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