Friday, 27 December 2013

Friends Of Lulu

Cerebus #288 (March 2003)
art by Dave Sim, assisted by Chris Verhoeven
DAVE SIM:
(from a letter to 'Friends Of Lulu' dated 24 January 1996, printed in Cerebus #206, May 1996)
"Advocating censorship of any kind would not only be against our firm belief in freedom of expression but is diametrically opposed to our goal of expanding the comics market."
...I guess I just find this confusing. Maybe it's just me. Although there have been rumblings of censorship and advocacy of censorship from people I have talked to about FoL, I take you at your word. You don't advocate censorship. It was not my intention to accuse you of advocating censorship. What I was doing was sketching the parameters of a simple program which might assist in the fight against censorship. I am alarmed by the Planet Comics bust in Oklahoma. In examining what I can do to assist the retailers and their customers to defend their First Amendment rights, the answer I came up with was "not much." I can continue to donate royalties and payments for various "outside Cerebus" projects to the CBLDF. But in terms of directly affecting the situation in Oklahoma City, the answer, alas, was "not much." I did an interview with a student newspaper in Oklahoma in which I tried to state the case for freedom of expression. But, beyond that, addressing letters to the local daily newspaper or alternative paper or what-have-you would be an exercise in futility. No one has heard of me or Cerebus in that context. My words would carry no weight -- most likely I would just be viewed as another "smut peddler" jumping to the defense of other "smut peddlers."

Because Friends of Lulu has a roster of female professionals as active members, because censorship has been linked historically with... if there was a valid synonym for "feminist," I would use it here... feminist movements, because we are very short of resources in the comic-book field which have a snowball's chance in hell of swaying mainstream public opinion to the cause of creative freedom in the comic-book field... I took a stab in the dark. As an outsider examining the situation board -- a non-American, non-CBLDF board member, a non-Friends of Lulu member.

Having put my case as eloquently as I could, I find it very disappointing that the reaction amounts to little more than the regurgitation of platitudes capped by a rhetorical cul-de-sac that amounts to little more, in my view, than "We're going to sit this one out, Dave."

The fact that no effort is (evidently) going to be expended even to determine if there is a level of interest within the ranks of the 160 or so female members of your organization to assist in ending censorship and that your seven-member board views the offhand 'enunciation' of a "firm belief in freedom of expression" to be sufficient when two retailers are apt to be imprisoned possibly for a total of eighty years (to me) belies your expressions of support for the retail community.

I mean, come on!
Friends Of Lulu Logo (2004)
by Diana X. Spinkle

Friends of Lulu (1994 to 2011) was a non-profit, national charitable organization in the United States, founded to promote readership of comic books by women and the participation of women in the comic book industry.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I found this response by Jackie Estrada from Dave's old Blog and Mail, which would seem to me to be a full answer and it suggests that Dave was fighting a straw man:

"I haven't been involved with FoL since 1999 and don't have all the records or paperwork, but as I recall, back in 1996 Dave issued a challenge in Cerebus to FoL to "prove" that the organization wasn't made up of anti-First Amendment feminists by coming out in support of the CBLDF. In that challenge he made a number of erroneous statements about the organization. For instance, Friends of Lulu has always been an organization of women and men, adults and kids, professionals and non-professionals, not of "all female comics professionals." The FoL Board of Directors wrote to Dave (via fax, which is the only way he would communicate) thanking him for the opportunity to clarify what the organization is and to correct the misinformation he had printed. We then pointed out that under FoL's non-profit charter, the group could not do fund-raising for other non-profits (which is what he in fact asked FoL to do for CBLDF). We also pointed out that most of the FoL board members were also members and supporters of CBLDF.

"Dave then sent a fax expressing his disappointment that FoL didn't come back with some kind of confrontational response so we could get a "rivalry" going. The FoL board simply refused to play that game since Dave had no interest in knowing what FoL was really trying to accomplish, which was to get more women and girls involved in creating and reading comics. CBLDF is a separate organization with separate goals, period."

-Reginald P.

Jason said...

Right, right, a "full answer" in which Estrada doesn't once mention the Planet Comics bust or Sim's suggestion that the Friends of Lulu might possibly want to aid a couple of retailers who were looking at having their lives destroyed for the crime of selling ink on paper.

Anonymous said...

Jason, if someone makes a straw-man argument, and someone else points out that this is a straw-man argument, then repeating the original straw-man argument doesn't really further the discussion.

Dave, in common with many people who possess the drive to succeed in highly competitive fields, has a healthy ego that can lead him to assume that whatever issues he is currently confronting or concerned with are the most important issues for everyone. Combined with his natural contrarian instinct, and with his urge to tweak feminist noses, Dave proposed actions for FoL that were a) outside the organization's mandate and b) legally prohibited -- and he then judged them as ethical failures or hypocrites when they didn't do what he told them to.

Issuing a statement decrying censorship may have been the least FoL could have done in this particular case -- but it also may have been the most they could have done.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, mda

Anonymous said...

@Jason

It is a full answer.

First, almost all FoL members were in fact helping Planet Comics. The FoL were almost all members of the CBLDF, so they were in fact helping financially and morally through that channel.

Second, FoL was unable to help through FoL directly because they believed such assistance was outside their Charter. Since they were a charitable organization with tax exempt status, I would imagine acting outside their Charter might have legal implications, perhaps threatening that tax exempt status, and thus their very existence. Why take those chances when they were providing assistance through the CBLDF?

It seems they believed that they were unable to provide assistance in the way that Dave wanted. That is still not the same as providing no assistance at all; and in fact they did provide assistance.

So, FoL didn't think they could help through FoL, but instead helped through the CBLDF. This is hardly abandoning Planet Comics as you claim, or failing to defend free speech as Dave claimed.

Jason, FoL clearly gave Dave a restrained answer to what was, I think pretty obviously, an overblown and unreasonably provocative demand. Dave obviously wasn't trying to work with potential allies; he was making a non-negotiable demand in order to prove that feminists oppose free speech.

Dave accuses the "feminist" members of FoL of not supporting free speech, and yet they were in fact almost all contributors to the CBLDF. So they were, in reality, doing the exact opposite of what Dave claimed.

The individual members of FoL should probably be praised for their efforts.

-Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it also occurs to me to mention that it would be more accurate to say that censorship has been linked historically with conservative movements. It was conservatives who called for censorship before feminism existed, and later it was conservative feminists who called for censorship while liberal feminists decried it.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, mbe

Jason said...

Damian, you've missed the point, Estrada was lying: the text of Sim's approach to the Friends of Lulu is available online and it contains nothing about raising funds for the CBLDF. He asked them if they would be willing to "compose and sign a petition or statement expressing their support for the First Amendment as preeminent over their personal dislike of comic books that could be seen to exploit or degrade women," that's all. (http://davesim.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/dave-sims-blogandmail-169-february-27th.html) This was not legally prohibited, and it was very much relevant to the FoL for reasons Dave goes into in that blog-post. The only straw here is in the skull of anyone who would reduce this issue to a matter of Dave Sim's egotism.

"Issuing a statement decrying censorship may have been the least FoL could have done in this particular case -- but it also may have been the most they could have done."

Well yes, exactly. And either way, they didn't.

Jason said...

"FoL clearly gave Dave a restrained answer to what was, I think pretty obviously, an overblown and unreasonably provocative demand. Dave obviously wasn't trying to work with potential allies..."

Again, the full text is available online. What exactly is "overblown" and "unreasonably provocative" about it, in what way was Sim "obviously" not trying to work with the people he was trying to work with?

"Dave accuses the "feminist" members of FoL of not supporting free speech..."

No, he accuses the organisation, not its members. Your attempts to conflate the two are quite silly: The FoL did nothing, the CBLDF did loads, hooray for the FoL!!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Jason

You have not quoted the original text of what Dave wrote in Cerebus.

Going to the link, as best as I can tell, Dave makes this offer not as a first volley, but AFTER FoL explain their Charter and their position, and thus well after his original challenge to FoL in Cerebus.

So, I don't believe your quote is what you claim it is.

FoL's final response then follows this paraphrased message from Dave asking for a petition.

Dave also writes that he wanted to publish a monthly debate with FoL. Sounds like someone looking for confrontation.

-Reginald P.

David Birdsong said...

"Oh, it also occurs to me to mention that it would be more accurate to say that censorship has been linked historically with conservative movements. It was conservatives who called for censorship before feminism existed, and later it was conservative feminists who called for censorship while liberal feminists decried it.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, mbe"


That's a harsh accusation with no proof offered. Were they even calling them "Conservatives" in the days before Feminism? I think these terms we assign to people have become far too mixed up. What we call Liberals today are far from the original definition. They are Progressives and if anyone is calling for censorship of word and thought it is them.

Anonymous said...

@Jason

The difference between provocation and cooperation?

Glad to help.

If you want to work with a group, you approach them privately, one-on-one with a proposal to work together in friendly language and express hope that you can commence a working relationship. All negotiations are held in private; and if they break down, it remains substantially confidential.

If you want to provoke someone, you publish, without ever contacting them first, a challenge or demand that they do specifically what you ask or else be an opponent of free speech. They hear about this challenge not from you but...what...through the grapevine?

You use language like "anyone interested in this stupid proposal by that misogynist pig Dave Sim can write to..."

Also, keep in mind, your estranged ex-wife is on the executive of this organization that you have called out in print.

And Dave knows this. He privately negotiated some deals with IDW recently. He publicly negotiated with Fantagraphics, whom I imagine he had no intention of ever dealing with.

-Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

David, are you seriously suggesting that nobody was called "conservative" before feminism? If that is typical of your ignorance of history (not intending "ignorance" as an insult, but meaning "you don't know about it"), it's no wonder you don't believe that throughout history it's been conservatives that have been most in favour of restricting thought, word, and deed.

Conservatives' position is a logical (but not inevitable) consequence of their beliefs. If you support and value the status quo -- the existing institutions, customs, morals, and social order -- then you might perceive people who question or attack such things as dangerous to society itself.

It wasn't conservatives who defended Mike Diana's godawful Boiled Angel comics. What progressives are calling for censorship of word and thought? When liberals were offended by Dave Sim's remarks, they called for private individuals not to buy his comics. When conservatives were offended by the Dixie Chicks' remarks, they called for the Chicks to be prosecuted by the state as traitors. There's a bit of a difference there.

Reginald P., I'd forgotten that Dave's ex-wife was on the board of FoL. I suspect that (a probably minor) part of his motivation in this was to tweak feminist noses generally, and Deni's specifically.

Dave's moral purity is occasionally selective (not an uncommon failing among human beings). Reginald P., you accurately contrast his dealings with IDW and Fantagraphics. Dave condemned FoL for failing to condemn the prosecution of Planet Comics, yet he declined when given the opportunity to condemn Muslim fundamentalists who would kill a cartoonist for depicting Mohammed, saying only that while they had the right to do it, they had to accept the consequences. Yet he seemed to think that Planet Comics shouldn't have to accept the consequences of selling Verotik.

"I mean, come on!" indeed.

Incidentally, I love that people (and not just here) are actually talking about civil and human rights, such as freedom of expression. Now that's democracy!

-- Damian T. Lloyd, iso

Tony Dunlop said...

Anyone who'd say "there's nothing funny about a woman over 40" must not know very many post-menopausal women. Most of them, in my experience, are f*ckin' hilarious. The no longer have to give a damn what anyone thinks of them & can let loose.

Eddie said...

Ooh! Good discussion!

I might be missing it, but where in the original response to Dave did it occur that,"We then pointed out that under FoL's non-profit charter, the group could not do fund-raising for other non-profits (which is what he in fact asked FoL to do for CBLDF)?" I can't find it, but I might be completely missing it.

I also think Dave's suggestion from #203 would have been pretty good firepower in the case. Quote "..I am moved to wonder - if only by the excessive zeal demonstrated by the Oklahoma City prosecutors - if some manner of petition or supporting document generated by the Friends of Lulu might not weigh in favour of the First Amendment in this case. Clearly here is an organization which might be thought to be in diametric opposition to Frank Throne, Eros Comics, Verotika, Glen Danzig, et al."

I mean, even if they didn't think they were the right organization or group to address the Oklahoma situation in such a capacity, what about perhaps setting up the suggestion or such a document somewhere else and then perhaps directing their members to it there? Or maybe even pointing their members to the CBLDF, specifically citing the case (which they might have done; I just don't know). But I still think Dave's suggestion of such a document would have been very effective, regardless of which banner it arrived under. I think it was just that the FoL was the biggest organization comprised of females in the comic industry, and therefore made the most sense to be contacted. I don't for a second think that Dave would have used a potential situation of long term imprisonment for 2 comics professional as a cover for some kind of agenda to get back at his ex-wife or rustle feminist feathers. I mean, maybe that's what THEY took it as, (wonder how far the suggestion would have gotten it came from someone like say, Neil Gaiman), but I honestly don't think a man who donated $100,000 to the CBLDF and has been such a supporter of retailers would have that as his motivations. Remember, this came out shortly after #186, so that could have coloured THEIR motives. But, at the end of the day, to me, a good idea is a good idea, regardless of where it comes from or what the underlying motivation might have been for the suggestion.

I remember back in the 90's Kate Pierson of the B-52's was talking about censorship and something along the lines of "as a woman, I find 2 Live Crew offensive, but as an American I feel everyone has the right to be stupid." Which impressed the heck out of and which I think is along the same lines of what Dave was suggesting.

Anonymous said...

@ Eddie

Voila! Dave's original "open letter" to FoL!

http://www.cerebusfangirl.com/artists/fol1.php

You quote so little of it that you entirely misrepresent it.

It was an insulting and brazen challenge -- just as FoL characterized it -- designed to produce a feud and cause FoL to rebuff Dave and thus "prove Dave right".

In other words, Dave asks "do as I say while I heap abuse on you, so that your silly organization will finally become relevant, or be, in my eyes, the enemy of freedom that I and "many" others suspect you are."

Dave admits in the letter “the purpose of these open letters in Cerebus has usually been to read my views into the record at critical junctures in the ongoing history of the direct market.”

Dave then invites FoL to debate; not to work with him. No real attempt at cooperation, just a fight, ACCORDING TO DAVE. FoL took Dave’s word and decided not to play that game.

Dave also presumes, wrongly, that the INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS of FoL, as “members”, were doing nothing to support Planet Comics. FoL corrects his baseless view.

Again, if Dave really wanted to work with FoL, he would have first contacted them privately, in a friendly tone.

Instead, at every step, Dave provokes and insults. Here are some highlights, in order:

- Belittles organizations in general [insincerely, considering Dave's involvement in the CBLDF, FOOG, and the Creators' Bill of Rights]

- Alludes to a romantic relationship he had with a member of FoL

- Describes, with apparent glee, an early "schism" that he caused within FoL

- Suggests that a "faction" in FoL was "cleansed"

- Says that his proposal would cause a new schism -- "Spawn of Lulu"

- Repeatedly refers to FoL as "Lulu" -- obviously not its name

- Bemoans that FoL no longer considers him an "approved for women" comics writer

- Accuses FoL of being Marxists bent on "ideological purity"

- Says that FoL lacks clear purpose and just puts out "platitudes"

- FoL's goals are better accomplished by others in the comics industry

- FoL are similar to Thought Police

- FoL is "a social organisation for comic-book people of specific genitalia to break bread and trade gossip with others possessing the same configuration of genitalia"

- Accuses FoL of valuing "ideological purity" over "creative freedom"

- Feminism has an "ostrich-like" attitude to freedom of the press

- FoL may even be against Planet Comics and support their imprisonment or worse

- Feminists are just like the radical religious right in their support of censorship

The letter is just an anti-feminist rant.

-Reginald P.





David Birdsong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie said...

1. Reginald. AH ! Thanks for posting that link. I wasn't going to type out the whole thing, and should have checked the cerebus fangirl site. Blogger has limits on how many characters you can write in response, so I'm breaking up this response over several posts, with quotes.

It seems like there are two subjects here: The first is Dave's actual proposal and its merits, and the second the (subjective) perceived manner in which he suggested it and it's underlying motives. It seems (to me) that the second subject colours how people viewed the first. If the second is suspect, does that automatically negate the first? It's an interesting litmus test.

You quote none of the letter and offer such subjective interpretation that you entirely misrepresent it ;)

Overall, I don't see it as an insulting and brazen challenge designed to produce a feud and cause FoL to rebuff Dave and thus "prove Dave right." People can find something insulting anywhere. I mean okay if that's the way people are going to read it and feel about it (knowing how sensitive people can be, especially on other people's behalf) that's their right. If I was part of an organization and received such a letter, I personally wouldn't read it as someone trying to 'heap abuse' or produce a feud. I definitely don't see it as a rant, but actually an open letter with such a structure that begins with some questions about the organization that Dave and other comics professionals had (quote: "In fact, the largest question about the Friends of Lulu that seems to exist within the comic-book community — particularly among those female comics professionals you desire to rally to your standard — seems to be: “What is the purpose of the Friends of Lulu?” What is it that you are trying to accomplish?"), establishes how he might be perceived by such an organization, and then moves on to his perception of the political ramifications and powers of such a group to how such an organization might be beneficial and benefit its own agenda in helping in such circumstances as the Oklahoma City situation to then offering a suggestion (that I personally think would have been pretty effective) as to what that assistance might look like. And written in a pretty even and matter of fact tone, and obviously edited into a final form from it's initial draft. That's not how I personally define a rant.

-Belittles organizations in general [insincerely, considering Dave's involvement in the CBLDF, FOOG, and the Creators' Bill of Rights]

"As most of you are aware, I’m not much of a one for organisations..."

To me, one could be involved with those organizations and still not be 'much of one for organizations.' Not sure that's what I would classify as belittling. (I'm also not so sure I would say the Creators' Bill of Right was produced by an 'organization.' I wonder if Dave's 'not being one for organizations' was what steered him away from the possibility of trying to create a union or something at the time).

- Alludes to a romantic relationship he had with a member of FoL
Actually, he alludes to a romantic relationship with a professional who was being pitched at by the FoL, not one who was a part of the organization. "When Heidi MacDonald was pitching the Friends of Lulu to a female comics professional with whom I was (ahem) keeping company in the summer of ‘93.." I personally am not really sure what the intended offence is there, or how that's supposed to be offensive to FoL, but again, I might be missing something.

Eddie said...

2. -Describes, with apparent glee, an early "schism" that he caused within FoL
"I noted with some interest that the issue itself caused the first major schism within Lulu Ranks certain members threatening to quit if men were allowed to join, other members threatening to quit if men weren’t allowed to join."

Glee seems completely subjective. There is a bit of inference (or is that implication?) going on that the issue was only discussed at FoL because he brought it up. I don't think he explicitly says that, and I personally could see the issue coming up in the organization without Dave. "Let's start an organization for the advancement of women in the comic book industry." "Are men allowed to join?" seems to me to be a natural question to address at the beginning. I could see it as glee (that rhymes!) if he was saying 'I was responsible for causing schism in the ranks, which caused everyone to dance like puppets!' and added a bunch of smiley face emoticons. But even if it was because of what he asked, I don't see 'glee' in the above statement.

- Suggests that a "faction" in FoL was "cleansed"
I don't see how is that provoking anyone or insulting. A group where there have been rumblings of members threatening to quit if certain overarching policies weren't enforced certainly doesn't seem to have anything to do with Dave. Is it perhaps the perceived offence in using the term 'cleansed?' Well if that's what actually happened and members quit over whether or not men were allowed to join, it does seem to me that FoL, as an organization, did actually cleanse itself (I can't believe I just wrote that).

- Says that his proposal would cause a new schism -- "Spawn of Lulu"
Again, we're inferring here it was his proposal. I think it may have come about without any 'help' from him. But even if it did, well, I'm pretty sure FoL would be strong enough to survive in some form any kind debate that occurs as the result of a pretty basic question. I think his point is that he's addressing an organization that may be in a state of flux and perhaps there might be some offshoot organization that sees merit in his proposal. That's how I read it, anyways. I'm sure that can be turned into a provocation and insult somehow. Just not sure how. Maybe by the implication that FoL can spawn or has reproductive capabilities?

- Repeatedly refers to FoL as "Lulu" -- obviously not its name

Good point! In fact, by my count in his initial letter, there are 28 usage's of the term 'Lulu.' Out of these 28, he uses the term 'Friends of Lulu,' for 25, but the other 3.....it's 'Lulu.' How DARE he? I hope they managed to recover from this brazen slap in the face.

Eddie said...

3.- Bemoans that FoL no longer considers him an "approved for women" comics writer
"To judge by your reading list of “approved for women” comic books, it seems certain-that issue 186 of Cerebus has eliminated my standing as an “approved for women” comics creator and Cerebus as an “approved for women” comic-book title. Since I possessed such credentials at the time of.. . say. . . Jaka ‘s Story (and still do with those women who are less, shall we say, ideologically pure than the Friends of Lulu).". I think it safe to say that this communication is apt to fall upon deaf ears.

I don't really see him bemoaning. To me, what I think he was pointing out was that, say, before 186 he probably would have been considered on their list as recommended reading for girls (remember when Jaka's Story came out? I think it was pretty well received by sensibilities that would have been in alignment with FoL. I remember giving it to a female friend and she really glommed onto it, and I'm pretty sure it was used by a lot of guys as an entry point to try and get girls into comics), and now his work most likely wouldn't be considered, and as a result any suggestions he might have are going to fall on deaf ears. I didn't get the impression he was lamenting over not being included on their recommended reading list.
- Accuses FoL of being Marxists bent on "ideological purity"

"Revisionism and ideological purity, fallen into disrepute with Karl Marx’s grand societal experiment, seem to have retained a tenacious handhold among feminists."
"Taking such a stand, I think, would go a long way towards establishing the Friends of Lulu as an active and positive force in the field. It might very well attract more members to your cause. It would certainly set you apart from the sordid history of Andrea Dworkin-style feminism which sought to replace the First Amendment with the predisposition and prejudices of a handful of ideologues."

I didn't see him directly accusing them of being Marxists bent on ideological purity (GREAT PHRASE, btw). He's still asking them about their organization and addressing some of the political ramifications, and how if they were to show their support it might assist them in not being perceived as 'Marxists bent on ideological purity' (or might actually prove them to be such). Maybe they felt that they were being put in a situation where if they didn't respond or address his concerns they would have been perceived as such, and didn't... feel... comfortable being put in such a situation? But you know, maybe at that point the letter was written they wanted to be Marxists bent on ideological purity? Maybe they saw that as a good thing?

- Says that FoL lacks clear purpose and just puts out "platitudes"

"In fact, the largest question about the Friends of Lulu that seems to exist within the comic-book community — particularly among those female comics professionals you desire to rally to your standard — seems to be: “What is the purpose of the Friends of Lulu?” What is it that you are trying to accomplish? Yes, of course — we have the platitudes outlined above, but this provides more suspicion than reassurance."

Again, note that he's also stating a perception (that he shares) among the comic book professionals and especially the female comic book professionals.

Eddie said...

4. - FoL's goals are better accomplished by others in the comics industry

"By the act of creating and publishing a comic book with interesting female characters, a Terry Moore or a David Laphamor a Colleen Doran accomplish the task that you set for yourselves. A store owner like Brian Hibbs or Steve Solomos or Mimi Cruz, sharing the avowed goal within its larger context — improved quality in the comic books that they promote and display and push, better comic books for everyone, women included — does more to serve the dynamic, in the view of many who might be sympathetic to your cause, than does the rendering of Womankind as a special-interest group with needs separate from those of the comics-reading community or the general population we endeavour to court.

Again, I think if I was part of a group and someone told me that the perception in my industry was that other people were doing more to serve the dynamic of my cause, I wouldn't shoot the messenger (even if the messenger believed it himself). I would probably think about if they were right or not, and if I believed strongly enough, respond where I thought that perception was inaccurate. Perhaps FoL didn't find this part as insulting or provocative as you did? Or maybe they did.
- FoL are similar to Thought Police
- FoL is "a social organisation for comic-book people of specific genitalia to break bread and trade gossip with others possessing the same configuration of genitalia"

"Such advocacy swerves dangerously close to the territory of the Thought Police, for if the Friends of Lulu is going to aspire to be more than a social organisation for comic-book people of specific genitalia to break bread and trade gossip with others possessing the same configuration of genitalia, many in the comic-book community would like some assurance that its aspirations in political areas are in tune with individual freedoms and don’t stand in opposition to such freedoms."

I don't see him blatantly calling them the thought police, just pointing out how in his view treating "Womankind as a special-interest group with needs separate from those of the comics-reading community or the general population we endeavour to court" (again, to him) points in that direction, and that there is concern among people in the field that such an agenda or organization isn't 'pointing in that direction.' I DO see how someone could be offended at the 'more than a social organization for comic book people of specific genitalia to break bread and trade gossip with other possessing the same configuration of genitalia." It's not what I would have written, but at the same time, I personally wouldn't have been offended if I was part of a men's rights organization and someone said all we do is sit around drinking beer and watching sports. What good what that serve? And again, maybe they weren't offended by it?

Eddie said...

5. - Accuses FoL of valuing "ideological purity" over "creative freedom"

"The fact that the current president is inextricably linked with the San Diego Comic Book Convention and that the San Diego Comic Book Convention has proved itself time and again a flaccid, vacillating, and at best halfhearted ally of creative freedom is enough to give sober men and women pause. And it does raise what is to me and (I would hope) many comics professionals — the question of which takes precedence in your collective world: creative freedom or ideological purity. Let me hasten to say that I don’t raise these issues out of malice or in any capricious fashion. The argument which I am developing had its genesis with the Oklahoma prosecution of Planet Comics for possessing Verotika #4 for the purposes of selling it (along with other works). As the story unfolded and we were all made aware that the two store owners were facing a combined prison sentence of eighty years in jail, I found myself pondering what the Friends of Lulu thought of all this."

If this is the passage you're referencing, then, to me, he definitely doesn't accuse FoL of valuing "ideological purity" over "creative freedom." I read it as him stating that the QUESTION is raised of what they value more. Not, you know, asserting that the FoL actually do value it over the other. I do see it framed as a one or the other situation. Again, that's just how I read it, but maybe the above statement is the same as an accusation. Which seems to imply that anyone asking for clarification on an issue where it seems to that someone it is a one or the other is a direct indictment of whatever is perceived to be the least desirable trait of the two. I suspect that might have been part of his motivation in the letter; to find out where on the spectrum they fell. But, again, that's just pure subjective speculation on my part.
- Feminism has an "ostrich-like" attitude to freedom of the press

"I was not unmindful of the fact that feminism, since its latest incarnation got off to a roaring start around 1970, has been allowed to adopt an ostrich-like posture as regards Freedom of the Press versus the Feminist Agenda. This is odd since the two have been, are, and (I’m sure) will continue to be in diametric opposition to one another."

I don't know enough about the history of feminism as it relates to free speech (anyone know if is feminism historically more pro-speech than anti-censor-ship, regardless of whether or not it suits its own agenda?) Perhaps they didn't want to get put into a situation where they would have to use the organization to collectively decide or address such issues, since they believed the CBLDF was better suited or a more appropriate organization. I still think it would have been beneficial to have some kind of signed statement from female comics professionals along the lines of what Dave suggested. And perhaps there was one done that I'm not aware of. Or maybe someone will consider it in the future.

Eddie said...

6.-FoL may even be against Planet Comics and support their imprisonment or worse

"I was moved to wonder: did there exist a Friend of Lulu who thought that eighty years in jail was a suitable punishment for possessing a comic book that was (indisputably) degrading to women? Making another leap, I pondered still further did there exist a Friend of Lulu who considered a total prison sentence of eighty years inadequate? If such a Friend existed, what penalty would satisfy her? How many Friends of Lulu shared my horror at the punishment bearing down upon these two retailers? How many saw this punishment as excessive — and how excessive was it, in their view? For possessing and selling images degrading to women, should an individual lose his freedom for a decade? Two decades? A year? Six months? Should that individual have his house and car and family taken away from him? This is not idle curiosity on my past. For a group of female comics professionals to align with one another, to form a group whose advocacy by its nature is gender-based, to me demands an answer to these questions."

I THINK this is the part you're referencing (it follows sequentially from the above). If it is, I note that he isn't talking about the organization as a whole, but rather begins with an individual member and moves on from there. And there may, indeed be individual members of such an organization that supported the imprisonment (the examples above all seem less harsh than 80 years); he hypothetically asks what such an individual would consider appropriate punishment, which (to me) is a rational thing to do when contemplating opposing viewpoints). Personally, I don't think it outside the realm of likelihood that a member of FoL would think that Verotika 4 should have been censored, and the retailers imprisoned or punished in some manner. It might have been an interesting concept for the FoL organization as a whole to consider; just where do the majority of our members stand on the concept of Free Speech if we don't have a specifically stated stance? And if the numbers are skewed in a specific direction, does that therefore imply that we as an organization are automatically in favour of that majority decision if a situation involving such a topic arises? Or is it a topic that we, as organization, don't need to address or consider at all?

-Feminists are just like the radical religious right in their support of censorship

And then he outlines his reasons for why he thinks so. It's not like just flatly asserts it without explaining why he thinks so. Personally, I don't see that as ranting.

"The religious right and rhetorical feminism both begin with the supposition that — existing as they do on a self-perceived high, nay, highest moral ground — they are the best suited to decide what the rest of us should be allowed and shouldn’t be allowed to see and/or read. Comparable in its nature to any other ideological “marriage of convenience,” it is going to favour the religious right in the long run. Why? Because the feminist agenda stops short of the religious right’s agenda and consequently the latter philosophy encompasses the former. Because feminism traditionally weighs in on the side of censorship — being very much in favour of the suppression and elimination of images and words which are “degrading to women” (thus the highest moral ground — feminists don’t just speak for themselves, they speak for all Womankind) — feminists become inadvertent partners of the religious right, who seek that same suppression and elimination because the images and words are “immoral and unchristian.” The danger for feminism in ignoring both the truth and the net effect of this is in the implied threat to feminist tribal totems like lesbianism, bisexuality, contraception, abortion, homosexuality — all of which are perceived as “immoral and unchristian.” "

The letter is just a well structured and thought out proposal, in my eyes.

-Eddie

David Birdsong said...

I deleted my earlier comment because Eddie did a far superior job of saying what I had neither the time nor desire to get into. Censorship is wrong no matter what area of the political spectrum you favor. Over and over again flawed human beings stand proudly for tolerance of all ideas except for the ones they don't like.