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Susan Shwartz:
What is a safe space? My goddaughter majors in philosophy and women’s studies (but already has credits in the WSJ, so I’m not worried), but she’s in Cambridge, and if I called her, she’d freak, and her mother would do worse.

I gather that some of the most able minds of my generation are talking about safe spaces, and I can honestly say I don’t know WTF they are. For me, a “safe space” is the well-analyzed and educated gray matter I use to solve problems. Sometimes.

If I’d wanted a safe space, I’d have gotten a lobotomy and a spouse named Torvald Helmer and lived in most places that are not New York.

That is probably bravado, but still. I’d be glad of an explanation that isn’t a lecture.

Harry Turtledove:
Safe space is where everybody thinks like you and you don’t have to deal with anything dangerous, e.g., disagreement.

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Quoth Sheila Finch (sheila-finch@sff.net) in (530251fb.0@news.sff.net) on Mon 17 Feb 2014 12:16:27p

> One of the most troubling concerns to have arisen out of this mess is the obvious poor status of education. The younger set don’t know how to argue at all, let alone analyze facts — or even know a fact from an opinion.

Sheila—-

I was just thinking the same thing this morning. On the internet, critical thinking is usually trumped by emotion. It’s hard to try to argue a point because the point will usually be obscured by someone’s heartfelt comments on the subject under discussion (and not the point itself).

I like to think that our educational systems haven’t failed us. Rather, I think the people who can hold their own in an argument already figured out the internet is not the place to do so and they’ve gone elsewhere. (Present company excepted, of course.)

—-Gordon V.G.

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informationjustwantstobefree:

“I do not think any SFWA communication should come anywhere NEAR the internet.” —Cj Cherryh, on Facebook, murdering Irony.

“C.J. Cherryh over on Facebook has weighed in with the opinion that if SFWA members in good standing are not allowed to discuss all sides of an issue without being censored, then it is no longer a democratic organization.”

“RUMINT is that THEY are SFWA and entitled to restrict discussion or images that are racist, sexist, etc. Will the real Dolores Umbridge please stand up?”

“I think they went from having a Benovolet Dictatorship to the inmates running the asylum. And they don’t even realize just how much they’ve been marginalized in the past 5 years.”

“SFWA’s new motto: “Divide and be conquered.” ”

“This culture wars thing is an indicator that New Coke … er, I mean New SFWA may not be working out as hoped.”

“Well, now, here’s the thing: eventually the biased moderation policies at the Org will fail, and it will have to be opened up to fair discussion. But, you see, if SFWA continues to pay for the sff.net lair of the Rabid Weasels, then a case can be made for it spending a similar amount elsewhere.”

“David is lecturing the cats. For his next trick he’s going to convince the frogs to stay in the wheelbarrow.”

“I blame Cory Doctorow. He went to blogoshere about the Scribd error, and set a precedent for all the newbies as to how to bully SFWA into doing what they want.”

“The Young are all dismayed at CJ’s position and vow henceforth never to sully their eyeballs with her stuff. Not once do they think to wonder— why would she take such a position? Might there be some merit in it? These people aren’t used to thinking.”

“As if their assoholic opinions could make a dent in Carolyn’s sales figures. ”

“This is the problem with people hanging around on social media where everyone is guaranteed to agree with them—dissenters are purged immediately. It atrophies the capacity for independent thought. On all sides of the opinion spectrum. This is what the Young want to make of SFWA.”

“They probably weren’t buying her books in the first place. They were probably downloading pirated copies.”

“They probably want Carolyn’s shelf space. After all, aren’t they entitled to it?”

“I spent a little time last night reading Tangent Online, the petition, Sheila’s and Carolyn’s FB topics, Charles Finley’s “response,” David Gerrold’s FB page, and a noxious little blog called “Radish” something. Before I knew it, nearly three hours had passed. It was a little like watching a drunk perform colon surgery on himself. Life is too short.”

“Paleontologists of SFWA will one day refer to this as the Assholocene Era … ”

“I’m of the complete opinion that nothing of value has ever come out of Twitter or FB that wouldn’t have come out of other normal modes of electronic communication with much lower signal to noise ratios.”

“The core problem was, Resnick/Malzberg and Jim Hines were allowed to do a point / counterpoint following some flap about a Bulletin cover (a classic fanart piece showing a scantily furclad and heavily armed barbarian woman straddling a dead yeti-like thing. It got out of hand because no one was paying attention. The cover wasn’t very good, but I can’t think we pay much for such things, nor was it especially offensive. It wouldn’t have taken much oversight to say, “Mike and Barry, how about we don’t wax goofy about Barbie? And Jim? We’ve seen just about enough of your six years old sendup of those Retief reprint covers. Think of something new.” Instead, it has made SFWA look silly.”

“Truesdale’s opinions that set off the current flap seem to be based on misinformation; that, to me, calls their value into question. But given a board that often doles out information as if it might destroy the organization if somebody knew it, I’m not surprised that a good number of eminent members took what Truesdale said at face value. How many people knew the status of the new Bulletin and how it was going to be run before the flap forced a response from those in the know? Anybody here?”

“The whole thing was a tempest in a teapot— except that an editor was (I think) unjustly hustled out of her job. The the Prez issued language that suggested that a committee would be appointed (by him?) to make sure that nothing that wasn’t strictly PC and non-offensive to anybody at all would be printed in the Bulletin.”

“Some of us thought this went too far. Dave Truesdale, a former Bulletin editor, approached a number of people (truth in advertising: yours truly was one)to sign a petition urging the Prez to re-think. The resulting uproar among the—as Susan calls them —“special snowflakes” was truly enlightening. One person with a recognizable name in SFWA’s affairs (I won’t name her; you can seek this out for yourselves)called those who signed or supported the so-called petition “phenomenal buttheads.”“

“Dave Truesdale went so far off the rails back during other flaps that the most embarrassing thing about this particular rehash is that anybody takes him seriously. Though considering how many other loons get an audience in this day and age, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.”

“I’m sure Steven Gould has good intentions for this oversight committee, but I don’t trust committees to vet for offensive materials when I don’t know who will be on the committee. I think he’s abrogating the power and responsibility of the SFWA presidency by delegating this sensitive matter to others. Beyond that, what I see is a group of whiny young writers who don’t understand the concept of “slippery slope”, and who are such precious snowflakes they can’t face the harsh realities of the world at large. These are people who are going to take offense one way or the other. If not any of the -isms they currently oppose, then they’ll manufacture offense so they can feel continually oppressed.

“The SFWA Bulletin has printed a lot of material over the years that it might not have under more oversight. And I don’t mean just sexist or racist materials—I mean professionally important articles. In this day of wide-spread self-publishing (in which many of these young writers are so invested), is there any guarantee that a SFWA committee would have allowed the Bulletin to publish my Amazon Shorts contract critique from a few years back? There were plenty of writers who called it antagonistic toward a major player, and feared consequences from Amazon (the only consequence ultimately being that Amazon came to the table and revised their contract form). IIRC, a later similar article did not go in the Bulletin for just such reasons. I’d stand behind the editor and president making these decisions, but not a committee. Too much room for unforeseen agendas to come into play.”

“The actual petition has been made moot because the president has announced he was always planning to do what it was asking him to do. If he had said this in his original correspondence with Dave (which is shown as part of the petition) this would have been avoided.”

“I’ll give them this: Truesdale’s early draft was not well conceived. It does betray certain biases and agenda that are unbecoming. Apparently Silverberg and others revised it to remove that material. Now, I won’t question whether they should have signed it, but I also don’t think that Truesdale’s underlying biases matter. He raises (and the signatories question) certain practical matters involved in this new editorial oversight system. The fact that so many people want to think that it’s OK for early drafts to be considered damning evidence against some important concepts just makes me wonder just how wonderful and pristine their first draft manuscripts must be… . But information wants to be free … ”

“A minority cabal has been in power in SFWA since M. Robinette-Kowal was elected to the Board. Now it’s just her minions worshiping at her agenda.”

“She is, I believe, the originator of the “Rabid Weasels” label. Honestly, [she’s] no one you should have heard of, and no one you should concern yourself with. I have other words for her, but they wouldn’t be PC. I think “incompetent” is as polite as I can be.”

“The Bulletin editor was the first and most unfair victim. It was the then president who failed to do his oversight job. A simple, “This is not a good idea. Let’s do something else.” would have solved the problem.”

“Public shaming of a woman. Which apparently only counts for some women.”

“I don’t know about minions, sycophants, or lackies, but as far as I know, a puppeteer always has puppets … (Sorry. I. Could. Not. Resist.)”

“If you want to look at it that way. Public shaming of anyone is unfair. Making someone under indictment do a perp walk is the same kind of public shaming. And sometimes, they’re innocent.”

“If Truesdale, a non-member, can present such a petition, Beale, a non-member, should be able to sign it. Removing someone’s name from a petition because one thinks they are an asshat is prima facie evidence that one is, onceself, an asshat. Maybe SFWA can chip in and buy an “UNCLEAN” sign for Beale to wear around his neck? SFWA’s not the fucking Pope.”

“As far as I can tell, this is an overreaction to an overreaction to an overreaction to an overreaction to an overreaction to an overreaction to an overreaction to an overreaction … and I don’t think we’ll ever get to the turtles.”

“A minor, but necessary, correction: Jean Rabe resigned, she was NOT fired. She also allowed her membership to lapse.”

“It was a public shaming, regardless. By people who claim to be advocates for women. Except for actual individual women.”

“On the noxious Radish blog I mentioned uptopic I noticed how cavalierly the author referred to Resnick and Malzberg as “horrible pricks.” Of course -that’s- not sexist.”

“As far as catching the “jerk” and kicking same out, SFWA management evidently found better uses for the lawyers than siccing them on Sunlight’s protectors.”

“It’s the institutional navel gazing that is why SFWA’s main public face, The Bulletin, has been moribund for nearly a year.”

“Call it what you want, it poisoned the discussion. He won anyway? For Christ’s sake, he won, and then he and his friends elected to expel the loser from the organization. I dare say almost anyone could have run against Beale and won. And maybe then we’d still have Bulletin. What is your pal Gould waiting for?”

“I was under the impression you were no longer a member. If I have confused you with someone else, I herewith tender my abject apology for the rant I just posted. If you’re a member, then you have the right you claimed to have. I just think that lapsed members and never-were members should keep the fuck out of it. Should I leave SFWA, you won’t catch me here running my mouth. I’ll have found something else to do.”

“The problem is that the “vocal minority” of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.”

“William, I’d love to tell you my part of it in more detail, but I’m going to admit that I can’t. The whole thing is one of the most painful events in my 25 year career. It still gets my blood boiling (even just seeing MRK’s new books come into my department for copyright registration raises my blood pressure and anxiety levels). This thread is the first time I’ve even mentioned her in public in five years, and except when I see her books in the office, I have managed to avoid thinking of her until now. In my book, she’s an unperson, and will remain so.”

“It just occurred to me that MRK seems to be deeply involved in this whole anti-sexism matter. I remember seeing her posing with Hines and Scalzi on one of their very scary cover parodies, and I know she chimed in with a snipe at the petition signers on the Radish thread. I find it very funny and ironic that she would jump on this bandwagon. For a long time, her website featured an array of photos of her in a diaphanous white outfit, posing on a beach. No metal bikinis or such, but they were not innocuous writer headshots either. One of them, with her recumbent on the sand with legs exposed, made her somewhat attractive. I also recall she’s fond of wearing tight-fitting gowns and plunging necklines when she attends cons and award ceremonies. I’ll have to add “phony” to “incompetent” and “arrogant” in the mental tags I’ve assigned her.”

“She’s an actress marketing herself, and she’ll use whatever. Now she’s letting the Mean Girl show. She’s dealing with a doctrinaire crowd. Expect her to be more feminist than thou. Or humanist. This is why she was so clever not to name the Rabid Weasels—aside from wanting to avoid claims of libel. And she’s feeding off this controversy.”

“I see that David Brin has pissed everyone off on Facebook by being his usual condescending self, patting the children on the head and that their elders will take care of everything … ”

“I’ve known David for many years. I like him a lot. That doesn’t mean he’s incapable of putting his foot in it in a large way. He’s given more grief than I appreciate to other people I also like a lot. Dealing with other people is not always his strong suit … or mine, which may be why we get on well.”

The following is the text of a petition that several SFWA members are being asked to sign. NOTE: the person spearheading this petition? The guy who wrote it? Not actually a SFWA member. 
ETA: The version of the petition below is an early draft. The current draft, signed by more people, is here. (hat tip: Radish Reviews)
—————————————————————————————————
SFWA President Steven Gould is about to institute a politically correct form of censorship for the Bulletin. Attached (and below) is a petition I have crafted decrying this self-censorship. It includes all of the email exchanges between Gould and I, along with my commentary. I showed it to Mike Resnick who asked if he could pass it to a few like-minded authors. I of course agreed.
What began as an article is now a petition to halt the anti-First Amendment policy of Gould. We are just beginning to seek further signatories and hope you will agree with our goal, enough to sign on to the petition.
The first four names at the bottom of the document are Robert Silverberg, Greg Benford, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. Robert Silverberg has asked that I add that he believes this to be an important free-speech issue and hopes you will sign.
I hope you agree with us and will add your name to theirs, but if not I certainly understand.
The attachment is an rtf file and should be easy to open. It is also a bit easier to read than it is in the body of this email.
—David Truesdale
(full petition under the cut)
[[MORE]]SFWA President Endorses Politically Correct Bulletin Censorship
by Dave Truesdale
Steven Gould, President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, is about to institute a policy of censorship based on political correctness in the organization’s public publication, the magazine available for purchase by the general public, the SFWA Bulletin.
As a former Bulletin editor serving at the pleasure of two SFWA Presidents (Paul Levinson and Norman Spinrad) I was shocked when I visited the page at the SFWA website where the call for a new Bulletin editor listed the new job guidelines and requirements.
The search for a new Bulletin editor followed the Summer 2013 resignation (under pressure) of the then (lady) editor (for the use of an “inappropriate” cover among other alleged crimes), and the brouhaha involving two long-time and well respected Bulletin columnists whose use of the words “lady editors,” “beautiful,” and a few other innocuous descriptive words led, for the first time in the history of the Bulletin, to its suspension (as of this writing no editor has been selected and the Bulletin remains in limbo). A link to the SFWA webpage with the duties and requirements for new Bulletin editor is given below. Please read it carefully, noting especially the three quotes listed below the link.
http://www.sfwa.org/2013/12/32393/
“Solicit topics and columnists that fit within vision of the Bulletin”
“Choose cover art for each issue that is line with SFWA standards”
“Participate in proofing and review process with select volunteer and board members”
The second quote concerning the selection of cover art “that is in line with SFWA standards” is, on the surface, seemingly harmless. Unless, that is, you are aware of the context in regard to the alleged “offensive” and “sexist” cover that was part of the current Bulletin flap. I don’t imagine anyone would sanction nudity or a sexual act making it to the cover of the Bulletin. In that respect “SFWA standards” would appear more than reasonable. But along with “vision,” “SFWA standards” don’t mean what they are commonly taken to mean. These words need to be explained with specificity given the current circumstances. What exactly is SFWA’s new vision and what exactly are the new SFWA standards? How are these otherwise goal-worthy, albeit standard, expected and now cliché words to be interpreted? This remains to be seen.
It is the third quote, however, that made me sit up and rub my eyes to make sure I was seeing what I was reading. The new Bulletin editor must “participate” (participate?) in the “proofing and review process with select volunteer and board members.” Say what? As editor I did all of my own proofing of rough and final copy and was most certainly not subject to any “review process” with “volunteer and board members” looking over my shoulder. Who the hell is editor under this new vetting process anyway, the editor or some board (and ultimately the President) giving or rejecting its (or his) stamp of approval for text and cover art according to their personal whims or political agendas? What sort of nonsense is this, I asked myself.
The essence of the situation is that a writers’ organization, of all groups, should not be establishing a committee to determine what is “unacceptable” or “inappropriate” or “offensive” in some contribution to one of its publications. SFWA should be the front line of defense for First Amendment issues, and not make itself part of the problem. There is a great tradition in this country of freedom of the press, and the following quote is exemplary of this principle:
Andrew Hamilton (c. 1676 – August 4, 1741) was a Scottish lawyer in the Thirteen Colonies, where he finally settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was best known for his legal victory on behalf of the printer and newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger. This 1735 decision in New York helped to establish that truth is a defense to an accusation of libel. His eloquent defense concluded with saying that the press has “a liberty both of exposing and opposing tyrannical power by speaking and writing truth.”
The heart of the matter is that SFWA is on the verge of committing a serious offense against freedom of the press—its own press!—through voluntary self-censorship.
So I took, as it were, pen in hand and wrote to SFWA President Steven Gould voicing my concerns. The complete series of emails, in chronological order, are given below.

[Email to SFWA President Steven Gould, January 15, 2014]
“Hi, Steven,
Someone who wasn’t aware I’d already served as Bulletin editor sent me the link to the page where you’ve listed the job requirements for a new editor. (Don’t worry, I’m not applying. :-) )
After reading through the job requirements for editor, I had a few questions I hope you can answer. It appears to me that there will be some sort of informal group of people looking over the editor’s shoulder to make sure everything printed is “acceptable.” If so, will the editor be passing on to this group all printed material for their approval?
Will the Bulletin be screening all of its ads to make sure they are acceptable as well? What are the advertising rules when it comes to ads sporting a book cover SFWA may not feel is now appropriate? Since fantasy is a major part of the SF/F genre and many of its covers have women in various kinds of fantasy garb, what is now acceptable to take on as an ad in the Bulletin?
What are the new guidelines for cover art for the Bulletin? And what “overseer” person or group or board will be making these decisions, and upon what criteria will they be based?
Sincerely,
Dave Truesdale”

I received no immediate reply and was not concerned. I waited a week before sending along the following email.

[2nd email to SFWA President Steven Gould, January 22, 2014]
“Hi, Steven,
Last Wednesday, January 15th, I sent you an email (copied below) asking several questions concerning new Bulletin guidelines. I realize how busy you must be and getting around to all of the emails you receive must take up a fair amount of your time. Therefore I am writing again in hopes you’ll now have the time to answer, in some specificity, my queries. I know those who perhaps will want to send articles to the Bulletin would be more prone to do so if they were made aware of what specifically the Bulletin now deems inappropriate (language, terminology, points of view now deemed unacceptable, etc.), the guiding philosophy behind these decisions, and what person or persons will now be in charge of granting their approval for any articles.
Sincerely,
Dave Truesdale
[Copy of original email query below]:
Hi, Steven,
Someone who wasn’t aware I’d already served as Bulletin editor sent me the link to the page where you’ve listed the job requirements for a new editor. (Don’t worry, I’m not applying. :-) )
After reading through the job requirements for editor, I had a few questions I hope you can answer. It appears to me that there will be some sort of informal group of people looking over the editor’s shoulder to make sure everything printed is “acceptable.” If so, will the editor be passing on to this group all printed material for their approval?
Will the Bulletin be screening all of its ads to make sure they are acceptable as well? What are the advertising rules when it comes to ads sporting a book cover SFWA may not feel is now appropriate? Since fantasy is a major part of the SF/F genre and many of its covers have women in various kinds of fantasy garb, what is now acceptable to take on as an ad in the Bulletin?
What are the new guidelines for cover art for the Bulletin? And what “overseer” person or group or board will be making these decisions, and upon what criteria will they be based?
Sincerely,
Dave Truesdale”

[SFWA President Steven Gould replies, Janaury 22, 2014]

“Dave,
I apologise for not getting back to you sooner. I am desperately trying to finish a book and that is taking most of my attention.
There will be no “informal” group overseeing the editor’s selection. There may be an advisory board, but that is yet to be determined. Under the structure of SFWA (both old and new bylaws), the president is responsible for publications.
We don’t have guidelines for “acceptable” articles, art, and ads other than content needs to serve the needs of the organization. Chief among those are our 5 core mission areas: to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for professional writers.
So, to answer your question specifically, I would urge contributors to ask themselves what needs of professional writers are they meeting with their articles? I guarantee this is a question the editor will be asking themselves.
This doesn’t have to be satisfying the needs of =all= professional writers; we have many different sub-genres, modes of publishing, and lengths, as well as different opinions on how to be a professional writer.
However, when content alienates portions of our membership it is =not= meeting the needs of our members or our organization and this is part of the equation the editor will be considering that when they look at articles, illustrations, and ads.
Best,
Steven Gould
President
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America”

[My reply to the above email, same day, January 22, 2014]

“Steven,
Thank you for getting back to me on this. I’ve read several of your “Jumper” novels and have liked (and reviewed) them quite favorably, so I understand why work on your new book is taking most of your time and attention.
That said, I still must ask a follow-up question. I quote from your reply:
“However, when content alienates portions of our membership it is =not= meeting the needs of our members or our organization and this is part of the equation the editor will be considering that when they look at articles, illustrations, and ads.”
Since there are numerous subsets, or “portions of [SFWA] membership,” are you saying that when anyone from these various factions is “offended” or upset that this will be deemed as “=not= meeting the needs of our members”? This would seem to be an impossible task given the various politically correct views held by many of the current membership. Is it serving the entire membership when a small faction, or percentage, or group, can dictate what may be offensive to the remainder of the organization? There must be something more concrete or definite than simply relenting every time some member feels offended by this or that. When these decisions are left up to vagaries and interpretations—or decisions are based on who might be “offended”, then I’m afraid it looks like the Bulletin (with SFWA’s blessing and endorsement), is restricting itself to one set of “correct” values and speech, and denying that of others on a most capricious basis. In short, it gives the distinct impression of intolerance of any opposing views on any of several hot-topic subjects, the way language may be used, and the views expressed if not in line with the _perceived_ interest of the membership. How do you get around this perception that the Bulletin is naught but a politically correct mouthpiece controlled by any number of various factions who are forever offended at the slightest variation from whatever political agenda they may espouse? This is the great fear I have, and I know others do as well.
Whenever I hear phrases like “for the good of the membership” or “for the good of the people” coming from any voice of authority, I immediately take a step back and wonder who decides what is good and what is to be deemed “not acceptable”? Most of the time words like the above come from political dictators afraid of any media spouting anything contrary to party line, and thus squelching freedom of speech. I hope this won’t be the case with the new Bulletin guidelines, and hope you might be more specific in what will be deemed “proper” for the Bulletin so that _all_ of the membership and its many opinions will have equal opportunity to express themselves in its pages. Not everyone (thank goodness) is like Vox Day, but merely express themselves differently than what might be considered politically correct by SFWA and/or the Bulletin.
Please assure me, if you can, that the Bulletin will not be a repository for only what SFWA deems politically correct, and that all viewpoints on all subjects will be welcome, and not have to be “approved” by some entity or entities before publication. This sounds far too much like a fascistic approach to freedom of speech couched in the usual language of “for the good of the people.” Your email says there will be an “advisory board,” to determine an acceptability threshold for Bulletin material. This sounds uncomfortably ominous to me as I’m sure it does to others. Just what, specifically, will this advisory board be looking for? Proper usage of male and female pronouns perhaps, and determined by whom and why? This is but one example I can think of. Would articles espousing different views on racism, sexism, diversity, the environment, and the like be welcomed if they differed from those of some SFWA member who may be “offended” by a different point of view (save for the extremely rare and unsettling cases like that of Vox Day)? Or will all opinions and viewpoints be given equal opportunity in the Bulletin, if presented in a reasonable fashion?
All of these questions bother me because of their implications. “Advisory boards” and “for the good of the membership” just smacks too strongly of the type of language used by those whose only desire is to restrict free speech, and I hope it doesn’t come to that with the Bulletin.
Sincerely,
Dave Truesdale”

[Reply to above email by Steven Gould, same day, January 22, 2014]

“Dave,
I appreciate the work you did for SFWA back where you used to be a member, but your email is not a question. It’s a polemic which confuses “free speech” with the legitimate needs and aims of an organization’s publications. Not only are we not obligated to pursue your notions of “free speech” but as a 501(c)3 corporation it would be grossly irresponsible of us to put such ahead of the business and goals of the organization.
You may, of course, air your views on this in whatever venues you control. You may even rejoin SFWA and make your points in our member discussion forums or The Forum.
Sincerely,
Steve
Steven Gould
President
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America”

It’s obvious from the above that I was being brushed off, invited to take a hike, and that President Gould had no intention of being specific in answering my questions. It was the expected polite dodge. While he may not have been obligated to pursue my notions of free speech (free speech is free speech aside from yelling-fire-in-a-crowded-theater scenarios) he also felt my notion of free speech was at odds with “the legitimate needs and aims of [the] organization’s publications” as well as “irresponsible.” Hmm. Free speech is incompatible with SFWA’s needs and aims? I’d like to hear the explanation for that presumptive and most…unusual viewpoint. President Gould also advises that I might express my “notions of free speech” in a venue I control. I’ve obviously taken that advice here, in a venue I control (Tangent Online, a lowly fanzine), but I find his choice of words rather telling. Does he believe he “controls” SFWA as its President? Does he believe he “controls” what goes into the Bulletin? He, like all other Presidents before him, is ultimately responsible for the Bulletin, but does he believe this demands he must police and control the contents, oversee and micro-manage every word, phrase, and viewpoint? If so, this is a dangerous precedent (I recall my experiences working for two Presidents as Bulletin editor where freedom of speech was of the utmost importance, and compare them with Gould’s “advisory board,” “review process,” and his word choice of “control”). Taken separately these quoted words are one thing, but place them side-by side, together, and they begin to form an entirely different and emerging portrait of President Gould’s mindset and his notion of “free speech” when it comes to the Bulletin—the public face of SFWA.
The cover of the 200th issue of the Bulletin was part and parcel of the furor that has led to its suspension. Cries of “sexism,” portraying women as “sex objects,” and other like phrases reached the ears of the President and will now become part of the “review process” overseen by the new editor, “volunteers and an advisory board” and the President himself. Covers like the one shown here are not new. They have graced the covers of countless magazine and book covers for many decades. So have magazine and book covers featuring handsome, ripped and rugged males in various stages of dress, depending on the story and what the publisher hopes will appeal to his readership in order to advance sales. Yet there are those who object strenuously to a sexy female (scantily clad or otherwise) on the cover of anything, and always somewhere in the mix of reasons, primary among them is that women are being portrayed as sex objects and that such covers are blatantly sexist and therefore are to be avoided, or removed, or are otherwise to be castigated and held up to ridicule and scorn.
Or are never to be seen on a SFWA Bulletin cover again. Ever.
Who exactly is so up-in-arms offended from viewing a sexy (or sexily portrayed) man or woman on the cover of a magazine? The cover under discussion is rather bland and generic, actually, and nowhere as sexually provocative as any number of such illustrations on many a book and magazine cover today, and for decades. Obviously those feminists, or rather those who ascribe to the feminist viewpoint on this particular issue, for not every person (male or female) who count themselves as sympathetic to the feminist cause agree on every plank of the feminist platform.
For instance, straight women who might otherwise count themselves as feminists, think nothing of going to a night club or establishment when the Chippendale’s are in town. Just like any group, political or otherwise, it is not a unified ideological block down party lines, but has, among its members, those who hold differing beliefs on individual issues. It then occurred to me that those objecting to the use of women as sex objects (on the cover of the Bulletin, in this case) were primarily leveling this accusation against straight males. But what of the GLBT community?
SFWA prides itself on being all-inclusive and a strong promoter of diversity, which I believe is a good thing. But if straight males are the object of all the heat being given them for treating/viewing women as sex objects, then wouldn’t this same accusation hold true for gay men who like ogling the male form on a purely sexual basis? Gay men frequent gay bars for sex, don’t they? They are sexually attracted to other men and enjoy looking at the male form in person or in gay magazines or on the internet, just as straight men (and women) frequent clubs and bars and the internet for possible sexual liaisons—or merely to look. The same would hold true for the lesbian community. There are certain bars and clubs where lesbians feel comfortable among those of their specific sexual orientation, who, among other reasons, go for possible sexual liaisons. They are attracted sexually to the female form…as a sex object. Same thing applies for those of a bi-sexual orientation. These folks like looking at both men and women for possible sexual liaisons; they are attracted by sexy looking members of both sexes…and therefore as sex objects. That’s the way they’re wired and there’s nothing wrong with it. Straight men and women and members of the GLBT community are all wired differently, are all sexual creatures, and each according to his fashion delights in ogling the objects of their desire. So why are straight men held up as the only objects of feminist anger, as those who see women only as sex objects, when all sexual persuasions use whichever sex they’re aiming for, for exactly the same reason? Is the question really that easily and clearly defined, and is there obvious hypocrisy at work here, letting members of the GLBT community off the hook by the feminists whose apparent selective anger at straight men cause them to turn the other way in their campaign to banish attractive, sexy women (fully or partially clothed in a traditional SF or Fantasy setting) from all future covers of the Bulletin?
I wanted to know, so I asked a friend of mine (who happens to be a black lesbian) what he thought of the questions I posed above (I use the male pronoun “he” because this is what my friend identifies as and prefers). He is whip-smart and keenly aware and knowledgeable on the issues relating to gender politics. He explained to me that there are issues between the traditional cultural relationship between straight men and women that have led feminists to their present position surrounding their complaint against men thinking of women as “sex objects,” and these issues— whether one agrees with them or not—are where they are coming from. When I asked him if there was a double standard at work when it came to the (straight, female) feminists and the GLBT community, that all sexual persuasions are guilty of seeing or using the other sex as a sex object, he replied (and I quote with permission):

“Sure. As a lesbian, I don’t have issues with other women ogling or hustling me. Find it flattering, frankly, and am not afraid to decline any unwanted advances. Straight women, on the other hand, have been raised with different expectations due to their sex.”

He went on to explain:

“They’re straight, see, so they don’t give a rat’s ass about what the gays and lesbians are doing because it doesn’t concern them. The straight guys who are coming on to them are a concern. The gay guys who are hustling and ogling other gay guys don’t matter. In other words, they only care about the things that are happening to them.”

I then took the plunge and asked my friend if he, as a lesbian, was offended by the above Bulletin cover, and if he even perhaps liked it. He replied:

“Short answer: “Offensive?” No. Boring? Absolutely. Very much ‘been there, done that.’ And it’s not about being a woman or a lesbian. :-)”

This indicates to me that there are others besides many straight men who did not find the cover offensive in the least, that there are other segments of SFWA’s membership who are not on the President’s radar when making decisions affecting the entire membership, and that at worst the cover might have been boring (“been there, done that”), because the depiction of a scantily clad female warrior in fantasy has become something of a cliché, having been used on covers and interior art for more than half a century. It’s an iconic image, like it or not, and there are many in SFWA (male and female) who do not find it offensive. What about them? Wherefore SFWA’s forward-thinking and oft-touted policy of inclusiveness and diversity, when one group’s opinion and view on any given subject—with the President’s blessing and endorsement—denies by fiat the rights of many others to view art, or read text more in line with their taste? Are worthy ideals now but lip service under President Gould, as he favors one group’s philosophy of “offensiveness” over that of the rest of the membership?
Speaking of inclusiveness and diversity, I think there is another group ignored or not taken into account very much when SFWA decisions are discussed and made: those members of religious faith of any kind. While I am an agnostic (not enough information) and not bound by the views of any religion, I find the basic tenets of most of the major religions worthwhile in a general sense.
Religion crosses all ethnic, racial, political, economic, and gender boundaries. There are SFWA members who identify with any or all of the above. Yet, whenever religion (particularly Christianity) is portrayed in our fiction it more often than not is mocked or satirized or given as the province of the uneducated. Religious folk are stereotyped as not among the self-proclaimed “enlightened.”
Under President Gould’s interpretation of the First Amendment, that dealing with free speech and the very cornerstone of our democratic principles, would his “advisory board” pass on to him for final approval an article dealing with how to write SF or Fantasy written from a religious perspective if it offended members of the PC faction in SFWA?
Under current SFWA President Steven Gould SFWA members might not have options when it comes to what articles are “acceptable” (and acceptably written to politically correct dictates) in the very near future. He clearly represents but a single, yet highly vocal voting block who seek to exclude any others who do not share their viewpoint of what, and in what manner, various subjects can be discussed. Period. He and other SFWA members who feel the same may pay lip service to diversity and inclusiveness, but their actions put the lie to their lofty, seductive rhetoric. A rhetoric of lies and deceit. Lies hidden beneath their velvet tongues where you can’t see them. 1984 had its Ministry of Truth, which Winston Smith found to be just the opposite, a Ministry of Lies. Don’t be fooled by rhetoric that sounds good and right and proper, that just feels right. Think about what this “good for the membership” pablum really means and how it should manifest itself in the real world.
Does “good for the membership” in your worldview mean Steven Gould’s speech police overseeing the Bulletin editor with “volunteers and an advisory board” and then being given his personal stamp of approval, to an intimidated editor’s each and every selection of material he thinks is “fit” for the Bulletin and its members?
What honest editor could work for long in such a stifling, repressive environment, being second-guessed at every turn…unless he was a hand-picked ideological sock puppet for the administration? How in a sane world does Steven Gould’s idea of “free speech” include a “review process” and an “advisory board” to baptise all art and text they, in their holier-than-thou arrogance deem fit for the unenlightened and morally backward masses to view? Does this hypocrisy know no bounds? How can the current SFWA President claim and shout to the mountain top that he is looking out for the good of the SFWA membership as a whole, when in reality he is himself nothing but a sock puppet for a vocal voting block, said voting block—through their influence on the President—is now, if allowed to do so, about to institute a policy designed to favor one segment of the organization’s membership at the expense of all the others. Is this free speech, or naught but a perfect example writ large of what I call Progressive Puritanism?
I want to emphasize that I am not trying to shut people up who hold deep feelings about their views on sexism (or any other topic). What I object to and find odious is that certain folks, in their self-righteousness, want their views to override all others, silencing them, and now they have a President in their hip pocket who is willing and able to do their bidding. Their views should be open for discussion—and print in the Bulletin—just like the views others hold on any variety of important subjects, but not to the exclusion of any opposing (and just as deeply felt) view or mode of expression from anyone else. That approach is the inclusivity and diversity you’re looking for.
SFWA members don’t pay their $90 annual dues to be told what to think or how they should express themselves in the pages of the Bulletin, nor do they want their own thoughts (through their articles or columns) to be deemed “acceptable” or “right thinking,” or adhering to some jumped-up (always subject to change at whim) PC style manual by some hootenanny “advisory board” of boot lickers.
This effort to stifle free speech (and thought) comes softly, and slowly, by increments. Hardly noticeable unless one ends up finding he is the target one fine and sunny day. Certain words like “lady editors” and “beautiful” have been deemed offensive in the Bulletin, so proclaimeth the feminist faction and the President. What words will next be deemed contrary or offensive down the road? A word here, and a word there, perhaps, according to those who are continually rewriting the feminist code? This slow creep and erosion of freedom of speech is inevitable if Steven Gould is allowed to push through his new speech (and cover art) guidelines for the Bulletin. I exhort SFWA members who hold the concept of free speech dear to wake up and smell the roses. Read the fine print to see what SFWA President Steven Gould has put forth as duties and requirements for the new Bulletin editor. Far from an editor, this person will be nothing more than a slave, dragging his bundle of copy to the mansion from the field, where the “review process,” and some proposed “volunteer and advisory board,” and the President himself will be making the real “editing” decisions. You gather the cotton, we’ll spin it into what we think looks good for us.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that the issue here is most decidedly not one of Left vs. Right. The only issue here is a First Amendment issue that both those on the political Left and Right should without hesitation embrace as one, and as tightly as possible. What may happen to the Bulletin and SFWA as a viable organization if the current PCSFWA President has his way is unthinkable.
One thing the Bulletin should do is provide an outlet (its Letters column) for anyone to express his like or dislike with anything printed within its pages. This is the true essence of free speech.

“Political correctness is tyranny with manners.”
—Charlton Heston, (early civil rights activist who marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.)

We the undersigned agree with the sentiments expressed above and hope others will add their names to this call for SFWA President Steven Gould to kill any proposed “advisory board” or any other method designed to censor or infringe on any SFWA member’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech in the pages of the SFWA Bulletin. Active or Associate SFWA members wishing to support this effort may send email directly to SFWA President Steven Gould at: [redacted]. Active or Associate SFWA members wishing to add your name to those below, send email to Dave Truesdale at: [redacted].
Signed by
Gregory Benford
Robert Silverberg
Barry N. Malzberg
Mike Resnick
———————————————————————
This is a list of current signatories (found here): 
Cyd Athens 
Gregory Benford – Nebula winner 
David Brin – Nebula winner, Past SFWA Secretary 
Amy Sterling Casil 
C. J. Cherryh 
 Lillian Csernica 
Jack Dann – Nebula winner, former Bulletin Managing & Asst. Editor, past member 
of the Publicity Bureau, Nebula Rules Committee, and Grievance Committee; current 
member of the Anthology Committee 
Harlan Ellison – Nebula winner, SFWA Grand Master, past SFWA V.P. 
Sheila Finch – Nebula winner, past SFWA V.P, and Western Regional Director 
David Gerrold – Nebula winner 
Nancy Kress – Nebula winner 
Mercedes Lackey 
Dr. Paul Levinson – Past SFWA President 
Barry N. Malzberg – Five time Nebula finalist, appearances in six of the annual 
Nebula volumes, editor of the Bulletin in 1969, Eastern Regional Director for two 
years in the late 70s and Grievance Committee 1980-1984. 
Jack McDevitt – Nebula winner 
Larry Niven – Nebula winner 
Dr. Jerry Pournelle – Past SFWA President 
Mike Resnick – Nebula winner, past SFWA ConAlert (8 yrs.) and Anthology 
Chairman (6 yrs.) 
Chuck Rothman – Past SFWA Treasurer 
Susan Shwartz – Five-time Nebula nominee, member of Nebula Jury (2 years); on 
committee exploring reinstatement of film Nebula 
Robert Silverberg – Nebula winner, SFWA Grand Master, Past SFWA President 
Norman Spinrad – Past SFWA President (twice) 
Allen Steele – Three time Nebula nominee, Past Eastern Regional Director Brad R. Torgersen – Nebula nominee 
Harry Turtledove – Double Nebula nominee, Past SFWA Treasurer 
Gene Wolfe – Nebula winner, SFWA Grand Master 

The following is the text of a petition that several SFWA members are being asked to sign. NOTE: the person spearheading this petition? The guy who wrote it? Not actually a SFWA member. 

ETA: The version of the petition below is an early draft. The current draft, signed by more people, is here. (hat tip: Radish Reviews)

—————————————————————————————————

SFWA President Steven Gould is about to institute a politically correct form of censorship for the Bulletin. Attached (and below) is a petition I have crafted decrying this self-censorship. It includes all of the email exchanges between Gould and I, along with my commentary. I showed it to Mike Resnick who asked if he could pass it to a few like-minded authors. I of course agreed.

What began as an article is now a petition to halt the anti-First Amendment policy of Gould. We are just beginning to seek further signatories and hope you will agree with our goal, enough to sign on to the petition.

The first four names at the bottom of the document are Robert Silverberg, Greg Benford, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. Robert Silverberg has asked that I add that he believes this to be an important free-speech issue and hopes you will sign.

I hope you agree with us and will add your name to theirs, but if not I certainly understand.

The attachment is an rtf file and should be easy to open. It is also a bit easier to read than it is in the body of this email.

—David Truesdale

(full petition under the cut)

Read More

If DMCA takedown notices are in the works, then Tumblr will likely remove posts from this blog. Tumblr did that to the smofslist and those posts had no identifying information.

Note: Some who reblogged smofslist posts also got caught in the DMCA takedown. Not all. Again, the best way to keep the screens here visible after this Tumblr goes away (if you want to) is to reblog them.

I also shared copies of all the screens to a handful of people who expressed interest to keep in their personal records.

Thank you to those who expressed support for the goals of this blog. You far outnumbered people who came into the Ask box to express the opposite.

Someone alerted me to this. This Tumblr may disappear. If you reblog the individual posts, they might not. Either way, if you want to keep a record of this, start saving the caps now.

Hey there! While I appreciate this effort and am glad we’re getting to discuss this stuff more openly, there is one thing that’s bothering me about the way the blog is set up. The SFF Net community is much broader than just the users in the SFWA Lounge. I feel that using the SFF Net logo as the user icon for this blog does that wider community a disservice. Could you acknowledge this and/or change the icon? (Full disclosure: I’m not a current SFF Net member, but I was for many years.)

Agreed. I changed the avatar. It’s now a boar.

This is a screencap of a comment made by Jerry Pournelle in the SFF.net private SFWA lounge.

Transcription of the text:

Subject: Re: Sexual Harassment
From: Jerry Pournelle
Date: Mon 01 Jul 2013 02:25:20p

Randall made no attempt whatever to persuade. He made a straight out offer; and unless encouraged to continue never did so again. Its why I picked him: it was a well known phenomenon.

This isn’t any attempt to justify Randall’s actions. It’s a straight out question?: Why is this harassment?

Oddly enough it wasn’t considered such in the old days; because SF conventions were considered somehow different from mundane hangout parties. Randall thoroughly understood that in some social settings his actions would have been grounds for calling the police, and he was quite well behaved. Nowadays at rock concerts that sort of thing happens all the time or so I understand. We have a hookup culture (which Randall anticipated by several decades) and everyone is happy; and its prudish to say that it may not be desirable. I watch my granddaughter now 14 enter that setting with considerable concern. Of course Randall would never have made his offer to an underage girl, nor indeed to any woman not visibly over 21; I’d never have worried about my granddaughter being around Randall.

He wasn’t a danger to anyone; because his only offense was an offer that if refused was not repeated. He didn’t wheedle or whine. He just wanted to hook up.

Incidentally, while we are discussing harassment; had Randall tempered his language and said “Let’s hook up”, would that have been harassment?

And had there been a mature woman making the same offer to another woman would that have been harassment? I am trying to be an anthropologist here. If Margaret Meade could ask Samoan girls about their coming of age; I surely can ask pros and fans about modern courtship conventions. We used to think we knew what they were, but now old customs are considered harassment, quite possibly rightly so. But what is the non-harassment ritual of proposing a hookup’? I am long out of that game; so it’s just curiosity on my part…

"Bud Webster" wrote in message news:51d168a8.00news.sff.net…

Something I have NEVER understood is the stated attitude of many guys that “I have NEEDS”, and therefore anything they have to do to persuade a woman to git nekkid is perfectly justified.

It’s not a goddam NEED, it’s just an itch. You can if absolutely necessary, scratch it yourself without subjecting some poor woman to your clumsy and probably unwelcome fumblings.

This is a screencap of a comment made by Susan Shwartz in the SFF.net private SFWA lounge.

(sorry for weird formatting in screencap. this was forwarded to email and not capped)

Transcription of the text:

Re: Sexual Harassment
From: Susan Shwartz
Date Mon 01 Jul 2013 02:40:31p
 
Jerry, I never met Randall Garrett I think I’d have cracked up. Its very gallant of you. I’m wondering why I never got all this harassment that so many other ladies got. Not that I want it, but damn. I was a fox in those days.

This is a screencap of comments made by Jim Bailey and William Barton in the SFF.net private SFWA lounge.
(sorry for weird formatting in screencap. this was forwarded to email and not capped)Transcription of the text:Subject: Re: Privacy rule being violated From: William Barton Date: Tue 02 Jul 2013 06:46:41a  Quoth James A. Bailey in (51d22d2b 00news.sff.net) on Mon 01 Jul 2013 09:30:19p (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada) > The funny thing is I guess they believe the statements they’re > posting are something the posters should feel embarrassed about in > some way? > All I see are some people talking sense about how overblown other > people have made the issues. Unless that’s their point. Hard to > tell. > Best, Jim Bailey This is being done by someone with little depth of knowledge in our field. I have made a point_ over and over again_ about my public and private posts being the same. I hope this winds up in the New York Times. I hope I see my name on the front page. Above the fold even!
ed. note: then why should the “person or persons responsible [step] forward, claim responsibility, and resign from SFWA” William?

This is a screencap of comments made by Jim Bailey and William Barton in the SFF.net private SFWA lounge.

(sorry for weird formatting in screencap. this was forwarded to email and not capped)

Transcription of the text:

Subject: Re: Privacy rule being violated
From: William Barton
Date: Tue 02 Jul 2013 06:46:41a
 
Quoth James A. Bailey in (51d22d2b 00news.sff.net) on Mon 01 Jul 2013 09:30:19p (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

> The funny thing is I guess they believe the statements they’re
> posting are something the posters should feel embarrassed about in
> some way?

> All I see are some people talking sense about how overblown other
> people have made the issues. Unless that’s their point. Hard to
> tell.
> Best, Jim Bailey

This is being done by someone with little depth of knowledge in our field. I have made a point_ over and over again_ about my public and private posts being the same. I hope this winds up in the New York Times. I hope I see my name on the front page. Above the fold even!

ed. note: then why should the “person or persons responsible [step] forward, claim responsibility, and resign from SFWA” William?

Someone sent me new posts from the SFF.net SFWA Lounge. There will be caps today after all. Just 3.

FYI: want to share posts with me? Click message me on the sidebar and send me an Ask.

I posted most of the ones I have yesterday. There may be more. No promises.

Chiding me for not being brave enough to reveal who I am with an anonymous note? Irony.

These are all the screencaps I have today.

This is a screencap of a comment made by Gordon Van Gelder in the SFF.net private SFWA lounge.

Transcription of the text:

Subject: Re: An odd situation
From: Gordon Van Gelder
Date: Sun 23 Jun 2013 05:56 31p
 
Quoth Jerry Pournelle in (51c766a7.0@news.sftinet) on Sun 23 Jun 2013 04:20:291)
 
> The comments on censuring Mr. King were not on the SFWA board. I
> should have made that clear. I doubt that any such thing was
> formally considered. I do not believe we are that far gone.

I’d be grateful if someone would post a link to the discussion about Tom King’s novel.

And since this subject comes up, does anyone else here think that lately there has been too much discussion of SFWA matters in non-SFWA venues. It seems to me that our organization would benefit from having fewer members blog about it.

The recent Beale-Jemisin exchanges left me wondering if some of the people who have expressed concern about how SFWA looks to the outside world are also members who are blogging about SFWA matters. I haven’t looked closely to see if that’s the case, but I do recall that Amal El-Mohtar’s call for expelling Beale was published on her blog.

—-Gordon V.G.