It makes me wonder–how must a woman just entering the field feel about this? Younger female readers? What could they possibly think about this? Could they possiblly think anything good about SF/F? As a field? A community? I tend and like to think as a field we have our shit together. But, much as we have the “digital divide” on the Internet, we have the “sanity divide” or “asshole divide” in science fiction! I’m sure shit like this happens in other fields–but in such a public arena? Where the award-winner gets treated like shit?
And this isn’t Just About Harlan–there are those who (within the comfy, nonpublic confines of SFWA private forums, so they don’t have to show their faces to the big, bad public!) have circled the wagons around these reprehensible actions–or been “ho hum” about it. The difference, then, is quite stark: it’s between dead-enders and people who actually have some kind of connection to the 21st century world at large–you know? The 21st century? Where shit like this shouldn’t happen?
I like that world. I like to live in it. It’s pretty cool because it’s chock full of what I like to call “adults” and “adult, non-groping behavior”. And I can’t fucking stand the fact that a proportion of the community that is supposed to–I don’t know–provide nurturance? A “we’re all in this together” spirit?–is at such basic odds with human decency. I would understand if, being in the audience, someone would never attend another SF convention again.
And I wouldn’t blame them. To put up with that shit again? Because it’s not going to stop until…well, I don’t know what would make Harlan personally stop. But what would make the dead-enders stop? There are real wars going on, and a 1-year anniversary of a Katrina disaster, and all sorts of miseries in the world. This is merely a blip in relative terms. So maybe perspective is skewed. But then I keep thinking: we DO have so much to deal with–and we have this great, compelling lexicon of speculative fiction to really engage with these problems, our world now, and what connects us and tears us apart.
And we have to deal with THIS crap?
This goes beyond merely disagreements in discourse, or even a generational divide. Hell, I’m sure a lot of the people I’d disagree with vehemently with in terms of aesthetics, etc. find what happened at Worldcon just as reprehensible. This goes beyond literary values, and into human values. I’ve met so many kind, generous, warm, funny, dear friends through the world of science fiction. How long are we going to deal with this? How long until alternative structures are developed so that the dead-enders can drive whatever they think is the field of SF/F into the ground, and the rest of us can move on into actually getting to work?
Update: Leah and Chance have great posts which go point-by-point into the mindset of apologists.