Jon Del Arroz Off BayCon 2017 Program, Claims Decision Is Politically Motivated

Jon Del Arroz

San Francisco-area writer Jon Del Arroz has spent the past few Memorial Day Weekends speaking at BayCon, but he wasn’t asked back in 2017. He says it’s because he’s a Trump supporter. Del Arroz’ version has been discussed or reblogged today by Vox Day, Nick Cole, Declan Finn, Superversive, Brian Niemeier, and Marina Fontaine, who characterize him as a martyr of science fiction’s culture wars.

The BayCon committee, however, says he had just been rotated off programming for this year. They had already pre-invited him to return in 2018.

Del Arroz, in “Bringing Home The Baycon (Or What I Learned From Being Blackballed)”, accused BayCon of trying to destroy his career, of bigotry — and of simple bad manners.

A couple of weeks ago,  I found out that I had been blackballed from speaking at my own home convention, a place I’ve loved and cherished for almost a decade. This was a wanton act of discrimination, and perhaps more importantly, a show of utter disinterest in promoting prominent local science fiction authors. With a supposed emphasis on diversity, this act done to a Hispanic author casts an even darker shadow. It’s about as disturbing as it gets to see folk that you considered friends for years treat you with that level of disregard, while in the same stripe ignoring attendees who deliver me death threats.

Most shockingly, the event organizers (of whom I know very well and very personally) in question did not respond personally, but delivered a form letter to explain the ostracization. It’s disingenuous and displays a dismissal and dehumanization of which I could hardly conceive….

The reason I was disinvited was because it is well known that I support the President of the United States, duly elected and all, and that I’m happy about the way the country is being run. You know, like most normal people are. That’s the only thing that’s changed between then and now. It’s the same dangerous rhetoric out there that many of these folk who run the convention post on such a consistent basis that has turned Facebook from a “fun catching up with friends” website to a hellhole of fear, anger and hate (which as Master Yoda taught us, leads to suffering!). It’s impossible to communicate anymore, and as such, there is a small but vocal power structure of people in the convention scene and publishing that can’t tolerate the concept of seeing my pretty face. I am a minority that’s been discriminated against, not because of my race, but because of my ideas. In Science Fiction, ideas are everything, and it’s frightening to think about those being shut down as a consequence. These people want my career to fail, and they believe they can accomplish that by silencing me and giving me the cold shoulder.

BayCon chair Chris Castro answers that politics never entered into the decision, it was the result of an overall change in policy designed to freshen the program, Castro wrote on Facebook:

This was shared before, but I want to make sure everyone has had a chance to read how our process for implementing programming this year has changed.

http://baycon.org/bcwp/programming-2/

There never has, nor ever will be any decisions made to invite or not invite guests based on their political beliefs or personal philosophies. Every decision we make in regards to who participates in our con as a guest always takes into consideration our theme and focus for the year. Each decision is made professionally, communicated professionally, and always comes down to a group decision by executive and programming staff.

BayCon always seeks to make each convention weekend a fun, engaging and safe place for fans to connect with each other, geek out, and enjoy themselves without harassment. Our decisions are always made with this goal in mind.

The linked text includes this explanation —

“But I’m always on the program!” Going forward there is no such thing as a guest who is guaranteed to be on the program every year. The overwhelming feedback we’ve gotten has been that our attendees have their favorites, but they want new voices and new ideas mixed in with the classic program items and long-time guests. In order to make room for those new voices we will be asking some of our long-standing guests to step back and take a year off now and then. Not receiving an invitation one year does not mean you are off the list, just that this year was a better fit for other participants. At the discretion of the board, the chair and the programming staff, some guests who have been accustomed to an annual invite will be finding themselves with a year off. We encourage those people to come to BayCon as attendees both to enjoy the convention and to support their fellow panelists until they are asked back themselves. “Not this year” is absolutely not code for, “never again!”

Susie Rodriguez, of BayCon’s programming staff, answered File 770’s question about Jon Del Arroz specifically.

Jon has absolutely been a valued member of our program and our community in the past. This year he was not issued an invitation. When he contacted me to ask if he’d been accidentally overlooked, I sent him the following:

“Dear Jon,

Thank you for your interest in BayCon 2017. We have made some changes to the programming which are discussed in detail here: http://baycon.org/bcwp/programming-2/

At this time we are not issuing you an invitation for this year’s convention. You are definitely on our guest list for 2018 and we hope very much to see you there.

Sincerely,

BayCon Programming”

It is not a form letter. It is a personalized letter that was created for him and only him. As you can see, it even included a pre-invitation to participate next year, a thing that is not part of our standard rejection letter.

We are sorry he feels the need to conduct himself in this manner and that he has decided that being off the program for a single year constitutes a blackball. We are choosing to respect his decision not to participate in BayCon in the future and letting it go at that. Other guests have been rotated out in the past and while there are sometimes hurt feelings, this reaction has been unique.

I will reiterate Chris’s words above. Political beliefs and personal philosophies are not a litmus for choosing guests. Who a guest voted for is simply not an issue.

There’s only so many places to use people on convention panels. BayCon’s effort to make room on program for new voices by cycling off some of the regulars addresses a similar problem our local LosCon has also faced. I am reminded that when a friend of mine was left off LosCon program after decades of participation he took it very personally and made the rounds complaining to everyone he knew, exerting all the emotional pressure he could to regain something he felt entitled to have. (It worked, in his case.)

But no, this can’t just be a case of hurt feelings. It must be the tragic fate befalling someone who is a lonely dot of red in California’s sea of blue.

65 thoughts on “Jon Del Arroz Off BayCon 2017 Program, Claims Decision Is Politically Motivated

  1. @Mark

    This isn’t a phenomenon that the media hasn’t covered.

    Note, link includes stories about various youngsters being beaten on their school buses, several stories about one incident where a gay man was beaten by men wearing MAGA hats, as well as multiple incidents similar to the recent events at Berzerkley (h/t Frank Herbert) where adults bloodied other peaceful adults.

    This isn’t exactly “new” news. It has been going on since some of the early Trump rallies last year.

    The point of my commentary is that it is much harder for people to resort to the “I’m being oppressed for my politics” when people are not being…you know…oppressed for their politics. Roaming bands of thugs count as oppression in my book. So does being denied jobs for which one is otherwise qualified.

    As far as “Cheka” goes…yup really. That prisoner’s dilemma thing is a pain. When decent people like George W. Bush and Mitt Romney are no longer routinely referred to being “Hitler”, then perhaps something different might happen from me.

    For the time being, these thugs are emulating the behavior of the Chekas to a T. Rioters that destroy public and private property and initiate violence against those with whom they disagree politically are behaving like Chekas….the Junior League version. When the blood flows deep then they will have graduated to the varsity team.

    Just in case someone hasn’t seen it before, here’s the disclaimer. I’m not talking about protesters. I’m not talking about people that are having differences of opinion…sometimes loud differences of opinion.

    I’m talking about people that commit acts of wanton destruction, assault, and other physical intimidation/harassment. Cross that line and they are in Cheka territory.

    Regards,
    Dann

  2. We have universities suspending classes after a close election

    No, we do not.

    If one of your leading salvoes is a bullshit made-up story, the rest of your “argument” loses all credibility.

    You’ve been teetering on getting whited out, and you’ve descended into such a high volume of bullshit to useful information that there’s no reason to bother with your nonsensical blather any more.

  3. George W Bush was one of the worst genocidal murderers of modern time with more than one million iraqis lifes on his conscience.

    To call him decent is like calling Pol Pot decent.

  4. What Dann is doing is Gish galloping. Throwing in as many references as possible to hope that people won’t have the stamina to do any follow up.

    Otherwise, yes, of course there will be political violence on both sides of the spectrum. I can’t understand why there shouldn’t. Only one side want to make it legal to run over protesters with their cars though.

  5. @Dann

    While none of the three distinct incidents against Trump supporters (the incident involving a child is the same incident in multiple stories, FYI) that appear on the first page of that link are remotely justifiable, none of them seem to involve anyone being “bloodied”, let alone your more serious description of them being beaten bloody. In fact, none of them appear to go beyond scuffling – hardly acceptable behavior but also not what you were implying. By contrast, the attack on the gay man by Trump supporters seems to involve the worst damage to the victim by far.

    Basically, you’re pumping out weakly sourced claims to try to imply there’s some epidemic of left-wing violence going ignored by left-wing politicians and supporters, but that epidemic simply doesn’t exist.

    Also, you appear to be profoundly ignorant of who and what the Cheka were, because if you were you wouldn’t describe those incidents as “emulating the behavior of the Chekas to a T.”

    Finally, you are still ignoring that myself and others are pointing out that you’ve dragged all this stuff up with absolutely no link to the actual article. I find your failure to address that point very telling.

  6. Don’t know this guy or anything, but when he says stuff that’s inflammatory like he’s happy with the way the country is being run, like most ‘normal’ people are, that gives a significant insight into his own prejudices and attitudes. He’s suggesting those who oppose an obviously unqualified person as being not ‘normal’ so I figure if it was because of his support of Drumpf, that’s entirely fine – he doesn’t sound like he wants to give and take at all. I’d be fine if he was never invited again.

  7. Okay, this is how most of the fanights cons are run: you have panelists one year, for various fan reasons, you don’t have them back the next year (some do a “call us if you would like to be back” others do a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” deal, and yet others do a mix of the two) there are SO MANY PANELISTS, that not *everyone* gets invited back. As for people who’ve made death threats, do you have a restraining order? If it wasn’t done AT&T THE CON ,the con will stay out of it. Nobody in the convention committee really gives a shit about your politics. They care whether you wrote a good book, or painted an awesome picture, or insulted them last year, or did something incredibly stupid or cool. Conventions CANT be responsible for blocking everyone who made a death threat at you, unless it was AT the convention. And… crying because a convention didn’t invite you? Assuming it was because of your politics? Jon, you should know better. And Republicans and conservatives have jumping ALL over liberals backs about needing “safe spaces” and about “getting their feelings hurt”… THIS article is the kind of shit that will make Baycon ask themselves “Do we really want that of trouble at our convention? Is Jon Del Arroz really worth it?” .. and it will cause other cons to stay WELL away from asking you. Not all… but a LOT of them read File 770, and a LOT will see this. So, please, tell us where the bad convention hurt you, and blame it on Trump again. Btw.. you weren’t invited to Rustycon this year… are you going to say I didn’t invite you because you support Trump? (Psst: the answer is “no, it’s not because you supported Trump”)

  8. @Aaron

    And Snopes* contorts itself…again…to come up with a conclusion that is favorable to the left. Yale didn’t cancel classes across the university. But at least a couple of professors did modify their course requirements in the wake of the election. Not before the election in anticipation of it being a full week for everyone. After the election.

    Would they have done the same thing on behalf of their conservative students if Mrs. Clinton had won? Would any of the other professors around the country have done the same thing if Mrs. Clinton had won on behalf of their conservative students? Would student organizations have offered coloring books and other “therapies”?

    FWIW, I gave you the white-out treatment months ago. This item seemed worthy of a brief, albeit rare, response.

    @Mark

    Beatings:

    Jack Palkovic

    At Berkeley – with blood

    At Berkeley – with pepper spray

    At Berkeley – covering molotov cocktails and a victim being beaten while unconcious.

    Corey Catalda – choked

    James Allsup – with blood

    Adults beating up a 15 year old for the crime of wearing a MAGA hat to an anti-Trump rally

    Unidentified victim at the Portland airport. Apparently he was knocked unconscious.

    David Wilcox being dragged and then dropped out of his own car as it is being stolen by the CJL after he was assaulted by the CJL.

    Is there a point where you will stop excusing/minimizing leftist violence? Is there a requisite amount of blood? How many liters are required? How many people beaten unconscious? What will it take for people to not just oppose the violence, but also the eliminationist rhetoric that inspires that violence?

    Finally, you are still ignoring that myself and others are pointing out that you’ve dragged all this stuff up with absolutely no link to the actual article. I find your failure to address that point very telling.

    What is your point? What are you after here?

    My point is that it would be much harder to make such admittedly false claims in a culture where your political beliefs aren’t likely to cause you to lose your job, not get a job, get beaten, be forced to resign from a position, get excluded, etc. This is at least the second time that I have made this point. It may not be the answer you want to see, but it certainly isn’t “failing to address” anything.

    Also, you appear to be profoundly ignorant of who and what the Cheka were, because if you were you wouldn’t describe those incidents as “emulating the behavior of the Chekas to a T.”

    From the ever questionable Wikipedia….link.

    When I say “Cheka Junior League”, I mean that these are the powers to which these thugs aspire. The “varsity team” as it were. They want the power to deny people access to food, housing, life, etc. for the crime of disagreeing with them politically.

    Regards,
    Dann

    *I consider Snopes a good resource for most hoax busting and link to it frequently on other occasions. I’m not blind to the fact that Snopes is run by people and people have biases that can leak into their otherwise useful work.

  9. Dann:

    “Would student organizations have offered coloring books and other “therapies”?”

    I’m not sure what you are after with this one. Do you find colouring books heinous weapons of mass destructions? Or do you want to demand political neutrality from all existing student organizations?

    And I am extremely happy that the Uber CEO decided to step down after listening to his employees. Are you against this too? Listening to your employees?

    “They want the power to deny people access to food, housing, life, etc. for the crime of disagreeing with them politically.”

    People from the left, from anarchists to communists to socialists are actually fighting to give everyone access to food and housing, so I have no idea where this is coming from. Citation needed.

  10. And Snopes* contorts itself…again…to come up with a conclusion that is favorable to the left.

    That’s all you have to say in response to the fact that your wild-eyed claim was shown to be false? Just a whine about how Snopes is unfair?

    Adults beating up a 15 year old for the crime of wearing a MAGA hat to an anti-Trump rally

    You know, lying about an incident doesn’t actually help your case – the “adults” were “other students”. Why is it that you feel the need to lie to defend your position?

  11. @Dann

    Clever posturing, but of course you can’t actually criticise my reaction to links you hadn’t yet provided. I looked at what you provided previously and reacted to that; if you don’t source your claims initially then I can’t speak to them.

    Now that you’ve provided some specifics, lets look at those. But first, let’s look at your reaction to being called out on “We have universities suspending classes after a close election”, in which you concede that you were factually incorrect, and yet ding Snopes as being somehow biased in coming to the conclusion that you now admit is true, and gallop on to suggest that it’s all suspicious somehow, anyway. That sort of contortion doesn’t enhance your credibility.

    Jack Palovic – Palovic’s hat was grabbed, and then he attacked the grabber, degenerating in a short scuffle. No-one comes out of that with any credit, and the hat-grabber is culpable for starting it, but Palkovic escalated it into a physical fight.

    At Berkeley – with blood – again, this was a case of hat-grabbing (multiple incidents) and allegedly someone unidentified bled. This is pretty thin.

    At Berkeley – with pepper spray – victim appears to be sprayed with something, testimony is that it was pepper spray. Entirely unacceptable.

    At Berkeley – covering molotov cocktails and a victim being beaten while unconscious – there is a video of an unconscious person, no details of how it was caused. Earlier in the video a different lone Trump supporter scuffles with protesters. I’ll discuss events at demos later.

    Corey Catalda – choked – his testimony is he was attacked out of the blue on public transport. Wouldn’t you be interested in both sides of the story here? If true it is unacceptable.

    James Allsup – with blood – in this he claims to have sustained a head injury….and shows a photo of his hand carefully smeared red. I have to believe he’s telling the basic truth, but the deliberate attempt to make it as dramatic as possible gives me pause.

    Adults beating up a 15 year old – the article is very clear that the assailants were students and minors, so your desire to label this as “Adults” attacking is highly concerning. Realistically, do you want to claim that 15 year old boys scuffling is indicative of anything other than 15 year boys being stupid?

    Unidentified victim at the Portland airport – this shows nothing of the start of this incident – I assume you’d like to me to accept this was an unprovoked attack. You don’t mention that after a punch was thrown, other protesters leapt in front of the victim to protect him.

    David Wilcox being dragged and then dropped out of his own car as it is being stolen by the CJL after he was assaulted by the CJL – I’m sorry, but you’ve saved the worst for last. The actual reports of the attack have Wilcox saying very clearly that none of his attackers could have known he was a Trump supporter, and it was a car theft pure and simple. Nothing to do with Trump beyond what a headline writer grasped at.

    Let’s examine what you’re trying to claim – “Roaming bands of thugs” attacking Trump supporters, “beating people bloody for wearing MAGA hats and/or turning out for events of which the CJL disapproves.” How many people were beaten bloody for wearing MAGA hats? By your own sources, one person, unidentified. How many were beaten bloody for attending “disapproved events?” Again, looks like one to me. No doubt you will call this “excusing/minimising”, but I consider that basing arguments on the facts is better than exaggerated rhetorical claims.
    Of the rest, firstly we have some incidents that you’ve either exaggerated or misrepresented. Next, two incidents of an attack in a “normal” situation on the street – deplorable. Finally, multiple incidents of violence at demonstrations, which is bad, simple as that, but the fact is that this does sometimes happen no matter what the subject of the demo. People can be stupid, people can be impulsive, people can be violent. You’re trying to turn charged events like demonstrations into evidence for an epidemic of violence where people are picked out on the street and attacked. I could just as (non) credibly claim that instances of violence towards protesters at Trump rallies is evidence of Trump supporters attacking people on the street. At no point do you stop to consider other incidents from Trump supporters, or the proportions of violence to non-violence. For example, you have one incident from one airport demonstration – how many went off without a hitch? How many people at that demo were totally peaceful and non-violent? Obviously the vast majority otherwise you’d be quoting a story about a riot to me.

    You ask what is my point, what am I after? Well, you have consistently exaggerated claims that you can’t back up, and I’d like you to use facts instead. You’ve used highly charged attacking language – opponents are Cheka (who killed people), eliminationists (who want to kill people), “want the power to deny…life” (so, that’s killing again) – that’s quite simply unjustified and I’d like you to stop. Has there been violence? Yes. Should it be deplored? Absolutely. Is it an epidemic that’s being ignored? Not even remotely, and I’d like you to stop claiming that.

    And what prompted you to start all of this? An article about which everyone – even you – agrees politics is irrelevant, but you want to dredge up your opinion of “the left” all over it anyway. Then a comment regarding a shooting (that you didn’t condemn) caused you to dredge up a set of incidents not one of which is as serious as the shooting you are trying to gallop around. So, Dann, tell me this: given that you couldn’t even bring yourself to condemn a shooting, how can you complain about others not condemning less serious incidents?

  12. It’s a common tactic of the right to counter every report about violence from the extreme right with “But leftwing protesters are violent, too”, often dredging up incidents that are decades old. These incidents at least seem to be recent, but sorry, I’m not playing. Not a fan of violence against anybody, but also enough of a realist to know that violence occasionally happens, when large groups of people get together. Plus, violence at protests is usually instigated by a small minority of black bloc types, whereas the majority of protesters are peaceful.

    Like Mark and others, I also fail to see what any of these incidents have to do with the issue of Jon Del Arroz not getting invited to Baycon this year.

    I also wonder how the people at Baycon should have known about Del Arroz’s political opinions or whom he voted for, unless he was very vocal about. I mean, did he run around last year’s Baycon with a Trump t-shirt/hat and if so why? Ditto about Larry Correia claiming he was harrassed at WorldCon because he was conservative and owned a gunstore. How should anybody have known?

    So what we have here is either a case of a very thin skin and huge persecution complex (likely) or Del Arroz behaved like a jerk about his politics (which coincidentally, people on the left do, too, on occasion) and therefore wasn’t invited back. At any rate, you can be pretty sure that most conrunners won’t bother with inviting him after this little tantrum, unless it’s a con that explicitly brands itself as rightwing.

  13. I do not understand the reason to dissect every incident where Trump supporters may or may not have been assaulted. It is a large country. 300 million people. Of course there will have been Trump supporters that are attacked in such a polarized election as this. Of course there will have been Clinton supporters that are attacked in such a polarized election as this.

    Even in my country of 10 million in population and less polarization, there will be some people beaten up. Left-wing anarchists will beat up Sweden Democrats and some times people from our main right wing party, Sweden Democrats and nazis will beat up left-wing anarchists, immigrants, those with wrong skin colour or clothing, everyone not liking nazis and sometimes gays.

    But if we look at how many people that have been murdered between 1999 and 2009 (the latest statistics), it is only the right wing extremists that kill. 14 murders in total by right-wingers. None by left-wingers. And it will be the same going back to the 50:s.

    Violence from the political right has always been much more brutal, more likely to lead to death and against more wide-spread targets in Sweden. It would surprise me if US would differ on this.

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