Presidential Statement on the SFWA Bulletin

sfwa_square_logoDear SFWA Members:

I was on a plane ride home from a three-week book tour when the latest controversy regarding the SFWA Bulletin erupted, and had been largely absent from the day-to-day operations of SFWA while I was out on the road. When the controversy hit, I did two things immediately: One, as the person who by our bylaws is responsible for publications, I took responsibility for events and opened up a channel for people to comment and criticize, via my “[email protected]” address. Two, I authorized a task force, headed up by SFWA Vice President Rachel Swirsky, to look at the role of the Bulletin within the organization moving forward.

Those two things dealt with, I went into SFWA’s private forums and onto the Internet to look at comments and commentary, to better acquaint myself with the scope of the issue, so that I could as comprehensively as possible, within a reasonable scope of time, get up to speed with the concerns of members and of others. I now feel I’m caught up with events, and so, have some things to say, both to the membership and at large. Let me offer these in a numbered list.

1. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is an organization that acts to support, inform, defend, promote and advocate for our members – all of them, not just some of them. When members believe that they or other members are belittled or minimized by our official publications, that’s a problem. Over the last few editions of the Bulletin, this has indeed been a problem, specifically regarding how many in the membership have seen the Bulletin handling issues of gender.

We could spend a long time here discussing whether the offense was intentional or accidental, or whether it is due to a generational, ideological or perceptual schism. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, too many of our members have felt their contributions and their place in the industry and within the organization belittled; too many of our members see other members being treated so. If we believe that we represent and serve all our members and not just some of them, then we need to listen and address those member concerns.

That begins with recognizing the problem. And here is the problem: SFWA, through the last few issues of the Bulletin, has offended many of our own members.

As president of the organization, I apologize to those members.

2. By our organization’s current bylaws, the president of SFWA has unilateral control of, and therefore is ultimately responsible for, the organization’s publications. This includes the Bulletin. This means that when all is said and done, I personally am responsible for the Bulletin and what is published between its covers.

I have said this before but it bears repeating: This is on me, and I accept both the responsibility and criticism for it. I have some read criticism of the Bulletin’s editor Jean Rabe, so I want to be clear that Ms. Rabe, in her role as editor of Bulletin, had my full support. She took over the Bulletin at a problematic time in the publication’s history, got it back onto a regular schedule and otherwise righted what was a foundering ship. When previous concerns about sexism regarding the Bulletin were aired, specifically the cover of issue #200, Ms. Rabe listened, understood and was responsive to them and solicited work relevant to the concern, in the hope of furthering discussion. She has always acted in good faith for the organization, and I have valued and continue to value her dedication.

As publisher, I was aware that there would be two articles in Bulletin #202 about the cover of issue #200, one by Jim C. Hines and one by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. I did not read Mr. Hines’ piece and glanced cursorily at the Resnick/Malzberg piece but did not give it a significant read; I do not as a matter of course closely read the Bulletin before it is published. It’s possible if I had more closely read the article I might have alerted Ms. Rabe to portions that might be an issue. She might then have had the opportunity to take those concerns back to Mr. Resnick and Mr. Malzberg, who I have no reason to believe would not have taken editorial direction.

This did not happen. I as publisher gave the go-ahead – and once again, the responsibility for the event, and the offense it caused, falls on me.

So once again I apologize to the members who we have offended through the last few issues of the Bulletin. It is my place to accept the responsibility, and so my place to offer the apology.

3. It is my belief that SFWA has, under my tenure as president and through the actions of the board as a whole, become an organization with a more diverse membership, and also more useful and helpful to that diverse membership. However, it is also my belief that public perception of the organization matters, not only to the membership that pays its dues, but to those who could become members (and thus strengthen the organization) and to the public who sees the membership comment about the organization in social media. All the positive work the organization does for writers and members means little when things like this blow up.

When they blow up, I believe that we need to respond in two ways. First: Own up to and take responsibility for the event. I have done so here. Two, put into motion steps that show immediately and concretely that the organization is committed to not making the same mistakes again.

The task force on the Bulletin is that positive step. It is immediate: It was formed within hours of us hearing our member complaints. It is also concrete: The task force will solicit comment from professionals in publishing both inside and outside SFWA as well as from our members, with the goal of offering to the president direct, actionable steps to make the Bulletin a valuable and useful magazine for our members – one that fulfills SFWA’s mission to inform, promote, defend, support and advocate for all of our members.

SFWA is an organization of 1,800 writers – all of whom with their own points of view and the ability to articulate them. The task force will have its hands full, especially as they do their work in a period in which we are transitioning from one board (and president) to another. Please be patient as they do their work.

4. As noted, much of this latest event began to happen while I was at the very tail end of my book tour. While I jumped in as quickly as I could, I would like to offer public appreciation for SFWA Vice President Rachel Swirsky for being on top of events as they spun up, and to incoming president Steven Gould for offering Rachel advice and support, and for being an active part of events. SFWA is more than one of its parts – and more than the sum of its parts as well.

5. I am aware that my apologies here will be taken any number of ways, depending on who is reading them and their opinion of events. That is the nature of an apology. Be that as it may, I believe that apologies matter, if they are sincere and they are followed up by right action. It’s what we are trying to do.

SFWA is an organization comprised of all its members; it must be seen to work for all its members. When we are both, we are a stronger and better organization.

To all our members, I say: You are welcome, you are valued, you are needed. We need you, and your voice and your willingness to make yourself heard when you feel that we are not the organization we can be. Be part of us, and help us be the organization you need us to be – that all science fiction and fantasy writers need us to be, and can be proud to be a member of.

John Scalzi
President,
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

53 Responses

  1. Pingback: Geeking Out About… » Trisha’s Quote of the Day: How to apologize on the Internet, part 2

  2. --E

    I recognize that you’ve got a variety of constituents, John, but there’s a whole lot of equivocation in this apology. (It is a real apology, not a nonpology, so for that I thank you.)

    But this is not the time to talk about subsets of membership as if they are special interest groups. This situation isn’t isolated–the fact that three issues in a row were offensive, in escalating fashion, is telling.

  3. Kathy

    They are special interest groups. They’re demanding that people engaged in the ordinary, everyday business of publishing a newsletter interrupt that process to take *their* feelings into special consideration.

    (As if feelings have anything to do with the writing and publishing of fantasy and science fiction. That *is* theoretically the purpose of this organization, no?)

    And speaking of special interest groups; I’ve been seeing the word “dinosaur” tossed around pretty freely in response to this so-called incident. I eagerly await an official response (hopefully including the formation of another “task force”) to this rampant ageism that’s spreading through the SFWA.

    1. Maddog

      When you have Super Thug Bunny Scalzi as a SFWA President who loves loves loves censorship and cannot stop explaining why it’s a good thing because he loves one sided flame wars, while he rides in on his white horse and pats the less fortunate on the head and bows his head for his crown of thorns to be bestowed on his head. It’s easy to see why the new inbreed is intolerant of the people who built the foundation they are setting there assholes upon.

      I think Harlan is a little to old to be bashing his head against the wall. And as much as a liberal as he is, he understands you cannot be for censorship without turning into a bit of a Nazi.(and yes I hope they would understand we should be mature enough to know we are not talking about yelling fire in a crowded theater)

      Censorship is the First Refuge of the Coward!

      1. John Johnston

        “you cannot be for censorship without turning into a bit of a Nazi”

        That’s the blind spot that none of the Politically Correct can ever see.

    2. Valerie

      Kathy, I agree that it’s ageist to call someone a dinosaur for their sexist attitudes. It’s even ageist to try to -excuse- someone for having sexist views simply because that person is a certain age. There’s no real excuse for anyone of any (you name the demographic) not understanding that women should be given the same respect given to men. There’s really no excuse for anyone of any demographic not understanding that asking for equal treatment doesn’t equate to asking for “special consideration.”

      1. John Johnston

        This is not about “equal treatment.” This is about the suppression of opposing views. You want equal treatment? Wrote your own articles for the Bulletin. That’s equal treatment.

        Censoring Mike and Barry (whom I disagree with) is not equal treatment. It’s the suppression of those who dare to disagree with you. And it’s totally wrong.

        1. Kes

          Um, it says right there in the article that Mike & Barry weren’t “censored”, they weren’t even subjected to mild editing (a process every publication indulges in, or should.) Their article was published. Their views were heard. The subsequent backlash against those views is Not Censorship. Funny how anti-censorship types love to throw around phrases like “Free Exchange of Ideas!!!” but don’t seem to like what that exchange actually entails.

  4. Karl

    You apologize repeatedly, which is nice, but you never say what action or lack of action you’re apologizing for. You don’t say what you think you did wrong. This makes the apology feel rather like a pro forma gesture.

    I realize it’s too early to see concrete action yet. I would just warn against thinking that apologizing is any kind of replacement for action.

    1. ThirteenthLetter

      “I would just warn against thinking that apologizing is any kind of replacement for action.”

      No action except the absolute destruction of a seventy year old man for using the word “lady” will be accepted by the baying mobs.

  5. Thomas

    Kathy: They are special interest groups. They’re demanding that people engaged in the ordinary, everyday business of publishing a newsletter interrupt that process to take *their* feelings into special consideration.

    Asking for the same degree of professional respect as anyone else is hardly a request for special consideration.

    (As if feelings have anything to do with the writing and publishing of fantasy and science fiction. That *is* theoretically the purpose of this organization, no?)

    The purpose of the organization is to represent the interests of working professional writers in the field of SFF. If part of those interests include ensuring that writers who happen to be women are not devalued as professionals through belittling, sexist attitudes, then it behooves the organization not to enable members who have such attitudes by giving them a platform to express them.

  6. Jayson C.

    You will never change my fantasy world. That is why it’s called FANTASY.
    My male barbarians run around in loincloth, smashing FANTASY monsters to bits. Not all my female FANTASY characters are scantily clad, but many are. Nothing wrong with it. F A N T A S Y.

    Right now I’m fantasizing I live in a world where people aren’t trying to control ART AND FANTASY by imposing their view of what FANTASY should look like.

    Google discriminate vs indiscriminate thought on Youtube. You will not succeed in tearing down everything so you can build it in your image. Your “utopia” does not and will NEVER exist.

    1. M. A.

      But are your scantily clad female FANTASY characters appropriate on the cover of a company newsletter ?

      Are they appropriate when many of the due-paying members that fund the organization and the company newsletter would rather have something on this company newsletter other than something that caters to male sexual FANTASIES? Don’t they have some say in how their dues are used?

      I think there is a key difference between putting sexy figures on an entertainment product vs putting them on a company newsletter.

    2. Homa Sapiens

      You are entirely welcome to have your fantasy world. Whatever you want it to look like!

      But– it’s YOUR fantasy, and you cannot demand that everyone else live in it with you.

    3. Maddog

      This is the new Fantasy +

      And SF +

      Too bad it’s not 2+2 as they might get it right!

  7. Daniel Abraham

    Mr. Scalzi:

    Thank you for addressing this issue in a straightforward and professional manner. I respect the concerns voiced about issues surrounding the freedom of expression, but I hope that free expression is not and will not be synonymous with rewarding disrespect or a lack of social boundaries.

    Culturally, I am afraid our industry has undervalued emotional maturity and respect. Thank you for your efforts at being the grownup on the playground. Knowing President-elect Gould as I do, I look forward to seeing SFWA continue to grow out of its extended adolescence to become the professional force that it has the potential to become.

    Kathy:

    I agree with you, this is not a question of age. There are any number of older members of SFWA who would not have spoken so thoughtlessly or with such inappropriate rudeness. The fault is with Mr. Malzburg and Mr. Resnick as writers and people, not as representatives of their cohort, the editor who approved the piece, and Mr. Scalzi on whose watch the incident occurred. Speaking for myself, I accept his apology without reservation and remain open to apologies from anyone else involved who feels moved to offer them.

    Daniel Abraham, SFWA Member since 2000.

  8. Jack Egan

    Like it or not, SF was born with an audience that didn’t mind fantastic guys and gals on the covers of their publications, as well as rather fantastic illustrations of impossible rocket ships, maybe impossible critters. That’s history, and it’s still a part of us. Just go through an atlas of SF&F publication covers. There were also some ordinary-looking critters, objects and scenes, too. But mostly SF&F pushed the envelope, gleefully!

    Is “The Bulletin” a company newsletter? Maybe. Not many people have to pay for their company newsletter. But it is definitely a magazine. It publishes fact, opinion, ideas, “centered on” a wide swath of SF&F pros, semi-pros, almost-pros, fans, and the general readership. That takes in a really wide-ranging set of outlooks. If the SF&F field prides itself on anything, it is wide-ranging sets of outlooks!

    I might quibble with editorial judgment if the covers of The Bulletin showed a constant slant toward some small range of that set of outlooks, but that is not likely to be the case. The cover history of The Bulletin runs from issues sporting hardly more than the publication title, to the modern slick–a cover type which was adopted, I suspect, to be more amenable to high quality imagery (high resolution images, pro level artwork, wide-ranging subject material anchored in all parts of the SF&F field). The continuous improvement in publication style has made it appeal to an even wider audience than when it began.

    My personal take on this evolution was, ‘it’s about time!’ If SFWA is not to be seen as a stodgy organization that spends large amounts of time on internal warfare, but rather as an “industry aware” organ of a dynamic profession, manned by dynamic professionals, then we as a membership body are going to need to be open-minded enough to allow the participation of a range of talents, intellects, viewpoints, and modes of artistic expression.

    One role of the editor of a publication is to direct the overall public image of the publication. I would interpret that, in SFWA’s case, as an obligation to make that image a reflection of the entire field of SF&F. In my opinion, the editors of The Bulletin have been doing this increasingly well. You need but to consider the topics of illustration in a kind of visual ‘moving-average’ frame of mind to see how current covers fit into the long-term scheme of things. A similar comprehension of cover illustration evolution can be had by looking at the covers of any or all of the magazines of our field over time. The Bulletin’s covers have had no fixed focus; they have been jumping all over the place subject-wise, with steadily improving quality. If we are fortunate, The Bulletin will continue its evolutionary arc for a long time to come.

    Now, potential future expansion into new topics for cover material certainly abound. Time Magazine and Newsweek frequently go for portraits of topically important people, scenes from important events, etc. I always had the feeling that The Bulletin didn’t do this very often, because the cover was viewed as one of the few venues for the SF&F illustrators among us. We writers got practically the whole internal real estate. I’d certainly go for wider ranging subject material for the covers, just as wider-ranging interior topics have been sought. But I would hardly suggest that a rather large segment of our field’s publications outputs be ignored, or worse, outlawed. I would be happy to allow editorial and artistic evolution to unfold, and enjoy or critique the result in the spirit of creative give and take, and trust in the professionalism of the staff to consider all viewpoints in achieving balance.

    Viva la Bulletin!

    1. KatG

      Jack Egan: “we as a membership body are going to need to be open-minded enough to allow the participation of a range of talents, intellects, viewpoints, and modes of artistic expression.”

      – That’s the problem — the range of talents and viewpoints were not participating. There was no open mindedness. Instead, it was just the usual — the white, male, straight (1960′s) viewpoint that insists no other viewpoints can be raised in criticism to it, that other viewpoints are whiny and should be shut out and outlawed in the name of “balance” which always seems to be a balance of let the white straight men talk and everybody else has to listen. Half the membership of SFWA is female. In four issues over eight months, these female members were informed that the great contribution of women authors and editors in the past was that they were nice ladies and pretty, that they should be undemanding, quiet, ladylike and behave like a doll if they want to last in the field, and that their proper role in fantasy art is always the semi-nude sex babe. And that if they objected to this characterization of women past and present, and such being in a newsletter of an organization that is representing their legal and professional interests, they were liberal fascists. And this is the same viewpoint that women have been given for decades and told that they must accept without comment.

      What the majority of female members and a significant number of the male ones are saying is that they are tired of viewpoints like Resnick’s being the main viewpoint expressed and their own viewpoints being minimalized or shut out. They’re tired of being insulted and being told to shut up about it, being discriminated against by the publication of an organization that is supposed to help them fight discrimination. They’re tired of being told that they have to humor people with antiquated, unthinking notions of what women should say and do in the name of balance. They’re tired of being told that they have enormous powers of suppression when they’re the ones being told to suppress their views, as they were in the past. Instead of cautioning them about their anger, other members, SFWA and the Bulletin need to consider listening to those diverse viewpoints — and doing it faster.

      Otherwise, those people are going to leave, and the Bulletin and SFWA will go out of existence, as other WA orgs have largely done. I’m very sure that Scalzi and Gould and the people now appointed can get on this successfully. It seems to me very strange that the whole thing happened in the first place. But coming on top of other stuff that has happened in the field over the last two years, it’s not a surprise that people are angry at an organization as seminal as SFWA shutting out their voices and real diversity, even if it was unthinking and accidental. And they are trying to have a discussion about it. Some people are very angry. Others are just annoyed. But that is the full range of diverse viewpoints and it’s going to continue.

      1. John Johnston

        Diversity means embracing ALL opinions. Including Mike’s and Barry’s (which I happen to disagree with). Diversity does not allow for either censorship or suppression (yes, I really did take a course in it).

        You disagree with them? Fine. Argue with them. Present opposing viewpoints. Debate.

        But do not do not do not try to silence them.

        1. fairyhedgehog

          Casting a slur on a person or group of people is not the same as presenting a viewpoint. If I refer to people in a racist or homophobic way there is nothing to debate; similarly with sexism.

          1. ThirteenthLetter

            “If I refer to people in a racist or homophobic way there is nothing to debate; similarly with sexism”

            And of course, it’s you who gets to define what gets called “sexism” and is banned. Funny how that works.

            Just out of curiosity, what about “ageism”? What if someone called someone else a dinosaur? Is that equally bad, nothing to debate, or are some animals more equal than others?

      2. Spot

        Resnick and Malzburg probably over-reacted with their comparisons to the USSR, but at the same time, they were reacting to people calling for them to be tarred and feathered (and censored) because of something that, on the grand scale, was fairly innocuous – a passing comment that is on the tame side of what all men and women say to each other when they are having conversations.

        For the editor to resign is absurd. For two authors of long standing reputation and value to the community to be defamed is absurd. It seems like Scalzi is interested in keeping peace in the valley more than anything else, but he should be clear in his support for Resnick and Malzburg, as well as staff of the bulletin, as much as he wants to cater to the latest SF ‘net posse action.

        Soes anyone find it ironic that women who basically write soft core porn with a magic system are getting bent out of shape about an Easley cover? What genre did they think they were trying to cash in on when they branched out from bodice-rippers?

        1. ThirteenthLetter

          Scalzi has never been one to stand up against the mob. If you want a President who’ll defend SFWA members’ rights to have a variety of opinions, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  9. Adam

    The cover was pretty standard imagery for fantasy art; merely twenty years ago “Xena” was a feminist icon.

    Was empowering, now it’s sexist. Fashion, eh?

    1. Mudz

      Rebels in search of a cause.

      My father has a book called ‘The Fantastic Art of Boris Vallejo’ from about 80s, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s 95% naked lady on the front with some lizards.

    2. Homa Sapiens

      Xena was an icon for women because of what she accomplished.

      Not because of what she wore, which we all understood to be fanboy bait– chosen for her by the male studio execs.

      Vallejo was male, and painted for men. I remember how much my dear old dad loved Vallejo, along with his collection of Playboy magazines. I wonder if Vallejo ever cared that his audience was not looking at his model’s muscles– but only registering the boobs and butts.

      And it’s so funny how women who talked about the sexism of those images back in the 80′s heard guys exactly like you talking about the pinups on the WWII fighters or something like that, as an excuse…

  10. Spot

    I will never, ever, join the SFWA, even though I am qualified. Heaven forbid one use an outdated idiom, or publish a well-used cover from another decade that ironically portrays a young woman destroying an old, white haired giant. Heaven forbid one betray oneself to be not quite progressive enough for the majority to suffer.

  11. Alex

    To SFWA,

    It is fantasy. It is a paining. It is a painting of a chain-mail bikini warrior in fantasy setting. It is science fiction. It is not real. It is just a painting.

    Opinion like asshole. Everyone has one. With internet, everyone can voice his/her opinion. As creator, we cannot please everyone. There are group of people get offended no matter what we created. The only thing a creator can do is ask ourselves what are we stand for. What is SFWA stands for? Does SFWA stands for fantasy, science fiction or politically correct?

    In the end, it is a painting. It is fantasy.

    “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
    – Bill Cosby

  12. Carrie Krueger

    As far as the cover is concerned, meh, whatever. It could be interpreted in a number of ways. However, the idea that these two supposedly grown men are sussing up female writers using criteria such as which ones would look good in a bikini and which ones are the most sexually appealing is disgusting and degrading. That mess never should have seen the light of day.

    1. Karl

      I agree. Those defending the cover are just plucking the low-hanging fruit. The Resnick/Malzberg articles are far more indefensible, most especially their whining, insulting, logically-fractured response to the backlash against their earlier sexist writings.

    2. John Johnston

      @Carrie: You object to them being men? I’m sorry, your feminism does not extend to telling men how they can feel or think.

      1. A.B.

        …so, being male, their poor little brains simply cannot think of anything else to write about, except how attractive their female peers would look in swimwear? So we shouldn’t expect anything better of them? Anything thought-provoking or relating to people’s accomplishments and minds?

        Why the heck are you selling your gender so *short*? If we believed that, then men should be kept around for stud service and patted on the head whenever they tried to take part in the hard work of thinking. “How cute! Run along and look at your pictures of pretty women, dear.”

        I’ll keep on having higher expectations of men, thanks.

        1. John Johnston

          I’m not selling men short, you are. Men can think however they choose. But just as feminists point out that men cannot tell women how to think or what to be, women cannot tell men how to think or what to be either. If a man wants to be an effete intellectual, that’s great. But if he wants to be a man who chases skirts and thinks about how women look in bikinis, that’s great, too. Because, as the feminist movement so clearly stated, it’s all about choice. And that applies to men as well.

  13. Spot

    One gets the idea that most of those on a crusade didn’t even read the article in question.

    1. John Johnston

      They’re being fashionable. Remember the Harlan kerfluffle at the Nebulas? Same thing. It’s just so fashionable to be PC. Respecting the rights of those who oppose them to express a different viewpoint? Never heard of it. Diversity? Never heard of that either. All most confirm to modern
      Progressive thinking – all must be birds of a feather – because any opposition must and shall be censored and suppressed.

      It’s called tyranny.

      1. Amphigorey

        The Harlan “kerfuffle”?

        Are you referring to the time he grabbed Connie Willis’s breast?

        That wasn’t a “kerfuffle.” That was assault and you know it.

  14. Homa Sapiens

    I am waiting for some concrete examples of the changes you are promising.

    For instance; The offensive articles in question addressed a controversial topic, and that topic was not per se the cover itself, but the attitudes displayed by those who chose that depiction, versus the preferences of the group of people who are depicted that way– and whether or not that group of people deserve to have any say in how they are depicted.

    Can we agree that it would behoove EVERYONE involved, to subject the content of such articles to a little more oversight– especially when they are being written by members of a group that might not feel the offense? There is no telling when people who *should* know better will suddenly decide they *don’t want* to know better so nyaah nyaah nyaah.

    This would not apply to women’s issues alone. If for instance there were a cover that depicted men in such an objectifying manner, and men were unhappy about this constant, relentless, reiteration of their decorative uses — I would expect your editors to scrutinize the lame rationalisations offered by your female management team with equal care.

    Can we do that?

    1. ThirteenthLetter

      “Can we agree that it would behoove EVERYONE involved, to subject the content of such articles to a little more oversight– especially when they are being written by members of a group that might not feel the offense? There is no telling when people who *should* know better will suddenly decide they *don’t want* to know better so nyaah nyaah nyaah.”

      Mmm-hmm. And I’m guessing that you get to be the one who’s on the committee which decides which views are acceptable and which are banned?

  15. John Johnston

    If SFWA stands for being Politically Correct, and thereby supporting censorship and suppression, then I want no part if it.

    Anyone has the right to write or say whatever they want that is not criminal. Anyone has the right to hold any opinion they wish. If you don’t like it, then disagree with it, rebut it, and/or debate it — but never, ever try to suppress it.

    Because suppression is tyranny. Always.

    Are a pack of ageist Jacobins going to determine what can and cannot be said and written by their fellow SFEA members? If so, you’ll be doing it without me.

    1. stivee

      Don’t suppress me when I call some sexist asshole on his bullshit. Freedom of speech works both ways, and the white male perspective has been dominant for too long. It’s time to share.

      1. John Johnston

        You can say what you like. But when you suppress and censor, you are practicing tyranny.

      2. Adam

        The “white male” perspective? There’s no such thing. That’s both racist and sexist in one go. You should have gone for the trifecta and denounced “older white males.” As one of them, I get really tired of being trashed because of the demographic that I belong to (which I can’t help).

        1. jaytron

          You think this way because you are a white male. I am also. It sucks to realize how wrong you are, but perhaps you will someday. White skin privilege is a very real thing that you and I were equipped with at birth. You don’t understand that you have it, because you’ve always had it. It’s like Paris Hilton not understanding what Wal-Mart is.

    2. M. A.

      It is funny (and stupid) for people to claim censorship when these poor “oppressed” guys are the ones at the privileged podium in the company newsletter and have been so for the last 15 years or so. All these “radical feminist Stalinists” opposed to the idea that scantily clad women belong on the cover of what is essentially a company newsletter and opposed to the idea of rating how well your co-workers look in bikinis belongs in a company newsletter have had to make their voices heard without the aid of this privileged podium.

      There is no censorship, tyranny, or suppression by taking the podium away from Mike and Barry. They would just be like all the other people in the SFWA having to find other ways to make their voice heard. The difference being, Mike and Barry already have had multiple opportunities to make their voice heard on this very subject from the privileged podium. Mike and Barry have no anointed right to keep the privileged podium as long as they wish. They can slug it out in the forums and the blogs like all the “radical feminist Stalinists” have had to do.

      An argument can be made that “anti-feminist” voices should still be given a podium in the company newsletter if feminist voices are being given a podium, but Mike and Barry have no anointed right to be the voice of the “anti-feminists.” The argument can also be that Mike and Barry’s censorship claims and “Stalinist” claims are just so willfully ignorant and stupid that they no longer deserve the privilege of the podium in the company newsletter.

      The argument can also be made that the company newsletter just shouldn’t be a free for all when other venues exist to debate these issues. A real company can’t put scantily clad hot chicks on the cover of their company newsletter. They can’t rate how well their co-workers look in bikinis. They can’t put racist language. They can’t put tentacle-porn on the cover. Those are standards that most professionals recognize. The SFWA can debate whether these standards are appropriate for their own organization of professionals or not, but if it is decided that these are appropriate standards, then you can’t really keep giving the podium to guys who don’t choose to follow these standards.

      1. John Johnston

        Nonsense arguments: SFWA is not a “company,” nor are we employees.

        Everyone of us has a right to an opinion and to express it and to disagree with other’s opinions and to have ours disagreed with in turn. That being said, no one has a right to their own facts. We are not company employees, the Bulletin is not an employee newsletter, and stopping Mike and Barry from saying what they will because you object to it, by whatever means you choose, is suppression and censorship and ultimately tyranny.

        I disagree with Mike and Barry. But unlike so many of you fashionable progressives, I respect both diversity, and freedom of speech and of opinion. They have every right to say and write what they do, whether we like or not.

        If you’re offended by what they write, rebut it. Just don’t try to suppress it.

        Some years ago, during a formal discussion at LSU, I expressed an opinion. A Politically Correct opponent stood up and replied to it, not with honest disagreement or rebuttal, but with the totalitarian statement “You have no right to hold that opinion.” That’s exactly what I see going on here. You people don’t want to disagree with Mike and Barry or wish to rebut them; you want their opinions and all opinions like them suppressed because you disagree with them.

        And that, no matter how much lipstick you put on it, is tyranny.

        1. M. A.

          Again, denying permanent access to a privileged podium is not tyranny. Talking about taking away their privileged podium is not tyranny. Nobody has taken anything away from Mike and Barry. They have had the privileged podium to have their say on this very subject. Criticizing somebody AFTER they have already flaunted their “free speech” is not tyranny. They have and continue to have access to the forums like all due-paying members.

          Their detractors, on the other hand, have been called “anonymous” by Mike and Barry themselves because they are so lacking in voice in the bulletin that Mike and Barry apparently can’t even identify who the complainers are.

          So don’t you see that is a little bit of douchebaggery on Mike and Barry’s part to be talking about censorship and Stalinism when they have been given this special podium and already got to have their say, and yet their “anonymous” (radical feminist Stalinist) detractors have not been?

          Not all 1200 members of the SFWA get a privileged podium in the bulletin, but other venues such as the forum exist. And again, forcing Mike and Barry down to the level of all other due-paying members of the SFWA is not tyranny. They are not anointed voices entitled to more consideration than other members of the SFWA.

          As far as to whether the bulletin and this organization of professionals should have the same professional standards in its official publications that all the corporations in America conform to, and whether the official bulletin is the proper venue for sexism, racism, and porn and whatever kind of free speech somebody wants to promote, that’s ultimately up to the members to decide.

          But it’s not tyranny if an organization decides to have standards. Writers of all people, after getting hundreds of rejections for their work, should realize that just because you wrote something doesn’t mean anybody is required to publish it. It’s not Stalinism if a publication decides your work is not up to their standards.

          1. Spot

            Censorship by any other name…

            I read the original article, and though I noted a little bit of an outdated attitude towards women, I didn’t really notice anything heinous, no attitude of ‘women should be barefoot and pregnant’, no resentment of women in a ‘man’s workplace’, or anyhting like that. They said a woman looked good in addition to being a capable editor and a good person, and they used an old idiom, ‘lady writers’ instead of ‘female writers’ or some equivelant.

            Big deal.

            This kind of drama is the reason upper middle class white progressives have no power in the USA. This is all so small, introverted, self-righteous for the sake of being self-righteous, and a little insane.

          2. M. A.

            Yes, censorship…

            Yes, the very idea that sexist voices along with racist voices and hardcore pornography don’t belong in the company newsletter is exactly the same as government stormtroopers kicking in the door and burning your printing press. Exactly the same.

            The very idea of setting standards in the company newsletter and suggesting that Mike and Barry use the SFWA forum to make their sexist arguments like the vast majority of dues-paying SFWA members who don’t have access to the privileged podium in the company newsletter is exactly the same as sending Mike and Barry to the gulag. Exactly the same.

            Mike’s own daughter has written about how male editors at publishing companies would not even read her manuscript because she wasn’t male, but instead let us rail against the “tyranny” and censorship of criticizing Mike and Barry, the guys that have held the privileged podium in the company newsletter for the last fifteen years and have already been given the podium to discuss this very topic.

            Let us rip out our hair, gnash our teeth, and invoke the specter of Stalin at the pure unadulterated audacity that “anonymous” (i.e. people without a voice in the company newsletter) radical feminist Stalinists might suggest that sexist language has no business in the company newsletter as racism and pornography have no business in the company newsletter.

            Oh the humanity! How can Mike and Barry suffer such criticism!? Let us lament the poor, oppressed Mike and Barry and weep for them as the government burns their printing press and sends them to the gulag!

            You know, if they can’t take criticism from “anonymous” critics without invoking Stalin, maybe they don’t belong in company newsletter.

        2. jaytron

          JJ: “I disagree with Mike and Barry. But unlike so many of you fashionable progressives, I respect both diversity, and freedom of speech and of opinion. They have every right to say and write what they do, whether we like or not.”

          They absolutely have the right to say and write what they want. SFWA also has the right not not publish material they write. That’s how a free market works. It’s not censorship to say “we are no longer going to publish pieces from you because of their sexist tone” it’s a business decision.

          Tyranny. Now you’re being silly.

  16. John Johnston

    Spot: “This kind of drama is the reason upper middle class white progressives have no power in the USA. This is all so small, introverted, self-righteous for the sake of being self-righteous, and a little insane.”

    Exactly. And the intolerance and the drama and the self-righteousness and the insanity are also why they are, as a class, so widely hated.

    1. Spot

      Don’t know if I’d go that far, they are hated because of their percieved privelage as much as anything else, but they shoot themselves in the foot. They are as bad as the loonies on the right, and as self-defeating.

      There is a post above comparing the Easley cover to hardcore pornography. Wow.

      I really think Scalzi should have come out and said that two old writers can say whatever they feel like, really, because nothing they said was against the rules. If other writers want to get in the bulletin, they should try being as experienced and useful.