender equality: sexuality, family, reproductive rights, education and the workplace.

I bring this up for a reason. And that reason is that Victoria Holt’s gothic romances were huge in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and the tropes which are present in those books are oddly anti-feminist. The Mistress of Mellyn, her first gothic romance, was published in 1960. In addition to the Mistress of Mellyn, I’ve also recently read The Bride of Pendorric (1963), The Shivering Sands (1969), and The Pride of the Peacock (1976). She published a total of 32 of these stand-alone gothics, with 18 of them being published in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Do I think that Eleanor Hibbert, who wrote under the name Victoria Holt, was anti-feminist? No, absolutely not. She was an incredibly prolific writer who wrote under 8 separate pen names, including her most well-known: Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr.

But with her Victoria Holt gothics, she tapped into something. She was not the only writer of gothic romance publishing during this time period. Other well-known writers include Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden, Barbara Michaels, and Mary Stewart.

A few observations about gothic romance.

1. The covers were remarkably similar, typically featuring a castle or a manor of some sort, with a young woman running from it. Some examples:

gothic covers

2. The setting is of critical importance: it is typically a place that is both exotic but remains well-trod ground. Cornwall – the Cornwall of du Maurier and Rebecca – is a common setting, as are Yorkshire moors, which is familiar to readers through Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The settings have a darkness to them. The setting is historical, and the story typically conforms to well-established gender norms of the historical time period.

3. The main character is always a young woman of small means and dependence, similar to the unnamed narrator in Rebecca. She is often a governess, or a companion to a much wealthier woman. Typically youthful, her most significant characteristic is her powerlessness. She is generally not particularly beautiful – beauty being a characteristic that affords a woman with power – nor wealthy. She can be a widow or a virgin, but she is never sexually autonomous, and she never has children.

4. The male lead is a man of stature. Sometimes he is a widower, the father of a child that she has been hired to educate. He is always a man of property and is always above her station. He is aspirational, but she does not aspire to him, always acknowledging to herself that, while she has fallen in love with him, she cannot have him.

5. And it is the property that is, generally, the key to the story, as evidenced by the covers and the titles. These books are an offshoot of the literature of the English Country House. As Jane Eyre was focused around Thornfield Hall and Rebecca had Manderley, a great manor house is the foundation upon which these books are built.

6. Finally, these books often have a female villain, which is the entire point of this discussion.

The suspense in these books is built around the young woman coming to the manor house and falling in love with the eligible lord of the manor. Often there is a mystery associated with the man, or the house. A former wife who has disappeared, or a suggestion of murder, that places the heroine in physical danger. We are always meant to believe that it is the man who is the source of the danger.

However, that is typically not the case. There is confusion about the source of the danger, and the reason for that confusion is: the villain is a woman who is committing the villainy because of some ambitions either toward the master, or, more commonly, the house itself.

This is why I titled this post the corrosive effect of female ambition. Because in these books – at least the ones I have read recently – female ambition isn’t merely unwomanly, it is positively corruptive. It causes the woman who experiences it to devolve into a deranged murderess.

The Mistress of Mellyn is a case in point (and here, spoilers will abound). Our heroine is a Martha Leigh, a young woman who comes to Mount Mellyn as governess to Alvean TreMellyn, putative daughter of Connan TreMellyn (although we find out early on in the story that Alvean is actually the daughter of Alice’s lover, the neighbor). Connan himself is a widower, his deceased wife Alice having died in a railroad accident on the very night that she left him for his neighbor, her body so badly burned that it could only be identified by the locket she wore.

Drama ensues, and the reader begins to believe that there is something bizarre going on with the manor house. There are ghostly sightings, and a mute sprite of a child who seems to be terribly frightened for reasons which are unclear. The home itself is full of nooks and crannies and secret chambers, along with peeps that are cleverly hidden in murals so that the individuals in one room won’t know that they are being watched from another room.

As in many of these books, it turns out that the villainess is a woman: the sister of the neighboring man whom Alice was thought to have run away with and who died in the railroad accident. When Martha marries Connan, she becomes the target of the murderer, and is lured into a secret chamber, where she will be left to die, as was Alice so many years prior. The murderess is foiled by the child that Martha has befriended.

But, here is the thing. Celestine Nansellick isn’t actually interested in Connan TreMellyn. This isn’t a story of female rejection which ends with the rejected removing the victorious competition from the picture. This is all about the house – Celestine Nansellick covets Mount Mellyn, not Connan TreMellyn, and Martha gets in the way of those ambitions by marrying Connan and potentially producing legitimate heirs which will disinherit Alvean who is not Connan’s child. She wants the house, not the guy.

This is the same motive behind the murder attempt in Pride of the Peacock (deranged female housekeeper who wanted the aspirational hero to marry her daughter) and The Shivering Sands (deranged daughter of the housekeeper who believed herself to be the illegitimate child of the heir of the estate). In each of these books, the villain is a mirror image of the heroine, with one distortion – unlike the heroine, who is not ambitious and who accepts her place, the villain is prepared to dogfight her way out of subservience. She cannot marry her way out – unlike the heroine – but she can manipulate and maneuver and even murder her way out. And it is her very refusal to accept her place that marks her as unworthy of elevation.

This is completely retrograde, right? This book is published at the exact same time that women are becoming increasingly independent, able to control their own fertility, plan their families, get the same education as men, qualify for the same jobs, and yet we have a wildly popular type of book in which the heroines accept their lack of equality, and the villains reject it. And the women who reject this lack of independence and autonomy become criminals – murderesses.

Putting a Community Back Together

I had a conversation with an author over email. I’m not going to disclose the name of the author because it was a private conversation, but one of the things she kept asking me was what about the way forward?

Let’s recap:

Kathleen Hale told a bunch of lies about a blogger and they got published in the Guardian in the guise of an insightful tale about how an author was pushed past the brink of decency, into stalking, by a troll.

Okay. The community, through the hard work of many different voices and bloggers, proved that her non-fiction essay was basically fiction from start to finish. Nothing happened as she said it did. And, arguably, The Guardian and Hale breached their own Code of Ethics, to which they voluntarily subscribe. And, finally, neither of them are prepared to take a lick of responsibility for their own lack of integrity, their irresponsibility, or the inappropriateness of giving a friends and family platform to someone who is settling a score.

And please don’t think that I am ignoring the actual physical assault that occurred to a reviewer in the UK. That situation has gotten much less attention because, I believe, the perpetrator isn’t a “real” author. In other words, he has one book that has been self-published, isn’t a part of the author establishment, doesn’t have a place in the author community, and is completely unprofessional. He is, at best, a delusional hobbyist who uploaded the equivalent of an unfinished nanowrimo manuscript for sale through KDP.

Note: Please do not interpret this as dismissing all self-published authors. Many self-published authors are absolutely “real” authors, They are professional. They write outstanding books. He isn’t you.

The other reason that situation has gotten less attention is because he wasn’t given a platform by a major – and well-respected – media outlet, and no one tweeted that he was a “self-excoriating writer” or that he was “fascinating.” Universal revulsion was the order of the day

Right?

But, moving forward from here, and if this is to be the low-point of the relationship between bloggers and authors (and, I hope that it is), maybe it is time to start talking about how we are going to deal with the sharp edges between our two communities.

Because there are sharp edges. When you have authors with the stature of Joanne Harris (why, Joanne, why? she wailed, I love your books) saying things like: “we’ve seen recently what happens when unstable people get trolled online” and “engaging a troll never ends well,” it is clear that we still have a problem.

We can start by returning “troll” to a word that has some actual meaning (along with bully, for that matter). A bad review is not trolling. A bad review – even one that the authors perceives as “malicious” is not trolling. Trolling, first and foremost, requires contact with its victim. If I post the meanest review in the world of a book on my blog, that is not trolling. I have not made contact with the author. The fact that someone is talking about you on the internet is not trolling.

If authors like Joanne Harris want to improve relationships between bloggers and authors, the place to start is by acknowledging that accusing someone of trolling doesn’t make them a troll. It means that, instead of rushing to judgment to defend a colleague and a peer, you need to actually do your own due diligence and approach it without confirmation bias. Because if I had a dollar for every time an author said “we welcome honest negative reviews” and then went on to refer, sometimes in the following sentence, to “trolling, malicious, attack reviews,” I’d have a much bigger library than the one I actually have, (because I would clearly spend all of it on books).

Before you defend an author against a troll, make sure that the troll is, you know, actually a troll. Because 99 out of 100 times, there is no actual troll under the bridge. There is a reviewer, a blogger, a reader who didn’t like that author’s book, and who said so.

It is tempting to support our friends even when they are wrong. As a blogger, I will say this: I think that it would be trolling for someone to harass an author whose book they didn’t like, to take to twitter and repeatedly tweet to the author that their book sucks, to go onto all of the positive reviews of that author’s books and pick fights with their fans and call them stupid and other names. It is, of course, possible for a reviewer to be a troll.

But that behavior – that I just talked about above – what we see much more often is that authors are tweeting at reviewers, and authors are sending their fans (or themselves) to harass negative reviewers.

One of the things that is clear is that bloggers are tired of this. We are tired of being your favorite punching bag, your monster under the bed. We’re tired of the rush to judgment against us. If it isn’t fair to attribute responsibility to all authors for a few bad apples (and it is not) it is equally unfair to assume that when an author claims they’ve been trolled, that they have been trolled.

I have asked, repeatedly, and I will ask again, to please, find me this malicious blogger who exists for the sole purpose of ruining author’s careers. Because this entity seems to me to be as mythical as the Loch Ness monster and as elusive as the silver unicorn. I have never seen such a thing, and I am personally sick of this tired trope being dragged out to defend unprofessional behavior.

“Well, yeah, author was out of line, but you know, we’ve all been driven to it by those book blogging Goodreads bullies and trolls . . .

What The Guardian piece has revealed is that, among the general public as well as among authors, book bloggers (and reviewers) are presumed guilty of trolling and bullying until they have established their innocence otherwise, and for some authors, no proof is sufficient to not dismiss them as jealous hater trolls. What it has proven is that the schism between authors and reviewers runs much deeper than any of us want to admit – that at a base level, the attitudes exemplified by the completely discredited STGRB, have taken on a visceral and emotionally-laden legitimacy that they do not deserve.

We choose to blog about books because we love books. I hate professional sports – and in order to blog about professional sports, I would have to watch them. Thus, I do not blog about professional sports. People blog about stuff they love – stuff about which they are passionate. That blogger/reviewers are often lumped together and reviled as “hating authors” and “hating books” is beyond puzzling. Why would anyone think that we choose to spend our precious free time reading books we hate written by authors we hate and then hate-blogging about them. It’s crazy.

And saying “well, not all bloggers. Just the ones who hate authors” isn’t helpful at all. #notallbloggers isn’t any more helpful than #notallauthors. Bloggers do not hate authors. Let’s all type that in calligraphy and put it above our computers, please. The author-hating-book-blogger is a myth.

If we want to move forward from here, to a more productive relationship between the communities, we need to abandon that mindset. Permanently. And not trot it out ever again. When you read a review of your book – positive or negative – approach it, at the outset, as a legitimate expression of an opinion. Give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt.

I know that there are a lot of important things to say before the communities can move on from this point. But I think we can move on from this point, stronger, and united in our love of books, through a process of confrontation of an unfair stereotype and reconciliation, even if we sometimes disagree about the details.

Is Kathleen Hale a “Journalist”? #HaleNo

The Guardian article written by Kathleen Hale, author turned stalker, has been burning up the internet with controversy. She is now claiming that her detractors “didn’t read the piece and have little-to-no understanding of journalism.”

I read the piece. Quite thoroughly, in fact, and take issue with Ms. Hale’s assertion that she is a “journalist.” Journalists have ethics, and a code, and they are subject to peer review. The hit piece that she published was both unethical, and, as well, was so grossly dishonest that it could not possibly have been fact checked.

In her article, she makes reference to several things that her target, Ms. Harris, did to compel her to engage in a little light stalking. I’d like to look closely at those assertions. This being the internet, it is difficult to make things go away forever. Somewhere out there in googlecacheland, there are probably a few zeroes and ones that will prove up the lie, if there is one. And, in this case, there is.

From her article:

“One day, while deleting and rewriting the same tweet over and over (my editors had urged me to build a “web presence”), a tiny avatar popped up on my screen. She was young, tanned and attractive, with dark hair and a bright smile. Her Twitter profile said she was a book blogger who tweeted nonstop between 6pm and midnight, usually about the TV show Gossip Girl. According to her blogger profile, she was a 10th-grade teacher, wife and mother of two. Her name was Blythe Harris. She had tweeted me saying she had some ideas for my next book.

“Cool, Blythe, thanks!” I replied. In an attempt to connect with readers, I’d been asking Twitter for ideas – “The weirdest thing you can think of!” – promising to try to incorporate them in the sequel.”

Here are the tweets: Kathleen Hale Tweets

We can see from those tweets that Blythe Harris’s initial – and apparently only – contact with Kathleen Hale was the two words: sleep paralysis. She did not tweet Kathleen Hale saying she had “some ideas for her next book.” She tweeted the words “sleep paralysis” in response to a post from Kathleen Hale asking for weird stuff to add to her next book.

Moving on to the next section of Hale’s piece, she says:

“Curious to see if Blythe had read my book, I clicked from her Twitter through her blog and her Goodreads page. She had given it one star. “Meh,” I thought. I scrolled down her review.”

Here is a link to the actual review, which consists of the two words: Fuck this. Blythe’s review of Hale’s book. The “review” include status updates. You should read them yourselves. However, Hale says this:

Blythe went on to warn other readers that my characters were rape apologists and slut-shamers. She accused my book of mocking everything from domestic abuse to PTSD. “I can say with utmost certainty that this is one of the worst books I’ve read this year,” she said, “maybe my life.”

Other commenters joined in to say they’d been thinking of reading my book, but now wouldn’t. Or they’d liked it, but could see where Blythe was coming from, and would reduce their ratings.

“Rape is brushed off as if it is nothing,” Blythe explained to one commenter. “PTSD is referred to insensitively; domestic abuse is the punch line of a joke, as is mental illness.”

“But there isn’t rape in my book,” I thought. I racked my brain, trying to see where I had gone wrong. I wished I could magically transform all the copies being printed with a quick swish of my little red pen. (“Not to make fun of PTSD, or anything,” I might add to one character’s comment. “Because that would be wrong.”)

I will let you decide for yourself if her summary is accurate.

The article goes on to say this:

In the following weeks, Blythe’s vitriol continued to create a ripple effect: every time someone admitted to having liked my book on Goodreads, they included a caveat that referenced her review. The ones who truly loathed it tweeted reviews at me. It got to the point where my mild-mannered mother (also checking on my book’s status) wanted to run a background check on Blythe. “Who are these people?” she asked. She had accidentally followed one of my detractors on Twitter – “I didn’t know the button!” she yelled down the phone – and was now having to deal with cyberbullying of her own. (“Fine, I’ll get off the Twitter,” she said. “But I really don’t like these people.”)

That same day, Blythe began tweeting in tandem with me, ridiculing everything I said. Confronting her would mean publicly acknowledging that I searched my name on Twitter, which is about as socially attractive as setting up a Google alert for your name (which I also did). So instead I ate a lot of candy and engaged in light stalking: I prowled Blythe’s Instagram and Twitter, I read her reviews, considered photos of her baked goods and watched from a distance as she got on her soapbox – at one point bragging she was the only person she knew who used her real name and profession online. As my fascination mounted, and my self-loathing deepened, I reminded myself that there are worse things than rabid bloggers (cancer, for instance) and that people suffer greater degradations than becoming writers. But still, I wanted to respond

I haven’t read all of the five-star reviews of Hale’s book on goodreads, nor do I intend to. However, I seen nothing that substantiate’s her claim that Blythe’s review was creating a “ripple effect.” Goodreads is enormous. I myself read Hale’s book in March of 2014 without ever noticing the review by Blythe Harris.

In addition, her attribution of all the bad things that happen to her to Blythe Harris is both weird, and based on this next section, completely unreliable. Because she then says this:

One afternoon, good-naturedly drunk on bourbon and after watching Blythe tweet about her in-progress manuscript, I sub-tweeted that, while weird, derivative reviews could be irritating, it was a relief to remember that all bloggers were also aspiring authors.

My notifications feed exploded. Bloggers who’d been nice to me were hurt. Those who hated me now had an excuse to write long posts about what a bitch I was, making it clear that: 1) Reviews are for readers, not authors.

2) When authors engage with reviewers, it’s abusive behaviour.

3) Mean-spirited or even inaccurate reviews are fair game so long as they focus on the book.

“Sorry,” I pleaded on Twitter. “Didn’t mean all bloggers, just the ones who talk shit then tweet about their in-progress manuscripts.” I responded a few more times, digging myself deeper. For the rest of the afternoon, I fielded venom from teenagers and grown women, with a smattering of supportive private messages from bloggers who apologised for being too scared to show support publicly.

This exchange has been memorialized through screen shots. Her tweet had nothing to do with Blythe Harris – the review that she was referencing was a review by Kara of Great Imaginations (it was a three star review, and can be found here if you are interested, and the tweets can be found here: Hale tweets re: bloggers. You can see for yourself that Blythe Harris was not involved directly in this in any way, and did not tweet to @HaleKathleen, in spite of the fact that Kathleen Hale claims that this all stemmed from Blythe being mean to her.

In addition, Hale is, today, here claiming that she was acting as a journalist when she researched this piece.

Hale said although the situation is difficult, it led to a rewarding moment in her career, being the third most read author on The Guardian two consecutive days.

“This came with its fair share of [criticism] from people who didn’t read the piece and have little-to-no understanding of journalism,” she said. “So that was hard, but I’m getting used to feedback of all kinds.”

The Guardian has also has a code of ethics for their journalists, which you can find here

Pay special attention to the following:

Fairness: The voice of opponents no less than of friends has a right to be heard . . . It is well be to be frank; it is even better to be fair” (CP Scott, 1921). The more serious the criticism or allegations we are reporting the greater the obligation to allow the subject the opportunity to respond.”

There is no evidence that either The Guardian or Hale herself gave Blythe the opportunity to respond. People have raised this in the comments and The Guardian hasn’t answered.

Privacy In keeping with both the PCC Code and the Human Rights Act we believe in respecting people’s privacy. We should avoid intrusions into people’s privacy unless there is a clear public interest in doing so. Caution should be exercised about reporting and publishing identifying details, such as street names and numbers, that may enable others to intrude on the privacy or safety of people who have become the subject of media coverage.”

Hale included significant details about Blythe that related to the make of her car, the county of her residence, the location of her vacations and the breed of her dog. Those details were unnecessary to tell the story. The detail that “Blythe Harris” was the blogger was unnecessary to the story. That is not respecting her privacy, which cannot at this point be restored to her.

Subterfuge Journalists should generally identify themselves as Guardian employees when working on a story. There may be instances involving stories of exceptional public interest where this does not apply, but this needs the approval of a head of department.”

This obviously didn’t happen, since Kathleen Hale used her connections to get Blythe’s address as an author, not as a Guardian freelancer, which would constitute subterfuge. In addition, the article doesn’t indicate that she disclosed an affiliation with The Guardian when she “fact-checked” Blythe, nor does it indicate that she had department head approval for her subterfuge, and this story hardly qualifies as involving “exceptional public interest” since no one other than Kathleen Hale and Blythe Harris, and possibly the police, care that Kathleen Hale is a stalker.

Conflicts of interest Guardian staff journalists should be sensitive to the possibility that activities outside work (including holding office or being otherwise actively involved in organisations, companies or political parties) could be perceived as having a bearing on — or as coming into conflict with — the integrity of our journalism. Staff should be transparent about any outside personal, philosophical or financial interests that
might conflict with their professional performance of duties at the Guardian, or could be perceived to do so.
Declarations of interest
1. It is always necessary to declare an interest when the journalist is writing about something with which he or she has a significant connection. This applies to both staff journalists and freelances writing for the Guardian. The declaration should be to a head of department or editor during preparation. Full transparency may mean that the declaration should appear in the paper or website as well.
2. A connection does not have to be a formal one before it is necessary to declare it. Acting in an advisory capacity in the preparation of a report for an organisation, for example, would require a declaration every time the journalist wrote an article referring to it.
3. Some connections are obvious and represent the reason why the writer has been asked to contribute to the paper. These should always be stated at the end of the writer’s contribution even if he or she contributes regularly, so long as the writer is writing about his or her area of interest.
4. Generally speaking a journalist should not write about or quote a relative or partner in a piece, even if the relative or partner is an expert in the field in question. If, for any reason, an exception is made to this rule, the connection should be made clear.
5. Commissioning editors should ensure that freelances asked to write for the Guardian are aware of these rules and make any necessary declaration.”

This one is particularly messy because of Hale’s ties to media and publishing, which give her insider status and access that Blythe Harris can only dream of. Hale’s fiance writes for The Guardian. Was this a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed? Because it wasn’t. In addition, it seems just absolutely self-evident that if Hale was acting as a “journalist” the conflict of interest here is that the subject of the piece – herself – is also the writer of the piece – herself. This is so laughably and transparently a conflict of interest that I am stunned that someone could refer to themselves as conducting “journalism” in this situation.

In my opinion none of these aspects of the code were complied with when The Guardian published this piece. Hale herself, acting as a journalist, violated all four of these sections as well. In addition, the expectations related to fact checking and evidentiary support behind a piece of investigative journalism are important. If the piece by Hale was editorial content, it is still horrible editorial content. But if she is trying to claim that this is journalism, where is the objectivity? Where is the fact-checking?

I am hopeful that somewhere out there a real journalist exists who will find this blatant bias and abuse of power so objectionable that he or she will finally write a real piece of investigative journalism about this, where the theme is “when the privileged attack the powerless: a lesson in stalking.”

Hope springs eternal, if generally unfulfilled.

When Manipulation Masquerades as Memoir: The #HaleNo edition

kathleenhaleIt is late, and I have been watching the twitter storm erupt over the Kathleen Hale piece published by The Guardian for a full 48 hours at this point. I have really struggled with whether or not to even write this post – whether yet another post is needed to discuss it. I’ve seen many posts by many really fantastic bloggers, some of which I will link to below, deploring Kathleen Hale’s behavior, staying, rightfully, that stalking someone in real life is ALWAYS wrong, regardless of their behavior on the internet. I’ve seen a lot of author blogs providing really good advice about how to interact with readers.

The blogger/author community has, for the most part, been really wonderful, presenting a united front and near universal censure of Hale’s behavior.

I continue, though, to be extremely bugged by the reactions of the individuals who are NOT in the blogging commmunity. Who, often, seem to read the piece and who react to it completely differently. I’ve seen a lot of comments about how “brave” Hale was to write the piece, or how “self-aware” she is in acknowledging that her response to the provocation was inappropriate. The universal sense, to me, seems to be one of “well, yeah, she went over the line when she confronted her troll, but still, you know, it is really upsetting to get trolled.”

And this is why I am writing this post. Because while many posts have alluded to the fact that Blythe Harris didn’t do anything wrong, this is the aspect that I want to talk about here. Blythe Harris was not a troll. She was not Kathleen Hale’s number one online critic. She was not catfishing Kathleen Hale. In fact, until Kathleen Hale went batcrap crazy on her, I would guess that Blythe Harris had absolutely no idea that Kathleen Hale was obsessed with her.

Let’s start with a brief deconstruction of The World According To Kathleen Hale. We can start with an acknowledgment that this is a woman who writes fiction, and who is not adverse to a bit of hyperbole to advance the story. She begins her piece with a charming anecdote about an interaction with her editor that almost certainly happened only in her own imagination. There is almost zero chance that she actually started scribbling edits in the book – her book – that her editor handed her.

Moving on to the actual “interactions” with Blythe. You’ll notice I put “interactions” in quotes – that’s because there were basically no two way communications. She refers to a single tweet that occurred when Blythe tweeted her in response to her tweet to the YA reader community about her second book. Aside from that one interaction, Blythe, as near as I can tell from her recitation of the facts according to Kathleen never again initiated contact with her directly.

In addition, it is really important to point out that her explanation of Blythe’s online persona is highly misleading – intentionally so, I believe. She has framed Blythe as “her number one online critic.” Her “troll”. A person who has embarked on a concerted effort to ruin her, Kathleen Hale’s, life and career. She fails to provide any proof in the way of screenshots, or even dates and/or actual quotes, at all. But her entire article is built around an insinuation that Blythe Harris is just as obsessed with Kathleen Hale as Kathleen Hale is with Blythe Harris.

I am not friends with Blythe Harris. Our paths have crossed before, and I have seen her reviews. Even the briefest looking around demonstrates that Blythe Harris spent almost no time discussing Hale’s book. Her “review” of Hale’s book was a one star DNF that included some status updates. From Hale’s article, you might think that Blythe had only ever reviewed Hale’s book – that she was a entity conjured up from the darkest bowels of internet hell to ruin Hale’s life. The fact that Blythe Harris has reviewed 322 books on Goodreads, with an average rating of 3.57 stars would certainly seem to contradict that. Blythe Harris spent less than 1% of her review time on Goodreads on Kathleen Hale’s book.

In addition, Blythe Harris was a contributor to a blog which is easily found. Her review archive indicates that she reviewed 92 books on that blog. None of them are Hale’s book. Now, it is, I suppose, possible, that she has scrubbed the blog of any mention of Kathleen Hale in the time since the piece was published. I would simply note, however, that there is no proof that this is the case. The Guardian piece does not acknowledge that Blythe runs a review blog at all. If there had been harassment occurring on the blog, it seems fair to assume that it would have been mentioned, or even screenshotted. I think it is therefore a fair conclusion that Blythe never mentioned Kathleen Hale’s book on her personal blog. Kathleen Hale got 0% of Blythe’s attention on her blog, and around .03% of her attention on Goodreads.

Blythe Harris was not a troll. Surely it must be a truth that trolling someone takes work, that it takes effort. That a troll must be someone who spends more than .06% of their internet activity on the object of their trolling. More importantly, Blythe Harris was not trolling Kathleen Hale. The people are who are supporting Kathleen Hale’s Big Adventure are being misled.

That is why, I believe, that the reaction between the book blogging/author community and the rest of the world is so different. We are being mischaracterized by Kathleen Hale and we know it. I read the comments to The Guardian article. The amount and level of vitriol aimed at “nasty bloggers who leave one star reviews to ruin authors careers” is staggering, in spite of the fact that I have personally never seen such a thing.

I know that this is a very long post, and that it contains no images to break up the text. I apologize for that, but would ask you to bear with me, because I want to try to answer the people who have wondered why bloggers are so upset about this. Why we feel like it is such a big deal, since as long as we aren’t trolling trolls who troll we’ll be just fine. Who celebrate Kathleen Hale’s honesty and insight.

Well, first of all, it is terrifying because Blythe Harris wasn’t a troll anymore than I am or any of us are. Kathleen Hale has driven the narrative and people are convinced that she got what was coming to her. Even if we all agree that this kind of behavior is never okay, the fact remains that in this case in particular, she didn’t do anything to provoke it. All of that stuff that Kathleen Hale referred to – that all happened basically in her own head.

And, in response to the folks who find her so bold and fascinating, so self-aware and insightful, well, that’s just not true. I simply deny that she is either self-aware or that she is honest. One cannot be honest by presenting such a one-sided version of the facts that it barely intersects with reality. And one cannot be simultaneously self-aware and self-serving, and that entire piece was nothing but self-serving. What it was, truly, was character assassination, masquerading as essay, aided and abetted by privilege.

Which brings me to a point. I can’t leave this post without pointing out that Kathleen Hale is a very well-connected young woman indeed, connections which she left completely out of her piece. Her fiance is Simon Rich, former columnist for The Observer, which is affiliated with The Guardian. Her brother-in-law to be is Nathaniel Rich, whose most recent novel has been breathlessly review on the pages of the Guardian. Simon’s parents are even more illustrious – his father is Frank Rich, critic and columnist for the New Yorker, his mother is Gail Winston, an executive editor at HarperCollins. Could this explain how this piece that is so terribly mendacious made it into The Guardian without anyone bothering to critically read it or do even the most rudimentary fact checking as to whether or not this person, Blythe Harris, ever did anything that even remotely resembled trolling?

The article itself fairly reeks of entitlement, with its barely veiled contempt for the subject, Blythe, who lives in a slightly run-down residence (not the sumputous interiors that she posted on instagram, apparently) and works processing insurance claims. Who goes to New York on holiday, not Greece. Was it truly necessary to point this out, or was it payback for someone who is not a member of her social circle daring to have an opinion about her book, and putting it out there, on the internet, for everyone to read. And, as well, is it even true? Or is she making that up in the same way that she made up the entire assertion that Blythe Harris was her “number one online critic” when Blythe Harris spent 99.6% of her internet time talking about things other than Kathleen Hale or her book.

Finally, Hale herself is affiliated with James Frey, he of the Thousand Little Pieces debacle, in which he fictionalized his memoir in order to make it more interesting. Does that sound familiar to you? Because it does to me.

Kathleen Hale appears to be a very troubled woman – by her own admission. She manufactured a villain out of her own imagination. Blythe Harris was not her number one online critic, she was just a reader who reviewed a lot of books who happened to have the misfortune of being one of the earliest one-star reviewers of Hale’s debut novel. The fixation was entirely one-sided, like those stalkers who, upon being confronted by the police, insist that they are actually in a secret relationship with the object of their affections when they have never even spoken to one another.

How, having said all of that, we can see from the reaction of the blogging community what actually happens to an author who stalks bloggers. All support has been withdrawn. I seriously doubt that when Hale publishes her next book that she will be able to find a single blogger willing to assist in her promotion. There are, perhaps, those who will find this reaction unfair. You are entitled to your opinion, but I would ask you to consider it from our perspective. Why would any blogger touch her with a ten foot pole, knowing that any interaction that they might have could be completely mischaracterized for public consumption.

I think that she is probably too well-insulated for any of this to really matter. She has the contract, the connections, and the platform. Now she just needs to decide who her number one online critic is at this point, so she can pen her next hit piece against that person. It will be difficult to decide – there are so many of them.

Links to other blog posts/articles:

The Guardian (original article): Am I Being Catfished

Dear Author: Poisoning the Well

Dear Author: On The Importance of Pseudonymous Activity

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: The Choices of Kathleen Hale

Jim Hines: Victim or Perpetrator

On pedophiles, child pornography and prison: a response to John Grisham

Trigger warning: This post includes a rather blunt discussion of child sexual abuse.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, the entirety of which can be found here, John Grisham said this:

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child,” he said in an exclusive interview to promote his latest novel Gray Mountain which is published next week.

“But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”

I stumbled onto this controversy when I saw a post on booklikes referencing the article. Without even reading it, I knew precisely what had happened to rock John Grisham’s world: some friend of his had been prosecuted for possession of child pornography.

I’ve mentioned this before, but for my new followers and people who have forgotten, I have been a child abuse prosecutor since 1996. In the last eighteen years, I’ve prosecuted hundreds of men who were hands-on offenders, who sexually abused infants, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school children and beyond. I’ve also prosecuted more than my fair share of men who were in possession of child pornography. I know a great deal about this subject.

A great deal more than John Grisham, as it happens.

There is a lot to unpack in Grisham’s statement, but let me begin with the obvious problem: he is not objective. He is drawing all of his conclusions about fairness/unfairness based upon his personal opinion of what happened to his friend, and his personal discomfort with the fact that it is men who are just like him – “sixty year old white men” – who are in prison for possession of child pornography. This, my friends, is what we call entitlement.

Indeed, it’s a variant of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. In other words: this man is like me, I am not a criminal, ergo this man is no true criminal. Sub-sets of this fallacy include the “why don’t you go after real criminals” fallacy (i.e., my friend/family member is a good guy. Good guys are not real criminals. Ergo, my friend is not a criminal, and you should go after real criminals. This holds true literally no matter what the crime might have been that he committed – straight through to murder and/or rape of a child), and the “he just needs help” fallacy (i.e., my friend/family member is a decent man. Decent men don’t do things like this unless they are having a mental breakdown. Ergo, he doesn’t need to go to prison, he needs help. Again, no matter what crime he has committed).

I will wager, right here, right now, a stack of John Grisham books that John Grisham has no freaking idea what kind of pornography his friend was actually downloading. Because here is the other thing that I know from years of prosecution – he got all his information from his friend. He has not actually seen the images/videos that were located on his friend’s computer. How do I know this? Well, duh. The police don’t – can’t in fact – show anyone the content of the images seized. Because to do so is a crime in and of itself. Only members of law enforcement, the prosecution team, or the defense team are permitted to view the images. And of course his friend is telling him that they were sixteen-year-olds who looked thirty. Because if the truth is that it was videos of prepubescent children being raped, that would make him want to vomit. He is relying on his friend’s statement about what he did to inform his judgment on how fair it is.

Let me let you all in on a secret. Sometimes criminals lie about what they did. They minimize. They are desperate, and being honest about the gravity and the heinousness of their crimes is not in their best interest. If I had a nickle for every guy who went to prison for raping an eight year old who told his friends that “she was sixteen, and she came on to me,” I’d be a wealthy woman indeed.

I’ve been doing this a long time. I can count on zero hands the number of prosecuted offenders who just a few images of individuals in their late teens on their computers. Zero hands, as in zeee-fucking-ro. This is for a couple of reasons: 1) establishing that the offender “knew” that victim was under 18 is an element of the offense; and 2) establishing that the victim actually was under 18 is an element of the offense. So, if you believe that you are viewing pornography of a 16 year old, but it turns out she is actually 24, that’s not a crime. It’s gross, sure, but it isn’t criminal. And if you reasonably believe (i.e., you are on a mainstream porn site) that you are viewing pornography of a 24 year old, and it turns out that she was actually 16, that’s not a crime either. It is only when the offender is “aware” that he is viewing pornography of someone who is underage AND she is actually underage that it is a crime. So, yeah, going looking for actually underage girls engaging in sexually explicit conduct, that is going to get a man into trouble. As well it should.

But even so, it is far more likely that his friend had ten thousand images of child pornography on his computer, including torture porn, bondage porn, and, even, animal porn, with children who are elementary school age or younger. Because, for the most part, prosecutions occur when men download images/videos of very, very, very young children who cannot be mistaken for adult females. Or it means that the image is of an identified victim – one whose name we know and the date on the image is verifiably her before she turned 18.

This whole idea that we are imprisoning unsophisticated old white guys who just accidentally stumble upon a website where there is the occasional seventeen-year-old nekkid girl, consensually cavorting about with men her own age, yeah, that’s some bull shit right there. Just doesn’t happen.

I have had the misfortune, because of my job, to view a damned lot of child pornography. It is terrible stuff, especially the videos. Sometimes they have audio, and one is confronted with the visceral reality that these children are crying, and begging not to have to do it. It will burn into your brain and it will not let go. Sometimes they are drugged, and are barely conscious. Sometimes they are hit and beaten. Often the children in them have the empty eyes of the emotionally broken and dead, and the bruised, skinny bodies of the neglected and hungry. The normal human response to those videos is horror, and pain, and a deep sadness and empathy for the children in them.

Calling it “child pornography,” actually, diminishes its awfulness and gives it legitimacy because, when they think of it at all, people who are unfamiliar with the reality mentally picture it as looking just like adult pornography, but involving smaller participants. Calling it kiddie porn, as we so often do, trivializes it, especially since we have culturally decided to expand the meaning of the word “porn” to include things like food porn (images of extremely delicious looking food) and fashion porn (images of beautiful women wearing gorgeous clothes) and book porn (images of mouth-wateringly beautiful libraries) Porn – that word – it has a modern meaning, and that meaning is all positive. Porn = desirable, sexy, alluring, enticing.

Child pornography looks nothing like adult pornography. It looks like exploitation. It looks like violence.

These videos glorify the rape of children. They are images of terrible, horrifying crimes. They document the murder of the soul of a child. The idea that men get off on this stuff is vile and nauseating. In addition, no one is “entrapping” these guys into going out onto the internet and playing hide and seek with law enforcement. They know that what they are doing is wrong. They know that what they are doing is disgusting, and is likely to end with them in prison.

Anyone who thinks that viewing child pornography is a victimless crime needs to read this: In Court, A Victim Gives Voice To Sex Abuse. John Grisham needs to read it. The young woman about whom the article was written was sexually abused by her father. He was sentenced to 30 years for sexually abusing her. He filmed his crimes, which have been uploaded to the internet, and which are referred to by child protection experts as the “Vicky” series. Vicky is not her real name, but the videos of the Vicky series are everywhere. They cannot be controlled. They will never be wiped from this earth. This is what she says about knowing this:

“I wonder if the people I know have seen these images,” the woman wrote, according to the statement, which was read by a senior assistant district attorney, Kateri A. Gasper. “I wonder if the men I pass in the grocery store have seen them. Because the most intimate parts of me are being viewed by thousands of strangers, and traded around, I feel out of control. They are trading my trauma around like treats at a party, but it is far from innocent. It feels like I am being raped by each and every one of them.”

John Grisham’s friend got three lousy years for his behavior. “Vicky”, and the other children whose images he, and people like him, watched, and masturbated to, and I’m sorry for being blunt, but we all know that is exactly what was going on while he watched those images, those victims got a life sentence of pain from the abuse itself and a life sentence of knowing that, even when they are all grown up and can’t be hurt anymore, all over the world, legions of men that they have never met will ejaculate while watching them plead with their rapists to please not make them do it.

So, yeah, three years in prison sounds like a pretty small price to pay for that shit.

EDIT:

fuck you

And, the truth comes out: John Grisham’s Friend Swapped Pornographic Images of Children Under 12.

So, explain again, you entitled douchebag, exactly how unfair it was that a good buddy from law school convicted pervert served 3 years 18 months 15 completely inadequate months for possessing trading images of 16-year-old girls children under the age of 12 being sexually abused, including intercourse. (There, I fixed it for you)

He is out of prison and was reinstated to the bar. From where I am sitting, it looks like he got a slap on the wrist. I’ve seen defendants serve longer sentences for stealing a set of golf clubs.

You are right about one thing. It is a fucking outrage. Not the same outrage you were thinking of, but an outrage, nonetheless.