COMMENT: Forest, Trees and Taki Soma

Things that are pissing me off right about now:

1) Tom Spurgeon’s unnecessarily snarky and ill-informed commentary yesterday, which includes an ill-timed reference to old rumors about Friends of Lulu, and barely a cursory mention of the actual situation which precipitated the creation of the Empowerment Fund.

2) Heidi MacDonald’s total lack of reference to Taki’s coming forward, or the creation of the Empowerment Fund, and yet she posts about her “FIGHT!” with Spurgeon over his disparaging comment about Friends of Lulu. (UPDATE: Within minutes of this post, Heidi’s comments on the situation went up.)

3) Elayne Riggs’ hypocritical Reasons I’m Not Discussing Taki Soma post — whom in January, when Taki was still unidentified, complained that “I’ve yet to see one single male comics blogger on my blogroll talk about this subject.”

Riggs’ post was the straw that broke the camel’s back — among her “reasons” being that she doesn’t know Taki, and the same FoL issues Spurgeon referenced — and I started to comment on her blog when I realized my anger wasn’t just over her post, that it had simply crystallized things for me.

Issues with FoL aside, since when does knowing Taki have any bearing on discussing her situation? When she was unidentified, people had plenty to say, Riggs included, but now that she’s come forward, she wants to pull back, choosing to stay on the sidelines to “wait-and-see”, despite acknowledging the fact that “more light needs to be shone on these situations”?

Who’s it going to take to shed that light before others are comfortable with turning on their own spotlights? Be the change you want to see!

Is Taki’s taking the brave step of coming forward publicly not enough? She, and the other women who might see her action as the inspiration they need to come forward with their own stories, don’t need “best wishes”, they need clear, unequivocal support, both in word and deed.

You think the guy who did this isn’t sweating out his precarious situation a little more with each blogger he sees talking about this, especially influential ones with influential audiences, like Spurgeon, MacDonald and Riggs? You think he’s not relieved a bit by posts like Riggs’ that shakes its head in shame while effectively saying she won’t be doing anything about it? Or Spurgeon, who didn’t even deign it worthy of a specific mention? Or several other bloggers who jumped on the story in the beginning but have so far remained silent since Taki stepped forward.

I can’t help but think some of this has to do with knowing, or at least suspecting, the identity of the accused, and that thought disgusts me.

Days like this I recognize the comics industry and its assorted sycophants for the inbred, selfish, small-minded community it really is. And yeah, it may just be a microcosm of the larger world, but that doesn’t make it right or something to shrug your shoulders over. In an industry built in large part on the shoulders of idealistic superheroes, it’s ironic that many of its members are the equivalent of sniveling, petty criminals who cower in fear at the first sight of danger. (EDIT: I’m talking generally at this point, not about Spurgeon, MacDonald and Riggs.)

NOTE: I don’t know Taki beyond my getting involved with the reporting of the story a month or two ago, as she was preparing to come forward and wanted to ensure that we did everything the right way. What I do know is the number of statements from other people she was able to pull together, including her witness and at least three others who’ve personally witnessed the accused engage in similarly offensive behavior towards women.

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5 thoughts on “COMMENT: Forest, Trees and Taki Soma

  1. “I can’t help but think some of this has to do with knowing, or at least suspecting, the identity of the accused, and that thought disgusts me.”

    I think you are reading too much into their responses.

    You seem angry and want to lash out at someone over this and are taking umbrage at other people not taking the exact same stance you would take.

    I agree Tom didn’t really mention the original instance and bringing an old rumor into the story wasn’t actually the best thing to do, but as far as I can see Heidi and Elayne stated their reasons for posting the way they did logically and they have a point.

    I agree that you should be upset about the whole situation, but saying things like “many of its members are the equivalent of sniveling, petty criminals who cower in fear at the first sight of danger.” is a little harsh. For every person that is like this there are many people who are upset that things like this happen in the world and are doing things to try to change it. Me? I’ve never been witness to anything like this, so I do my part by watching my actions and controlling myself.

    Anyway, I pray that this has some resolution, but as in a lot of things in this messed up world, it probably won’t.

  2. Yeah, I’m definitely pissed over the whole situation, and this post was me getting some stuff off my chest on my own blog as opposed to doing it elsewhere where I’m more likely to be seen as officially representing PopCultureShock.

    Tom, Heidi and Elayne were not the direct target for any of this, simply the catalysts for starting the train of thought on its track.

    But yeah, the “sniveling, pretty criminals” thing was harsh and I probably used a broader brush than necessary in painting a picture of the community. Nevertheless, change “many” to “way too many” and my point stands.

  3. “Issues with FoL aside, since when does knowing Taki have any bearing on discussing her situation?” Because if I already said what I felt needed to be emphasized back in January when this first came out, having Taki come forward and identify herself doesn’t change that situation – it only invites people to speculate about her, and not knowing her I don’t want to do that. If I did know her I could speak to her character and that might provide more information to people pondering the situation, but I don’t.

    If I didn’t think any light needed to be shone on the general situation, I wouldn’t have posted at all – and I certainly wouldn’t have linked to my previous post.

    Oh, and by the way, saying I don’t have anything to add to the discussion about a situation is NOT the same thing as saying I’m not going to do anything about it. I’ve logged at least a decade of work with Friends of Lulu dealing with situations like this; how about you?

    That said, I appreciate you acknowledging that this isn’t an attack on me, just a springboard for your own thoughts on the matter. I respond further to you on my own blog.

  4. I’ve responded to your main response over on your blog.

    As for my involvement with FoL, it’s certainly no match for your “at least a decade of work” that has apparently left you cynical and distrustful of the organization. I joined as a member just last year, after learning of it in some detail via one of Ronée’s first columns with Buzzscope. Prior to that, I had a passing notion of its existence, but I was still relatively new to the world of comics beyond the printed page and learning my way around.

    Beyond comics, though, I’ve long been an advocate for women’s rights in general and have both curated and participated in many a poetry event dedicated to such advocacy.

  5. I imagine a lot of people are scarred to post too many oppinions until they hear more of the facts.
    It’s easier to speak in generalizations, but once the people have names and faces it always gets a bit trickier.

    I think it is good that people are talking about all these issues though.

    And I don’t think either you or Elayne or anyone else needs to justify themselves when it comes to helping non-profit organizations and donating their time and energy. Every little bit counts and helps makes a difference I think. Even if people will always be skeptic about it 🙁

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