TOFKASFWA – The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Fear not, this is not an attempt to recreate the blogsplosion that happened last week when I snarked myself silly. Not that I didn’t enjoy it (troll smacking can be so much fun), I just doubt my ability to make lightning strike again.

That said, I’d ask what the board of TOFKASFWA was thinking, except that it’s painfully clear there’s no thought going on there. Apparently it isn’t enough to make like the leadership of the more noxious third world countries and symbolically execute the loser of the election in complete defiance of your rules and the rules you’re required to follow by various State and Federal laws. It’s not even enough to symbolically make said loser an unperson by declining to mention him in any of the official statements about the expulsion.

No, the board of dicta.. ahem… directors feels the need to also make the terms of their expulsion vanish down the Internet memory hole by that item most beloved of corrupt media executives, the DMCA takedown.

Yes, that’s right. Mr Beale has received a DMCA takedown notice over TOFKASFWA’s report into his alleged malfeasance. Said notice claims that the report is the private property of the investigator.

In a masterpiece of sarcastic compliance, Mr Beale has indeed complied with the takedown order – even though his lawyer and his ISP both agree that it’s so much bovine excrement it could fertilize entire fields. I suspect this is his preparation for making TOFKASFWA look like third rate dictatorial clowns when he takes them to court.

Naturally, he has made public his response to the shit-sheet… ahem… report. I recommend reading it. My knowledge of the SFWA by-laws from actually reading the wretched things when the last revision of them came up for a vote is that Mr Beale’s facts are 100% accurate. That’s something I’ve noticed with him: you can disagree with him on how to interpret the data, but the data he offers is usually pretty damned accurate.

Among the many things Mr Beale is totally correct about is the culture of abuse within TOFKASFWA. Name-calling that could make a dock worker blush is one of the charming features of the regular shit-storms, right alongside a truly remarkable lack of originality and wit in the insults being flung right and left… mostly from left to right, but but that’s another story. You’d think a collection of speculative fiction writers could manage better insults than endless conjugations of the standard four letter words (and no, I don’t mean ‘work’ and ‘food’).

Having read Mr Beale’s “vigorous” responses to some of these childish inanities, I can say with a degree of authority that he’s definitely more imaginative, and often more witty. He even manages to be self-deprecating once or twice.

As for the substance of the alleged offenses he allegedly committed: it’s pretty clear that every sin Mr Beale committed against TOFKASFWA was committed in greater quantity by what seems like half the flipping membership. Possibly half the non-flipping membership, too. Since they apparently don’t keep accurate membership records (in violation of their by-laws and the relevant laws for non-profit organization in the two states they’re incorporated in – because their MA incorporation is not over and they’ve taken out CA incorporation. Possibly in violation of Federal laws for their tax status as a non-profit as well) it’s a little difficult to tell what proportion of the membership does anything.

I swear, I’m tempted to open a betting pool on just what the precious darlings will try next. They really do seem to be trying to become the biggest collection of cunning stunts outside a government body, and that’s not a good thing.

85 comments

  1. The more I read about this the more I begin to like Vox. Someone said you can judge the quality of a man by his enemies and Vox seems to be collecting a wonderful selection of the self-called great and good of the speculative fiction community as his. Bravo!

    1. Oh, yes. Vox has a truly awesome enemies list. And he didn’t even need to build it himself. They just come oozing out of the woodwork.

  2. I’ll put $5.00 US on changing membership requirements and making the change retroactive so they can riff the politically “marginal” members.

      1. I’d third it, but as soon as I get involved in anything related to gambling I queer the odds.

    1. Vox Day should probably join that list, even if it’s just the blog. Actually, the blog is a very handy commentary on stupid.

      1. I strongly recommend one read his A Throne of Bones. It is, by far, the best epic fantasy written in some time. Now, that’s not exactly a densely competitive genre right now, but, certainly in aspects both martial and political, it is extremely well fleshed out. Or check out his short stories such as Wardog’s Coin or the Last Witchking. Very good stuff.

    1. I’d decided to let my membership drop after the Resnick brouhaha. This latest effort has me thinking I should have sent them the upraised finger of defiance.

      1. Hopefully by the time you qualify they’ll be so desperate for members they’ll come begging so you CAN turn them down

  3. And I’m sorry it happened after I quit, because the appropriate response to this is to send back my shredded card with an exclamation of disgust. (PREFERABLY I’d get Euclid-cat to chew it and spit it out, something he loves doing with paper.)

    1. The fully appropriate response would have been to send the board a letter expelling them for violating the by-laws and insinuating that you own a marshmallow gun or a chewed pop tart. Due to their abject dread of all things gun-shaped, it would be the most effective and most gentle military coup, ever.

    2. No, no, you have to let it go through his digestive system first, for the proper effect.

  4. There is apparently reason to have concern over whether the part of the federal government administering tax exempt status is deeply dysfunctional.

  5. I had an interesting exchange with a SFWA defender. She maintained that Mr. Beale was a racist, citing his counter-attack upon the saintly Ms. Jemisin as evidence. When the evidence proved unsatisfactory, she claimed that in SFWA-private communications he was openly racist. (This she quickly changed to “blatantly” racist.)

    Just for the record, has he ever openly admitted to racism? Or blatantly espoused it? I don’t know any of the actors involved, but I did find Ms. Jemisin’s speech attacking Mr. Beale to be ridiculous–as in worthy of ridicule. Does this make me a blatant racist?

    The exchange convinced me that post-modern rhetoric has far too much deliberate obtuseness–misinterpreting what folks on the other side are saying.

      1. Oh, yes. They’re very much worth reading, and much more entertaining than by-laws.

    1. “When the evidence proved unsatisfactory, she claimed that in SFWA-private communications he was openly racist. (This she quickly changed to “blatantly” racist.)”

      She’s bluffing. Tell her to provide you with the Forum message ID number and I can provide you with the direct quote. This sort of thing is precisely why I made sure I had a backup. These people are fairly predicable.

      “Just for the record, has he ever openly admitted to racism? Or blatantly espoused it?”

      No. To the contrary, I have specifically stated that the idea one race is superior to another makes no more sense than claiming a German Shepherd is superior to a Golden Retriever. And, of course, to claim that race does not exist makes no more sense than to claim dog breeds do not exist. This is particularly true for anyone who claims to believe in human evolution by natural selection.

      1. It’s much easier to accuse someone of racism and claim it’s blatantly obvious than it is to actually prove that someone is racist. It’s also much more satisfying: she doesn’t have to face her own inadequacies that way.

      2. Thank you, sir. I had thought the charge inconsistent with what little I know of you. It was difficult to get links to your words in context. I was also put off by hagiographic descriptions of your attackers. If you’re ever in Grand Rapids, MI, I’ll buy your favorite beverage and we can talk.

        1. I had to correct Darrell Schweitzer who was saying that Vox said Jemisspreciousflower wasn’t human. Since I’ve found (I didn’t read comments) the critter flamed me when I participated in the Heinlein seminar for having the audacity of telling her Heinlein was NOT homophobic or sexist, I’m out of loving kindness with THAT critter — if I’d ever had it, which I don’t. And the fact Darrell referred to her as a prominent SF writer got stuck in my craw. She’s only prominent for her insanity and lack of reading comprehension. And people indulging her repeated tantrums will only get more of them. Children need to be spanked, or at least put in timeout, which SFWA would learn, if children weren’t running the asylum. (These are crazy children.)

          1. No, they’re feral children. And they need to be spanked and taught how to be human.

            1. Please don’t suggest that. I’m afraid that both Hines and Scalzi will take you up on the offer, as long as they can wear negligees and red pumps while you do it. Oh the professional writing tips that I’ve learned over the years from the SFWA (as a humble member of the public, even) would get me banned in Boston.

              1. Oh ew. That’s a horrible notion. Hines and Scalzi in negligees and red pumps? I’d rather not burn out my retinas.

                Banned in Boston sounds like a good name for a rock band.

                1. Are you being coy, or are you unaware of a large number of prominent photographs of Hines and Scalzi in various states of cross-dress?

                  …and yes. I could go on, and – surprisingly – on. They seem to have a thing for ridiculing women in fiction.

                  At least…I hope that’s their intention.

                    1. I kinda figured. I just wanted an excuse to celebrate the new guard of the SFWA, where middle-aged white men are nowhere to be found…and it is all colorful ladies, all the time, who are running the show.

                    2. Well, I guess if you have really bad eyesight and you squint just right, you could call those two “colorful ladies”

          2. Jemsin strikes me as more than a bit paranoid. Among other things, she’s publicly and repeatedly said that the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case upholds Stand Your Ground (it didn’t have anything to do with Stand Your Ground) and that Stand Your Ground means that white people can shoot her at whim (SYG has nothing to do with race, and doesn’t allow anyone to shoot anyone else “at whim.”).

              1. Well, she does seem to identify with the criminal underclass. One has to wonder if she thinks it’s fine to be attacked by a black criminal (statistically WAY more likely – the biggest single crime demographic is black criminal with black victim.)

            1. From reading the blog post where she gloats over VD being kicked, I’m going to say paranoid with a definite persecution complex. Literally, to her anyway, the reason she was asked to sit on the letter she wrote saying she’d quit if VD didn’t get banned was b/c the stereotype of an angry black woman, not you know the stupidity and the fact that it’s general good advice to never send a letter you wrote angry.

    2. But of course. The post-modern view of reality being contextual means that anything can mean what those in power want it to mean. For values of power measured in PC points, of course. Jemisin being black and female and leftist means she goes pretty close to maxing out her PC points.

    3. I can construct such an argument.

      Anyone who lives in Europe, and who is hence willing to tolerate living under the usual sort of European restrictive* gun control laws, is therefore White Supremacist under the ‘gun control is white supremacist’ argument.**

      Besides that this paints with a very broad brush, I made an attempt at more nuanced version of this over at Sarah’s, and had one person, who I still have a good impression of, find me so pointlessly obnoxious that they didn’t want to deal with me.

      *I’ve come to a very wide definition of excessively restrictive arms control in recent times.

      **In short, if poll tests and poll taxes, due to use in segregation, are inherently suspect, and perhaps inherently racist and White Supremacist, why consider consider gun control, which has a similar history in the United States, in the same light? Especially as many US gun control laws have features that seem to been designed as aides to lynching.

      1. Oh, agreed. Gun control is inherently racist. Law abiding black people have just as much right to defend themselves from someone trying to hurt them or steal from them as do law abiding white people, law abiding yellow people, law abiding green people, and even law abiding purple people – but the law abiding black people are statistically more likely to be stuck somewhere that they’ll need to defend themselves.

    4. What’s so bad about being a racist, anyway? As someone has written on the Internet lately, racism is just an expression of Team Spirit. A race is just a very large extended family, is all. Most people, other things being equal, are partial toward their own families.

      White people from Northern Europe are arguably the least-racist people on the planet, but we keep getting accused of being most-racist by people who are much much more racist than we ever thought of being.

      Does not compute.

      1. Every human has a built in “my kind/not my kind” subroutine. We base “my kind” on what we grew up with – people who grow up in racially mixed areas tend to have a broader “my kind” setting than those who didn’t. It’s not bigotry, it’s simply a quick and dirty way to identify someone who might be one of your tribe as it were.

        Terry Pratchett has said in more than one book that in a lot of tribal languages the word for the tribe means “real people” and the word for everyone else means “probably an enemy” or “not real people” or something similar. Whether this is accurate or not, it’s certainly got a grain of truth to it.

        White NW Europe ancestry is the first grouping of peoples that have managed to mostly move past the tribe to the country at least at a conscious level (subconsciously a lot of people just go ahead and make their own tribes – but they usually don’t assume the next tribe over is going to try to kill them and steal their women). Partly that comes with the technology growth, and partly it comes with so many more or less equally strong tribes in an area with just enough geography to make it easier to trade than to make war (most of the time) but not so much it blocked all contact and not so little one stronger tribe could overrun all the rest. That coincidence plus a reasonably forgiving climate (for herding and crop growth), the availability of domesticatable animals large and small, and domesticatable plants, probably all had a lot to do with it.

        Hell, there are tribes in parts of New Guinea that are separated by a few miles and have completely different cultures because those miles are impassable mountain ridges.

  6. TOFKASFWA sounds like a Japanese nuclear plant in meltdown, but that would suggest there were people familiar with science involved. I don’t think merit badges in groupthink, logrolling and puppeteering are the same thing as science.

    1. It also sounds a great deal like that sound all cat owners dread hearing at 0300. Especially when the sound emanates from somewhere between their bed and the closest light-switch or flashlight.

        1. All of which is remarkably apt. Meltdown. Check. Resemblance to cat hairball. Check.

          I think we have a winner.

  7. This is sort of off subject but of all the legitimate services that a professional organization could offer… contract and industry advocacy, group health insurance, references for subcontracted services such as artwork or editing, or whatever… where does “run a private internet forum” fall?

    I suppose I could see the value of a super secret handshake and oaths of super secret confidentiality if the purpose was to dish on the super secret contents of the super secret legal contracts offered by the super secret traditional publishers… that might be profoundly useful. Other than that?

    1. I think the original notion was that since there were members all over the geography, it would be an idea to have a private internet location for members to gather and socialize and exchange information.

      That rather mutated into the cancerous arrangement that passes as the forums now.

      1. Except for the global nature of the internet and the concurrent existence of multiple places for writers to gather and socialize. There is no lack, no need to fulfill. Oh, I suppose when the internet was all very very new there seemed to be a need.

        1. Well, yes. Back in those dim dark ages of the wild Internets frontiers, there probably did seem to be a need.

    2. “This is sort of off subject but of all the legitimate services that a professional organization could offer… contract and industry advocacy, group health insurance, references for subcontracted services such as artwork or editing, or whatever… where does “run a private internet forum” fall?”

      It’s even worse than you think. They already had a private Internet forum on SFF.NET called sff.private.sfwa.lounge but the usual suspects weren’t content with that and had a new forum made for the sfwa.org site. So, that’s where most of the elected officials and barely published activists congregate, about 60-80 in all, and then about 20-40 oldtimers stick with sff.net and resent Mary Kowal, who finally admitted that she’d been trying to shut it down. Defunding SFF.NET is one of the items on the pinkshirts’ current agenda.

      “Vox may at some point tell us by how much his readership has increased if only to taunt the rabid rabbits.”

      Actually, the whole thing has tended to underline how insignificant SFWA is. Prior to Twittergate, VP was running around 28,500 Google pageviews per day. It is now running around 30,000 per day; a 5.3 percent increase. But during that same period, the pageviews for Alpha Game, my other blog, has grown 6 percent, to 12,000 per day.

      (Note that these are not daily readers, but daily pageviews. Because my blogs have an observably greater level of engagement than Mr. Scalzi’s, I assume I have fewer than 4,000 daily readers since each reader chews up more pageviews on average. As for Sitemeter, in my opinion, the visits are too generous and the pageviews are too stingy.)

      And for the record, prior to backing down to his most recent “up to 50,000 readers per day” claim, Scalzi spent nine months publicly claiming “50K daily blog readers”. He backed down to the former because I busted him on that little switcheroo. There simply isn’t anyone in SF/F who is more full of it than the relentlessly self-promoting Scalzi.

      1. You certainly have a much more lively comments section. Of course, the light hand on moderation might have a teensy bit to do with this. Just a little bit.

        The whole “ooh, he’s evil EVIL I tell you!” nonsense without a shred of evidence was what started me following along quietly.

  8. Hmm. If an organization recieves benefits (tax for example) from the state/federal government, surely it is conditional? ie. There are legal requirements to fulfil (such as the accurate, up to date records of membership Kate quotes, but also other ones such as having a constitution with internal rules that must be obeyed). So my question: if the mandated officials of an organization have failed to abide by these conditions, and having been made aware of them, failed to rectify their position, obviously the organisation loses its benefit status, and presumably this is retroactive, at least to the point at which the breach was made known to them (although I don’t think ignorance of the law washes well with the taxman), but then as the organization has no legal standing as an organization (but a huge tax bill, and possibly charges for fraud and tax evasion for its officials and former officials) stops being an organization, but is just a group of private individuals, and can do whatever it pleases in terms of kicking people out or whatever they like? On the other hand that would mean either that the officials falsely represented themselves as being officials of an organization operating legally under the laws of that state/s, and that their actions mean they can be sued as individuals, or, if the organization wishes to retain its status under law, it could I suppose repudiate the actions of the officials, strip them of their office, apply the appropriate sanctions (which I suspect would boil down to kick them out and hold them responsible for the costs incurred by their illegal actions and inactions.).

    What a mess. Well as they used to spend the overwhelming bulk of their income on The Bulletin, so I suppose they have got money to spend now. I wonder how their remaining membership will feel their writing benefits from this.

    1. If the membership has enough of a sense of irony, they can take notes as the priceless disaster unfolds in interesting and bizarre ways.

      Unfortunately, I suspect most of what’s left approves of what’s happening.

    2. This is actually relevant to a current American, well, whether it is a scandal or not depends on the flavor of your politics. I’ve seen some arguments that the only scandal is that people are claiming it is a scandal.

      Beale’s papers, IIRC*, refer to various state regulations for non-profits. Supposedly, SFWA is still incorporated under Mass. law, and no longer in compliance with it.

      Basically, the IRS handles federal regulation of tax exempt organizations, including those involved in politics. Probably, the SFWA doesn’t have the funds sloshing around to get into the more heavily regulated sorts of political activities. The IRS has been accused of playing softball with the left, and hardball with the right. As Mass. is to the left of the US as a whole, the Mass. IRS cognate might be to the left of the IRS.

      *I read the bit that Kate pointed to earlier today, but may have misremembered.

  9. I’d never heard of Vox before all this blew up.
    Now I’m a regular reader of his blog and have read A Throne of Bones.
    Can TOFKASFWA say free publicity?
    Vox may at some point tell us by how much his readership has increased if only to taunt the rabid rabbits.

    1. He has been making fairly regular updates on readership growth for a few years, and his sitemeter statistics are self-evident. He has also done the public a service of exposing Scalzi’s self-reported website readership numbers as provably inaccurate and misleading. (Basically, Scalzi claims “up to 50,000 readers per day” but actually averages 4000 readers per day, less than Vox.)

    2. Same here. Having personally experienced a small-scale version of the sort of mobbing that’s being pulled on Vox, my sympathies were with him and I started following his blog.

  10. Kate, Sarah, I wonder if we shouldn’t approach Toni for support in setting up an alternative organization, perhaps one with certain safeguards against infringements on free speech. Thoughts?

      1. I’m with both of you – I’d definitely be interested but there’s the question of violating the “no work for Toni” rule.

        If the resident brain trusts can come up with something that doesn’t make more work for Toni, perhaps we could present it as a proposal?

        1. Sounds good to me. Besides, I’d love to see the look on certain folk’s faces when they see who the officers of this new organization would probably be.

  11. Ok. You used to be a member, Kate. Do you have a copy of their bylaws, so they can suitably modified such that leftists can’t take this one over and ruin it?

    1. I doubt it… the bylaws were written for the transition from MA to CA, so… pretty left-leaning to start with.

      I don’t know if I still have them either – they may have been tossed when we moved. I can look, but no guarantees.

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