Editing is not Censorship


This post is about SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a professional organization that I belong to and volunteer for.

The problem with professional writer organizations is that everyone wants to have their voice heard -- and every member is used to making their voice be heard! But hardly anyone wants to take the time to listen to everyone else.

During the current SFWA cont
roversy over the Bulletin, the organization’s member magazine, SFWA officers and volunteers did our best to listen to everyone. We created a detailed and comprehensive survey and sent it out to all the members, in a variety of formats, trying to make sure that everyone had a chance to register their opinion. 

Members responded in overwhelming numbers, with the majority saying that they wanted a magazine that was more inclusive, that reflected the diversity of the membership, and that reflected the professional aspirations of the members.

David Gerrold
, a great writer, longtime member of SFWA, and one of the strongest voices in the organization for social justice, summarized the contentious history of the organization leading up to the current controversy here: https://www.facebook.com/david.gerrold/posts/10202343912371525

I found myself agreeing with everything he said... until he got to the paragraph about the changes to the Bulletin.

No publication publishes everything that's submitted to it. Choosing the right material for a professional organization' s magazine, and rejecting material that's not right, isn't censorship... it's called "editing." Determining what’s right and not right should be up to the members, and through the survey, the members spoke. I don’t actually agree with everything the majority wanted, but that’s why we did a survey. Listening to the majority and being inclusive does not mean the minority will be silenced -- it just means the balance of voices is going to be different.

Some other people who disagree with the results of the survey are now passing a petition to try to silence other members of SFWA and keep things the way they used to be. I find it ironic that the petition pre-judges the contents of the new Bulletin before the editor has been announced or the first issue under the new editor published. I think that's the worst kind of fear-mongering.

I also find it ironic that this divisive petition has been created and circulated by someone who is not a member of SFWA and hasn't been for many years. It makes me wonder what the real goal is of this fear-mongering.

If you don't like the decisions of SFWA's officers, vote for different officers. If you don't like the work being done by the volunteers, then volunteer. That's the same thing I would say to the man who created this petition... only he's not a member. 

And if you disagree with the majority of members who want the SFWA Bulletin to be inclusive, diverse, and professional, then let’s talk about those differences without using scare word like "censorship." We’re all professional writers. We should all know that when something we’ve written gets rejected because it’s not the right fit for the venue, that we haven’t been “censored.”

© C.C. Finlay 2017