Dublin 2019 Answers Engholm’s CoC Complaint About Ng’s Campbell Acceptance Speech

Ahrvid Engholm recently published Dublin 2019’s determination that “We do not consider Jeannette Ng’s speech to be a breach of our Code of Conduct.”

As reported in the August 21 “Storm Over Campbell Award” roundup, Swedish Fan Ahrvid Engholm filed a complaint that Jeanette Ng’s Campbell Award acceptance speech at the Dublin 2019 Hugo Awards ceremony violated the convention’s Code of Conduct. His complaint has since appeared in a letter to Locus, (screenshot at the link). The text of Ng’s speech is here. The award has now been renamed the Astounding Award.

Engholm posted the full text of Dublin 2019’s letter to him along with his own comments in response here.

Dublin 2019’s letter says:

Hi Ahrvid,

Thank you again for reaching out, and apologies for the time it took to get this response to you.

We do not consider Jeannette Ng’s speech to be a breach of our Code of Conduct.

From our perspective Ng was speaking to Campbell’s part in shaping the sci-fi landscape, which was notably exclusionary of minorities, people of colour and women at the time during which he was a part of it and which has had knock on effects to this day. Our Code of Conduct was, in a large part, designed to ensure people who have previously been excluded from fandom were safe and included at our convention – not to punish people who speak out against its exclusionary past.

We do not believe her words were targeted at anyone other than Campbell and his actions. There is no issue with being male or white, and unless a person also identified with Campbell’s more problematic beliefs and actions, they have no reason to feel attacked. Additionally, being a fan of Campbell’s work does not mean you need to stand by his beliefs; it is possible to appreciate his contribution to the community whilst also understanding some of his viewpoints were problematic.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns – I hope this helps clarify our position on the situation.

Kind regards,

Sarah Brennan, Listener and Code of Conduct Area Head Dublin 2019

Engholm, in his commentary, says he believes the Code of Conduct has been applied inequitably, whether judged by past precedents, or on its own terms.

Thanks for a reply, even if it took two months…

But the reply is not very satisfying, and I’ll explain why. A basic principle for acceptable ethics is that it applies equally to all. If not, it’s unethical, immoral – in crass terms, evil.

In 2016 Dave Truesdale was kicked out from the Worldcon for talking about “snowflakes” – a rather mild expression – not pointing to any person or ethnic or social group. But in 2019 it seems perfectly OK to accuse a named person for being a follower of one of history’s most evil ideologies, on the worldcon’s biggest stage.

It becomes clear that this does not apply equally to all. You – ie all responsible for the CoC – even openly admit that not being applied equally was what “Our Code of Conduct was…designed to ensure”. Thus the CoC loses its legitimacy. It’s a set of made-up private laws that allows the intimidation it pretends to protect from.

Engholm disagrees with Sarah Brennan’s evaluation of Ng’s speech (“There is no issue with being male or white…”)

As for Ng’s racist slurs, you seem to simply ignore them, the charges about “whites” being “sterile” and “haunt” the genre. You just falsely claim it’s “no issue” – but it is. You can’t even follow your own instructions that “We do not tolerate harassment of convention attendees in ANY FORM”. That’s what it says, but obviously you do tolerate harassment if it is in the form certain people like. People have reason to feel attacked!

“I certainly did. As a white male writer who goes back to the Campbell era I felt directly under attack, as well as being angered by the inaccurate slander being directed at Campbell, and I was so upset by her statements and the obvious audience approval of them that I left the ceremony as soon as I could appropriately get out the door “

That was a a testimony from a well-known longtime sf professional whom I shall not name.

Engholm asserts that what people complain about in Campbell is the byproduct of his “intentionally provoking intellectual style.” He also tells why in his view (and that of Harry Harrison) Campbell was not, politically, a fascist, therefore Ng was mistaken in calling him one. The complete text of Engholm’s commentary is here.

110 thoughts on “Dublin 2019 Answers Engholm’s CoC Complaint About Ng’s Campbell Acceptance Speech

  1. @Ahrvid: “Sterile” and “haunting” are slurs. In other words, no criticism is allowed?

  2. @Ahrvid

    Good heavens, are you still here beating this dead horse’s hide? (The body is long gone.) Seriously, don’t you have anything better to do? The decision has been made, and everybody is moving on.

    With all due respect, in what universe are the words “sterile,” “haunting,” “white” and “male” slurs? Certainly not the one we are currently living in. In fact, it’s rather insulting of you to compare those words to real slurs, such as the n- and c-words. I’m sure you can make up another universe to suit your misplaced, overinflated sense of outrage, but this is factually and demonstrably not true.

    In any event, your objections are a red herring and a distraction, which you know full well. I encourage you to read this excellent write-up from Boing Boing, which dissects Jeannette Ng’s remarks. The most important paragraph is this:

    “So when Ng held Campbell “responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists,” she was factually correct.” (Italics mine.)

    For crying out loud, do you not have basic reading comprehension? The three words you are throwing such a fit over are linked to the sentence directly in front of them, and refer to the TONE Campbell set through his writing and editing selections and influence, not any one person. It’s basically the same thing as Brad Torgersen’s “Nutty Nuggets,” which is why people here are pushing back at your ridiculous interpretation.

    That being the case, your Code of Conduct complaint held no water, and Dublin was right to throw it out.

    My eyes are already rolling so far around in my head on reading your continued flailing that they’re threatening to spin right out on the floor. If that happens, I shall send you the hospital bill. It’s time to give it up.

  3. “Second, to accuse someone of “discrimination” – as you admit the phrasing does – is a slur.”

    No. It is an observation. We already know that Delaney was refused by Campbell because he made the hero black.

  4. Obviously I am not saying Ahrvid Engholm is John W Campbell who somehow unlocked the secret of extended longevity and faked his own death and created a new identity to hide his extended lifespan…because that would be silly. However, I am saying that most of the arguments Ahrvid has put forward regarding why he found Ng’s comments so offensive and slurs and a breach of the CoC make A LOT MORE SENSE if Ahrvid Engholm is John W Campbell who somehow unlocked the secret of extended longevity and faked his own death and created a new identity to hide his extended lifespan.

  5. Last time I met Ahrvid, he wasn’t John W Campbell. I guess it could have changed, if the secret of extended longevity includes mindswapping or something as sinister, but my guess is that he is the same Ahrvid that I have known the last 30 years.

  6. @Ahrvid

    I would love to see your definition of a slur. Please specifically provide historical examples and context about the differences between adjectives, insults, and slurs, and why those differences are important.

  7. @Becca, I’m reminded of this report of a lawsuit filed against a black historian and asking for a million dollars in damages for (correctly) having the effrontery to point out that a man’s ancestors were slave-owners.

    (The judge just threw out the case. If something is factual, it is neither slanderous nor libelous.)

  8. Should a convention react to a harassment complaint only if the complaint meets some “objective” definition of harassment? Or is the fact that the complainant feels harassed sufficient to take action?

  9. bill: “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”?

    A person feeling that they’ve been harassed is kind of inherent in “a complaint has been filed”. And a complaint should be evaluated. And the result of that is either “action is taken” or “action is not taken” 9and teh exact action probably depends on the evaluation of the complaint as well).

    So, it kind of depends on what you mean by “take action”. Yes, the Dublin worldcon took action, in so far as they evaluated the complaint. The evaluation reached the conclusion that it did not breach the CoC, and thus no further action (apart from responding) needed to be taken.

    I suspect, as with all things, there are cases that can easily be binned in “definitely a CoC breach”, some that can easily be binned in “this cleraly does not breach CoC”, and a bunch that falls in the uncomfortable “it’s not obvious either way”.

  10. Dear bill,

    What Ingvar said.

    Also, I can’t find any useful definition of harassment that doesn’t involve the subjective. I’ll be you can’t either.

    Which makes the question moot.

    pax / Ctein

  11. Why should subjectivity make it moot? The Dublin con itself says that CoC’s are for “helping everyone feel comfortable.” It is based entirely on subjective goals. Whether or not anyone else would have found Ng’s statements to be offensive is what is moot.

    Ng’s comments made Engholm feel uncomfortable and CoC’s are meant to keep that from happening. Even if Dublin did not find Ng’s comments to be a problem, and even (as a practical matter) it is too late to do anything substantive about the situation, their response should have acknowledged Engholm’s discomfort and apologized for that. That they didn’t do that bare minimum (which can be done even if you think a complainant is wrong in every respect) was dismissive. One would hope that in general, people who respond to CoC complaints would have more empathy. “Your feelings are inappropriate” is a bad look for people in that position. It is a first principle of customer service that when people are complaining, their feelings should be acknowledged, and that doing so can often go a long ways in resolving the complaint.

  12. Bill, it’s not as simple as making sure people are not uncomfortable, or folks who don’t like seeing disabled people, or LGBTQIA people, or people of color, would be getting apologies right and left. In particular, it’s not about preventing speaking out about wrongs.

  13. @bill,

    Ng’s comments made Engholm feel uncomfortable and CoC’s are meant to keep that from happening. Even if Dublin did not find Ng’s comments to be a problem, and even (as a practical matter) it is too late to do anything substantive about the situation, their response should have acknowledged Engholm’s discomfort and apologized for that. That they didn’t do that bare minimum (which can be done even if you think a complainant is wrong in every respect) was dismissive. One would hope that in general, people who respond to CoC complaints would have more empathy. “Your feelings are inappropriate” is a bad look for people in that position.

    Are you honestly suggesting that apologies for hurting someone’s feelings are ALWAYS required? For example, if a white supremacist complained that Nnedi Okorofor was on a panel at Worldcon, surely you don’t think that Worldcon should apologize to him for having the effrontery to put a black woman on stage? Because, honestly, that’s what it sounds like you’re saying. I really hope I’m misinterpreting your position..

    Sometimes complaints have no merit. When a complaint has no merit, no apology is required. A person who thinks that a comment specifically aimed at John Campbell (which was demonstrably true by the reports of his contemporaries) somehow magically also applies to himself because they both happen to be white men does not deserve an apology.

    Several white men (and white women) have weighed in on Ng’s speech in various File770 pixel scrolls. I don’t recall any of them other than Ahrvid, stating that they felt called out or insulted by her words. Most of them (to my recollection, at least) who bothered to post an opinion agreed with her. Because the adjectives she used applied to Campbell, and to the work he commissioned and bought. Not to anyone else. And certainly not to a random fan sitting in the audience at the time.

  14. As bill says, the CoC states that the goal is “helping everyone feel comfortable.” That is helping. Only a concern troll would interpret this as in absolutes, i e that the convention would now be forced to remove or apologize for absolutely everything that anyone whatsoever would feel uncomfortable with.

    There is no need to answer concern trolls. Let them troll somewhere else.

  15. @bill Your “but someone was uncomfortable, we should apologize” implies that if Engholm had made his complaint in public during the con, the con might have to apologize to Ng for letting him make her uncomfortable. Is Engholm the only person who should apologize for his implication that criticizing dead racists is inherently worse than racism?

    If white fragility lets you center a white man’s hurt feelings over a woman of color’s anger at racism, can I, a white woman, center my anger at Engholm’s assertion that everyone should know that white people can’t bear to hear people of color talk about racism?

  16. Lenore J:
    “Discrimination” is a negative word, so of course it’s a slur. And since it in this case it isn’t true it’s also slander.
    Google defines slur as “an insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their reputation”.

    Chip H:
    I think criticism should be allowed. What’s unacceptable is double standards, when your not allowed to even use the world snowflake (even just generally, not pointing to anyone) but accusing someone of being a “fascist”…that’s for some reason perfectly OK!

    Bonnie M:
    The problem is that that “decision” is unacceptable, unethical. We shouldn’t accept straining snowflakes but swallowing fascism.
    “Sterile” and “hauning” are negative words in our universe. The other two words are what Ng made slurs against. I think it’s rather insulting that you don’t seem to think that calling someone a “fascist” is out of order.
    Ng wasn’t “factually correct”. You’re confusing a (rather twisted) opinion with what a fact is. It is just precisely the “link to the sentence directly in front” that makes it a slur – that makes it an accusation of doing something (“setting a tone”), and that “tone” is defined as eg “sterile” and “haunting” (both negative desciptions).

    Hampus:
    Delany was rejected, but not out of discrimination. JWC motivated it with that he didn’t think his readers would be able to identify with such a character, and that’s a different thing. But here we have the problem of people throwing accusations based on small snippets, half a sentence, etc. We know what kind of stories Samuel Delany writes, New Wave, modernist, etc – ie the type of fiction we can be sure Campbell wasn’t fond of. He probably had lots of reasons for not wanting Delany’s story! So you’re not making an “observation”, but a very shallow assumption.

    Becca:
    Type “slur definition” into Google and you’ll find out.

    Cassy B:
    I don’t think it’s relevant if X numer of people “agreee” with such attacks as calling someone a “fascist”. That’s just mob mentality. BTW, for me it’s not about “hurt feelings” or anything. It’s a matter of ethics – that it’s unacceptable to expel like Dave T from a Worldcon because of using the mere, quite mild word “snowflake” (directed at no one in particular) and at the same time allow a vile attack at named person, who is branded ad a “fascist”.
    That doesn’t compute. And for this reason, so called “Codes of Conduct” loses its legitimacy.

    –Ahrvid

  17. @Lenore Jones — it is a Code of Conduct, not a Code of Existence. It regulates how people act and speak, not what they are. If someone has a problem with another person being black or gay, then obviously that is outside the scope.

    @Cassy B — likewise, WRT to Okorofor on a panel.

    All the other comments — I am judging Dublin’s response in terms of its own CoC (which is consistent with Engholm’s complaint). They specifically elevated the feelings of attendees over an individual’s privilege to speak in certain aspects of race, sexuality, etc. Speech and actions were to be evaluated on how they make people feel.

  18. Dear Ahrvid,

    You keep repeating “straining snowflake…” as if it will gain traction with tedious repetition. It’s not that clever. Once was enough. We got it. We just don’t buy it. Saying it over and over and over again doesn’t make it more sellable. It does make it clear that you have nothing more to say, you just think saying it over and over again will somehow make it seem more sensible.

    You intentionally and resolutely continue to ignore the extremely important point that Ng was criticizing a DEAD, HISTORICAL figure. No living person was being called out, directly or indirectly. You persist in trying to compare apples and oranges, trying to compare what happened at San Jose to what happened in Dublin. Different situations, different concoms, different rules. It’s a massive “what about” and it’s at best disingenuous and at worst flat-out dishonest.

    Further, the accuracy of her criticism is irrelevant. By your bizarre interpretation of CoC’s it will never be possible to critique or discuss the problematical behavior and politics of any historical figure. We must accept them in all their previously-anointed glory, from Lovecraft to Ellison.

    Which seems to be entirely your intent — to sabotage.

    As to your repeated point that if CoC’s aren’t enforced consistently, between different jurisdictions in different circumstances, they should be abolished… I bet you’re in favor of abolishing all traffic laws also. Because god knows they vary from state to state and country to country and they sure aren’t enforced consistently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

    You want to straitjacket the process, and no one is buying it. You tried a gambit. It failed. I’d say “thanks for playing, time to move on,” but you’re not even deserving of thanks. Just move on.

    pax \ Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com

  19. Dear bill,

    It was you who brought up the red herring of “objectivity,” not I nor anyone else. I merely shot it down. Don’t pretend it’s my stinky fish.

    All complaints and all attitudes are not created equal . The intent of a CoC is NOT (and never has been) to value all equally (as so many others have pointed out and you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge). If you want to play rules lawyer, demand literal interpretations of CoC’s with wording taken out of context and out of the process and spirit in which it was created, that’s your problem. You have chosen to intentionally put on blinders so you can flog your anti-CoC position, in contradiction to reality.

    No, the playing field is not level — we are prejudiced against prejudice and we are bigoted against bigots. Live with it.

    Also, see my preceding response to Ahrvid. It addresses your flogging points also… But, really and truly, that horse is very dead. What you imagine you are gaining by continuing to wield the whip escapes me.

    pax \ Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com

  20. Ahrvid Engholm:
    .

    “Delany was rejected, but not out of discrimination. JWC motivated it with that he didn’t think his readers would be able to identify with such a character, and that’s a different thing.”

    No. It is exactly the same thing. This is how women and people of colour have been kept out from publishing. Also, we know what reason Campbell gave. There is no reason to speculate.

    ““Sterile” and “hauning” are negative words in our universe.”

    Yes, they are. And because she was reacting to what she saw as a negative thing, it was logical to use negative words. That is how you use words.

  21. Ahrvid:

    “Sterile” and “hauning” are negative words in our universe. The other two words are what Ng made slurs against.

    No, ALL the adjectives she used (sterile, white, male) were directed against the general TONE of science fiction which Campbell fostered, not a person or people. And the word ‘haunting’ was used as a verb, not an adjective, literally meaning that that tone has persisted long after Campbell’s time in science fiction.

    The majority of writers WERE white and male at that time in SFF – as well as the majority of SFF protagonists. Sterile? How often was the concerns of relationship, children and family (in all its permutations) central to a story? Where is she being inaccurate in describing that tone? Yes, she’s being critical. Do you consider it a ‘slur’ that someone dare be critical of literature you approve of?

    Delany was rejected, but not out of discrimination. JWC motivated it with that he didn’t think his readers would be able to identify with such a character, and that’s a different thing.

    Delany was rejected, but not out of discrimination. JWC motivated it with that he didn’t think his readers would be able to identify with such a character, and that’s a different thing.

    dis·crim·i·na·tion
    /d??skrim??n?SH(?)n/
    noun
    noun: discrimination; plural noun: discriminations
    1.
    the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

    So Campbell decided that readers couldn’t identify with a black protagonist – thus assuming that his readers either did not include black people (which the presence of Delany in the field gave the lie to), or that he valued the opinion of white male readers too inflexibly prejudiced to identify with a black protagonist over his other readers. How is that NOT discrimination?

  22. Ahrvid Engholm: expel like Dave T from a Worldcon because of using the mere, quite mild word “snowflake” (directed at no one in particular) and at the same time allow a vile attack at named person, who is branded ad a “fascist”.

    You have completely undermined yourself — repeatedly — with your blatant dishonesty.

    Truesdale’s Worldcon membership was not revoked simply for the use of the word “snowflake”. You know this. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly, and yet you continue to pretend that this is the reason that his membership was revoked, and you continue to equate what he did with Ng’s speech, when the two are completely different things.

    The “named person” has been dead for nearly 50 years. His actions are open for criticism on a historical basis. The fact that you don’t like to hear him criticized is something you are just going to have to deal with.

    And the fact that you are saying that the criticism of Campbell reflects on you personally tells me that you believe the same things he did. This does you absolutely no credit — in fact, you have done your own reputation and character a great deal of damage by insisting that criticism of Campbell is the same as criticism of you.

    The only thing you are succeeding at here is convincing me — and probably a whole lot of other people — that you approve of Campbell’s racist and fascist behaviors. You might want to consider if that was really the effect you were going for — because it’s certainly the one you’ve achieved.

  23. I’ve been terribly low in focus lately, apologies for the late reply. (And general absence.)

    There’s no possible way to harass a dead man. Trust me, Campbell’s not feeling even remotely harassed right now. He’s not feeling anything at all.

    @John A Arkansawyer

    I see. Thanks for the explanation of the reference. I suppose I should mentally edit it to “strain (calling people) snowflakes but swallow (calling people) fascists” for clarity.

    @Ahrvid Engholm

    Once you start arguing that pointing out discrimination is just as bad or worse than discriminating you cease having anything to contribute to the conversation that’s worth listening to.

    @Hampus Eckerman

    Well, Campbell did die in 1971. Knowing someone for thirty years wouldn’t eliminate the possibility. 🙂

    @bill

    The bare minimum was evaluating the merits of the complaint and communicating their decision and course of action (if any), which they did, and then they went above that and explained their reasoning. An apology would, in my opinion, have been vaguely offensive in and of itself; it would give some credence to a complaint which most certainly does not deserve it; and it would have been a bad look for the convention. I’m glad they didn’t. Attempting to increase his comfort in that way would have reduced the comfort of others.

    I’m sure Ahrvid’s feelings of hurt are genuine. But that doesn’t mean anyone owes him an apology.

    @Becca

    I noticed how Ahrvid failed to properly reply to your comment. “Please specifically provide historical examples and context about the differences between adjectives, insults, and slurs, and why those differences are important.” is hardly addressed by telling someone to google the dictionary definition of slur, is it…

  24. So Campbell decided that readers couldn’t identify with a black protagonist

    Even if we assume a difference in this respect between the readership of Analog and the SF readership at large — well, in that case he’d still be talking about the audience cultivated by the magazine he’d edited for the past three decades.

  25. @Ahrvid: If you want consistency, I will answer as though all the decisions are being made in Massachusetts, where I live.

    Under US law, it is legally impossible to libel or slander a dead person, because that person cannot be hurt (or helped) by anything said about them. Their reputation may be affected, but not the actual person.

    Also under US law, truth is an absolute defense against claims of libel and slander. Furthermore, Campbell was a public figure–the entire reason this is being discussed is that he was a public figure–which means that to be legally actionable, he would have had to show not merely that the statement was untrue, but that Ng either knew or should have known that the assertions were untrue. Not that you, Ahrvid Engholm, believe Campbell wasn’t a fascist, but that Ng should have known that he wasn’t.

    (Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. But neither are most of the other participants in this conversation. And I would be very surprised if any of them was an Irish lawyer.)

  26. Dear James,

    In addition, we are taking Campbell at his word, assuming that his reason is truthful. Racists always come up with reasons why they are justified in being racist. One does not automatically trust them to be honest in such matters. Usually they are not.

    ~~~~

    Dear Vicki,

    Are you sure you want to wander down this rabbit hole? Declaring that legality is any kind of a metric in these matters is a standard alt-right and anti-MeToo stalking point. Their obstructionist refrain is that if you can’t take it to the police, you shouldn’t complain.

    Codes of Conduct are not about legality. They are about what is tolerable and acceptable behavior, not what is legal behavior. They exist to enforce the former. By and large, they specifically say that if you observe criminal behavior, you should contact law enforcement.

    Conversely, there are a great many behaviors that the science fiction community has accepted for over six decades that have, in the past, been illegal almost everywhere and still are illegal in many parts of the US. Think consensual sexual practices and soft drug use. If you take a complaint about one of those to a CoC committee, they are not going to pursue the complaint unless the activity is being done in a fashion where it scares the horses. Possibly not even then, depending upon how pearl-clutching they judge the horse to be.

    It’s a lie promulgated by the alt-right that CoC’s should be about legality. Please don’t let yourself get sucked into that argument.

    pax \ Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com

  27. Even if we assume a difference in this respect between the readership of Analog and the SF readership at large — well, in that case he’d still be talking about the audience cultivated by the magazine he’d edited for the past three decades.

    @James Moar
    Which proves Ng’s points about both his discrimination and his maintenance of the “sterile, male, white” atmosphere of the SF he cultivated. It does not matter if the owner or supervisor of an establishment excludes POC from it based on whether he feels prejudice against POC himself, or on his judgement that his preferred clientele he has carefully cultivated and catered to for years has that prejudice. Either way, by forbidding a black protagonist to appear in the pages of the magazine he’s editing, he’s practicing discrimination on a racial basis.

    SF was a field that had on occasion featured stories written from the point of view of literal ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET (some of them in Campbell’s own magazine, I think). It’s incredible to me that some people who profess devotion to SF attempt to argue that an editor’s decision to exclude a protagonist who belongs to the same human species as his readers because their skin color is a bridge too far for his readers to identify with is NOT practicing racial discrimination.

  28. Ctein (a pseud for several? – since it calls itself “we”…):
    It’s worth repeating until for instance you understand the unacceptable in double standards. If you bring out the mildest snowflake – blasphemy, burn at the stake! If you claim someone is “fascist” – very commendable… (It becomes only worse if the perrson is dead, since he can’t defend himself.) BTW, the jurisdiction is the same (a Worldcon) and if you check the 2006 CoC you’ll find the rules are the same.

    Hampus:
    No, it isn’t in modern times and for relevant historical time “how women and people of the way have been kept out from publishing”, because they haven’t. And as said, everyone knows that the style of the things Delany wrote about was far, far from what Campbell wanted from stories, so he most certainly had a whole bunch of reasons for rejection.
    The CoC demands you to hold back “negative words” because it’s harassment. If you don’t, you breach the CoC, no matter how logical the word use would be.

    jayn:
    And that “tone” was defined as “male” and “white”. Haunting is negative also as a verb.
    SCIENCE fiction isn’t social fiction. It’s more about ideas than people. It’s not. mandatory for it to deal in any excess with relationships, family etc. But what the genre does at its best is far from “sterile”. Ideas reproduce (opposite of sterile!) into new ideas. Speculative thoughts bounce around and spread and are analysed in literary form. What’s “sterile” with that? It’s the most lively scene.
    Campbell wasn’t unjust in caring to give readers what he thought would serve them best. But most important, what’s missing here is that he most certainly had tons and tons of reasons to reject a story by a New Age writer – that wasn’t his cup of tea.

    JJ:
    But that was an important part of it. And listen, YOU KNOW that he didn’t “kidnap” his panel. You have the sound file.
    Yes they were “different things”. There was a miscarriage of justice against Dave L. While Ms Ng got away with murder (of character). A difference alright. And the CoC demands negativity to be held back, and doesn’t mention “criticism on a historical basis”. And as I have shown, what you fantasise as his “racist and fascist behaviors” is with all probability a misinterpretation of something else: the special style he had for discussion, intentionally provoking, flinging out thoughts to make people think themselves, etc. This has been described by many who knew him.

    Meredith:
    You can harass the memory of someone dead, memories that lives in many. And also, the argument isn’t that Ms Ng broke the (real) law, but that she broke the CoC. (BTW, my feelings have survived pretty unhurt. The core of this is something else: the unethical double standard in straining snowflakes but swallowing fascism.)

    Vicki R:
    CoCs don’t rely on the law of Massachusetts. They are their own, private, made-up laws.

    –Ahrvid

  29. I absolutely respect many of y’all’s choice to not waste your time and energy reading AE’s entire lengthy ranty response to Dublin, linked above. But that does mean you missed gems like this:

    “The flawed historical notions in the reply is also unsatisfying. The “sci-fi” – the abbreviation “sf” is preferable, BTW – landscape has NOT been “exclusionary of minorities, people of colour and women”. There’s no natural law that says all groups appear equally in all circumstances. Nature has instead, for instance, made men tending to be more interested in science, gadgets, technology and the other things sf literature overflows with. Other factors explain other group’s connections to the sf field. That’s not “exclusionary” but the way reality works. No one, and certainly not John W Campbell, has been involved in actively excluding this or that group.”

    This is not a person who is arguing in good faith.

  30. You can harass the memory of someone dead, memories that lives in many. And also, the argument isn’t that Ms Ng broke the (real) law, but that she broke the CoC. (BTW, my feelings have survived pretty unhurt. The core of this is something else: the unethical double standard in straining snowflakes but swallowing fascism.)

    So you made your complaint NOT based on any harassment YOU felt – because YOUR feelings weren’t hurt at all. You based your complaint on your assertion that the ghost of Campbell felt harassed by the fact-based criticism of his editorial practices, and that your mediumistic talents divined that Campbell’s shade was present at the speech AND hurt at the criticism, AND requested that you bring the complaint on his posthumous behalf. Got it.

    And as said, everyone knows that the style of the things Delany wrote about was far, far from what Campbell wanted from stories, so he most certainly had a whole bunch of reasons for rejection.

    Okay, so by that talent for communication with the Afterlife that you apparently possess (did you bring a Ouija board to the con?) you’re saying that Campbell lied to Delany about the reason for his rejection of his story, and that his REAL reason for his rejection of the story was its sexual undertones (an assertion you bring no proof for) and the utter lack of protagonists of color throughout Campbell’s tenure was sheer coincidence, NOT evidence that Campbell told the truth that he thought his readers were incapable of straining to identify with a protagonist of color (though they swallowed an Alien-from-another-planet POV readily).

    Dude, if you presented that story to Campbell himself, I suspect he wouldn’t just reject it as fantasy, hence not suitable for publication in his magazine. I think he’d also reject it as illogical and contradictory to the facts as presented in the story. He’d probably also find your repeating the same assertions over and over without explaining the contradictions that had already been pointed out to you would make you an inflexible writer incapable of responding well to editorial feedback, as well as a tedious one. Just IMO.

    Vicki R:
    CoCs don’t rely on the law of Massachusetts. They are their own, private, made-up laws.

    I really think you should address Ctein’s question to you on this and explain why you consider that the law of Massachusetts was never “made-up.”

  31. @Ahrvid Engholm,

    SCIENCE fiction isn’t social fiction. It’s more about ideas than people.

    Tell me, how do you feel about Isaac Asimov? For example, his Foundation series? You know, the one that relies as one of its central theses on Psychohistory – a

    fictional science in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe which combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people

    … which seems to be about as social as one can possibly get?

    Also, in my experience as a reader, all stories including science fiction are not just about a concept (scientific or otherwise) itself, but about how people deal with them, how it affects people and how people affect it – all very much social. Fiction without people (not necessarily humans) tends to be utterly boring.

    Even such a story as “The Cold Equations” only becomes a story worth reading because it is about the people involved. Had there been no people, no characters, there would actually not have been any story at all – there would have been no stowaway to upset the oh-so-finely-tuned equations (… and no people to fail to implement simple security procedures to prevent stowaways, or perhaps technical measures weigh the ship before it is launched to detect miscalculations in the mass of the ship – which incidentally might have made the story a better one …)

    Simply put, your claim that science fiction is not about people is, in my view, utter nonsense. Fiction is always about people, by people, for people. It is one of the most social things there is.

  32. @Christian
    In fact, that was one of the things Campbell was important for: emphasizing that stories were about people.

  33. “People have reason to feel attacked! I certainly did. As a white male writer who goes back to the Campbell era I felt directly under attack, as well as being angered by the inaccurate slander being directed at Campbell, and I was so upset by her statements and the obvious audience approval of them that I left the ceremony as soon as I could appropriately get out the door”

    “BTW, my feelings have survived pretty unhurt.”

    Interesting to note the contradictions here. Almost as if the original proclamation of hurt feelings was, perhaps, exaggerated or made-up for the sake of shit-stirring?

    And listen, YOU KNOW that he didn’t “kidnap” his panel. You have the sound file.

    And some of us have actually listened to it. The man hijacked at least half the panel for his own personal crusade.

  34. Ahrvid:

    “The CoC demands you to hold back “negative words” because it’s harassment.”

    There is no such statement in the CoC. What other reasons Campbell may have had is not interesting in any way whatsoever. He stated a reason and that reason was discriminatory.

  35. Honestly, I’m impressed. Goal-post moving, arguing in bad faith, and an apparent belief that anything said three (or more) times must be true. It’s like Neapolitan-trolling.

  36. SCIENCE fiction isn’t social fiction. It’s more about ideas than people. It’s not. mandatory for it to deal in any excess with relationships, family etc. But what the genre does at its best is far from “sterile”. Ideas reproduce (opposite of sterile!) into new ideas. Speculative thoughts bounce around and spread and are analysed in literary form. What’s “sterile” with that? It’s the most lively scene.

    That may be your view of science fiction, but it’s not Jayn’s or mine or that of many other folks. In fact, it’s debatable whether it was John W. Campbell’s view, though it is often attributed to him. After all, Campbell published plenty of stories that don’t match that stereotype. And, as P.J. Evans points out, he also demanded more characterisation than was common in US magazine science fiction up to that point.

    Also, if one’s view of science fiction is that ideas are more important than characters and if one associates this type of science fiction with John W. Campbell, rightly or wrongly, it is easy to understand why one might call that type of science fiction sterile.

  37. Ahrvid Engholm: BTW, my feelings have survived pretty unhurt. The core of this is something else

    So either you lied when you filed the CoC complaint, or you are lying now. Which is it?

    Never mind, I don’t need an answer to that. It’s enough that you’ve openly admitted that you’ve lied and that nothing you say can be trusted to be true.

    Your pretense that the racist and fascist behaviors of JWC are “fantasized” is eyerollingly-bad. Like most of the people here, I’m intelligent and perfectly-capable of recognizing racism and fascism when I see it — and no matter how many times you deny it, it doesn’t change those behaviors into something benign.

    And your unbelievably sexist denigration of women is just pathetically sad. You obviously have no idea just how many of the regular commenters here are women scientists, engineers, and computer experts (here’s a hint: they probably outnumber the male scientists, engineers, and computer experts who comment here).

    You might want to see if you can get hold of Norman Spinrad’s phone number. It sounds as though the two of you have a great deal in common — a complete detachment from reality and a worldview that hasn’t changed in 50 years — and as a bonus, you both seem to enjoy spouting falsehoods as if they were truth.

  38. Ahrvid:

    “SCIENCE fiction isn’t social fiction. It’s more about ideas than people. “

    Here is the thing. I find that to be a description of sterile Science Fiction. A kind I’m not very fond of. For me, Science Fiction is about an idea and how it affects people, how it changes their lives, how they cope with it. The people and their struggles are the important part for me. If that part doesn’t seem realistic and interesting enough, then it doesn’t matter how good the idea is.

    Idea heavy stories can work well in short fiction. But they grow boring in novels. That’s why I’ve never liked any of Asimovs longer Novels. Even Foundation was written as a series of short stories.

    Did you see how I used the word sterile? I used it in a negative sense to describe a type of story that I didn’t like. That is how Ng used it too.

  39. With apologies to Richard O’Brien:

    Social Fiction, Double Feature
    Dr. X will care for a creature.
    See androids friending Brad and Janet.
    Anne Francis tweeting Forbidden Planet,
    At the late night, double feature social show

  40. @Jim Hines:

    It turns out that Ahrvid’s complaint isn’t that he felt attacked, but that some unnamed person felt attacked. (I was puzzled by the “as a white male writer who goes back to the Campbell era,” because Ahrvid’s only published genre fiction is a short story from 2005.

    I am willing to believe that the lurkers support him in email someone else told Ahrvid that he was unhappy–but there’s no evidence that anyone else was upset enough to complain.

    I forgot, we SJWs are expected to put up with any amount of mistreatment as “free speech,” but under no circumstances do anything that might upset any of those supposedly thick-skinned conservative men. (I’m not going to deliberately misgender Ahrvid, as he just did in order to insult Ctein–he knows as well as I do that the third person plural pronoun in English is “they,” even if he’s forgotten that Ctein is male.)

  41. @Vicki Rosenzweig: To clarify, while Ahrvid is mostly known as a fan, he has published several short stories in Swedish, and has a (for lack of a better word) Campbellian view of what science fiction should be. It shows in his short stories, his reviews, and in his advice to other writers.

    So if Ahrvid says he felt personally attacked by Jeanette Ng’s speech, I have no doubt that it’s true.

    For what it’s worth, I agree with the Dublin committee’s decision that Ng’s speech didn’t constitute harassment or otherwise breached the codes of conduct.

  42. All right. I didn’t support changing the name of the Campbell Award. I didn’t like how it happened and I wish the readers of ANALOG had been polled before the name change.

    That being said, the name of the award was changed. My side lost. No amount of complaining will change the result.

    So, Ahrvid Engholm, let me say this, from someone who was on the same side as you: just stop. Please stop. The war is over. Come out of your foxhole and get some fresh air. You are not helping the cause of traditional sf by continuing to flail like this.

  43. Cory Doctorow has weighed in on Jeanette Ng’s speech as well, in an opinion piece in Locus:

    Cory Doctorow: Jeannette Ng Was Right: John W. Campbell Was a Fascist

    […]

    At the Hugo Awards ceremony at this summer’s Dublin Worldcon, Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Ng gave an outstanding and brave acceptance speech in which she called Campbell – the award’s namesake and one of the field’s most influential editors – a “fascist” […]

    I think she was right – and seemly – to make her re­marks. […]

    So when Ng held Campbell “responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists,” she was factually correct.

    The whole thing is worth reading.

  44. @Karl-Johan:

    Ahrvid said that he was passing on someone else’s complaint. That’s different from “I feel insulted, and so did another white male writer who would rather not be named.”

    (This is me being perhaps over-precise, since the error you’ve found is the result of assuming that Ahrvid meant what he said, rather than meaning a somewhat stronger claim he didn’t make. And yes, this piece of the conversation is a few days old; I hadn’t noticed it at the time.)

  45. Some comments on Cory Doctorow’s opinion piece in Locus, Nov (2019), https://locusmag.com/2019/11/cory-doctorow-jeannette-ng-was-right-john-w-campbell-was-a-fascist/

    Here we go again! An avalanche of half-quotes picked out of context, second-hand snippets, likely misinterpretations, name-calling and deliberate truth-stretching. All of it without giving sources, which makes fact-checking nearly impossible. But the writer’s strong, biased emotions are more important than reality. The entire second half of the article is spent in long high-horse tirades about how bad it is that things are…well, bad.
    I didn’t think it was possible but Doctorow, in his Locus piece, manages to go even one step further than Jeanette Ng! She limited herself to claiming someone was a fascist. Most agree that the million-mass-murderer Hitler was even more evil than Mussolini, and – BANG! Yes! – out pops the Nazi from Doctorow’s sleeve! (According to Goodwin’s law that makes him officially Losing the Debate!)
    “Those same Nazis went on…” we learn, in a logical jump with very doubtful substance. Here’s an example of how Doctorow takes huge leaps in his chain of evidence, not minding the giant gaps. What he refers to is a) the Hugo controversy where two politically opposing groups have been hijacking and counter-hijacking nominations and voting, b) a controversies within computer gaming originating in opposing opinions about eg gender politics.
    There’s no evidence that the side Doctorow dislikes in the “a)” controversy are “Nazis”! I know only what I’ve read, but that is that this group was against the creeping left-wing politicising of sf and wanted more traditional stories. That doesn’t make anyone a member of the Schutzstaffel or anything. His accusation is right out of the blue. Concerning “b)”, there’s no evidence that the people caring for more traditional science fiction from “a)” are the same as those involved in the computer gaming controversy in “b)”. Generally, computer gamers and fans of scientifiction are totally different people. So there’s no “those same” that have “gone on” and there’s nothing that says that either group is followers of ideas of murdering Jews en masse.
    This sloppy, slippery treatment is also found in the long string of accusations Doctorow has against John W Campbell. I have said it before, and have backed it up with sources and long quotes that everyone can check, and the thing is that Campbell had a very special style of pondering and discussing with readers and writers. He would intentionally throw in wild ideas to provoke and make people think. He would test the limits of ideas by stretching them. He was an intellectual banging his head against the limits of thoughts. But we can’t be sure that everything he uttered was what he believed. He might just pretend, just to shake the heads of the audience, or it may be a whim he picked up just temporarily.
    Under these circumstances the snippets Doctorow offers loses a lot of weight. We must have sources for and the entire context for claims about cheers for Ken State shooters, forcing Heinlein to write a yellow peril book, making Tom Goodwin to bash women, thinking blacks want to be slaves, and so on. When Ms Ng made her “fascism” attack I saw each of these snippets pop up in the commentary fields of one of the big news site, all without sources or context.
    I may be wrong, but my impression is that Doctorow’s catalogue of allegations are all second- or third-hand claims from a mobs’ rumour mongering. Based on that we never see sources or context it seems likely he doesn’t know anything first hand. Doctorow have just “heard” that it is so and so.
    And, yes, neither have I read everything Campbell has written. But I’m not making accusations, though I do give sources for how I explain Campbell. It’s always the one making claims that has the burden of proof – I follow that but Doctorow doesn’t. You should study for instance the Collected Editorials from Analog (ed Harry Harrison) available here: https://archive.org/details/collectededitori01camp The word “slavery” only appear once in this collection, for instance, and in not in the way Doctorow claims. Harrison’s introduction where he describes Campbell’s special intellectual, inquisitory style is especially worth reading.
    However, it may be argued that Campbell seen through today’s glasses expressed racism, the sort of everyday view on races that probably virtually all of his early 20th Century (he was born in 1910) generation had. But at the same time it’s wrong to look upon history with the goggles of hindsight. We know that the general opinions about races was different way back in previous century, and there’s nothing we can do about it now. To single out one person, who was just like everyone else from that era, is just retroactive self-righteousness, it’s egocentric symbolism. “Look at me, I’m so holy!” If we pretend that history can be rewritten we become dumber. We won’t be able to understand what happened before and can’t learn from history.
    One thing Campbell was guilty of was pseudo-science. We have the Dean Drive, the Hieronymus machine, his early support for Dianetics (which he soon left) etc. This gives a background to what Harrison explains: Campbell wasn’t “right wing”, he was a technocrat. Campbell meant that science would fix everything. And if you like him always challenged the limits it’s easy to fall for pseudoscience. A mix of intellectual curiousness and playfulness also played a role.
    But how shall we explain Doctorow’s outbreak with for instance “Nazi” name-calling? Well, we have the general declining debate climate, which is heated by silly postmodernism, obscure identity politics, gender chatter, general leftist tendencies as if the Iron Curtain and Communism Collapse didn’t happen, all also creeping into science fiction. That makes it OK to claim that anything politically not correct being “fascist”. After all, to history ignorant activists “fascism” must surely be “anything vaguely right-wing which I don’t like”. We get holier-than-thou mobs that goes scalp hunting, where humiliating token enemies becomes precious victories,

    –Ahrvid Engholm
    Writer, sf news reporter, fan since the 1970’s

  46. @ Ahrvid Engholm:

    Please let this drop, you are definitely burning way too much of your energy on htis. It is not worth the time you burn on it. Sigh, shrug your shoulders, drop your fingers and don’t write the reply you were just about to send my way. Step away, and ignore this, for at least a month. Please? For your own sake?

  47. The collection of Campbell editorials on Internet Archive is often linked, usually by someone wanting to say that much of his writing is gedanken experiments writ large. That book is available, and is easy to find, but it stops in 1966. So there’s no way, for example, to understand Campbell’s thoughts on the Kent State shootings by consulting the book (they happened in 1970). There’s over four years of his editorials that are not included in the book.

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