So a lot of people have heard by now of the RWA removing a member of Dear Author’s bloggers from their associates roster over the #romfail tag on Twitter.
I think quite a few authors in the RWA complained about #romfail because, not only was it a negative review tag, but it was also on Twitter—and that aspect, they feel, threatens their livelihood far more than just reviews on a website, even one with as high traffic as Dear Author.
Some people have come onto the Dear Author comment thread with remarks along the lines of, “You totally deserved this.” A lot more people view this as a stupid decision, an overreaction, even if RWA is entitled to execute such an action.
It’s not about whether RWA can do such a thing. It’s about whether such a reaction is so over-the-top about such a menial thing that it calls into question the reasoning skills of those who made the decision.
In my opinion, the RWA’s decision is entirely over the top. But I’m not surprised, and I think the board had to do it, even if they themselves would disagree.
The thing is, any group has vocal members who will take grievances as far as possible over incidents that threaten their ego, whether or not it would impact their business. If there are a lot of complaints, then majority rule has to take over, because the majority of the body believes it to be a grievance that needs to be remedied in such and such a manner.
A lot of people are saying that RWA is headed by idiots, and at least SFWA wouldn’t do that.
Don’t count on it. In a similar situation, they might have to.
For the past several months I’ve been waiting for the ax to fall from SFWA. I’m not a member of SFWA—I just write for Tor.com. I was critical of an SFWA member outside of a review, the result of which was enough to require a legal opinion. And the result of which caused me a lot of mental grief, because my PTSD likes to make fucking weird associations, and I had formerly admired to some degree this member.
It wasn’t big, it didn’t last long, but SFWA would probably have to come down on me with a statement if somehow enough complaints are ever registered. Despite the general awesomeness of the SFWA board, they would have to do it. They can never assure me that they wouldn’t do it. And unlike Jane, I might get fired if they did so.
This is an unlikely scenario. But it was enough to make me feel discouraged about writing for Tor.com. In a way, I’m writing my current PTSD in Fiction series on Tor.com because it’s a way to help me get over that mental block. And you know, I can’t help reviewing a Terry Pratchett book.
I guess what I’m saying is: it’s not fair, but sometimes things happen because of the way everyone is joined up together.
And in the end, one has to decide how much such things matter to one with respect to deciding how they’ll write in the future. For Jane at Dear Author, I know her answer: it won’t affect her at all. And that is awesome.
For me, I don’t know. I will keep writing for Tor.com, though perhaps I’ll never again be critical again outside of my reviews (which almost everyone seems to agree upon as fair ground, with the exception of Twitter reviews with a fail tag, apparently, in the case of some portion of RWA’s membership).
Or maybe I will be critical again. My brain hasn’t yet decided on whether it’ll keep bringing the random fuckery every time I think of doing so.
I don’t even know. And the cold medication is not helping.