Withdrawal of the Re-Naming Addendum from the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting

By Chris M. Barkley: Today, as of Noon today, EST, I formally ask that the proposal to add Ursula K. Le Guin’s name to the Lodestar Award be withdrawn from consideration at the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting.

After consulting with the late author’s agent, Ginger Clark, and Theo Downes-Le Guin, her son and literary executor and myself, we came to the conclusion that pursuing this action would not be in the best interests of the award or the late Ms. Le Guin.

As the maker of the proposal, I want to state that I am appalled at the negative reactions towards my motives in putting forth this idea and the intensely personal attacks directed towards myself and the co-sponsors of the proposal which led us to this unfortunate decision.

I want to apologize to my co-sponsors, Robert J. Sawyer, David Gerrold, Steven Silver and Juli Marr, for any inconvenience or discomfort they may have suffered at the hands of the discontented fans during the past week after the official announcement of the proposal.

Although I take full responsibility for the failure of this effort, I am neither ashamed by my advocacy of this particular proposal nor am I unbowed by the end of this effort.

Despite this setback, I remain a staunch supporter of the Young Adult Book Award, the Hugo Awards and the World Science Fiction Society.

36 thoughts on “Withdrawal of the Re-Naming Addendum from the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting

  1. Well, there’s a 20 minute shorter business meeting at least. I do hope that someone will make a new, less controversial, proposal on how to honour LeGuins memory.

  2. I do hope that someone will make a new, less controversial, proposal on how to honour LeGuins memory.

    Or let it percolate for a few years. Perhaps the family would like to sponsor one? Or another organization?

  3. As the maker of the proposal, I want to state that I am appalled at the negative reactions towards my motives in putting forth this idea and the intensely personal attacks directed towards myself and the co-sponsors of the proposal which led us to this unfortunate decision.

    If personal attacks have been made on Chris or anyone else then I condemn them. However, Chris has consistently misrepresented the criticisms of his proposal over the last few months and generally refused to address them in anything other than the most oblique terms. This statement doesn’t make me think anything has changed in that regard.

  4. “Or let it percolate for a few years. Perhaps the family would like to sponsor one? Or another organization?”

    I can’t see anything in my comment that is in opposition to your comment, so I do not know why you thought the “or” was necessary.

  5. Well, if you don’t read the criticisms of your ill-conceived plan, it makes it much easier to mischaracterize them as personal attacks.

    Fairly clever strategy for not learning new tricks.

  6. @All: As Chris didn’t identify where and what the ‘intensely personal attacks’ were, I’d suggest the magnanimous interpretation is that his reaction was based on remarks elsewhere (private e-mail, Facebook, Twitter…). It’s not like that’s not a strong possibility on any day ending in ‘y’.

    A number of File770 comments did impugn the man’s motives (which tactic IMO advances a weak argument distracting from stronger ones), but calling that ‘intensely personal’ would be more than a stretch.

  7. @Hampus: ‘Well, there’s a 20 minute shorter business meeting at least.’

    Motion to postpone indefinitely can be quick enough to need a stopwatch. ;->

    (Seriously, I don’t think it would have been PI’ed, but we’d have spent five minutes, someone would have quickly made a motion to call the previous question, that subsidiary motion would have passed w/ 2/3 supermajority on show of hands, and then Chris’s motion would have been voted down on show of hands. Elapsed time, maybe seven minutes? In context, I think it’d be gracious to thank Chris for either recognising that likelihood or for other reasons reversing course.)

    (ETA: And also for supporting the YA Award and WSFS. Dumping on people for doing the right thing, even belatedly, because you don’t like their accompanying self-justifications, is IMO a bit unproductive.)

  8. Standing rules 2.1 second sentence –
    Proposed agenda items may be withdrawn by the consent of all proposing members at any time up to two weeks before the published deadline for submitting new business.
    So Chris you are too late, it’s on the agenda.

  9. Geoff Thorpe: So Chris you are too late, it’s on the agenda.

    As I understand it, inside the 2-week threshold, a change or withdrawal can be accepted subject to the WSFS Business Meeting Chair’s discretion.

  10. This strikes me like nothing so much as the angry rant by the villain at the end of every episode of Scooby Doo or Inspector Gadget. “I’ll get you next time, YA Award!” *shakes fist*

    Don’t get me wrong, I bid good riddance to a bad rubbish proposal, but it’s sad that the only thing that Chris M. Barkley has taken from this experience seems to be the urge to double-down on his frankly unbecoming behavior.

  11. JJ, I’m not aware of any such arrangement giving such an ability to the presiding officer, though that may of course be so (and would be ideal).

    Standing rule 2.1‘s wording concerning withdrawal of non-privileged business before the two-week deadline (as Geoff says) requires that withdrawal of a motion be submitted by all of its proposers. Quite aside from missing the deadline, Chris’s wording (e.g., ‘I formally ask’) suggests he may not have included sign-off by the motion’s four co-sponsors.

  12. To be honest, I think Chris was trying to pay tribute to someone he admired. The plan was not well thought out, the timing wasn’t any good at all, but for some reason, instead of getting early push-back he ended up with some co-sponsors. In the end, it was a crummy idea, and the kerfluffle surrounding his bid and his seeming disengagement with the reactions didn’t turn out very well at all.
    But I don’t see him as a villain shaking is fist at anybody. He apologized to his co-sponsors and took full responsibility for the thing, and I think — though I might have this wrong, of course — I think Chis’s comment that he is “not ashamed” “nor unbowed” isn’t meant to be so offensive. He just wanted to pay a tribute to LeGuin, who doesn’t?
    As others have said, it’s not yet time for LeGuin’s family or fandom at large to figure out how to pay tribute to someone who was so vital to the genre. Chris’ misdeed was to be all fired up about the idea too soon, in an unworkable bid. I dunno, maybe not pile on so much?

  13. mlex: for some reason, instead of getting early push-back he ended up with some co-sponsors

    The reason he “ended up with some co-sponsors” is because he approached a bunch of well-known authors and a few fans, and asked them to support naming a new WSFS YA award after Le Guin, while dishonestly withholding the fact that the award already had a name and that his proposal was an attempt to hijack the years of hard work done by the YA Award Committee.

     
    mlex: He apologized to his co-sponsors and took full responsibility for the thing

    He gave what is known as a “fauxpology” — he apologized to the co-sponsors because other fans had reacted negatively, not for the actual wrong done, which was that he had been dishonest with them and set them up to look as though they were trying to hijack the YA Award, too.

    To date, he has still never taken any responsibility for the fiasco — even in this post, he is still blaming everyone but himself, and refusing to acknowledge that the whole problem has been his own dishonesty, poor judgment, and egregious presumption in contacting the Le Guin estate on WSFS’ behalf (as well as the fact that he is responsible for WSFS likely now having a black eye with the Le Guin estate due to that).

  14. JJ. Thanks for clarifying some of the issues in this case, there is more to this story! Yeah, it’s poor judgement, and I’m just feeling bad it all ended up such a mess. Contacting the family members was not cool, esp. if purportedly on behalf of WSFS. I just can’t figure out the motive. I mean, Chris surely didn’t want to end up with a fiasco… I’m assuming he just had this mad idea and and ran with it.

  15. Rick Moen – As Chris didn’t identify where and what the ‘intensely personal attacks’ were, I’d suggest the magnanimous interpretation is that his reaction was based on remarks elsewhere (private e-mail, Facebook, Twitter…). It’s not like that’s not a strong possibility on any day ending in ‘y’.

    Well, they would likely have had to have come in emails, since he’s been very clear for a very long time that he does not read comments. While it’s possible his friends sent emails abusing him for his badly executed and conceived plan, I kind of doubt it. So, while I’m generally magnanimous in my interpretations, I don’t think it’s warranted in this instance. His refusal to read comments and then speak about personal attacks lends me to believe he’s making charges based on, at best, secondhand information.

    Also, if I had a choice of the time machine or being anonymous, I would much prefer the time machine.

  16. @mlex I mean, I feel like all of us have done something along these lines at some point – had what we’re sure is an amazing idea and rushed ahead with it in a way which we don’t realise steps on other people’s hard work and planning. So I can see how that happens, even if “misrepresenting your status to the recently bereaved family of a beloved author and a bunch of your other high profile friends” is an… extreme… example of that sort of behaviour.

    Of course, the decent thing to do when you discover you’ve done something like that is to step back, apologise and listen to what the rest of the community is telling you about the thing you’re trying to do. I suspect the vast majority of the hurt and indignation provoked by Barkley’s behaviour could have been averted if he’d just done that after his initial announcement, instead of this constant doubling down and insistence that he is the injured party… 🙁

  17. Rick Moen on August 7, 2018 at 3:14 pm said:

    Motion to postpone indefinitely can be quick enough to need a stopwatch. ;->

    Amendments to main motions (including constitutional amendments) can’t be postponed indefinitely. The “(Re)Name That Award” motion was not a new constitutional amendment; it was an amendment to a proposal awaiting ratification.

    Geoff Thorpe on August 7, 2018 at 4:07 pm said:

    Standing rules 2.1 second sentence:

    Proposed agenda items may be withdrawn by the consent of all proposing members at any time up to two weeks before the published deadline for submitting new business.

    So Chris you are too late, it’s on the agenda.

    As I noted above, Chris’ motion was not a new constitutional amendment, but an amendment to a proposal awaiting ratification. As Laura spotted, Rule 2.1 only applies to new proposals. As the rules stand right now, Chris didn’t even have to submit it in advance, but could instead have proposed it on the spot at the Main Business Meeting, just like any other amendment to a pending main motion.

    (There is a proposed change to the standing rules that would subject amendments to proposals awaiting ratification to the same notice requirement as new proposals, but that is not the rule right now.)

    Had Chris submitted the proposal as a new constitutional amendment, he would have not been allowed to withdraw it before the meeting started; however, the meeting, once started, could have given him permission to withdraw it with an even lower vote threshold than Postpone Indefinitely.

    The WSFS Business Meeting team have taken “(Re)Name That Award” off the agenda at Chris’ request.

  18. Arifel: yes, I sort of had that feeling that this was a great idea that wasn’t even a remotely good idea.
    A bunch of people feel burned by this, and I can understand the hard feelings.
    I hope Chris will reach out again and try to sort it out.

  19. Thanks for the clarification, Kevin. I think the proposed change to the standing rules makes a lot of sense. An amendment to a proposal has the potential to essentially turn ”business passed on from last year” into “new business” requiring another year for ratification. Can you imagine if this had been sprung on the meeting as Chris was originally planning to do?! And while I’m happy to see this go away, there might be some future idea we wouldn’t want to just disappear right before the meeting.

  20. @Laura,
    It was never Chris’ intention to spring it last minute.He was in contact with Kevin from the beginning. Although there was a lack of detail the announcement was made with sufficient notice that he intended to propose a change to the name. Stop the unnecessary drama.

  21. Julie: Stop the unnecessary drama.

    The “unnecessary drama” is all on Chris.

    It’s a shame that you’re enabling him in this, rather than helping him to do some introspection and understand what he did wrong, and how to learn to take personal responsibility for it, rather than continually blaming everyone else. 🙁

  22. To quote the original statement:

    We, the undersigned, will respectfully submit a new name for the Young Adult Book Award at the Preliminary Session of the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting on August 17th, 2018 as a strike though substitution for the name ‘Lodestar’, under the rules governing the WSFS Business Meeting. [bold added by me]

    Yes, we knew something was coming, but the name itself (more than just a detail) was originally intended to be unveiled at the meeting. And I think it’s very obvious that it would be better to have more time and voices in the discussions surrounding amendments to proposals.

  23. And how does being in contact with Kevin from the beginning make any difference? I appreciate that he will help anyone put together their ideas for changes to the constitution, but clearly he thinks that WSFS members should know about amendments ahead of the meeting since his name is one of those on the proposed standing rule change. And I can’t help but think that this situation had a large part in the decision to put forth the rule change.

  24. Laura, its all about how the “sausage” is made. What I understand is this, the board meetings and the (forgive me) SMOF’s who are involved in Worldcon and the year after year continuity of the meeting are a society of friends and respectful resources. Chris consulted with many of his friends who meet the designation as well as the Le Guin estate before he progressed on this path.

  25. Julie: Chris consulted with many of his friends

    Yes, and don’t you think it’s strange that of all of the SMOFs he consulted, only one of them was willing to be a co-sponsor? Vincent Docherty said “no”, and Chris put his name on as a sponsor anyway — which was an incredibly unethical thing to do.

    The fact that none of the fen Chris consulted, who knew what the story was with the Lodestar Award, were willing to be co-sponsors should have been a huge tipoff to Chris that what he was doing was a problem.

    But then, the fact that Chris was deliberately dishonest with all of the well-known authors he persuaded to be co-sponsors — in not telling them that his proposal was an attempted hijack of an already-named award — is a pretty clear indicator that Chris was already well aware that his proposal was not a good idea, that it would not have wide support among fandom, and that those authors would not have been willing to co-sponsor the award if they had been told the truth.

    In fact, it sounds as though he’s been less than honest with you, too. 😐

  26. I appreciate Kevin’s further clarifications.

    Also, contrary to what my jest suggested, the motion to Postpone Indefinitely at the WSFS Preliminary Business Meeting cannot be ‘quick enough to need a stopwatch’, because Standing Rule 5.3 guarantees it four minutes of debate time. My larger point that I was implying, however, stands, that individual attendees attempting to use the assembly’s time in the face of broad dissatisfaction may find their initiatives politely cut short by action of the assembly, after being allowed to have their say. Thus, it tends to be at worst a self-limiting problem: WSFS has progressed since attempted weaponising of Robert’s Rules by Chris Carrier during his epically dumb feud against Robert Sachs. (I missed the worst of that. Kevin did not.)

  27. @Julie
    The fact that Chris has been part of the “sausage making” for so long is why it’s hard to imagine how there could be such a disconnect between how he wanted this to go and how it actually went. And how he could have such disregard for his fellow “sausage makers”. And how he could so blatantly misrepresent the situation to the Le Guin estate:

    I would like to seek their permission before submitting her name to the San Jose Worldcon Business Meeting for a ratification vote in August, which I think will have no trouble at all passing.

    First, it would not have been possible to be up for ratification this year. Second, he had no right to say that its passing would practically be a foregone conclusion. Since he is someone who participates in the Business Meeting year after year, I just can’t understand why he would believe either of those things.

    But I’m glad that he did decide to withdraw the proposal. And in future, I hope that he and anyone else making proposals can see that you need to get lots of feedback and listen to it. Ask people to try and shoot holes in it. If all you hear is that it’s great, keep seeking different opinions. And know that you can’t be in a big rush.

  28. Laura, I’m guessing that Julie does not realize that many of the people commenting in this thread are WSFS Business Meeting participants and sausage-makers — aka, part of the “year after year continuity of the meeting [and the] society of friends and respectful resources”. I think that she mistakenly believes that none of the people here know what they are talking about, nor have any of the experience of contributing to fandom that Chris does.

  29. I think a great way for people to start honoring Ursula K. Le Guin would be to spell her name correctly.

    And “correctly” is NOT “Ursula K. LeGuin.” Nor is referring to “LeGuin.”

    It’s not difficult to spell her name correctly: “Ursula K. Le Guin.”

    (People who get her name right can ignore this.)

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