FANS Need to Take the Moral High Ground

Good fans everywhere have been displaying such a tremendous amount of fannish rectitude, tolerance and forbearance in the face of the Puppy Assault on fandom and fannish institutions, demonstrating through word and deed (the occasional snark aside) that fans really do embody the ideals they claim to stand for, that we’ve all overlooked something.

Being a fan does not mean being a doormat.

Acceptance and tolerance for alternative views DO have their limits.

The puppy assault is a moral and ethical one, targeted directly at the divide between fannish tolerance and its core reasons for being.

Our response needs to have a moral center.

When I first addressed the Puppy slates back in April of this year, I called upon those who were on a slate to disavow their inclusion if they did not agree or support campaigning for Hugo Award votes.

Several nominees did in fact make public disavowals, and some did not.

We’ve been several times around the Mulberry bush, chasing after this or that distracting argument.  What we haven’t done is to state categorically as an institution that gaming awards for personal or political or financial gain is unacceptable behavior on the part of anyone who wants to be or remain a valued member of our community.

We need to state this collectively and individually, on a regular basis, to insure that the message is clear and is successfully transmitted to future generations of fans.

Those who have violated what has up till now been an unspoken but well-understood social agreement should be given the benefit of the doubt and judged not by what they’ve done in the past but what they do in the future.  We can all make mistakes.  If it is good for nothing else, fannish tolerance and acceptance should be good for accepting apologies and moving ahead.

I would like to call for the following actions on the part of fans everywhere:

First, the crafting of a formal statement that articulates the position that Fandom and Fans (which includes authors, artists, editors, podcasters, bloggers, fan writers, fan artists and everyone) do not game awards (or other fannish institutions) for personal, political or financial gain.  Further, that individuals who may be eligible for awards state formally that they do not grant permission for third parties to include them or their works in voting campaigns or slates or organized voting blocs and that if their names or works are found on such, it is without their express permission.*

Second, the creation of a publicly accessible web-based archive that publishes the above statement and allows individuals to publicly endorse the statement.

Third, that an amendment to the WSFS by-laws be written and formally adopted (after the appropriate votes), stating that the members of WSFS do not endorse or support voting slates, voting campaigns or organized bloc voting for the awards that WSFS oversees.  Further, that rules be crafted that would allow WSFS to deny or withdraw membership privileges from individuals who violate the by-law.

Fourth, that SFWA craft and adopt a formal statement that engaging in actions the same as or similar to those described previously are considered by the organization to be unethical and unprofessional actions on the part of its members that could result (after proper internal review) in censure or withdrawal of membership privileges.

Fans can be accepting and tolerant and fair and equitable but fans do not have to tolerate or accept actions or individuals who repeatedly work towards eroding, if not destroying, the customs, institutions and the community that we have collectively built since 1932.  That’s like accepting and tolerating cancer because it’s made of cells too.

*Said statement will necessarily (and unfortunately) have to include a paragraph that laboriously explains that “my new work is eligible” does not equate to “vote for me!!!”.

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