An Upsetting Comment
This week I received a message from a concerned reader, alerting me to disturbing allegations against an author whose book I reviewed on this site.
“How can a blog from a ‘Christian Worldview’ review a book written by a molester, rapist, pedophile?” the commenter asks. A link to a blog post written by a woman accusing her father of sexual abuse followed the question.
In the hours since receiving the comment, my head has been spinning with all sorts of thoughts and questions. Because this is such a serious issue, I would like to share them here.
Let me first state that I accepted the review request and posted the review of the book in question months before the blog post accusing the author of abuse appeared online.
A Terrifying Story
When I read the blog comment today, I followed the link to the post mentioned. I read. I was moved. Grieved. The blogger relates a graphic and nightmarish tale of abuse perpetrated by her own father.
As a parent, the idea that a sexual predator could write teen novels in order to gain access to young readers is terrifying. My hope has been that this blog would serve as a means for parents to gain information about what books may be appropriate for their children. That I may have unknowingly promoted an unsafe individual is deeply troubling.
A Responsibility to Respond
As shocking as the allegations are, at this point there has been no trial. No judge. No verdict. Does it mean that the accusations are false? No. Nor does it make them less frightening. It’s so easy for me to identify with the victim. But is it right for me to sit in judgment of this man without evidence? Proof?
Please understand, I mean no disrespect to the woman who wrote the blog post. This cannot have been an easy process and my heart truly goes out to her.
But I find myself really torn about what the responsible, right thing is here. Do I want dangerous men to have unfettered access to teens? Of course not! Absolutely not!
But can we make these judgments solely based on a blog post? Is that fair? What if this man is innocent? How can I be the judge? How can I know? I don’t know any of the people involved. How can I assess what really happened?
Yet, because of the gravity of the situation, I feel that I cannot simply do nothing. For the time being, I’ve pulled the review from my files. I am choosing not to list the title or author by name because I think it’s the fairest course of action, since I have no direct knowledge or relationship with any of the parties involved.
Please Be Aware
In nearly all cases, I don’t personally know the authors whose books I review here. Many requests come to me through emails from total strangers. While it’s my practice to perform a Google search on authors whose books I’m considering for review, I don’t perform background checks or any detailed investigation. Please do not use my reviews as any measure of character or safety of any author.
How can I review books written by someone accused of atrocities? Simple. Because I didn’t know about them.
Also, please remember that I volunteer my time on this blog because I love books and believe in the value of reading. I am so grateful to readers for alerting me to information regarding books and authors. However, please, please do so with respect, not only to me as a blogger but to others as well.
Is removing the review of the book written by the accused man the right thing? Is withholding his name wrong? Should a blog post be considered sufficient evidence to condemn an author on a grave issue like child abuse?
Leave a comment with your thoughts.
This is a fair post. Thank you for your honesty, and the choice to be both straightforward about the comment & accusation, yet respectful of people’s personal lives and our inability to know the truth. I pray God’s will in the life of both father & daughter.
Thanks. 🙂 It’s hard to know the right thing to do in situations like this. You’re right – prayer is definitely called for.
Treading carefully while not making judgments… it’s a difficult thing to do! I think you did the absolute right thing in the circumstances, Kasey! I respect your thoughtfulness on the issue!
Thanks, Ashlee. I am really grateful for your input and support. 🙂
Wow, what a terrible place for you to be in, Kasey. OBVIOUSLY, it was not your intention to condone something if the allegations are true. For the most part, it is probably a good idea that you removed the review from your file and that you did it without revealing the name of the author or the title of his work. But no, I don’t think a blog post is proof enough to condemn anyone of child abuse. This is in no way minimizes the trauma of the person writing the post. But if a scathing blog post by me could destroy someone else, then I’d better have a world-load of evidence to back it up. Otherwise, I would be in bunch of trouble for making false accusations. Again, sorry you were caught in the middle of this. Thank you for the courage to bring it out and clarify your standpoint.
I agree, Colleen. I hate for an author’s ability to get a review here to be based on internet rumors being favorable, you know? Tough stuff. This was a really hard dilemma. I appreciate your thoughts! Thanks.
Bravo to you! What courage to address the concern and investigate it. I commend you for your godly response. In my opinion, you are reviewing books, not people. It is not your job to play parent or social worker. You state your opinion of a work of art and nothing more. This blog is a great jumping board for parents to use as ground zero to find new books for their teens. Did you enjoy the book in question? Would you recommend it to a friend? If yes, I’d post it. That’s what the purpose of your blog is. Will everyone agree? No. Will you lose followers? Probably. Will you gain new ones? Definitely. Keep doing what you do. You’re blog has helped me find some awesome books I may never have found otherwise!! Be blessed…
Thanks, Jaimie. Really great points. And thanks for your encouragement! You are great! 🙂