Update on the Recent Unpleasantness

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice. Fuck around and find out.
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June 24, 2013

RABID JUNGLE CAT LOVES HER NEW BED

I’ve been tweeting a lot of these links but it seems like it would be a good idea to collect them all into a post that way I can find them all again. I love Twitter but it certainly has its limitations–and one of those is finding anything after a while.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt has basically turned himself  (screencap) into a parody (screencap). I have never seen someone so intent on getting the last word while refusing to actually engage with anyone who doesn’t agree with him. It is not possible for anyone who disagrees with him to be polite or civil enough.

He doesn’t believe we have responded “appropriately” to his call for civility:

It’s funny how a few people keep reacting to my posts as if I have not responded appropriately. I suppose they expect an apology. But why apologize? I should apologize to them that THEY misconstrued and misinterpreted my words? I should apologize to them that they spread lies, half-truths and rumors about me to publishers and others? That they passive aggressively tweeted insults or snide remarks to me all week? That they set about insulting my character and more–all behavior which, I might note, is the very thing I point out it not the appropriate response to disagreement in my post calling for civil attempts at serious dialogue on discrimination and related issues.

I believe this is called the “you’re interrogating the text from the wrong perspective” defense. I am not the only one who sees the whopping irony here, right? That he’s criticizing those of use speaking out about racism and sexism in our community as being inappropriate while holding himself above all criticisms? Who the hell died and made you King of Discourse, Bryan Thomas Schmidt? Or was there a vote and I missed it? And incidentally–those who are disagreeing with you have names. Maybe you should try using them. That is: if you actually are interested in dialogue.

In addition, he’s clearly not read #sffcivility. Because if he had, he would realize that it’s not about making nice. Not at all. And taking credit for Kate Elliott’s work in getting the hashtag going while never acknowledging her is, honestly, disgusting. And pretty typical if you take a look at some of his other posts (specifically the one about harassment at conventions).

And really, that’s all I have to say because Bryan Thomas Schmidt isn’t worth any more of my time. I have books to read and essays to write.

In other news, Andrew Fox compares  people speaking out about sexism and racism to a mob and a bunch of bullies and Bill Quick decides that SFWA stands for something other than Science Fiction Writers of America and then there’s this nasty little bit of dismissiveness. Trigger warnings on all these links–both for the posts and the comments.

Mike Resnick apparently emailed Theodore Beale and digs in (screencap, also trigger warnings because Theodore Beale)and I think it says a lot about Resnick that he thinks Beale’s cesspool of a site is the best place to make a public statement on this. I’ll note that commenters over at James Nicoll’s LiveJournal seem to believe that Resnick was likely not making a public statement–which, if true, is naive as all get out on his part. I certainly would not expect Theodore Beale to keep such an email in confidence. Not when it can be used as a weapon. Edit: The text quoted above appeared in the comments of a previous post (link found here). So it was a public statement.

Speaking of public statements, I am not sure if the people posting to sff.people.sanders are unaware that it’s a public newsgroup or not because there’s been some very interesting things said over there. First Brad Torgerson reveals that Resnick and Malzberg were aware that their column in issue 202 of the SFWA Bulletin would be the equivalent of blowing up a munitions dump  (screencap) and then Jean Rabe claims that they were cleared by John Scalzi to do so (screencap). Incidentally, William Sanders has essentially shut down the topic (screencap) and stated that he’s going to start deleting posts (screencap).

And on the side of incivility, Jim Hines has two thoughts, but they’re important ones.

Amal El-Mohtar talks a bit about her decision to call for the expulsion of Theodore Beale publicly.

Cora Buhlert has also been doing a wonderful job with keeping up with various bits of the conversation–her most recent post in her Girl Cooties series highlights a number of pieces that I missed, including one from Rafael R. Piñero which I found very heartening to read.

Racism 101 draws a crucial distinction between free speech, control, and consequences:

People that say things like, “So much for freedom of speech” or “I have freedom of speech, I can say anything I want” in reaction to someone else’s use of the same freedom are not talking about freedom, rights or even liberty. Although, they always try to couch it as such.

No, what these people are talking about is control. They are usually people who’ve never been told that their voice wasn’t important, valued or wanted. Therefore, when they say something bigoted and someone speaks out against it, they are enraged not by what they claim as “Loss of freedom” but instead that they (and like minded people) are not the only persons allowed to have said freedoms.

And finally, Alex Dally MacFarlane talks about making bigots unwelcome in SFWA:

I’m sick of an organisation in which bigots feel welcome. I’m sick of forums in which bigots feel welcome, while anyone else is warned right from the start to steer clear. I’m sick of the fact that Beale’s language was not universally condemned, that reaching a unanimous decision to kick him out of SFWA is not proving to be easy. I’m sick of bigots having no consequences for their actions, while people speaking up in support of the people they hurt are harassed, upset and afraid. I’m sick of soft-footing in bigots’ favour.


I want an organisation in which bigotry is unwelcome. Otherwise it’s worthless.

I see no purpose in demanding less.

I would like to expand upon MacFarlane’s statement and say that I would like the SFF community as a whole to be a place where bigotry is unwelcome–and make no mistake, what we have been so very uncivil about is bigotry. We’re not talking about differences in opinion over what kind of technobabble is best to use in your space opera or if aliens really would come with both exoskeletons and tentacles: we’re talking about whether or not POC and women are equal and valued members of the SFF community or not.

To say that they are not–as many people have done, both directly and indirectly–is bigotry.

And it should not be tolerated.

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