Mishalak (mishalak) wrote in rasff,

What Is Going On? Harlan-Gate

The first thing I saw about the now swirling tropical hullabaloo came from the journal of James Nicoll, More Words Deeper Hole. A link from there took me to an entry by Patrick Neilsen-Hayden on things that went wrong at Worldcon. Since then I've seen reports all over.

Additional Commentaries on the Incident
Laurie Mann She was actually on stage when it happened and says, "Connie, class act that she was, didn't miss a beat, continued with the ceremony like an adult. Connie kept the focus of the ceremony on honoring the winners, and not drawing more attention to Harlan's behavior."
A Journal of Impropriety "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."
Emerald City "I’ve refrained from explaining just how badly Harlan behaved at the Hugos because I haven’t had a chance to speak to Connie and I didn’t know if she wanted it made public."
Goblin Mercantile Exchange "This goes beyond literary values, and into human values. I’ve met so many kind, generous, warm, funny, dear friends through the world of science fiction. How long are we going to deal with this?"
Gavin Grant "What’s up with these dirty old men?"

On the Apology
No quotes because they are all some variety of, "We think this is a non-apology."
A Journal of Impropriety
Emerald City
More Words, Deeper Hole
Ed Rants (Edward Champion)

On the Apologists
A Journal of Impropriety "All these excuses remind me of that guy who got his picture taken when he flashed someone on the subway. She posted it on the internets and he got caught. Was he embarrassed? Oh you naïve little children! He said, 'I've met women who enjoy it.'"

Neil Gaiman didn't comment about it because he was in England for his daughter's birthday. In a letter to Come Love Sleep he is paraphrased as saying, " he's not gonna touch this situation with a ten-foot barge-pole, and other women have been accusing him of being "complicit by [my] silence" in Harlan's "public attempt to rape Connie Willis."
Ian McDonald calls it entertaining realizes he did wrong and takes it back here and here.

Worst of the Commentators
Edward Champion accuses Keith Stokes of cultural revisionism, fandom of keeping silent, and sf writers of condoning this on August 28th. If I'm not mistaken it happened that day before so he's going off a bit half-cocked at best and at worst he's behaving a bit more nasty than Ellison on his bad days. I will give him that he's quick to come up with stuff for his blog... and a coke dumped over him if I ever met him under appropriate circumstances.

From the Harlen Ellison Webderland Message Boards

Lynne Batik
Aberdeen, UK - Tuesday, August 29 2006 7:43:46

WorldCon awards ceremony
For the record: I've met Mr. Ellison, had a conversation with him, and liked him. I found him intensely funny. I respect his work --a lot-- the man is a great writer.

But grabbing Connie Willis's breast is NOT ok, and people being upset over it is perfectly legit, not just "a bunch of fen in a snit." Grabbing any woman's breast, uninvited, much less a professional author of equal stature, in public, just because he wanted to I guess -- is **NOT OK**. He really ought to issue Ms. Willis an apology. Period. He has no excuse. That is not how you treat women and not how you treat a colleague.

The man I met ten years ago had more class than that, even though he enjoyed being abrasive. What the heck happened?

I pretty much agree with this, except that I haven't liked Harlan Ellison because my experiences with him at a con were very negative.

- Tuesday, August 29 2006 12:19:50


Would you believe that, having left the Hugo ceremonies immediately after my part in it, while it was still in progress ... and having left the hall entirely ... yet having been around later that night for Kieth Kato's traditional chili party ... and having taken off next morning for return home ... and not having the internet facility to open "journalfen" (or whatever it is), I was unaware of any problem proceeding from my intendedly-childlike grabbing of Connie Willis's left breast, as she was exhorting me to behave.

I'm a luddite, what are you going to do about it?

Nonetheless, despite my only becoming aware of this brouhaha right this moment (12 noon LA time, Tuesday the 29th), three days after the digital spasm that seems to be in uproar ...YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!

iT IS UNCONSCIONABLE FOR A MAN TO GRAB A WOMAN'S BREAST WITHOUT HER EXPLICIT PERMISSION. To do otherwise is to go 'way over the line in terms of invasion of someone's personal space. It is crude behavior at best, and actionable behavior at worst. When George W> Bush massaged the back of the neck of that female foreign dignitary, we were all justly appalled. For me to grab Connie's breast is in excusable, indefensible, gauche, and properly offensive to any observers or those who heard of it later.

I agree wholeheartedly.

I think up to this point he's doing fine.

I've called Connie. Haven't heard back from her yet. Maybe I never will.

He says he called Connie Willis, not that he apologized, said he was sorry, or anything like it. Just that he called.

So. What now, folks? It's not as if I haven't been a politically incorrect creature in the past. But apparently, Lynne, my 72 years of indefensible, gauche (yet for the most part classy), horrifying, jaw-dropping, sophomoric, sometimes imbecile behavior hasn't--till now--reached your level of outrage.

I'm glad, at last, to have transcended your expectations. I stand naked and defenseless before your absolutely correct chiding.

And unless I'm mistaken that is him saying, "Yeah, I'm bad and I don't care what you think."

With genuine thanks for the post, and celestial affection, I remain, puckishly,

Yr. pal, Harlan

P.S. You have my permission to repost this reply anywhere you choose, on journalfen, at SFWA, on every blog in the universe, and even as graffiti on the Great Wall of China.

- Tuesday, August 29 2006 12:26:56


Did I fail to mention, I am 100% guilty as charged, and NO ONE should attempt to cobble up mitigating excuses for my behavior? As with everything else I REALLY DO (as opposed to the bullshit that is gossiped third-hand by dolts), I am responsible for my actions 100% and am prepared to shoulder all consequences, instead of shunting them off to Vice-President ScaryGuy.

Adultly said, Yr. pal, Harlan

This is a lot better than what he said before. Much more apology shaped. If he'd then managed to leave well enough alone this might be going away by now, but...

- Tuesday, August 29 2006 12:43:2


On a more serious note: if, in fact, Connie (or Courtney, or Cordelia) were/are/might in any way be offended by this latest demonstration of give'n'take jackanapery between Connie and Harlan (now in its longest-run on Broadway), you may all rest assured I will apologize vehemently, will crawl to Colorado through broken glass and steaming embers, and beg her (their) forgiveness. I need no one to prompt me.

Harlan Ellison, a friend of Connie Willis

Putting in an "if" makes something almost entirely not apology shaped. It is saying that, "Well I don't think I did anything wrong so I'm only sorry if you took it too seriously." Hard to say what's going on here. I am not objective nor do I know Ellison well enough to decide if he's fumbling when doing something he usually doesn't or if he's really not sorry about it at all.

Tony Ravenscroft
Santa Fe, NM - Tuesday, August 29 2006 15:34:9

Thus far, I'm seeing a LiveJournal dogpile on Ellison, yet (how strange) no official word yet from Connie Willis herself.

It's easy to get the impression of watching a game of "Telephone" being played out.
Ms. Willis is a big girl now, & I get the feeling she'd readily kick Ellison's walker over when she gets genuinely off-pissed at him. I betcha she's even got his phone number on the Rolodex.

If she doesn't want to deal with it, then I'd like an explanation of why there's a half-assed cadre of self-appointed deputies waffling about. Her call, right? Or do y'all _begin_ from the assumption that she's more stupid &/or powerless than the rest of you glued together?

He is right about this being a dogpile. But I think he misses that this isn't all on Connie Willis's behalf. There are two motivations here that are often mixed. One part "Women shouldn't have to put up with this sort of shit anymore in fandom," and one, "We fans, particularly volunteers, shouldn't have to put up with the shit that Harlan Ellison pulls just because that shtick is popular with his fans." This brouhaha is bigger than over just this incident because it is being using as a sort of focal point of discontent. That doesn't make it wrong for people to be outraged, but I hope for the most part a sense of proportion is kept.

Alex Jay Berman
Philadelphia, - Wednesday, August 30 2006 0:56:57

MY FEELINGS ON THE GROPE, and then no more: It was wrong. It is wrong until and unless Connie Willis comes out and says it's just fine, and I rather think that by now she would have done so.

And it deserves a direct apology to her. If you cannot reach her by phone, then you write--after all, you have often spoken of your love for the epistolary arts.

had you jokingly faked it; had you stopped short of actual mammary flummery as she, mommy-like, admonished you to "behave", then fine; it would have been something I would have laughed at. A faux paw would have been infinitely more preferable than your faux pas.

Just my take.

(And please; can no one say how Harlan cannot possibly be pilloried or scolded for this becuse of his work on behalf of the NRA and his lengthy bonafides as a supporter of women? Advocacy does not equal permission; and past fortitude should not equal immediate forgiveness. Remember, Bob Packwood was one of the leading advocates for women in the Senate. Not that I equate the grope with Packwood's history of harassment, but I trust all see my point.)

Okay; that's done with.

Can we get back to talking about art and to spanking Paramount/Pocket Books?

Lynne Batik
Aberdeen, UK - Wednesday, August 30 2006 2:45:55

Mr. Ellison:

Thank you, and I hope that your response is taken in the spirit it is intended. And, yes, there is a difference between making people irritated and uncomfortable, and //really// making people uncomfortable, and I think this difference came into play when you stopped disassembling people verbally (or arranging other kinds of long-distance communication) and moved into that kind of physical intrusion.

I remember reading "Neither Your Jenny or Mine" -- and I guess I was simply shocked that someone who wrote that would step over the line you did, even with a friend, and I know that Connie Willis has been a good friend of yours. I don't think you could stop being abrasive if someone held a gun to your head and your life depended on it -- it's part of your native charm, after all -- but as you very well know, sexual harassment problems haven't disappeared, and this kind of played into them in a bad way. A very bad way, if even fans get the message that grabbing a woman's breast is no more an intrusion of personal space than an uninvited hug. That was why your 72 years of indefensible, gauche, horrifying, jaw-dropping, sophomoric, sometimes imbecile behavior hasn't--till now--reached my level of outrage, but did manage to kill my laughter this time.

Alex Jay said it best, though. I defer to him.

With respect,

P.S. I notice that your responses have already been widely reposted, so I abdicate my responsibility on that one. On the other hand, I cannot promise to graffiti the Great Wall of China with it, but will do my best if the opportunity arises.

Ellen Datlow
- Wednesday, August 30 2006 10:13:31

I was offline for a day or two after the con and then when I got back I discovered this whole brouhaha over Harlan's baby schtick -and that's what it was. A schtick of Harlan acting like a baby. Thus, he went up to the mike when Connie called him up--he put the mike (a round one) into his mouth, swallowing it like a lollipop, Connie took it gently out of his mouth and wiped it off. He gurgled --like a baby-- and then grabbed her breast like a baby and she smacked his hand off. A few seconds later she kissed him....Cmon people. Please put this into perspective. It was NOT sexual assault. It was a joke/schtick gone a bit over the top. I was not offended as a woman watching this. I thought it was silly (but yes, I admit I personally thoughth the schtick funny). I also know that Connie and Harlan have a history of ribbing each other. I've seen it in the past. So please keep the incident in context and calm down.

Now if Connie was upset by it then it is right and correct for Harlan to apologize to HER. Not to the field. Not to the audience. So far the only evidence I have heard that Connie was upset is third hand. "Someone" claims she cursed Harlan during an interview with Charlie Brown the next day. Well, since it was a private interview, I would like to know who supposedly witnessed this--as presumably the only people AT the interview were CHarlie and COnnie. I have further heard rumors that she referenced the incident in the closing ceremonies --again, this is rumor not fact.

Commentary later on storyguypress if I still feel like writing about this messy situation.
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