After twenty-four years of membership, I’ve resigned from SFWA.
Various people are upset with me about this, though in some cases I wonder why. Some people are also surprised by it, which is just ridiculous, as they’re clearly demonstrating that they can’t read plain English.
As the result of an incident several weeks ago, I said that I would not remain a member of SFWA if another person was a member.
I never said a damned thing about wanting anyone else to do anything about this. I never asked the president or the Board of Directors to do anything. I didn’t make any threats. I tried to make clear that this was an absolutely non-negotiable situation, plain and simple — I would not be a member of SFWA if he was.
At the time, he wasn’t, as he hadn’t paid his 2006 dues.
He paid them. SFWA accepted them. I resigned. Utterly straightforward and clear.
Since then, people have accused me of trying to blackmail the Board, or making unreasonable demands. I made no demands; I stated a fact. Several people seem convinced I had demanded his expulsion; I did no such thing. I’ve been told I demanded immediate action; I did not. I just said that if he was a member, I wasn’t.
At the request of friends I held back my resignation until the Board had considered the matter and his dues check was deposited, but there was no way I could in good conscience remain once that money was in the bank. I like to think I’m a man of my word.
Other people tried to talk me out of resigning by pointing out that the Board had created this ferocious new penalty of formal censure and applied it to him. Wasn’t that enough?
Well, no. I never said he should be punished. I don’t care whether he’s punished. I don’t care whether he’s painted green and forced to dance atop the Superdome. I said I could not be a member if he is. Censured or not, he’s a member again, so I’m not.
I don’t appreciate being offered ways to weasel out of my given word; it implies I can be weaseled out of a promise. I don’t want to be appeased. I don’t want compromise. I don’t want anything from SFWA — except out. If SFWA will allow him to be a member, then it is not an organization I am willing to belong to.
If SFWA is run by people who think they can talk me into breaking my word, then SFWA is not an organization I am willing to belong to.
If it seems as if I’m pounding this into the ground, well, yes. I’m tired of being misunderstood, of having my position misstated, of having people offer excuses and compromises, of having people doubt my word.
I’m tired of SFWA.
I’ve put up with a lot from SFWA over the years; all in all, the organization does a great deal of good. The Grievance Committee is invaluable, the Emergency Medical Fund has been a godsend for many people, and the social value is undeniable — writers lead strange lives, and it’s good to have a way to meet other people who understand that lifestyle. So I’ve tolerated sloppiness and foolishness and cowardice, always telling myself that it’s just a few individuals, just the current officers, whatever.
But I’ve had enough. Other writers’ organizations kick out people when necessary, but SFWA, in forty-two years of existence, has never had the gumption to police itself. Members have lied and swindled and cheated, and yet SFWA has never expelled anyone, has never refused membership to anyone who had the necessary credentials. When someone ignores copyright to quote members out of context without permission, taking material from an area that specifically says “permission to quote is expressly denied,” editing it to maximize its controversial nature, and posting it on his blog for the sole purpose of making SFWA look bad, with comments implying that the most extreme bits (made by someone who most of SFWA considers an outcast and troublemaker) represent the mainstream of SFWAn opinion, and is still permitted to rejoin — not remain a member, but rejoin — that’s the final straw.
So goodbye, SFWA. It was fun.