On Being Accused of Confessing to Awful Things
Posted on December 27, 2014 Posted by John Scalzi 1 Comment
(Note: Folks who get triggery about discussions of rape should tread carefully here, both in the text and the links.)
Got a concerned email this morning from someone who saw online an assertion that I was a “self-confessed rapist.” I knew before reading further this was likely to be Theodore Beale (aka “Vox Day”) continuing to do his thing, and sure enough, yesterday on his site, Beale asserted once again that I’ve confessed to being rapist, as he’s done off and on for a couple of years now. So this is one of those “post once to link people to” things I do, in case it comes up again.
1. No, I have not raped or sexually assaulted anyone. No, I have not admitted to raping or sexually assaulting anyone.
2. Two years ago, I wrote a satirical (“satirical” not being the same thing as “funny”) essay called “A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians,” in which a rapist thanks certain conservative politicians for supporting his right to control a woman’s body. I thought it was fairly obvious that the piece was written from a fictional point of view, but despite that made it clear in the first post in the comment thread that the piece was satirical.
3. Nevertheless, after the piece was posted, Beale on his site asserted that I had confessed to being a rapist, based on the piece. It was pointed out to him that the piece was fictional, but Beale continued to assert I had confessed to being a rapist, and continues to do so, apparently, to this day. He also uses the nickname “McRapey” to refer to me.
4. At the time it’s possible he had confused the piece with being a confession; he doesn’t like me much (the feeling is mutual) and this would be something he’d get excited about. Two years on, it seems unlikely he is actually unclear that the piece was satirical. I assume at this point he does it to annoy me, to confuse people, and possibly to try to get the assertion that I am a self-confessed rapist into the Google results when people search my name.
5. Indeed, it is annoying. No one likes anyone out there so obviously lying about them; no one likes being defamed. But the defamation doesn’t appear to have gained much traction outside of Beale’s own site, probably because it’s clear Beale is making the assertion off a fictional, satirical piece, and because it’s also clear Beale has a thing about me, enough so that in 2013, I used it to raise tens of thousands of dollars for RAINN and other organizations. Likewise the assertion doesn’t show up in my Google results, or at least, not high enough to be an issue.
6. Aside from writing this to clarify matters, I don’t intend to do anything about Beale continuing to assert I have confessed to being a rapist. I could bring a libel suit against him, on the idea that accusing me of confessing to rape is defamation, it’s an untrue assertion, and Beale knows it’s untrue and continues to assert it anyway, for malicious purposes (the latter being important as I am likely to be considered a public individual at this point). However, I would also need to show that Beale’s actions have caused me harm, economically and/or emotionally. Aside from annoyance, which does not rise to actionable levels, I’m not seeing the harm to me personally. Essentially, Beale escapes punishment here because he’s failed to be important enough to be harmful.
7. I assume that for the foreseeable future, Beale will continue to lie about me confessing to be a rapist, for his own purposes. Again, annoying. On the other hand, useful. If Beale is perfectly happy to lie so baldly and obviously about this particular thing, perhaps that should be considered the baseline for the truth value of any other assertion that he might choose to make, particularly about people. Likewise, consider what sort of person you’d have to be to intentionally lie about someone confessing to rape, and to continue to offer up that lie for two years straight, despite knowing otherwise. Consider whether this person is worth your time at all, or your belief.
Comments off on this; I don’t want to bother.
That said, I have no doubt Beale’s delighted that I offered this piece up at all; I’m sure he thinks it’s a victory of some sort. If he does, well, remember: He’s kind of a terrible person.