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15 March 2015 @ 05:47 am
Diss-coarse  
So, a blog post followed by a Twitter-storm has resulted in an absolutely horrific result: author Andrew Smith has left social media during a time when he should be basking in its glow. If you have missed this controversy, you can read the latest round of commentary about it here at Book Riot: http://bookriot.com/2015/03/12/women-arent-aliens-thoughts-andrew-smith-controversy/. However, I do need to tell you now that there are some real problems with this post, too.

The post begins with the quote from an interview with Vice that Andrew Smith did and the damning quote that began the firestorm. But then there is this paragraph: "I honestly hadn’t heard much about Smith before this erupted. So this post isn’t–as the issue really isn’t, fundamentally–about how good his books are (I hear they’re great) or whether he’s a nice guy deep down (he may very well be). Really, when it comes down to it, this isn’t even about Smith. Instead, it’s about the worldview from which his words emerged and to which too many subscribe."

Nice move. We say the post is not about Andrew Smith, but it actually is. And why in the world is this author writing about the controversy if he is not well-versed in Smith's books and their reviews, acclaim, etc? Talk about setting up a straw man. Fortunately, Walter Mayes wrote eloquently in the comments (where he, too, was raked over some hot coals) about this entire situation. Don't take Walter's word for it. Go back and read the Twitter feed. It went from commenting on creating strong female characters and questioning why there were none in Andrew Smith's books to snarky and even pointed comments about Smith and his family. In short, it went from critically looking at literature to criticizing the person behind the work. And it did this based on one answer in an interview.

It has ended with many casualties. Some of the original posters are claiming they have now been bullied into silence; Andrew Smith has left social media. The battlefield is strewn with bodies of all sorts. The biggest victim is civil discourse. We need to talk about character development and sexism and racism and paternalism. We need to do so in a forum that permits reasoned discussion and not attacks of any type. I know this is difficult given the limit of Twitter. Perhaps this was a discussion that went awry in part because of the forum. Nuance is not a feature of Twitter.

We need to have this and other discussions. We need to listen to one another. And we need to avoid the easy weapon of name-calling and labeling.
 
 
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