October 21, 2014

Oh HaleNo: When the Bully thinks she’s the victim

If you were on Twitter yesterday, you probably saw #HaleNo trending – it was in response to Kathleen Hale’s piece in the Guardian where she shared the tragic story in which her life was RUINED by a book blogger who devoted their entire life harassing her.

Which, given the stories we hear about online trolls/bullies, doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

Only, if you read the piece (linked using donotlink so that it won’t improve the Guardian’s site ranking), it’s clear that isn’t what happened at all.

One of the amazing things about the internet is that you can create a pseudonym. Want to whistleblow? Live in an ultra conservative community, but want to write about things you know wouldn’t fly? You can create a pseudonym and do so. It’s amazing. It’s also something that bullies and trolls use to their advantage.

But that is absolutely not what happened in Hale’s case. Hale is the one who engaged the blogger, after she read the blogger’s negative review. She’s the one who couldn’t let it go. She decided that the negative tweets and reviews she got were the fault of that negative review. And just like that The Blogger became her white whale, who she continued to pursue – to the point where she used her publisher to get the blogger’s home address and went to confront her. That’s right. She actually went to someone’s house.

How bad was this harassment? It was enough that the blogger blocked Hale on FB, deleted her Twitter account – and then eventually returned to Twitter and set her profiles to private. But not before Hale sent the blogger multiple DMs to criticize her for using someone else’s pictures for her account. (Which incidentally, we don’t know whether or not they were used without permission- that’s entirely Hale’s assumption)

I’m not underplaying any of it. Literally, as you read, there’s red flag after red flag that Kathleen Hale can’t be trusted to be honest about herself. She begins by sharing the anecdote of her so obsessing over her book that her editor had to tear the finished book from her hand to keep her from attempting to edit it further. It’s meant to be funny, but makes it clear that she’s someone who obsesses.

It’s obvious reading it that Hale isn’t the victim. She’s the aggressor here, picking on a person who chose to use a pseudonym for her own reasons- reasons we aren’t entitled to have.

And the Guardian happily shared this story of an author stalking a reader.

Some good pieces about this:
Stalking is Never OK! Authors, Bloggers, Entitlement and Obsession
On the importance of pseudonymous activity

Thankfully, #HaleNo was the response from authors and book bloggers alike, saying that her behavior isn’t acceptable.

What are your thoughts?

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