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Dear SFF Community,

Though spread across the globe, we come together around our passion for science and fantasy fiction. As such, our community must be supportive of one another—be strong enough to stand up in defence of those who cannot, or fear to, speak in their own.

This past week has seen a test of that community, of that family, spirit, and on our shared values. We look for heroes to praise and we seek villains to despise. Throughout it all we desire that good triumph over evil, that the right and just shall be victorious, and we know that every story must test its characters. Sometimes we mistake our heroes for villains, and sometimes neither are easy to identify as they live within the grey.

However, this story is real and real stories have real people at their centre, real consequences to real actions. Reputations, hard earned, can be lost in the beat of a heart or press of a keyboard. Careers, long sought, can be put in jeopardy by the callous words and actions of another.

These past years have rightly seen, the far too long delayed, rise of the #METOO movement, of victims coming forward to speak their stories, to be believed, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. It is important, now as it always has been, for people to feel able to come forward, for their allegations to be investigated, to verify the facts, and for the proper action to be taken.

You will have seen some apologies be issued, some posts on other prominent blogs about the issues raised this past week.

We, and other blogs, were presented with the findings of an investigation into the allegations made against Ed McDonald, an author in our community. We have interrogated those investigations, asked questions of the findings and ourselves, and we stand by those findings.

Fantasy-Faction has seen irrefutable evidence that the allegations against Ed McDonald have been falsified. We are now aware that Ed McDonald has been targeted for online harassment and abuse, and that there is irrefutable evidence of this. The evidence proves beyond all doubt that one or two individuals have utilised multiple social accounts with the express purpose of spreading malicious rhetoric against Ed McDonald, making it appear that ‘reports’ are coming from numerous sources, where in fact they all come from a single source.

This source has never met Ed McDonald. It is now very clear that Ed McDonald has been exposed to a long and malicious campaign by someone who has abused the trust and confidence of people, over and over.

– – –

In light of this evidence, it is asked that members of the fantasy community:

– Do not name the individuals behind the allegations—even if you suspect who they are. The individuals do not deserve any further attention. Their names have not been mentioned here on purpose.

– Do not pursue the individual(s) behind the allegations. Do not cause them any distress. Doing so may impact pending legal action.

– Welcome Ed McDonald as a member of the community. Any further harassment will not be tolerated.

To prevent gossip, the following overview has been provided to summarise these events:

– A number of social media accounts across multiple platforms have been linked to either one, or at most two, individuals behind the allegations.

– These accounts use different personas (including names, real world locations and background information).

– These accounts have pretended to be different individuals to spread falsified allegations in open and closed groups, and in private chats.

– These accounts have made comments in support of posts made by each other, as well as shares and likes.

– At least one account is in a position of authority in a public internet forum. This authority was abused throughout this case, and ultimately Ed McDonald was banned from the forum after he tried to defend himself against the allegations.

– – –

Every person who has suffered abuse has the right to tell their story, to be believed, cared for, and their allegations investigated. When demonstrably false reports are made it undermines the victims of true abuse, it tarnishes them, corrodes our belief in the due process of law.

It must not.

It cannot be allowed to.

We must stand with those who have suffered and support them through it all. As readers, and writers, we love our stories—our fictional stories of good and evil, right and wrong, heroes and dragons. This is not one of those stories, there is little to love here.

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