Friday, October 12, 2012

A Disturbing Tale

Like my colleague Michael Turner, the author of this post, I too have heard multiple variants of this story in the last few days.

If, as I suspect, the tale is true or largely true, Bob Rennie and Carey Fouks have much to answer for.  No one -- Kathleen Bartels, or any guest in any place -- deserves such abuse.  To be clear: the behavior reported by Bartels' fellow dinner guests isn't high spirits, or "spirited dissent," or the "natural reaction of a homeowner discovering an intruder," or WHY.  It's abuse, and misogynistic abuse at that.  Bob and Carey need to answer for it.

The comments section of Michael's blog is now filling up with the customary cowardly defenses from anonymous internet sources -- you weren't there; what do you care; she brought it on herself; can't we all just agree to love art and get along?

My experience as a business owner and a member of Vancouver's literary community is directly pertinent to this situation.  Several times now, PFB has hosted readings by authors that have attracted attendees with whom I have a tenuous, or highly contentious, personal relationship.  Yet in every case I have welcomed each attendee as warmly as I can, not because I thought that their presence in the shop would automatically ameliorate whatever bad blood was between us, but because he or she was, in a sense, a "guest in my home" and therefore deserving of basic courtesy and respect.

Bob and Carey have a lot to answer for if the story is true, or even mostly true.  If they feel blameless, victimized, or otherwise put-upon, too bad.

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