The Latest SFWA Controversy

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Jess Haines

Boldly going nowhere in particular.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 8, 2009
Messages
1,726
Reaction score
248
Location
Tampa, FL
Website
www.jesshaines.com
My opinion is that if you are calling yourself a "professional" organization, then your members are a representation of the entire group. Yes, that includes personal blogs. Your diary at home is one thing, but Vox Day or whatever his name is, isn't writing his deranged, lunatic ramblings in his hello kitty diary at home, he's doing it on a VERY public place. And he was allowed to run for president of the SFWA? Are you kidding me? And more than one person actually VOTED for him?

To be honest, I'm not sure that I'd be interested in joining SFWA at all, since they so clearly tolerate (and even occasionally display) a misogynist attitude.

This was the argument I posed in the SFWA forum and on my blog.

In brief, I believe this person is still a member because he purchased a lifetime membership back when that was available, and it has made things murky as to how to discharge him based on the current bylaws. Once the reincorporation goes through, I hope--oh, do I ever--that will change.

As it is, we do have a policy on sexual harrassment, and it needs to be followed.

“The SFWA administration, employees, members, and volunteers are responsible for assuring that all persons who participate in SFWA programs and activities do so in an atmosphere free of all forms of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Sexual harassment is unlawful and impedes the realization of SFWA’s mission to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for our members. SFWA will respond promptly and effectively to reports of harassment and discrimination of any kind and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and if necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this policy. This policy applies to any events or spaces sponsored by SFWA, including but not limited to the SFWA discussion Forums, the SFWA website, the Nebula Awards Weekend, and the SFWA suite.”
Also, while I completely understand why many are turned off from joining, the SFWA does do good things, too. Mary Robinette had an excellent post on that, and I strongly suggest reading it if you haven't already.

In addition to my original post, I've also added this.

It's being discussed, and heatedly, in the SFWA forum. We're looking for solutions. I hope the changes come swiftly for all of the reasons Mary covered in her post.
 

thothguard51

A Gentleman of a refined age...
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
9,316
Reaction score
1,063
Age
71
Location
Out side the beltway...
Medi,

I understand that John took full responsibility for the publications in question. And as President, I understand he is fully responsible for all SFWA publications. But that still does not explain how those publications got that far.

I am not trying to blame Jean that those articles got into print, but she was the editor. Does she not have editorial rights? It just makes me wonder if she was pressured into running those articles, as is, you know, buy a couple of good ol boys...
 

Deleted member 42

Medi,

I understand that John took full responsibility for the publications in question. And as President, I understand he is fully responsible for all SFWA publications. But that still does not explain how those publications got that far.

If you look closely, you'll see she did not have editorial control; hence the content was passed on to the Publisher i.e. the President of SFWA, i.e John Scalzi who did not read the articles.

I note however that the Bylaws don't really indicate much about the Bulletin other than it's a membership benefit and it should list new members.

Which is why I've said that they need to stop treating the Bulletin like a fanzine that no one reads. It needs to be taken seriously. The Editor needs to have the ability to accept or reject, and there needs to be some sort of approval mechanism so that the Board can support the editor and be aware of issues before they become public..

A modicum of oversight would have prevented the idiocies of the last three bulletins from ever appearing in print.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AnneMarble

Nefarious Ghost Fan
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
2,916
Reaction score
3,030
Location
MD
Website
gorokandwulf.blogspot.com
My opinion is that if you are calling yourself a "professional" organization, then your members are a representation of the entire group. Yes, that includes personal blogs. Your diary at home is one thing, but Vox Day or whatever his name is, isn't writing his deranged, lunatic ramblings in his hello kitty diary at home, he's doing it on a VERY public place. And he was allowed to run for president of the SFWA? Are you kidding me? And more than one person actually VOTED for him?
Lyndon LaRouche was able to run for president of the United States. And he thought that the monarchy of England was behind the World Trade Center attack. (Or something like that. The free book I got from one of this supporters outside a post office tended to ramble.) He didn't get many votes, of course. (And I'm sure many of them were "protest" votes by people who wanted to "stick it to the system.") IIRC he also did time for credit card fraud related to his presidential run. Should he not have been allowed to run? Hell no, as long as he qualified. Because if the government can block him from running, who could they block next? Anyway I'd rather that type of candidate be allowed to run because that way we can keep a better eye on them.

Not that SFWA is the government. (Lord help us!) But they have to follow governmental rules, as well as their own guidelines. They can't ban someone from joining if they qualify as a professional SF/F writer. Who would be next? Would some people try to ban Orson Scott Card? Or would some people try to ban writers such as John Ringo and Tom Kratman? Then someone would retaliate by trying to ban more liberal writers, and ... Yikes! You think it's a mess now?
 

Deleted member 42

Also, while I completely understand why many are turned off from joining, the SFWA does do good things, too.

The best way to change an organization is from within. Which is why I'm encouraging the many wonderful writers I know who could join now, or will be able to join very soon to join.
 

Deleted member 42

Re. the experiences of young women being sidelined within SFWA, and the "if you weren't a pretty woman, you shouldn't bother to get a membership" attitude: Is it something that was prevalent in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, but is no longer the norm?

I don't think it was ever acceptable except to a few slow-to-realize that the-world-was-changing oddities like Jerry Pournelle, Ruskin et al who are not typical of SFWA as a whole.

Look at some of people who have been board members and officers recently; people like Scalzi, Kowal, Swirsky, Yolen, Sharon Smith, Catherynne Valente, Catherine Asaro, Barbara Hambly.

There are only about 1800 members. Consider how few people in any organization are willing to volunteer. Think what a board interested in change could do if they had more members who wanted, supported and were willing to work for change.

Think also about what a giant difference Victoria Strauss' et al Writer Beware work makes; that's supported by SFWA, including defending Writer Beware from lawsuit by the less than scrupulous.

So I'd say again, email [email protected], ask that your email beforwarded to Steve Gould, the next President, and let SFWA know what you're thinking, especially if you could join or might be willing in the future when you're elegible.

I know that they're listening.
 

Buffysquirrel

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
6,111
Reaction score
679
Well, I'll decide whether I'm interested in joining SFWA if I ever become eligible. Any number of foxes can despise inaccessible grapes. But the idea of controlling someone's membership based on what they write in their blog makes me uncomfortable in principle. It reminds of the writers here on AW who sometimes post that they are terrified of their employers finding out what they write. Because they'll be sacked.

Who do we want to align ourselves with here? Those writers or their employers?
 

Xelebes

Delerium ex Ennui
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
14,205
Reaction score
884
Location
Edmonton, Canada
They have now. Suspended him. Not told him where to go. (He said the stuff about acid attacks over a year ago...and no one thought this might be worth looking into? Plenty of people seem to have known about it)

OSC is a member, and while I don't agree with his position, I don't recall him ever saying that acid spraying gays was a good idea (Note: I haven't read much of his little rants, but I don't recall him advocating violence).


If there aren't any bigots IN the SFWA how can it be run by bigots? Can a spambot get to be admin here? Can just any arsehole join SWFA? How bad do they have to be?

Sorry. Really. But line gotta be drawn somewhere /picard The line must be drawn here. /end picard. Is my line.


I think the problem here is delisting. Who gets to decide who leaves? There are several institutions (first nations, for example) which are expected to delist or expel members and it is considered a general tragedy or worse a crime. A lot of first nations, for example, choose who to delist so that the sparse dividends they receive from their investments result in at least substantial dividends to their members. Other first nations are encouraged to expel members by having the chief decide who to kick out and having him give the final say.* In either situation, a third party to aid or render the decision gives the decision some level of fairness and oversight, otherwise the institution becomes willy-nilly exclusive.

I think the 501(c) designation or whatever it is called demands that those who operate SFWA must act as an institution and not a private club. That means delisting and expelling without the aid of a third party is not considered fair.

*Sorry, I've been doing quite a bit of research in the practice of law in North America regarding these groups, nations and institutions. Please bear with me.
 

Deleted member 42

Well, I'll decide whether I'm interested in joining SFWA if I ever become eligible. Any number of foxes can despise inaccessible grapes. But the idea of controlling someone's membership based on what they write in their blog makes me uncomfortable in principle.

Me too, but I very much doubt that that would become policy or bylaws; it's not really a defensible position legally if they want to be a 501 charitable group. And it would create a nightmare in terms of administration.
 

Mr Flibble

They've been very bad, Mr Flibble
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
18,889
Reaction score
5,028
Location
We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the m
Website
francisknightbooks.co.uk
But the idea of controlling someone's membership based on what they write in their blog makes me uncomfortable in principle.

I think the problem here is delisting. Who gets to decide who leaves?.

Well for me, after the red mist had subsided a little...*cough*, I adjusted what I was saying (or what I think I was trying say initially but had a ragefail.)

I do think that a private organisation should be able to accept or reject members on clearly defined rules that they decide upon (by membership vote?). Because -- well I can think of a few people joining certain organisations that would make them implode and how does that help anyone? Someone (I forget who, sorry) upthread mentioned human rights -- we all have those, not just the offender. There should be a way where the most amount of people get their rights to not be denigrated. Sometimes it can't be everyone. But that is probably a discussion for another time (perhaps about a hypothetical situation, in order to discuss it more easily) *ETA just saw medi's post. Keeping charitable status prolly makes things a lot more tricky, but might make things easier on other ways.


That said, as I said upthread I do not expect the SWFA to change for me -- not its laws or membership. I said as much in my email to John Scalzi. Part of what the SWFA says it aims for is to defend its members. It looks like perhaps it needs to defend some from some of its own members, and if that is the case, then it should.

I can, and do, refuse to join while the organisation has such problems. I am, if you like, a contentious objecter, and registering as such my disinclination to join. I am intolerant of intolerance. (I am bigoted against bigots, I suppose I should hate myself...but I find that I'm fine with wanting people to behave respectfully towards each other) I can object without insisting anyone gets kicked. So I have.
 
Last edited:

Buffysquirrel

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
6,111
Reaction score
679
So you want SFWA to have a rule that empowers them to control what members say outside the organisation's own forums, on threat of expulsion and loss of benefits? And you don't see a *problem* with that?
 

Erin Latimer

Stay in and write.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 12, 2011
Messages
322
Reaction score
10
Location
Vancouver, BC
Lyndon LaRouche was able to run for president of the United States. And he thought that the monarchy of England was behind the World Trade Center attack. (Or something like that. The free book I got from one of this supporters outside a post office tended to ramble.) He didn't get many votes, of course. (And I'm sure many of them were "protest" votes by people who wanted to "stick it to the system.") IIRC he also did time for credit card fraud related to his presidential run. Should he not have been allowed to run? Hell no, as long as he qualified. Because if the government can block him from running, who could they block next? Anyway I'd rather that type of candidate be allowed to run because that way we can keep a better eye on them.

Not that SFWA is the government. (Lord help us!) But they have to follow governmental rules, as well as their own guidelines. They can't ban someone from joining if they qualify as a professional SF/F writer. Who would be next? Would some people try to ban Orson Scott Card? Or would some people try to ban writers such as John Ringo and Tom Kratman? Then someone would retaliate by trying to ban more liberal writers, and ... Yikes! You think it's a mess now?

For SFWA I think it comes down to where you draw the line. I don't really see why they COULDN'T lay down the law. Maybe they need a rule book about how members conduct themselves. In regards to Orson Scott Card, I don't know, is he posting hate-filled rants about minorities? Then yeah, I wouldn't hesitate to kick him out, big shot writer or not.

But then, I'm less than tolerant when it comes to that type of crap :D
 

Buffysquirrel

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
6,111
Reaction score
679
Which is fine until the pendulum swings the other way and you're the one getting kicked out because your views don't fit.
 

Mr Flibble

They've been very bad, Mr Flibble
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
18,889
Reaction score
5,028
Location
We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the m
Website
francisknightbooks.co.uk
So you want SFWA to have a rule that empowers them to control what members say outside the organisation's own forums, on threat of expulsion and loss of benefits? And you don't see a *problem* with that?


I did not say that
 

zanzjan

killin' all teh werds
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
VPX
VPXI
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 5, 2010
Messages
9,604
Reaction score
3,025
Location
home home homityhomehome
Well, all else aside, I'm in SFWA, and if more of you folks join, I'll be less lonely in the girl-cootie corner. ;)
 

Deleted member 42

Which is fine until the pendulum swings the other way and you're the one getting kicked out because your views don't fit.

Yep. That's my issue in a nut shell.

There are professional SF writers who are members of SFWA who think people in same-sex relationships should be forbidden to work in education or medicine.

There are members who are anti-Semitic. There are members who are proponents of legislating against the consumption of meat, eggs or dairy.

There are members who have advocated prohibiting all immigration.

There are members who have expressed the opinion that there are aliens passing as humans and attempting to breed a new species (no, really).

There are over 1800 active members. They're all different.

Should SFWA be more aware of their role in terms of being a dues-collecting organization that represents a class of professionals? Absolutely.

But I think they're trying to do exactly that. There's a fair amount of evidence that they're trying hard to drag some of the more recalcitrant members into the 21st century.

I think appointing a task force with respect to the Bulletin is a good start.

I think their anti harassment statement is another start, but I also know that by law any change to the bylaws has to be voted on by the membership.
 

amergina

Pittsburgh Strong
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 20, 2007
Messages
15,593
Reaction score
2,440
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Website
www.annazabo.com
I wouldn't join a writing organization that had a list of what I could or could not write about on my own personal blog.
 

Mr Flibble

They've been very bad, Mr Flibble
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
18,889
Reaction score
5,028
Location
We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the m
Website
francisknightbooks.co.uk
I also know that by law any change to the bylaws has to be voted on by the membership.

And that is exactly as it should be.

As for he rest, that's fine as long as people are not denigrating people for that, not abusing them for it (or race/gender/orientation) not telling them to shut up. As long as everyone respects that others have a POV, then very different people can rub along fine. The trouble begins when some people don't do that. So, then what do you do? And there's the rub, eh? If you do nothing, you alienate the people being derided. If you do something you make the deriders have a hissy fit and cry facism. So, what do you do? ETA: Generic you! Not Medi or anyone else. But, what do you do?
 
Last edited:

Deleted member 42

The trouble begins when some people don't do that. So, then what do you do? And there's the rub, eh? If you do nothing, you alienate the people being derided. If you do something you make the deriders have a hissy fit and cry facism. So, what do you do? ETA: Generic you! Not Medi or anyone else. But, what do you do?

Pretty much what they did; they suspended his ability to post to the forums.

I'm in accord with that, since the forums have a statement indicating acceptable and non acceptable actions, and moderators.

But I don't think it would be acceptable to deny an otherwise qualifying member membership based on something he posted or said elsewhere.

I note that certain academic organizations or large businesses will from time to time note that "Jane Doe's statements about the nature of X are not representative of this organization" when Jane is an officer or board member.

I think that's reasonable, but provision for that would need to be in the bylaws, I think. I know that that was absolutely the case with UC student groups and with the Modern Language Association.
 

Mr Flibble

They've been very bad, Mr Flibble
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
18,889
Reaction score
5,028
Location
We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the m
Website
francisknightbooks.co.uk
Pretty much what they did; they suspended his ability to post to the forums.

I was thinking of more than one person here. How do you tackle it in the big picture version? Without pissing anyone off?




I note that certain academic organizations or large businesses will from time to time note that "Jane Doe's statements about the nature of X are not representative of this organization" when Jane is an officer or board member.

I think that's reasonable, but provision for that would need to be in the bylaws, I think. I know that that was absolutely the case with UC student groups and with the Modern Language Association.

That's the case with some professional orgs I'v known (and sometimes they get quietly shunted off somewhere else. It depends on what you've done. Said something a bit silly? Or gone on breakfast TV and called the presenter a string of four letter expletives about her being a ****** **** woman, and followed it up by groping the weathergirl on air? One does not equal the other and nor does/should the consequence)

After the second scenario, you'd usually be asked to reconsider your position....
 

thothguard51

A Gentleman of a refined age...
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
9,316
Reaction score
1,063
Age
71
Location
Out side the beltway...
Can't an organization ask a member to resign, for the good of the organization without breaking the non-profit rules?

Of course that person could say no thank you, I like it here just fine and I do pay my dues on time...
 

Deleted member 42

Can't an organization ask a member to resign, for the good of the organization without breaking the non-profit rules?

Of course that person could say no thank you, I like it here just fine and I do pay my dues on time...

It gets very tricky very fast, and honestly, the people likely to cause such a problem are the kinds of people we'd ban for trolling here. Can you say frivolous lawsuit?

Which is one reason AW is entirely privately owned.
 
Last edited by a moderator: