“I think in my humble opinion that this is getting a little out of control. Why look through all of her articles for more ammo to call her crazy? The stalking is more than enough to hang her out to dry with. If these pieces had been written by someone else, I don’t think they’d be getting the same reaction.”
I’ve come across this sort of comment a few times.
A question we all ask when something this abnormal hits close to home is, how does this even happen? The one-sided Guardian article is written by a self-confessed unreliable narrator of her own life story. That’s what’s driven people to look for evidence that either supports or rebuffs Kathleen Hale’s claims. Has she written about this before? Has she stalked others? Has Hale’s victim given her side?
This inquisitiveness marks the difference between pursuers of truth and the naive and those operating under confirmation bias with a grudge against what they personally perceive to be trolls.
Turning to Google, cumulative evidence has piled up, of not only a history of stalking, throwing hydrogen peroxide on the head of her victim when she was 14, but also a self-confessed history of animal torture as a child. Whether it’s true or just a convincing fantasy, we don’t know. (One or two incidents of animal cruelty is normal, it’s how you learn empathy, but this is more than one or two, and empathy is something disturbingly lacking in her confessions). Add to that the hog killing and it paints a scary portrait. Someone on Twitter characterised her profile as being very similar to a potential serial killer.
Now questions like, Will she do this again? Will she escalate? are running through the heads of reviewers and bloggers. Will I be next? is the ultimate question. What if, next time, she throws acid instead of hydrogen peroxide? She may have tortured and killed animals, will she physically harm the next victim of her obsessions?
What’s also shocking is the high number of authors, and commenters on the Guardian article itself, believing Hale’s story and supporting her, the aggressor, and condemning the victim, giving rise to a fear that this stalking behaviour is somehow acceptable and therefore repeatable.
But then there’s also a chance that this is all an elaborate long-term plan for publicity, made with the help of, and supported by, Hale’s fiance’s highly influential family. Hale appears to have commodified her life, publishing and selling her short stories and troubling autobiographical articles, for money. For these insights into her psyche we have only her word that these events are true, but again, she’s an unreliable narrator.
As a Harvard graduate Hale is obviously intelligent. But common sense is a trait that can’t necessarily be taught. Waving red flags such as these in a public sphere isn’t wise.
Had she been a man stalking a woman everyone, not just an infuriating minority, would be up in arms calling for police intervention, which what happened with Richard Brittain. We as a society aren’t as outraged at woman-on-woman crime. Both parties are presumed to be equals. Of course, that isn’t the case here. Nepotism could quite possibly have played a part in bypassing editorial approval and violating the Guardian’s Editorial Code of Conduct for publishing such an unethical account of a criminal act, enabling the harassment to continue by printing the pseudonymous name the victim goes by therefore making it easy for the wide audience the Guardian caters to, to pursue them via their accounts on social media.
It’s human nature to be curious. Everything that is being dug up is in the public sphere, put out there by Hale herself. Looking through that content is a way for us to understand what sort of a person she is and whether she poses a threat to the rest of us reviewers.