Section C.1 of the SFWA Board Report shows that Matthew Johnson’s dark predictions about my behavior have not come to pass. It also betrays his failure to understand that I have a right to defend myself against the Board’s false and hypocritical accusations despite their attempts to deny me the ability to do so.
1. Declarations of unwillingness to follow SFWA bylaws and procedures
Section A looked at occasions where Mr. Beale may have actually violated SFWA bylaws and procedures. This part of the report will look at his general attitude towards those bylaws and procedures, in particular public statements where he has said that he does not consider himself bound by them and does not intend to observe them.
Archiving Forum material for later publication
Mr. Beale has repeatedly stated that he has made copies of material on the online Forum and intends to publish it: “I’ve already got the entire SF Forum on record, so it would be fascinating to see them attempt to defend various statements by certain authors while claiming that mine were worthy of expulsion.” (See Fig C.1)
Commenter: You can make public the entire contents of the forum you archived, without having to worry that they’ll kick you out.
Beale: Certainly, were I no longer bound by confidentiality. (See Fig C.2)
Note that Beale does not say he has archived all of the discussions relevant to his case, or that he will only publish those: he says that he has archived “the entire SF Forum” and will publish, in his commenter’s words (which he affirms) “the entire contents of the forum you archived.” In another comment he states clearly that he will not consider himself bound by confidentiality “if I was not a member with access to the forums” (see Fig C.3).
To remove all ambiguity, Beale also published this exchange:
Commenter: Archived all the discussions?
Beale: Yep. (See Fig C.4)
Since this material was posted in publicly accessible blog posts bearing the tag “SFWA”, it may be reasonable to view it as constituting a threat the he will publish a large archive of confidential SFWA material if he feels he is wronged by the organization. It’s also worth noting his syntax – “the confidentiality agreement would no longer bind me if I was not a member with access to the forums” [italics mine]: because there is no comma after “member,” the most obvious meaning of this would be that he would respond to a loss of access to the forums with publication of this confidential SFWA material, whether or not he were formally expelled.
Refusal to abide by bylaws and Board sanctions
Mr. Beale has stated clearly that he does not intend to abide by the SFWA bylaws if the Board votes to expel him. In particular, he has said that he does not accept the section of the bylaws specifying the formula for repaying a Lifetime Active member who is expelled: “Any expelled Life member is entitled to more than the bylaws indicate due to the official valuation put on a Life membership. If they attempt to remove it they will without question create real financial damages.” (See Fig C.5)
As the last sentence of that excerpt suggests, Mr. Beale has been clear that he intends to sue SFWA on this basis if he is expelled. His threats of nuisance litigation are examined more closely in the second part of this section. He makes a similar claim in a post on the SFWA online forums in which he suggests, essentially, that the organization has no legal right to expel him: “A lifetime membership in SFWA is presently valued at $5,000.00. Although the bylaws presently contain a formula that is intended to deprive a lifetime member of the greater part of that officially established value, that particular section is highly unlikely to hold up if challenged in any court of law. I’m sure you will understand that the SFWA cannot simply steal property worth $5,000.00 from its members regardless of what the bylaws say or how unanimous the opinion of its board members may be.” [emphasisadded] (See Fig C.6)
One thing at a time. As is obviously his wont, the Canadian Regional Director has again let his imagination run away with him in this section. First, I have not done anything more here than point out the obvious, which is that once I am no longer an SFWA member, either due to resigning my membership or being expelled from the organization, the confidentiality that binds SFWA members will no longer bind me. I fail to see how anyone could possibly dispute that.
I have not declared any “unwillingness to follow SFWA bylaws and procedures”, to the contrary, I have repeatedly claimed that the current SFWA Board is not following them itself.
I do have access to the entire historical forum and that was obviously a wise precaution on my part, as without access to the archive, it would have been much more difficult for me to write my formal response to the complaint. Gould’s action in denying me access to the forums was hardly unpredictable. However, Johnson makes another stupidly dishonest mistake by falsely claiming that my agreement that I “can make public” the entire forum means that I “will publish” the entire contents. A professional writer knows that “I can” is not synonymous with “I will”.
As it happens, I can and will assure the SFWA Board and everyone else that I’m not going to publish the entire contents of the forum regardless of what happens. Most of it is FAR too tedious to make for interesting reading by anyone. But just as the Board has asserted that the discussion forum confidentiality rules do not apply to its members, I assert they do not apply to non-SFWA members.
Johnson also misinterprets what I said, which should be obvious at this point because I’ve already been denied access to the forums by the unilateral action of the SFWA president and yet I haven’t posted anything from the forum that was not in the report. I have not done so because, contra the false assertions by Johnson and Gould, I continue to respect discussion forum confidentiality. In fact, by this point, it should be clear that I respect it more than the SFWA Board does, as Johnson again admits to violating discussion forum confidentiality in this section: “He makes a similar claim in a post on the SFWA online forums… (See Fig C.6)”.
Archiving the forum was necessary because I’ve used it to document 16 instances of an SFWA member providing a link in an SFWA space to an external attack on a member, (which is the primary complaint against me), and 48 instances of attacks on an SFWA member made in an SFWA space, (which is how some have erroneously characterized the complaint). A number of these direct attacks in SFWA spaces are even openly declared to be attacks, either by the attacking member or by the moderator who has deleted the attack.
These 64 direct and indirect attacks include those made by three members of the present Board as well as 10 made by members who have openly called for my expulsion from the organization.
As for the SFWA bylaws, I certainly don’t intend to continue abiding by them if I am no longer a member. Does anyone know any non-members who do? However, I would not go so far as to say that I intend to sue SFWA if I am expelled; obviously if the SFWA were to properly expel me for just cause according to the relevant state laws and bylaws, and refrain from inflicting any financial damages on me, I would have no legal grounds for a lawsuit. I have no intention of filing any nuisance lawsuits; I will only consider legal action if the Board gives me substantive cause through its improper behavior.
Unfortunately, the very poor quality of this oft-deceitful report does not lend itself to the idea that the Board has been dotting its “i”s and crossing its “t”s properly. Some of the legal work that has been done on its behalf is actually quite solid, and it is clear that someone legally competent was advising SFWA at some point in the recent past, but it is also apparent that the current Board is not running all of its actions and statements past him. As one of my lawyers commented, it is as easy to see when a non-lawyer is using legal terms he has picked up as when someone tries to use Google Translate in an attempt to pass for a native speaker. This report is an apt demonstration of how even very good lawyers can only do so much when the clients they are advising are incompetent and dishonest.
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