As a note for those who don’t know me:
I am sometimes accused of just about the most horrible things possible. There’s a blog which actively collects/encourages/creates allegations about Jeff Mach. Depending on how you read it, some see it as incontrovertible proof that I’m evil; some see it as incontrovertible proof that some people have a huge grudge and no evidence.
I’m not going to spend much time, now or in the future, talking about the Owl’s Eye Blog. I think this is a moment when it’s essential to address and clear up some basic misconceptions. But in general, we are looking to help make a better community, not stand around arguing. I’m going to speak my truth, and this needs to be said:
I’m NOT a rapist. I’m NOT an abuser. I’m NOT a “predator”. And putting together a hate blog doesn’t make me those things.
I spent over 20 years building communities. I helped fandom businesses thrive. I helped people find performers, performers find an audience, helped vendors grow. And–like a fan-run company should–we paid out the majority of the company’s income to staff, performers, creators, contractors, sound and light, the people who made the events happen.
I was extremely active in the kink community. I was outspoken in a lot of areas pertaining to consent. When that community started to get hit with a deluge of complaints about consent, I was one of the most visible people around and, in particular, I’d been outspoken about the need to believe accusations.
But I’d always tempered that with the need to investigate allegations, as well. Believing the accuser means not shaming the accuser, not dismissing the accuser–it does not mean that every anonymous allegation on social media is true.
One of the ugliest things about all of this is that in collecting a mass list of any story it could find, from anywhere, removing them from context and inserting its own opinions (“It seems to me this story means…”) – sources like the Owl’s Eye Blog have made it pretty damn impossible for me to speak to and address anyone who might have been in any way hurt by anything that I did. Their voices have been drowned out, not by me, but by the flood of invective that’s been hurled around.
I thought that by being silent, I would let any voices that needed to be heard come to the fore. Instead, in my period of silence, there’s been a flood of angry noise, and an overwhelming pattern of creating fear.
Fear of me; fear of peoples’ political rivals; fear of anyone who opposed these blogs and the people behind then. It’s nearly the end of 2019; by now, you almost certainly know people who are afraid to come forward with their stories because they fear not matching the right narrative or not saying the right thing; you know people who’ve been hurt by Internet fury; you know people who’ve been damaged by this mob behavior.
Let me put some core pieces on the table.
I’m not a predator, an abuser, or a monster. And do you know what made me start coming forward about that? When I saw that those words weren’t being used just to hurt *me*. They were being used to hurt *anyone* who fell out of favor. My name was attached to events I wasn’t running to try to sink those events. It was being thrown at people to keep them in line with particular groups or cliques. Have the kink communities, the Steampunk community, any fandom communities been the same since this went down? No. Have they been better, now that I’ve been away? No. They have not.
Have I stolen a bunch of money, made it “disappear”? HELL. NO. Simplest proof? THAT wouldn’t be a rumor; that would be a crime. If you bought tickets, bought vendor space, bought sponsorships, you almost certainly did so via credit cards or checks; a fairly small percentage of people bought tickets at the door in cash, but that’s the vast minority of our business. And that’s been investigated quite thoroughly.
The value of a cake is not in the flour or the water or the eggs; it’s in the cake. The value of a painting isn’t in a pigment; it’s in the painting. The value in events is in those events. This is part of why people who have a real stake in a fandom-sized event do not cancel that event. It takes people who truly believe that they are canceling someone ELSE’S event, that THEY won’t be held accountable, to cancel an event.
You know what? I was prepared to own whatever names people wanted to throw at me, and live a quiet life, if I hadn’t watched whole events get torched within a few months of what initially happened to me.
I’m not here to save the event world. I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be. I am a person who wants the same things I’ve always wanted: to try to make better fan communities, and to try to run events and make a living for myself and others. I want to fix whatever I can, improve whatever I can, and build whatever we can build with our crazy fandom dreams. But I’m also someone who’s been put through the wringer by an angry social media world, and I’ve come out the other side. And THAT means I’m not afraid of social media mobs anymore. And that, in turn, means it’s my job to stand up to Internet bullying–yours, mine, anyone’s. You’d do the same thing in my position.
I won’t be bullied. I won’t tolerate the bullying of others. I WILL, absolutely, have respectful conversations with anyone who wants to talk, and I WILL seek, now and in the coming years, a chance to address and right any wrongs, and fix and change and improve anything I can.
And I WILL keep putting on events, keep writing books, keep making art, and keep speaking my truth.
very truly yours,