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Drawing the Hard Line: Santino Hassell

In Shelved: March 2018, I briefly mentioned that one of my faves was at the center of some drama I was reluctant to go anywhere near, let alone write about it. But… I finally looked further into the Santino Hassell drama and, well, [insert profanity]. I don’t know if I’m not– surprised is the wrong word… shaken? Maybe. No. I don’t know if I find it all so easy to believe because I have very little faith in people or if it’s because I already thought he was an arse.

I love his work and a while back I didn’t want to miss out on anything, especially short stories and after stories that wouldn’t be released for sale; however, I also wanted to limit my exposure to him in any social capacity. Back then, he posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. He wasn’t active enough on Tumblr and his Twitter was full of the reasons why I rarely get cozy with my faves, so, even though I don’t like Facebook and 95% of the reason I still maintain an account is for Guilt|Pleasure and I wasn’t trying to have another reason to be on there, I settled for following him there. It turned out to be as annoying as I thought it would be, so I was happy when he opened up a Patreon. It was a means to get what I wanted from him with the least amount of filler. And less Facebook it always a good thing. That was going pretty well until the beginning of this March when the walls of the Hassell empire came crumbling down.

I am 100% against dealing with other people’s drama, so any time bits of his talk and concerns about being harassed or ill spilled over into the Patreon posts, I just skimmed because I didn’t want to know. I suppose that sounds rather callous, but I don’t have it in me to be weighed down by second-hand drama and stress, especially when it belongs to someone I’m not emotionally invested in. It’s exhausting. It wasn’t until someone followed me on Tumblr and I went to check out their blog and saw a post about him and another post either by or about Riptide Publishing that I realized there was more going on. Not too long after, Lucy asked if I’d heard about him and by that time I’d found out about the doxxing which made me put the brakes on looking into it any further for the time being and for my peace of mind.

I get wanting to expose people who are getting away with terrible things, but doxxing is so dangerous. Yeah, you get to shine a light on all the dirty deeds, make them publicly accountable, but when you release very personal details, you are putting the people the doxxed person is connected to in the line of fire as well. Once it’s out there, you can’t control who makes use of the information or what they do with it and you can’t control collateral damage. Are you going to step up and take responsibility for a innocent getting hurt? Or worse? But no one thinks about that.

At the beginning of April I was in the mood to reread Hassell & Erickson’s Strong Signal and since it popped up in my GoodReads feed, Sophie, a GR mutual, commented on my previous review of it giving me a heads up about what was going on with Hassell and after a few exchanges she gave me a link to check out.

I seriously do not like drama off the page or screen. Following the link would mean that I would learn more than I wanted to know and I’d have to think about it and come to some conclusions. So I chilled for a few days. I never did click the link, but I initiated my own research and eventually came across where it lead. If even half of what’s being said is to be believed, the people behind the Santino Hassell name are lying and manipulative arses who have done inexcusable things. On the other hand, at its core, the whole mess kicked off because some people felt entitled to know something that someone else wanted to keep private. The ends, the means, and the motives do not always justify each other, but no one thinks about that either.

I’m not digging any further into the whos and the whys and the whats here; if you really want to know, you can look it up.

But now, here I am, though I don’t know where that is exactly. A lot of people have drawn a hard line on this issue, most, it seems, coming down on the side opposite Hassell. I think, there’s plenty of fault and blame to go around, though I’ll allow that it falls more heavily on one side than the other. Me? I’m not on anyone’s side but my own, so I’ll leave it to others work things out for themselves. I’m also not retracting or redacting anything I’ve said or written about him or his work–it was the truth then and since I generally don’t get personal with my faves, I’m pretty sure at least 99% of it is the truth now. His works were pretty much an automatic pre-order/buy, so I already own just about everything he’s released and I will continue to reread and enjoy those works. However, I did hold off on the Amazon/GR rating for the ones I read this month. And though I’ve canceled my pledge, I will continue to follow him on Patreon–it’s the same type of curiosity that keeps me following June Manga and Seven Seas Entertainment when they have little to nil to offer me.

So what of the other authors that were supposed to be tied up in this on the wrong side of things? And what of his future works? Well, I’ve either never been interested in anything by those authors or have and was not entirely impressed or decidedly unimpressed. So, no loss there. As for his future works, I don’t know. Reading is my life and his works are among my favorites. It was his work that convinced me that M/M wasn’t the wasteland I kept trudging through only to repeatedly give up on. Convinced me to give it another try. His work was so convincing that M/M is now my favorite genre and 90% of what I read. So, giving up on his work would be a loss to me.

However, being a buyer of licensed manga and having been a reader of unlicensed manga, I’ve learned to let things go. Publishers and scan teams drop titles or close up shop, so the list of things I’ve had to let go of is long. These days I am totally capable of just calling it a wrap, but will I? I can’t say for certain right now and I probably won’t know until the opportunity presents itself.

It’s not my place to give grief to anyone who chooses to come out of pocket for the likes of Google, Home Depot, General Motors, AT&T, the New England Patriots, TD Bank, or the Dallas Cowboys–companies that supported racism, misogyny, homophobia, and the 1% on a national scale by directly or indirectly coming out of pocket for the 45th president–so, I hope that anyone who has an issue with the fact that I haven’t drawn a hard line on this, realizes that it’s not their place to give me grief about who I choose or choose not to come out of pocket for.

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