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:
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.
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.