Holly Lisle Resigns from SFWA

Holly Lisle has publicly resigned from Science Fiction Writers of America, though not for any reasons associated with the latest round of culture wars. It’s because she’s opposed to income tax. And what has that got to do with SFWA? She explains —

SFWA moved from Massachusetts to California for the purpose of allowing SFWA to claim tax dollars to offer grants. I’m aware that there were other—good—reasons for the organization’s move, but this particular poison pill in the changes made to SFWA requires me to walk away and never look back.

The only money that can ever be honestly given comes voluntarily from the person who earned it—and taxes are not voluntary. Try not paying them if you doubt this.

SFWA reincorporated in California in 2013 according to state records. Few of the reasons for doing so have been discussed in publicly-accessible forums. The option to conduct voting electronically is one. Readers may infer from Lisle’s statement that the possibility of tapping into public money for grants is another.

The rest of her resignation letter says:

Grants donated by SFWA members would have been honest and decent. But that’s not what SFWA wants to do. SFWA (and the members who voted in favor of the change of incorporation—I did not) wants to come out looking heroic for giving money that it did not earn (or receive voluntarily from members) to people who didn’t earn it either.

“Giving” grants taken from tax dollars is nothing less than theft of taxpayer money. This action forces people who have no interest in the careers of writers receiving grants to support those writers’ work, no matter how distasteful, badly written, or objectionable they might find it.

It is institutionalized thuggery, and were I to remain a member, I would brand myself complicit with the thugs.

Anyone who remains in SFWA, knowing what this organization has chosen to do, will be doing the same.

Lisle explicitly condemns income tax in a comment:

The taxing of income—that money upon which the individual must rely to survive—is a massive assault on individual rights. Taxing of purchases other than food and water is, however, appropriate.

It’s not hard to find people in the sf field who condemn income tax, though never before have I seen a writer accuse SFWA of being complicit with tax authorities.

21 thoughts on “Holly Lisle Resigns from SFWA

  1. I am deeply sorrowed to see a writer whose prior works I have often admired and reviewed favorably, spouting such absurd Randroid babble.

  2. Good on Holly Lisle for standing up for her beliefs– particularly beliefs that may get her blackballed by some members of the SFWA or major publishing houses.

  3. Given the abnormally high percentage of libertarians and Randroids in SF fandom and culture, this is a particularly odd assertion, AV (whoever you may be).

  4. She calls people out in a public way. Even those SFWAns who share her opinion may dislike being called to account.

  5. Wait. Libertarian anti-tax activism is not connected to the current culture wars?

  6. Does Ms Lisle plan to recompense childfree taxpayers for the high school education she presumably received at state expense?

  7. There is a public good to justify tax-supported public schools — or at least there would be if the schools actually did what they are supposed to do, namely turn rug-rats into productive citizens (rather than illiterates with unjustified self-esteem).

  8. Andrew: Hey, it can be if you want. SFWA’s own recent history of kerfuffles has been about sexism in the Bulletin and racism and misogyny expressed in its private forums.

    Steve: I didn’t interpret that as saying she hasn’t paid the required taxes.

  9. I believe that most people of this ideological bent argue that since they are not responsible for taxation having been imposed to buy the services from which they profited, they do not owe reparations (or thanks or gratitude for hundreds of centuries of societal efforts to sustain the species). Folks of this ilk, in my experience, are mostly angry about taxes being imposed during their lifetimes, to benefit people less superior and deserving than themselves, without said ideologues being sufficiently heeded about how to run society.

  10. I’m inclined to think the only persons who will not voluntarily support the community they live in and benefit from, don’t deserve to live in one. But that’s me … others can justify letting the world around them go to hell if they think that more fair

  11. I had the impression that opposing income taxes (perhaps especially while supporting sales taxes, which hit low-income people harder) (and perhaps especially income taxes that go to support the arts as opposed to, say, the military) *was* a conservative position and hence part of the culture wars.

    Well. She has a right to decide which organizations she will belong to, and which she will quit. I have enjoyed her books in the past and I am not a Puppy, to choose my authors for their politics. If she continues to write good books, I’ll continue to buy them.

    But that certainly is quirky.

  12. @ Cat: “… I am not a Puppy, to choose my authors for their politics.”

    I do not think that word means what you think it means… Sad Puppies 3 nominated authors based on whether or not they liked the work. I believe that a few different flavors spanning the inadequate left/right political axis were noted among the nominees.

    More tellingly, there were some suggested nominees whose politics were (are) not known. Lack of comprehension on your part makes puppies even sadder! All the sads!

  13. The Sad Puppies say they like exploration, discovery, adventure, excitement, explosions– that would seem to put _Opera Vita Aeterna_ well outside their usual tastes. Which makes it seem unlikely to me, and I think to other onlookers, that they nominated it because they liked the work. The desire to make liberals heads explode, on the other hand 1) is politics and 2) models perfectly as an explanation of the nomination.

    I suspect it is precisely my comprehension, and not my lack thereof, that saddens the Puppies.

  14. I didn’t recognize the referenced title in your post – it doesn’t appear in SP3. A cursory search shows that it dates, from SP2, with which I am less familiar (never read _Opera_, doesn’t look like my kind of thing). My statement about the broad distribution of political orientation in SP3, including ‘unknown’ is not elided by your characterization of SP2.

    Did you see Jim Butcher on there (personal favorite of mine)? Kevin Anderson (from Tor, even!)? How about the freaking Lego movie (made of solid awesome)? Those seem pretty non-heady ‘splody suggestions to me.

    Selected onlookers perceptions notwithstanding, the SP3 slate seems pretty inclusive to me. Thus, the sads.

  15. Sad Puppy past behavior is a powerful indication of their present intent and future behavior. If you want to associate yourself with them, of course you can do that, but you take the bad with the good.

  16. <>

    Orange Mike,

    That’s a poor attempt to disqualify my opinion, but for the record: I’m a fan who’s been observing the industry for over a decade. If you think there is a higher (or even equal) percentage of acquiring editors who are right of center in SFF publishing, you are simply incorrect.

    And Holly Lisle, fine a writer as she may be, is not a big enough seller to avoid being excluded on the basis of political choice.

  17. First, Mr. Glyer, very nice site. I have come by a number of times and carefully typed out messages on my tablet…which, alas, always fails to post them for some reason that I have yet to divine. Just imagine I said something nice. 😉

    Second, Cat…I gather you did not like the story of Vox’s that was nominated last year, but it was nominated by Vox’s fans, who are quite numerous. I have to assume that they liked it.

    In general, the goal of Sad Puppies is not political. It is to find good stories and bring them to the attention of readers. Since I was involved in the process of drawing up the slate, in a distant way, I know how it was done.

    The various authors involved asked the readers of their blogs to tell Mr. Torgersen which stories they would like to see nominated. Any member of the public could comment and make suggestions. Quite a few works were suggested, over 30 short stories for instance, though more like seven in some other categories. Mr. Torgersen looked them over, saw which ones got lots of votes and drew them up into a list. The list was then published and people were encouraged to support those works…if they liked them.

    Various efforts were made then to make sure that the voters read the stories. They must have worked because I can tell you as the wife of one of the nominees quite a few copies of some of my husband’s shorter works were purchased on Amazon by readers who wished to read the stories before they voted.

    And that was the main point of Sad Puppies…to bring these works to readers’ attentions.

    If any of the works should happen to receive a nomination, all the better…but such things are secondary.

  18. “In general, the goal of Sad Puppies is not political.”

    Given a certain premature Hugo nominee announcment, I respectfully disagree.

  19. What struck me most about this is her timing. This SFWA move was voted on in 201 and only now her principles are important enough to quit it?

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