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Thread: Weird Tales Controversy
August 24th, 2012, 05:09 PM #136
Have you ever been falsely accused?
I find it offensive that you appear so cavalier in dismissing being falsely accused as trivial - ie. a comparison trivializes racism?
Perhaps you might want to think that through.
Being falsely accused may have repurcussions that can grossly affect the rest of your life, or even end it.
Imagine someone falsely accused of rape.
Even if they are not convicted they will likely lose their job, spend months in jail, incur massive debt defending themselves and carry the stigma for the rest of their lives.
Or for that matter murder - they could potentially wind up on death row.
Do you think the repurcussions of being falsely accused of such heinous activites or situations are trivial?
Racism is a terrible fact of life.
Being falsely accused of something is a terrible fact of life.
It annoys me how often something like an accusation of racism can be used destroy the credibility and reputation of someone.
How it can be used to silence opposition or opposing views or even discussion of sensitive topics.
How it can be used to create an environment of fear and oppression.
Acknowledgement of this does not trivialize the very real fact of racism.
However whenever someone uses the accusation of racism as a tool to hurt, silence or manipulate another it does trivialize racism.
I'm not trying to pick a fight or offend you and I'm not accusing you of doing this.
I'm hoping you'll read this and maybe think about it.
Maybe consider how although you may feel righteously justified in your statements, you yourself may be offensive to someone else.
And in no way am I defending or accusing WT or the author of this book of racism.
I'm speaking about how an accusation can be used to "censor" and discredit topics, people, groups or organizations we don't like.
I'm saying maybe we should stop and think before we start throwing around such hurtful accusations.
Maybe we should consider that they are not trivial and can also be very hurtful to another.
August 24th, 2012, 05:12 PM #137
- Join Date
- Mar 2010
The willful blindness is distressing. The "I know everything I need to know on this subject, let me tell you how it is."
I once wrote a short story, and in the story I had the "bad guy" use a number of derogatory words and phrases regarding women. Hey, he's a bad guy, right? I thought I was characterizing him as a misogynist, making him someone that people can hate.
My female friends didn't like the story. I'd never had that reaction before, a gendered divide among my readers. I used the b-word, the c-word, the w-word, and some choice phrases I found by googling things like, "what's the most sexist comment you've ever heard?" in order to characterize the guy who said them as loathsome. But that wasn't the effect.
The women who read it didn't hate him. They just hated reading about him. He ceased to exist as a character when they read those words. They didn't want to continue reading because those words and phrases brought about such a large emotional response that they couldn't enjoy the story, even when he got what was coming to him.
From an "objective" position, I didn't *do* anything sexist. It was A COMPLETELY NON-SEXIST STORY. "See? Only bad people think about women like that!" in my best Victoria Foyt voice. But by creating a story that deliberately used terms that can cause pain, without having a sense for what that pain would do, by shaping an inadequate container for that painful response, I did something offensive. I thought I was writing an anti-misogyny story, but I had disregarded women's feelings in order to tell the story. If I had responded to the feedback by saying, "Look at the context, you shouldn't feel that way, let me tell you what's appropriate to feel," that would have been sexist.
I had the tact to ask for feedback and listen to it, removing the offensive language except one particular line that my readers found nasty but not so offensive that it shocked them out of the story.
I can't decide what a woman "should" feel. That's not my right. But the words I used -- they're not words that I've been called, I don't have an emotional connection to them, and I can't know how other people are likely to feel.
When a writer sets out to champion a group of people and uses material that can be particularly offensive those people, that writer had better make a damn fine work, a work strong enough to justify poking fingers into old wounds. And THEY get to say what offends them. The writer doesn't. So what if, in the context of the story, it's only the villain who says those words? I'm a writer, my words are SUPPOSED to evoke feelings, and it's my responsibility to craft the words in a way that provokes a reader's feelings in an intentional manner.
August 24th, 2012, 05:23 PM #138
August 24th, 2012, 06:01 PM #139
Well no, the accusation of racism isn't, first off, an accusation, and second, it isn't "serious" in the way you meant it, Alchemist, as a court charge, because it happens all the time and by some of the nicest people in the world. Racism is a system in society, by which black people or other targeted group are viewed in a certain way as a group, portrayed in a certain way as a group and as an inescapable identity, and treated in certain ways, as a group, based on that identity, that place them in a non-equal position legally and socially in the society compared with the dominant, ruling group in the society. Because we live in a systemically racist society -- better than it was but still statistically and routinely racist -- and because of the burden of our history on how the targeted group is viewed, racism is going to happen all the time. It is not necessarily overt, deliberate, aggressive attacks, as has been noted. It does, however, effect how non-whites are able to live in the society, a reality that is often dismissed by whites who are uncomfortable and more concerned with how they are viewed and what their behavior is called than with how non-whites have to deal with these issues.
Kaye's editorial told non-whites (and the novel itself also portrays Latinos and indigenous peoples in racial stereotypes for their groups,) that their view of the excerpt as racist was wrong, wrong, wrong. He told the non-whites not to make a fuss about it and that if they did, they were idiots. Quite apart from the novel itself or Kaye's decision to publish the excerpt, that editorial was as far as I can see a large cause of the upset, because it is part of the overall system in society of telling non-whites that what they say about how they are portrayed is not important and incorrect. More than anything else, it told non-white authors that he had no interest in them or what they might have to say in fiction or elsewhere.
Now, some may think they're being silly for having that reaction. But the systemic racism in society has been in our past to silence these people and declare what they say, especially about themselves in society, as useless and an affront. And they still often face that situation on a regular basis, where they have to watch their words and silence opinions so that white people are not scared, uncomfortable, defensive or offended, all of which is deemed much more important than non-whites being scared, uncomfortable, defensive or offended. Because if they don't placate white people, they may not be able to get a job, get a publication, get a promotion, participate in a forum discussion, not get beaten up, etc. That's the reality that they live with and cannot escape from, every day. But they were, in fact, scared, uncomfortable, defensive and offended, not so much by Foyt's book -- which is just one of the regular things that occur -- but that a magazine they trusted in SFF publishing advocated the book and then told them to shut up about it. It means for them that another corner of the field is closed off to them and they are lambasted for complaining about it, by well-meaning folk and Internet trolls alike.
But they do get to have their say, because the system has improved, and Kaye gets to hear it, because he made that choice. It was a saddening choice for them and their supporters and the fact that you or someone else does not feel stereotypical portrayals of black people as bestial, violent, etc. in the book are racist doesn't make it less sad for them. It just shows them lots of people in the SFFH community don't care what they think or what they have to live with in that systemically racist society. You may feel that they are wrong; it doesn't change the fact that a respected magazine is now closed to them, one more opportunity lost on the basis of their race.
Maybe that will change, depending on the actions of the people at Weird Tales. But the Weird Tales incident is symbolic of other situations non-white authors face in SFFH publishing. It is a situation that, in my view, isn't healthy for white authors either. And so again, they're sad, and many of us with them.
Last edited by KatG; August 24th, 2012 at 06:19 PM.
August 24th, 2012, 06:11 PM #140
While I was composing my post, some more exchanges apparently went on that are headed into flame territory. Let me go over some guidelines here again:
1) If you're driving off people from the thread, you're flaming and need to calm down your tone and not get personal.
2) If you are saying "I'm offended," then you're engaging in a flame exchange and may have your posts deleted. If you are actually offended, PM the staff about the behavior of the other person, rather than get into a conversation on the thread about how offended you are by them. If you're talking about how annoyed you are about the other member's post, you are not talking about the subject of the thread. The only people who can actually keep you from talking are the staff.
3) We can only talk about issues of racism here if everyone is civil. The level of civility is slipping.
4) If you think a moderator is being unfair or uncivil when talking here as a member (like me,) then PM that moderator about it or another staff member.
Last edited by KatG; August 24th, 2012 at 06:15 PM.