Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What About Otto?

I make an honest effort not to respond too quickly or intemperately to what I see on Facebook or in blogs. For someone with my personality (Borderline Asshole Disorder, or BAD) not responding too quickly helps a lot with remaining temperate. It’s akin to a comic I saw many years ago—I wish I remembered who he was—describing why there are waiting periods to buy a gun: “What do you mean I have to wait three days? I’m mad now!

There was a post on the always worth reading Do Some Damage blog last week that got me to thinking, so I let it ferment for a while. (Some would argue my thought process is more like composting than fermentation. I have an answer to that, but I’m being temperate today.) David Nemeth’s thoughts on “What to do About Otto” Penzler have rattled around in the empty caverns of my mind ever since.

Full disclosure: I do not know Otto Penzler. I have never met him. The totality of my interaction with him is to have shared a crowded elevator at Bouchercon. I have never been to the Mysterious Bookshop. I obviously know who he is, as I’ve been involved in the crime writing community for quite a few years. My purpose here is not to defend Otto Penzler. He means nothing to me personally.

That said, I would like to give him a fair shake, if only as an intellectual exercise. Penzler is currently under assault on two fronts. One for his spirited—overwrought, even—condemnation of MWA for removing the Grand Master designation from Linda Fairstein in light of her involvement in the Central Park Five case. This rolled into accusations of misogyny with the resurrection of comments Penzler made near to the startup of Sisters in Crime.

In the interest of fairness let’s take a look at both situations.
  • The written position Penzler takes in each instance is indefensible, especially considering the vitriol with which they are written;
  • That said, the SiC comments are over thirty years old; I don’t know if he holds those same opinions now, as
  • His credentials as a misogynist were hardy burnished by standing up for Fairstein as he did.
What I don’t know is what kind of support Penzler and the Mysterious Bookshop have provided to female writers and writers of color. Maybe David does, and has figures. If so I wish he would have made them available before calling names that don’t easily rub off.

David Nemeth is a friend of mine who writes an excellent blog of his own; a lot of thought went into deciding whether I should post this. Still, making inflammatory statements without all the facts is not the way to advance a conversation. We should all strive to be better in this regard.

1 comment:

Patricia J Childers said...

I think your response is well thought out. Kudos for not joining into the fray without first cogitating on the facts.