Letter to twelve rabid weasels

Always remember; Samuel R. Delany exists.

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There are several reasons she wouldn’t want to be specific aside from those you rebut:

She’s a pro but not so powerful that she can go burning bridges with publishers or book promoters. One or more of the jerks or all of them combined may well have that kind of juice.

She probably agreed to some sort of NDA regarding correspondence as a representative of the SFWA, and even if she didn’t there is likely a culture there that would discourage disclosure. Which would put you in to a similar position as the above reason. Burning bridges with an org that works in a manner not dissimilar to how a trade union works in helping you network professionally with peers and potential clients (fans and publishers) is a bad idea for anyone not super wealthy enough to self-publish or anyone without a Tom Clancy level fanbase.

Or she may just be a bit more classy than we are.

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Who doesn’t piss in the campfire? Other than smores it’s the main reason to actually build a campfire.

On another forum discussing this letter, I noted that attrition would be a solution if it were the case that it has been just these same twelve rabid weasels over the last decade. To me, that indicates that the attitudes of the dozen weasels are not being successful in transmitting their weasel-hood to a new generation, so when they are gone, this particular problem will be gone.

I understand your concern that there will always be online assholes (I, too, have been caught using an accoustic coupler in my youth), but the assholery will be different, at least.

While I don’t feel I have the attitudes which make these dozen mad mustelidae the assholes du jure, it is very likely that in 20 years, attitudes that I consider perfectly fine now would make me the asshole du jure then. Acceptable attitudes change over time, and not always for the better (just look at the European attitude concerning slavery over the past 2000 years: good, bad, good, and now bad). Some folks of my generation will change their attitudes to match, some won’t.

Sure you say that now, but you haven’t yet learned what a bigoted jerk I am.

It’s particularly idiotic given that many of the most regressive elements of our government and society these days are younger people who replaced more moderate, older ones.


Pournelle and Niven both have a long standing habit of saying ridiculously bigoted stuff. Didn’t one of them rage recently about the idea of promoting diversity in the SFWA?

Well, I guess so long as I never run into you at a convention where you’re pounding down free drinks and trying to get handsy while spouting racist conspiracies, my heart will remain unbroken.

For all his oddness, I thought Heinlein was reputed to be a nice guy? Dick though well of him, even though they were pretty much opposite ideologically. Though he had his own pair of crazypants too…

For all his oddness, I thought Heinlein was reputed to be a nice guy?

Super creepy sexist in personal interactions with women.

I don’t like smores, either. Oh, well, call me an oddball, I suppose. . . .

It seems to me that it would depend on the order of cooking smores and pissing in the campfire. I would suggest making the smores first.

That, and the notion that I’m on BoingBoing, something that’s been around for ages, and people are high-fiving each other for disparaging people with grey hair. Heck, I’m 38–14 years younger than Mark Frauenfelder, 3 years younger than Cory Doctorow and – and thanks to some stressful years a few years ago, my hair is partially white. I don’t know how old Jeff Atwood is, but guessing from his bio on Coding Horror, we’re probably about the same age.

No, we’re not in our 60s yet, but neither are we young any longer. Our thought patterns are likely starting to ossify. And yet, I’ve met some lovely people who are in their old age. My Baptist mother-in-law just turned 73 today. She’ll shock me by being fairly conservative one minute, and fairly liberal the next. And she voraciously devours books, when she can, so there’s always new ideas flowing through her.

And then there’s people like an ex coworker of mine who’s in her late 50s. She hates Mexicans. She wants Congress to pass a law making a national language. What an asshole, right? Probably just an idiot. Bigoted because her parents were bigoted. Well…that gets you partway there. I finally had to ask her, because my wife was working in a town at the time that had a large migrant worker population. She finally broke down and told me…sigh this is one of those moments when I have to put trigger warning in the text. She was an Army brat, lived in all kinds of places. Germany, Augusta GA, all over. She was born and raised in her early years in LA, before White Flight started kicking in. As she tells it, it was a nice neighborhood, and then some poorer Mexican folks moved in. Whatever the reason, whether it was racism that was keeping them from working, or whatever, a lot of the young men were in gangs. One night this lady’s mother was walking home, and she was grabbed, beaten, and gang-raped. She kept it a secret out of fear her husband would end up in prison for killing someone (he had a temper.) So, apparently as part of her coping mechanism (my guess) she grew to hate Mexicans, and passed it on to her kids. So her racism was borne of trauma and a fear instilled in her by her mother, a rape victim. Is it right to hate all Mexicans because of a gang rape? Of course not. Is it wrong to discount her rape experience entirely? Of course. And here we are. Based on some of the comments here, she’s old and in the way.

OK, I realize I’m typing this in Professor Drunkard mode, so I’ll sign off for now having made nearly no point. I just hope I’m not being too poisonous to the discussion. :slight_smile:


Within the context of sexism, racism, and homophobia – exactly the kind of thing that we’re talking about in the SFW, as I understood it from the original BB post – I thought it was well understood that there’s a strong correlation with age. As in, the older the person, the more likely they are to have these “old fashioned” notions that, for example, gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

Are there progressive septuagenarians? Sure, maybe. But not many of them.

Take same-sex marriage as an example.

In one meta-analysis by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips of Columbia University, a majority of 18–29 year old Americans in 38 states support same sex marriage while in only 6 states do less than 45% of 18–29 year olds support same-sex marriage. At the same time not a single state shows support for same-sex marriage greater than 35% amongst those 64 and older

From the same Wikipedia article, with data citations:

Support for same-sex marriage in the U.S.

18 - 29 years old    65%
30 - 49 years old    54%
50 - 64 years old    45%
65+ years old        39%

To me, failure to support same-sex marriage is as inconceivable as failing to support interracial marriage. Which was not that long ago, to the tune of the late 60s and early 70s. If you want some truly hair-raising reading, try Loving v. Virginia on for size. Because, y’know, Virginia is for lovers. Just not those kind of lovers, and not 46 years ago. I am 42 years old, and I graduated from the University of Virginia.

Just like failure to support interracial marriage, failure to support same sex marriage is – statistically speaking – driven by old people who can’t let old prejudices go. As Bruce Hornsby once so eloquently said, that’s just the way it is. So pretty much this:

I like old people just fine. I’ll be one soon enough. But I’m really glad, in the big scheme of things, none of us lives too long.

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You are generalizing about generalizing. You are judging a particular group of people because you believe they judge particular groups. You are suggesting marginalization of a vast group of people because you have had a bad personal experience. That is anecdotal evidence and you can look it up if you need to.

What about everybody else?

Another way to look at it; You are looking at the 90% of anything that just sucks. It is not fair to yourself or others to do that. You need to focus on the 10% that is praiseworthy and take solace and inspiration from that.

There is a pretty important figure around here, Kevin Kelly, gray hair and all that shit. I would not suggest you ignore what he has to say or you will be missing a big part of the value of the place.

Maybe this is your first time playing with grown ups. If this sort of crap passed without comment where you were before you should be happy to not be there anymore.

No, it’s actually statistical data, which unlike anecdotal evidence, easily can be looked up on Wikipedia.


Metastudies are interestingly slippery things. While I’m not a statistician, I do have a habit of walking around arguments and assertions to figure out how they might be operating, and after a look at that section of Wikistuff, I wonder about the other dimensions of the demographics-of-anti-gay-marriage situation. For example, does it matter that education, ethnicity, and geography are also reflected in the pro/anti question? How does the distribution of those factors work with age? What is most important in my particular case: that I’m 68, that I was raised Catholic, that I have an advanced degree, that I live in Michele Bachmann’s district, that I’m straight and white, or what?

Single-factor explanations of social attitudes are going to have problems explaining the outliers and the contradictories. For example, all but three of my best friends in grad school were southerners–and two of them were from the Mississippi Delta country. All staunch anti-racists. Of course, they were also middle-class and educated, which probably had something to do with their attitudes.

Hard to say. Philip Dick said that Heinlein helped him out financially several times. On the other hand, the accounts of others (like Fred Pohl) paint him as petty and vindictive. He seems to have abandoned his second wife when she suffered mental problems (strange for a guy who cherished his reputation for honor), and changed his political views from ultra liberal to ultra conservative simultaneously. I also recall reading (but can’t find the reference now) that he played some not very nice tricks on his colleagues Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp at the Naval Shipyard in WWII. Certainly Asimov, in his autobiography, didn’t have much good to say about him.

RAH was a complicated man who lived a long and moderately complicated life through some complicated times. For an idea of complicated-how, read William Patterson’s biography, which is pretty well researched (and addresses the first marriage issue). And for the less pleasant side of the man, a Google search will lead to some ex-parte anecdotage. I have known people who knew RAH reasonably well, and I still can’t entirely account for him. Not that this is the place for anatomizing him, but that remark about his first marriage seems a bit flattening.

As a woman, an ex-SFWA member, ex-wife of Norman Spinrad, and someone who has personally known Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Steve Barnes, Harlan Ellison, and Chip (Samuel R.) Delany for about 30 years, and who admittedly has no idea who the ‘twelve rabid weasels’ might be, I feel obliged to defend folks who I may not see eye-to-eye with politically, but who I know to be good people. Jerry Pournelle, for all his notorious past and deplorable rightwing politics, has been immensely kind and generous to me, I count him as a good friend. Larry Niven I’ve seen at his most vulnerable, and liked him for his underlying humility despite the sputter and bravado he hides behind. Steve Barnes is so stand-up, I can’t even fathom him being mistaken for a rabid weasel. Harlan has quirks enough to make a shrink rich for decades, but I’ve seen him go out of his way to defend those who had no power to defend themselves, he’s a mensch, despite his ragged edges. Chip Delany I just adore, period. I’ve met Heinlein at a dinner, he seemed nice enough to me and to every other woman at the table, and I never met Dick, so have no opinion at all. After all these years, I’m still close friends with my ex, who can be a pain in the arse, but has a kind heart, and I still love him. On the other hand, I could name some names of other Big Name Writers who have not only been occasional jerks at cons (usually after far too much consumption of alcohol), but are nasty pieces of work as well behind the scenes - genuine pricks. Fortunately for the writing field and SF in general, they are a distinct minority. So when you are all speculating about who the ‘weasels’ might be - let’s not. It’s pointless gossip, as well as hurtful.


Excuse me? As a ‘leftist’ who just went to some pains to dissect the political from the personal (and then only in the case of one particular fellow writer and good friend), I feel rather… well… demonised here. As well as a bit insulted. Moreover, we seem to be reading far different things into comments made above - most of the detractors speculating on possible rabid weasels seem more irritated by the exhibition of boorish behaviour than by any particularly political stance.

I’m perfectly capable of liking and respecting people with whose political opinions I most heartily disagree, and have just expressed as much. So methinks your distinction between us arrogant messianic lefties and you… whatever… rightists is somewhat specious, I’m afraid. But that’s just my opinion. I wouldn’t take it personally…