Recently we decided to cover the controversy surrounding the Destiel book. It seems to be a sad tale of a young author making many missteps as she tries to further her career as a professional author. Her initial blog post, subsequent social media interaction, and decision to pursue legal action against negative internet responses has put her book in a bad light from the very start. I predicted I’d receive a response by morning and I did, but was actually quite surprised that it wasn’t a lawsuit. Instead it was a ‘response’ from their end to ‘help flesh things out.’ Their intent was to provide ‘a perspective that’s so far been missing from the narrative which is currently doing the rounds online.’ I feel that the best way to do so is to directly quote their statements so there’s no translation errors from my end. They’ve stated that they’re ‘happy for you to update your review with a summary of our main points if you wish.’ As the original post was already quite long and a summary may remove vital context for their statements, I feel that a follow up is warranted.
One of the most interesting parts of their response was the news that Burlot has decided to pull her book from the North American market. Copyhouse has agreed that ‘context is always key,’ so I’ll be quoting their remarks directly so there is no room to leave any vital context out.
One development we can tell you about is that – totally against our advice we might add – Jordyn Burlot has decided to withdraw her book from sale in North America. This process is already underway and started on Friday of last week due to a marked escalation in the abuse directed at Jordyn.
It never ceases to amaze us that everywhere else has welcomed the book but North America hates it. Guess it’s a cultural thing.
Furthermore, while my initial article made a point that the backlash seemed to be mostly about the assumed exploitation of fandom, Copyhouse wanted to make a point that ‘most of the abuse [is] behind the scenes.’ They went in to some pretty heavy detail about the diversity of the attacks Burlot is receiving.
We’re thick skinned but even we were shocked by some of [the responses] – including an invitation to contract Ebola and die in agony which, as it turns out, appears to have been sent by an octogenarian great-grandmother from the Western USA. A great deal of the abuse has been homophobic (some of it extremely so), and a lot of it has been from anti-Destiel types as well. Some of it has originated from usernames strongly suggestive of Destiel fans. A lot of it has come from the religious right and is extremely abusive in tone and form. A lot of it has taken the form of quite disturbing and specific threats of violence.
Another point they wanted to make known was that their ‘legal advice comes from experienced professionals and we fact-check regularly to ensure our conduct is correct and proportionate.’ As I didn’t wake up to a lawsuit for my opinion piece, I’m grateful for that. I, too, sought legal advice before posting my initial review. It’s just so very unfortunate we have to seek legal advice at all, but that’s the point we’ve gotten to in this debacle. When lawyers have to step in, things get escalated to a rather scary level.
[A] lot has been made of the legal action controversies. We’d like to put this into perspective. We welcome reviews, constructive criticism and opinion. We realise that criticism might not always be constructive but people have a right to say what they want. We respect freedom of speech and freedom of expression – especially since we wouldn’t be in business without people putting those expressions into written form!
The fact is that we’ve only ever talked about legal action when it is warranted. We do not use legal threats to silence critics and stifle reviews. Both times, we’ve become aware of specific accusations against ourselves and Jordyn. Named individuals have accused us of lying for financial gain in public and those allegations have been viewed by a large audience worldwide. We have openly and wrongfully been accused of fraud, which is a serious criminal offence, and such accusations are therefore “prima facie” defamation. We have acted at all times within the law (as has Jordyn Burlot) and we can prove it.
They did not go on to ‘prove’ it in our email exchange, but they did get rather detailed about each specific case. Even though aliases were used in the email response, the information provided was too detailed for me to feel comfortable publishing here. They have no obligation to prove anything to me or anyone else except a court of law, I suppose, so I’m not exactly put out that their statements were merely a summary of events, but it doesn’t give me much to go on as a reporter.
Whether either of the cases where legal threats were made will escalate further is anyone’s guess. As both offending pieces have been removed from the Internet, my guess is no, but I am not Copyhouse Press or Jordyn Burlot, so that’s sort of out of my hands at this point. They also made it a point to remind us that their legal jurisdiction is the United Kingdom, and since both of the offending parties are in the United States I personally feel it’d be rather costly and difficult for them to pursue it further. But again, I’m not them, so who knows?
Does any of this change the situation at all? My opinion on the matter hasn’t really been shifted one way or another. I still feel like these are some pretty bad PR moves for someone who is trying to get their writing career off the ground. I still feel that the concept of the book, the delivery, and the response to criticism have been severely misguided. I also still do feel some amount of sympathy for Burlot, because she’s a young writer who is just trying to further her career, but I’m also sitting here surprised that she keeps making such severe errors in judgement one after another. When will this all end? This whole situation has escalated far beyond what’s been warranted. Fandom can be a pretty scary place sometimes, and this is definitely one of those times. Can we get back to our regularly scheduled squeeing now?
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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