Sunday, January 17, 2016

Naming Slanderers #1

Whilst engaged in one of my occasional 'rants' against various injustices, I have mentioned more than once that I (and the Janet Frame Literary Trust that I work for) am regularly publicly 'slandered'. I'm talking here about:
  • character assassination
  • defamation
  • libel
For all these it is necessary that a person's claims are not true. They are lies.

It's not slander if it's TRUE. It's not slander if you're dead either. You can't slander the dead. (You can 'piss' on their grave, but that's another story. And it's not illegal, it's just beneath contempt.)

A person is entitled to their own opinion, and they are entitled to criticise someone whose actions they disagree with, but they are NOT entitled to invent their own FACTS, especially if they choose to use those lies maliciously to deliberately attempt to harm the reputation of a person or an organisation.

So, call me a fat witch - that's not slander. (It's just pathetic of you, especially if you are a corpulent old walrus yourself!)

But start saying that I have mismanaged the job that Janet Frame gave me to do, and claim specifically that I have 'closed down' the dissemination of her work to the detriment of her 'reputation' - and you have technically broken the law.

Lucky for most of the people that defame me and the Janet Frame estate, we can't be bothered wasting time and money holding them to account for their poisonous lies (though I have assiduously kept screenshots over the years).

But there must be some remedy for the particularly blatant and foolish slanderer, short of litigation. Their poisonous innuendo spreads inexorably and it works its foul way through a group of people and does its damage.

I would like to put some of this on record so that at least some reasonable people in the future, when looking through all the evidence, will think, "Bloody hell, what a bunch of arseholes they are, slagging off people who are just doing their job - and doing it reasonably well too, for the most part."

(It's not 'slander' if you are an 'asshole'.)

I thought I would start a new occasional series where I would name a blatant liar who has gone out of their way to try to blacken the good name of the Janet Frame estate.

Naming Slanderers #1

#1 is Mark Hubbard, willing member of the NZ Lit Twitterati bully boys (and girls) who regularly "have a go" at me and Janet Frame and her estate. (Of course they are also "having a go" at her - because she asked me to do what I do. They pretend they are defending her 'reputation' against me! What nonsense. Often enough, if you Google that person further, who is whining on about the 'harm' Pamela Gordon does to her aunt's reputation, you find them admit they have not even read Janet Frame, and/or that they "don't like her stuff". So why should they care about her 'reputation'? They don't. They are just joining in with the 'pile-on', without even knowing what they are talking about...)

Here's a recent example:

 “ I think copyright should vest in the author, and die with them, otherwise artistic use has to be negotiated with beneficiaries and their lawyers, and that is to close down use almost completely to the detriment of the author - for example, Janet Frame's work can barely - if at all - be anthologised since her death.
~ Mark Hubbard (Saturday, October 10, 2015)

 "Janet Frame's work can barely - if at all - be anthologised since her death.” ~ (M.  Hubbard)

A statement that defames Janet Frame's legal representatives... because it is not true.

Wowee- that is one hell of a straw man Mr Hubbard has constructed. Sounds like that ol' Janet Frame estate is just lousy...

Wow - did they really "close down use"... ?? Nope, they did not!

Here are some facts, as represented in the three following photographs:

(1) These (above) are some of the published Janet Frame works since Janet Frame's death in 2004: reprints, new editions, new titles, extended licences and translations of previously published as well as posthumously published works. All of these books except 10 of them from one foreign publisher (that has been given an extended licence), are new editions or reprints and all the books required contract negotiations.
Countries include: New Zealand, Australia, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Japan, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Brazil, Portugal, Slovakia, Russia, South Korea. Publications and translations not pictured here have also been negotiated with: Finland, Mexico, Czech Republic, Israel, Iran, Serbia, etc...

(2) The volumes on this shelf (above) mostly involved granting permission to use quotations and excerpts in non-fiction books as well as in educational texts. Some involved extensive and generous cooperation with the authors and editors of academic texts.
These are just the tip of the iceberg as the pictured books do not include the many other academic papers and theses and journals that have quoted Frame's work with permission, the authors of which have not provided gratis copies to the estate. There are also many foreign educational and literary anthologies not represented here - some (in India and the USA for example) have print runs running in to the hundreds of 1000s, and include poems or stories by Janet Frame with permission.
Increasingly foreign permissions especially in places like the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, involve digital texts that students access by means of passwords.
The Janet Frame Estate has a literary agency based in New York and London that mediates most of these international anthology and educational permissions with the approval of the Frame executor.

(3) This (above) is a shelf of mostly New Zealand anthologies that all include work by Janet Frame (it can be hard to get the foreign publishers to supply us with a gratis copy as international postage is so expensive and fraught - on the flipside of that, foreign deals do pay international market rates for excerpts from world-class authors such as Janet Frame, unlike NZ publishers, who usually pay only a pittance - if anything - but do at least usually provide a gratis copy of the book.)

All these books pictured were also all published since Frame's death, with the approval of Janet Frame's chosen legal representatives. (Her charitable trust is her beneficiary.)

As well as all these there have been countless posters, tapes, bookmarks, postcards, brochures and booklets produced with our permission. Songs have been composed to Frame's words, artworks made. Theatrical performances (eg Mona Minim in the Dutch language). Radio broadcasts and adaptations of poetry. Film adaptations of poetry and short stories. Etc. Etc.

This is not "shutting down" Frame!

And apart from all this - countless other works have been produced and published that have used the reasonable provision of "fair use" quotation, for the appropriate purposes.

If you want to quote Frame in your novel or your poem, you do need to ask permission, and many people have asked us and been granted that.

There has only been one very notable occasion when negotiations for use of Janet Frame copyright in an anthology failed (after her death, that is: she was famous for being extremely picky about what was reproduced and in which contexts, and she instructed her executors to continue these high standards).

And you can read that sorry tale here:

Canon Fodder: A response to a paper by Jane Stafford

I hope that it is now clear how much of a lie is Mark Hubbard's statement:

 "Janet Frame's work can barely - if at all - be anthologised since her death.

[Screenshot retrieved 30 October 2015]

 Here [following] are some old screenshots - not really libellous, just blowhard ad hominem stuff, typically vacuous Twitter conversation full of half-truth and speculation, in which a busybody know-it-all presumes to know what the *role* is of the literary executor of a great writer.
And two men agree that the autobiography of a great woman writer is just a fiction about someone who never existed, and that her real life identity is up for grabs less than ten years after her death.

Twitter screenshot: A mis-remembered, misunderstood half-truth is dismembered and reconstituted and used to attempt to discredit the Frame executor who has made a public statement about an unconnected ethical issue:

Isn't that just like the internet, where some nobody (Hubbard) who clearly doesn't know any of the facts about a certain 'role' nevertheless decides he knows what somebody's 'role' is!

I've just been reading Jon Ronson's excellent book So You've Been Publicly Shamed on the Internet where he investigates the phenomenon of social media shaming.

It was therapeutic to read, as someone who has been the target of some vicious attacks every time I have 'dared' to make a public statement to correct some error of fact, or had the temerity to express an opinion contrary to that of the NZ Literary establishment.

Rather than engaging with my arguments, the tendency of Twitter is to rush to discredit me and question my right to even speak at all. (This is called an 'ad hominem' attack.)  Hubbard contends that I have no right to speak publicly at all to defend my aunt from the myths and lies about her. That's not my 'role'.

"Having an opinion while female" or even "speaking while female" is still regarded as a terrible crime, sadly.

Hopefully as a result of Ronson's fine work, some Twitterers at least will learn to think twice before they rush to condemn someone on the basis of hearsay.

UPDATE 6 February 2016:

Still telling lies! Mark Hubbard is still guilty of defamation, in claiming wrongfully that the Janet Frame estate does not allow her work to be anthologised:

Bizarrely, Hubbard, who is apparently himself an accountant, accuses the personnel associated with literary estates of being 'suits'.


No comments: