Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.
m

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

February 10, 2014

David Truesdale has written and circulated a petition (this was received directly from David Truesdale)–and gotten a number of SFWA members to sign it.

That, however, was not what was originally circulating.  This is.  And this is what I’ll be responding to below.

It’s full of appeals to the sanctity of the First Amendment–which, as a private organization, SFWA doesn’t need to abide by–and a whacking great heap of sexism and racism, too.  I don’t understand why some people are constantly conflating their desire to say anything they want, wherever they want, with private organizations’ right to moderate spaces that they own.

Enjoy some excerpts:

The essence of the situation is that a writers’ organization, of all groups, should not be establishing a committee to determine what is “unacceptable” or “inappropriate” or “offensive” in some contribution to one of its publications. SFWA should be the front line of defense for First Amendment issues, and not make itself part of the problem.

If one takes that argument to its logical conclusion, then why have an editor at all? Let’s just publish whatever gets sent in!  Also, again: SFWA is a private organization and the First Amendment doesn’t apply.  Just like this space is a not-the-government and I get to make the rules about who gets to talk here and who doesn’t.

The cover of the 200th issue of the Bulletin was part and parcel of the furor that has led to its suspension. Cries of “sexism,” portraying women as “sex objects,” and other like phrases reached the ears of the President and will now become part of the “review process” overseen by the new editor, “volunteers and an advisory board” and the President himself. Covers like the one shown here are not new. They have graced the covers of countless magazine and book covers for many decades. So have magazine and book covers featuring handsome, ripped and rugged males in various stages of dress, depending on the story and what the publisher hopes will appeal to his readership in order to advance sales. Yet there are those who object strenuously to a sexy female (scantily clad or otherwise) on the cover of anything, and always somewhere in the mix of reasons, primary among them is that women are being portrayed as sex objects and that such covers are blatantly sexist and therefore are to be avoided, or removed, or are otherwise to be castigated and held up to ridicule and scorn.

Let’s refresh our memory about that cover, shall we?

It would be one thing if this cover had any sort of relationship to the contents of the Bulletin, but it didn’t. It’s a badly done painting of a not that sexy, mostly naked warrior at severe risk of frostbite. And the Resnick/Malzberg column was about how hot some lady editors were in their bathing suits and nary a mention of their facility with a red pen.  Objectifying and dehumanizing. No wonder people objected.

And if the next two issues hadn’t been a doubling down on said objectification and dehumanization, people would have let it pass.  It was the fact that there were three issues in a row that were full of sexist and racist nonsense that caused the uproar–and rightly so in my opinion.

Then Truesdale embarks upon a long digression on how ogling objects of desire is something that everyone does (well, not exactly everyone) and how it should be completely okay.  You know what? Not in a professional context–which the SFWA Bulletin is. The SFWA Bulletin should be about publishing and writing speculative fiction in an increasingly volatile marketplace, not about the good old days when the female editors were smokin’ hot in a swimsuit and didn’t let themselves be offended by red-blooded American male approval. Or, at least, didn’t let on that they were offended.

Ladies these days.  Just don’t know anything about quiet dignity.

Then–oh then.  Truesdale hauls out the very best part: he has a black friend!  A black lesbian friend! Who is never named but who nonetheless goes on to agree with and bless every single one of Truesdale’s arguments.  If this friend exists, I feel sorry for them, as they’ve been reduced down to their racial and sexual identities. 

I want to emphasize that I am not trying to shut people up who hold deep feelings about their views on sexism (or any other topic). What I object to and find odious is that certain folks, in their self-righteousness, want their views to override all others, silencing them, and now they have a President in their hip pocket who is willing and able to do their bidding. Their views should be open for discussion—and print in the Bulletin—just like the views others hold on any variety of important subjects, but not to the exclusion of any opposing (and just as deeply felt) view or mode of expression from anyone else. That approach is the inclusivity and diversity you’re looking for.

SFWA members don’t pay their $90 annual dues to be told what to think or how they should express themselves in the pages of the Bulletin, nor do they want their own thoughts (through their articles or columns) to be deemed “acceptable” or “right thinking,” or adhering to some jumped-up (always subject to change at whim) PC style manual by some hootenanny “advisory board”” of boot lickers.

Okay, then. Again: I wasn’t aware that the Bulletin was supposed to be a free-for-all, where anyone can say anything.  I thought it was a professionally edited magazine for professional writers that is supposed to have content that is of use to the specific audience.  I don’t think six pages of Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg going on about the good old days is really very useful to the membership; I read some magazines that have personal essays in them and they’re usually one or two pages, at most.  Six pages is a lot of real estate for reminiscing about how awesome it was to be a writer 30 years ago.  

Far from an editor, this person will be nothing more than a slave, dragging his bundle of copy to the mansion from the field, where the “review process,” and some proposed “volunteer and advisory board,” and the President himself will be making the real “editing” decisions. You gather the cotton, we’ll spin it into what we think looks good for us.

Yep. He went there.

Ultimately, though, Truesdale’s argument is thoroughly dishonest.  He’s trying to get people riled up over someone editing the publication and he’s doing so in an incredibly offensive and gross manner.  He’s claiming that this is a free speech issue when it isn’t. SFWA is not the government. They can’t stop you from saying whatever damn fool thing you want. All they can do is stop you from saying it in their publication.

Luckily for you all, Sunny Moraine has written a handy guide explaining what the First Amendment means.  

C.C. Finlay makes the point more eloquently than I can as well.

So hey: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

EDIT 4:30 PM: I was provided a copy of the first (unedited) version with additional signatures.  You can find it here.  This version was being sent out via email by David Truesdale as late February 8.

You may also like…

Changing Things Up

Changing Things Up

Regaining a small bit of confidence in my own competence through a website redesign.

Three Years and Counting

Three Years and Counting

Falling asleep is incredibly difficult for me these days. Once I get to sleep, I'm fine, but getting there--oof. There...

Saltiness and Other Topics

Saltiness and Other Topics

Things about which I am salty, an unordered list: WordPress. They did something with one of the recent updates that...

171 Comments

  1. Liz Bourke

    You are admirably thorough. I could not read such things without getting smashed.

  2. Ana

    I just. I can’t.

    My blood is boiling. I can’t believe some of those signatories.

  3. Mark W. Tiedemannm

    I got a bit tangled up in this back when it happened and wrote this by way of understanding what was going on.

    http://marktiedemann.com/wordpress/?p=1867

    None of this, however, would have become the rhetorical mess had a set of policies been clearly in place and exercised appropriately. No magazine is obligated to publish against its own standards, which, by the contorted logic of some of the deponents herein, would be its own Speech issue.

  4. Steven Saus

    This is really easy for me: As I posted on Twitter, all parties who have signed that petition can go ahead and recuse themselves from any projects (including paying ones) that I control. If they haven’t yet violated my respect policy as a publisher, they will soon enough.

    They’ve just put themselves on the list of “people whose opinions I can safely ignore”.

  5. A.B.

    The First Amendment – doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    I saw your rts on Twitter and searched “SFWA petition” and yours was the first to come up. Good job!

    And, erm, this petition is hulk smashy nonsense.

  6. Doug M.

    Am I wrong to think that the underlying issue here is that Dave Truesdale is becoming steadily less influential and important, and it’s really upsetting him?

    Truesdale was a superfan for many years, and also a fairly influential reviewer. I wouldn’t call him a gatekeeper, quite, but he wasn’t someone you wanted to pick a fight with — he has boundless energy, remembers grudges forever, and is willing to crank out thousands of words per day to praise his friends and attack his enemies. He had columns in various venues (including, for an unconscionably long time, F&SF) and was, with one thing and another, something of a power in the field.

    But those days are pretty much gone. I’d guess that most fans and writers under 40 have no idea who he is. Nobody’s paying much attention to him any more. So, he’s pulling stunts like this.

    You’ll notice that the median age of the signers of that petition is well over 60. By and large, it’s a list of people whose glory days overlapped with Dave’s.

    Doug M.

  7. Mary Robinette Kowal

    As a former SFWA VP, I just really need to point out that Truesdale isn’t even a member. He’s complaining that SFWA is NOT being politically incorrect.

    But I have to say that there are a couple of names on there that make me really sad.

  8. Thomas M. Wagner

    Also, this bit of clueless facepalmery:

    “Their views should be open for discussion—and print in the Bulletin—just like the views others hold on any variety of important subjects, but not to the exclusion of any opposing (and just as deeply felt) view or mode of expression from anyone else. That approach is the inclusivity and diversity you’re looking for.”

    Okay, here’s my view: Sexism is bullshit and you shouldn’t do it.

    I await your argument in support of your deeply felt opposing view, Mr. Truesdale. DISCUSS!

  9. Keith M

    “But those days are pretty much gone. I’d guess that most fans and writers under 40 have no idea who he is.”

    Never heard of him before the current amusement (I’m 43), and don’t care if I ever hear about him again, so there’s one datapoint in favour of your guess.

  10. Wendy

    This nonsense makes me more glad than ever that I write romance. Honestly, my work (steampunk) could straddle both genres, but romance authors are overwhelmingly OKAY with other authors being women. I don’t have to justify or argue to be taken seriously. I’m sure I could try to assert myself as a Serious Science Fiction Writer, but that would assume that I care what bigots like this think.

  11. Regina Small

    The lengthy interlude about sexual attraction (which amounts to sexual objectification, apparently?) was somehow both revealing and completely unsurprising. I don’t…quite understand how the SFWA bulletin’s content has anything to do with Truesdale’s — or anyone else’s — freedom to feel attracted to someone. It’s just not going to endorse or sanctify objectification. I mean: sorry, bro. Sorry about you not getting exactly what you want in any venue you want.

  12. Ouranosaurus

    Of course, no real newspaper has anything like an editorial board to decide on content for the op ed pages.

    Oh wait, OF COURSE THEY DO! Because newspapers often have a defined political slant, or when they are ostensibly impartial as to party, they almost always have lines which they are not willing for their writers to cross. Do you think columnists have never been fired at major dailies for writing offensive sludge? Do you think editors have never been fired for running it?

    In the included emails, Truesdale takes a couple of shots at Vox Day, essentially saying “Of course we’re not as misogynistic as Mr. Crazypants over there, but can’t we be a wee bit sexist?” So, it’s okay not to host the opinions of Vox Day, but it’s CENSORSHIP!!!!!!!11!!!1! when it’s him and his aging friends? Come on!

  13. Stefan (Far Beyond Reality)

    If it’s true, as I’ve seen suggested, that the folks who signed this petition did not sign the current text, it would be nice to hear from them and see if they agree with its current form or not. Some of my favorite authors are listed there, and it’s making me sad.

  14. nu

    He doesn’t want to “silence” anyone, huh? I guess Truesdale doesn’t care that women are silenced when they read in professional, widely distributed magazines representing their colleagues that the only thing they have to offer is sandwiches and hot bods. How many women does that deter? What a thoughtful douche.

  15. Sean Wallace

    Stefan: Nancy Kress says she saw the original petition, and signed it after asking for modifications. See K. Tempest Bradford’s facebook entry for more details.

  16. Robert Silverberg

    The early Truesdale draft is not what is being circulated now. Many veteran members of SFWA objected to the early text and have worked it over to keep it to the point that pre-censorship of published material is an Orwellian injury to free speech, period. There is nothing in the final petition about black lesbians, ogling, or any of the other stuff quoted here. And so far it has been signed by four past presidents of SFWA, three Grand Masters, and any number of Nebula winners and other well-known writers of both sexes.

  17. Will Shetterly

    There are two kinds of writers: those who do not believe in censorship of any kind, and those who do not believe in censoring the things they believe.

    As for people’s black friends, there’s no way I would drag mine into this nonsense. Why should we expose them to charges by identitarians of being race traitors?

  18. Bryce Anderson

    It seems like the “voluntary self-censorship” he’s decrying is actually vital to free speech. For a magazine like SFWA, the ability to focus on subjects that are important to its overall membership, and “Why can’t I be sexist and objectifying in your sandbox?” is not one of those subjects.

  19. Will Shetterly

    I just left this comment at A Trick of Light:

    I strongly recommend reading the ACLU’s “What is censorship?” Here’s a bit from it:

    “Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

    “In contrast, when private individuals or groups organize boycotts against stores that sell magazines of which they disapprove, their actions are protected by the First Amendment, although they can become dangerous in the extreme. Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period. But these private censorship campaigns are best countered by groups and individuals speaking out and organizing in defense of the threatened expression.”

  20. Bibliotropic

    I’m a little bit ashamed that one of my favourite authors has her name attached to that petition. I’m hoping that she signed some different version, as others are reported to have.

    It’s pretty damn sad that people are still crying out that white men need to have the right to do as they please and any offended others (usually women and people of colour) need to just shut up and learn how to take it with a smile. For a long time, I lived under a very happy and naive rock that had some manifesto painted on the side that essentially read, “People are getting their undies in a twist over nothing more than isolated incidents. OF COURSE racism and sexism aren’t as prevelant in the world as all you activists seem to think. Doing that shit is illegal, right? And nobody in their right mind would be discriminatory, because we’ve all moved beyond that.” Yeah, then I grew up, started living in the world, and had my eyes very painfully opened. But you know, I’m glad of it. Because when I see BS like this petition, I can recognize it for what it really is.

  21. Kermit O

    Not that I thought this petition had any merit to begin with, but for fuck’s sake, what is up with the slavery analogy? I mean he didn’t just drop the word “slave” as a euphemism. He went on ahead to make comparisons between the editing process and COTTON picking! Truly, only an entitled white man would even think to make that kind of comparison and expect to be taken half seriously.

  22. G

    How is it that “freedom of speech” is such a difficult concept for some people?

  23. A

    Ah, the excessively parenthetical (and “ersatz-quote”-peppered) paranoid polemic. Truly a classic. Screeds like this one have graced the desktops of writers convinced of their own oppression for years now. Clearly, if it were not for the oppressive invisible forces aligned against them, agreement for their positions would be total and respect for their unique snowflake genius would be universal.

    Surely they are granted a right to our publishing, an amplifier for their presence, an audience for their predilections, by their birthright as Americans? Are they not? For true freedom obviously means providing a balanced opinion— perhaps SWFA is failing its readers by not opening more views for discussion and review, such as those who are against speculative fiction, or reading in general. Perhaps a summit with Facebook’s more prominent membership is required for true balance.

    I have a quadruped gender-neutralized friend who identifies as canine, and he agrees that reading is a pointless exercise in not chasing things. “It’s not about being sentient,” he claims, “It’s about people being stuck up about all those squiggles and black marks on your flat shiny noisy thing. Semicolon close parenthesis.”

    All fun aside, I am a married woman with a wife and neither of us thinks the idea of reducing anyone to their use by others as a sex object is fun or cool. People who work to be sexy figures, like strippers, etc, deserve respect for the effort, and are not objects either. That’s their preference, cool. I respect SWFA for saying, “That’s clearly not what our audience wants. We’re going in another direction.” I’d respect them more for taking a stance on people— regardless of gender, orientation, race, religion, etc— deserving to be treated as people, given respect for what they choose to be in the world (an editor, not a swimsuit model, a screeching brat, not a thinker) rather than what other people try to make of them.

    Thanks for the petition, though. Thins out my reading list.

  24. Regina Small

    Just my humble opinion, but requesting modifications to that petition seems like asking Truesdale to be more savvy about exposing his motivations for creating it. It’s not like his underlying agenda changed between versions; it’s just a hell of a lot clearer in that first petition. I can’t imagine reading that first draft and thinking, “if he just deleted all this justification for sexual objectification, I would totally support this staunch, unrepentant sexual objectifier.”

  25. Neil Clarke

    “The early Truesdale draft is not what is being circulated now. Many veteran members of SFWA objected to the early text and have worked it over to keep it to the point that pre-censorship of published material is an Orwellian injury to free speech, period.”

    Oh the irony. The original was censored by evil SFWA members who refused to sign. Poor Dave. Oh wait, are you saying that it was edited to keep inflammatory statements from distracting people from the original intent of the approved piece? Huh… that’s what SFWA hopes to do too.

    I love that none of the people who signed this have spoken to SFWA or Task Force Members to find out if any of it was true. (I’m a Task Force member.)

  26. Thomas M. Wagner

    “Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others.”

    If you really think that when women and PoC object to cultural attitudes which devalue, objectify, or marginalize them, that their objection constitutes a censorious imposition upon your “freedom,” I would suggest you have some complex problems of your own that need working out.

  27. G

    I will give it this: I chuckled at the characterization of Charleton Heston as: ” early civil rights activist who marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.”

  28. Dara

    Wow, most of these signatories are the sorts I’d expect – but in a couple, I am sincerely disappointed. How sad.

  29. Robert Silverberg

    Neil Clarke seems to see no difference between the authors of a piece revising it before it is made public and the imposition of a board of review to make sure that the editor of a publication does not print anything that might offend any part of the membership of the group that receives that publication. The first is the normal revision of a draft that any writer does before releasing material to be seen by others. A number of us saw flaws in the original Truesdale draft and asked that they be removed, and they were. The second is the formal statement that the organization’s own editor is not to be trusted to apply common sense and appropriate taste to the work of editing. One would hope that readers of SFWA’s magazine would not take offense at anything they read in a publication that is intended to help them in the pursuit of their professional careers, but the appropriate way of objecting to such offensive material would be to write a letter of protest to the magazine, not to force the editor to be overruled in advance by a committee that determines what might be deemed offensive.

    • Steven Saus

      @Robert Silverberg:

      Mr. Silverberg:

      Perhaps it would have been better for you, Ms. Kress, et al to find another, less bigotry-laden way to bring those ideals to light. Like not signing the offensive draft.

      Now, I’m going to suggest the same thing that I suggested to Mike:

      When you say or do something, and a bunch of people react differently than you expect, then maybe you should apologize first and go introspect in public. Maybe getting defensive and doubling-down is the wrong thing to do.

  30. Neil Clarke

    I know the difference. Sorry for the attempt at finding humor in all this.

    Didn’t you willingly signed the first draft? (Your name was on it.)

    When the explosion over the prior issue happened, John Scalzi (then president) stood up to take his share of the blame because he was responsible for the final review of the issue, which involved identifying errors and potentially inflammatory statements that distract from the intent of the piece. You are complaining that the task has been delegated.

  31. Chris Gerrib

    Mr. Silverberg – I have no First Amendment rights to post anything on your blog, because you own it. My understanding is that the SFWA Bulletin is the official magazine of SFWA and is “owned” by the membership. What mechanism would you propose to ensure that whatever the Bulletin publishes is in fact agreeable to the membership?

  32. A

    Sorry, Mr Silverberg? You’ve never been turned down nor asked for edits by a serial publication because what you submitted didn’t fit what they were looking for content-wise or didn’t mesh with their intent for an issue? That’s a seriously charmed life you’ve led! That’s never been my experience nor that of anyone I’ve known. Awesome!

    If a publication finds that it needs a committee to oversee its content to avoid alienating readers it wants, or falling below goals, we can’t honestly call that censorship. If we do, then every decision a publication makes about what to accept can be deemed censorship, which is, I believe, pretty well framed in the article above.

    If you object to it, isn’t the appropriate response to take your always-wanted material elsewhere rather than forcing their decision to form a committee to be overrulled by an outside committee formed ad hoc to determine what amongst their internal policies might be offensive?

  33. Dara

    Bob –

    I would personally think that having seen the entire “worse” version before the “less bad” version would inform a rational person as to the underlying motivation behind the petition, and affect one’s decision to sign on to _any_ version of it. To many readers, that would say, “Really, I’m mad because because I can’t be an objectifying lech and have everybody pretend to like it, so I’ll wrap it up in a pretence of principled outrage instead.” Not to mention that anything starting with a rant against “political correctness” – in the title _and_ first paragraph – can reliably be assumed blissfully free of the ravages of fact.

    As was _thoroughly demonstrated_ by the events of 2013, relying on the “common sense” of the editor led to substantial damage to SFWA’s reputation. I have several reasons for being disappointed in the signatories to this petition, but on top of all of those, I’m genuinely surprised that anyone who wants an organisation like SFWA to survive would look back at those events and say, “Yeah! We need to go back to THAT!”

  34. Lisa Goldstein

    If I have to hear one more person call something “PC” I am going to seriously hit something. It isn’t a question of being “politically incorrect” or “politically correct” — it’s a question of whether you’re an asshole or not. And the people who are not being assholes should be free to call out people, like Truesdale, like Malzberg and Resnick, who are being an assholes. No one is going to come out from the government and arrest you for saying anything you like.

  35. Robert Silverberg

    In reply to Neil Clarke — I signed the first draft of the Truesdale statement because I wanted to indicate my support for the general idea of opposing pre-review of content for the SFWA magazine. But then Nancy Kress and I and several others spent four or five days revising the draft to eliminate material in it that we regarded as counterproductive or downright inflammatory.

    As for Chris Gibbs, my proposal is that the SFWA editor be allowed to use his/her taste and discretion about what to print, without high-level supervision, and that members be allowed to protest anything they find objectionable, such protests to be printed in the next issue. And, of course, the editor can always be removed if in the judgment of the powers that be at SFWA really offensive material is being published. But the decision about that, I think, should come after the fact. and not be made by a board sitting in judgment on the editor in advance of publication.

  36. Michael Capobianco

    SFWA’s President has final responsibility for the production and content of the Bulletin. In the current By-laws, the President is given the exclusive power to issue publications. Presidential authority trumps that of the Bulletin’s editor. In that regard, nothing has changed. The President has chosen to delegate some of that authority to a committee but will still have the final say.

  37. Chris

    Please stop trying to impose a mandatory American-liberal ideology on SF fandom.

  38. C.C. Finlay

    So let me get this straight…

    The Bulletin editor will decide what goes into the magazine.

    The editor has to answer to SFWA’s elected officers, whose duties, according to the by-laws, are to oversee production of the Bulletin.

    The officers are answerable to the SFWA’s members, who elect them.

    The members complained, overwhelmingly, about lack of oversight for the Bulletin, so the officers promise to take a more active role in overseeing production while a new editor gets started.

    And this is “Orwellian”? “Pre-censorship”? An “injury to free speech”?

    OMG SAVE US ALL FROM THIS HORRIBLE DYSTOPIA. WORLD CIVILIZATION WILL COLLAPSE INSTANTLY. NO MAGAZINE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO PUBLISH BEFORE UNDER THESE HORRIFIC STIFLING CONDITIONS.

    Jesus.

  39. Thomas M. Wagner

    “I wanted to indicate my support for the general idea of opposing pre-review of content for the SFWA magazine”

    Allow me to join of chorus of people who are baffled why this ought to be a policy anyone, let alone some like Mr. Silverberg, who has himself been an editor, would find objectionable. How is it any different from the editorial process that any publication undergoes?

    And if this process weeds out content that is expressly sexist, racist, or demeaning in nature, what is the objection? To object to such exclusions could only mean you think there’s value in giving a platform to racism, sexism, and other prejudices, and thus SFWA as an organization is somehow bound to give those views equal and fair footing, or be guilty of “censorship.”

    The absurdity of this should be self-evident. Why isn’t it?

  40. G

    I don’t have a problem with the writing or circulation of this petition–it’s the author’s and signatories’ right to make themselves heard. I do, however, believe this means they own responsibility for the petition and its contents. They have, then, made the choice to associate themselves with the contents therein–unless or until they choose to disassociate themselves with it.

    So here are a few thoughts on that:

    1. No one should ever take an “argument” seriously that conflates a private enterprises actions with legal protections of speech and an independent press. At this point we need to just call these kinds of “arguments” (non-arguments, really) what they are: histrionic, hyperbolic and flat-out dumb in a very basic way. As I said elsewhere: if you don’t believe me on this, try violating Facebook’s terms & conditions and see where that lands you.

    2. This is not the only histrionic, hyperbolic and flat-out-dumb aspect of the petition–see also, for example, the multiple references to “fascism” and “political-correctness,” which are clear indicators that the author is, in essence, an ideologically-motivated axe-grinder.

    3. It is almost certainly true that some of these people signed the petition for different reasons than those that appear to dominate the petition itself (i.e. said ideological axe-grinding).

    4. Robert Silverberg has stated here that one of those reasons is defense of the autonomy of the SFWA Bulletin editor.

    5. This, in turn, begs the question: then why sign on to this particular petition? After all, it IS marked by the things I noted in points #1-3.

    6. I’m disappointed to see a few authors whose work I deeply respect on that list of signatories–not because they advocate for editor autonomy, but because, by signing, they indicate their support for all the ridiculousness noted in points #1-3. I’ll still like their books, because art is art and this is really not very significant (not like, say, rationalizing acts of sedition if gay marriage becomes law). But I do wish they’d made better decisions here.

    7. And who, exactly, thought including a Charlton Heston quote was a good idea? 😛

  41. Courtney Milan

    The petition conflates two very different things–perhaps because of accidental logic-fail, but possibly as deliberate strategy.

    1. Censorship.
    2. Criticism of editorial choices.

    This is obviously not #1. I don’t think that anyone who rationally thinks about this stuff thinks it’s #1. If I offered to write a piece for the SFWA Bulletin about writing strong romantic conflict in historical England, they’d likely turn it down, and it wouldn’t be because they were “censoring” me. I’d be free to put it anywhere else I had a platform. And indeed, forcing people to speak in a way that is contrary to their goals and beliefs is as much a violation of the First Amendment as forcing them to keep silent.

    (We can talk about whether private entities can censor, and we shouldn’t discount that–if, for instance, Amazon stopped selling books about gays and lesbians, or gmail automatically refused to deliver messages that used the word “abortion,” those would pose serious problems. But (a) those are not First Amendment violations, no matter how bad they would be, and (b) censorship by private entities only poses problems similar to government censorship when the private entity is providing an important public forum, which is not the case here.)

    Nobody signing that petition thinks that SFWA should print whatever damned thing anyone wants, and I hope they’d all be up in arms if someone wanted to, for instance, print a piece suggesting that authors invest all their money in their lovely pyramid scheme. The only thing people are really protesting is not the fact of editorial control, but the substance of it.

    But they can’t come out and say that. A petition that says, “I want SFWA to continue to print sexist, racist, bigoted material” just doesn’t have the same ring as randomly talking about Andrew Hamilton and John Peter Zenger (a case that had…literally nothing to do with this), and “voluntary self-censorship” sounds a lot worse than “thinking twice before printing asinine crap.”

  42. hapax

    So sorry, I really *tried* to read all of the original petition / rant, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

    When the writer started going into a lengthy digression about how the objectives and standards of a professional publication for professional writers are EXACTLY comparable to the objectives and standards of gay and lesbian men and women trolling bars for sex (because that’s what being gay is all about, you know) I just… I don’t know what … I can’t even.

    It’s bad enough that several authors I used to respect put their names on a bigoted rant. But I’m disappointed and BAFFLED that they should put their names on such a badly written, incoherent mess.

  43. Robert Silverberg

    The “offensive” draft was not meant for public distribution. It was a preliminary approach to the problem, the work of one person. During the revision process I specifically asked for, and received, the deletion of the word “fascism” and the ironic reference to the editor’s choices as “crimes,” along with a lot of other stuff, all of which eventually came out.

    As for the outcry by an overwhelming group of SFWA members about the original BULLETIN items, my impression, subject to correction by someone closer to the workings of the organization than I am, is that it was a vocal minority that did the complaining, rathe than any overwhelmingly large body.

    And if anyone here thinks that my objections to the appointment of a board of advance review constitutes my support for the publication of racist or sexist material in the BULLETIN or anywhere else, that person simply just doesn’t know me.

    • Steven Saus

      Mr. Silverberg:

      Despite the assertions of Mr. Resnick and Mr. Malzberg, the persons defending treating members of SFWA differently based on gender and race were the small, vocal minority.

      There is a reason why this “controversy” was played out and resolved last year. Because intolerance in a professional organization is unbecoming a professional organization.

  44. cd

    As with a number of other commentators, I’m sincerely disappointed by the number of authors whose work I admired as a youth who signed this pea-brained petition. Both because of their conflation of the US Constitutional amendment saying “we can’t make a law saying you can’t say this dumb shit” and a non-governmental body saying “we’re not going to let you say this dumb shit in the publication which carries our name, and which will thus damage our brand”, and further because they’re carrying the banner for something that makes me ashamed to ever have enjoyed their work — namely the “right” to be assholes to others because they’ve always been able to do that, and decrying “political correctness”, or, as Neil Gaiman put it, “treating other people with respect” (http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/43087620460/i-was-reading-a-book-about-interjections-oddly).

  45. Peter centorcelli

    So much to comment on, where to begin.

    First, I went over to http://www.tangentonline.com/news-mainmenu-158/2333-sfwa-president-endorses-bulletin-censorship to look at the post and wanted to comment on it directly. How surprised was I to discover that my first amendment rights *waving flag, choir of true Americans humming the Star Spangled Banner* were being violated by not being allowed to write my comments directly on a non-governmental, privately owned and operated site. Why is that Mr Truesdale?

    Maybe because I have no first amendment right to post whatever I want on your site. Just as no one else has a first amendment right to post on any other non-governmental site. Have you ever read the actual text of the first amendment? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    The relevant portion is “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Just how does that apply to you and your he0man woman-hater club in the case of SFWA bulletin? Congress is unable to pass any laws at this stage let alone one preventing you from voicing an opinion on a website. Let me be clear – first amendment in no way applies here. You might have a complaint against the editorial policies of the bulletin but please refrain from making this some sort of crusade where you are being oppressed.

    Onward and upward – the whole gist of the complaint appears to be your belief that any member of the SFWA should be allowed to spout whatever drivel they want in the official journal of the society thus lending those comments, no matter how reprehensible or in conflict of the groups objectives and goals they may be, an implicit support of the SFWA. It’s the old, you’re being intolerant of my intolerance defense. Tolerance doesn’t work that way, sorry, thanks for playing. I don’t believe we have any parting gifts but such is life.

    There was an article by a bunch of writers stuck in time 50 years ago when a woman knew how to behave and her only value was in how she enabled REAL MEN to function even if that was only by looking good. Sorry to inform you but those days are dead and buried. Sadly, there are still some dinosaurs left roaming thinking that the only good a female editor is is how hot she is in a bikini. Opposing this kind of behavior is not “PC correctness” as you so dismissively put it but rather an understanding that women are humans capable of great thoughts, powerful writing, good editing and every other task that any other human is capable of. To disguise blatant misogyny as a differing viewpoint is repulsive to must people capable of independent thought.

    I hold out hopes that many of the signatories of your rant will realize that this wasn’t about the SFWA trying to stifle debate and opinions but rather about an attempt to maintain standards that reflect a modern world view and they will remove their support for the misogynistic locker room behavior that you are really defending.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      Peter, I’m letting this through, but this site is wholly unaffiliated with David Truesdale and there is no guarantee he’ll see your remarks. If you really wish to speak to him, his email address is in at least one of the linked petitions.

  46. Peter centorcelli

    @Natalie Luhrs:
    Yes, I am aware that this is not affiliated in anyway to him. As I was typing it, it turned into an open letter to Mr Truesdale. I should have called that out at the outset.

  47. OhDudeBro

    “The early Truesdale draft is not what is being circulated now. Many veteran members of SFWA objected to the early text and have worked it over to keep it to the point that pre-censorship of published material is an Orwellian injury to free speech, period. There is nothing in the final petition about black lesbians, ogling, or any of the other stuff quoted here. ”

    Robert:
    1. You signed the original version.
    2. He was willing to circulate the petition with vile rhetoric.
    3. Hiding vile rhetoric – rather than apologizing or refuting it – means one is just lying about what one really thinks to get signatures.
    4. A petition by someone who is dishonest about their beliefs and statements is not a worthy vessel for a discussion of speech.
    5. Again, you endorsed the original version which means you support all that argle bargle defending sex objects.
    6. When in a hole, stop digging.
    7. Having the newsletter of a professional organization screen material which antagonizes members in ways unrelated to the goals of the organization isn’t an Orwellian nightmare, it’s editing.
    8. I’ve edited scholarly journals and newsletters and they have a policy about not printing essays which comment on the looks of members, unless it’s The Journal Of Scoping Out People In This Association.
    9. Providing guidelines so the organization isn’t subject to off-point infighting isn’t Orwellian, but responsible management – unless you think the entire point of SFWA is to provide a platform for debating how much you can talk about hot chicks without getting in trouble.

  48. Courtney Milan

    @Robert Silverberg:

    “And if anyone here thinks that my objections to the appointment of a board of advance review constitutes my support for the publication of racist or sexist material in the BULLETIN or anywhere else, that person simply just doesn’t know me. ”

    We’re inferring that not just from your objection to a board of advance review, but from other things you say, like this:

    “As for the outcry by an overwhelming group of SFWA members about the original BULLETIN items, my impression, subject to correction by someone closer to the workings of the organization than I am, is that it was a vocal minority that did the complaining, rathe than any overwhelmingly large body.”

  49. Octavia

    You know, when I read things like “The “offensive” draft was not meant for public distribution” it’s hard not to think a) good luck with that, person who has clearly not understood the internet, and b) you signed it anyway, and c) the things people will sign thinking they won’t be publicly available are probably closer to what they actually think than the things they’ll admit to all and sundry.

  50. Michael Greenhut

    The problem is that too many people see the word “free speech” and rally behind it no matter what the rest of the text says. Free speech doesn’t apply in private organizations, period.

  51. Thomas M. Wagner

    “And if anyone here thinks that my objections to the appointment of a board of advance review constitutes my support for the publication of racist or sexist material in the BULLETIN or anywhere else, that person simply just doesn’t know me.”

    I am quite certain you don’t support such views, Mr. Silverberg (you are, after all, the author of Thorns, one of SF’s more sensitive works about being “other”), as I am also sure they are not supported by the likes of C.J. Cherryh and Nancy Kress. Which is why so many of us are bewildered at the support of this petition by you folks, when Truesdale has made it abundantly clear how much he was motivated in writing it by his contempt for the “political correctness” that stands in opposition to such things.

  52. Peter centorcelli

    Robert:
    “As for the outcry by an overwhelming group of SFWA members about the original BULLETIN items, my impression, subject to correction by someone closer to the workings of the organization than I am, is that it was a vocal minority that did the complaining, rathe than any overwhelmingly large body.”

    So if I am to understand you correctly, it is all right to be dismissive of the oppression or subjugation of a group if their numbers are small?

  53. Deirdre Saoirse Moen

    The @RobertSilverberg cover letter that was attached to the version emailed to me reads as follows. It was before the edited version. (I used one sentence out of it in my post about wanksplaining.)

    “We are about to have a censorship explosion in SFWA. Last year the group’s magazine was suspended and its editor let go because feminist members objected to a pulpy cover (a kind of Frazetta warrior woman in a bikini) and references to “lady editors” in the Resnick-Malzberg column. Now the new SFWA president has proposed creating a review board to check out material intended for the magazine in advance so that nothing “offensive” or “inappropriate” will be published. A bunch of us, including Messrs Ellison, Spinrad, Gene Wolfe, Resnick, Malzberg, Benford, RS, etc., plus Nancy Kress, CJ Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, and others, thought that a writers’ organization should not be repealing the First Amendment and have put together a petition objecting to this review board. It will go public this week and things will hit the fan.
    RAS”

    So. Men get the title Messrs, but women get no title at all. We’re, at best, “plus” or “and others.”

  54. Thomas M. Wagner

    “I am quite certain you don’t support such views…”

    I’m going to shuffle that sentiment back into the “Pending” file for the moment.

  55. G

    “…thought that a writers’ organization should not be repealing the First Amendment…”

    I wasn’t aware the SFWA had been granted that power.

  56. UrsulaV

    I’m pretty sure that we’re not allowed to repeal the First Amendment until after reincorporation.

  57. Veronica Schanoes

    “I wasn’t aware the SFWA had been granted that power.”

    If it has, then I’m so running for office.

  58. jbwhelan

    Harlan Ellison signing off on this is especially hypocritical, given his essay “The Thick Red Moment.” What a shame.

  59. Veronica Schanoes

    Many veteran members of SFWA objected to the early text and have worked it over

    The “offensive” draft was not meant for public distribution. It was a preliminary approach to the problem, the work of one person. During the revision process I specifically asked for, and received, the deletion of the word “fascism” and the ironic reference to the editor’s choices as “crimes,” along with a lot of other stuff, all of which eventually came out.

    Do you understand that this is exactly the sort of thing that the proposed advisory board would do? Do you understand that dealing with such objectionable and off-point verbiage is exactly why it would be doing that? Do you understand that it would be composed of veteran members of SFWA?

    What is it you’re objecting to again, and why?

    Why is it only good sense when you and your buddies do it, and so we should pay no attention to the earlier draft behind the curtain, but so terrible when SFWA does it?

    You are making no sense, not here, and not on James Niccoll’s LJ. I’m getting the impression that you really have no idea what has been going on lately.

    And if anyone here thinks that my objections to the appointment of a board of advance review constitutes my support for the publication of racist or sexist material in the BULLETIN or anywhere else, that person simply just doesn’t know me.

    You’re right about one thing: I don’t know you. I’ve never met you. You’re not a friend of mine, and I’m not your shrink or your confessor. All I can judge by is your actions, your allies, and your defense of the same. So if I and a bunch of other people who don’t know you are getting the impression that you support making and/or keeping the Bulletin a friendly home for racist/sexist/misogynist material, you might want to take a good, long, hard look at the evidence you’re providing. Because people who don’t know you aren’t taking anything but that evidence into account.

  60. Scott M. Sandridge

    I agree with Robert Silverberg, and even with Dave to some extent (despite his somewhat muddled methods in getting his point across, I know the guy well enough to know better than to go by what the knee-jerkers say about him).

    Besides, what’ll come next? The SFFWA version of a Pre-Crimes Division?

    *recalls the whole “review committee” idea that started the whole petition thing* Oh wait….

    Stupid crap like this is the reason why I decided to not bother with pursuing a membership. At least us small press folk can agree to disagree without worrying about some silly committee slamming down the Banhammer. And guess what? We end up having _more_ respect and understanding toward each other because of that!
    Go figure. :/

  61. Bluegreen Circles

    @Peter

    1. Nobody has been ‘oppressed’ or ‘subjugated’ by the SFWA Bulletin. The magazine having a cover and/or article you don’t approve of is not oppression or subjugation.

    2. The argument has been made (by C. C. Finlay, among others) that the pre-approval board is a good idea because it allows for the members to exercise more control over the magazine, so that it more closely aligns with what most of the membership finds acceptable. As such, the proportion of people who were offended by Issue 200 relative to SFWA’s total membership is relevant, because if indeed only a vocal minority disliked it, then the magazine is already in line with what most of the membership finds acceptable, so this argument for why the pre-approval board is needed doesn’t have that evidence behind it.

    And more generally:

    No one has argued that they want to publish sexist, racist, etc. material in the Bulletin. I would wager that most, if not all, of the signatories would be quite happy never to see content they found personally offensive in that magazine either. But there are problems with setting up a group of censors (which, incidentally, is a term that can apply to private as well as public individuals) to take the magazine the editor puts together and then strike out things that they deem offensive:

    1. The first point is that many of the great classic sci-fi and fantasy works have been found to be offensive by various people. A Clockwork Orange, The Giver, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Handmaid’s Tale are just a few of the books that were considered so offensive that people tried to ban them (see http://io9.com/5653504/10-great-science-fiction-novels-that-have-been-banned for some more).If the publishers adopted the same viewpoint that SFWA apparently wants to adopt, namely not to publish things that might offend portions of their audience, we would have lost many of the best works in the field. Just because something offends some people, as all those above works did, doesn’t mean that it’s meritless or that an organization like SFWA should reject that content out of hand.

    On a more personal note, I’ve certainly encountered articles and other works that I disliked or even found offensive at first, only to realize later, after more thought, that I was wrong and there was merit in them after all. This even includes things I first found offensive due to my ethnicity (I am Jewish). And yes, I’ve also seen works that I initially found offensive and still do, but if some well-meaning censor had stepped in to block me from the latter, they’d likely have shut out the former type as well, and I’d be the worse for it.

    2. Even dismissing the above on the basis that this group will only be censoring the Bulletin on the basis of sexism, racism, and so forth, there is the problem of how it is determined which viewpoints and articles fall into these categories. Right now it seems like a small group of SFWA members will be asked their opinions, but that just raises the question of whom in SFWA is qualified to determine which content is too offensive for the rest of SFWA. It is very unlikely that everyone in SFWA, or even in the subset of SFWA that is focused on social justice issues, will always agree on what is offensive or what isn’t. Even in the social justice community, there are fierce disagreements over everything from linguistics (e.g, is the word ‘scab’ offensive when used to refer to strikebreakers, as FWD argues: http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/11/04/ableist-word-profile-scab/ ? Is ‘humane’ offensive to otherkin, as Ana Mardoll states here http://www.anamardoll.com/2012/02/deconstruction-how-do-we-deal-with.html?) to national political issues. So who in SFWA will be deciding these things for all of the Bulletin’s readers?

    3. The argument that, as long as we’re free from government censorship, it’s fine if a private group like SFWA censors, doesn’t hold water. This is just the standard libertarian argument that, as long as we’re free from government regulations of all types, we’re free, and private enterprise can’t do anything to quash freedom. Problem is, private groups like businesses still have power over individuals, whatever the libertarians say. SFWA has power–it’s the largest, if not the only, organization dedicated to the protection and advancement of genre writers–and thus should be using that power responsibly. If the oversight board unjustly censors someone, it’s a misuse of SFWA’s power and an offense to both to the writer in question and the community at large. That it is technically not a 1st Amendment violation doesn’t make it acceptable.

    4. Disapproving of the board does not equate to wanting a free-for-all in which any scribble is published in the Bulletin. The difference between the editor and the board is that the editor is presumably choosing articles based on their writing quality, topic, depth, and other such factors, while the board is choosing articles based on what they find decent or indecent. The objection to the board isn’t an objection to the idea of having more than one person act as an editor; it’s an objection to how this particular board will be making its decisions.

    5. Lastly, objecting to the oversight board does not in any way indicate that one wants there to be more racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive content in the magazine. Rather, it contends that the best way to deal with bad speech is more speech; that instead of trusting in some board, hoping they always get it right and they never exclude something enlightening and intelligent for spurious reasons, it’s better to have a neutral editor that just selects the best articles in terms of the magazine’s mission. If a reader sees something they find offensive, they can write a letter to the editor, and then SFWA members can analyze both sides and decide for themselves what they think. If there’s consensus on one side or the other, then the editor can take that into account and update guidelines accordingly. This removes the problem of some small subset of SFWA getting to decide what’s offensive and what isn’t, because then every person who gets the Bulletin can see the arguments and make an informed opinion. It also solves the problem that the board might veto some brilliant, enlightening work by mistake, which the public could never see because it never even got into the debate.

  62. UrsulaV

    Veronica–co-signed hard.

  63. Nicole

    I wish Nature magazine took misogyny as seriously as the SFWA has been.

  64. Ann Somerville

    ” One would hope that readers of SFWA’s magazine would not take offense at anything they read in a publication that is intended to help them in the pursuit of their professional careers, but the appropriate way of objecting to such offensive material would be to write a letter of protest to the magazine, not to force the editor to be overruled in advance by a committee that determines what might be deemed offensive. ”

    Oh Mr Silverberg, I am heartbroken to see you saying this stuff. You’re one of my few literary heroes. You and Ursula K LeGuin showed me that it was possible to marry incredible world-building and a progressive viewpoint, to use rich, flawed but fascinating characters to carry a narrative that actually meant something. You made me believe that science fiction and fantasy was important.

    And here you are, supporting the racist, sexist agenda of a few bruised egos, dismissing my existence and worth as a female spec fic writerbecause it might upset a few old bull males who long ago should have been put out to pasture as not contributing to the growth of the herd.

    You apparently think that the disgruntled rantings of David Truesdale – not even a member of the organisation he’s criticising – are worth more than the women creators, the non-white creators, the non-straight creators, and all those who hate gatekeeping based on gender, race and sexuality. All those many fine, talented voices who rose up in united disgust at what was allowed to happen last year and which cast *their* organisation in such an unprofessional and unwelcoming light.

    Oh please, Bob Silverberg. Please think again. Please tell us you made a mistake, that you misunderstood. Please tell us that you didn’t mean to dismiss the very people inspired by you to write and create worlds and characters worthy of your own fine work.

    Losing one of my beloved heroes hurts so much.

  65. Simeon Beresford

    I would expect a publication called SFWA Bulletin to be primarily a source of news and information.neither partisan nor a medium for debate. Debate and partisanship seem to me much better suited to forums and blogs. I think articles published in the bulletin should represent the position of the SFWA. and this make it unsuitable for serious debate outside of its letters section. I note that the majority of the articles that lead to the hiatus in publication were not intended to to advance a debating point . they were not polemics or apologia. and when they became such the bulletin was criticised for providing a platform to people who did not speak for the SFWA as a whole.

  66. Bruce Arthurs

    I am astonished to see a writer of Robert Silverberg’s skill and experience making such poorly thought out and contradictory arguments.

    When you sign a petition containing inflammatory and objectionable statements, trying to say that first endorsement doesn’t count because the petition was later revised doesn’t pass the smell test. Especially when you say it was in part your own later input that resulted in those revisions.

    Bob, if your first response to Truesdale’s petition was to think it was badly written, why in Hell did you (LITERALLY) “sign off” on it?

    There are writers who I keep on a mental pedestal. Silverberg’s pedestal is one of the highest and widest. This isn’t just like watching someone stumble and fall off the edge; it’s like watching them throw themselves off headlong.

  67. Jason Sanford

    I wasn’t surprised by many of the names on the petition, but I was by yours, Robert Silverberg. I don’t understand how anyone could read David Truesdale’s original hateful, bigoted petition language and not understand exactly what they were signing and the real reason why the petition was being circulated.

    I understand that you sought changes to the petition’s original language, but did your truly think that removing a few words could remove the wrongness which prompted Truesdale to write this?

    And for the record, the people who demanded that SFWA stop publishing sexist and hateful works were far more than a vocal minority. Saying that is simply a means of dismissing the views of people you disagree with.

  68. Veronica Schanoes

    The magazine having a cover and/or article you don’t approve of is not oppression or subjugation.

    Actually, a professional magazine speaking for a professional organization that is supposed to be giving me career advice telling me to act like a Barbie doll is indeed contributing to my oppression. Not only is it yet another micro-aggression in a publication that is supposed to be helping me, it is actually in direct contradiction to anything that would actually help me in my career. Can you name me three of the top women in the field who got where they are by acting like Barbie dolls? The article is actually contributing to thwarting women in the field by giving misogynist advice.

    many of the great classic sci-fi and fantasy works have been found to be offensive by various people. A Clockwork Orange, The Giver, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Handmaid’s Tale are just a few of the books that were considered so offensive that people tried to ban them …

    And I don’t think that graphic rape scenes, to take an instance from your first example, are relevant to the SFWA Bulletin’s mission either. The SFWA Bulletin has a particular mission–you said it yourself, aiding professional writers in their careers. Objectifying women is not consistent with that mission. Neither is publishing novels. Is freedom of speech threatened because the Bulletin will not be publishing Margaret Atwood’s next novel? Atwood seems OK with it.

    On a more personal note, I’ve certainly encountered articles and other works that I disliked or even found offensive at first, only to realize later, after more thought, that I was wrong and there was merit in them after all.

    It’s really not a matter of being offended. It’s a matter of whether or not the Bulletin wants to promote misogyny and the objectification of women. If there is merit in such objectification, then the writers will have to find a way to produce it without constructing women as Barbie dolls or swimsuit models. If they can’t do that, they’re lousy writers.

    It is very unlikely that everyone in SFWA, or even in the subset of SFWA that is focused on social justice issues, will always agree on what is offensive or what isn’t.

    The same argument can be made about literary merit. Is that a reason for not having decent writing be a qualification for publication? And the issue will be resolved the same way. People will debate and consider and debate and argue and vote. And the world will continue to turn.

    The argument that, as long as we’re free from government censorship, it’s fine if a private group like SFWA censors, doesn’t hold water.

    That’s not the argument. The argument is that waving around the first amendment as though it has anything to do with this situation is nonsense.

    SFWA has power–it’s the largest, if not the only, organization dedicated to the protection and advancement of [spec fic] genre writers–and thus should be using that power responsibly.

    I couldn’t agree more. It should not be using that power to marginalize women and discourage them from being part of the field. You don’t seem to grasp that the status quo has not been responsible use of that power. Responsible use of that power does not include catering to Truesdale’s sexual fantasies, as indicated in the document you were happy to sign.

    The difference between the editor and the board is that the editor is presumably choosing articles based on their writing quality, topic, depth, and other such factors, while the board is choosing articles based on what they find decent or indecent.

    So the editor is choosing articles based on topic “and other such factors” but the board shouldn’t? This makes no sense. How do you know the editor isn’t choosing articles based on what he/she finds decent or indecent?

    instead of trusting in some board, hoping they always get it right and they never exclude something enlightening and intelligent for spurious reasons, it’s better to have a neutral editor that just selects the best articles in terms of the magazine’s mission.

    What is this “neutral editor” nonsense? The status quo is not neutral. That’s the point. Your neutral editor repeatedly and consistently opted to include material indicating that SFWA found women useful for decorative purposes only. Your idea has been tried, and it wasn’t working.

    If a reader sees something they find offensive, they can write a letter to the editor, and then SFWA members can analyze both sides and decide for themselves what they think. If there’s consensus on one side or the other, then the editor can take that into account and update guidelines accordingly.

    This. Is. What. Happened. You have chosen to ally yourself with somebody who’s upset because his side lost. That’s what this comes down to: we had that debate. Both sides were analyzed. Guidelines were updated. And Truesdale lost, and he’s sore about that. But this is what happened. Or do you only think this is how it should go when the results accord with your feelings?

  69. Veronica Schanoes

    Didn’t Nixon claim that his critics were just a vocal minority as well, and that the silent majority would support him?

  70. Peter centorcelli

    @Bluegrass Circle
    1) Sorry, oppress and subjugate do fit in this context. Oppress – “to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints; subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power”, “to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc.)”. Subjugate – “to make submissive or subservient”. I’m sorry if you are unable to see how a sexist discussion of the anatomy of female editors in a professional journal might just make many of the female members uncomfortable with their place within the society. Obviously, if a woman is only good for how she appeals to the male membership then her opinions are going to be dismissed out of hand.
    2) I cannot comment on the number of people that were offended by the issue. Nor can you. Just because the number who actually complained is small (and I haven’t seen any numbers associated so do not know) does not mean they were the only ones who felt the issue was inappropriate and derogatory. Perhaps a portion of the membership was bothered and didn’t speak up because they did not have the professional credentials that the old guard spouting their sexist rant had. I take exception to you continuing to use “offended” as the extent of the damage the issue caused. It implies that the person bothered is at fault and couldn’t take a joke and should get over it or get a thicker skin. It is all the rage in apologies of no value – “I am sorry if I offended anyone…” rather than an acknowledgement that what was done was offensive. I wonder how quickly you would have objected to an article that was discussing strange noises that the mentally challenged can make. Or is that not the same thing because….? I’m curious if the old guard would have felt as amused by an “article” commenting on the penis size (or lack thereof) of male members/editors, chuckling how the spouses of famous writers always took lovers because their “men” lacked any capacity.
    3) “No one has argued that they want to publish sexist, racist, etc. material in the Bulletin.” Yes, they have. By choosing to sign a petition that was directly created in response to people finding the inclusion of sexist, misogynistic remarks in the Bulletin, the signatories are tacitly supporting the underlying genesis of the petition. Simply fine-tuning the language to remove the foulness that permeated it is insufficient to cleanse it of its underlying sexism.
    4) Not sure why you felt the need to educate me in censorship being able to be exercised by private as well as public individuals. I never mention the word censorship. I discussed the inclusion of first amendment rights that were being bandied about when they didn’t apply in any manner. Censorship occurs all the time. Most magazines and scholarly journals censor their contents regularly. To imply that all content is equally worthy of inclusion is laughable.
    5) (Sorry you restarted your numbering so mine will no longer be in synch with yours) You then decide to take a completely unrelated defense of your position by comparing great works to the editorial control of a professional society journal. Yes, there are tons of work in literature, art movies, etc. that are offensive to some or many. Art is designed to cause introspection and discussion. Professional journals are not. What I also find amusing about this line of defense is that every single instance you describe could easily have been refused for publication because the publisher didn’t want to take a chance on it. This would be the publishing exercising censorship but no one considers that wrong. Would you consider the AMA Journal carrying an article about how large breasted receptionists made patients happier while waiting longer as appropriate? If the journal decided to “censor” that article, would you consider that unjust prior restraint or a prudent decision?
    6) You are right, there is nothing so innocent that someone, somewhere won’t be offended by it. Would you prefer that SFWA publish more teen boy expositions on boobie size and deal with membership leaving and their reputation becoming laughable or to exercise some prior restraint on antiquated ideas? Yes, who decides is always the question and adding a panel to judge and debate it increases the likelihood that valid “offensive” content gets through and immature locker room bantering does not. If there was something denied publication that the author or one of the panel members felt should be included, then an appeals process could be created or the discussions could be carried out in the forum where a consensus can be reached and presented back to the panel with the reasons why it was a mistake to not include a certain article. Perhaps, there could also be a creation of a synopsis repository of rejected articles so membership can keep an eye on what is and isn’t being allowed publication. There are lots of ways to safeguard against the “Orwellian tyranny” that is represented apparently by not allowing old men to be pigs when they discuss the relative “merits” of various females.
    7) LOL, I have never been called a libertarian in my life! To make such an assumption because I simply took umbrage at petition signers hiding behind a first amendment argument is laughable. I understand private industry and individuals can engage in censorship and discrimination outside the bounds of governmental power and can do a lot to quash freedom (witness the chilling effects of Citizens United.) I will argue further and say that this censorship and discrimination goes on all the time and in and of itself is not an evil. When an editor asks for a rewrite because the author is consistently making certain races/genders/religions appear to be moronic, is that censorship? Yes in the sense that the publication is potentially halted until such a time as the changes are made. No in another sense because the author of the work has no right to demand it be published exactly as they want. It is a business relationship and if the author is unhappy, they can simply shop their product elsewhere. The same applies for a professional journal. Are there not standards that are published for content? Aren’t these censorship? If someone wanted to write an article on making the perfect Bundt cake and was rejected, would that qualify as censorship? Of course not. Not everything is appropriate for every venue. To pretend that rejecting an article due to its content automatically means that valid alternate opinions are being suppressed lacks merit. Perhaps the article was just vile, dung spewed by relics that are afraid of the changes taking place around them and as such have no place in the journal.
    8) Concerning the mission of the board, you state the editor is choosing articles on content. Censorship! Well at least according to every argument you made, that is the case. Since this petition was initiated as a direct response to a specific article, it is disingenuous to attempt to distant it from that article. The signatories of the petition were well aware of the baggage that the original petition contained and that cannot be washed away by simply removing references to it. If there was true objection to the makeup and operation of the board then the correct method would have been to have a member initiate the discussions and to try to hammer out a workable solution in private. Instead, the signers were willing to hitch onto a rant by a non-member who apparently likes objectifying women and feels the Bulletin is the proper place for it. Sorry, that was the signers’ decision and now they have to accept being painted with that brush.
    9) Finally, I believe you when you say that you don’t want more racist, sexist or otherwise offensive content in the Bulletin. The concept of the board reviewing content for admission is somehow vile (though numerous publications and professional journals operate in that manner) but a single editor having the same power is acceptable. After all, the editor is selecting the articles based on the mission statement and I assume that you feel the mission statement does not promote or foster misogyny. So had the editor refused publication of the article it would be okay and not censorship but having a board review it and blocking it for the same reason would be censorship? Obviously since the article saw publication there was a hole in the process that allowed vile, drivel to be published. Equally obviously, changes needed to be made to prevent a similar error from being made. You speak of the answer to bad speech is more speech and with that I agree with you in principle. Reality can prove a different animal altogether. Let’s suppose you are a starting writer who finally got a story published and you excitedly join the SFWA. Let’s also suppose that you happen to be female. You look at the first (or fourth or ninth) issue of the Bulletin and come across an article from two relics whose ideas about women stopped progressing in high school. Now you are supposed to write a letter to the editor (that allowed the publication of the piece in the first place) condemning two authors with name recognition while you are nothing more than an upstart. How many people do you think might not write for concern of their placement within the ranks? How many do you think might begin to look for alternatives to the SFWA?
    In conclusion, if an organization decides it can’t be bothered to change with the times, it will find that the times have changed without them. This is truly a sad state of affairs that a genre concerned with the future wants to stay mired in the past. As for the signers of this petition, I think it’s an interesting statement on those who signed. (Age determined by simple search and using 2014 minus DOB as age so there will be some slight discrepancies.) Out of 31 signers (at the time I checked) nearly half (48%) are 70 or above and 24 out of the 31 (or 77%) are 60 and above. I was unable to determine the age of 4 but out of the remaining 27, the average age is 69 years old. Will the SFWA continue to survive as the organization it once was if they are going to continue to beholden to the old guard at the expense of the newer writers?

  71. Virgil Samms

    Birth dates of signers on the ‘long list’:

    Gene Wolfe – 1931
    Jerry Pournelle – 1933
    Harlan Ellison – 1934
    Sheila Finch – 1935
    Jack McDevitt – 1935
    Robert Silverberg – 1935
    Larry Niven – 1938
    Barry N. Malzberg – 1939
    Norman Spinrad – 1940
    Gregory Benford – 1941
    C. J. Cherryh – 1942
    Mike Resnick – 1942
    David Gerrold – 1944
    Jack Dann – 1945
    Paul Levinson – 1947
    Nancy Kress – 1948
    Susan Shwartz – 1949
    Harry Turtledove – 1949
    David Brin – 1950
    Mercedes Lackey – 1950
    Cyd Athens – 1957
    Allen Steele – 1958
    Chuck Rothman – 1961
    Amy Sterling Casil – 1962
    Lillian Csernica – 1965
    Brad R. Torgersen – 1974

    Median – 1944.5, just under 70 years ago.

    Birth dates of signers on the ‘shorter’ list:

    Gene Wolfe – 1931
    Sheila Finch – 1935
    Robert Silverberg – 1935
    Barry N. Malzberg – 1939
    Norman Spinrad – 1940
    Gregory Benford – 1941
    Mike Resnick – 1942
    Jack Dann – 1945
    Nancy Kress – 1948

    Median 1940, 73 years ago.

    Birth dates of signers on the ‘shortest’ list:

    Robert Silverberg – 1935
    Barry N. Malzberg – 1939
    Gregory Benford – 1941
    Mike Resnick – 1942

    Median 1940, 73 years ago.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @Virgil Samms: I am not convinced that this is entirely due to age–I know many older people who disagree vehemently with the perspective put forth in the petition. I’m going to suggest that we be very, very, very careful going down this particular road.

  72. Sivi

    I feel like it’s significant that whenever people supporting this petition start listing examples of censored works, they turn to fiction.

    People know the SFWA Bulletin isn’t a literary journal or something, right? Like, it’s not publishing fiction. It’s supposed to be a professional journal discussing issues that affect its members, particularly regarding publishing, trends in genre, etc.

    So not Clockwork Orange. And not a bunch of dudes writing on for pages and pages about the old days and hot lady editors. Not some other guy talking about how women literally should act like Barbie. And because it’s a professional journal, not a publication of fiction, there’s no good reason to have a Frazetta-style Red Sonja on the cover. In fact, by looking like a 70s pulp cover it both makes the magazine look juvenile and misleads people regarding the contents.

    If someone wants to take this to Clarkesworld or something then there’s at least some basis for argument, but for the Bulletin it’s absurd.

  73. Frances KR

    @Veronica Schanoes:

    Thank you. This. So much this.

  74. jbwhelan

    @Sivi: So not Clockwork Orange. And not a bunch of dudes writing on for pages and pages about the old days and hot lady editors. Not some other guy talking about how women literally should act like Barbie. And because it’s a professional journal, not a publication of fiction, there’s no good reason to have a Frazetta-style Red Sonja on the cover. In fact, by looking like a 70s pulp cover it both makes the magazine look juvenile and misleads people regarding the contents.

    Ye gods, this. It amazes me how many people seem to think that being expected to adhere to a certain level of professional standards, and being expected to represent SFWA as a modern professional organization instead of as a clubhouse for overgrown teenagers, somehow equals censorship.

  75. Courtney Milan

    I know it makes people feel good to trot out First Amendment truisms without bothering to gain even an inkling of an understanding of the complexity of the First Amendment, but this is not a public forum. SFWA is not run as a public forum, it doesn’t look like a public forum, it’s not claimed to be a public forum, it’s not possible for it to be a public forum. The standards you are promulgating here for censorship are not even applied to the government under the First Amendment.

    This is also not the government.

    If you don’t know what a public forum is, you need to take a step back and actually learn more than three or four soundbites about the First Amendment, because when you write a lengthy screed about the First Amendment and don’t even understand basic concepts, you look really ignorant.

    If the remedy is “more speech” go ahead and speak more about the things that get cut from SFWA. Literally nobody is stopping you from doing it. Keep on keeping on.

    You don’t have a right to say whatever you want in a print magazine run by someone else.

    How is this hard for authors to figure out?

  76. Gregory Benford

    James L. Cambias puts it well:
    ” I think it all comes down to “who decides?” Naturally, nobody wants the Bulletin to be gratuitously offensive to its readers — but what a number of people, myself included, are afraid of is that “offensiveness” will be used as a club to bash dissenting voices. This is not a purely theoretical concern, either. I would much rather have a single editor, who is personally responsible for the magazine’s content, than some nebulous, anonymous “advisory committee” enforcing their ideas of what is or isn’t offensive. At _best_ it will result in a magazine that’s dull and unadventurous. At worst it will continue the ideological winnowing of SFWA.”

  77. Neil Clarke

    @Gregory Benford: The structure employed in the past had the President performing the duties you find troubling. All that has changed is the establishment of a group (which doesn’t exist yet) to assist him with those responsibilities. You trusted the President to carry out that duty in the past. Do you not think they would reel in any perceived abuse of power? When it comes to the Bulletin, the buck stops with the President. If the editor disagrees, the President has the final say – same as before.

    Also, a quick reminder that the group does not axe or pick articles.

  78. G

    @Natalie Luhrs:

    I don’t think it has to be a question of “age,” but can also a question of generational norms and their potential effect on what individuals view as “acceptable” or “not-acceptable.” While there are plenty of progressive views among people born before 1950 and plenty of regressive views among those born after 1950, I think it’s fair to say that someone born prior to 1950 was raised in a climate marked by different norms of gender/race/sexuality than those born since. The same is also true of someone, like me, born before 1980 and someone born more recently. That doesn’t make me regressive on those issues, but I do think regressive views are relatively more common among my age cohort than among today’s 20-somethings.

    As I see it, the crucial difference is between saying “you are regressive because you are older than me” or, worse, “you are older than me, so I can dismiss anything you say” (very ageist) and saying “the divide likely reflects, in part, generational differences in norms.”

  79. Veronica Schanoes

    some nebulous, anonymous “advisory committee” enforcing their ideas of what is or isn’t offensive. At _best_ it will result in a magazine that’s dull and unadventurous.

    If the advisory committee is required to be nebulous and anonymous, I am unaware of it. I was envisioning a committee of SFWA members who were actual, cohesive people with names.

    Do you imagine that being compared to Barbie dolls and judging women’s appearances in swimsuits is breaking new ground? Because it’s tedious old hat. How many trade journals do you read that are scintillating and risk-taking, anyway?

    I would much rather have a single editor, who is personally responsible for the magazine’s content

    This was tried. It didn’t work.

  80. G

    @Gregory Benford:

    First, I’ve been trying to hunt down that quote from James Cambias to see if he was actually talking about the SFWA Bulletin, but not only have I not been able to do so, I have also not been able to find the actual quotation. I am guessing that you are paraphrasing him when discussing the Prime Directive in STAR TREK and/or his critique of it in A DARKLING SEA. If that is the case, then you are unfortunately misleading people into thinking James supports the petition. He may or may not–but to my knowledge he has neither signed it nor commented on it one way or the other.

    Second, let me point out that you have just made an argument that is inherently less ideological, confrontational and more cogent than those contained within the petition. I still think you are being a bit paranoid, as well as undervaluing the degree to which things that don’t directly affect you (as a straight white man) might affect others (who are different on one of those or other crucial variables). However, if the petition had been framed the way you just framed it, I imagine a lot of people who take umbrage with it, or dismiss it out of hand as the politically-motivated ramblings of a crackpot who doesn’t understand what the First Amendment is (let alone what it actually protects), would instead take the argument seriously. It is very difficult to do so at present.

  81. nu

    @Natalie Luhrs: Thank you, Natalie. He’s disgusting.

  82. Curtis

    I weep for science fiction that it has fallen to such a low estate. When did it become mandatory to offend nobody at all? What foul and odious fiction must be the result of such pre-damning of anything that might cause somebody somewhere a moment of angst? I read the comments here and I am amazed that Messrs Silverberg and Benford gave such thoughtful answers. Why does anybody feel that they have the right to limit an authors own right to write and believe anything he or she wants?

    My own birth happened in 1961 if that helps with your calculations. The whole live and let live phenomenon seems to have passed right by generations of readers. What happened to, ‘if you don’t like someone, don’t read him?’ What turned it into a frenzy to banish those with whom you disagree?

  83. Sivi

    “At _best_ it will result in a magazine that’s dull and unadventurous.”

    It’s the print platform for a professional writer’s organization. It’s not a political, social, cultural, or literary magazine. It has nothing to be exciting or adventurous about. If you’re mad that it won’t be a platform for people to ramble on about how they think women ought to act, too fucking bad.

    Seriously, I feel like forget that all the random political and social crap published by the Bulletin was written by Resnick, Malzberg, and Henderson. Anything after was people asking that a professional journal have some professional standards.

  84. Peter centorcelli

    Something else which occurred to me is that in several cases, the petition and its signers are justifying themselves with claims that a small number of people were offended or complained and the group as a whole shouldn’t be driven by what a small number of its members thinks, At last check there were 31 signers of the petition and SFWA has a directory of 1731 members. 31/1713 = 0.0179 or 1.8%. Seems interesting that less than 2% of the membership is trying to force their ideas on the group as a whole.

  85. Sivi

    @Peter centorcelli

    Don’t forget that a number of the signers, as well as the originator of the petition, are not current members of the SFWA. So it’s actually smaller than that.

  86. Sivi

    @Curtis

    “What foul and odious fiction must be the result of such pre-damning of anything that might cause somebody somewhere a moment of angst?”

    Before you jump into this, actually learn what you’re talking about. No part of the issue under discussion deals with fiction. As it turns out, sci-fi/fantasy authors actually have to deal with things that aren’t novels, like publishing deals and book tours and writing poorly thought-out petitions.

  87. Peter centorcelli

    @Sivi:
    I knew Dave wasn’t so I didn’t count him. I foolishly assumed that only members would be signing it as otherwise it makes really no sense at all. Thanks for pointing that out.

  88. G

    @Natalie Luhrs:

    Followed the link but didn’t see anything–like, nothing at all (I got an error message, then was asked to follow him to see public posts, then continued not to see anything). However, I’ll assume it’s him voicing support, in some way, for the petition. Is that correct?

    If so, I’d be disappointed–I loved his recent book and he seems like a very thoughtful person on a number of issues that I feel are important. I’ve already stated why I think this petition is terrible, and that I don’t see how people who support specific, defensible (if still in my view wrongheaded) aspects of it can sign on to the rest in good conscience. I’d still love his recent book and still think of him as a very thoughtful person, but I would nevertheless hope he would reconsider his position on this.

    If he has not supported the petition, then all of that is moot.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @G: Here, I took a picture for you:

  89. jbwhelan

    @Curtis: First off? In the immortal words of George Carlin: Calm down, Have some dip.

    Second, considering this is not about fiction but about the non-fictional contents of a professional organization’s newsletter, you really don’t seem to have much of a point here.

    Third, nobody is trying to limit anything. You will note that Silverberg and Benford have neither been banned nor edited; instead they have been treated fairly respectfully and responded to pretty politely. It was also pointed out that Silverberg contradicted himself multiple times, and that Benford did not even use his own argument, but may in fact have misappropriated someone else’s. What you seem to be suggesting is that we should receive their words as holy writ, without any compelling evidence as to why.

    Fourth, nobody is pre-damning anything. The point of what is happening is to ensure that all members of SFWA can open a copy of the Bulletin without having to encounter the odious notion that women should be like Barbie dolls and shut their traps when the menfolk be around.

    Fifth, “I want the right to be offensive” is almost invariably the creed of the asshole. And while I will never say people can’t be assholes, I do seriously question wanting–nay, demanding–the right to do so in the context of a publication which is supposed to represent working professionals. I question the wisdom and the motives of that. I question them deeply.

  90. jbwhelan

    I just saw that Greg Benford did not misappropriate someone else’s words; he only appropriated them. My apologies for confusing the issue above.

  91. G

    @Natalie Luhrs:

    Thanks, Natalie. So Gregory Benford’s entire post was a quote from James Cambias–which means I also owe Benford an apology (though I was careful to make my original reply conditional on information I did not have). Also, as such, my reply to Benford is really a reply to Cambias.

  92. jbwhelan

    How enlightening. Thanks Christopher.

  93. Atsiko Ureni

    I wonder why, if people (SFWA members) are so upset on the subject of an editorial review board, they couldn’t just circulate their own petition, with no connection to the nasty polemic in (non-member) Truesdale’s original.

    Because, you know, there’s no law saying you have to have a binary conflict of views, where every person who agrees with you on the single point you want to make has to be treated like your best friend. It is in fact possible to avoid the slippery slope of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, which so many of these signatories seem to be descending at break-neck speed.

  94. jbwhelan

    It seems Steven Brust has taken an interest in this post, Natalie.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @jbwhelan: Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated. [redacted]

  95. Ann Somerville

    @Natalie Luhrs: “I am not convinced that this is entirely due to age”

    Nor am I. Compared to Pete Seeger (may he rest in peace) who was a die hard liberal and fighter for civil right until the day he died at 94, I suspect Curtis above (53) and Steven Brust (58) would appear a lot more regressive. I’m 51, and disapprove of these shenanigans completely.

    Age and opinions on equality and representation are not that strongly correlated, especially among creative types. Minds can be open or closed, empty or full of thought, no matter how young or old the owner.

    What really gets me about the signatories of this tripe is that they are willing to show themselves to be so reactionary, and disappoint so many admirers, over something that isn’t even happening. They’ve been royally pranked, and apparently won’t even admit it.

    So very, very sad.

  96. Christopher

    Ann Somerville’s post strikes me as being among the wisest and most cogent things that have been said about all this sad business.

  97. Paul W.

    David Truesdale thinks he’s V, but he’s really just Don Quixote. Only without the charm.

  98. Paula Helm Murray

    @Paul W.: A-freaking-men. Unfortunately I know that individual personally and that is all I’m gonna say.

  99. Veronica Schanoes

    Personally, I think focusing on reactionaries’ ages lets them off far too easily. I know–am related to, even–several people of the older persuasion, some of them male, even, who found the Bulletin’s sexist antics unacceptable in a professional trade publication. I have worked with plenty of older leftists who understand that comparing women to Barbie dolls is degrading and insulting.

    We’ll get old too, if we’re lucky. Expect better of our elder statespeople. Hold them accountable. Don’t let them hide behind their ages.

  100. LauraJMixon (MJLocke)

    This is a great thread. Thanks, Natalie, for starting it.

    First, for transparency’s sake, for those who don’t know me, I should disclose that I’m SFWA president Steve Gould’s wife, as well as a published SF writer and an active SFWA member since 1987.

    I’ve kept publicly silent till now, because as the spouse of SFWA’s president (hey, I’m SFWA’s first lady! Do I get chocolates? ☺), I wanted to let Steve officially respond to the petition before posting my own response. Now that the official SFWA response is out, I wanted to throw my own thoughts into the ring, as a private individual and member of SFWA.

    First, regarding ageism. I am a 56-year-old-woman who has been in the trenches for the past 30+ years—both as a practicing engineer and as an SF writer—and I want to say that Ann Somerville’s post is right on the money.

    Certainly, the circumstances we grow up in affect our attitudes. Some of the petition signers might be viewing the Bulletin artwork, the objectionable language in the Resnick/ Malzberg articles, and C. J. Henderson’s Barbie article as a tempest in a teacup, because they are acclimated to a Boomer-era “Mad Men” mindset and don’t see why it’s a problem. They have either benefited from that attitude, or have learned how to accommodate it.

    Just because someone my age, gender, and/or race says they are not offended by the Bulletin’s content, however, they are not speaking for me. There are plenty of us born in the 50’s and earlier who find the language and art deeply troublesome. I would not have signed Truesdale’s petition, no matter what my age. (Not that he approached me.) I make no bones that I am surrounded by sexist assumptions about my capabilities. That has been my life, trying to navigate the spaces I could carve out, seeking a way to contribute in the public sphere in a meaningful way, and trying to make peace with the limits of my reach and impact, due to the fact that I’m not on a level playing field.

    I also make no bones that I share those constraints with many other Others: women, people of color, plus-sized people, indigenous/ colonized populations, the poor, disabled, and many others, whose genetics, identity, and other circumstances place them outside the magic circle of privilege. And that in fact, because I am a white, middle-class, ~able-bodied, ~heterosexual American, I enjoy unearned privileges that many do not.

    Ageism also places people outside the magic circle. (Especially women.) The young have their own privilege. There is a belief out there that people’s opinions become ossified with age, but more and more evidence indicates that while there are brain changes associated with aging, we retain a great deal of neural plasticity as we age. When I hear people wishing for the “deaths of the dinosaurs” so that these attitudes will change, I feel sad. The reason these toxic attitudes about people who don’t fit the template of the lucky few—those who win the genetic and societal lottery tickets—keep coming up over, and over, and over again is because it is extremely difficult to eradicate these attitudes. I’m speaking from experience when I say, don’t count on the attitudes dying away when the people who express them do. These ideas are very hard to stamp out.

    I have learned how to push on in the face of relentless, day-to-day sexism, since I was a very young woman, but believe me, I have felt every injury, incurred since I was a child who looked through a telescope at age seven and wanted to explore the universe; who read Simak’s RING AROUND THE SUN at eleven and found my tribe in SFF.

    I found Truesdale’s petition appalling—an incoherent screed, incredibly defensive on behalf of the need to clear a space for continued white male dominance in SFF. I don’t have a flashlight into the souls of those who signed his silly petition. But I have to believe that many of the signers’ intents can be explained at least in part by a combination of social and professional connections they have come to rely on over time and, I’m betting, an expectation that Truesdale must have had some information on the SFWA board’s intent that existed (forgive me) more in his head than in the real world. That proved to be seriously wrong, but I blame Truesdale for that more than I blame them.

    Yes, they should have read his petition more closely and skeptically. I felt a deep sorrow, when I saw some of my favorite writers on that list, whose voices have given me great comfort and shown me great wonders. But it is easy for writers to be driven to speak out by the idea that our voices will be silenced. That doesn’t excuse their decision to sign, but it makes me willing to at least hear them out.

    Besides which, I agree with Veronica Schanoes that people should be held accountable irrespective of their age.

    I have seen no public statements from any of the signers, and I can only speak for myself, here. Their individual decisions to sign Truesdale’s petition were misguided. But I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    Now that Steve has made clear that there won’t be d/e/a/t/h/ p/a/n/e/l/s/ censorship committees, I am chocking this one up as evidence of how good people can get caught up in a bad cause through incomplete information and reflexive response.

    Speaking for myself, I have to add that I do hope that they will speak up and clear their good names.

    -l.

  101. LauraJMixon (MJLocke)

    (A correction: actually, I’ve read Bob Silverberg’s comments here, but no other public responses from the signers.)

  102. Curtis

    @jbwhelan: Thank you for responding and Sivi also.
    I noted that among the first to comment was Ana with her statement that her blood was boiling because some SFWA members and former members of note had the temerity to submit a petition asking for clarification and perhaps elimination of some confusing requirements for any prospective editor of the Bulletin. Blood boiling.

    I didn’t notice anyone suggesting that she was a little overexcited and in need of dip.

    I am a member of a couple of professional organizations and read their Proceedings monthly. I have noticed that they are not solely devoted to non-fiction nor are they devoid of humor. They strike a happy medium which gives both pleasure and information to the reader.

    As I read most of these comments I am struck repeatedly by how delicate the sensibilities of some are. How did attractive women become odious in your sight? Are attractive men also odious in your sight? What about LGBTG types? All odious?

    Do you not sense the contradiction in your own words and intent when you write that you don’t believe that anyone has the right to say, “that women should be like Barbie dolls and shut their traps when the menfolk be around” and yet you and those here insist that you have the right to tell the menfolk to shut up and not speak when women are around if one of them finds them odious?

    You say you are not circumscribing speech and yet everything you write says that you mean just that and wish to ban speech that you find makes your blood boil. That’s fine if you enjoy an Orwellian world but I find that speech, debate, argument, counterargument are all part and parcel of a professional society. You don’t have to be open to the arguments put forward by others but you are not behaving professionally when you invite them to shut up and sit down or simply order them to leave.

    I am not trying to be offensive in any way. It’s simply that I see this attitude of yours everywhere and nobody ever points out the inconsistency. If you take the professional Bulletin you want to have and you have an editor who believes that all would benefit from a discussion of how to maximize sales by talking to a very successful author and seeking his input on the best way to build a professional basis of work and the editor chose to interview Orson Card, what temperature would the boiling blood reach around here?

    • Steven Saus

      @Curtis:

      Good humor and satire punches upward. Or even better, makes fun of the person telling the joke.

  103. jbwhelan

    @Curtis: Well, that was certainly a nice misrepresentation of the things I said.

    First of all, after wading through all the tu quoque argumentation in your response, let me just say that my blood is not boiling, and I am rather amused that you seem to think so. It says a lot more about your pre-conceived notions than it does about mine. So there’s that to consider.

    Second, I was not talking about Ana’s statement about her feelings. I was talking entirely about your melodramatic notion that you’re suddenly not allowed to write a SF sequel to Lady Chatterly’s Lover if you so choose, which is very clearly not the case, and never was. So stop trying to change the subject and/or move the goalposts here.

    Third, attractive women are not odious in my sight, and I never said so. Please don’t put words in my mouth. What is odious to me, and to many others is CJ Henderson’s assertion in SFWA’s professional magazine that he longed for the days when women were seen and not heard, and that modern women in the business should strive to emulate that “ideal.” That you should conflate that into the sight of beautiful women making me uncomfortable again says more about your pre-conceived notions than mine. Also, it is one thing to inject humor into a professional organization’s quarterly magazine and quite another to belittle and marginalize that organization’s female membership.

    Fourth, I did not write that nobody has the right to say “that women should be like Barbie dolls and shut their traps when the menfolk be around,” I very plainly said that it has no place in the context of a professional organization’s representative magazine. I will add that this is because in the context of the modern business world, it is unprofessional. Henderson can say such things as often and as loudly as he wants, but if he thinks he’s going to do so in the SFWA bulletin and not receive a round of criticism for it, he’s got another think coming. And so do you, apparently. Remember: censure is not a censor, and freedom of speech does not equate freedom from criticism.

    Fifth, please point out to me where, precisely I implied certain speech should be banned, You can’t, because I didn’t. I even have gone out of my way to note that even though I think some people are assholes, they have the right to be assholes if they want to. They just might want to re-consider doing so when they are appearing as the public face of a professional organization in that organization’s newsletter–and that if they decide to do so anyway, they had damned well better be ready to deal with the fallout and the blowback. A very famous man from Missouri once said, “If you can’t take the heat, get outta the kitchen.” It still applies.

    Asking for and expecting a certain level of professionalism in a professional context isn’t censorship, either. And I assure you that I am being professional when I say that. I used to work in HR and I can assure you that in the context of the modern business world, what is being discussed here is of such a basic, no-brainer level of expected professionalism that some of my former colleagues and HR professionals would roll their eyes and find it laughable that it even needs to be discussed.

    Finally, editors generally do not conduct interviews, and you’re talking about a hypothetical situation you have deliberately constructed to elicit that boiling blood you so desperately wish to see, no doubt congratulating yourself on how clever you are. However I consider it trolling and won’t even engage you there. I am not a scientist and do not deal in hypotheticals.

    And at this point we’re done. You have completely misrepresented me and the things I have said, and I have given you enough response to help you understand how incorrect your assumptions about me were. I hope it has helped you understand what I said a little better. However I will not respond again. I have a life to lead, a job to go to, and writing of my own to work on, and I simply do not have the time to engage about non-existent censorship in SFWA’s Bulletin.

    By the way, the story I’m working on is in part about a lesbian relationship between an alien and a human woman, written from the alien’s point of view. Ask Orson Scott Card what he thinks of that if you get a chance to interview him.

  104. Peter centorcelli

    @Ann Somerville:
    Curious, why did you select Steve Brust to include in your age comments with Pete Seeger? I am unaware of any connection with him on this. Thanks

  105. Antiqueight

    Unable to read the ‘petition’ after a page or so due to an overwhelming desire to hit something..
    Must look up full list of the signatories and ensure I never put their books in my library again.
    Thanks for the article and response though.

  106. Womyn2me

    Mercedes Lackey??? Signed this petition? Look, I don’t expect much out of white guys in that age range. They are what they are. They understand sharing power as giving up their power. Robert Heinlein would have signed it in a minute and I understand that about him. He didn’t like gay people, he didn’t understand people of color and he objectified women.

    But how could Mercedes Lackey have signed that? Please tell me she was given some song and dance about it that led her to thinking it was something else. That she didnt see the first draft and still signed it. I have a very hard time with that as a reader of hers. Damn.

  107. Ann Somerville

    @Peter centorcelli: “Curious, why did you select Steve Brust to include in your age comments with Pete Seeger? I am unaware of any connection with him on this. Thanks ”

    jbwhelan says

    February 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    It seems Steven Brust has taken an interest in this post, Natalie.
    Reply

    jbwhelan says

    February 11, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Sorry, forgot to link: http://dreamcafe.com/2014/02/11/and-again-sfwa/

  108. Ann Somerville

    Someone I’ve never heard of has questioned the right of people he’s never heard of, to raise objections to the content of this petition, because the people who’ve signed it are famous. What this person I’ve never heard of doesn’t seem to care about are the famous people who didn’t sign it, and the famous people who are deeply irritated by it, and the famous people who were and remain angered by what their organisation did last year. Not to mention the famous person who presidents that organisation now and who considers this petition to be the most hayfilled straw man that was ever set fire to in public to the consternation of no one at all.

    Gosh, some of those people don’t even have vaginas or extra melanin in their skin, so he has no excuse not to have heard of them!

    All I can say is that if this person I’ve never heard of hasn’t heard of, say, our gracious host Ms Luhrs, that’s his loss. The many people who’ve heard of Ms Luhrs, know and admire her as a blogger of sense and considerable knowledge. Some people may even be curious enough to read all about her here.

    And some of us who have vaginas (real or spiritually, I embrace my trans* sisters) will be highly aware that this dismissal, minimisation and erasure of the female portion of the population is a wearily familiar tactic employed by men (especially for some reason, those who live in West Texas) to stop our contribution not only to the SFF genre, but to many fields in science and investigation generally, from being acknowledged and recognised.

    So I say to this person I’ve never heard of in West Texas – you’re really rather pathetic, and your tactic is threadbare to the point of transparency.

  109. Sabrina Vourvoulias

    @Virgil Samms:

    This is incredibly offensive. That it hasn’t been deleted just goes to show how entrenched ageism is.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @Sabrina: I prefer not to delete comments–lack of deletion should not be considered agreement on my part; and in fact I did warn Virgil about this particular conversational direction minutes after his comment was submitted.

  110. Curtis

    @Ann Somerville: I don’t understand why you think they should care how you feel about anything. Who died and put you in charge?

    Is that regressive? I see it as a matter of intellectual fairness and honesty and self-worth. We simply accept that some people are different and we accept that they are. We don’t demonize them for not believing as we believe. We don’t shun them because we don’t think they are as enlightened as we are. We tolerate and move on. This entire thread is filled with the angst of people who are so struck by hatred of people who disagree with their deeply cherished notions that their blood boils.

    That doesn’t sound very grown up. Your age may vary.

  111. Ann Somerville

    @Curtis:
    ” I don’t understand why you think they should care how you feel about anything.”

    I don’t understand why you think I care what they think, or what you think. Especially why you would think I would care what you think.

    ” Who died and put you in charge?”

    In charge of what? Are you under the impression that commenting on a blog is a position of responsibility?

    “We tolerate and move on.”

    Oh do we, Curtis? So that what’s why you you characterise an entire group of comments as not “very grown up”? Tolerance is based on perjorative comments in your world?

    And speaking of ‘grown up’…

    “This entire thread is filled with the angst of people who are so struck by hatred of people who disagree with their deeply cherished notions that their blood boils. ”

    Exactly one person has ‘boiling blood’ according to herself. I think you’ll find the proper adjective to use for those who aren’t you and Robert Silverberg is ‘rolling’ – as in ‘rolling eyes’.

    And ‘hatred’? Really? My first comment was about how much I admire Mr Silverberg and his writing, and hoped that his signature on what is, even on the most favourable reading, a badly written rant over a non-existant issue, was some kind of aberration.

    You seem to be pretty boiling hot yourself about these issues, Curtis. Tell me again why I should care?

    You also seem to be much more exercised about the age of participants than anyone else is. Maturity is not a product of age, any more than talent is.

  112. NelC

    Mr. Silverberg, you’ve been conned. This is not a First Amendment rights issue, how ever it’s been presented to you. This is about the right of people to call out offensive behaviour when it offends them without being buried in a deluge of obfuscatory bullshit from people who think their supposed right to be offensive trumps everyone else’s right to call them out on it.

    I can only presume you weren’t paying attention when the newsletter kerfuffle first arose, or when the first objections to the sexist attitudes shown in the cover and the offending article were met with even more offensive behaviour. I can only presume that you haven’t been paying attention while nearly every woman or non-white or non-cis-sexual who posts on the Internet considers it a routine — a horribly routine — occurrence that any time they do anything remarkable, they are targeted by a multitude of internet trolls who compete to be as offensive and threatening as possible.

    Sexism was not solved in the 70s. It is as present as it ever was, and the Internet has multiplied the effect of a vocal minority who consider it their right and their duty to bully those not like themselves. Against that background, calling out casual sexism is the least anyone with a conscience can do.

    Strike that; the least anyone of conscience can do is apologise when they are accidentally offensive. Even if they can’t process how they’ve been offensive because the mores and attitudes of society have moved on, how newer generations have processed their experiences to form the new mores.

    To be old school about it, a gentleman or lady does not cause offence if they can help it, apologises when they do, and tries not to cause the same offence again. And only a blackguard defends the right to be offensive solely for sake of offence.

  113. Jonathon Side

    @LauraJMixon (MJLocke):
    Speaking for myself, I have to add that I do hope that they will speak up and clear their good names.

    Judging from what I’ve seen elsewhere of the ones who have spoken up, I’m not sure they see a need to clear their names.

    I’m also not sure they understand that they are being viewed by some as putting their name to the whole of Truesdale’s rant, rather than just the bit that they believe says “we the undersigned are against censorship”.

    Mostly their arguments boil down to something about free speech.

    • LauraJMixon (MJLocke)

      I suspected as much. If it’s not too much trouble, could you supply links? Thanks!

  114. Paul W.

    Are Truesdale and the petition signatories really so terrified that some unholy amalgamation of Andrea Dworkin and Diana Moon Glampers will use the SFWA bulletin as the thin end of a wedge to… I don’t know what. Put them in mass re-education camps and force them to write articles condemning cisgendered manhood and/or heterosexual attraction, I suppose?

    Considering that this proposed board is in direct response to the Bulletin previously giving its tacit approval to pieces that literally said that anyone objecting to treating women only as fuckable objects was the moral equivalent of tyrannical genocide, it’s really very difficult for me to find any sympathy for the pro-petition arguments of Truesdale, his signatories, or those in this very thread.

  115. Jonathon Side

    @LauraJMixon (MJLocke):

    Sure thing. Sorry about that.

    This is where I’ve seen most of it. Gary Farber starts the discussion by criticising the petition and the signees (signers?) and along the way there are contributions from Davids Brin and Gerrold, Paul Levinson, Gregory Benford… I think that was it. There’s about 250 comments now.
    In summary, though, David Gerrold is fairly reasonable but ultimately deFriends Gary Farber over the issue. David Brin seems less interested in making a case than in casting aspersions at people. Paul Levinson invokes ‘the spirit of the First Amendment’ in debate with Nick Mamatas, and Gregory Benford weaves accusations of a shadowy Politburo out of whole cloth.

    CJ Cherryh had, I thought, posted a comment on her FB about her reason for signing, which was basically in support of free speech. I can’t find it at the moment, so I rather suspect that the commentary turned toxic and she deleted the whole lot. Instead, she has a post saying she wishes the arguments would stop.

    Robert Silverberg has also defended his views (and his marbles) here.

    And Amy Sterling Casil pops up here.

    I think that’s everything I’ve seen thus far.

  116. Curtis

    @Ann Somerville: no no. I reread your post that I commented on. I’ll stand pat. You are what you are and I shall say no more.

  117. Curtis

    @Jonathon Side: I profoundly disagree. I don’t believe it is about free speech at all. It’s about free thought. Yes, I know, something of a dead letter here. I see comments that confuse the 1st Amendment to the Constitution with the original notion that there should be no limits on the mind of man, and thus the expression of the thoughts of men and women. Yet all of this kerfuffle is about hating the words of thoughts from some men. This too, is allowed. Some of us though, are struck by the amazing intolerance, here and elsewhere, for the expression of the thoughts of others who fail to consider how you feel about it.

    I consider this done since it is too difficult to proceed here. I think it must be my end. I just upgraded to OS X Mavericks and any inadvertent false move blanks my comments and takes me back to the home page. That, and it appears that to comment to each item, I must scroll up to the initial posting and then back to the bottom…. well, I didn’t join up for a race to the bottom.

    I would end by saying that all of you sound like fascinating people and I would enjoy standing atop adjacent soap boxes for a few rounds at the pub for a chat on the idea that all of us should be able to speak our minds as we see fit and accept the odd notion that there may be contrarians out there who would like to disagree.

  118. Jonathon Side

    @Curtis:

    I don’t believe it is about free speech at all.

    And I don’t believe I ever said that I thought it was.

  119. Derek

    @Robert Silverberg:

    I beg to differ. The only problem I see with the SFWA’s new editorial policy is not that they have a committee to oversee editorial content (as most magazines and newspapers do), but that the policy says “Choose cover art for each issue that is [sic] line with SFWA standards”, where it should say “in line with professional standards”.

    I’ve never been fond of the publishing industry’s desire to put sexy women on the covers of all the books I read (except, for some reason, yours…), but at least they generally are mildly representative of the content. When the SFWA Bulletin starts using such covers for not even that good a reason, it’s time to do something.

  120. Maggie

    I suppose it bears repeating that the central Thought Police/Pre-Crime/Death Panel/whatever argument was put to bed earlier by Steve Gould. The crux of the petition’s argument is itself not simply flawed, but non-factual.

    This little fact seems no help in stopping some from continuing to tilt against this windmill.

    http://www.sfwa.org/2014/02/presidential-statement-regarding-sfwa-bulletin/

  121. Sheila

    @Octavia:

    Exactly my thoughts. They probably only edited out much of the offensive stuff when they realized just how, well, offensive it read.

  122. Michael Z. Williamson

    @Steven Saus:

    Well, that certainly will hurt the careers of Laurell Hamilton, Larry Niven, Larry Correia, or myself.

    In response, I’d be happy to host or publish you in any of my debates or publications, because as a liberal, I’m tolerant of differing viewpoints and respect diversity of opinion, even if it’s opinion I disagree with.

    I look forward to the right-wing name calling in response to my position.

    • Steven Saus

      @Michael Z. WIlliamson

      “Well, that certainly will hurt the careers of Laurell Hamilton, Larry Niven, Larry Correia, or myself.”

      Did you and/or Larry sign some other version? Because the one linked here has none of the above names on it. Because I *have* published Larry, thanks for asking, so that’s a bit of a serious question.

      While I’m very aware that Larry’s politics and mine are diametrically opposite, to the best of my knowledge he’s always been simply professional in professional spaces.

      Are you asserting otherwise?

      Regardless, you are completely misunderstanding the point of my statement.

      My goal isn’t to hurt the reputation or success of others.

      I don’t want *my* reputation or success hurt by associating with *them*.

  123. Michael Z. Williamson

    So, if SFWA is only going to represent certain SF/F writers (They call this being “inclusive”), shouldn’t they change their name?

    The Tolerant, Liberal, Open-Minded Fantasy Writers of America?

    As I noted elsewhere–I can think of two dozen writers off the top of my head–including several of various genders and relationships–with over 1000 publication credits between them, who want nothing to do with SFWA.

    It’s quaint to sit there and insist you don’t need those people, but the fact is, they’re the ones the publishers might listen to, which, at one time, was the purpose of SFWA. If you can’t take money away from them, they have no reason to care about you.

    As to the OP’s background, she seems to be some sort of barely known blogger who’s moderated a couple of panels. Publication credits? Editorial work?

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @Michael: Sorry, never heard of you. What are your publication credits? Editorial work? Funny how that works both ways, isn’t it?

  124. Ann Somerville

    @Michael Z. Williamson:
    “As I noted elsewhere–I can think of two dozen writers off the top of my head–including several of various genders and relationships–with over 1000 publication credits between them, who want nothing to do with SFWA.”

    So can I. I doubt there’s much overlap. They don’t want to join an organisation which is perceived to treat people like them like crap, and your lot, I suspect, want the unfettered right to be worshipped like the Secret Masters of Fandom.

    ” If you can’t take money away from them, they have no reason to care about you.”

    Well, customers don’t much like authors who show their bottoms like baboons in oestrus either. So *we* can take our money elsewhere – and do.

    “As to the OP’s background, she seems to be some sort of barely known blogger who’s moderated a couple of panels. Publication credits? Editorial work?”

    If *only* there was a way for you to find out more about Ms Luhrs in a handy, highly visible link at the top of every page here.

    Apart from anything else, Ms Luhrs is part of your customer base, Mr Majestic. Like her readers, like me, and like a lot of the people pissed off by this ongoing load of nonsense from people who have the advantages to know better, but simply won’t.

    As for you, I’ve never heard of you. Likely you’ve never heard of me. Like you, I’m a prolific SF/F author. Unlike you, however, I don’t think I need to make pompous statements on my site like “I am THE Ann Somerville.”

    If you’re going to come over to someone’s blog and bleat about how unimportant they are, people are going to wonder why you took so much time out of your supposedly oh so successful and busy career just to come and sneer at a woman doing a good job of work exposing the rotten underbelly of this genre. More power to her arm.

    You, however, can FOAD.

  125. Frances K R

    @Michael Z. Williamson: Curious: was the suggestion that the SFWA change its name to the “Tolerant, Liberal, Open-Minded Fantasy Writers of America” an oversight or an expression of the belief that science fiction writers would have no part of such an organization?

  126. Steven Saus

    @Michael Z. Williamson:

    “So, if SFWA is only going to represent certain SF/F writers (They call this being “inclusive”), shouldn’t they change their name?

    The Tolerant, Liberal, Open-Minded Fantasy Writers of America?”

    This is the thing, Mike – as I mentioned about Larry above, I have no problem with him having opposite politics to myself.

    I *do* have a problem with people in a professional organization making *other* members of that organization feel marginalized, unwelcome, and generally acting unprofessional in a professional space.

    I don’t talk about my politics or religious views with customers at my day job. Why? It’s *unprofessional*.

    I treat all people with the same courtesy and respect – including the repellent neo-nazis I occasionally see. Because that’s how respect and tolerance works.

    And when a creepy old guy tries to grab one of my female co-workers and “give her a hug”, I step right up and ask him if he’s going to give me one too. (The answer is invariably “no”.)

    Because tolerance DOES mean that each person is afforded a degree of respect. But tolerance does NOT mean that other people must become doormats.

    All that is being requested is a degree of professionalism and civility in a professional space.

    I’ll see you at MarCon, by the way.

  127. smhll

    “Covers like the one shown here are not new. They have graced the covers of countless magazine and book covers for many decades.”

    I’m tempted to edit the latter sentence to say “They have been irrelevantly stapled to the fronts of books we might otherwise want to read for decades.”

  128. Dash McCool

    @Robert Silverberg: “The early Truesdale draft is not what is being circulated now. ”

    You still signed what is a sexist and racist document that is a shriekingly hysterical rant by a sexist and a racist. There’s no defending of his position and no way to define it as anything other than sexist and racist.

    The fact that you associated with Resnick and Malzberg, who behaved in the most juvenile and disgraceful manner imaginable towards people who disagreed with them, using language one usually finds on YouTube made by White Power militia members, makes you complicit in all of it.

    You are judged by the company you keep.

    The sad thing is, even the most generous reading of this reveals that you aren’t even aware that you are being sexist and racist. However, we have so often seen this type of behavior from hypocrites who hide their sexism and racism behind defense of free speech while decrying political correctness, that it is hard to imagine you are so lacking in self-awareness that you genuinely fail to realize just how sexist and racist all of this is.

    It’s embarrassing for grown men to behave this way, nevermind supposed professionals.

    • Scott M. Sandridge

      @Dash McCool: “sexist and racist ” count in one single post: 4, not counting “sexism and racism” as a variant of the same, if so making 5; with 3 times in one single paragraph. Interesting how you use repetition in the same propagandistic manner as….

      Nah, I won’t go there.

      “using language one usually finds on YouTube” What you got against YouTube? YouTube’s the most awesome place in the cyberverse.

      “made by White Power militia members” ….Seriously? :/
      Hyperbole much? “a shriekingly hysterical rant by a sexist and a racist.” Guess so….

      “You are judged by the company you keep.” Do tell. That’s why I stopped being a Liberal, btw. Got tired of watching co-called “anti-war” types who were up in arms when a white President bombed the crap out of brown kids for the fun and proft of his corporate buddies sit on their arses and stay silent the minute a black President started doing the _exact same thing_.

      “we have so often seen this type of behavior from hypocrites” Why yes, yes we have, by people on _all_ sides of the various issues. Hence the reason why I don’t take anything on face value anymore (except when I’m trollin’, but then I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate). Speaking of which, can anyone provide some exact quotes from the articles in question? Because so far all I’ve found has ben paraphrasing and accusations-without-supporting-facts. Except the petition(s) of course. Those we can actually get to read in full – even the _rough draft_.

      “It’s embarrassing for grown men to behave this way, nevermind supposed professionals.” – I agree. It is very unprofessional to rant hysterically while engaging in hyperbolic name-calling in a manner usually only found on YouTube from folk yelling “White Powah! White Powah!” or any [enter race and/or gender] Powah!” for that matter….

      Oh wait….

      “we have so often seen this type of behavior from hypocrites ” you said it, bub.

  129. A. Nuran

    Wolfe, Silverberg and Spinrad?

    Dang. I expected better of them. Oh well. Time to cancel a couple orders on Amazon. They have the freedom to petition for the right to be sexist jerkwads. I have the right not to support them financially.

    • Scott M. Sandridge

      “Scott, the articles in question came out over six months ago, and the Bulletin published in paper only. There were scans of the articles on the internet for a while, but I don’t know where, and nobody here is your research librarian. You can do the googling and the clicking around yourself.”

      Translation: “Just because the burden of proof is on the accuser doesn’t mean we should have to prove our accusations.”

      A certain saying often found on Anon forums comes to mind….

      “But it’s interesting to know that you yourself have no actual political principles as evidenced by your deciding not to be a liberal because some liberals are–gasp!–inconsistent! It’s as though you’d never encountered a human being before.”

      Some? A movement of millions all but vanished damn near overnight! You call that “some”?

      And yet I’m the one with no political principles for removing myself from such obvious hypocrisy.

      Wow.

      Just wow.

      Quote mining, paraphrasing, taking things out of context, circular reasoning, blah blah blah–it’s almost like I’m debating Neocons. I’m beginning to see red flags galore on this whole thing.

  130. Veronica Schanoes

    @Scott M. Sandridge: Scott, the articles in question came out over six months ago, and the Bulletin published in paper only. There were scans of the articles on the internet for a while, but I don’t know where, and nobody here is your research librarian. You can do the googling and the clicking around yourself.

    But it’s interesting to know that you yourself have no actual political principles as evidenced by your deciding not to be a liberal because some liberals are–gasp!–inconsistent! It’s as though you’d never encountered a human being before.

  131. Veronica Schanoes

    @Robert Silverberg: “The early Truesdale draft is not what is being circulated now. Many veteran members of SFWA objected to the early text and have worked it over to keep it to the point that pre-censorship of published material is an Orwellian injury to free speech, period. ”

    Do you hear yourself? “We objected to the early text and rewrote it in order to make the point that pre-censoring material is wrong”? How does that make sense to you?

    Regardless, you are mistaken. The early draft is circulating, and it’s now public that you signed it. You would just prefer that it not be. If you didn’t want to answer for it, you shouldn’t have put your name to it.

  132. A. Nuran

    Veronica Schanoes writes:

    >The early draft is circulating, and it’s now public that you signed it. You would
    >just prefer that it not be. If you didn’t want to answer for it, you shouldn’t have
    >put your name to it.

    He lies down with dogs. He gets up with fleas.

  133. Veronica Schanoes

    @Scott M. Sandridge: “Translation: “Just because the burden of proof is on the accuser doesn’t mean we should have to prove our accusations.” ”

    Nobody has argued that the cover didn’t happen, or that the articles said anything other than what we all agree they did. The evidence is in the SFWA Bulletin issues 200, 201, 202. You hardly have to go to an antiquarian book dealer to find them. If you are interested in this matter, you can find the articles using exactly the same access to Google that I have. I am not your secretary, and as you are not a jury, and this is not a courtroom, I am under no obligation to “prove” anything to you. If you are not sufficiently interested to do the Googling, that is hardly my problem. Either way, I am neither your secretary nor your research assistant.

    “Some? A movement of millions all but vanished damn near overnight! You call that “some”? ”

    I call it an overstatement. All the liberals and leftists I know continue to be as active as ever they were regarding the US’s wars. I also call it par for the course. Seriously, had you never read or heard any history regarding political movements before this happened?

    If you had political principles, you would have continued to agitate against the wars in support of the principles that you blame others for abandoning, instead of rejecting those principles as somehow uniquely flawed because many of their adherents act the way human beings throughout history have acted.

  134. Scott M. Sandridge

    “Nobody has argued that the cover didn’t happen”

    I already looked at the cover. I asked about the articles, since the majority of the complaints imply that the articles _plus_ the covers _in tandem_ were the cause of the accusations. I’d hate to think it’s over the cover art, alone. Cover art of unrealistically scantily clad warriors, of both genders, are common in Sword & Sorcery. Or are folk just still pissed that SFWA is no longer solely for science fiction purists?

    “or that the articles said anything other than what we all agree they did.”

    By “we all” you mean…? As in every single person who read them? Not a single person ever had a different take on the offending parts of the article? Not a single person, ever, said, “Hey, people, I don’t think Mike was implying what you think he was implying, especially since the articles are part of a column that’s ran for years and has always been done in a casual tongue-in-cheek manner from the get-go.” So, _everyone_ agreed it was just a sexist rant put in for no reason?

    “The evidence is in the SFWA Bulletin issues 200, 201, 202”

    Thank you for providing somewhere to start at least. Not exactly the dox I was hoping for, but at least it’s something.

    “I am not your secretary, and as you are not a jury, and this is not a courtroom, I am under no obligation to “prove” anything to you.”

    Apparently your not aware of the rule of the Internet, one being “dox or stfu.”
    Also, do I really have to remind a writer about the importance of backing one’s opinions with facts?

    ” I am neither your secretary nor your research assistant.”

    Why do you keep assuming that my asking for people to back up their statements with facts somehow = me wanting you to be my secretary? Is it because I’m male? If so, then that’s sexist.

    “If you had political principles, you would have continued to agitate against the wars in support of the principles that you blame others for abandoning,”

    I _have_. Thank you for the pre-assumption.

    ” instead of rejecting those principles as somehow uniquely flawed because many of their adherents act the way human beings throughout history have acted. ”

    I never said I stopped being anti-war. I said I stopped being Liberal. Or do you think only Liberals are anti-war? If so, than that’s prejudiced.

    • Ann Somerville

      @Scott M. Sandridge:
      “Why do you keep assuming that my asking for people to back up their statements with facts somehow = me wanting you to be my secretary? Is it because I’m male? If so, then that’s sexist.”

      Christ, shut up stupid person. You’re boring in your ignorant arrogance.

  135. Scott M. Sandridge

    “Christ, shut up stupid person. You’re boring in your ignorant arrogance. ”

    No! I’m a troll with no life, and you’re far too easy to bait! I haven’t had a meal like this in YEARS!

    • Natalie Luhrs

      Welcome to the banned list, Scott. You’ve reached the limits of my tolerance.

      Ann, cool it, please.

  136. Veronica Schanoes

    Thank you for providing somewhere to start at least. Not exactly the dox I was hoping for, but at least it’s something.

    So what you’re saying is that you’ve wandered into a conversation that’s been going on for several months, not bothered to do enough background reading to know even what the articles under discussion are or where to find them, and still expect not only for everyone else to give a shit about what you think but to take you by the hand and guide you to the relevant material?

    So what you’re really saying is that you’re entitled twit. Ok, then.

    Apparently your not aware of the rule of the Internet, one being “dox or stfu.” Also, do I really have to remind a writer about the importance of backing one’s opinions with facts?

    Nobody died and made you king of the internet, so you don’t get to set the rules. Is that what’s really bothering you? That bunch of women couldn’t give two shits about your approval? My arguments are supported by facts. Don’t confuse “supported by facts” with “giving a shit about whether Scott Sandridge has found the documents in question.”

    “Why do you keep assuming that my asking for people to back up their statements with facts somehow = me wanting you to be my secretary?

    Because you have exactly the same access to the internet as I do. You can find the articles in question as easily as I can. But you still believe that you’re entitled to my labor instead of finding them yourself. That’s the behavior of somebody who thinks that he’s dealing with a subordinate instead of a peer.

    Or do you think only Liberals are anti-war? If so, than that’s prejudiced.

    Leftists are also opposed to the Bush/Obama administrations’ wars, and indeed, many leftists do behave like you. If you are a leftist, I apologize. However, if not, I don’t. Because that’s not prejudiced. That’s an accurate assessment of US political positions.

  137. Veronica Schanoes

    Oh, sorry, Natalie. I didn’t see the banning until…now, when I’ve just posted my response. I’m sorry.

  138. MD

    @Natalie Luhrs:
    This whole thread is a joke. Anyone that disagrees with the main post is immediately dismissed and insulted. Nothing is discussed. I feel like I missed the cool-aid when it was passed around, but that’s OK. I don’t want any thank you.

    Differing view points make for a strong society. No one believes the exact same thing as anyone else. Attempting to enforce your ideology on others is evil and a waste of time. Discussion requires that everyone remain civil. Trading barbs is no better than name calling on the playground.

    Being dismissive and rude without explaining your thoughts on the matter is cowardly. Plenty of groups have done that in the past. I imagine more will in the future. I guess there is a reason the word bigot is no longer used as it would require those who fling it to not be one. Now a simple label of sexist or racist is much easier.

    What happened to being inclusive and looking at things from another’s perspective. To walking a mile in another’s shoes before you judge. I guess it’s much easier to stereo-type anyone who disagrees with you so you can totally ignore anything they say. To avoid any dissenting views.

    I was going to describe who I am and where I’ve been. Maybe throw in my ancestry, but why should I need to. Do I need to be a part of some specific group for you to read my words? I am a human being. I deserve to be treated with respect, as do you. Leave the bile and anger behind or it will consume you. Express your views without belittling others. This is not a zero sum game. You do not need to break others down just to rise. Bullying in any medium is not the answer.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      @MD: I don’t need to explain my thoughts; my thoughts on this issue are clear to anyone who has been reading my writing over the last year.

      And if I were really interested in not allowing dissenting views, I wouldn’t have let your comment through. Also, fuck civility.

  139. Veronica Schanoes

    Not a bit of that comment makes sense. It’s better to call someone a bigot than it is to call them sexist or racist? A long blog post is not sufficient explanation of ideas?

    I do agree with the call for civility. For instance, those interested in civil discussion should begin by not urging women to model themselves on plastic dolls, not gossiping about how colleagues looked in bathing suits, and not exploding into frothing accusations of Stalinism when finding oneself the object of criticism. However, those who are uncivil cannot expect their interlocutors to hold to a higher standard.

  140. Natalie Luhrs

    …and on that note, I’ve turned off comments.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. You only hate boobs because you hate freedom. ← Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery - […] is apparently a petition circulating in regards to the SFWA bulletin because…censorship! And first amendment! And […]
  2. SFWA Explodes IV: The Revenge of SFWA | angelahighland.com - […] that there are in fact two versions of this thing floating around, and addresses both of them here. I…
  3. an embarrassing stumble towards irrelevancy | Crime and the Blog of Evil - […] now that SFWA is trying to clean up its act, here comes the pushback, with a petition against “political…
  4. Word for the Day: Wanksplaining - […] The whole thread of the current uproar, if you can call it that, over the review board is linked…
  5. Objectifying women is not a constitutional right | Bennett North - […] Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition […]
  6. RoseLemberg.net » A smattering of good news, a whiff of controversy - […] If you haven’t yet seen this and want to see for yourself, I recommend an entry by Natalie Luhrs. Natalie…
  7. prezzey.net * Bogi Takács » Speculative poetry markets I personally recommend - […] (A brief note – I’d been planning on making this post before the latest SFWA controversy broke out. I…
  8. Disappointment: Science Fiction Fantasy Writers | Sonomalass's Blog - […] authors who I formerly admired and respected, and whose work I enjoyed, signed their names to the poorly thought-out…
  9. SFWA Drama: The 2014 Edition | Cora Buhlert - […] Natalie of Radish Reviews has a lengthy dissection of the petition as well as links to two drafts, the…
  10. A Timeline of the 2013 SFWA Controversies | SL Huang - […] David Truesdale (who is not currently a member of SFWA) begins circulating a petition calling SFWA’s decisions regarding stronger…
  11. Black Gate » Blog Archive » Robert Silverberg, Gregory Benford, Dave Truesdale and Others Sign Petition Calling for Changes to SFWA - […] Predictably, the petition has struck a chord on both sides of the issue. It has already been signed by…
  12. The Tiresome Fringe of SFWA: the Gift That Keeps On Giving | SL Huang - […] know where to begin.  You know what, maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’ll just direct you to Natalie Luhrs’ excellently…
  13. Links: Tuesday, February 11th | Love in the Margins - […] Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition – SFWA’s old guard is at it again, pining for the good old days…
  14. 19th Nervous Breakdown? 34th Kerfuffle? SFWA & The Petition - Amazing Stories - […] the petition was problematic for some (see below for full text) (commentary on that draft here on Radish Reviews);…
  15. Cover - […] David Truesdale is circulating a petition. […]
  16. Jim C. Hines » My Petition to an Organization I Don’t Actually Belong To - […] parody and snark ahead, in response to this silliness, a petition to prevent something that doesn’t and won’t actually…
  17. Can We Please Not Rewrite History, Folks? (More on the SFWA Petition, and Links.) | SL Huang - […] also recommend reading the comments at Natalie Luhrs’ post, which I also recommended yesterday, and which remains the most…
  18. Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition | Literarium – The Blog - […] Read and shake your head here: http://pretty-terrible.com/2014/02/10/oh-dear-sfwa-bulletin-petition/ […]
  19. Again? Really!? | Adventures Fantastic - […] come out publicly in favor of the oversight committee is C. C. Finlay.  The rest are people like Natalie…
  20. Associated Geekery » Associated Geekery Episode #35 - […] RadishReveiws.com, TangentOnline.com, SilviaMoreno-Garcia.com, SFWA.com. […]
  21. Ironically although this post discusses SFWA, I’m not tagging it for the SFWA Twitter feed | Fraser Sherman's Blog - […] submissions and avoid anything offensive. Former member David Truesdale saw this as some form of PC censorship, questioned President…
  22. Now as to the merits of the SFWA arguments | Fraser Sherman's Blog - […] not in the Bulletin). There’s no specifics. The original petition (you can find it through radish reviews) does discuss…
  23. SFWA Can Haz Glittery Hoo Haa | madgeniusclub - […] sad attempt at fisking which refuses to acknowledge the actual petition and instead tries to savage the first draft,…
  24. SFWA Hiring Guidelines Imply Editorial Censorship - Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles: forums - […] SFWA Hiring Guidelines Imply Editorial Censorship Also, as a comment on Natalie Luhrs' blog mentioned that the email that…
  25. Linkspam: 02/14/14 — The Radish. - […] been a lot of great discussion around the Truesdale petition. A lot of it’s happened right here, but many…
  26. a friday of followups | Crime and the Blog of Evil - […] can’t keep up. There’s nothing really new in it, but there it is for you. There are several other…
  27. Jim C. Hines » Final Thoughts on Petitiongate - […] Robert Silverberg: Many veteran members of SFWA objected to the early text and have worked it over to keep…
  28. I Wish There Weren’t So Many Reasons to Talk About Discrimination in Geek Culture, But the Hits Just Keep Coming | The Geek Melange - […] the Bulletin with better editorial oversight. Unfortunately, the latest kerfuffle, triggered by Dave Truesdale’s petition in response to the mere idea that there…
  29. WANACon 2014 Moderator! (And Other Things…) | Diving into Dark Minds - […] disturbing me (especially the mud-slinging over sexism within SFWA, an example of which is here.) So I’m going to…
  30. Kerfuffles at SFWA | The Evil Eyebrow - […] the first, read this, so I don’t have to write a summary. I’ll […]
  31. The ways in which we are wrong | JJ Litke - […] current rounds of controversy started with the petition aimed at SFWA. It continued with attacks against Mary Robinette Kowal…
  32. Premature Optimization - […] An ex-SFWAn and some cohorts put up a petition about feared changes in editorial policy of the SFWA Bulletin.…
  33. Arinn Dembo » On Being a SFWA Member With Ovaries - […] Truesdale Petition Summary […]
  34. SFWA Ripples | The Open Window - […] really horrible petition that presented a false characterization of this committee — which isn’t even formed yet […]
  35. Human slaves in an insect nation! | Wis[s]e Words - […] publications censorship and a danger to the first amendament and all that good stuff and started a petition. This…
  36. Women in SF/F and why I love Melanie Rawn | Transitions - […] are a lot of things happening right now in the behind the scenes publication world (Ok, so we can…
  37. Galactic Suburbia 94! | Randomly Yours, Alex - […] The Radish hosted early discussion on the Bulletin anti-censorship petition. […]
  38. SFWA, Seinfeld, and the Ribbon Bullies | Wesley Morrison - […] anyone told Larry Flynt those two things are now mutually exclusive? Are giants in the field like Robert Silverberg,…
  39. Dear fellow white feminists – have a cup of shut the fuck up tea » Rants and Ramblings By An Old Bag - […] Do you get sick of explaining feminism 101 to men who apparently can log onto any blog on the…
  40. Love That Passion. Love That Fandom » The Hysterical Hamster - […] At the moment the genre community is flagellating itself over a number of recent controversies. […]
  41. » The OutRamp Guide to Writing: Episode #14 - The OutRamp - […] Natalie Luhrs: Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition […]
  42. prezzey.net * Bogi Takács » Speculative poetry markets I personally recommend - […] (A brief note – I’d been planning on making this post before the latest SFWA controversy broke out. I…

Archives

Words of Wisdom

"It's chaos, be kind."
Michelle McNamara