Below the reply from the Dublin 2019 Worldcon regarding my Code of Conduct
complaint, as Jeannetter Ng branded legendary editor John W Campbell a
"fascist". And below that a draft of what I intend to reply (not finished yet -
comments welcome!) --AE
Thank you again for reaching out, and apologies for the time it took to get
this response to you.
We do not consider Jeannette Ng's speech to be a breach of our Code of Conduct.
From our perspective Ng was speaking to Campbell's part in shaping the sci-fi
landscape, which was notably exclusionary of minorities, people of colour and
women at the time during which he was a part of it and which has had knock on
effects to this day. Our Code of Conduct was, in a large part, designed to
ensure people who have previously been excluded from fandom were safe and
included at our convention - not to punish people who speak out against its
We do not believe her words were targeted at anyone other than Campbell and his
actions. There is no issue with being male or white, and unless a person also
identified with Campbell's more problematic beliefs and actions, they have no
reason to feel attacked. Additionally, being a fan of Campbell's work does not
mean you need to stand by his beliefs; it is possible to appreciate his
contribution to the community whilst also understanding some of his viewpoints
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns - I hope
this helps clarify our position on the situation.
Listener and Code of Conduct Area Head
Thanks for a reply, even if it took two months...
But the reply is not very satisfying, and I'll explain why. A basic principle
for acceptable ethics is that it applies equally to all. If not, it's
unethical, immoral - in crass terms, evil
In 2016 Dave Truesdale was kicked out from the Worldcon for talking about
"snowflakes" - a rather mild expression - not pointing to any person or ethnic
or social group. But in 2019 it seems perfectly OK to accuse a named person for
being a follower of one of history's most evil ideologies, on the worldcon's
It becomes clear that this does not apply equally to all. You - ie all
responisble for the CoC - even openly admit that not being applied equally was
what "Our Code of Conduct was...designed to ensure".
Thus the CoC loses its legitimacy. It's a set of made-up private laws that
allows the intimidation it pretends to protect from.
The flawed historical notions in the reply is also unsatisfying. The "sci-fi"
- the abbreviation "sf" is preferable, BTW - landscape has NOT been
"exclusionary of minorities, people of colour and women". There's no natural
law that says all groups appear equally in all circumstances. Nature has
instead, for instance, made men tending to be more interested in science,
gadgets, technology and the other things sf literature overflows with. Other
factors explain other group's connections to the sf field. That's not
"exclusionary" but the way reality works. No one, and certainly not John W
Campbell, has been involved in actively excluding this or that group.
This means that even the rationale for constructing the unethical Code of
Conduct is wrong.
An initiative to amend the rules of the World SF Society to ban Worldcons
from inventing "Codes of Conduct" would be welcome. (Any activity by people are
still of course subject to the Law of the Land.)
As for Ng's racist slurs, you seem to simply ignore them, the charges about
"whites" being "sterile" and "haunt" the genre. You just falsely claim it's "no
issue" - but it is. You can't even follow your own instructions that "We do not
tolerate harassment of convention attendees in ANY FORM". That's what it says,
but obviously you do tolerate harassment if it is in the form certain people
like. People have reason to feel attacked!
"I certainly did. As a white male writer who goes back to the Campbell era I
felt directly under attack, as well as being angered by the inaccurate slander
being directed at Campbell, and I was so upset by her statements and the
obvious audience approval of them that I left the ceremony as soon as I could
appropriately get out the door "
That was a a testimony from a well-known long-time sf professional whom I
shall not name.
You talk about Campbell's "beliefs and actions" as if Ms Ng's description of
him being a "fascist" was relevant. But everything points to that both she and
many others have totally misinterpreted John W Campbell. In a recent letter to
the sf news journal Locus I pointed to Harry Harrison's Collected editorials
from Analog (available here https://archive.org/details/collectededitori01camp ;
). Campbell had a special inquisitory method, which Harrison describes as:
"John W. Campbell is a born trouble-maker. The mere fact that something exists
and that millions believe in it does not convince Campbell of its validity.
Quite the opposite, this seems to be the point where he begins to doubt... he
had mastered the technique of the Campbell editorial inquisition, or writer's
conference. This has been likened, by writers who have experienced it, to being
fed through a buzz saw or a man-sized meatgrinder. It is a painful process...No
one really likes to be forced to think. Campbell forces you. /..Campbell's
editorials were/ idiosyncratic, personal, prejudiced, far-reaching, annoying,
and sabotaging. All of these terms have been applied by readers - and far
stronger ones as well... Campbell is always happiest when far out on a limb."
He had an intentionally provoking intellectual style. Ng is clueless about the
real John W Campbell, who she BTW thought edited Amazing Stories. I would also
like to recommend the documentary "The Golden Age of Science Fiction", dealing
with Campbell and the authors he worked with, and.available here: *
Harry Harrison is among those interviewed and he denies that Campbell was even
"right wing...He was a technocrat", Harrison says. "Science would solve
everything." Harry Harrison was BTW a left-winger and liked Campbell,
You have no idea of if any of his "viewpoints were problematic", as you
phrase it, because you don't know his viewpoints. But you still think it's in
order to brand him a fascist.
As you should be aware of this attack on Campbell has had wide consequences.
Though it under your own rules shouldn't be be "tolerated in any form" the
assault on John W Campbell, the magazine editor responsible for finding and
encouraging more new writers than any other, led to him being stripped of his
own New Writer award.
And that essentially because you have invented ill-founded, biased, immoral
private laws that look the other way at the "right" kind of intimidation.
How dare you!
* I think you need a password. Go to a Rot13-decryptor and try "tbyq".
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