Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #19

Burn The Witch and Shoot the Messenger – Windycon 44

By Chris M. Barkley:

Red crosses on wooden doors
And if you float you burn
Loose talk around the tables
Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers

From “Burn The Witch” by Radiohead

It’s not as though I seek out unpleasantness, it seems to find me. The latest round of is playing out this weekend at Windycon 44, in Lombard, IL.

I week ago, I emailed the programming staff of Windycon to inquire about the panels I was going to be on. I had filled out a questionnaire several months ago and had not heard back from them.

On November 4, I received several urgent emails from Louisa Feimster, the head of Programming of Windycon, apologizing because Mail Chimp had lost some emails and mine was probably among them.

Even though it was far past the deadline to include me in the program book, she sent me a link to fill out a new survey and programming application. Within 24 hours of doing so, I was inserted into several panels which had members drop out for one reason or another:

  • Friday, 5:00 pm, Geek Chic: We don’t have to hide anymore. When did it happen and how long will it last?
  • Saturday, 11am, Creature Comforts: What would you miss the most? Ice, TV, Chocolate, etc.
  • Saturday, 12 pm, You Know Nothing, John (sic) Snow: Game of Thrones is very popular but there is a division between show fans and Song of Fire & Ice reader fans. Can we bring peace to the 7 kingdoms or at least the two fandoms?
  • Sunday, 10am, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: A lot of today’s technology was yesterday’s science fiction. Join a discussion about that past and what might be tomorrow’s tech.
  • Sunday, 11am, The Obligatory Doctor Who Panel: Discuss fandom’s favorite Doctor.
  • Sunday, 12pm, Tutti Frutti Literature: With changing social norms and lifestyles, how is this affecting our literature?

On Friday, at 6:18pm, I received a tweet from author Jim C. Hines: “Damn…@cmzhang42 – any idea what the heck’s going on with this one?” (screenshot)

I had NO idea of what he was talking about.

So, I immediately went to my Twitter feed and found a post from @leeflower, who was complaining about the “Tutti Frutti Literature” panel:  (screenshot)

After thinking a moment, I decided to enter the fray by directly asking @leeflower, “Hello, I’m on this panel. Can you explain what your objection is, please?”

I immediately tweeted back to Jim Hines, @leeflower and @Windycon, “I have made an initial inquiry with the person who complained. Stand by…” To date, I have yet to receive a response from @leeflower.

In the meantime, the shit was hitting fan. All sorts of people piled onto to this haywagon of condemnation of the Windycon Programming staff, based solely on the objections on @leeflower.

[Editor’s note: Chris supplied these screencaps without indicating their order. Looked at Twitter and attempted to reconstruct it. The inconsistent order of the internal timestamps (e.g., “14h”) is due to not all the screencaps having been made at the same time. That said, they still might not all be in order.]

No one in the Windycon administrative pipeline has responded in any way because…did I mention that Windycon was THIS weekend? And I might also add that as far as I know, NONE of the plaintiffs in this debacle are actually attending Windycon.

I happened to run into Louisa Feimster at the Saturday afternoon at the Art Show. When I outlined what was happening on Twitter in the past twenty-four hours regarding the “Tutti Frutti Literature” panel, she did a huge eyeroll and said, “You want to know what really happened? We were under a lot of pressure to come up with titles for panels and we kinda finished up in the middle of the night. Really, we didn’t mean to offend anybody, we were just tired.”

She also went on to explain that in her end of the BDSM world, ‘tutti frutti’ does not have a negative connotations and she thought it would be an interesting way to title a panel on the changing forms of literature.

So, there was no grand conspiracy to offend the gay community. While the choice of the term “tutti frutti” may be regrettable, it was NOT done in any sense of malice, at least from my point of view.

So, in every sense of the term, THIS was a witch hunt, but no actual witches were found. We only burned ourselves. (Author’s note: I in no way condone the burning of witches, good, evil or otherwise. It’s just a metaphor, OK?)

So at the appointed time, the panelists gathered; authors Cliff Jones, Ross Martinek and the moderator, Mari Brighe. Everyone had been briefed and I was looking forward to an interesting panel. The audience was rather sparse, it numbered no more than a dozen people.

Louisa Feimster was also in attendance, to make a statement about the controversy before the panel started. Her appearance seemed to annoy Ms. Brighe who asked if she still had control of the panel.

Louisa Feimster said she that she did, but wanted to make a brief statement about the title of the panel and to outline what the intentions of the the Programming staff was when they made the decision to title this particular panel. After eloquently stating her case from what she had said to me yesterday, she indicated that the panel should begin.

Then Ms. Brighe surprised me by asking if I wanted to make my statement then. Surprising to me because usually the moderator introduces themselves before the other panelists do.

“Some of you may have heard of a dispute that started on Twitter Friday evening regarding the title and subject matter of this particular panel, ‘Tutti Fruitti Literature.’ Someone with the twittter handle @leeflower has stated that the use of this term, in the context of a discussion about our changing social norms and literature is a slur against the gay community.”

I then went onto explain, perhaps a little too forcefully, that there was no intended slur and that in the big scheme of things, we had more to worry about than a perceived slight by people who were not attending the convention and did not know the context of how the phrase was being used.

“The main point is that damage has been done to the honor and reputation of Windycon because someone was offended.

“To which I respond : BIG DEAL!

“This is the double-edged sword of the pervasive use of social media; yes, when wrongdoing is detected and a bright harsh spotlight is aimed at targets like Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., the world can be enlightened and warned about a situation.

“But when there is an angry, unwarranted attack, as this shows every indication to be, it does a huge disservice to the accused party and to fandom as a whole.

“To @ leeflower and other offended parties I say this; save your indignation and anger for the bigger issues and targets, like the social forces who seek to divide and demoralize us. Save it for the corporations who seek to pocket more of our tax dollars to support their businesses and interests. Save it for the judicial and police forces who oppress and kill our brothers and sisters every day. Save it for the politicians and lobbyists who are plotting and this very moment to suppress voting rights and subvert the Constitution of the United States. And most of all, save it for the current occupant of our White House, whose list of crimes and misdemeanors grow with each passing day.”

“We have plenty of enemies to worry about. Windycon is definitely NOT one of them.”

Now, I have to admit that during the latter part of my statement, I was channeling my inner Keith Olbermann, my voice filled with more than a little outrage and anger. Because, let’s face it, I was more than a little angered and outraged.

Well, I had hoped that this little outburst would rally the troops to my cause and there would be a large burst of applause as the cherry on top.

It was met with mostly silence and a few angry faces. And then came the kicker.

Ms. Brighe then took center stage and stated, in no uncertain terms, how she as a transgendered fan, was very disappointed in Louisa’s leadership with the Programming staff and with this program item in particular. She also stated that she thought that Windycon was not as progressive as they thought they were and that she still found instances of “micro-aggression and homophobia” at the convention and that as a consequence, she was relinquishing her responsibilities with this panel and was leaving.

With that she got up and left the room, leaving all us in stunned silence.

After a moment or two, Ms. Feimster picked up the moderating duties. We started with a discussion of what the hell just happened. One woman (whose name I did not catch) seemed to blame me personally for the walkout; she thought Ms. Feimster’s speech struck the right note by my speech was loud, noisy and did not take Ms. Brighe’s point of view into account.

Cliff Johns remarked that the whole incident appeared to be an unfortunate misunderstanding. I followed up by saying that this would have been a great opportunity to more understand her point of view, HAD SHE STAYED to moderate the panel.

Then Ross Marinek came to my aid by stating that he understood my point of view because he saw this attack on Windycon as an act of bullying. None of the people complaining were actually attending the convention and were triggered to make an assumption of the programming staff’s intentions without knowing the context of the offending phrase.

After this rather tense disacussion, we settled down to throwing out some examples of books, television shows and films that show how we as a society have progressed in the past 75 years.

In the aftermath of the panel, people online have proclaimed that I am a “puppy,” a bully and guilty of being homophobic myself.

The only thing I can say is that in my passion for defending the kink positive panel and Windycon, the LGBTQ community sensed a dog whistle that did not exist. If I was being overly assertive in defending a convention I dearly love and cherish, I apologize.

I may choose to do it differently next time, having learned from this experience.

However, I will always defend all of fandom, all of the time.

104 thoughts on “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #19

  1. I probably should keep my mouth shut about this, because someone will probably be offended at this point no matter what is said by anyone on this topic. But here’s my two cents:

    I’m disabled and have been since birth. If I were so sensitive that a frankly silly title to a panel at a convention I’ve never been to and have no knowledge of would disturb me, I would have long since curled up in the fetal position and would never do anything. If you’re not laying your hands on me to do me violence, I’ll survive.

    Frankly @leeflower did something no less questionable by not blurring the names of the panelists when she sent them out into the aether and no one seems to be questioning her apology/explanation.

    Here in 9334, people still read printed books.

  2. And now it’s being tweeted that the moderator was ‘harassed out of the room” and that she wasn’t bothered by the name of the panel as she thought that it was ‘being reclaimed by a queer person”.
    It can’t be ‘reclaimed by a queer person”–use the correct terminology. It was reclaimed by a gay man–that’s who it refers to as a slur.
    Also, the term “tone police” was thrown out there.
    Apparently, Mr. Barkley,you are just another clueless fake ally who doesn’t get it.
    Good for you. Good column.

  3. Louisa Feinster: We were under a lot of pressure to come up with titles for panels and we kinda finished up in the middle of the night. Really, we didn’t mean to offend anybody, we were just tired.”

    Chris Barkley: So, there was no grand conspiracy to offend the gay community. While the choice of the term “tutti frutti” may be regrettable, it was NOT done in any sense of malice, at least from my point of view.

    I’ve read all of the associated tweets, and I don’t see anywhere that someone is claiming that there was a “conspiracy to offend the gay community”. That’s not the issue, is it?

    So… you’re saying that if a convention you were not attending posted a panel title and description that you found racist and offensive:
    1) You would not say anything, since you have no right to say anythng, since you’re not going to the convention?
    2) You would think, “Oh, they didn’t mean any harm or offense with their racist title and description, so that’s all right then, never mind, carry on.”?
    3) You would also think, “We’ve got lots bigger problems in the world than convention panels with racist titles and descriptions, so this is not an issue.”?

    I strongly suspect otherwise.

    At any rate, unless I missed it, you have not been appointed Official Designated Speaker For The LGBTQ Community, so it’s not really your place to say what is, or is not, offensive, is it, nor is it your place to tell LGBTQ people which things they should, or should not, worry about.

    Sheesh. I’m straighter than I-80 through Iowa, and more cis than the Commonwealth of Independent States, and I raised my eyebrows and thought “whoa” when I saw that panel title and description.

    And I am mystified as to how using a slur nickname for gay men in the title was supposed to identify that panel as being about kink, as you say it was apparently supposed to be.

    At this point, it seems to me that you and the Windycon staff would be well-advised to avail yourselves of the wisdom of the First Law Of Holes. 😐

  4. @JJ: “a slur nickname for gay men”

    I would love to hear of one example of this from the wild, because I think it’s bullshit. I don’t believe this has ever been in common usage as a slur. I think someone saw a word that resembled fruit, decided it was therefore a slur, and threw a hissy fit over a commonly-used term from the kink “lifestyle” (also a common self-descriptor).

    I realize this may come as a shock, but there are a lot of “changing social norms and lifestyles” that are not primarily about LGBTQ issues.

  5. It seems to me that the take-home lesson is that convention programming titles and descriptions should favor the descriptive and unambiguous rather than the “clever” and vague. I still have no idea what the intended topic of the panel was, but the word “lifestyles”–statistically speaking–tends to correlate with problematic intent.

  6. I would love to hear of one example of this from the wild, because I think it’s bullshit. I don’t believe this has ever been in common usage as a slur.

    It’s common enough to be the #1 definition on Urban Dictionary.

    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tutti%20Frutti

    Since those get sorted by user feedback, that’s not one person seeing a term and deciding to read offense into it.

  7. Here in Germany, Tutti Frutti was the name of a very silly game show best known for its background ballet consisting of dancers representing particular fruits, who would occasionally flash their breasts. Not a lot of clips online for some reason, but here is one (warning for mild nudity and much stupidity). And yes, it was rally that stupid.

    Quite far from the American meaning, which just goes to show that you should google potential panel titles for potentially problematic implications you migh not be aware of.

  8. Intent doesn’t matter. If I had no intent to step on your foot, I still apologize if I stepped on it and it’s on me to endeavor to not step on it again.

  9. Dear Mr. Barkley,
    You appear to have a locked Twitter account. If the person you tweet at does not follow you, they will never see your tweet. That is likely why you never received a response to your query.

    As to the rest, sir, I doubt anything I have to say to you will change your mind as it is apparently set in stone. Good day.

  10. So… Such a good ally that you talk about “transgendered” people, huh, Chris? And expend huge energy on accusing a member of a marginalised community of bullying you for posting a tweet… By going to File 770, to launch an attack (and I’m curious to Mike’s logic behind publishing this!)? Such allyship, Chris! And that’s beyond the complete lack of engagement with the fact that it wasn’t just the title that was a dogwhistle slur, and there’s a REASON a panelist felt the need to make her statement, especially after yours, which had no interest in dialogue or listening to other points of view.

    Maybe your knee-jerk defensive reaction is actually just… A jerk reaction. Reconsider, listen, learn, and don’t be a dick.

  11. I hope that Mike will give the same space and opportunity for the panel mod to speak and give her perspective. Otherwise, yay, straight dude telling gay people they shouldn’t be offended. This is a new and exciting experience for me!

    From my, lesbian, perspective “Lifestyle” is almost always a homophobic dog whistle. I understand that someone from a BDSM background might not get that, but I’m not surprised that the combination with the title pissed people off.

  12. Harold Osler: here you go

    AUUUUGGGGGGHHHH!

    Well, that gave me a flashback I really didn’t need, so er, thanks. I guess. 😉

  13. @John A. Arkansawyer

    I didn’t realize German music was so advanced!

    Actually the music (and the concept of the show) were borrowed wholesale from Italian TV. And in our defence, this thing aired in the early 1990s.

  14. I’m curious; should there be any difference in the reaction to an unintended slur versus an intended slur? In both cases, the offended party is, well, offended, but treating Ignorance and Malice the same way seems unhelpful.
    BTW, I agree that “lifestyle” was the wrong term. Just plain wrong.

  15. @JJ
    Of course, a side effect I didn’t think about is that the song is now stuck in my head.

  16. Harold Osler: Of course, a side effect I didn’t think about is that the song is now stuck in my head.

    Never fear; I e-mailed it to all of my friends who have also done far too many road-trips through Iowa*, so we have plenty of company in our earworm misery. I am currently awaiting their indignant replies. 😀

    * I will acknowledge that Nebraska is even worse

  17. Mike, I saw them yesterday and the discussion. From my perspective, there’s a difference in weight between including tweets in a news round up, and an entire column as a stand alone item. In any case, I assume that the panel moderator hasn’t reached out on this?

    In regards to unintended v. intended slurs, it seems to me that a slur can from the first category to the second, if when the offense is pointed out, the person making a mistake doubles down rather than making any kind of apology or amends.

  18. Muccamukk: The column doesn’t advocate that the panel title was either a good choice or inoffensive.

    What Barkley said is:

    While the choice of the term “tutti frutti” may be regrettable, it was NOT done in any sense of malice, at least from my point of view.

    His column is about disliking the social media response.

  19. Chris, it appears to me that you are a bit overly certain that your interpretation is The One True Correct Interpretation, and that any other response is Objectively Wrong–even though it’s someone else’s marginalized community that is the apparent target. Maybe step back and consider the possibility that others reacting differently than you prefer may not be either stupid or malicious?

  20. This was such a clear-cut slur that the person who discovered it had to explain why it was a slur. It had to be explicated before it became a slur.

    In America, hermeneutics interprets YOU!

  21. Muccamukl:

    “From my, lesbian, perspective “Lifestyle” is almost always a homophobic dog whistle. I understand that someone from a BDSM background might not get that, but I’m not surprised that the combination with the title pissed people off.”

    As someone with a BDSM background, I can testify that “lifestyle” is a common word among both BDSM practitioners and Fetishists. It is also used for the leather lifestyle which is part of the gay community.

    As these are also part of what makes a group diverse, I can not see the word “lifestyle” as a slur. In this context.

    With regards to Tutti Frutti, we say Smorgasbord in Sweden instead to encompass all different ways of kink. But I have been to a BDSM Party with a Tutti Frutti theme once. No one raised an eyebrow, but this was in Sweden.

    Having said that, I have friends who were on the wrong side of this when trying to make a gay-friendly party which used bad wording with regards to transpersons. They did the same mistake as seen in the text here, saying that they didn’t mean anything bad and managed to add a few new failed words, thus pouring gasoline on the fire.

    After that, they withdrew. Asked for help from trans friends. Made a public apology. Changed the wording. And then the storm passed.

  22. John A Arkansawyer: This was such a clear-cut slur that the person who discovered it had to explain why it was a slur. It had to be explicated before it became a slur.

    And yet several people, including me, looked at it and knew right away that it was a slur, because we had heard it before.

    Since you are the Self-Appointed Determiner Of What Is Or Is Not A Slur, what are your requirements for something to be classified as a slur? 10 people recognize it as such? 100 people?

    Perhaps we should run a questionnaire with a list of known slurs, and everyone can vote on whether they’ve heard them before, and then we can declare any of the things with fewer than your required total as “not actually a slur, and therefore you have no business being offended”.

     
    WTF is it with people who feel like they need to double-, triple-, and quadruple-down, as if they think doing that is going to make them look less like a jerk? As Hampus says: Make a public apology. Change the wording. Say that you will try to learn from the occurrence. And then the storm will pass.

  23. @JJ: It is possible to get some measure of what a slur is.

    I’ve been throwing search terms on the water and I’m still looking for an example of “tutti frutti” as a slur or a listing of “tutti frutti” in anti-gay slurs. I haven’t found one.

    Note that the original claim wasn’t that “tutti frutti” was a slur, but that it could be construed as a slur: “it’s a slur against queer folks (a cutesy extension of fruit/fruity)”. Check the language there: It’s a slur by extension, by construction.

    I think this is an example of finding a slur where one did not previously exist. Yay team.

  24. Read the Wikipedia entry for Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti. While there are claims for and against the song originally having explicitly sexual lyrics, the existence of the discussion itself is evidence that “Tutti Frutti” could have a sexual meaning, or else they would have nothing to debate.

  25. @John A Arkansawyer

    Over in the original scroll, Harold Osler seems to be confirming it as a historic slur.
    Maybe googling for a pre-internet slang usage isn’t such a reliable method as you think?

  26. “Fruity” is a well-known term for an effeminate gay man, mostly used as a slur. I think it is over 100 years old now. Does it stop being a slur if you add “tutti” to it? Perhaps, but I can’t really understand why the chance should be taken. Better not use it after having been made aware of it.

  27. Mike, I’m curious as to how featuring tweets without the knowledge of their author, as part of a selection of different news items, and without reaching out for a fuller explanation, is seen as equal time or equivalent to hosting a post solely dedicated to attacking a single individual (inaccurately, at that) without, again, reaching out to the person you’ve now twice exposed to harassment. This seems like an odd definition of balanced; and the idea that the comments carry equal weight with the posts themselves in terms of either balance or editorial discretion is, given how many folk follow the dictum “never read the comments”, is… Hmmm.

  28. As for discussion of tutti frutti as a slur… I’ve heard it used as such, and the first entry in Urban Dictionary, as posted by Annalee in her tweets which were then featured here, is that of a slur. So it’s pretty conclusively not a slur by extension, but straight up, it’s a slur

  29. D Franklin:

    Expose to harassment!? Why not use expose to praise instead? It is equally true and perhaps more fitting when you read the comments here. A more neutral term would be “display their tweets”.

  30. I wouldn’t like to argue that publicising something said in public is always neutral, because it self evidently isn’t always, but in this case Annalee’s tweets were published in a way that’s perfectly ordinary (in my experience of reading the site, I mean) and not out of line with how similar stories have been treated in the past. I’d say it was no different from the 26 people who RTed the initial tweet, who presumably aren’t coming in for the same criticism?
    Elevating an evolving/heating up story to a separate article(s) is also pretty normal for Mike’s handling of news, although in this case it’s presented as part of a semi-regular column.
    Given that Chris is responding to Annalee’s original tweets, which were published in full yesterday and are screen shotted in this article, I don’t see where the lack of balance is – she criticised, he criticised back, she may respond further if she wishes, etc.
    (However, if there’s something in how the tweets are presented in this article – e.g. if something’s missing or misrepresented – then that would be an issue IMO)

    For the record, I also think Chris has gone off the deep end in his reaction – I can’t imagine that panel was much fun for anyone in the room in the end.

  31. @Heather Rose Jones: “convention programming titles and descriptions should favor the descriptive and unambiguous rather than the ‘clever’ and vague.” Yes. If that’d been done, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    @Mike Glyer: Oh, that Wikipedia entry’s not the half of it. Little Richard is a big freak. And here’s his fifties drummer to testify:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP2fzGGvDX4

    @Mark: Actually, Harold Osler never says it’s a slur. Let’s look closely at that response:

    First off, my first thought was ‘tutti-fruiti’ as in the ice cream. And then it was”Oh-Tutti-Frutti like an amalgam”.
    Second–quit re-writing history. “Tutti-Frutti” referred to gay men; not some amorphous queer community. Does that count as cultural appropriation?

    So his first reaction was not to recognize it as a slur. His second reaction was to note it as a reference to gay men. I assume if he’d meant to say it was a slur, he’d’ve said so. (I could be wrong and am open to correction on this point.) I do wonder whether “fruit” and the related words are a slur that still stings or not.

    And now, on re-reading, I see Harold Osler also addressed it in this thread, and comes closer to calling it a slur:

    It can’t be ‘reclaimed by a queer person”–use the correct terminology. It was reclaimed by a gay man–that’s who it refers to as a slur.

    So maybe I’m wrong. I still think it’s telling that his first reaction was not to perceive it as a slur.

    On the other hand, I had the recent unpleasant experience of hearing someone refer to “the brother” screwing everything up. “You’ve got sisters, but no brother,” I thought. Then, “Is this a religious thing?” It took nearly two minutes to realize he’d meant Obama. So if I was wrong then, I could be wrong this time.

  32. @ JJ:

    * I will acknowledge that Nebraska is even worse

    It’s deliberate. The Keep Nebraska for Nebraskans Committee saw to it that I-80 ran through the dullest part of the state. We keep the good stuf for ourselves.

  33. Mark: For the record, I also think Chris has gone off the deep end in his reaction – I can’t imagine that panel was much fun for anyone in the room in the end.

    I imagine that the contention came as rather a shock to Chris, because he went into this with information which was not available to the general public — that the subject of the panel was kink — and it had never occurred to him that other people would read the panel title and description as being about something else.

    And while his subsequent defensive reaction is understandable, I agree that it was over-the-top, and I think that Chris has (rightfully) taken a bollicking for it in the comments here.

    But as has been pointed out, many will not bother reading the comments — which (yesterday’s scroll item notwithstanding) does leave the poor appearance of onesidedness. I would like to see M. Brighe offered the opportunity for their own main post here; I would be interested in hearing their perspective.

  34. @JJ: “that the subject of the panel was kink”

    I don’t think that’s what the panel was supposed to address. All she says is that in her world, “tutti frutti” isn’t a slur: “She also went on to explain that in her end of the BDSM world, ‘tutti frutti’ does not have a negative connotations and she thought it would be an interesting way to title a panel on the changing forms of literature.”

    I didn’t get that was what the panel was about from the description at all. That’s both much more and much less than I’d previously thought.

  35. John A Arkansawyer: I didn’t get that was what the panel was about from the description at all. That’s both much more and much less than I’d previously thought.

    Well, neither did I, but you know, Chris actually says that in his main post above, which is how I found out.

  36. @John A Arkansawyer

    Welp, maybe I’m wrong as well! Hopefully Harold will tell us. I did think that if it definitely had never been used in that way then he’d have said so.

  37. I think the moral of the story should be: Do Not Defend All Of Fandom, All Of The Time.

    It does not help.

  38. I’m definitely convinced this con should not ever ever ever let a deadline sneak up on its program committee again.

    This is my takeaway as well!

  39. How hard would it have been to add the word “kink” or acronym “BDSM” to the description?

    Re Nebraska I-80:
    My wife and I used I-80 to get into Colorado. The only things we saw advertised in Nebraska was the National Sod House Museum and a host of things in Wyoming. They must be hiding ther interesting bits.

  40. When I first came across this earlier in the morning, my first thought was, it’s really going to depend on the context of the description of the panel. When I finally got a chance to see the full description, there really wasn’t anything to contextualize the phrase. I suspect that a lot of controversy would have been avoided if there had been some effort to frame the term and work out in more detail what the panel was going to discuss. Without that context, I can very easily see how readers of the panel came to the conclusions they did without operating in bad faith or malice, given the still deep influence that homophobia has on our social practices and institutions. I’m not sure that the additional commentary would have stopped the controversy, given some of the bad reading habits that twitter seems to foster, but at least it could have been mitigated and made more productive.

  41. I was actually in the panel at Windycon, and I think that Louisa did an okay job of responding to the problem with the title; she opened with a reference to the response on Twitter and covered why the name was chosen. She didn’t, unfortunately, apologize for the offense given to other queer persons and took a somewhat defensive stance on it, but in the main I was much more optimistic for the way the panel would proceed until Chris read his statement, including the angry tone he admitted to.

    What he doesn’t mention is that he proceeded to argue with the audience as the panel started discussions about it; he was angry at being challenged for both his tone and content.

    It’s also worth noting that Chris stated up front that he planned on posting (presumably this) editorial immediately following the panel, making it clear to everyone in the room that he’d already made decisions about causing an online ruckus over the response to the panel.

    I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about it; I certainly did.

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