|Freedom of Speech is proportional
||[Feb. 15th, 2014|01:06 pm]
If I were, for its sins, somehow a spokesman for SFWA, I'd say something like this to Resnik et al.|
"Yes, Freedom of Speech is a basic principle in our culture, and applies to all discourse -- not just that regulated by government. The Bill of Rights is the best expression we have, of principles much wider and deeper. It's good to invoke those principles and stand up for them in all contexts.
"But Freedom of Speech is proportional within each venue -- and in our private venue you have had your share, and more than your share, already. Your offensive articles did get published; in the Bulletin, no more! Your protests have got wide coverage (much wider than actual SFWA venue readership). You have forums and fan bases of your own to circulate more as you wish. You are not being silenced, even de facto, since you already have a large web presence of your own to use."
Indeed. I read the book that Resnick and Malzberg made out of their earlier columns when it was a Hugo nominee for Best Related Work, and it seemed to me at the time - well before the "lady editors" controversy - that they had said more than enough already. If I had taken over as Bulletin editor at that point, I would have looked for a polite way to tell them that the smell of intestinal gas had long since overwhelmed their column.
I have issues with this incessent cry of "Freedom of Speech" whenever people want to say or publish hurtful or offensive things and someone tries to tell them, "No", but this was an American organisation and on American soil, so it's fair enough to try that tactic.
Freedom of Speech doesn't mean "we have no choice but to publish any crap you submit to us". If this were the case, publishers would be unable to reject anything submitted to them, for fear of running foul of the "Freedom of Speech" issue. Clearly publisher do reject manuscripts on commercial or artistic grounds, so why did Resnick and Malzberg think that they had an absolute right to get their stuff published ad infinitum? You made the point clearly, they've had their say, now it's someone else's turn.
I think the argument is, "It's one thing to reject work for unsaleability or for artistic failure, but this was rejection on the grounds of 'You aren't allowed to say that here.'"
Deconstruct that argument at leisure.
As a USian, I see the SPIRIT of free speech as the default. "Anything not expressly* forbidden is permitted**."
* expressly forbidden in our TOS or whatever.
** permitted in reasonable amounts, and only until we get around to expressly forbidding it.
** with the exception of certain things considered taboo thruoghout US society, such a child porn, 'n-word', etc
This kerfluffle went through several stages. Imo there's a lot of difference between
1) "That content is out of bounds here", and
2) "You can't defend yourself here either, or argue here about what the bounds should be", and
3) "You can't even post your defense or your argument on your own websigte, or circulate a petition about it, etc" without being personally vilified.
My standard of free speech would protect 3) and to some extent 2). If someone were personally attacked on Forum X, imo they would deserve some space on Forum X to defend themselves. And as members of Group X, they deserve a voice in what the content (and procedure) of Bulletin X should be.
Imo there is also the factor of whether Forum X is de facto 'the only game in town' , so that banning their defense there is in fact silencing them altogether. So in that case, it would be only sporting to let the defense discussion proceed in Forum X -- which does not apply here because sfaik Resnik et al have a bigger web presence than SWFA does!
I also see Freecdm of Speech as meaning diversity of opinion is good, and everyone should have comparable exposure in presenting their opinion. Free broadband and websites for everyone!
Edited at 2014-02-16 07:52 pm (UTC)