Word of a new controversy inside the hallowed walls of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) is hardly news — the organization is known for regular rows. Less than a year ago, in fact, we reported that SFWA Bulletin Editor Jean Rabe resigned amidst a controversy over a series of sexist and rather tasteless articles. As a consequence, the membership of SFWA demanded additional oversight of the Bulletin and the new President, Steven Gould, promised the organization’s officers would take a more active role in overseeing production.
Now Tangent Online editor Dave Truesdale (a non-member of SFWA) has circulated a petition taking issue with the planned oversight, citing fears of censorship and excess political correctness. I think. It’s 12 pages long and seriously rambly, and frankly lost me when it started quoting Charlton Heston as “an early civil rights activist” (you can read the original doc here).
Predictably, the petition has struck a chord on both sides of the issue. It has already been signed by Gregory Benford, Robert Silverberg, Barry N. Malzberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Gene Wolfe, Jack Dann, Norman Spinrad, and Sheila Finch. Meanwhile, several folks have been speaking up loudly against it — most entertainingly Natalie Luhrs:
It’s full of appeals to the sanctity of the First Amendment – which, as a private organization, SFWA doesn’t need to abide by – and a whacking great heap of sexism and racism, too. I don’t understand why some people are constantly conflating their desire to say anything they want, wherever they want, with private organizations’ right to moderate spaces that they own.
For those who want a slightly more balanced and objective viewpoint (and why would you want that?), I recommend C.C. Finlay’s concise summary of the issue, Editing is not Censorship, posted on Facebook here (with comments) and on his blog here (comments disabled).