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Lemony Snicket cancels graduation speech amid harassment allegations

From The Bookseller:

US children’s author Daniel Handler, who writes under the pen name Lemony Snicket, has cancelled a speech he was due to give at a graduation ceremony amid allegations of sexual harassment, according to Associated Press.

Wesleyan University in Connecticut had engaged Handler to speak at the ceremony in May this year.

A letter sent from the university president to students said: “Daniel Handler has chosen to withdraw as Wesleyan’s Commencement speaker this May. We’ve agreed that the focus of the event should be on the Class of 2018, their families and the celebration of graduation.”

Plans to give Handler an honorary degree have also been shelved.

. . . .

In February several authors accused Handler of making sexually inappropriate comments. One, writing on an online blog, said Handler made jokes about children’s book events turning into orgies at the Rhode Island Children’s Book Festival.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG can’t add anything to items like this. There’s nothing funny about them.

Big Publishing

54 Comments to “Lemony Snicket cancels graduation speech amid harassment allegations”

  1. That joke isn’t funny, but I think this might be a breach of #metoo. Unless there’s more, are we really going to derail people’s careers for having an inappropriate sense of humor or timing? In my lifetime, there’ve been many women who’ve crossed that line in a professional setting, and there are far better methods of dealing with it.

    I really don’t want to seem something so powerfully helping us toward equality in the workplace and a less abusive environment for women, become the language or thought police.

    • I agree. Rape and assault are one thing, tastlessness is another.

    • I hardly think that not speaking at a graduation or receiving an honorary degree will ‘derail his career’. Maybe it is time that people considered the trash they speak in public, men and women both.

      And so only rape or assault counts, Joe, but people (and I include men) should be able to be verbally harassed as much as anyone likes? Really? Having worked in an environment where that did go on, a newspaper, I suggest you may want to think again.

      This case could be an over-reaction on the part of Wesleyan University, but it is, after all, their call. They didn’t owe him the right to either.

      • The author of Maze Runner has already been dropped by his publisher and agent as a sacrifice to the #metoo zealots, though none of the allegations against him have been proven. In the current climate, which amounts to a witch-hunt, I shall not be the least surprised to see Lemony Snicket get unperson’d by the publishing business as well.

      • Pretty much every y-chromosome bearer has at least one (alcohol-induced) jerk moment in their past. If the bar is getting that low nobody in public life is safe. Spouses included.

        • Ashe Elton Parker

          The man who asked me to be his side dish and who then proceeded to sexually harass me when I refused was completely sober.

          • Oh, alchohol isn’t the only driver of boordom.
            It’s just the driver for the young fools who would normally know better. Added to the natural born jerks and you end up with near universal coverage.

            Not sure if you’ve ever been near a bachelor’s party but even the most introverted of nerds can show a flash of jerkdom. Y-chromosome + peer pressure = not pretty.

      • Maybe it is time that people considered the trash they speak in public, men and women both.

        Maybe it’s time to deploy benign neglect.

    • “Sexual assault” is going the same way as “racist.” Applied to everything, it loses its meaning, and people start ignoring it. (“Rape” applied to “morning after regrets” does the same thing.)

      “Rape” used to mean the menfolk looking for a tree and a rope. “Sexual assault” used to mean the menfolk looking for the tire iron and a dark alleyway. With the watery meanings these two things are taking on – why, just buy the poor woman an ice cream cone; she’ll feel more chipper in just a bit…

  2. I read through his response on the Me Too blog. He made the mistake of posting there. HA!

    A Riot Is an Ugly Thing

    I did not know about the term “MRA” (Male Rights Activist). It seems it is used as a pejorative by some. I’m working through the various definitions now. I like social definitions that have such a broad range of both negative and positive.

    – Start on the last page to see the most negative MRA and work forward to the first to see the most positive MRA.


    That range is key to understanding the backlash to the Me Too movement that will hit by the end of the year.


    – There is negative MRA and positive MRA.

    – There is negative feminism and positive feminism.

    – There is also toxic MRA and toxic feminism.

    I have run into both over the years. HA!

    There was a PBS show called Tavis Smiley. He had these two episode about a week before he was taken off the air by PBS for “misconduct”. He was hit by PBS panicking over the Me Too movement.

    Watch these out of sequence.

    Computer Scientist and Author Jaron Lanier, Part 2

    Virtual Reality Pioneer Jaron Lanier, Part 1

    In part 2 Lanier discusses how social media bots create the negative stuff because that is what brings eyes to the screen. He also points out that a year from now the backlash to the Me Too movement will hit because of those very bots manipulating consensus.

    The various definitions of MRA will drive the bots to accentuate the negative or positive view. Which ever view brings the most eyes to the screen will trigger the backlash.

    • Oh gawd don’t dive down the MRA rabbit hole! Hahah. There are lots of bitter people in that world. Tons of men’s issues go unaddressed by society, that’s pretty obvious, but oh man if you go through a few MRA websites it can get depressing.

    • Also the backlash has already hit. Things moved fast. It turned into a South Park episode as soon as bad jokes got lumped in with harassment, rape, etc…:-(

      • HA!

        Sadly, it is obvious that you did not look at the links and understand my point before you started your antics on this thread. You are clearly walking straight into a buzzsaw, and you don’t even realize it. HA!

        • Oh I checked it out, the crazy is a bit hard to follow. I chose to address the MRA bit. It’s a pretty negative scene.

          Why are you being so negative? Are you using annoyance to drive engagement, like that weirdo in the vids talks about?

          Buzzsaws? Lol, I’m not an internet person. Is that a meme?

          You wanted me to address how negativity gets clicks, and how it kills social movements? That would have been acceptable? I’d avoid the buzzsaws then? Eyerolls.

    • For those with a life (not me!), if you watch those vids you’ll find your average alt left type person. You know, if you disagree with me you’re a Nazi, that type guy.

      He goes one step further in otherizing people by saying that those critical of things like Black Lives Matter or Anita Sarkeesian are empowered by marketing algorithms searching for the most negative thing they can find.

      And it takes about a year or so for those algos to kick in. (This is clearly false).

      It’s not organic critique or free thinking people. Nope. My ideology is pure and true, yours is a product of hate and propaganda.

      Then he talks about the need of silicon valley to tweak algos to crush backlash movements, or something…he’s such a loon it’s hard to follow.

      As a normie these types of ideologues annoy me. That he’s an obese middle age white guy complaining about following the dress code and wearing a jacket, so he took his shoes off in protest…and he’s balding but still rocking his dreadlocks. Yeah, I know I know, I’m shallow, but could he fit a stereotype any harder? (Says the rural white guy with the shaved head, jean shorts and black t-shirt…ahaha!)

      EDIT: you know what’s funny? Me and this hippie dude probably have identical voting records.

  3. So this guy was accused of bad jokes? Did I miss something? They are using the word harassment, but off color jokes are not harassment. I’m afraid the pearl clutchers are ruining this movement.

    I’m sure Hollywood is back to its old tricks by now.

    • I dove about as deep as i could. No one is claiming harassment, they are saying his jokes could offend women. I’m not seeing specifics of anyone actually offended, but there’s probably someone.

      So yeah, it was just jokes, not harassment.

      I don’t know this guy but apparently he’s a comedian? Lots of comedians aren’t doing colleges anymore because the audiences are too sensitive. Filtering everything through their offense filter before deciding to laugh, people protesting outside because of some joke they didn’t like. I follow stand up and quite a few talk about it.

      Lol, telling sex jokes to children’s book writers. Haha. What could go wrong?

      I don’t know of him but he does have a funny name. 🙂

      • I’m not seeing specifics of anyone actually offended, but there’s probably someone.

        Of course people were actually offended – to wit, activists.

        An activist, as I have remarked elsewhere, is a person who says, ‘I demand that you solve their problem.’ Such people get up a considerable portion of their business by complaining about things that the alleged victims found entirely innocuous.

        • I worry that crowd has already ruined the movement. It’s supposed to embolden people to come out and speak about misconduct. If silly things like this get targeted, it’ll be taken less seriously, and the movement loses its power to embolden victims of abuse.

    • I guess I should point out I’m interested in this topic because I tell dirty jokes CONSTANTLY.

      It’s my best personality trait. 😛

    • Note, that it wasn’t at all about bad jokes.

      That’s what the article seemed to say, but that wasn’t it at all.

  4. Wylie’s THE DISAPPEARANCE may yet come to pass, not through supernatural intervention but through activist overreach.

    Or maybe the species dies from lack of concourse.

    ‘Cause right now VP Pence is looking remarkably prescient for his policy of never being alone with any woman not his wife.

    We maybe rushing to a neovictorian era of public segregation of the sexes. Alfred Bester postulated something similar in THE STARS MY DESTINATION. Different cause, but still…

    • Ugh, I know I dislike Pence but this is the rule I tell me nieces in order to avoid sexual assault. Or just awkward situations.

      If you don’t want to have sex with a guy, don’t be alone with him.

      Sounds harsh and patriarchal, but I don’t care. These are my nieces, I’m not trying to fix society.

      • I completely agree,
        All the Abrahamic religions have mechanisms in place to avoid or at least limit sexual assault, but now feminists are claiming that they are oppressive and patriarchal.
        As for the me too movement, it was rotten from its very beginning.
        Victim blaming is a bizarre and silly concept, sure it’s not your fault if you are sexually assaulted there are ways to avoid becoming a victim, Women for example not going in to highly male dominated spaces.

    • That has been a policy of mine since I married. Our church teaches it. In the Army, they called it “Being beyond reproach”. I didn’t understand why the VP got so much flak for it, other than people hate him for not being on their side of the aisle. It’s a good policy. Keeps you out of all kinds of trouble.

  5. The real victims here are the students who have to sit through the gloomy Anita Hill instead of the hilarious Lemony Snicket.


    Okay I think I may have damaged my reputation enough. I’ll go back to my cave now.

    • Here’s a short clip of Snicket joking about homicide.


      He’s funny!

      • Considering that he made his entire career as a writer out of telling children’s stories full of ghoulish humour, it would be unreasonable to expect him not to be.

        The man jokes for a living about sex, death, and human suffering, which are, after all, the only three things it is possible to make really good jokes about. People who accuse his jokes of being ‘unacceptable’, or as they should really be saying, in bad taste, are missing the entire concept of what a joke is.

        • -GASP- so you’re saying people with no sense of humor seek to police humor!?!?!?

          Shocking! Inconceivable!

          • The worst of it is that you don’t need to have a sense of humour in order to know what one looks like. J. R. R. Tolkien used to tell a story about a German professor who wrote a massive book on Das Komische; ‘after which, whenever anyone told him a funny story, he thought for a moment, and then nodded, saying: “Yes, there is that joke”.’

            They condemn a joke because it falls afoul of the standard by which they would judge a remark made in earnest. No doubt they would condemn a ballet because the performers have silly walks.

  6. The guy sounds like an ahole. While it isn’t a crime, it also doesn’t mean he gets to live a life without consequences.

    • The short list of commencement speakers gets shorter. We are left with sincere and well-meaning people who could bore a snail.

  7. ITT: people who haven’t really kept up with the Handler story as it developed and are just going off their initial first impressions and/or who are determined to miss the point. Impossible to say for sure, of course, but this middleaged straight white male suspects that the majority of people on here saying this is all an overreaction are also straight white males.

    “It’s just a joke, bro!”

    (And then there’s the irony of someone on this site, of all sites, holding up a successful author being dropped by his publisher as a terrible thing, rather than granting him his freedom to self-publish.)

    • The article above doesn’t do a good job of explaining his long and storied history of being a buttwit. So yeah, most are going off of what is presented.

      I did give the full allegations below. Pretty damning IMHO.

  8. http://www.gwendabond.com/bondgirl/2018/02/metoo-ustoo-change-starts-now-stand-harassment-kidlit-community.html

    Actual allegation in the comments here, search for Snicket.

    Decide for yourself.

  9. Thanks for the link, Jo.
    There were a lot of responses from individual women who were on the receiving end of Mr. Handler’s “humor” who gave detailed accounts of their interactions with him.
    He’s quite a boor. Hopefully it’s mostly a social interface issue which he can, if he wants, learn his way out of. At present, his social maturity is apparently somewhere between grades 6 and 9.

    • Exactly my take once I found the raw data. I’d spoken quite a bit beforehand though. 🙁

      Note to self. Research first. Talk later.

      Also, there’s a TON of “know your audience” lessons to be learned here. Children’s book people? Keep it ‘G’ rated. Romance peeps? Spice it up. Beers with the bros? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

      Cuz knowing is half the battle.

      • Waiting a bit for other people to make your own argument is a good strategy, too.

        A commencement ceremony? Not the place for his “humor.” A comedy club? Probably not there, either – although because he would bomb out when compared to the nastiness of his “feminist” competition.

  10. I have also now read the allegations, and my opinion is starting to change somewhat.
    I think that in general, people should avoid sexual jokes when they’re with strangers or in a professional environment.
    The rule i use, and it’s not perfect I know, is the my mother/daughter/sister/wife rule, if I wouldn’t want it to be sent to them I don’t say it.
    Asking someone you barely know if they are a virgin is beyond the pale, in my opinion.

    • I agree that that comment was out of line, but in my opinion, the offense at the word “orgies” was based on ignorance.

      Per dictionary.com (because I’m too lazy to get a print dictionary off my shelf):

      2. any actions or proceedings marked by unbridled indulgence of passions:
      an orgy of killing.

      Or, as a more positive example, a chocolate orgy.

  11. Thanks for supplying the link, and reconsidering. I have definitely found that pausing and giving time for more information to come out has helped me mitigate my chronic foot-in-mouth problem. There have been numerous comments here and elsewhere about VP Pence’s policy, about various societies policies of limiting what women can do or say or be or how they can dress, in an effort to avoid … something or other. It doesn’t work in those societies; they are rife with rape and other sexualized aggression, and I am not even including the institutionalized rape and sexualized aggression of the way marriage works in those societies. And Pence’s policy assumes that the only person one is likely to get into trouble with is of the opposite sex, which is, at a bare minimum, naive and heterosexist. The time for quips and quick responses to sexualized bad behavior is ending. There’s really no reason why we can’t treat each other with a bit more respect and kindness, and be a bit more sensitive to other people’s perspectives. Is there?

    • I used to work for a very large multinational corporation, and in my fifteen years there I was in many meetings which had to be, for a variety of reasons, one-on-one. If a male VP can’t/won’t have such meetings with a person of the opposite sex, that is inherently kneecapping the career advancement opportunities of any female who works in his department. So “seems like a good idea?” No, it really doesn’t. It seems antediluvian and, as Rebecca Allen says, things seem to finally be changing for the better. Here’s hoping.

    • I disagree Rebecca and Bob, a lot of what sparked the hashtag me to movement is exactly the fact that men and women who don’t know each other meeting privately.
      If men and women remembered the commonsense wisdom of not being alone with the opposite gender, keeping the office door open et cetera et cetera, it would nip a lot of this stuff in the bud.
      I don’t see why any business meeting has to be one-to-one, it’s usually a policy many companies have, but there is no concrete reason why it has to be that way.

    • Yeah I spoke too soon above, thinking this was all about the one time he made some jokes that made a person uncomfortable.

      If you read that entire thread there are a bunch of ladies coming on talking about how crass he is with them. The orgy joke is nothing, read the rest of it.

      I’m surprised a husband or boyfriend has smacked his doughy face around a bit. I think I would have, at least I hope I would have. Especially how he was talking to a lady right in front of her husband? That takes a sense of entitlement that a good whack can rectify.

    • Given that more than 90% of people are heterosexual, and a good portion of the rest are bisexual, the Pence rule and whatever its distaff counterpart might be called are good ideas.

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