Hypocrisy. What is it? A lot of people seem to think it is “Do as I say, not as I did.” That is, however, not true. If I tell you that I did something in the past and tell you I think you would be better off not doing the same thing? That is simply offering an opinion based in life experience. But if, for example, I tell you sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong and a sin, and it turns out I am in the midst of cheating on my wife with a man? That is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is “Do as I say, not as I am doing.”
This whole thing with Val D’Orazio and Chris Sims…it is complex. Mind you, not the part about the 2007-2010 online harassment. That is pretty much damning public record. And it was wrong. But it is complex…because I like them both.
I first was following D’Orazio and her Occasional Super-heroine blog, which I seem to recall discovering via the Girl-Wonder web community. I found the stories of the behind the scenes in Pro Comics frustrating. And my memory of initial reactions were her Identity Crisis blogs sparked anger in a lot of people. Then, suddenly it seemed to change. I discovered Chris Sims and a large group of bloggers that I also found generally engaging. And then I saw this (what seemed like an unfair) backlash towards Valerie and her blog. I did not understand it…but to be honest, I did not perceive Chris as leading it.
I did not read a lot of stuff some of these folks posted on her blog, which skewed my perception of what was going on. I just saw a lot of people getting down on Valerie. But at the time, as I had slammed people I did not agree with, I felt odd calling out people for saying they did not like a person that I liked.
Then Sims joined Comics Alliance, working with people like Laura Hudson. And since I had a skewed perspective (by missing some of the harsher treatment-understand, I rarely read online comments on peoples’ blogs unless I also left a comment) Sims got a chance to mature. The guy I followed there seemed to be getting better and better as a person. I saw him evolve into a person that I respected.
Valerie was someone I had no issue with, she continued in various capacities to push for comics becoming a more inclusive environment for women…and none of her critics could diminish that for me.
Seeing that 2007-2010 Chris actually posted on her blog “are you gonna cry, little girl?” That is angering, saddening, maddening….it represents everything the “Chris of Today” seems opposed to.
And that is part of the problem. That old Chris just got to learn and grow up, while Valerie had to suffer the results of his behavior. I don’t think it is quite accurate to say he reaped reward for the harassment career wise…rather, it was overlooked…and it was overlooked by a lot of people who condemn online harassment, so Chris got to go a path of becoming a better guy, without the sting of his terrible behavior raining down on him.
I get why his getting to write an X-Men comic (how odd is it that I found out, not from any of the news announcements, but rather from a post on Valerie’s Facebook page) for Marvel stings D’Orazio. Chris was an utter douchebag in his treatment of Val.
These are not, of course, close personal friends of mine. I am pretty sure neither know who I am…and my interactions with either D’Orazio or Sims have solely been of the twitter/facebook variety. I mean, I would like to believe that if I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon hanging out with them (or countless of comics fan/pro/critic personalities I have interacted with on the social medias) it would be an enjoyable time. But I cannot say I know the “Real Chris Sims” or the “Real Valerie D’Orazio.”
This is not vindication for those kids who hated Sims and Comics Alliance over their advocacy for diversity in the industry…I took the time to read some of the different comments, and there sure seems to be a lot of people gloating because they thing Comics Alliance and Sims are being shown for being great hypocrites. But here is the thing, Sims is not being a hypocrite to oppose behavior that he has indulged in years past. People can grow and regret and be horrified by their own actions and former beliefs.
Chris has publicly apologized. His e-mail to Val’s husband where he mentioned being thrown under the bus was a poor choice of phrase…because he is not being thrown under the bus. I suspect it was not his intention with the phrase, but there is no way around the fact that it sounds like a “poor me line”. But he is in a rather odd place…as the people who are angry if he does not apologize, but when he does, every motive is heavily scrutinized. And honestly? I kind of hate that. I support Val. I think she deserves support. But if we are going to be a community that allows nobody the opportunity to grow and change, where there are no second, third or fourth chances? No opportunity to step up and offer regret and apology without folks assuming it is totally false?
I don’t think that is a community worth being a part of.
(As an aside, I see a pretty big difference between this and the Brian Wood situation…Brian did not fully own up to the situation and made an effort to end the controversy with a “you just misunderstood” line of defense…Sims is offering no such excuse)