Now as to the merits of the SFWA arguments

Continuing the discussion of the current SFWA “censorship” flap, I’ve got to say I don’t think Truesdale has much of an argument.
As noted in Part One, he’s protesting about a supposed tyranny that hasn’t happened yet, and he’s proclaiming it a crisis of Political Correctness, which would be a honking red flag for me against ever signing that petition.
As I’ve written in the past, PC in the sense of dogma triumphing over reality is a good concept. Unfortunately it’s mutated into a useful tool for bigots, sexists and homophobes to pretend they’re some kind of heroic truth-teller. Think blacks are mentally inferior to white people? You’re not racist, you’re defying political correctness! Political incorrectness takes routine prejudices and holds them up as daring, pretending it’s the truth nobody dares to say, even though right-wing blogs, pols and news shows often parrot the same sentiments.
On top of that, although Truesdale talks about how vague the guidelines for the review board are, “PC” is pretty vague itself. Truesdale’s worry could apply to anything from “writers whose books don’t show gay characters in a positive way are shut out of the journal” to “the board shot down my article revealing how the feminist conspiracy has taken over the publishing industry” (I have actually read an article to that effect, though mercifully not in the Bulletin). There’s no specifics.
The original petition (you can find it through radish reviews) does discuss how feminists are hypocrites because they object to straight men objectifying women but not when gay men objectify men! Hmm, could that be because women suffer a lot of problems from being objectified (sexual harassment, stereotyping, etc.) that aren’t caused by gay men. Conversely, I’ve read multiple articles (some links here) quoting men on how it’s fine to discriminate against gays in the military or sports because OMG, they might look at me … like that! The same men do not, as far as I know, object to gazing on women the same way (as several pundits have put it, that’s the issue: being checked out makes them the woman). So I’ll fling the hypocrisy charge back.
Beyond that, Truesdale also throws around the usual cliches about oppression, tyranny, fascism (a lot of this got deleted from the final draft), free speech and First Amendment! As noted in Part One, this isn’t a free speech issue (it might become one at some point, but I don’t see it yet) and certainly not a First Amendment issue, which applies to the government. In this context, it’s simply a mantra to proclaim, like fascism.
David Gerrold’s FB post on the subject throws out a lot of cliches too, on writers being silenced and punished. He also makes valid points about having a variety of opinions, but I’m sorry, not being published in a magazine is not a form of punishment or silencing. I’ve had pieces with political themes turned down: even if it was for the politics and not the quality, that’s not silencing me, it’s refusing to publish me.
And while I agree with Gerrold that the answer to bad speech (however defined) is more good speech, I still don’t think that entitles everyone to a platform. And I definitely have no sympathy for his claim (which he admits is meant as exaggeration) that “the indignation junkies immediately whooped up an outrage posse to complain that the bulletin was a sexist rag” — as if, of course, the objectors couldn’t possibly have valid reasons to criticize. He comes off fairly indignant about the response to Malzberg and Resnick: why is his indignation somehow more genuine?
This partly reflects that I’ve spent the greater part of my life writing political columns, most of them left-wing in a very red area. I’ve never felt the appropriate response to criticism was to scream about oppression or about people trying to censor my rights (death threats, rape threats, insults to someone’s weight or age, etc. aside). You speak, you take the heat.
I doubt Truesdale will miss my nonentity signature on the petition, given the big names attached. But I still think not signing is the right decision.

3 Comments

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

3 responses to “Now as to the merits of the SFWA arguments

  1. Pingback: Ironically although this post discusses SFWA, I’m not tagging it for the SFWA Twitter feed | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Because I can’t leave well enough alone | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: SFWA me, baby, one more time | Cora Buhlert

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