For those confused about the title, Menschen bei Maischberger is a German TV talkshow where several guests talk about “current affairs” (which can mean anything from actual political issues to the dangers of New Age culture). In yesterday’s edition of the show, Ms. Maischberger felt the need to debate whether the fact that GLBTQI people exist is an appropriate subject for schools (because some people are having a freak-out about a state initiative to include GLBTQI topics in the curriculum) and invited two raging homophobes, a gay politician, a drag queen (and yes, “drag queen” is the correct term, because that’s how Olivia Jones defines herself) and a heterosexual chick lit writer. More here, here and here. The result was mindbogglingly offensive, as I found out when I opened Twitter, noticed that #Maischberger was the top-trending hashtag and clicked to see what people were saying. As far as I could tell, Menschen bei Maischberger had apparently turned into a hotbed of raging homophobia, so I switched on the TV and Oh, my God… it was even worse than I thought.
Which brings me to this comment by John Scalzi, which perfectly illustrates my feelings while watching the Maischberger show. Since I’m pretty sure that John Scalzi has not been watching Menschen bei Maischberger (especially since the episode in question is not yet available online), Scalzi’s Tweet can only refer to one thing, namely the ongoing SFWA drama.
First of all, S.L. Huang reminds us why the whole SFWA issue blew up in the first place. It was not because of the cheesy Red Sonja cover of the SFWA Bulletin or Barry Malzberg and Mike Resnick showing more interest in the bikini curves of a female editor than in her professional life or because someone felt the need to extoll the quiet dignity of Barbie, but because Resnick and Malzberg felt the need to compare those who criticized their column to Stalin and Mao. For those who need a refresher, S.L. Huang has also compiled a handy timeline of the controversy(ies).
At C.C. Finlay’s Facebook page, Ilona Gordon, one half of the Ilona Andrews writing duo, explains why she refuses to join SFWA, namely because she feels disrespected by the organisation both as a woman and a writer of urban fantasy with romantic elements. This is a very important point, because it illustrates how SFWA is viewed by many writers.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia points out that whatever one thinks of Red Sonja covers and Resnick and Malzberg reminiscing about the good old days, this sort of content does not belong in the official magazine of a professional writers’ organisation and also offers the membership magazines of other writing organisations for comparison. Meanwhile, Jim C. Hines has taken it upon himself to launch a (not entirely serious) petition to Terry McLaughlin, president of the RWA, to include more mantitty on the covers of the Romance Writers Report, while Larry Nolan offers a parody of the “cover letter” of the petition at The OF Blog.
At The World in the Satin Bag, Shaun Duke wonders how e.g. SFWA’s many Mormon members would feel if the SFWA were to carry an article insulting their religion, while Ferrett Steinmetz detects a generation gap in the reaction to the SFWA uproar, as evidenced by the fact that most of the signatories of the petition are older writers. Indeed, one thing that struck me about the original uproar was for how many people, particularly but not exclusively older fans and writers, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg were cultural touchstones and therefore somehow inviolable.
And because some people apparently still don’t get it, ysabetwordsmith takes it upon herself to explain the difference between editing and censorship, while Andrew Barton points out that writers of all people should know the difference. For the POV of supporters of unlimited free speech, Steven Brust does not agree with the petition, but does worry about suppression of free speech, while Will Shetterly is mainly annoyed about being banned at Radish Reviews. Now I have never banned anybody from commenting here (including Mr. Shetterly, who occasionally comments here), though I did have to delete rude comments of the personal attack variety once or twice and once I had to step in when two writers who had banned each other from their blogs started arguing in mine. But Natalie has the right to moderate her own blog as she wishes and it’s no secret that Will Shetterly can be inflammatory at times.