Mercedes Lackey Ejected From Nebula Conference For Using Racial Slur


log in or register to remove this ad

I get where you're coming from but in this case, POC vs CP, isn't like dropping the N bomb. I've seen people slip up and use some variation of CP instead of POC when they've intended but bobbled the latter. And I think if people hadn't been explicit with the issue, given the severity of the response, we'd have been tempted to expect a more severe infraction.
That said, now that someone has been explicit with the infraction, I think it's easy enough to step back from constantly using it...
Yeah I want it to be clear I’m not saying “everyone here is being racist as hell” I’m saying “we might want to be careful with what we are saying” because it’s easy when it’s not ‘the n word’ to start using it left and right because of a technical semantic protection. That’s it.
 



payn

Legend
I'm 43, and I am not consistently perfect in my speech - though I'm continuing to try to do better. When it's terminology you're not used to using, when you haven't practiced the correct contemporary use of language (probably because you don't often engage in political discourse), I can see it being an easy mistake to make. On top of it, it seems the context was one of admiration and respect for the writer of color being referenced.
When we're 80, we'll see how well we do on that. I have a feeling that we'll be embarrassed of the harsh judgment we're putting on our elders - people who are essentially the age of many of our grandparents.
Perhaps im extra sensitive to it, but I find the word used to long be considered poor form. Many see it as simply outdated, but many also see it as the only acceptable way to now say the N word in public. Also, I have very racist family members who are constantly given a pass because, "they are old". I dont believe old dogs cant learn new tricks.

It sucks that Lackey is being made an example of here. I believe her intentions and understand the context. Though, Clint Eastwood movies for the last decade or longer are about him going around being un-politically correct. It's either seen as funny or old school common sense because he is too old to know better or has ripened wisdom. Nobody checks that behavior they just allow it like old people are some unstoppable force. Politicians too say this with nary a finger wag because being 60 is too hard to learn new things. Its not, and I think its time folks started being more serious about this.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
Yeah I want it to be clear I’m not saying “everyone here is being racist as hell” I’m saying “we might want to be careful with what we are saying” because it’s easy when it’s not ‘the n word’ to start using it left and right because of a technical semantic protection. That’s it.
I grew up in Texas, where that word was used as a noun, verb, and adjective. I can understand somebody totally getting upset about the usage of a similar term at the panel. In general it is best to not call out someone's ethnicity.
 
Last edited:

Waller

Hero
I'd say it's like the word 'oriental'. Out-of-date, mildly-to-moderately offensive, but not really a slur unless deliberately used as invective.
When I was in London UK just a couple of years ago, that word was everywhere. Supermarkets aisles, in the names of chinese restaurants, everywhere. Once you noticed it it was hard to unnotice it. That news hasn't spread beyod the borders of the US yet!
 

Befended, as I said.
The panelist (who is black) appeared to be offended on her own sake, not on Delaney’s sake. The SFWA decided that the word violated their policies and took action.

I believe that there is so previous group (romance writers) that went with something else in similar circumstances and, in Twitter storms, were lambasted for taking too little action.

My personal reaction to this would be to abandon appearances at their events in the future.
 

payn

Legend
When I was in London UK just a couple of years ago, that word was everywhere. Supermarkets aisles, in the names of chinese restaurants, everywhere. Once you noticed it it was hard to unnotice it. That news hasn't spread beyod the borders of the US yet!
Even here in the twin cities there are at least a dozen markets and restaurants with the word in their name. It is a good comparison because both of these folks suffer discrimination, but the cultural discussion on what is and isnt acceptable varies. Which is why I have a hard time with what is going on in this particular instance with Lackey.
 

MGibster

Legend
I mean I feel like if this was an acceptable context, you would have said it, not “the word”, is perfectly acceptable to use.
That was entirely for your benefit. I didn't want to look like a jerk by using the word, looking like I'm pulling a "I'm not touching you" move. And to be clear, it's not that I think you're petty and would pull something like that, but I'm happpy to choose my words with consideration and respect for my audience.
 

Mallus

Legend
When I was in London UK just a couple of years ago, that word was everywhere. Supermarkets aisles, in the names of chinese restaurants, everywhere. Once you noticed it it was hard to unnotice it. That news hasn't spread beyod the borders of the US yet!
It’s fine for food and carpets. I’d should have specified it’s… ahem... problematic when used to describe people.

I gotta admit, though, whenever I see something like ‘oriental sauce’ on a menu, I takes a fair amount of willpower not to ask the server questions like “is it sauce for orientals or made from orientals?”

I mean, I won’t. Mortifying your server is always terrible etiquette. But it is kinda tempting...
 

That was entirely for your benefit. I didn't want to look like a jerk by using the word, looking like I'm pulling a "I'm not touching you" move. And to be clear, it's not that I think you're petty and would pull something like that, but I'm happpy to choose my words with consideration and respect for my audience.
That’s all I’m trying to say. Are we considering our audience and respecting them. No shade to anyone in particular, just wanting to voice “hey let’s be careful maybe.”
 

I view the NAACP use of the word as a sign that their success as the people it was founded to help chose their own names. Personally, I much prefer black or Black as it is a color like white (and neither is accurate for the actual skin color). I honestly don’t know about others and how they want their skin color described. My wife and many Asians I know are offended by POC.

Older or not, Lackey is a professional writer and I would expect better use of words.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm in my 40s, and I recall that the word was inappropriate in that context when I was about 18. This is not a new thing.
Same here, and I've never on any occasion witnessed the use of the word to describe a person in a contemporary setting. I've only heard it used in a historical context.
 

Retreater

Legend
Typically, during IRL conversations, I just shut up anymore. I realize I have nothing to add. This is why I don't discuss politics, race, religion, or other important issues. Everything is hobbies, the weather, sports, etc.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The "Harassments Policy" seems to have a variety of specific levels available for sanctions that the "Moderation Policy" doesn't.

Harassment Policy

Moderation Policy
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
When two very similar words (in this case, two different constructions of the same word) have the same denotation but near-opposite connotations, it's inevitable that one will sometimes be used when the other is intended, because of the way human brains process and produce language. This phenomenon has nothing whatsoever to do with racist ideologies, unless you subscribe to debunked pop-Freudian notions of slips of the tongue as revealing deep-seated prejudices in a "return of the repressed."

To elaborate: when "... of color" (e.g., "writer of color") is considered by many to be perhaps the most sensitive term available—because most people would just say "Black writer" instead, and the primary reason to choose "... of color" is usually to emphasize solidarity/intersectionality with other nonwhite identities—and yet a very closely related term* is considered offensive, then sometimes, some people will end up saying the latter when they consciously want to say the former, simply because the terms are so similar and both have the same denotation, and the brain is a weird place when it comes to talking. This is a bit less common when the terms occupy displaced syntactical positions (in this case, after the noun vs. before it), but it does still happen that way.

This is doubly true for people with dyslexia, who are very often prone to slips of the tongue even when the denotations are different (classic example: "Dinosaurs went distinct millions of years ago"). My point is that for verbal dyspraxics, whether they technically qualify as neurodivergent, no amount of education and no degree of good intentions is going to save them from verbal slip-ups.

Mercedes Lackey is on record as being diagnosed with dyslexia. She is also verbally dyspraxic; watch any YouTube interview with her and this is immediately obvious if you know what to look for. The stumbles are very brief, and usually she immediately corrects herself, and she is brilliant and articulate so that's the general impression one comes away with. But it's there throughout her speech patterns. I just clicked on a random interview and she stumbles over her words seven times in the first three minutes, including (speaking of her birds) "They're extremely intelligence."


*I was about to hit "post" when I looked at the prior discussion regarding repeating the term in this thread. I have removed it for the same reasons articulated by MGibster above. If the term did not already appear several times earlier in this thread, I would consider it morally mandatory to include the term itself, so as to make plain exactly what Lackey said.
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
Two things matter when a social taboo is violated: (1) intentions, and (2) what the speaker does after the slip-up.

Unfortunately, increasingly it seems to me that in many cases, and especially by organizations and institutions with the power and responsibility to respond to such incidents, intentions are not considered to be important. One even hears that taking an offender's intentions into account is somehow a way of compounding the violation, as though understanding why something has happened amounts to condoning, excusing, or even repeating the offending act.

It's clear that in this case the SFWA did not care about Lackey's intentions. It's also clear they didn't offer her a chance to apologize or respond before ejecting her from the conference.

The SFWA has, in my opinion, responded to the complaint in the third-worst imaginable way. The worst would be to retaliate against the complainant. The second-worst would be to ignore the complaint entirely. Why in the world should we celebrate an organization for doing something in the third-worst imaginable way?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Reading up on things for myself...

2020 column n the Chicago Tribune

A bit of history from NPR


Folks called out for using it...

BBC in 2015 on Benedict Cumberbatch:
Warning: Why using the term 'coloured' is offensive

Amy Robach from "Good Morning America"
 

MGibster

Legend
Whenever I hear about these kinds of issues I have to remind myself that I very often don't have the full context. From the information currently available to me, I believe it would have been entirely appropriate for Nebula organizers have a chat with Lackey about her choice of words and to ask for an apology. But removing Lackey from the venue altogether was an overraction entirely disproportionate to her actions. However, maybe there is a context I'm missing. Lackey may have a history with the Nubula that I am entirely unaware of. But from an outsider's perspective, the Nebula Conference isn't looking so good to me. But sometimes mistakes are made.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top