You think this whole SFWA petition flap is over, and then, whelp, the goofy just ramps right back up.
Someone has taken a bunch of the discussion off of sff.net and posted it over on Tumblr, leading off with CJ Cherryh’s post to Facebook that discussions about SFWA and the petition shouldn’t be on the internet (which, as several have noted, assassinates irony), and proceeding to some prime ranting against “the Young,” such as:
“The Young are all dismayed at CJ’s position and vow henceforth never to sully their eyeballs with her stuff. Not once do they think to wonder— why would she take such a position? Might there be some merit in it? These people aren’t used to thinking.”
“This is the problem with people hanging around on social media where everyone is guaranteed to agree with them—dissenters are purged immediately. It atrophies the capacity for independent thought. On all sides of the opinion spectrum. This is what the Young want to make of SFWA.”
“They probably weren’t buying her books in the first place. They were probably downloading pirated copies.”
“They probably want Carolyn’s shelf space. After all, aren’t they entitled to it?”
There’s more – lots more – but this sets the tone for you.
Meanwhile, Sean Fodera (né Sean Fedora) is threatening everyone who links to this Daily Dot article about the flap with an apparently class-action libel suit, which isn’t actually a real thing and can’t actually happen, but he’s up to 1200 claims against and counting. Glad to be 1201, Sean. See you in court!
Now, all this hilarity aside, there is a genuinely sad thing going on here. The sexism and racism and the unflagging defence of it? Those aren’t sad. The damage done to SFWA and the speculative fiction community? Not sad. Infuriating, sure. Horrible, disappointing, sometimes hilariously self-parodying, all those apply. But not quite sad.
No, the sad part is how utterly and completely self-defeating this entire exercise has been and continues to be. Yes, self-defeating, on a deep and fundamental level.
See, they’re doing everything in their power to defend the old sexist and exclusionary system, making sure women, people of colour, “the Young” (apparently), and everyone else not on the Real People List know our places and know we’re unwelcome. They’re large and in charge, everyone else can go suck it, and if they don’t get their way, they’re gonna tear the whole damn place down.
That’s awful. But we’re still not to the sad part. The sad part comes from the implicit idea that they actually own this turf, and can defend it. The sad part comes from the idea that if they just push enough people out, they can be the only people who matter forever; that they can make people comply or fail, because…
…because they think there aren’t other options available.
And that leads to the sad part, the fundamental misunderstanding of the world part. The part wherein lives the idea that all these people they’re excluding won’t keep creating, somewhere else. The part where it’s still 1978, and you have the Big 3 Magazines, and the paperback publishers, and that’s all that matters. The part where supposed futurists so fundamentally fail to understand the modern world that they think someone can sue the entire Internet for libel. The part where they think it’s possible to keep that gate.
But you can’t, anymore. People will keep creating anyway. It’s easier now to create and distribute than it has ever been in history. And we, “the Young” (apparently), are creating, and distributing, and some of us are making our own damn amusement parks. (And some of us are writing about construction.)
Forcing everyone else out of your game no longer means everyone else can’t play. It no longer means sitting off to the side until we learn the right form of observances and genuflections.
It means we play without you.
Which, in turn, means that all these petitioners are doing is destroying their own influence, and throwing away any remaining choices they could have in shaping the future.
By excluding everyone else – particularly “the Young” (apparently) – they are consigning themselves to irrelevance.
And in this way, it reaches an entirely new level of short-sighted self-destructiveness. This is how it goes straight over into sad.
Much will be lost, of course. Institutional knowledge that still matters, that’s important. There are real advantages to long-term organisations and histories and so on. Memory still matters.
But these petitioners… this crowd… would, it seems, rather just see all that burn.