WISCON, a literary sf convention dedicated to women sf writers and in charge of the Tiptree Award, has uninvited their Guest of Honor, Elizabeth Moon. All because she wrote an essay about citizenship, compromise for the greater good, and the Ground Zero mosque.
(So now would be a very nice time to preorder her next Paksenarrion fantasy, Kings of the North, or to buy any of her fine fantasy or science fiction/space opera books.)
There’s been kind of a round of disinvitation, lately. We talked about the impoliteness, but permissibleness, of a children’s book fair uninviting a local unpaid guest from having a signing because parents objected to her subject matter, and how some other local writers did not attend, and how the huhu got the book fair canceled, possibly forever.
I didn’t talk about how an East Coast science fiction convention uninvited all its local panelists, though they hadn’t actually been formally invited yet. But they were the people who usually do a good chunk of the panels and could assume that they’d be invited back every year; except now they aren’t, and their plans have to change. The poorer writers can’t afford to attend without a comped membership, so they’ll stay home. Permissible, but rude.
This one’s a bit more fraught. A convention’s Guest of Honor (GoH) does have a formal contractual relationship with the convention. Appearance fees and airfare may be involved (and must be, given Moon’s distance of travel). Hotel room and food pretty much always is, along with signings, a certain number of panels, a GoH speech (which is supposed to be deep), and whatever banquets and coffee klatches may be in store. All this is planned out well in advance — often more than a year ahead (so that next year’s guests can be advertised at this year’s convention). Vendors plan part of what merchandise to buy from publishers based on guests drawing their fans. Fans may decide to attend one convention instead of another because of guests, and they may preregister up to a year in advance, even before there’s a hotel chosen that they can reserve a room at.
So yeah, this is a Big Deal. Though at least they didn’t wait till next May to disinvite, so there’s one tiny note of sanity to cling to.
And what brought it on? Widespread fannish disgust and revulsion? People picketing bookstores and going on the talkshows? Oh, no. A few people on Livejournal (or Dreamwidth, these days). The pitiful little clique of trolls and Iagos that are known as failfandom. People joke about conrunners being the Secret Masters of Fandom (smofs). Well, these are the Tricotteuses of Fail Fandom, the toffs — the arbiters whom all must fear, the knock in the night. <a href="Peace Police, the Thought Police “>The Thought Police. The Peace Police. It’s like 4-Chan, except better at self-justification.
I can’t think of any time a GoH has been disinvited for any personal or political failing. Committee members and preregistered attendees have gotten banned or thrown out, but only for things like stealing a convention’s money, or being a convicted pedophile. But generally, even if somebody does or says something that really torques off the fannish world, that either makes him a more desirable guest (controversy is something to talk about!) or causes him not to be invited to stuff anymore after that.
Elizabeth Moon is somebody who’s pretty well-liked in fandom, I would think. Her books sell well and she’s a decent writer. She’s personable and reasonably good-looking. She has life skills in all sorts of areas from farming to fighting. She has an autistic son, and she wrote a deep novel about autism. She’s a feminist. She’s even a Democrat and a former Marine (not really, there are no former Marines, so she’s a Marine still).
But “be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.” The Peace Police is looking for victims.
The amazing thing is the chutzpah. The WISCON committee whines that they had extensive “discussions” with Moon, and attempts somehow to make the uninvitation sound mutual without actually lying. They also claim that they’d be perfectly happy for her to attend and have “dialogues” about it. (Attend on her own dollar, all the way from Texas to Wisconsin.) And they whine and say it’s sad that she eventually closed her comment box to “dialogue”, although it’s plain that she was getting called a racist and so forth. But the convention committee also claims that they uninvited her because, otherwise, “people of color” would feel “unsafe” attending the convention.
So this is what all that “racefail” and feminist nonsense on Livejournal bred — a taste for blood. Go after the sweetest, nicest, most feminist women in fandom, like Jagi Lamplighter or Elizabeth Moon. Call the unprejudiced people prejudiced, and make sure you define that in terms nobody can possibly meet without the right kind of genes and the right kind of political kabuki.
You know, I’ve seen some crappy clique politics in fandom in my time. But this makes all that look like a papercut. If you want to destroy conventions and fandom as we know, keep right on going, Peacefail Police.
Glenn Reynolds on the situation. (The big guns come out.)
Liz Williams, last year, on how most online ‘feminists’ don’t have her back, no thank you very much.