SF3, the Society for the Furtherance & Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the parent organization of Wiscon, has withdrawn Elizabeth Moon’s Guest of Honor Invitation for WisCon 35.
This follows several weeks of intense controversy after Moon made some surprising (and to me, frankly dumb) comments about Muslims on her blog on Sept. 11:
I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways… But Muslims fail to recognize how much forbearance they’ve had…. I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom. It would be helpful to have them understand what they’re demanding of me and others – how much more they’re asking than giving.
As you’ve probably guessed, both events have generated the kind of blog outrage that glues you to your screen and makes you twenty minutes late for the marketing meeting. (Highlights at the World SF Blog and Wiscon News blog, among many others).
Black Gate attended its first WisCon this year and I was extremely impressed with the convention, although I think the “World’s Leading Feminist SF Convention” tag is a little misleading. WisCon seems to have evolved into something much broader, and still crucially important: a friendly and informed gathering not just for feminists, but for women, POC (people of color), and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) fans and their friends to discuss science fiction and — more importantly, I think — amplify their voice sufficiently to make the rest of us aware of just how diverse and rich the field truly is.
After just one trip to WisCon I’m hardly an expert, but even I was keenly aware that a key part of that formula is “friendly and informed.” Folks on all sides of this debate are welcomed at WisCon — indeed, welcoming all sides of a debate is something the convention is exceptionally good at — but having their Guest of Honor make so many guests feel uncomfortable must have been very awkward for the convention organizers. This had to be a tough and extremely painful decision, but ultimately I think they made the right one.