Just a quick post this Boxing Day with the latest I’ve heard on the Courtney Milan/RWA controversy. In the early evening on Christmas Eve, RWA tweeted an update. Link after the break.
None of this surprises me. Milan is a master at rallying her troops via social media. Nothing wrong with that. Many writers and other celebs do it.
Nor am I surprised that RWA wants to get legal advice about how they should proceed. Frankly, it is probably something they should have done initially instead of immediately acting. That’s not to say I agree with how Milan presented herself or her arguments on Twitter. I don’t. I’m old-school and believe you can be much more effective as a professional without resorting to the vitriol, etc. I do believe her behavior reflected badly on the organization and that is in violation of their by-laws. However, as I noted in my earlier posts, I’m not sure that by itself is enough to justify the extreme response fro RWA.
But there is more that does concern me. Remember, I said the situation was fluid and we would learn more as time passed. It appears–again, nothing proved and bias on both sides is being taken into account–the decision and recommendation RWA’s board relied upon didn’t come from the ethics committee itself but from a specially selected group. It is possible that, if true, that was a violation of RWA procedures. If that is the case, it’s a can of worms RWA isn’t going to want to open by sticking with their punishment recommendations.
What happens regarding this situation will be interesting to watch. Already, a number of Milan’s followers are calling for investigations into the publisher who filed the complaint. There’s a lot of posturing about how wrong it is to try to silence a marginalized author. In other words, they are politicizing the issue. Admittedly, it’s hard not to in this day and age. However, the question is ultimately going to come down to whether or not Milan’s comments on Twitter were such that they damaged the RWA in the eyes of its members and readers of the genre.
In other words, it will come down to Milan’s behavior. Nothing more and nothing less. The best we can hope for out of all this is that RWA will come up with a solid procedure on how to deal with such situations in the future.
The only smart thing RWA can do in this situation is seek legal guidance. It is too bad it didn’t do so before acting. It would have saved a lot of the drama. But Milan needs to reconsider her online approach to things as well. Sometimes, we all need to take a step back and think and possibly rephrase how we want to say something. Perhaps she should keep that in mind going forward.