SFWA Expels Theodore Beale for Being Outspoken

Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, is a gifted writer. He’s also a bit of a jerk, like many other writers.

He has now become the first person ever* to be expelled from the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Not for breaking rules, because he broke none.

Not for any issues of eligibility or dues, because he had a Lifetime Membership. (Costs five grand. SFWA’s not refunding him any of it.)

Basically, because he ran for SFWA president, and because he didn’t say nice things on the forum or agree with all the Important Issues of the Month.

Because that’s what professional organizations are for — total lockstep agreement and artificial niceness. Yuppers.

* Stanislaw Lem previously had his honorary membership removed for saying that the American sf field was kitsch. Apparently some voted for it because they were worried about his Communist ties and never had supported the honorary membership, but obviously they hadn’t had the numbers before and didn’t put it over. So mostly, the voters were just in a huff.

Btw, Beale was expelled only by a vote of the board, not a vote of the membership. One would expect not to leave such a serious matter to the will of nine individuals, but so it goes.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “SFWA Expels Theodore Beale for Being Outspoken

  1. Kevin Morris

    I thought he was expelled for calling a black woman a savage and genetically not the same species as he was.

    • 1. Oh, come on. “Savage” doesn’t even count as an insult in sf fandom. Tarzan was a “savage,” and he was more Caucasian than Tsarnaev in the snow in the middle of winter. Doc Savage was a polymath. P.G. Wodehouse’s name means “savage.” Conan’s loving creator spent half his time calling him a “savage.” And most of us are “barbarians” by the classic definition, because we don’t speak Greek and hence must be saying barbarbar all day. If somebody called me “a savage” in the middle of an argument, I’d take it that I was getting somewhere.

      Considering that N.K. Jemisin, the black woman in question, believes in “white privilege” and hence has called every single living “white” person an oppressor of every single living “person of color,” I would say that it’s pretty funny to watch such a racist lady complain about other people’s opprobrious language. Except that it’s hate speech that’s taken seriously as fact, and hence is about as funny as a Klan rally at the Hugos.

      2. Again, come on. I’m a different species from pure homo sapiens myself. You can look at my skull and tell I’m part Neanderthal, just like my old physical anthropology teacher used to say about himself. Half the people in the world are members of different subspecies or species of human, though it’s not a big deal because we can all produce kids with each other. The only way it gets problematic is if you believe that one is “better” than the others, or if you start claiming that we don’t share a common ancestry back down the pike. (Considering the constant fandom theme that “fan are slan” or “X-men” or the “next men”, and are a different species from everybody else in the world, or that Trekkies and Furries and gamers have a fannish evolutionary hierarchy, I find it strange that somebody would start getting offended now.)

      And of course Beale then brought up the bit about Africans are technically a more evolutionarily advanced subspecies than Europeans are, blah blah blah. Another obvious troll trap, which SFWA people fell into. And yet, people put up with this stuff very calmly from Harlan Ellison, or zillions of the other notorious gadflies among sf writers.

      3. I hear SFWA was perfectly okay with its members telling Beale, a Hispanic guy, that he wasn’t really Hispanic. So obviously SFWA is okay with certain forms of ethnicism.

      4. My understanding is that he said something trollish as a trap, that half of SFWA eagerly fell into his obvious trap, and that then people were too stupid or embarrassed to realize that they’d just succeeded in feeding a troll rather than ignoring it. So they doubled down on stupid and have now put themselves into legal jeopardy.

      Considering fandom and SFWA’s long history of instigation, feuding, threats of assassination, and the like, I fail to be impressed by someone being an ass in public, or by saying things that sound exactly like insults meant to hurt somebody’s feelings while actually being deniable or technically accurate statements of fact (and that’s so old a nerd ploy that it has stalactites on it).

      6. The actual stated expulsion offense was Beale copying posts from the SFWA Forum and posting them online, when in fact it was other outraged members of SFWA who copied Beale’s postings and posted them online. (And again, breaking TOS out of outrage is a classic nerd self-trap, which nobody who’s been on the Internet for a year should trap themselves in.) None of these folks have been expelled, and in fact many were allowed to vote for his expulsion.

      7. Expelling someone who just ran for SFWA president makes it look like he was a powerful political threat, rather than a minority candidate. Expelling someone and not paying back any of their dues makes it look like SFWA is vindictive or doesn’t have enough money in the kitty to pay back anybody.

      If SFWA were a convention committee, I wouldn’t be pre-registering or volunteering for anything. That’s how bad it looks.

      8. Considering that people have legendarily in the past faked their own deaths, stolen money from conventions and fans, written advocatory rape porn that was accepted to fulfill the membership requirements, and performed acts of moral turpitude, all without getting thrown out of SFWA, I think it’s fair to say that Beale got expelled for being “outspoken.”

      9. If SFWA is nothing but a writer’s club that votes on a literary prize among its clubby buddies, then it’s acceptable to expel people for social failings or for falling afoul of cliques.

      If SFWA is a mutual-assistance professional group for writers, or a “union” as it’s often touted, then only job- or crime-related reasons for expulsion should be acceptable.

      (If SFWA is truly interested in protecting writers, it will start warning people against all the standard publishing Clauses O’ Doom, and blackballing offending publishing houses, especially the Big Five. But apparently they don’t.)

      10. There are three roads that SFWA could take at this time.

      One is to define exactly what they are, and not mess about with anything outside that purview. This would probably entail making the SFWA Forum and SFWA Bulletin into rigidly professional venues, not having anything to do with the social side of writing/fandom. This is probably the safer way to go. This would almost certainly entail permitting self-published works to fulfill requirements, because the current requirements make no sense for a professional organization in 2013. Dues could remain high, and hence benefits also.

      The second road is to openly define SFWA as a writer club, which anyone can join, and which it’s hard to get thrown out of. This would probably entail a massive reduction of dues.

      The third road is to explicitly define SFWA as an invitation-only clique for writers, with editors explicitly issuing invitations at the same time they’re buying stories and novels. (This would save paperwork duplication.) Editors also would comprise the board of SFWA and would vote to throw members out as well. This would be a more honest approach, and would appeal to those who love exclusivity and groupthink. Dues could remain high, and sucking up to editors would be made more convenient.

      • Kevin Morris

        Wow, I had no idea what has been gong on at the SFWA for the past few years, as well as alleged SF magazines like Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and others.
        These people are obsessed with race and gender to a mentally unhealthy degree.

        I wish I’d never gone down that rabbithole.

      • Well, fortunately there are still plenty of good folks out there writing good sf. Most of the really nasty people don’t write anything of interest anyway.

        Also, a lot of people seem to have drawn back from the madness after finding out that many of them had been duped by someone living a dual existence as “awardwinning writer of color who is also transexual” and as a troll with a pack of followers sic’d upon writing rivals (many of them following her lead unwillingly, since she could threaten to reveal nasty things she’d duped them into saying). This is the “RequiresHate” saga. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people living the mean girl lifestyle without having to be duped.

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