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Moon v. Wiscon Follow-up

I’m still sorting through my feelings on Wiscon rescinding Elizabeth Moon’s Guest of Honor invitation.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened.  William Sanders’ GoH invitation to ICFA in 2008 was rescinded after his “sheet head” rejection letter, for example.  (Thanks to Nick Mamatas for that historical pointer.)

Basically, I think the situation sucks.  There’s been a great deal of conflict among the Wiscon decision-makers, among those who attend and love the con, among SF/F fandom in general, and among the wankers who aren’t involved/informed in any way but still want to wave their opinions about.

As far as I’ve seen, the only public follow-up Moon has given since her initial post was in this 10/23 piece for a Texas newspaper: Texas Author Uninvited as Convention Guest of Honor Over Remarks on Islam.

I don’t believe Moon is the devil incarnate.  I do believe she screwed up, and based on the follow-up, I don’t get the sense that she understands why people were upset by her words.

Was this the right call on Wiscon’s part?  There was going to be backlash either way, and no answer would make everyone happy.  In my opinion, their obligation was not to try to make everyone happy, but to first and foremost do what was best for Wiscon and its mission.

Some people I greatly respect have expressed their discomfort and disagreement with Wiscon’s decision.  Others I greatly respect have expressed approval.  I’m trying to weigh both as I refine my own conclusions.

But as I continue to read responses to Wiscon’s decision, I’ve given myself permission to ignore certain voices.  Specifically…

  • If you use any of the following terms, I’m not going to bother reading further: feminazi, PC Police, FAIL Fandom, fascist, jihadist, thought police.  (I reserve the right to add to this list.)
  • If you describe a decision which came after roughly six weeks of intense internal and external debate as “knee jerk,” I’m not going to bother reading further.
  • If you dismiss everyone who disagreed with Moon’s post as mean old PC bullies/cowards, I’m not going to bother reading further.
  • If you equate the decision to rescind an invitation to be Guest of Honor with burning Moon’s books/burning Moon in effigy, I’m not going to bother reading further.
  • If you label everyone who questions Wiscon’s decision “disgusting bigots,” I’m not going to bother reading further.

It’s not about tone.  It’s because those responses tell me you’re not interested in participating in a discussion, or even in understanding the discussion.  It’s because, like Saladin Ahmed said, not every conversation is worth having.  And it’s because there just aren’t enough sporks.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Oct. 27th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
I'm noticing very few of the comments condemning Wiscon that consider the "chilling effect" on free speech that having an unapologetic bigot at a socially progressive convention has on Muslims there, or even on people who spend a lot of time fighting bigotry.

If I was pondering going to a con, and I noticed that they decided on Orson Scott Card as guest of honor, I'd skip it. Hell if I was working a con, and they decided on Orson Scott Card as GOH, I'd resign, and I'd be rather loud and public about it too.

That's an effect on speech, isn't it? Moon's GOH status was an honor. She's no more prohibited from going than I am to a con where Card is GOH, but if Card is GOH at a con, I'm not going to feel welcome there any more than she will with her GOH status revoked.

Wiscon had several on staff say they'd skip the con, effectively quitting, if Moon was GOH, because she made them feel unwelcome. Also long term the effects on keeping the con as a friendly, safe space for Muslims would have been destroyed.

Jim, you don't have to have an opinion on this. You can stay conflicted if you like. It's an honest area.
Oct. 27th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Moon's presence also, at this point, would have pretty much dictated the focus and discussion of the con, and it wasn't the discussion that a lot of people were wanting or hoping to have. (Based on the number of people expressing frustration at the idea of spending an entire weekend doing 101-level discussions with Ms. Moon.)


Jim C. Hines

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