Warning! I am furious, and this post is a rant.
In Australia, we are not guaranteed the right of free speech in our constitution. Nonetheless we all believe people do have a right to speak their minds. Unless what they say is slanderous. I’m no expert on US law but I believe the same caveat applies over there.
The reason I am furious is that an anonymous person on Amazon has called me a liar in the comments to her review of Christie Meierz new novel ‘Daughters of Suralia’.
Why does this person call me a liar? Because in my review of Christie’s book I wrote “I am first and foremost a sci-fi reader…” Apparently a check of my reviews [on Amazon] revealed that I review all sorts of genres, not exclusively sci-fi. Ergo, as my reviews are not about sci-fi, my reading cannot be in the sci-fi genre either!
Is this petty, as well as being wrong? Of course it is. The problem lies in the fact that I have :
– published with Amazon… under my real name.
– posted reviews on Amazon… under my real name.
– commented on Amazon… under my real name.
So to be called a liar slanders me as both an individual and as a writer.
I asked for an apology and received a rant about the First Amendment. It was all about her rights, not mine. Just in case there is any confusion, the ‘her’ in this case is not Christie Meierz, it is an anonymous reviewer by the name of ‘Lisa’.
I would shrug this whole sorry mess off as a storm in a teacup except for :
a) The damage something like this could do to my reputation as a writer of science fiction, and
b} My anger that some people can use the shield of anonymity to abuse others online.
This question of anonymity is not new. It’s a sore that has been festering for some time, and the examples of abuse are mounting. My little tale of woe is trivial, but it does highlight that something has to change.
In my view, online citizens should have the same rights as real world citizens – say what you want but be prepared to wear the consequences.
At the moment, anonymity guarantees that there can be no consequences for online abuse. I can check for ‘Lisa’, but all I get is a page about her other reviews. She can hide. I can’t.
And that’s why I took the one option open to me. I reported ‘Lisa’ to Amazon for abuse.
Whether Amazon does anything about my complaint or not, I had to make a stand. To be honest, if ‘Lisa’ were not anonymous I would already be on the phone to my solicitor to find out whether I can sue a US citizen. That is how strongly I feel about being called a liar.
I apologize for vomiting this anger all over my blog. I’m sure I’ll calm down and feel really silly, eventually. For now though I’m just plain seething with the injustice of it all.