Pixel Scroll 11/15 Scrolled Acquaintance

(1) John Green of the Vlog Brothers waves Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber at the camera and heartily endorses it to 2.6 million subscribers at the 2:00 mark in his “Pizzamas Day 4” video posted November 12.

Today Hopkinson’s book – originally published in 2001 — ranks 2,902 in Amazon’s Kindle eBooks>Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban category. I wish I knew where it was ranked the day before for the sake of comparison.

(2) NPR interviewed Stan Lee about his new autobiography.

The man who dreamed up lots of backstories for Marvel characters has now put out his own origin story: A memoir, Amazing Fantastic Incredible, in comic book form. It begins with Lee as a boy, transported to other worlds through books by Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and William Shakespeare. His real world was the Depression, a father mostly out of work and a dingy New York apartment with laundry hanging in the kitchen and a brick wall for a view. Lee says his mother doted on him; he remembers she’d just watch him read. “One of the best gifts I ever got — she bought me a little stand that I could keep on the table while I was eating, and I could put a book in the stand, and I could read while I was eating. I mean, I always had to be reading something,” he recalls.

Stan Lee memoir cover

(3) Discovery Times Square is hosting “Star Wars And The Power Of Costume: The Exhibition” which includes costumes from the forthcoming movie.

SW-SHOWCLIX-LOGO%20(1)Featuring 70 hand-crafted costumes from the first six blockbuster Star Wars films, this exhibition reveals the artists’ creative process—and uncovers the connection between character and costume. George Lucas imagined and created a fantastical world filled with dynamic characters who told the timeless story of the hero’s journey. The costumes shaped the identities of these now famous characters, from the menacing black mask of Darth Vader and the gilded suit of C-3PO, to the lavish royal gowns of Queen Amidala and a bikini worn by Princess Leia when enslaved by Jabba the Hutt. A special presentation for the showing at Discovery Times Square in New York will feature seven additional costumes from the highly anticipated film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(4) James H. Burns denies that “love of the Three Stooges is a guy thing” at TV Party.

three-stooges-tuxedos

One night, in one of the popular Broadway joints, I’m having a couple of drinks with an actress I had recently met. A lovely, musicals-type gal….

And. somehow, I mention the Stooges. She tells me she LOVES the Stooges…

So, being a little devilish, as many of you know I can be, I say to her:

“Great…. What’s the only known defense for this…”

And I start doing a, slow-motion, split-finger, eyepoke. She INSTANTLY raises her hand, sideways, to her nose.

(5) Get the electronic Mythlore Plus Index for free – or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Order fulfillment goes through PayPal which won’t take a zero-price sale.

Available as a fully searchable digital file downloadable in PDF format, this newly, updated edition of the Mythlore Index covers issues 1-127 and has now been expanded to include all articles and reviews published in the Tolkien Journal, Mythcon Conference Proceedings, and Mythopoeic Press Essay Collections. Articles are indexed by author, title, and subject, and reviews by author and author of item reviewed. The index is illustrated with classic black and white artwork from early issues by Tim Kirk and Sarah Beach. This essential reference in mythopoeic studies will be updated after the publication of each Mythlore issue.

Add it to your cart and when you check out you’ll be sent a download link.

(6) Today In History

  • November 16, 2001:  First Harry Potter film opens

(7) Christopher M. Chupik, guided by his own reading experiences, says there is a tendency to shortchange the appeal of classic sf, in his guest post “Reflections of a Golden Age” on According To Hoyt.

My high-tech Kobo e-reader has a copy of Edmond Hamilton’s The Star Kings on it. Does it matter that I was reading this novel with a device more sophisticated than any of the computers contained within? Of course not.

One of the complaints made was that the younger generation can’t relate to “futures” where men still wear hats and they can make intelligent positronic robots but not personal computers. I say you’re not giving the younger generation enough credit. When I was reading Bradbury and Asimov, I was very aware that I was reading of future’s past. It doesn’t matter that Orwell’s 1984 is behind us (or is it?) any more than it matters that the Mars that Burroughs and Bradbury wrote about has no more foundation in reality than Middle-Earth.

It didn’t matter to me because I could see the things that hadn’t changed. Ultimately, the human experience remains consistent across the ages. Sure, superficial things like slang and fashions change with the decades…

Feel free to ignore the slur on this blog in the first paragraph; I did. (Almost.)

(8) Heritage Auctions is taking bids on a large selection of classic comics. At this writing, Superman #1 is going for $30,000.

(9) T. Campbell’s nominations for the“11 Weirdest Supergirl Stories” are posted on ScreenRant.

The Time She Was Superman’s Archenemy

No one seems to be quite sure where the Linda Danvers Supergirl is at this point (we last saw her in Hell, of all places), but not long after Supergirl‘s comic cancellation, a Supergirl from Krypton showed up (Superman/Batman #8, 2004) who was just straight-up the cousin of Superman. No angel powers, no shapeshifting, no unfortunate Luthor connections, no alternate-Earth shenanigans… just Kara Zor-El, the classic “Orginal Recipe” Supergirl from before things got messy. Except for the part where she might’ve been sent back to kill Superman.

(10) Lou Antonelli stopped doing the backstroke in the punchbowl long enough to post “You Heard It Here First” at This Way To Texas.

George R.R. Martin will be the next recipient of the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award (The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award).

No, I do not have inside information, nor do I have a crystal ball. It’s simply a logical conclusion, especially if you know how the literary leaders of the science fiction community think.

Regardless of the merit of Martin’s literary output, he will get the award as a reward for helping trounce the dissident nominees for the Hugo awards this year (the so-called Sad Puppies). It’s not really any more complicated than that.

(11) In “A Forthcoming Speculative Fiction Anthology Asks Transgender Authors To Imagine New Worlds” at Bitch Media, Katherine Cross posed this question to Casey Plett and Cat Fitzpatrick.

On that note, what are your thoughts on the controversy around the Sad Puppies, the group who tried to rig the reader-voted Hugo Awards to favor “traditional” sci-fi works. It was clearly a powerful, angry, and organized reaction against the steady diversification of storytelling in sci-fi and spec-fic. What exactly is happening to this genre that’s so explosive and dangerous?

CP: White straight cis men are getting very upset because they feel they’re losing something when a more diverse set of stories is represented. On the one hand, they don’t have to worry—the share of representation of white straight cis male characters in sci-fi is maybe dropping from 98 percent to 95. But on the other hand, they’re right—they are losing some measure of dominance, and they should lose this. And I think acknowledging that challenges a fluffy teddy-bear idea of what an ally is—the idea that no one is going to lose anything. Being an ally requires giving shit up, which is what these people are not prepared to do.

CF: I think the throwing-the-toys-out-of-the-pram thing totally describes Brad Torgersen [sci-fi author and ringleader of the Sad Puppies]. I think Vox Day [another author, who organized an extreme offshoot of the Sad Puppies called the Rabid Puppies] is altogether a more sinister person, with really far-right politics and a desire to upset people to get attention. He’s a serious reactionary, traditionalist, religious, pseudofascist type—he even called leading spec-fic writer N.K. Jemisin an “uneducated half-savage” because she’s Black. And I think he saw Torgersen’s toy-throwing and said, “Here is a tool I can use to hurt people.”

I do fear that the way the story has been reported makes it seem as if spec-fic is going through growing pains that literary fiction outgrew long ago, as if lit-fic is more mature than spec-fic or sci-fi. Yet lit-fic has these same problems [with diversity and bigotry] and actually deals with them in a much less effective way. Part of it is that spec-fic is always concerned with community—you always have to invent the world from scratch, which entails obviously political choices. Traditional lit-fic straight white authors can say, “I’m just writing how the world is,” and even believe it, but if you’re a sci-fi writer who wants every book to be like Heinlein, you can’t escape the fact that you’re making this up, that your choice as a writer is meaningful and political.

CP: I think this stuff does get talked about in lit-fic—the VIDA Count revealed just how male the writing published by prestigious magazines was. That caused a big scandal. But it was still limited to writers. People in my mfa knew, but I think if you asked a person in a bookstore’s fiction section about the VIDA Count, they would have no idea what it was, whereas someone in the sci-fi section would probably know about Puppygate.

CF: Totally. On one hand, that relative openness laid them open to the whole Puppy thing, but on the other hand, it has meant much more engagement with the debate. And in the end the Puppies were voted down in the actual awards, even if that meant not awarding some categories. Which was kind of amazing. And it opened up a really important conversation and brought a lot of people together around it. I’m actually kind of happy about how the spec-fic or sci-fi community as a whole has handled this thing.

CP: I have a friend who said, “When stuff like this happens, it means you’re winning,” and I think they might be right in this case. It also opens up that question, “Who is focused on awards, and why?” I know awards can help sales, and it’s nice to be recognized, but I think it’s interesting these straight white cis guys are so focused on prestige. Whereas our feelings as editors about recognition are, “It’s nice, but it’s a byproduct.” We’re not interested in this writing being prestigious, we’re interested in it being interesting, first of all, to a trans audience—we want to be accountable to them.

(12) Steven Erikson’s guest post “Awards or Bust”, largely devoted to a critique of Stephen Jones’ defense of the WFA Lovecraft bust (on Facebook), concludes —

The time was long past due on getting rid of that bust.  And at the table at the banquet at the World Fantasy Awards, I made my applause loud and sustained.  And as for the Lovecraft pin I wear to conventions, indicating a past nomination, I’d love to see a new version.  In the meantime, however, I will continue to wear it, not in belligerent advocacy of H.P. Lovecraft, but to honour all past winners of the World Fantasy Award.

In my mind I can make that distinction.  That I have to lies at the heart of the problem with having Lovecraft as our symbol of merit.  To all future nominees and winners, you won’t have to face that awkward separation, and for that, you can thank that ‘vocal minority,’ who perhaps have not been vocal enough, and who are most certainly not a minority.  Not in this field, not in any other.

(13) Laura J. Mixon’s conclusion, after quoting one of Lovecraft’s racist statements in “Farewell to the Bigoted Bust”:

These are not simply a few hot-headed opinions popping out of the mouth (or the pen) of a young man, whose attitudes mellowed with age. They weren’t ill-considered Thingish thoughts that he reconsidered later. Nope. He remained hostile and entrenched in these views to the end of his life, despite the sustained efforts of his friends and family.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Diana Pavlac Glyer, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

469 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/15 Scrolled Acquaintance

  1. I have no idea how american law enforcement acts on stuff like this.

    Sadly, the norm is for the police to do nothing until someone acts on a threat.

  2. Freedom of Speech as it is practised in the USA seems to protect all sorts of things that would be considered libel, slander, hate speech, incitement to violence, etc. in the UK and many parts of Europe. I’m not sure if the specific statements by Marmot and Williamson are protected or not; if they’re not I hope that some official police-involving steps are taken. We know that MACon is working on a weapons policy so as far as official con steps go, unless any of us have some specific suggestion to make at this time then there’s no need to badger them until they release it, and only then if there’s anything actually wrong with it.

    Word of mouth is, however, not simply “gossiping” as it can spur people to take greater action, warn people of something unsafe, inform people about what actions are available, and, of course, all of our Mount 770s are spawned from word of mouth. Word of mouth is valuable. I hope that these conversations are not increasing fear, of course, since I feel that the threat is low if still worth keeping in mind so that proper precautions can be taken, but having these conversations also allows for reassurance and comfort – which I feel some of your comments have contributed to. Suppressing or dismissing them doesn’t help.

    Within reason, I refuse to allow possible Puppy profiteering* to impact on conversations here. They have proven entirely willing to take offence at nothing, ignore everything that contradicts their worldview, and otherwise react in ways that are wholly unreasonable. Even when those considerations are properly taken into account – such as the recent SFWA Nebula reading list thread – I feel it is more productive to look at whether there are reasons to modify based on what we think is correct and moral rather than the path least likely to produce Puppy propaganda*. We’re not here for them and nor are our conversations. We’re here for us.

    *There’s always room for alliteration.

  3. It’s wise to call the police when you’ve got something they can act on. The Puppy utterances that people are talking about, to your disapproval, are strong and clear enough to raise real concern given theiron overall pattern of behavior, but not to the point that the police will or can act.

    As rcade says, the police are very reluctant to act if there hasn’t already been some kind of action. Some of what MZW and the Marmot have said is direct enough that their specific targets can perhaps complain and get some action. Those who are worried about the possible consequences of the temperamental Puppies carrying real guns to cons, can only recommend good weapons policies to those cons, worry, and talk to their friends.

    And talking is a big part of how many people cope, when there’s no more direct action they can take. Your coping mechanisms may be different, but that doesn’t mean other people are wrong.

  4. @Rev. Bob I could care less whether the puppies see our discussion as fear. If they had reading skills they’d see it as outrage and that the threatening behavior they are bragging about doing could lead to being banned from conventions and/or land them in jail.

    Over the last few years I’ve participated in numerous discussions on sexual harassment policies at cons. Sometimes on their blogs/spaces but more frequently on other spaces. The results of all those discussions (by everyone not just me) is more conventions have policies and more are learning how to implement their policies as well as look at Why do we have a code of conduct? Is it to make congoers comfortable and protect them? Is it to punish harassers? Is it because it’s no longer acceptable to not have one?. Without all those discussions happening we wouldn’t be seeing improvements.

    Just this past week we saw an uptake in discussions around cons and disability issues. This will hopefully lead to better disability access at cons.

    To me weapons policies is an obviously needed discussion because of changes in the last few years both in laws related to gun ownership/open carry/easier to get conceal carry and threats people in our community our making against other members which includes having/using guns. So don’t think of this as just about one con but something we likely need to give more consideration to for cons going forward.

    Edited to fix typos and clarity

  5. re: reputations and comment editing (from last night’s discussion because I’m still many hours behind)

    My off-line persona is not known for diplomacy because I have a temper and I’m too blunt, usually. (Once had a work review where my boss wrote “she doesn’t suffer fools gladly if they are above her” and I still got a raise. Of course, he actually liked me because I argued with him and told him if I thought he made an error. ;-] )

    I do a lot more self-correcting when I have time to read what comes out of my brain before it spills into the world. Delete is my friend.

  6. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly if they are above her

    I wish my bosses had been that perceptive. They just kept saying lacks tact but that wasn’t true across the board so I was confused. It took years for me to figure out I lacked tack when talking with bosses boss & above as well as bosses+ equivalent outside department. The more formal authority someone has the higher expectations I have/more I require ethically/morally/do what’s best for the business.

  7. Rev. Bob:

    If a bully pokes at you and you flinch, he gets what he wants. He has provoked a visible reaction. If you run away when he approaches, you’re giving him another cookie and continuing to encourage his behavior by rewarding it.

    I’m sorry, but no. Running away when dangerous people approach is perfectly sensible behavior, as is flinching when poked. “Never let them see you cry” only reinforces the stupid macho ideology bullies run on. Humans flinch, cry and run, and it is no stain on them.

    Also, we’re not gossiping (which, by the way, they said there would be gossip, and I’m so disappointed), we’re talking in public about things that were said in public, concerning others, neither private nor rumored. I see venting, expression of concerns, worry. All perfectly above board.

    You make some good points concerning that worry being perhaps excessive, though, but you may not have made them if the conversation hadn’t happened to begin with.

    Me, I’m still working on getting over the notion that conventions need a gun policy (it’s not a new notion, I lived in Texas, but I have trouble with it.)

  8. @Susana: “Me, I’m still working on getting over the notion that conventions need a gun policy (it’s not a new notion, I lived in Texas, but I have trouble with it.)”

    To my knowledge, I have never attended a con that lacked a gun policy. Every one I can remember had a weapons policy that clearly covered blades, bullets, and anything else that could be reasonably seen as “a weapon” – specifically including toys.

    @pretty much everybody, on community chatter about problematic people:

    My understanding of fandom’s history in dealing with problems is that it relies too much on “the grapevine” and too little on reporting.

    Harassment: How many times have we heard of various people that “everyone knew” about but who faced no penalties until a handful of people took action? More to the point, how many of you thought of at least one predator’s name while reading that sentence?

    Accessibility: This isn’t a new problem. Wheelchairs didn’t suddenly develop an inability to cope with stairs in the past couple of years.

    Representation and diversity: Again, not new and not news.

    So, yes – in my opinion, fandom has a big problem with relying on gossip to get the job done, and in the past few years, that’s been changing. Slowly, very slowly, but it has been changing. This is precisely why I’ve spent a few messages today saying, as clearly as I know how, “don’t just talk – DO SOMETHING about it!” Yes, public pressure can help, but without some people putting shoulders to stones, there’s nothing for it to help. All the horsepower in the world won’t get you anywhere until someone puts the car in gear.

    It’s like what they teach you in CPR classes. The first thing you do is single someone out of the crowd and tell that person to call 911. Just shouting “someone call 911” doesn’t do any good, because everybody assumes someone else is doing it and either doesn’t want to flood the station with calls or thinks they can skate by without acting. Specifically engaging someone removes both excuses: “You. Yes, you. Do it.” It doesn’t matter who you pick, but you must pick someone.

    Fandom’s been doing a lot of shouting and not much engaging. If we want to see change, we have to break that old habit. If you will be at MAC II, you have a stake in the question of whether the Puppies who attend make you feel less safe. Discussing that here doesn’t help the safety issue and encourages the bad actors who feed on distress to keep making threats. That is counterproductive; it is exactly the wrong thing to do. To the extent that they pose a threat, that tactic emboldens them and makes everybody less safe.

  9. Rev. Bob;

    “Harassment: How many times have we heard of various people that “everyone knew” about but who faced no penalties until a handful of people took action?”

    To stop talking about what people know is only a way to make sure that everyone does not know. Which is more than stupid. It is talking about it that keeps things fresh in memory.

    Not talking is only a way to forgetting.

  10. @Hampus: “It is talking about it that keeps things fresh in memory.”

    No. Community chatter without tangible action protects those on the grapevine by telling them who to avoid, but it serves our most vulnerable people – those new to our community – up on a damned platter as easy pickings. Not only are the potential victims unaware of the danger, but we’re still harboring the predators by refusing to act against them.

    Would you rely on gossip to protect people from rapists in the real world, or would you contact the authorities to remove the known rapists from the community? The former can be useful, but it cannot be accepted as more than a temporary measure.

  11. @ Tasha Turner

    Sounds like we have some personality traits in common. :-9

    Jogi was in a very small minority of managers who “got” me. That’s to his credit and not to mine, especially. I’m less flexible in some situations than I should be (have been), if I wanted better behavior from people in charge. I got better at knowing when to yell at my boss, but moderating my opinions isn’t my natural inclination. 😉

  12. I would credit changes made to hitting a certain critical mass of people talking about it.

    Discouraging talking is a really good way to never end up with enough people doing the action bits.

  13. Rev. Bob:

    “No. Community chatter without tangible action protects those on the grapevine by telling them who to avoid, but it serves our most vulnerable people – those new to our community – up on a damned platter as easy pickings.”

    I’ve heard that stupid argument so many times before in the BDSM community and it is just as stupid here as it is there.

    No, the problem is not that people are talking about people with abusive behaviour. That is the good thing. That is what saves some people, even if not all. That is what we should se as our duty to continue doing. Talking.

    As an example, I’m a new person in this community. I’m new in fandom. I’m going to my first Worldcon next year. It is because people have been talking here that I’ve learned who to avoid. So your argument is pure idiocy.

    That it is bad if everything stops at talking is another thing. But talking must continue.

  14. Rev. Bob:

    “Would you rely on gossip to protect people from rapists in the real world, or would you contact the authorities to remove the known rapists from the community? The former can be useful, but it cannot be accepted as more than a temporary measure.”

    And this one is interesting. Because it shows how important it is that we talk.

    A few years ago, I was knew in the BDSM-community. Having been a host to several munches, I had started to know people. There was a woman there I was mailing with. She was talking about how sorry she felt about a guy who everyone was mean to.

    I was new, as was the woman, but people had talked. So I could tell a lot of stuff to the woman. It was gossip. I made sure to say that it was gossip. But it was from people I thought was reliable. And many of them from different groups. She confronted the man, he made some very strange replies and she broke contact.

    Three months later he was indicted for rape (turned out it wasn’t the first time). So the question is: Was the gossip bad? Should we not have talked? Because he was not convicted. Not enough proof. The police couldn’t do anything. And that is why talking is good. Because talking is what people do when other systems aren’t enough.

    Should more have been done? There has been an enormous amount of discussion of selfpolicing, keeping abusers out of the community. And it has caused splits, disagreements, fractions and whatnot. And people grow vary, will not take the fights. So talking continues. Because sometimes it is the function we have. And it is better, absolutely 100% better, than not talking.

    So to answer you, yes. I have kept people away from parties I have arranged based only on hearsay. Because I do not trust that the authorities will do what they should. There are people we let in, but have on informal observation lists because of what we have heard about them from sources around us.

    Talking is good. The main problem in our community is when people stop talking about what happens.

  15. @ Rev. Bob:

    This right here is my fannish community 🙂 And it’s where I’m hearing about these things. I couldn’t have kept up with the height of the Puppy days of Summer if I’d tried, and I arrived in the middle anyway, so I imagine others are now reading some of these things for the first time.

    The missing stair analogy is intended to keep private chatter from replacing public action, not to stop talk from going on, much less public talk, so I don’t see how it’s applicable.

    I hear and fifth you on “don’t just talk”: outlining what action can we/should take right now, or should we be thinking about later would be more helpful to getting something done than telling people not to discuss things. So, I’m not going (if’n I don’t win the lottery, but I’d have to play the lottery, right?), but I care about you all, about fandom and about people in general not getting hurt; recommended course of action?

  16. @Meredith: “I would credit changes made to hitting a certain critical mass of people talking about it.”

    I disagree, and I believe the facts support my assessment.

    People had been talking about certain serial harassers for years – for decades – without seeing the situation improve. Lots of people knew who to avoid, and yet it was never enough to trigger that “certain critical mass” – so just how big does that mass have to get before a change happens and action is taken?

    As I recall, and I welcome evidence to the contrary, the big tipping point was when John Scalzi drew a line in the sand and publicly refused to attend cons without adequate harassment policies. Other people signed on along with him, and only then did we really get the critical mass that made a difference. Over a thousand people co-signed his pledge, and he had a high enough profile for that open letter to mean something.

    Average fans like us can jabber all we want, but until we actually do something to materially affect the cons we attend, none of it matters. Scalzi had one thing he could use as leverage – his status as an in-demand guest – and he put that on the line to hold those cons to a higher standard. And it worked.

    The two cons I’m skipping next year due to Puppy allergies know why I won’t be there. I was staff at both, and a department head at one. I made my voice heard, for whatever good it will do. I don’t expect my opinion to make a difference in one con’s direction – they’re at capacity and will easily sell the badge I didn’t buy – but I acted and they will have to compensate for my absence from their staff.

    A dozen people talking on File 770 will not affect MAC II. A dozen people contacting MAC II to say “I’m attending and demand to know that I will be safe” have a much better chance of making a difference. Yet again, I say that if you’re going to a con – any con – and have reservations about it, they need to know that you are concerned. Instead of responding to me here about the virtues of the fandom grapevine, take that time and write to the next convention you’re attending to tell them how you feel about something they’re doing. Don’t rely on some nebulous “critical mass” alerting them – do it yourself! (Then come back and reply, if you still want to. But act first. Don’t use chatter here as an excuse for not acting there.)

    I’ve said it time and again when doing tech support: “if I don’t know there’s a problem, I can’t fix it.” Telling our fellow Filers doesn’t let the conrunners know they have a problem… so why would we expect it to get fixed? Grousing to my friends because the cable’s out serves a cathartic purpose, but it won’t get my cable restored unless one of them happens to work for the right cable company.

    It’s not about critical mass. It’s about reporting the problem to the people who can fix it. Critical mass only helps to the degree that it uses the “six degrees” theory to indirectly inform those people. Until that happens, though, all it does is divide our community into those who know about the problem and those who remain vulnerable to it. To swipe a Heinlein title, I find that “Solution Unsatisfactory.”

  17. But how would anyone attending MAC II even know to ask about safety without online chatter? Who would just think of that out of the blue?

    This IS the community many people get their SF news from. How on earth are they to find out otherwise?

    It’s not like there is a news channel everyone can watch apart from File 770.

    I appreciate the call to take action.

    But I think the call to be silent in the interest of tiptoeing around bullies’ sensibilities only allows more bullying to happen.

    Secrecy and silence is never part of the solution.

  18. @Hampus:

    A few years ago, I was knew in the BDSM-community. Having been a host to several munches, I had started to know people. There was a woman there I was mailing with. She was talking about how sorry she felt about a guy who everyone was mean to.

    I was new, as was the woman, but people had talked. So I could tell a lot of stuff to the woman. It was gossip. I made sure to say that it was gossip. But it was from people I thought was reliable. And many of them from different groups. She confronted the man, he made some very strange replies and she broke contact.

    Three months later he was indicted for rape (turned out it wasn’t the first time). So the question is: Was the gossip bad? Should we not have talked? Because he was not convicted. Not enough proof. The police couldn’t do anything. And that is why talking is good. Because talking is what people do when other systems aren’t enough.

    And you see that sequence of events as a good thing, then? Here’s what I see.

    I see “several groups” that harbored a predator rather than evicting him from their presence. He was still allowed into the munches.

    I see a community that relied on gossip rather than getting together, pooling their information, and seeing if together they had enough pieces to turn him in. They warned people on the inside while leaving people on the outside vulnerable.

    I see one woman who happened to contact the right person, and I wonder how many others guessed wrong and became prey. By your own admission, “it wasn’t the first time.”

    I see that he got three more months of freedom before anyone even tried to do anything about him, and I wonder if he’s still a part of the community. How many victims did he claim in those three months, and how many more are suffering in silence now?

    In short, I see exactly the problem I’ve been ranting about. People knew he was a problem, they still associated with him, they left newcomers vulnerable, and they refused to take any responsibility for protecting their own.

    This is not an example of the grapevine working properly. This is a Not Do!

  19. I see people hesitating, as people do, with only suspicions and no proof.

    I see people not starting a witch hunt when they don’t have anything a judge wouldn’t laugh out of court.

    You make it sound as if it were easy to throw a person out of a community, easy to tell who is guilty.

    How is anyone to know that if people stay silent and don’t compare notes?

  20. Harassment: How many times have we heard of various people that “everyone knew” about but who faced no penalties until a handful of people took action? More to the point, how many of you thought of at least one predator’s name while reading that sentence?

    People reported harassment and nothing was done. They frequently weren’t told the proper way to report in order to have something done or were pressured into not reporting properly. They were let known they wouldn’t be supported. This is only changing because reporters/those harassed have started going public and asking “how do I report this” or “why was my report lost”.

    What you call chatter/gossip is people sharing stories and ideas for solutions. There are people commenting and lurkers who work on concoms. I myself keep lists of ideas from various places on various topics and share them when discussions come up elsewhere. Sometimes that’s IRL with people running cons. I’m not the only one who does this.

    I get that you feel like we are overreacting. That you think we are giving these bullies more power. I’ve been told the same thing about talking about my rape experiences – it encourages rapist. I’m tired of being told to be quiet by white men about things that concern me because it gives others power. Not talking about things gives bullies power. They want to shut us up.

    How do you know none of us are taking tangible actions? It’s possible to talk about something and also send an email. It’s also possible to want to talk about something before taking a tangible step to make sure one is clear in their communications about their concerns.

  21. @Rev. Bob, if you’re not scared of Massively Insecure Puppies with guns, then why are you allowing them to keep you away from SF cons? That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face, and lets them “win”. The only thing that kept me away from Sasquan was lack of money. Now, my respiratory system may be retroactively happy about it, but I’d still rather have been there. Why aren’t you telling us which cons and why, like Scalzi did?

    Regarding their propensity for actual violence, I can only quote the old financial saw: past results do not correlate to future performance. Their level of rhetoric, attack, and general bat-shittery has increased GREATLY the past few years. And the hangers-on are even more unhinged.

    As Laura Resnick said, we all know plenty of “nice guy when he’s sober” types. Those are usually the ones who you find out years later were beating their wives and children while being pillars of the community. Or you don’t find it out till the murder-suicide. They’re perfectly pleasant in their own sphere.

    Why did my cousin leave a funny guy with a great job and take her two kids to live in a tiny apartment? Oh, he’d been beating her for years, but only where it didn’t show, and not hard enough to break anything (He was a doctor, so he knew how). She only found the courage to leave when he started beating their daughter. He was so charming with everyone else! We thought he was swell, the perfect catch.

    My best friend from high school phoned up her ex-husband’s new wife to ask if she knew how the BFF, her parents, and his were all forced into bankruptcy by his financial schemes. And how he left her, taking the money, while she was pregnant. And how she was pretty sure he’d also scammed (literally) widows and orphans. Nope, the new wife had fallen for his sleazy charm too. She was lucky enough to extricate herself before he spent all her money, and before the FBI caught up with him — but she never would have known had my friend not called.

    And these are all white, straight, upper-middle class, college-educated people — the sort that power structures support, for whom the laws usually work. (I guess they worked for the men involved.) Yet this happened.

    We know Puppies are just gonna make stuff up and lie anyway, so why shouldn’t we be honest with each other? As Peace said “I will not allow bullies to censor me.”

    The push for effective anti-harassment policies came entirely from talking about it in places like this all over the net, and the con-runners don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. I’m sure members of the MACII committee are reading here (and similar places), so us chatting amongst ourselves actually IS doing something.

    Now, MACII has the right to refuse service to anyone, meaning I hope they won’t accept the attending memberships of people publicly known to threaten violence. And maybe they could tip off the hotel as to who’s liable to have penis extensions concealed weapons, since the hotel is also a private business who may refuse the custom of anyone except for the race/religion/gender/etc. reasons.

    And the grapevine is what’s saved people through all the years (centuries) of power structures that didn’t take their concerns seriously, be it assaulted women or BDSM groups. When there are no formal options to ensure safety, people will kludge together informal ones.

    @Bruce Arthurs: my respect for you continues to grow.

    @Meredith: Sadly, the exchange rate and postage keeps me from buying any of the lovely Stickman products. But I’m sure they understand limited income.

  22. @Tasha: we cross-posted, but YES to “I’m tired of being told to be quiet by white men about things that concern me because it gives others power. Not talking about things gives bullies power. They want to shut us up.”

    I will say whatever I damn well please about anyone or anything. I will take people at their word (good or bad), and hope for the same in return.

    I have been SMOF-adjacent for a number of years, and everything from gopher to Vice-Chair of cons. So to suggest that I’m only complaining here on File 770 and not, y’know, emailing concoms or chatting with people at bid parties is ridiculous. And it’s valuable in and of itself for people like Susana, who become informed and want to know how to help.

  23. As I recall, and I welcome evidence to the contrary, the big tipping point was when John Scalzi drew a line in the sand and publicly refused to attend cons without adequate harassment policies.

    On a blog, where numerous ordinary fans expressed support. After he’d been altered to the problem via internet gossip. I don’t find your “stop talking about it” position to be very convincing.

  24. When you consider how long sexual abusers were able to prey on victims in their communities and get away with it — whether we’re talking about Jerry Sandusky, Jimmy Savile, Bill Cosby or some pros in SF fandom — it is vital for people to communicate with each other when they believe someone is a danger to others.

    That’s the first line of defense, not convention organizers or the police: talking.

  25. @lurkertype: “if you’re not scared of Massively Insecure Puppies with guns, then why are you allowing them to keep you away from SF cons?”

    Because I don’t have to be scared of someone to wish not to associate with them. I also don’t have an obligation to buy a ticket to an event where I anticipate not having a good time because someone I don’t want to see is there. Further, I feel an obligation to withdraw my support – both financial and social – from a convention that invites people who are actively attempting to damage fandom. In addition, I do not attend conventions as an independent person; I am seen as a representative of the company I work for, and thus I have a responsibility to avoid reflecting badly on them. Finally, I have plenty of other things I can do on those weekends – books to read, DVDs to watch, friends to hang out with – that do not incur the inconvenience, expense, and physical pain of attending a convention.

    Do you need more reasons? Because I have them, if you do.

    MACII has the right to refuse service to anyone, meaning I hope they won’t accept the attending memberships of people publicly known to threaten violence.

    Is that the only possible standard? They have to actually be known threats, as opposed to people we’d rather not associate with? The Geek Social Fallacies are strong, and they’ve held sway for far too long, but we have to be able to go to our social structures and be heard when we say “this person should not be part of our community.” Further, if those people will not act, we must have the courage to say, “okay, since he’s in, I’m out.” Anything less empowers exactly the kind of people who took advantage of your cousin, of your best friend and her ex’s new wife, of the people the creep Hampus talked about.

    [ETA: That sounds like I’m calling Hampus a creep. Not my intent. I’m talking about the guy he talked about who was indicted for rape. That guy’s the creep. Bad sentence construction on my part.]

    Doesn’t anyone else get it? Fandom is our community. Their concoms are our power structures. Not us as Filers or non-Puppies, but us as fans. Fandom is our country, we are its citizens, and we have to start acting like it. We have every right – more, the responsibility – to do our own housekeeping. We need not wait for the police to arrest someone before we are allowed to say “you’re not welcome here.” We have our own mechanism for that: banning people from conventions. Law enforcement adds to our options, but we cannot rely on it to replace our own judgment. (Does your significant other have to get locked up before you’re “allowed” to want a divorce? Of course not!)

    I’m sure members of the MACII committee are reading here (and similar places), so us chatting amongst ourselves actually IS doing something.

    Try a thought experiment with me: “The police don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. I’m sure members of the law enforcement community are reading internet traffic, so crime victims chatting amongst each other actually ARE doing something.”

    Would you buy that as an excuse not to report a crime?

  26. Rev. Bob on November 18, 2015 at 6:16 pm said:

    @lurkertype: “if you’re not scared of Massively Insecure Puppies with guns, then why are you allowing them to keep you away from SF cons?”

    Because I don’t have to be scared of someone to wish not to associate with them. …

    Then if I may ask, why do you keep talking about people here as if we were scared rather than angry, exasperated, annoyed, bored, fed up, or any of the other much more sensible reactions to the Puppies?

    Frankly, although some here have expressed fear, I have seen far more eyerolling, boredom, anger and annoyance at the Puppies’ actions.

    And why do you act as if the Puppies’ hypothetical *judgement* that our actions are fearful has any relevance whatsoever? — Moreso, that fear of such a potential judgement *must* lead us to stilling our tongues and saying nothing which they might choose to take offense at?

    Can you see that silence is not any kind of answer?

  27. BTW, I do not blame anyone who chooses to walk away from a fraught situation.

    Threats and unpleasantness are threats and unpleasantness, and no one should be forced to endure an inimical environment for the sake of principle or any of that nonsense.

  28. What Peace said.

    Usually I agree with you, Rev. Bob, but you seem to have gotten this one completely ass-backwards.

    Your latest analogy fails miserably: the purpose of police is to catch criminals, the purpose of concoms is to put on cons. Similarly, the cops don’t give a shit about public opinion and don’t read it, whereas any number of BNFs and SMOFs DO read File 770, as seen by their commenting here. Concoms are also tiny little power structures as compared to the justice system, which nearly always manages to blame the victim for “asking for it” or “well, you married him” or “walking while being a black man”.

    My suggestion of keeping known offenders out is the beginnings of a solution, not the end. Sasquan really should have thrown out Crazy Uncle Lou, and that’s on them. We’re tossing around ideas for MACII to do better.

    If you’re seen as a representative of your company, that’s a valid reason, but not one you’ve ever mentioned before. You physically avoiding Puppies while telling everyone else not to even talk about them looks pretty contradictory without that fact.

    How can we “do our own housekeeping” if we’re told to keep quiet about the dirt in the house, pray tell?

    Walking away is an answer for individuals. Keeping silent is not an answer for groups. (Should ALL gay people have stayed quietly in the closet and passed for straight, or should some have come out to demand rights?)

  29. @Aaron: “I don’t find your “stop talking about it” position to be very convincing.”

    My position isn’t “stop talking about it.” It’s “why are we talking about this?” and “Don’t just talk. Do something.”

    If MAC II was coming up in the next month or so, I’d be all about “Hey, remember those people X that made threats Y? Has MAC II done anything about that yet?” as a reminder that people could be facing a dangerous situation. It’d be a timely concern. As it stands, though, it strikes me as “be careful with fireworks and open flame” – yeah, fine, I’ll keep that in mind several months from now when I’m around them, but why bring it up now? That’s what I don’t get – why give the threats oxygen for no benefit? Where’s the imminent threat that the conversation is supposedly protecting people from? Why is the public chatter valuable now?

    Seriously, are any of us going to be anywhere near Puppies in the next, say, three months? Are any of us on the MAC II concom? If not… why are we presently concerned about their gun fetishes and what a convention nine months away might be doing to address them? Not near ’em, not making policy about ’em – why let ’em in our heads?

  30. @Rev. Bob

    If one truly wishes to affect what happens at MAC II, talking about it in a File 770 thread is not the answer. Those with attending memberships should instead contact the con directly and make their concerns clear.

    I am against pointless chatter that rewards their boasting.

    We’re gossiping. We shouldn’t be.

    Emphasis mine. Small selection of quotes – there are a couple of others, too, but I thought it was getting excessive. If you didn’t wish to give people the impression that you’re telling them to shut up about it, it might have been helpful to be clearer on that before. 🙂

  31. My position isn’t “stop talking about it.” It’s “why are we talking about this?” and “Don’t just talk. Do something.”

    And again I ask why you assume we aren’t doing anything but talking? I started a list of ideas. Immediately shot down but no alternatives suggested. I’m not big on contacting a concom with I’m concerned about x without providing some suggestions for things they could do to make me less concerned.

    For all you know I’m keeping a list and screenshots of the threats and am/have provided them to the concom or I know someone who is doing so but for personal safety reasons I’m not saying so/sharing their name because I/they don’t want to be their next target.

    And as I mentioned before this is something which may be becoming a bigger issue with all the new laws. For a change we could try to get ahead of a problem and be prepared for people intending to violate weapons policy because they have conceal carry permits/licenses/certification before we have a shooting at a con instead of waiting to see if this is going to be a problem. Alcohol, guns, people with anger issues I can’t see how that could go wrong.

  32. @lurkertype: “Your latest analogy fails miserably: the purpose of police is to catch criminals, the purpose of concoms is to put on cons.”

    No. Police are the mechanism by which Real Life Society separates dangerous people from the rest of us: the offenders get arrested and taken away to a special place called “jail” when they do something wrong. Concoms run what amount to gated communities, temporary microstates. They set the standards for who they allow in, what they tolerate, and what happens if those standards are broken. Sometimes that involves calling the Real Life cops, but that is far from the only remedy. And, yes, one of the duties a concom has is to keep the bad people away from the good people in the space they govern – just like the justice system does in the real world.

    If Lou, MZW, or any other fan – Puppy or not – is known by Convention X to be a threat to other fans, then Convention X has a duty to address that. The easiest way is by refusing to sell them memberships – and “them” can be either or both factions, however that concom sees fit. Conventions are private societies. Nobody has an innate “right” to attend, and the concom polices their membership list by deciding whom, if anyone, they will exclude.

    Sasquan really should have thrown out Crazy Uncle Lou, and that’s on them.

    Yes. Precisely. Sasquan should have policed itself better in that case.

    If you’re seen as a representative of your company, that’s a valid reason, but not one you’ve ever mentioned before. You physically avoiding Puppies while telling everyone else not to even talk about them looks pretty contradictory without that fact.

    First, who exactly are you to tell me what reasons are “valid” for opting out of a convention?

    As for the job – I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t make a big deal about it because it’s usually not relevant to the conversation. I fail to see, for instance, what relevance it has to my choice not to associate with known jerks. I’m not afraid of the Puppies. I don’t see them as physical threats. I just don’t feel like paying money to be around them.

    And you know what? That’s perfectly valid.

    ETA @Tasha: “And as I mentioned before this is something which may be becoming a bigger issue with all the new laws. For a change we could try to get ahead of a problem and be prepared for people intending to violate weapons policy because they have conceal carry permits/licenses/certification before we have a shooting at a con instead of waiting to see if this is going to be a problem. Alcohol, guns, people with anger issues I can’t see how that could go wrong.”

    There is nothing “new” in any of that. CCW permits, booze, and short fuses have all been around for decades. Private functions – like conventions – still get to say “you’re not welcome if you’re packing.”

  33. What I’m stuck on is: Why talk about it? Well, if anyone doesn’t want to there are other conversations elsewhere, and if none of those are appealing there’s always the option of starting a new subject. I myself am seriously considering bringing up food in the most recent thread. No-one’s forcing anyone to join in with this specific conversation. The people who were having the conversation all clearly had reasons to do so, that were equally clearly valid reasons to them. Why avoid talking about it? If the only reason is what the Puppies might think – and I have yet to see another one – it’s quite clear that most people don’t find that persuasive.

    So I’m not quite sure what the point is of talking about whether we should be talking about it, now that “most people don’t find [theoretical Puppy responses] persuasive” has been established. 🙂

  34. I am uncomfortable with the talk of the validity of reasons for people to not attend conventions.

    I think anybody should be free to not attend a convention for reasons of their own choosing without aspersions being cast on them for it.

  35. @Peace

    I agree. I think that goes hand in hand with the validity of people’s reasons for having the conversation in the first place; the reasons for attending a convention or having a conversation are valid to the people who have them, and that’s the end of it.

    ETA: And you have no idea how many times I tried to work that point into my last two comments and just couldn’t get it to fit – next time I feel like that about something I’m just going to shove it in wherever. /annoyedwithself

  36. Rev. Bob: “Doesn’t anyone else get it? Fandom is our community. Their concoms are our power structures.”

    Whoa, wait, what? No. Concoms are the power structures for conventions, not for fandom.

    “Fandom” is the interaction between fans, not the tools used to enable that interaction. Fanzines: a tool. Conventions: a tool. The Internet: a tool.

    It’s the sharing of ideas, opinions, experiences and bad puns that epitomizes the heart and soul of fandom. It’s the writing and talking and discussion that takes place, not the structures within which that discussion happens.

    Like what’s going on… oh, here.

    – – – – –

    Lurkertype: “@Bruce Arthurs: my respect for you continues to grow.”

    Aw, shucks. But don’t go overboard; I’m quite capable of being an occasional asshole. I like to think I’ve gotten better at the not-asshole thing as I’ve gotten older, but there are people who would probably disagree.

  37. MACII has the right to refuse service to anyone, meaning I hope they won’t accept the attending memberships of people publicly known to threaten violence.

    Is that the only possible standard? They have to actually be known threats, as opposed to people we’d rather not associate with?

    I’m pretty sure this is a logical fallacy, although I don’t know which one. lurkertype didn’t say that only the people publicly known to threaten violence should be barred from the con; if read with any degree of charity at all, what lurkertype said meant “I hope they AT LEAST bar the people publicly known to threaten violence.”

  38. That conversation went nowhere fast.

    I’m still reading the 2 non-fiction books for friends/family of someone with a chronic illness. I’m bouncing between the two – they are in different rooms in the house so I read based on where I am. I’m having mixed feelings as to how helpful they’ll be. For someone whose empathetic I think either would be useful. For someone who isn’t empathetic they may get too hung up on the types of illnesses (cancer/old age) talked about and have a harder time extrapolating that to people with invisible/not immediately life threatening illnesses. But I’m still in early chapters.

  39. @lurkertype

    Since the owner has only recently managed to expand all of her products to shipping to the USA due to problems roughly along those lines I’m sure she’d understand. 🙂 Spoonie funds and international shipping often clash.

    @junego and Tasha Turner

    Ha! Yes, tact and suffering fools is hard in meatspace. Unless I know of a good excuse for it (I accept “youth” or “ignorance”, both of which can be mitigated and I find being patient is the most expedient way of mitigating them) I get frustrated quickly. I’m pretty sure it shows, too, since I’m about as subtle as a brick.

    @rcade

    You make it sound like it’s easier to be circumspect in your behavior online than in person. I find the opposite true by a mile. In person there’s immediate social feedback to how you’re acting and the possibility of consequences when you take an aggressive or hostile posture. You can be in the middle of saying something and get a reaction that leads you to dial it down.

    Online, though, it’s much easier to let the id run free. By the time I decide I took something too far, it’s already out there.

    Interesting! If you have more to say on the subject, I’d be interested to hear it – you’re entirely the other way around from me.

    Online moderation has always been much easier for me than in person. In person doesn’t have a delete key. I love the delete key. There are times when I’ve typed a comment three or four times before I’ve managed to exorcise the anger enough to respond in the way I wanted to.

    Which is not to say I’ve never said anything I’ve regretted in online space, because I have. Usually more in the “urgh I could have saved so much time and energy if I’d just let it go” way than in the “oh lord why did I even say that, bad self!” way, but sometimes the latter, too. 🙂 (There’s also the “upon reflection and after listening to others, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was wrong/I’ve changed my mind/I now understand the valid reasons for thinking that way, even if I don’t share them” way, but I don’t mind those. They just mean I’ve learned something.)

  40. Rev. Bob:

    Here is what I see. You have no idea of what you are talking about. This contact was not made on munches. It was made outside of them. You just go to conclusions because it will better fit your world view.

    But yes, there is problem there too. Because what you do is ignore friendships and group dynamics as if they didn’t exist. We have organizers who ban people. We have other organizers who are friends with known abusers. We have organizers that are totally new with no knowledge of who are abusers or not. We have organizers who make so large parties that they can’t know everyone who comes.

    That is reality. The first event I organized, I could ban one person who wanted to come. Why? Because persons had talked. If they hadn’t, he would have been able to come even if he had a known history. We haven’t got a centralized list on who have done what. In fact that would be illegal. What get by on is people talking. That is an enormous help for organizers.

    The day people stop talking about who has done what, that is when I’ll leave the community. After so much hard work to actually get people to talk.

  41. Meredith, Junego, Tasha:

    When I got my current job, I was required to go through extensive security checks and have 3 personal references in addition to 3 professional references. I had to fill out a 38-page online document of multiple-choice and “explain in several lines of text” questions. I have no idea how lengthy it was for my references, but my understanding is that it was not trivial.

    My best friend told me afterward, “I told them: ‘JJ won’t tell you what you want to hear. But JJ will tell you what you need to hear.”

    I considered that a compliment of the highest order.

    My boss, a year or two later, repeated that to me in a conversation — and indicated not that he thought it was bad, just that he thought it was very insightful.

    One of the strengths of our working relationship is that we can shut the door on his office and say to each other, “I totally disagree with what you said/did, and here’s why” — and then walk out afterwards on good terms, without either of us taking it personally. I don’t always get along with him, or like him, but based on my previous less-than-optimal experiences with other managers who are more concerned about lip service than with performance and delivery, I consider our ability to do this with each other a pearl beyond price.

    I have found that if you can form personal and professional associations with people who are able to distinguish between having an issue with an action or a behavior and having an issue with a person, it makes a huge difference in your quality of life.

    The former make good friends and colleagues. The latter are a never-ending source of angst and “You obviously hate me and think I’m a terrible person!” simply because I’ve disagreed with them. I’m too effing old to put up with that insecure narcissistic bullshit any more.

  42. @JJ my bosses were pretty good about my bluntness and needing to vent. It was the levels above them specifically the CEO/founders of the companies where I had the most problems.

    I got great recommendations from bosses forced to fire me because I told the CEO/founder what he was doing wrong one to many times. They shouldn’t say they want honesty when they don’t mean it. 😉

  43. @ JJ

    With you 100% on manager relationships. Glad you have one you can respect and work with. And my friends/coworkers have said similar of me.

    My weakness is that I’m not good at the politics, and I don’t say that as a badge of honor or anything. I admire those who can coordinate groups of people, run interference with the suits, and get things done through negotiation and compromise. Me, I just like to solve puzzles/problems and I’m really good at it. Even when I had incompatable managers, they almost always kept me around because of that, opinions and all.

    I’m almost afraid to know who you work for with that level of security! :).

  44. I’m almost afraid to know who you work for with that level of security! :).

    What makes you think he has the clearance to know that?

  45. @Hampus: “This contact was not made on munches. It was made outside of them.”

    That was far from clear in your original message. Your description looks very much like you were talking about a post-munch private talk with someone about dynamics she had observed at a munch. If your anecdote leaves me with a false idea of what happened, you may want to at least entertain the notion that it was a poor summary of the incident. Just a thought.

    But no, go right ahead and make assumptions about my worldview if you must. If you only knew…

    As far as “ignoring friendships and group dynamics” – maybe I’m the strange one here, but I’m a firm believer in ostracizing known abusers rather than treating them as friends and inviting them to situations where trust is paramount. When one discovers a wolf in sheep’s clothing, one does not let it continue to prey upon the flock.

    Your comments about the variety of organizers remind me of the way I’ve seen comment community hosts characterized. Some hosts are meticulous about weeding their comment garden to remove abusive posters, and some take pride in hosting a free-for-all. Some are abusive themselves. If an organizer tolerates the presence of known abusers, for whatever reason, then IMO they have failed in their responsibility as an organizer. I would not knowingly attend such an event.

    That is, in fact, what the whole harassment policy push is all about. People want to go to conventions and know that if they encounter a harasser, the organizers won’t give him a pass because he’s their buddy, or because he’s new, or because they’re inexperienced at running cons. The cultural imperative is No Harassment, and frankly I’m surprised to see you appear to tolerate – even excuse – it in your community. Your stance appears to be “well, that’s just how it is” – as if there’s no point in trying to improve the situation.

    From the way you describe your local community, making no distinction between hosts who buddy up with abusers and hosts who attempt to screen them out, I would have to say that I’d steer far away from any events in that community. That’s not an area of my life where I have the slightest tolerance for the presence of abusers. (And no, I most vehemently do not equate BDSM play with abuse. I know better than that – but I also know how easy it is for an abuser to hide in the scene. That is precisely why I shun any such community that doesn’t watch out for them. Going beyond that to actually tolerate abusers is Right Out.)

    Oh, one other thing. There is a HUGE difference between “let’s not talk about the Puppies in public” and “we must never speak of known abusers, even in private.” I have not and do not support the latter. No way, no how, for many of the very reasons you cite.

  46. So many feels!

    So, on the one hand, I’m a big fan of gossip. I think it’s incredibly hard, possibly impossible, to draw a clear line between “malicious gossip” and “useful, community information.” I think that one of the reasons that our community is now dealing with harassment, not well, but at least addressing the issue, is because we fucking gossiped about it. We stopped just gossiping carefully, quietly, to our friends who might be at risk (I never got warned about Frankel, for instance, because I wasn’t considered to be at risk) and started, you know, talking out where everybody could hear us. I don’t mean that there is no such thing as malicious gossip; I have been the victim of same. But I do think that drawing lines between the two is hard.

    I also think that there has been a bit too much, um, pearl-clutching about Potentially Armed Puppies. And I suspect that this is what Rev. Bob was reacting to. I saw a certain amount of rhetoric which seemed, to me, to magnify their possible threat in ways that seemed almost romantic. Which is a long way from saying I don’t think there’s a problem, a potential threat, or any of that. But I think that there was some over-dramatization. I could be completely wrong ( and forgive me for the arm-chair psychoanalyzing) but it looked to me like Rev. Bob got backed into making some claims about the uses of community speech that don’t really stand up to more nuanced inspection. And then everybody doubled down, which always leads to a careful and nuanced understanding of the issue…wait, part of that isn’t true.

    I am planning on going to MacII. I do worry about somebody being stupid with a firearm. I’m not paranoid about it, but I do think that the risk is slightly higher than at other conventions I attend. It seems very likely that the concom will be aware of all of this, and take steps. I have a lot of hopes that they will be useful, constructive steps. I really hope they won’t be stupid, unenforceable things. I will be watching to see if they have a workable, sensible weapons policy. Unfortunately, the most important piece will be something that can’t be pre-judged: will their staff at the event be sensible, careful, and watchful. A good trouble shooter doesn’t look for trouble to shoot, a good troubleshooter looks for the place where trouble might arise, and finesses things so that no shooting needs occur. I’ve got a friend, Martin Schaeffer, who can somehow find the belligerent drunk, and chat with him for five minutes, and all of a sudden said drunk loves everyone, and thinks that maybe a quick lie-down is what’s in order. I’ve known other people who really know how to manage a crisis, so if it’s not a crisis, they create one so they can manage it. What we need is the former, not the latter. And I do think that Rev. Bob may be worried that some of the more extreme forms of worrying-out-loud may be contributing to creating a crisis that needs to be managed.

    I don’t pretend to know where the boundaries are on what should and shouldn’t be talked about are. I do think that when someone verbally threatens violence, it is foolish to assume that he’s just bloviating on the net. At the same time, we all know people who make threats and don’t follow through. The lines are incredibly fuzzy. Mostly, I come down on the side of gossip, but don’t like alarmist rhetoric. But where those lines are, I got nothin’.

    Hmm, that was a long way of sayin’ I got nothin’. Sorry.

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