Thursday, June 13, 2013

A time for Action

So, something happened today in the land of SFWA. It involved hate speech. If you want to know exactly what it was, here is the article that brought it to my attention:

If you are not a member of SFWA, and you don't want to be exposed to some really nasty racist and misogynist vitriol, don't click through.

We've been talking in the SFWA community about how it's time to leave the biases of the past behind, and call out those who are still hateful. But in this case, I think Amal is right. It's time for action.

Why? Because this man hasn't just been hateful and threatening. With one little hashtag at the end of his post, he deliberately assumed the mantle of the SFWA organization and transmitted poison in our name. Not only that, but he is a person who clearly revels in public shaming as long as he's getting the attention he wants.

I spent two days this week writing a post about how careful we should be not to assume the mantle of authority when we ask people to listen to our arguments - so I could encourage people to think, and to realize how easy this is to do accidentally.  Today's example is an excellent demonstration of the old, classically racist, misogynistic and hateful form of that phenomenon, and one of the reasons why we should be working so hard to expunge even its accidental echoes from our own speech. Membership in a powerful group, be it a voluntary one like SFWA or an accidental one like a racial or sexual preference group, allows a person to claim to speak for that group.

If you are a member of SFWA, please read Amal's post. And this, from Carrie Cuinn. And this, from Jamie Todd Rubin. And follow it up with a visit to John Scalzi's Whatever, where he is matching donations to the Carl Brandon Society.

This man has abused the terms of his membership, not just the sensibilities of his fellows. He won't be deprived of a voice (he has his own blog, which I will not link to here); he just won't be able to claim to speak with our voice.

SFWA is about the future. Time to leave the past behind.


  1. It's clear this individual is *trying* to provoke banishment from SFWA, so that he can cry out "censorship" and the like.

    I had stumbled by accident upon his awful, awful screed, before I saw the other comments on it. I haven't seen anything like it since I was living in Louisiana and watched (for the 30 seconds I could stomach it) a David Duke commercial.

    Using the SWFAA twitter to send this stuff should be a basis for tossing him.

    1. It's likely enough that he's attempting to provoke banishment. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he cried "censorship" since people have done the same for far lesser offenses. On the other hand, he will still have his venues. I think it's become an organizational issue at this point.

    2. I agree. Given he used the SFWA twitter stream, that does force our hand.