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There Went a Bit of My Heart

So this happened: Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition.

It's probably not of interest to anyone but science fiction literature fans. It's a continuation of the shenanigans that started last summer when several foolishly misogynistic things happened, one after the other, in the professional rag of the Science Fiction Writers of America, followed by a stunning piece of racism on the SFWA official Twitter (see timeline/summary here). The result was that most of the SFWA members voted to change the way the content management of the SFWA Bulletin would be handled.

The petition in question objects to the proposed changes, which the writers consider to be overly "PC." There were two versions of this document. The one that was actually submitted is a tough read, full of extracts from correspondence and invocations of Freedom of Speech and concluding with a quotation from Charlton Heston, who is cited as an "early civil rights activist." The earlier version, which is also available online, was positively appalling. At one point, the writer compared the hard-working writers who will be thoughtlessly slapped around by the new rules to slaves picking cotton, at the mercy of the folks in the Big House.

No, I am not kidding.

If you can make yourself do it, follow one of the links to the actual (final) petition, and take a look at the signatories.

Who happen to include someone for whom I've long had all the respect in the world.


This entry is also posted at Dreamwidth. Comment at either location, as you prefer.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 12th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC)
Ah, I saw that. I wasn't surprised by most of the signatures, but seeing Cherryh's name there? It's disappointing.
Feb. 15th, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)

I think the worst of it is the apparent disconnect between her reactions and my reactions to this whole series of events.

Feb. 12th, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
FFS. Are they still boo-hooing over being told that a scantily clad woman on the cover of a professional journal wasn't a good idea?
Feb. 15th, 2014 03:53 am (UTC)

It follows from that, and the Barbie essay, and then the meltdown of a reaction to the complaints of the other members about those things.

Feb. 15th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
For such big tough manly men they're really whiny, aren't they?
Feb. 17th, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)
Y'all don't know what it's like/being male, middle class and white!
Feb. 17th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC)

(It's good to see you, girlfriend! How have you been?)

Feb. 17th, 2014 01:48 am (UTC)

Especially when you consider that, according to the SFWA prez himself, no such editorial board has actually been instituted!

Feb. 12th, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC)
I've been reading a lot about this (and banging my head on my desk a lot ) but one comment that stayed with me is that some older writers have a different contextual experience for censorship (that whole wartime/subversive activities milieu).

This doesn't excuse, or lighten the disappointment, but it does help me a little to get my head around the why some folks who should know better might have such knee-jerk reactions when "censorship" is raised as a battle cry, or apply the term with such a broad brush.

I really, really hope we see some reassessments and retractions. There's so much about this that needs to be stamped out; I really hope that this recent (last few years) spate of incidents is extinction behaviour and we'll soon be rid of it for good.

Feb. 12th, 2014 04:31 pm (UTC)
I don't think WWII censorship or McCarthyism has much to do with it, except as an excuse. Adults of all ages, as well as adolescents, yell "Free speech!" whenever they're confronted with the social consequences of saying obnoxious things.

The generational issue in question here is that they came of age when the bar for not being sexist, racist, etc. was pretty low, and they've chosen not to raise the bar for themselves since then. Some of them probably didn't even meet that low level of basic decency as young adults.
Feb. 12th, 2014 10:40 pm (UTC)
Totally agree with you in regards to the majority of persons on that list. And in regards to the over-easy use of shouting 'free speech' as an excuse for obnoxious behaviour. (That so many do not understand what 'free speech' truly entails continues to boggle me.)

But when people who I otherwise have a great deal of respect for do face-palmy things, I can't help but try to figure out the why behind the fail, especially if they otherwise have little record of being an idiot. I don't know CJ's history well enough to know her own personal experiences or take on what 'censorship' is or isn't. But that comment did make me think, and realize that I do know a number of people of that generation who are very self-aware in regards to general SJ issues and their own personal biases, yet still have a whopping big blind spot where anything that might be called "censorship" is involved. So I'm not entirely ready to toss the 'formative political environment' element completely to the curb.

I'm just hopeful that people refusing to put up with this, and talking about this whole mess, might led to to some folks' self-realization and/or epiphanies. As you said, people have to chose to raise the bar for themselves (great way to put it, btw). I know I've had my own 'oh crap! that's why I do that!' moments.

Edited at 2014-02-12 10:43 pm (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2014 11:43 pm (UTC)
But when people who I otherwise have a great deal of respect for do face-palmy things, I can't help but try to figure out the why behind the fail, especially if they otherwise have little record of being an idiot.

That's reasonable. I think some people simply have, as you say, whopping big blind spots, and a lot of times it's around gender issues, because society constructs extremely deep divisions of gender.

I'm just hopeful that people refusing to put up with this, and talking about this whole mess, might led to to some folks' self-realization and/or epiphanies.

So am I. It does happen; I've seen quite a bit of it in recent years. But it's not easy to predict for whom the penny will drop.
Feb. 15th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)

>>it's not easy to predict for whom the penny will drop.<<


Feb. 15th, 2014 03:58 am (UTC)

Yeah. In times past, when I was the only woman in a lot of gaming clubs and events, I got a sort of attitude that "Hell, I put up with it and survived and got a thick skin; all the rest of y'all are prissy lady wimps." I think that's what we may be seeing with some of the older women who are established authors.

But that doesn't mean it's a good thing, and just because I had to deal with it is no reason why other woman should have to. The younger women in the fields are getting tougher about the type of respect they want, and more power to them.

Feb. 17th, 2014 12:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, that second-wave attitude was necessary at the time, maybe, but now there's enough critical mass to demand and get better.
Feb. 13th, 2014 07:39 pm (UTC)
That is some first-rate asshattery, right there. :(
Feb. 15th, 2014 03:59 am (UTC)

It's been illuminating in all sorts of ways, many of them unpleasant.

Feb. 17th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
On the upside, I found this. Scalzi is reassuring, for a person in his position. Jim Hines often also does hero's work in these areas.

I hate having to give white guys points for just not being assholes, but some days, hey, points. (Hines gets points for being a generally awesome guy, he used to work with survivors of rape and/or sexual abuse.)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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