More SFWA, sorry

Sorry because you may be tired of it. But I kept reading blog posts about the SFWA petition today.
•SL Huang says that if you’re calling for reasoned debate, the initial criticism of Malzberg and Resnick wasn’t the problem, it was their response. I haven’t read enough of the initial criticism to judge it, but I agree about their response. Among other things, when I reread the article yesterday, I realized they were quoting Fox TV pundit Sean Hannity who told one of them that liberals are out to suppress free speech! I mean Sean Hannity! He’s on TV and shit! So that proves it!
•Rachael Acks expresses her view of being a member of an organization that puts boobs on the cover of its publication. Silveno Moreno-Garcia does an excellent post comparing SFWA’s articles and cover with covers of other writer magazines (I think there was more useful information in the issues I’ve read than Moreno-Garcia does, but yeah, the Malzberg/Resnick column wasn’t one of them).
•Radish Reviews rips into one writer who thinks everyone’s too angry and uncivil. She expresses some of my own views about “tone” arguments (you’re too angry! why can’t you discuss things reasonably). Some of David Gerrold’s commentary sounded like this to me: We should be open to frank, hard-hitting discussions of radical viewpoints but we should also discuss things calmly because calling someone a sexist or massively criticizing Resnick and Malzberg when they don’t deserve it is just off-putting to people and doesn’t get good results. As I said yesterday, I think Gerrold’s enthusiasm for never turning down material in the Bulletin no matter what its viewpoint risks bringing ideas into the mainstream. That’s even more so if there’s some unwritten rule on how much we can criticize said material. Seriously, if you call for a policy of embracing all material no matter how extreme and outrageous it is, you can’t turn around and then tell people not to react with outrage.
Now one final thought of my own (barring some radical new development): what if the idea is just plain stupid?
A few years ago, for instance, someone was demanding the Georgia legislature ban teaching of evolution because along with the round Earth it’s part of a Jewish conspiracy to discredit the Bible and destroy Christianity. I do not consider this a very logical or reasoned argument.
Or Jonah Goldberg’s argument that as a vegetarian, I should find veggie burgers evil.
Or Matt Forney’s declaration that women should not be self-confident because self-confident women give him a limp dick. He offers other reasons why women don’t deserve self-confidence, but that was his first pick.
I gather Gerrold’s general view is that we should meet with anyone of any persuasion and engage in them in reasoned debate, showing the flaws in their logic. And that’s fine on the Internet (this was a discussion on another FB post) where space is infinite.
Magazines, though, have finite space. It’s all very well to say that we should be open minded and not judge positions as unworthy, but some positions are (they’re barely worth of being called logic at all). The Bulletin should not have to publish a stupid, badly reasoned article just to prove there’s no censorship. No editorial page on Earth operates that way (I may disagree with the decisions on the New York Times page—hell, they publish David Brooks—but I’m sure decisions are being made).
And yes, obviously what constitutes a sensible reasoned work is going to be sometimes subjective. John C. Wright obviously thinks his views on good female characters (i.e., ones who don’t do Man Things like fight or take the lead) is sound; I disagree. If the Bulletin gets selective, I might disagree with the selection.
But you know what? I think it’s still the editor’s job to make that call. I’ll fight on the choices, maybe, but not on the fact there should be some.


Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

2 responses to “More SFWA, sorry

  1. Pingback: Following up on the last post but perhaps more generally useful | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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

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