The Flounce Continues: The Flouncening 6

Edited significantly on 4/30 at 1238 because I had my opinion forcibly modified downward and am feeling much less charitable now.

I’m not the only one on the “deets or GTFO” wagon. Apparently SFWA already requested evidence as well and Mr. Wright was too much of a “gentleman” to provide it. So again: Deet it or beat it.

Also, apparently Brad Torgersen is letting his SFWA membership lapse. I’m not planning to be the SFWA membership monitoring police (I have a real job and god, I do not even care), but I did want to mention it because of his stated reasons.

Instead of tackling (head on) the job of defending authors’ interests in a publishing industry enduring great change, SFWA contents itself by persecuting individual members for perceived sins of nonconformity, engaging in ideological purity tests (“Your papers . . . they are not in order!”) and impugning the reputations of men (and women) who have devoted their lives to enriching and growing the field.

(Brad, if you ever by chance stumble across this, I would like to say in all sincerity, thank you for acknowledging that whole women existing thing, if parenthetically. And using words like “members” and “officers.” I’m serious; the difference us stark when you put you’re words next to Mr. Wright’s. So thank you.)

And also:

I’ve seen a mentor slandered, attacked, and thrown out of the Bulletin, and I’ve seen my editor straw-manned and maligned by one of SFWA’s darlings and former top officers.

This is my issue. Actually, two of them. And since this was a comment on Mr. Wright’s blog and not a melodramatic letter created for public consumption, I think it’s fair for me to admit I may be overthinking things a little.

First: If you are accusing the organization itself of a campaign of persecution, same rules apply: deets or GTFO. And sorry, you don’t get to use Theodore Beale. History has yet to be rewritten to that extent. If you are accusing SFWA as an organization of impugning the reputations of others, then I sure hope you’ve got some newsletters or publications or official e-mails or something to back that one up.

Second: There is some inconsistency here that has gone beyond bugging me and into I cannot survive if I don’t say something territory.

Mr. Torgersen complains about “I’ve seen my editor straw-manned and maligned by one of SFWA’s darlings and former top officers.” Mr. Wright complained that, “Instead of men who treat each other with professionalism and respect, I find a mob of perpetually outraged gray-haired juveniles.” Which, stop me if I’m wrong, sure sounds like, “people are being mean on the internet.” And maybe I am reading too much into this, but considering it’s being cited as a reason to leave SFWA, there’s a hefty implication of “and SFWA should do something about it.”

Now, if you don’t want to be in an organization in which there are members who think you’re an asshole and don’t mind saying so out loud where other people can see, that’s clearly your right and I’m not going to say that you can’t/shouldn’t leave or mock you for it. There were plenty of people who dropped the org when Beale was a member because he either was after them or they just thought he was fucking disgusting and didn’t want to be associated with him even peripherally. And it can be very not fun to be in an organization when you feel people are hostile toward you, I get that too. Feels bad, man. But that’s kind of how it goes when you get a lot of people with wildly differing opinions who like writing a lot together and have no rules of engagement apart from “If you take a shit on our private property the ban hammer will descend.”

So here’s my problem. It’s the mentions of the bulletin on one hand–PC censorship!–and then on the other complaints that individual members are jackasses. The Bulletin is something SFWA can police, because it belongs to the organization. And not only that, it represents the organization and SFWA has every right to not want something, oh just pulling a totally random example out of thin air here, deeply disrespectful toward women written across its public face since holy shit it’s well past the year y2k and women are people.

SFWA doesn’t police its members when they’re on their own time and in their own spaces, however. That has always been very clear since when I joined at least, and every time there is a hint to the contrary the goddamn sky falls in. Now, I may be of the opinion that certain things should be beyond the pale, eg threats, racism, etc, but I also know there are people who would disagree with me even on that…and I’m not in charge of the org either. And this is the very reason Theodore Beale lasted as long as he did, until he took a warm, racist shit all over the SFWA Twitter feed.

Current SFWA officers have to be very careful and very clear about when they’re speaking in their capacity as officers, but they don’t sign away their right to have personal thoughts when they get elected. (Talk about making a thankless job even more thankless.) Former officers can say whatever the fuck they want. This should go without saying, but regular members can say what the fuck they want on their own time and in their own space. Because you know. Free speech. Remember that? I thought the crowd that’s self-identified as taking a stand against the evil SFWA liberal PC-police was really in to free such. Or is that only for speech they like, and only in the comments section of others?

I wonder if perhaps now Mr. Wright and Mr. Torgersen feel some empathy for the people who were driven from the org by that shit stain in the pants of humanity, Theodore Beale. Because where the fuck were they then, aiming their sad censure at How Unprofessional Some People Are Being?

Pretending to be the adult in the room is a damn sight less believable from someone who has actively tried to make things worse in the past. (Courtesy of Natalie, from this post.)

I’m really, really done with this bullshit.

ETA at 1314, 4/30: 2 things:
1) Brad had responded in the comments with the requested deets, fwiw.
2) To clarify, my mentions of Beale are not directly connected to Brad’s resignation reasoning; I’m aware there he’s talking about Resnick and Weisskopf specifically there. My opinion on Resnick and the Bulletin should already be abundantly clear, so I obviously do not agree with him on that one. I don’t have much of an opinion about the Weisskopf thing because tbh I found her essay kind of incoherent and couldn’t parse get point well enough to form a solid opinion. The Beale thing has more to do with other comments of Brad’s I have read elsewhere. And also I hope makes the point well that it’s not like SFWA members being assholes on the internet is a new thing, and as far as I’m concerned no current assholery even approaches that level.

Edited my above comment at 1457 because I erroneously kept saying Hoyt instead of Weisskopf. I have no excuse for that mistake, mea culpa.

6 thoughts on “The Flounce Continues: The Flouncening

  1. Reply Brad R. Torgersen Apr 30,2014 13:03

    Hello, Rachel.

    My walking out of SFWA has nothing to do with Beale.


    Item: After learning (in 2012) that SFWAns in good standing were e-mailing each other behind my back to discuss how best to scuttle my chances for the Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell, I came away wondering, why does my supposed org have people in it who want to hurt my career?

    Item: Mike Resnick is both a friend and a mentor of mine, and he got thrown out of the SFWA Bulletin. Mike Resnick has devoted his whole life to enriching the field and to finding and developing up-and-coming authors. He has more value to this genre than any twenty small-time SFWAns (myself included) put together. His punishment did not fit the supposed word crimes he was accused of committing in the pages of the Bulletin. His ejection from the Bulletin — and the ejection of both Rabe and Malzberg — is something I consider entirely political in nature, and wholly unwarranted. Wholly.

    Item: Scalzi, former SFWA top officer, took my editor at Baen apart for what was a harmless editorial on Toni’s part.

    So . . . when members of the org conspire to hurt me at the awards, and when a former top SFWA officer of Scalzi’s stature flings rhetorical boogers at Baen’s top editor (and at Baen authors by association), and then I look at how Scalzi gets treated in SFWA, and how a man like Mike Resnick got treated in SFWA . . . I conclude that the org’s value to me (as “my” organization) is limited at best.

    I wish those who remain in the org all the best, and perhaps if the zeitgeist of the org shifts at some future date — and the internal politics of SFWA become less stridently identitarian in nature — I may re-join.

    • Reply Rachael Apr 30,2014 13:08

      I think it’s totally fair to walk from an organization where you feel unwelcome. Certainly can’t and won’t mock you for that. Sounds like your problem is with the membership. The organization as an official body has said or done absolutely nothing, however.

      We’re going to have to disagree about Mike Resnick. What happened with the bulletin was, in my opinion, wholly warranted.

    • Reply Fred Davis May 1,2014 07:34

      Item: After learning (in 2012) that SFWAns in good standing were e-mailing each other behind my back to discuss how best to scuttle my chances for the Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell, I came away wondering, why does my supposed org have people in it who want to hurt my career?


      never mind “pics or it didn’t happen” come up with a legitimate complaint that isn’t shot down by basic knowledge about the awards and organisations you’re complaining about, geez.

  2. Reply --E Apr 30,2014 13:34

    You are entirely correct, Mr. Torgerson, for thinking SFWA is stridently identitarian. Your error, however, is in thinking that it ever wasn’t.

    The difference is in what identity it now encourages.

    The previous identity gave a regular column to Messrs Resnick and Malzberg and featured a classic Red Sonja-type of cover on an issue the official publication of the organization.

    Let us say that this previous identity enjoyed the musings of older statesmen about the history of Science Fiction culture. It was an identity that felt a piece of pulp art on the cover of the newsletter was the preferred “branding” for the organization.

    But then the membership–the membership of nearly 2000 people–elected new officers to represent them. This slate of officers, at the urging of a significant percentage of the electorate (and indeed as stated in several of these officers’ platforms prior to their election), decided that perhaps the Bulletin ought to be less fanzine-like and instead approach the more professional style of similar magazines published by RWA and MWA.

    I expect if Messrs Resnick and Malzberg wanted to write a useful article with writing/publishing/business advice rather than musings about the state of the field 40 years ago, the editors of the Bulletin might find that worth publishing.

    SFWA has always been identitarian. The difference now is that instead of identifying as a bunch of fanboys with a clubhouse, they’re trying to identify as professional writers.

    I never had any desire to join SFWA while it was a clubhouse for reminiscing fanboys. The changes I have seen in the past year have made me decide it’s time to send them a check and membership application, because I’m happy to join an organization that focuses on the future of the writing profession, not the past.

    If you would be so kind as to hold the door open for me while you exit, that would be quite courteous.

    • Reply Brad R. Torgersen Apr 30,2014 14:05

      E: I tend to tell people the same thing. Join SFWA for the “achievement unlocked” value, but if after a few years you find you’re just not getting much out of it, don’t feel obligated to stay. Here. (holds door open)

  3. Reply Athena Andreadis Apr 30,2014 14:20

    Resnick & Malzberg were paid above-minimum pro rates, out of membership dues, to call a significant portion of SFWA members intrinsically inferior and/or unworthy — in the publication that is meant to represent the organization (in case of “citation needed” cries, their response to criticism in the Bulletin should suffice). Weisskopf did the same, but at least didn’t get paid for it. These actions are as tribal/identity-driven as the ones described by the currently and suddenly selectively pious. As for backroom maneuvering and backbiting while jockeying for awards, that has NEVER happened before! /sarcasm

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