Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why I Will No Longer Read The Guardian

As an American, I believe very strongly in the importance of free speech. That means occasionally tolerating hurtful (but not threatening, slanderous or libelous) speech. An author who releases his or her work to the public must be willing to tolerate negative reviews. Author Cecilia Grant explained it very well in this blog post over the summer.

Last week, The Guardian published an article by author Kathleen Hale in which she admits to stalking a book blogger who gave her a negative review. You can read more about it at the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog, Jenny Trout's blog, and Dear Author.

They all said it far more eloquently than I could. I have no influence nor power to change this ugly situation. However, as a former semi-regular reader of The Guardian (mostly via their app on my smartphone), I can vote with my feet. I thought it was only fair to let them know (not that they likely care), so I sent the following email to their Books team (with the same subject line as this post):

I am completely appalled by your endorsement of Kathleen Hale's disturbing stalking behavior toward a book blogger. How can any organization engaged in journalism promote something that will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on free speech? I am reminded of the Texas beef lobby going after Oprah Winfrey for daring to state that she would no longer eat hamburger in the wake of the mad cow disease scare. Now authors are using their publishing industry connections to similarly intimidate individuals who give them bad reviews. By giving Hale's actions your tacit approval, you have completely undermined your credibility in regard to book recommendations and also in regard to The Guardian's coverage of news stories involving stalking or bullying (since you seem to have a poor understanding of the meaning of both of those words).
I no longer consider The Guardian to be a reliable news source.  I have uninstalled your app from my smartphone, and I will no longer visit your website.
Elinor Aspen
I do not expect to receive a response. 

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