Some of the hunters have already jumped in and produced some interesting points. One is that the Board cannot expel anyone on its own, no matter what the bylaws may say, because the organization is still governed by Massachusetts law that requires the entire membership to vote on such matters as per the original bylaws that were written in accordance with state law. Another, and more serious issue, is that there are genuine questions about the legal propriety of the membership vote on the so-called “reincorporation”. Given how many corners have been cut and how many irregularities have been revealed in the Board’s actions pertaining to me, it would not be surprising to discover that the Scalzi administration made some fundamental legal blunders in the “reincorporation” process amidst its attempt to remake the organization as a top-down California entity.
Needless to say, the legal team is already looking into this. It is too soon to say if anything improper was done or not, but the idea that merging the entire organization with a new one, then shutting down the old one requires a lower level of membership approval than a simple amendment to the bylaws tends to strike me as a somewhat dubious proposal. But I’m not the lawyer, it’s not my opinion here that matters. That’s their territory, and while they’re looking into that, I’m focused on the direct aspect of my response to the Board’s report, the first part of which is as follows:
A. Violation of SFWA bylaws and policies
In this section only incidents which occurred in SFWA-controlled spaces are addressed. For the purposes of this report “SFWA-controlled spaces” are defined as:
- Events organized by SFWA (e.g. Nebula ceremony, etc.)
- Social events hosted by SFWA (e.g. SFWA lounges at conventions, etc.)
- Print publications published by SFWA (e.g. The SFWA Bulletin)
- Online spaces hosted or published by SFWA (e.g. the SFWA online forum, the SFWA blog, and any social media accounts controlled by SFWA)
1. Improper use of SFWA channels
The incident which prompted this investigation was Mr. Beale’s use of the SFWAAuthors Twitter account to distribute his blog of June 13, 2013 “A black female fantasist calls for Reconciliation.” (See Fig A.1 for the tweet and Fig A.2 for the blog entry to which the link in the tweet led. Note the #SFWApro tag at the end which shows a conscious choice to have the blog entry published through the Twitter feed.)
Here is the policy sent to members regarding use of the SFWAAuthors Twitter feed:
SFWA maintains the @sfwaauthors Twitter feed to help spread the word about members’ blog posts about writing, fiction/reading (reviews, reading recommendations, etc), or publishing, or about their own writing or publishing news. If you’re a member who would like to have the writing and publishing posts from your blog included in the @sfwaauthors stream, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not every blog post is appropriate for @sfwaauthors. If a post is not about writing, or about fiction or publishing, do not mark it for inclusion in the @sfwaauthors twitter feed. (Instructions on how to mark posts for inclusion in the @sfwaauthors twitter feed will be provided when you email email@example.com.)
Repeated violations of this policy will be grounds for removal from the feed. SFWA reserves the right to determine what posts are appropriate. Marking blog posts for inclusion that include threats or personal attacks or obvious trolling will also be grounds for removal. While SFWA does maintain the @sfwaauthors Twitter feed for the benefit of its members, ultimately the posts that appear in the feed are the responsibility of the authors of those posts, and are in no way endorsed by SFWA, nor do such posts reflect the opinions or policy of SFWA.
Mr. Beale made a conscious choice to be added to the feed (see Fig A.3). He was made aware of the guidelines (see Fig A.4 and Fig A.5) and stated in conversation on the SFWA online discussion boards that he was aware that some of the content of his blogs would likely be inappropriate (see Fig A.6). This also illustrates the fact that he made a conscious choice to have this particular blog post published by the SFWAAuthors Twitter feed.
SFWA received complaints about the tweet from several members (part 3 of this section looks specifically at the objectionable content of the entry) and it was removed from the feed roughly two hours after the tweet was first posted and between two and two and a half hours after the blog was first posted. (See part 3 of this this section for a more detailed explanation of the timeline.)
In an e-mail sent to the Board, Mr. Beale stated that the final paragraph of the guidelines show that “it is demonstrably false to claim that I have ever misused any SFWA platform.” The precise interpretation of that paragraph is a matter for the Board to decide. However, it may be noted that
a) The Twitter account is maintained and managed by SFWA
b) The Twitter handle contains “SFWA” with the permission of SFWA
I have eight points in my response already, including the Board’s blatant and self-admitted, (see above), violation of the discussion forum confidentiality rules in (Fig A.6), which is a screencap of one of my posts in the SFWA forum that was reposted by the Board without my permission. I’ve also referenced the Twitter Terms of Service to prove that the Twitter account cannot possibly be considered an SFWA channel, as the Services belong to Twitter while the Content belongs to me. I’ve pointed out that the complaint rests entirely upon the confusion between the marking for inclusion of a Twitter-fed link to a URL and the actual blog post published on Blogger. And, most importantly, I’ve demonstrated that SFWA expressly disclaims the @sfwaauthors Twitter feed as an official platform or channel for the organization. One cannot misuse what does not exist.
The Board doesn’t seem to realize Michael Capobianco, among many other members, is provably guilty of the very thing they accuse me of here. The important difference is that the SFWA Forum is a genuine SFWA channel whereas @sfwaauthors is not. This means they have a much stronger case for expelling Mr. Capobianco than me on these grounds. Nor is he the only member to whom the charge materially applies.
In that vein, it would be useful to find information on other information conduits containing “sfwa” with the permission of SFWA, particularly examples of content that would be more objectionable than the text that actually appeared on the Twitter account in (Fig A.1) to the left or posts in any SFWA channel that contain links to attacks on other members. Note that it even says right there in the screenshot: “Tweets made from this account are the sole responsibility of the feed/blog post author only. Opinions expressed within the links do not reflect those of SFWA. swfa.org”
It may amuse you to know that despite its obvious flaws, this is probably their most concrete complaint. It gets even worse. Considerably worse. As one hunter commented after reading the entire report: “I cannot believe anyone would be stupid enough to go any further using this document as the charge sheet against you.” And so far, we’ve only reached page 6 of 34.
§ 107 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted
work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by
any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as
criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies
for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of