Becoming Mob, Judge, Jury, and Executioner

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The horror world has been a mess lately, and I mostly try to stay out of it. I want to help where I can, lend support to those I love, and lift my skirts above the spilled blood we’re all wading through. But things are reaching a fever pitch and I need to say something.
Be careful.
Be careful of what you say. Be careful of what you read. Be careful of clinging so tightly to unverified facts that you become a beast and lose your humanity along the line.
We, as writers, especially know that words have power. When we send them out into the world, they grow bigger, sprout teeth, and turn into things we can no longer control. One person’s account of things can not and should not be taken as gospel. It is up to us as individuals and communities to be responsible, level-headed, and decent human beings.
That’s right. Be decent.I’m talking about charged topics, I know. We’ve been dealing with white supremacy, narcissism, theft, and sexual assault. These are important things, and that’s why this is so difficult. We should be angry about them. We should rush to support anybody who is victimized. But on the other hand, when we lose all sense of reason, we create new victims.
What if, heaven forbid, the person accused of crimes is innocent? What if, in the blur of time and emotional duress, some circumstances aren’t remembered with perfect clarity? What if the accuser simply makes a mistake?
There is more information coming out in one of these situations that leads one to believe that it was physically impossible for one of these things to occur. That changes everything, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t it? Or is the smell of blood in the water so delicious that we can’t stop thrashing long enough to think it through?
I was just reading a thread where an interviewer said that he hadn’t reached out to the person he publicly named and accused on his show, but explained that away by saying that his contact information was readily available and the accused could always reach out to him.
That isn’t how it works. That shouldn’t be how it works.
People are not collateral damage. Look at what we’ve become. Look at our politics. Look at our lives. School children are being beaten to death in their school restrooms while nobody intervenes, but we have self-appointed Bathroom Vigilantes making sure we don’t pee-while-being…I don’t know. Don’t pee while being human. Isn’t that the bottom line? We are all human.
Until we allow ourselves to turn into beasts.
I read about the witch hunts in Salem and I wondered how such a thing could happen. I learned about the holocaust and my mind was blown. How could so many people allow a vocal few to override reason and humanity? How could an entire group be so cruel?
I see it now. This is how. We whip ourselves up without facts. We allow our disgust to overthrow careful consideration. In some cases, love of the spotlight trumps all.
Lives will be lost over this attitude. I hope we realize it. In our passion to protect the victims from bullies, we become the bullies. A single, solitary person can’t stand up to the crushing weight of a crowd, and some won’t even try. I think our intentions are good. We want to protect. We want to punish people we see as threats and predators. But inciting the mob isn’t the way to do it. We have a legal system. We have police. We have people trained to follow protocol that is there for a reason.
My soul hurts. We have become so ugly as a society that I fear for us. I fear because of us.  Please take care with each other. A knife can be used to protect or to harm. A torch can light the way or cause uncontrollable destruction. Put down your torch. You’re going to set everyone around you on fire.

29 Comments on “Becoming Mob, Judge, Jury, and Executioner”

  1. Thank you for this honest, passionate post. We’ve all been guilty of hearing a soundbite or reading a news blurb and accepting it as truth. I don’t think it’s intentional or intended to be malicious. More often, we’re so busy and distracted, that we don’t take the time to dig deeper and check our facts. Also, we are expected to have an opinion on basically everything–even if we don’t know much about the situation. So we improvise a personal position based on shards of evidence and crumbs of facts. We need to slow down, take a breath, ask ourselves if we’re really sure about what we’re standing behind. When in doubt, err on the side of restraint and, whenever possible, mercy.
    Thanks for being so quick to speak out for common sense and decency. Your presence make this online universe far more bearable than it otherwise might be.

  2. Strong words with solid meaning but if the readers, writers, etc., don’t practice the old adage of “Think before you speak”, turmoil will continue.
    I firmly believe the ” me first, me only” concept has become entrenched inside of so many in part because of the crazy political activities, imagined and real racism, sexism, caste systemization, and religious zeal.
    All of the above has infiltrated and most diffinitly scarred all of us.
    What is the cure? Respect! Respect in everyday life. Respect in groups. Respect that each person is an individual but also part of humanity.
    We all must respect the right of acceptance. What you choose may not be my choice but I respect and accept your right to choose.
    Violence, hatred, verbal or written abuse, is a sign of your disrespect for yourself. You should not tolerate your own grievous actions.

  3. So much this. I hate the witch but mentality. I definitely think victims should be protected, but… I don’t know. Defending and going on the offense are different things.
    I appreciate being told who to look out for, but when I see a bunch of people rallying up and name calling, I start getting nervous.

  4. We were just talking about the same things the other day. Frightened that everything was going to get out of control, at the moment it feels like society is a powder keg and slowly the fuse is getting closer.

  5. Does saying, “I support this,” say enough? I hope so, because I do, and could go on and on about how rational and reasonable your post is, but will leave as such. Cheers.

    1. Does saying, “I support this,” say enough? I hope so, because I do, and could go on and on about how rational and reasonable your post is, but will leave as such. Cheers.

  6. Mercedes wrote: “I was just reading a thread where an interviewer said that he hadn’t reached out to the person he publicly named and accused on his show, but explained that away by saying that his contact information was readily available and the accused could always reach out to him. That isn’t how it works. That shouldn’t be how it works.”
    And that’s NOT how it worked. As I stated in my reply to your comment on Facebook, the only person I named over the course of all three shows was RJ Cavender. I reached out to him for comment before doing so. He responded that he had no comment, which I reported on the air.
    I sent multiple emails to the other individual but never got a response. Therefore, I was not comfortable naming that individual — and I refrained from doing so — even while others were, in fact, naming him online. And you’ll notice, I’m not even naming him here.
    When one of my guests named him, I pointed out again that I had not, and that I had, in fact, reached out to him, and heard nothing, and if he wished to offer a response, here was my contact info.
    I agree wholeheartedly with you on mob-mentality and tribalism. But I have to report what I am presented with. I was presented with THREE SEPARATE WOMEN, independent from one another, who alleged to have been sexually assaulted — which I reported. I was presented with numerous authors who alleged to have been scammed — which I reported. The only thing the other side presented me with was “no comment” — which I reported.
    If you — or others — have facts or allegations to the contrary, I am very happy to report those, as well.

    1. “In our passion to protect the victims from bullies, we become the bullies.” This isn’t something Keene understands. Him needlessly berating you on his podcast today for almost 30 minutes had me wondering how people don’t see through the bias of his “reporting”. I’ve worked and trained with real journalists and correspondents; none of his “facebook comments as sources” and “my sources are my friends” would fly in real journalism. He bullies anyone who disagrees with him, and lately loves to use his podcast to publicly shame anyone he disagrees with. I’m in no way the only one who sees this, but of course, Keene will just call us trolls and rant some more.
      (Ah, it’s so nice to be able to comment on something Keene-related where Keene can’t just delete my comment and block me the moment I disagree with him.)
      Also: I see nearly no “victim-shaming” here on this post. I can see how somehow can misread your lines or apply it to a different context, but…any “victim-shaming” here is a complete reach.

    2. Brian, all due respect, but I do notice that while you maintain that only your guest named the accused on your one show episode — and hence, you bear no responsibility(?) — you exercised extreme care in the previous show that no one name the accuser in the non-Cavender incident. It’s a pity that that level of care was not exercised more consistently. Why? Because it confuses and enflames things needlessly. And even, recklessly.
      Additionally, over the arc of three… four?… podcasts, the allegations against Cavender and the other accused have been so thoroughly and vigorously conflated on your show that it becomes difficult for a listener to understand which individual you are talking about and for which alleged misdeed…indeed, you seem to enjoy mushing them into one seamless threat, and you very willfully extend the culpability of Cavender’s clear fiscal malfeasance into matters which are, at best, murkier.
      This may make for rollicking advocacy and scandaliscious internet fun (tune in next week when we NAME NAMES!) but it makes for really crap “reporting.”
      When you subsequently snarked off in last week’s podcast and mocked Mercedes for being your “new program director” and derided her for suggesting you were “doing it wrong”? Uhm, yeah dude, I’ll say it: she’s right, and you are doing it way, way wrong in this.
      If it helps, I’ll put on my best Samuel L. Jackson voice: ‘You wanna ‘report’? Then REPORT, mutherfucker!’
      One of these events is fast becoming horror’s own UVA Rolling Stone. The accusers are Jackie. And you? Are you horror’s own Nancy Grace?
      Even Nancy Grace was an actual prosecutor before she became a TV personality.
      Serious allegations deserve serious, sober examination. A couple of guys swigging bourbon and mouthing off into a microphone is neither. Allegations don’t get much more serious than RAPE, and being a journalist carries with it an express and implied ethical and fiduciary responsibility to examine it fairly, rationally, seriously, and not just cheerlead a lynch mob for clicks and giggles. So far, you are falling woefully short in this.
      In other words, as the popular saying goes: do better, dude.

      1. I fucking love this. “Are you horror’s own Nancy Grace?” Thank you.
        I’m surprised by Mr Keene’s …reporting style , which did indeed seem bent on turning the two subjects in question into one. They are completely different, completely, and should be treated as such. I fail to see how Mercedes has done anything but ask gently for reason and restraint. How this is offensive and an attack on Mr Keene –or could be seen as an attack on anyone at all–is not readily apparent.

  7. “One person’s account of things can not and should not be taken as gospel.”
    This is so true. All too often, I look through comments and there are maybe two about the topic, and hundreds (I exaggerate) attacking, name calling, rebuttals. It gets so tiresome.
    You have made many points in your article that, to respond to them all would be a post in itself. Not to worry, I would support most of what you have here. But, the quoted sentence from you says it all. Unfortunately, I cannot claim innocence to the charges.

  8. Brian Keene rightly ridicules this crazy blog post on his podcast. Ms. Yardley’s blog post ignores the witness statements presented on Mr. Keene’s podcast, and she cites the mob mentality that produced the Salem witch trials and the Holocaust. Why? Is she saying Mr. Keene is leading a mob crusade against innocent individuals, and that the people who have said they witnessed very questionable actions are mistaken at best, or lying at worst, shouldn’t Ms. Yardley confront Mr. Keene directly (in other words, by making a blog post criticizing Mr. Keene without providing him an opportunity to respond directly to her, she’s doing the very same thing she’s accusing him of…there’s a word for that).

    1. Yardley DID confront Keene directly about it on facebook, but got nowhere with him.
      My main issue here–the blog is so vague that we don’t know if she’s referring to Cavander, Riley, the HWA, etc. Keene assumes this is all a personal attack on his podcast and the victims of Cavander–but I think she’s actually talking about the HWA here. Even on the podcast, he attacks her but does say he’s not 100% sure what she’s talking about. He ASSUMES she’s victim-shaming because “other people said so”. Not very good reporting skills.

      1. Mr. Pharaoh wrote: “Yardley DID confront Keene directly about it on facebook, but got nowhere with him.”
        Well, it doesn’t say that anywhere in Ms. Yardley’s blog post. What she wrote is, “I was just reading a thread where an interviewer said…”
        “An interviewer,” admittedly she doesn’t name Mr. Keene, or his podcast, but the topics of “white supremacy,” “theft, and sexual assault” have been the topics of recent podcasts hosted by Mr. Keene (not sure where “narcissism” is in all this, unless it’s referring to Mr. Keene’s opinion of himself, but I don’t recall that as a podcast topic).
        Since Ms. Yardley does not name the “interviewer” your belief that she’s talking about the Horror Writers Association is just as valid as Mr. Keene believing she’s discussing his podcast. However, she could easily clear that up by identifying who exactly is the “interviewer” that she’s discussing. At the same time, maybe she could explain what the Holocaust has to do with this, and just when and where is it that school children “are being beaten to death in their school restrooms”; just where has that occurred?

    2. J.J, my friend… that is about the least coherent train of thought I’ve followed in a long time.
      You literally have zero point and zero credibility, best I can tell.

  9. Oh, good grief. All of this just proves Yardley’s point. Jumping on people with accusations when you don’t even have all the facts.
    You don’t have any names to jump on, but suddenly it is all about you. Oh, wait, it’s always about you, isn’t it? Oh, and here comes that bandwagon. Let’s all jump upon it and ride it to the bitter end. She has defended zero people. She has accused zero people. Someone needs to put on their big boy panties, and so does their pitchfork carrying mob.

    1. mxavier1 wrote: “All of this just proves Yardley’s point.”
      How? By pointing out what a crazy rambling mess that is most of Ms. Yardley’s blog post? For example, she wrote: “School children are being beaten to death in their school restrooms while nobody intervenes, …”
      Now that claim can be turned into a verified fact. Yet, she supplies nothing to support that statement, such as where and when have these school children been beaten to death. How many have died? Why haven’t authorities taken action?
      mxavier1 wrote: “You don’t have any names to jump on, but suddenly it is all about you. Oh, wait, it’s always about you, isn’t it?”
      I don’t understand your logic to make a claim that I made my posts about me. What have I promoted about myself that would support such a false claim? I urge you to list any self-promotion (I do that because I know the answer is nothing).
      Again, is Ms. Yardley is not referring to Brian Keene’s podcast, then rather than identifying the “interviewer,” all she has to do is say that the “interviewer” who she said “hadn’t reached out to the person he publicly named and accused on his show,” is not Mr. Keene (again, that would be a solid fact). I have to ask, who else in addition to Mr. Keene is discussing these subjects on their show?

      1. Mr. James wrote: “Kids getting beaten to death in school”; also, Ms. Yardley wrote: “School children”
        When the news story you cite reads: “A 16-year-old student has died after she was assaulted by several other students inside a high school bathroom in Wilmington, Delaware.”
        So that’s ONE student, and not the “Kids” and “children” (both plural) cited by you and Ms. Yardley. If you have knowledge about other school children being beaten to death in school restrooms, please cite. Otherwise, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT.

      2. Whoa, first you basically accuse her of making up stuff. Then you have to nitpick pluralisms? Kinda leads me to believe you should go back to English class, because when speaking in generalizations about a specific event you can pluralize.

  10. Where, exactly, did my comment have anything to do with you, J.J. Smith? Perhaps the reason you didn’t understand my logic was because you were, in fact, trying to make something about you, that entirely wasn’t.

    1. mxavier1 wrote: “Perhaps the reason you didn’t understand my logic was…”
      I’ll tell you why I don’t understand your logic, there has to be some logic present.

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