When people should stop digging

I’m just shaking my head right now. Surely, SURELY there comes a point when you realise that things have gone incredibly shit-shaped and you really should STOP DIGGING.

Apparently author Katherine Ashe, yes, the one from the other day, has threatened reviewer Kathryn Warner with legal action – and she’s rounding up her Facebook mafia.

Warner posted this review of Ashe’s book http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/362963815

Which is, in all fairness and all credit to Warner, a very detailed review from someone who CLEARLY, BLATANTLY, OBVIOUSLY knows their subject area. The review calls into question historical inaccuracies, raises questions about plot points and believability  Warner clearly went to great lengths  to produce a review that was fair, accurate and detailed.

So, why then did Ashe post the following on Yahoo http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IAG-members/message/17715 where she asks openly, in a public forum, for others to join a lawsuit against Warner. She says that there are laws about harassment. Well, Ashe, there are laws about slander too.

In the post she asked Lloyd Lofthouse, yes, HIM again, to provide the physical evidence of a comment he made which seems to be about Warner making death threats against Ashe – seems that Lofthouse might be stirring the pot a bit here, and it’s not helping anyone.

Now, I’ll point out, yet again, that the negative reviews of this book that STGRB cited in their attack  were posted several YEARS apart. Hardly a sustained campaign of hate.

However, it seems that Mr Lofthouse is intent of making a drama out of an opinion. He’s certainly come out of nowhere and seems to be taking other people’s battles very personally (remind you of anyone?) and makes several threatening comments – mostly insinuating that he can find you if he knows you IP and so you’d better not comment – this is the same Lofthouse who had spoken several times about tracking people down via their IP address and calling their place of employment to try and get them fired. Yeah. Classy. And not psycho stalker behaviour at all.

Hmm. Well, see, here’s the thing – I don’t like bullies. And I don’t like threats. And I’m not scared of anyone. So bring it on.

Now, let’s talk about ‘Chris’ who posted the same review over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again – see here : http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A8PQECFLP2T2T?sort_by=MostRecentComment&x=2&y=13&display=public

Interestingly – out of nine pages of identical reviews for Ashe’s book, there were a couple of other reviews added in – One 5* for Melissa Douthit’s ‘Raie’Chaelia’ where they comment on how the one star reviews of the book just defame the author. Hmmm.

Other reviews include:

Cassandra Clare’s City of Lost Souls – 4*

Another Ashe novel – 5*

Rebecca Hamilton’s ‘The Forever Girl’ – also 5*

Why do I mention this? Well, I do think it’s a little suspicious that this righteous indignation over SOMEONE else’s book is scarily similar to Melissa Douthit’s previous behaviour, and that the only other books reviewed by ‘Chris’ happen to be a self published book by Douthit which has generally been panned by reviewers, Cassadra Clare – who Douthit posts about almost as much as she squees over Nickleback, and Rebacca Hamilton’s novel – an author and book that Douthit has a guest blogger earlier this year: http://melissadouthit.com/tag/the-forever-girl/

Hamiltonis another self published author who started her own publishing company so as not to appear self published. I wrote about her here:  https://clairewriteswords.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/named-and-shamed/

I just think the whole thing is pretty suspicious. And more and more and more layers are being peeled back, and sadly they are all pointing to the same couple of people. I mean, once again Melissa Douthit’s name is coming up – via the evidence above – with member of STGRB site.

It’s pathetic.

If people spent more time on their own books, and less time causing fights over other peoples, then maybe their career wouldn’t be suffering for it. Just a thought.

 

Sometimes there comes a point when you just need to walk away – Ashe is in the wrong here, but from what I’ve read online, I feel that she’s being fed a lot of shit from people who really should know better, and that’s adding to the issue.

What it really comes down to is this : a reader posted a review. Some (not the author) took exception to the review. They stirred up a whole heap of shit that has nothing to do with anything. Author has been mislead. Author threatens reviewer. 

Bad times.

Just in case it gets deleted, and just in case anyone needs it for an impeding lawsuit, and mostly because I don’t trust Google Cache, I’ve posts the whole Yahoo groups exchange below – and I’d like to take a second to thank Karen Clark for being the voice of reason in all this llama drama.  Please note that these are NOT my words. I have not changed or edited anything:

 

Topic List   < Prev Topic  |  Next Topic >
Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews << First < Prev  Next > Last >> 
Posted By: Thu Mar 7, 2013 10:44 pm  |
Dear Lloyd, 
Thank you so much for contacting me directly by email. I had been off line for some time attending my best friend who is dying .
Would you consider joining in a class action suit against Amazon? Against Kathryn Warner? What do you suggest?

I myself am not well and need to avoid stress as much as possible. But i would like to have from you those passages that i believe you have said include a ‘death threat” against K.A.”and anything else that can be of use to my lawyer. In the UK there are laws against internet harrasment and there are investigators. Has the US caught up with this yet I wonder?

I’m forwarding your email to my husband, Peter Wynne, and to my lawyer, James Brown.

Thank you is an inadequate word to express my feelings regarding your defense of me — and i so terribly regret that you also have been smeared by this Kathryn.

Very warmest regards,
Katherine Ashe

On 3/3/2013 1:14 PM, Lloyd Lofthouse wrote:

 

 

Katherine Ashe,

 
Kathryn has now taken the issue about your book and the five 1-star comments to my Blog. You may want to have your say in this issue and add your voice so both sides may be heard in the same place.

 
 
I suggest that you think things through calmly and only stick to the facts.  Compose in Word and then copy and paste into the small comment window. Take your time. Don’t let emotion control what you say.
 
I’ve seen comments on the IAG forum on this issue too and maybe those people might want to weigh in by adding their opinions.

Sincerely,

Lloyd Lofthouse
 

— On Sun, 3/3/13, Katherine Ashe <kateashe@…> wrote:

From: Katherine Ashe <kateashe@…>
Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
To: IAG-members@yahoogroups.com
Date: Sunday, March 3, 2013, 7:49 AM

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lloyd. 
I have placed this matter in my lawyer’s hands and am under my doctor’s care. My health does not enable me to follow this.
Best regards
Katherine

On 3/2/2013 11:01 PM, Lloyd Lofthouse wrote:

 

 

What is going on over there with the Katherine Ashe half of this issue.  I left the same exact comment for each of the five 1-star reviews and never checked the box that would let me know people have been leaving comments. 

 
Are people calling me names and insulting me over there too?  I only checked back once to see if my suspicions were true that a flock of crows would jump on my comment and vote it down to make it go away and they did—censorship anyone. I didn’t bother to look at the comments after mine.
 
Let’s see, what did I write? Did I insult anyone directly by name?  I don’t think so.  I think I suggested that something fishy was going on and suggested that three reviews from reputable media sources might be a better way to judge Katherine’s book before buying it.
 
Then I included those three reviews from Kirkus, The Historical Novel Society and The Midwest Book Review.
 
How is that bad?  After all, most people can think for him or herself and can judge for themselves the voice they listen to and the one that they ignore.
 
Why vote down what I said so it would be removed unless clicked on? Why censor another opinion unless you do not respect what other people have to say?  
Sincerely,
Lloyd Lofthouse

 

— On Sat, 3/2/13, Kris Jackson <kris@…> wrote:

From: Kris Jackson <kris@…>
Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
To: IAG-members@yahoogroups.com
Date: Saturday, March 2, 2013, 7:44 PM

 

 

Lloyd, your last email is the strongest argument for the legalization of marijuana I’ve ever seen. 

–Kris Jackson

Author of Above the Fray, a Novel of the Union Balloon Corps
and Love Strong As Death

774-276-0116

On 3/1/2013 8:18 PM, Lloyd Lofthouse wrote:

 

 

Karen,

 
Read the list and consider where my mind was. Most of this came from those four before I wrote the post that appeared on my blog and then traced the IP address of those that came after me in comments on my Blog.
 

I have been told that I should consider therapy.

 

That my post (it was really a comment not a post) was faulty but no examples were used to support that opinion.

 

I have been told that I cannot debate rationally from someone that refused to debate me on a rational topic.

 

Then, when I attempted to start a rational discussion, I was told that I was not worthy to debate. That I do not qualify.

 

My comments have been labeled ludicrous nonsense.

 

What I wrote in a comment about “disinhibition” has been called nincompoopery because it was too long.

 

Words have been put into my mouth saying I described myself as a troll.

 

I have been accused of being a somewhat privileged white male because that description fits the average anonymous Internet bully/troll as described in the Atlantic.com piece.

 

It has been inferred that I am an “egotistic narcissist”.

 

I have been described as the “bloviating Lofthouse”.

 

Anna O’Karenina has made it clear that she/he is so much more famous that I could ever dream of being, and that I will never be as smart as he/her.

 

I have been accused of lacking reading skills so poorl that I could not get into first grade.

 

I have been accused of having a thin skin (This means sensitive to criticism as if I should just keep silent ant take it when I am being bullied and harrassed. In fact, I suspect anyone that speaks out against you four will be accused of having a thin skin.)

 

Rmahala said I am a snob and that is the kindest thing that can be said about me.

 

An alleged bully has called me a bully.

 

I have been accused of stepping outside the bounds of professional behavior by another individual as if she is a judge and a jury with a verdict. This also indicates that Rmahala is the authority on professional behavior for authors and if an author does not toe the mark that Rmahala drew in the sand, he is she has stopped outside the bounds of professional behavior.

 

I have been accused of being self-absorbed.

 

I have been accused of being friends with people I have never met, people I don’t know. I don’t even know their names or where they live.

 

And I’m the guilty one, you infer, because so many people are talking about how I reacted to all that.  I’m the one some think should have a so-called “thick skin” and just chuckle it all away as it were harmless.

 
Lloyd Lofthouse

 

— On Fri, 3/1/13, Karen Clark <Ragged_staff@…> wrote:

From: Karen Clark <Ragged_staff@…>
Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
To: IAG-members@yahoogroups.com
Date: Friday, March 1, 2013, 3:50 PM

 

Lloyd
 
You are mistaking my quite fierce concern that you, or anyone, would intrude into the private life of a flame war combatant (and blog commenter) with personal ‘sympathy’ for this person or that. It wasn’t just one person’s ip address you traced (or attempted to trace), there was another commenter on your blog who you informed (wrongly, as it turned out) where they lived. Then you say “no-one wants to comment on my blog, what are they afraid of?”. I can’t even begin to conceive of the thought processes that lead from ‘this person is flaming me on the internet!’ to “I know, I’ll ring their place of work and get them fired!”.  You may be blissfully unaware (or not care) that on several forums out there, this is being discussed, and I’m afraid that it’s you (not ‘AK’) whose behaviour is being seriously questioned. From your own words, you made this call and told everyone about it in order to intimidate and threaten someone. People now know what you’re capable of. And do you know what’s lost in all this? ‘AK’s’ contribution to the flame war. No-one cares what they said anymore. All that matters is that you crossed a line then proudly reported that in at least two places.
 
I’m trying to help you see something here. You’re damaging your own reputation (and potential sales). And you’re putting the indie writing community in a bad light, as every indie writer who joins in a flame war on Amazon does. Most of them don’t follow that up with deliberately intimidatory phone calls to workplaces, that’s usually reserved for STGB.
 
Karen
 
 
From: Lloyd Lofthouse <lflwriter@…>
Reply-To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2013 14:16:41 -0800 (PST)
To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
 
 

 

Karen,

 
The reason I called was to discover if the wireless system the San Mateo County Office of Education provided was for all the public schools in the country or not. I was told it was only for that site and they would have no way of tracking an anonymous IP address sent from that system that hundreds of individuals have access to daily.
 
Everyone that uses that facility has access to the code that allows them to log onto the network.
 
I was also told by the person at the San Mateo County Office of Education that they had nothing in place to catch or identify anyone using their wireless network.  Once someone has the code, they can log on and no one is watching.
 
Hundreds of people work there and groups of teachers come in an out all the time to attend in-services. I made it clear that I wasn’t there to cause trouble but wanted them to know that someone was using their network to send harrassing bully type comments to me on Amazon—something a school district might frown on if it were a student or even a teacher. In fact, teachers in this country are held to a strict code of conduct and this is the only profession where one may be tried for the same crime twice. If found innocent the first time, a teacher can be tried again in another court and be found guilty, lose his or her credentil to teach and even and go to jail.
 
If you follow the news, you might remember that a few teachers over the last several years have been suspended from their jobs and even fired for posting unacceptable messages on Facebook from their home, and this isn’t even harassing someone on Amazon as an anonymous alleged bully from their own wireless system.
 
Thinking that some sort of Big Brother is watching and can catch Anna Karenina (AK) is paranoia.  I was a teacher for thirty years and although the students were monitored on each school site and had to get a swipe card to be able to log on to a computer in one of the labs, the teachers were free to log on anytime they wanted but there were restricted sites where no one couldn’t go.
 
When I was still teaching, I would have never considered sending such an e-mail from my classroom computer.  No way. I would have even had second thoughts pulling a bully stunt like this from my home computer.
 
I think your sympathy for AK is misplaced, and I do not regret calling the San Mateo County Office of Education.  Who knows, they might implement some sort of monitoring system to make sure this doesn’t happen again from their wireless system.  Believe me, with the antagonistic atmosphere in this country toward the public schools and teachers, they are very sensitive to this sort of thing.  I’ve seen teachers fired for much less.

Lloyd Lofthouse
 

— On Fri, 3/1/13, Karen Clark<Ragged_staff@…> wrote:

From: Karen Clark <Ragged_staff@…>
Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
To: IAG-members@yahoogroups.com
Date: Friday, March 1, 2013, 8:21 AM

 

Lloyd, can you blame anyone for wanting to keep their ip address secret when you phone their work place? A flame war on Amazon is a silly and petty thing, whoever carries it out. Tracking down a workplace phone number through an ip address and using it is an incursion into someone’s private life, pretty close to stalking and far more worthy of the term ‘bullying’ than posting, or defending, a critical review of a book! Please get some perspective! News of this has spread like wildfire and your actions are not being viewed in a complimentary light.
 
What any commenter on your blog now has to fear (as the precedent has been set) is an intrusion, by you, into their private and personal lives. There is nothing, in any of this, to justify that!
 
Karen
 
 
From: Lloyd Lofthouse <lflwriter@…>
Reply-To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2013 08:01:16 -0800 (PST)
To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
 
 

 

Yes, this is also why I decided to move this dysfunctional conversation to my Blog. As I am discovering, most of these anonymous and even real named alleged bullies do not seem to want anyone to know their IP address.

 
If they are in the right, what do they have to fear?

Lloyd Lofthouse
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

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2 responses to “When people should stop digging

  1. Claire, many thanks again for your support and for being a voice of reason, and for the kind words about my review. I simply can’t get over Ashe’s threat of legal action against me for – what? Writing a review of her novel. It’s so insane I can’t even get my head round it.

    Lofthouse has definitely been stirring the pot here, and most of his recent blog posts have been full of the most bafflingly paranoid nonsense, especially his so-called ‘justifications’ for tracing the IP address of a commenter and trying to phone her workplace. Re Ashe’s ‘death threat’, he commented on the IAG Yahoo group that he was talking about threats made against Amy Chua, author of ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’, in 2011. Somehow, I cannot begin to imagine how, Katherine Ashe got entirely the wrong end of the stick and assumed he was referring to a death threat made against her, presumably by me (how totally insane!). http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IAG-members/message/17720 Katherine Ashe blocked me and a few others from her Facebook page in June last year after we asked her questions about her historical research and theories that she couldn’t answer. Since then I have never attempted to contact her in any way, though she’s come onto both my Amazon and Goodreads reviews and left extremely long comments, at least one of which contradicts things she has said about me in two Facebook posts, now deleted (e.g., she claimed that I made ‘abusive comments’ and ‘brutal attacks’ on Lofthouse on his blog).

  2. Claire, the more calm voices discuss this, the more people will see that Kathryn is the one being attacked. What we are dealing with here are people who cannot bear the slightest criticism of their work feeling fully entitled to call other people ‘trolls’ and ‘witches’ and ‘slimy’. There were two people who could have stopped this before it reached this level, two people who could have salvaged their writing careers and their good names, and they not only chose not to but chose to ramp up the nonsense. Thank you for writing about this.

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