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. @Hampus Eckerman

    Yeah, whew, that’s pretty damning. Jeebus.

    I mean, I’m biased. Every May 4th I play “Ohio” by Crosby Stills Nash and Young on repeat, ideally accompanied by news footage. Call it a memento mori.

    Three of the four students killed at Kent State were Jewish, two were honors students, and one was an Eagle Scout. They weren’t even all protesters. Some were just kids going to class.

    Smugness about their deaths remains, to me, a sign of monstrous callousness and inhumanity.

  2. “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.

    Sorry, but this is completely wrong.

    a) There was no hijacking and counterhijacking of Hugo nominations. There were two overlapping groups, the sad and rabid puppies, who hijacked the nominations. There was no counterhijacking, however. Fandom got together, no awarded the finalists who had been slated onto the ballot, passed EPH to dilute the effect of slates and went about its business.

    b) There is plenty of evidence, much of it linked in these very pages, that there was overlap between the Sad and Rabid Puppies and Gamergate and that Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia and Rabid Puppies head Vox Day deliberately tried to bring in Gamergate to bolster their numbers. And while not all Sad and Rabid Puppies are Nazis, many of their leaders are on the far right and at least one could be called Neo-Nazi.

    All this is very well documented, much of it right here at File 770.

    As for the rest, the horse is not just dead, it’s reeking.

  3. 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.

    Gosh, good point. I mean it would be really hard to think of a person who has
    1. extreme nationalist views
    2. to the extent of supporting mass murder
    3. who combines those views with antisemitism and holocaust denial
    4. who was the leader of one of the main factions in the Puppy debarkle
    5. who was also prominently involved in Gamergate
    6. who has been a consistent booster of r/Donald memes and talking points
    7. is a very vocal supporter of Donald Trump
    Imagine! How unlikely and implausible would it be if there was a person who somehow managed to fit ALL of those things! And somehow also had a name that rhymes with Blocks Bay? Clealry Doctorow is imagining things. What next? Claiming this same imaginary person also has a name that rhymes with Me-Adore Teal?

  4. “Godwin’s law” is not a law of nature, and Mike Godwin, who introduced it, never claimed it was. Nor is it “official”–because most of the world doesn’t have “official” rules that if you make this comparison, or that fallacy, you lose points. Out here in reality, people frequently commit all manner of logical fallacies, and the conversation does not come to a sudden halt.

    The following argument from authority may not be a logical fallacy:

    Mike Godwin, who coined Godwin’s law, has since said “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler when you talk about Trump, or any other politician” and explicitly encouraged people to compare some of the alt-right organizers to Nazis.

    I wish we lived in a world where it didn’t make sense to compare living politicians with the Nazis, but we don’t.

  5. Bill:
    Well, as JWC became Astounding editor in 1938, a 1966 collection will at least cover ca 85% of his period. As the argument is about his general style of arguing, easy to misinterpret, that should be good enough.

    Hampus:
    I’d like to see the WHOLE editorial. Snippets are biased selections.

    Cora B:
    “There was no counterhijacking, however. Fandom got together”
    “Getting together” is organising for – yes! – counter-hijacking. (BTW, just some faction of fandom was involved. Others weren’t on that train.)
    “evidence /of/ overlap between…Puppies and Gamergate…tried to bring in Gamergate to bolster their numbers”
    Sounds like evidence of the opposite. If you “try to bring in” X, it’s because X ISN’T affiliated with you to begin with.

    Camestros F:
    I guess the last, being Trump supporter, really definies “a Nazi”…
    The tired old rhetoric that fascist, here upgraded to nazi, is anything “vaguely right-wing which I don’t like”. (Nazism isn’t that. E g, it’s closely related to socialism.)

    Vicki R:
    Godwin’s Law is a good rule of thumb out of experience. When bringing up Nazism one is out arguments (=losing) and forced to substitute it with appeal to emotions and the extreme. Like Doctorow.

    –Ahrvid

  6. Ahrvid Engholm:

    “I’d like to see the WHOLE editorial. Snippets are biased selections.”

    Then I’d suggest you ask Scott Edelman for it. And if you are against biased selections, please stop talking about the book with selected editorials from 1966. That is not the full view either.

  7. Ahrvid Engholm on November 14, 2019 at 4:15 am said

    Camestros F:
    I guess the last, being Trump supporter, really definies “a Nazi”…
    The tired old rhetoric that fascist, here upgraded to nazi, is anything “vaguely right-wing which I don’t like”. (Nazism isn’t that. E g, it’s closely related to socialism.)

    You would be guessing incorrectly. Each of those points from 1 to 7 describes the leader of the Rabid Puppies. If you weren’t aware of that then you really aren’t in a sufficiently informed position to criticise Doctorow’s post meaningfully. Extreme nationalism to point of proposing ethnic cleansing and authoritarian measures is what we are referring to not “vaguely right-wing which I don’t like”. However, the refusal of the “vaguely right-wing” to do anything about extreme nationalist hijacking their movements is part of the problem.

  8. The tired old rhetoric that fascist, here upgraded to nazi, is anything “vaguely right-wing which I don’t like”. (Nazism isn’t that. E g, it’s closely related to socialism.)

    NO IT FUCKING ISN’T.

    E g.? What do you mean with E g.? Not exempli gratia I guess which means “for example”?

  9. Ahrvid Engholm:

    “The tired old rhetoric that fascist, here upgraded to nazi, is anything “vaguely right-wing which I don’t like”. (Nazism isn’t that. E g, it’s closely related to socialism.)”

    “Vaguely right-wing which I don’t like” is not the best description for an open supporter of Anders Breivik and his murder of 77 innocents at Utøya and in Oslo. And Breivik definitely wasn’t in any way close to “socialism”. In fact, all of those he murdered were socialdemocrats.

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