Amal El-Mohtar

Calling for the Expulsion of Theodore Beale from SFWA

Advertisements

Recently, N. K. Jemisin delivered her Guest of Honour speech at Continuum in Australia. It is an excellent and important speech. In it, she mentions that roughly 10% of the ballots cast in the recent SFWA  Presidential election went to a man who is unabashedly racist, misogynistic, and just generally hateful in an astoundingly relentless sort of way. She does this in order to talk about how important it is to not be an enabler of that kind of hatred through one’s silence.

She doesn’t name him in her speech, and more power to her. He has, however, responded to her on his blog, so I will tell you here that his name is Theodore Beale, also known as Vox Day, whom I only encourage you to google if your day is suffering from a surfeit of happiness and sunshine. Here, however, are some relevant screenshots, posted with warnings for truly vicious racism and misogyny:

Beale’s response to Jemisin’s speech was astonishing. It was astonishing not so much because it was racist and disgusting in a way to do D. W. Griffith proud, which it unequivocally is, but rather because it turned up in my Twitter feed via SFWA Authors, a Twitter account designed to automatically retweet posts from members with the appropriate hashtag. This is their stated policy:

Not every blog post is appropriate for @sfwaauthors. If a post is not about writing, or about fiction or publishing, do not mark it for inclusion in the @sfwaauthors twitter feed. Repeated violations of this policy will be grounds for removal from the feed. SFWA reserves the right to determine what posts are appropriate.

Marking blog posts for inclusion that include threats or personal attacks or obvious trolling will also be grounds for removal.

(Emphasis mine.)

I believe the act of singling out this particular post for dissemination by SFWA Authors to be an act of deliberate, malicious trolling with intent to cause embarrassment to SFWA’s officers and the organization as a whole. I further believe this act should have consequences that SFWA is in a position to deliver.

I just sent the following e-mail to Sean Williams, Overseas Regional Director of SFWA, copying the rest of the board. I urge any other SFWA members who feel the same way to contact your own regional directors and feel free to borrow any language of mine you feel is useful.

The board’s addresses are as follow, with the last five being Western Region, South Central Region, Eastern Region, and Overseas Region respectively.

president@sfwa.org, vp@sfwa.org, secretary@sfwa.org, treasurer@sfwa.org, wr@sfwa.org, scr@sfwa.org, er@sfwa.org, ca@sfwa.org, or@sfwa.org

*

Dear Sean Williams,

I am writing to you as my regional representative in SFWA, wishing to express my desire to see Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) expelled from SFWA immediately.So far as I have read on SFWA’s website, a by-law of the organization reads as follows:

Section 10. Expulsion of Member. The officers of the Corporation may, by unanimous vote, expel any member for good and sufficient cause. In the event of such expulsion, the said member’s dues, if paid, shall be refunded on a pro rata basis. If a member so expelled is a life member, the refund shall be the life membership fee paid by the member minus $50 per year elapsed since the life membership was purchased. A member so expelled shall be reinstated upon petition of two-thirds of the active membership. The Corporation shall have no responsibility to circulate the petition.

While it is my personal feeling that the hateful, harmful, dehumanizing views expressed by Beale on his blog (about women, about religious and ethnic groups to which he does not belong, about queer people) would be “good and sufficient cause” enough to not share an organisation with him, I understand that enforcing expulsion on those grounds is problematic in the absence of an expansive organization-wide Code of Conduct.

However, Mr Beale has repeatedly and aggressively used SFWA platforms to broadcast and disseminate these views with obvious malicious intent. Most recently he has used the SFWA Authors Twitter feed — in flagrant contravention of its terms of use — to broadcast an appallingly racist screed against author N. K. Jemisin, calling her an “ignorant half-savage” and saying that “self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them.”

This last reads to me very much like a threat, especially coming from a white man to a black woman in a country where public lynchings are a matter of living memory.

I urge you to please represent my views to the rest of the officers and vote to expel a man who has behaved so execrably from our organization.

Best,

Amal El-Mohtar

Advertisements