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.
Safe space is where everybody thinks like you and you don’t have to deal with anything dangerous, e.g., disagreement.
Quoth Sheila Finch (firstname.lastname@example.org) in (email@example.com) 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.
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.)
“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.
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.
(full petition under the cut)
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
> 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.