Earlier today the news broke that one of the NBA’s greatest players, Kobe Bryant, had died in a helicopter crash along with four others. As is wont in this 24/7 instant news cycle, we later learned the total number of dead was higher and that one was his eldest daughter.
Tragic news, as is any news of any crash or accident or event where any number of lives are lost. We mourn the loss of life on any scale, be it just one or thousands and in rarer cases, millions. These times should be one of reflection and prayer for the families who have suffered a terrible loss.
Unfortunately, some people never seemed to have gotten the memo.
Barely two hours after the news broke, Washington Post political reporter Felecia Sonmez took to her Twitter account to remind everyone that over 16 years ago the recently departed Bryant had been accused of sexual assault and attempted to justify posting a link to the case to put Bryant’s life in “proper context”.
Never mind that the charges were dropped, a civil case was settled out of court and at no time were the allegations proven. Once charged, falsely or not, always guilty and never forgiven. Look, only two people know what really happened that night. We’ve heard both of their sides of it. As is usually the case, I suspect the actual truth lies somewhere in between.
But, on the very day of his death, when his own daughter and seven others died alongside him in a tragic accident, do we really need to make that kind of public tweet while the bodies of the dead are still being recovered from the scene? Can we not allow the families, friends and fans of the departed grieve their sudden loss in peace?
To paraphrase Joseph Welch: “Let us not assassinate this man further, Ms. Sonmez. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
I would post a screenshot of her tweet, and her follow-up tweet where she decried the well-earned ratio her first tweet received (when I last checked it was 19,000 replies against 1,300 likes. In the Twitterverse, that means you have been ratioed and you NEVER want to get ratioed on Twitter) but it seems she has deleted all of her tweets regarding Bryant’s death. I suspect her bosses at the Washington Post ordered her to do so but I will hope she had the decency to be ashamed of what she’d done and deleted them on her own.
UPDATE: Sonmez has been suspended by the Washington post over her tweets. While I am happy to see someone at the Post still practices journalism, this retired sports editor would have fired her within 10 seconds of reading her tweets. Sadly, Addy Baird at BuzzFeed, another political reporter, has taken up the mantle. Happily, she is getting ratioed as well.
There was another episode of someone on Twitter “dancing on someone’s grave” that I originally decided not to write about. Mainly, not to give the soulless creature any more publicity. But in light of today’s events it seems appropriate to address it.
A legend of science fiction, Mike Resnick, passed away earlier this year. In his case, his attacker waited all of 48 hours to dredge up a personal issue she had with Resnick and another writer back in 2013. I’m not going to go into details, just remember there are three sides to every story. His, Hers and somewhere in between lay the actual truth of what happened.
Again, I wasn’t there. With one or two obvious exceptions, neither were you in all likelihood. But it happened over six years ago and the matter was resolved. No, not to everyone’s satisfaction, but it was resolved and everyone moved on. Well, maybe everyone but her apparently.
Resnick continued writing. She appears to have continued writing, editing and whatever else it is she does. Yet, for some reason she still felt compelled to rejoice in his death and blame him for her being a hateful person.
I’d post some her finest hits but she blocked me on Twitter and Facebook before I even knew who she was. I’m going by what has been reported by many others who have screenshots of her vile hate.
Judging by Sonmez’s tweet history and this other person’s known history what we are seeing here are die-hard warriors of the #MeToo movement. They will no doubt be outraged for life, blissfully ignoring the fact that they literally have gotten what they want, especially in SF/F.
Look at the finalists for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. They run 80-90% women. Over the past four years, no man has won the Hugo’s Best Science Fiction Novel award and only three of the 23 total nominees were men. The same can be said of the Nebulas run by the SFWA.
What is also being said by many fans of SF/F is that there was once a time when the finalists for these two awards were must-reads. Today, the books on those lists are must-avoids.
The Dragon Awards are now truly representative of what you should be reading. The Helicon Awards will be announcing their second annual winners in April. I strongly urge you to read the works you find there.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read the works of “Evil Old White Guys” like Resnick, Asimov and many others, I suggest you do so. And I suggest you look to the Indie Publishers who are putting out great works of SF/F today.
I happen to be one of those Indie Publishers with Tuscany Bay Books. We’ve been putting out the Planetary Anthology Series, loaded with incredible SF/F short stories. Pluto and Luna are now out with nine more books to follow.
Take a look at this photo:
Every book you see above was either written solely by me, co-written by me or has a short-story within it written by me. There are 25 books sitting up there, all written and published over the last six years. There are many more to come. You won’t get preached at. You won’t get scolded. You WILL be entertained. Because all I try to do when I start a story is write a story the reader will enjoy reading.
That will be the legacy I will leave behind when my time on the Earth comes to an end. I take great pride in that. Both Mike Resnick and Kobe Bryant have left behind legacies that cannot be tarnished no matter how loudly these indecent people tweet their vulgar hate out. They and their families can be proud of that.
I never got to meet either man but I enjoyed their work on the court and in the craft of writing SF/F. To both, I wish them nothing more than to rest in peace and that God bring strength and peace to the families they left behind as they deal with their recent losses.
As for those that took to Twitter to post hatred, I’ve learned there is little you can do about these vile folk save ignore them. Shame them when needed yes, but after that give them no further oxygen until, starved of attention, they will surely go the way of the DoDo Bird.
As for the rest of us, understand no one is perfect and no life can withstand intense scrutiny and remain unsullied. But at the very least, unless the departed is an evil monster that has murdered innocents, we can at least be respectful of the mourning of the deceased’s family and friends and allow them to grieve in peace.