... because there's a LOT of commenting going on about The Harlan Ellison Incident as WorldCon 64 in L.A. this past week. If you don't know what I'm talking about, there's More Than Complete Coverage on Patrick Nielsen Hayden's LA Con IV summary, and perhaps a shorter bit on Jim C. Hine's discussion of the offense and response.
Anyway, so much is written by other (and sometimes more witty and sometimes with a more vested interest) blogs that I figured a Me Too comment from this little space wasn't going to do anything. But my 2004 Clarion classmate Eric Joel Bresin's new blog comments on a call to rescind Harlan's SFWA Grandmaster award.
It's okay to be repulsed by a person's actions, but still enjoy their story. A person is not there (sic) story. Repeat with me: a person is not there (sic) story. If you disagree with that, well then, I'm sure you'll agree that we should stop lying to newbie writers about rejections: "They're not rejecting you, they're rejecting your manuscript." No, actually they really are rejecting YOU!
Wither Grandmaster Ellison?
Here in West Michigan, yesterday's front page story was about taking away the crown of the Greenville MI's Danish Festival Queen because it turns out she did some "lingerie wrestling videos". PLEASE -- I bring this up not to make fun or embarrass or to say women are just as boorish as guys -- I have a point to make.
The Danish Festival Queen is tied into the Miss Michigan competition which feeds into the Miss America competition. There is a clause where:
pageant contestants sign a contract agreeing to represent the festival and community as a role model.
Lingerie wrestling videos are the sort of thing which some people, especially in conservative West Michigan, find to be in questionable taste. WOOD-AM radio's morning talk show commented that it's the buyers of such videos who make it so, more than the videos themselves. So they've moved on to the First Runner-Up, who no doubt was screened for suitability herself.
My Question Is This
Does the SFWA Grandmaster Award come with a morals clause? If it does, then stripping Harlan of the title might be something to debate. If it doesn't, then this issue might be something to debate -- but yanking the award ex post facto could be problematic.
Those suggesting that Harlan not be invited to participate in WorldCon events in the future are on much more defensible ground. As someone pointed out in all the stuff I read today, Harlan could still buy a WorldCon membership just like any other SF fan and attend on his own dime. Maybe he should -- and if he behaves himself, perhaps some will call him rehabilitated.
I'm still not sure why I'm even raising this issue, because I'm sure someone will misconstrue my motives and call me an apologist for Bad Behavior, when this is nothing of the sort. Harlan did wrong at WorldCon. I've never met the man, but I've "heard stories" for years. It may be a little late to fire up the torches and sharpen the pitchforks... Writers have egos -- some Big Name writers have Big Egos. It'd be nice if everyone could play together nicely. Alas...