Del Arroz Files Suit Against Worldcon 76

Jon Del Arroz filed suit on April 16 against the 2018 Worldcon and other defendants in San Joaquin Superior Court asking damages for claimed violations of his civil rights under California’s Unruh act, and for defamation.

The named defendants are:

San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc., aka Worldcon 76, David W. Gallagher (2019), President; David W. Clark (2020), Vice President; Lisa Deutsch Harrigan (2020), Treasurer; Kevin Standlee (2018), Sceretary; Sandra Childress (2019); Bruce Farr (2018), Chair; 2018 SMOF Con Committee; Cheryl Morgan (2020); Kevin Roche (2018), Chair; 2018 Worldcon (Worldcon 76) Committee; Cindy Scott (2018); Randy Smith (2019), Chair; New Zealand 2020 Worldcon Agent Committee; Lori Buschbaum; Susie Rodriguez and DOES 1 through 30, inclusive.

Del Arroz is represented by attorney Peter Sean Bradley.

The first 23 paragraphs of the Complaint lay out the history of Del Arroz’ banning by Worldcon 76 from his point of view, and allegations that he was banned because he is a Republican and Trump supporter.

Several of the causes of action quote from Worldcon 76’s announcement banning Del Arroz from the con, which said in part:

We have taken this step because he has made it clear that he fully intends to break our code of conduct. Worldcon 76 strives to be an inclusive place in fandom, as difficult as that can be, and racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our Worldcon. This expulsion is one step toward eliminating such behavior and was not taken lightly….

Repeated reference is also made to the committee’s email telling him he would not be allowed to attend, sent by Lori Buschbaum, the Incident Response Team area head. It is quoted in the Complaint as saying:

Jonathan, At this time we are converting your membership to Worldcon 76 to a supporting membership as you will not be permitted to attend the convention. On your personal blog you have made it clear that you are both expecting and planning on engendering a hostile environment which we do not allow, If you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed, Your payment of $50 covers the cost of your supporting membership in its entirety, and you have no balance owing. As a supporting member your nomination and voting rights for the Hugo Awards and site selection are maintained. If you prefer a full refund that can be arranged.

The Complaint outlines five causes of action, and in most cases leaves the requested damages to be determined at trial.

First cause of action: Violation of Civil Code Section 51 (Unruh Act)

28. …Under the Unruh Act, a business establishment may not discriminate against any person based on a personal characteristic representing a trait, condition, decision, or choice fundamental to that person’s identity, beliefs and self-definition as that factor has been applied in previous cases. …The protection of the Unrush Act extends to political affiliation….

30. Mr. Del Arroz was discriminated against in violation of the Unruh Act in that he has been banned from attending Worldcon 76 based upon his political affiliation and political beliefs….

Del Arroz claims lost sales and emotional distress as a result.

Second cause of action: Violation of Civil Code Section 51.5

This is a law against various forms of discrimination on account of characteristics such as “political affiliation.”

The Complaint says:

39. WorldCon 76 is a business establishment in that it holds itself out as open to the public without restriction and is using public facilities and engaging in public commcerce.

40. SFSF discriminated against, boycotted or blacklisted, or refused to contract with or sell to Mr. Del Arroz by refusing to sell him an attending membership because of his political affiliation and political beliefs. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the other named Defendants aided or incited this unlawful conduct.

Third cause of action: Violation of Civil Code Section 51.7

The Complaint alleges violations of the law’s protection against “violence, or intimidation by threat of violence” because of a political affiliation (or other arbitrary discrimination).

The Complaint says:

49. On Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 5:01 p.m., Mr. Del Arroz received an email from Lori Buschbaum, who identified herself as the “Incident Response Team area head” for Worldcon 76 which stated in relevant part: “If you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed.” This statement constituted intimidation by threat of violence against Mr. Del Arroz because of his political affiliatuion in that Defendants and each of them threatened to have Mr. Del Arroz forced [sic] physically removed against his consent and acquiescence from locations he had a right to be in such as the lobby of a hotel. This threat was understood by Mr. Del Arroz to include violence in that Mr. Del Arroz had advised SFSFC of his concern about physical violence at WorldCon 76 and Mr. Arroz [sic] had been threatened with violence by members of SFSFC and individuals who had said they would be attending WorldCon 76 on social media maintained by SFSFC. At no time had SFSFC advised Mr. Del Arroz that he would be safe at WorldCon 76 and at no time did SFSFC make any effort to stop anyone from expressing a violent animus against Mr. Del Arroz on its social media sites.

Fourth cause of action Violation of Civil Code Section 52.1

After repeating verbatim paragraph 49 above, the Complaint alleges –

59. Mr. Del Arroz was threatened by SFSFC and Lori Buschbaum. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the remaining named Defendants aided or incited this conduct…. Individual Defendants and Does 1 through 30 aided, incited, authorized, ratified or conspired in the said discrimination, blacklisting, boycotting, and refusal to sell or contract with Mr. Arroz [sic] with respect to his purchase of an attending membership.

Fifth cause of action: Defamation.

Citing the January 2 email quoted above the Complaint alleges —

66. …Worldcon 76 never explained to him that anything he planned on doing would constitute a violation of any code of conduct. Mr. Del Arroz is informed and believes and thereon alleges that there is no such code of conduct. Further, Mr. Del Arroz is not a racist. Mr. Del Arroz has often made a point of condemning racism and proudly identifying his Hispanic heritage. Likewise, Mr. Del Arroz is not a bully. The statement that Mr. Del Arroz is a racist bully is false and SFSFC and its representatives knew t was false or made the statement with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the charge and with a malicious intent to injure Mr. Del Arroz or his reputation….

Financial damage is also claimed, likewise emotional distress. The Complaint also claims that the defendants —

were aware that they were threatening Mr. Del Arroz with physical violence in order to prevent him from exercising his important civil rights including the right of association and the right to use public property and the right to free and equal treatment by business establishments.

Del Arroz also wants court costs and attorney fees.

Below are copies of the documents filed with the court. The Complaint contains all the allegations and support,. The judge has scheduled the initial case management conference for October 15.

Update 04/16/18: Corrected the info under the Fourth Cause of Action.

453 thoughts on “Del Arroz Files Suit Against Worldcon 76

  1. Great googly-moogly, every time I think it would be impossible for me to become more disgusted, the bottom of the barrel is revealed to be have been false and there is so much more crap to be scrapped through.

  2. FYI – Court costs and Lawyers fees is standard boilerplate text for just about any legal proceeding. Ya don’t get it if ya don’t ask. (Learned that working for almost 10 years in a Civil Court in Canada).

  3. Contrarius: That case does have some thought-provoking quotes. You want to argue from it that Worldcon enjoys the safe harbor of being a private club, and my first thought is nothing about the way people acquire Worldcon memberships resembles the function of a private club. Which is important, according to the analysis in the case you cited:

    In the past, numerous courts, both federal and state, have grappled with the question whether a particular entity properly should or should not be considered a private club whose membership decisions are exempt from a generally applicable public accommodation law. The cases identify a number of factors that may be relevant to this determination, including (1) the selectivity of the group in the admission of members, (2) the size of the group, (3) the degree of membership control over the governance of the organization (and particularly the selection of new members), (4) the degree to which club facilities are available for use by nonmembers, and (5) whether the primary purpose served by the club is social or business

    Worldcon is not selective. Anybody can join. Even JDA was being allowed to join, til he ran afoul of the code of conduct.

    So while you want to distinguish this losing case by noting it was decided on the basis of how much business the defendant did with the general public, before you get to that argument you’re going to have to establish that the Worldcon is for these purposes a private club. Which I have to say I am now beginning to doubt.

  4. As far as supporting the Worldcon/WSFS in this lawsuit goes, I have an idea. I can’t do this as I am facing a tuition bill I can’t cover and a few other things, but those who can and seek to throw money at them can buy supporting memberships. I was on the bid and con committee for ConJosé, so I’m both thoroughly biased toward the crew running this year’s shindig and aware of the usefulness of throwing money at Worldcons from experience. I’m not associated with this year’s crew due to living about 400 miles away these days.

    And if you already have a membership, buy one for a friend. The money spends the same.

  5. @Mike —

    Worldcon is not selective. Anybody can join. Even JDA was being allowed to join, til he ran afoul of the code of conduct.

    I agree that selectivity is probably the weak spot for Worldcon — however, “selectivity” does not necessarily mean what you think it means.

    It’s my understanding that “selectivity” can be as simple as charging dues — the dues themselves can be the selection process. The amount of the dues (a dime vs. $100, for instance) is also part of the “selectivity”.

    Although it would strengthen Worldcon’s case to be more rigidly selective, I do not understand that to be a necessary component. For instance, if you look at the swimming pool and lakeshore property cases, the problem was not that memberships were nonselective in general — the problems were: 1. that the only selective criteria was discriminatory (by gender for the pool, by race for the property); 2. that the pool allowed non-members to use the facility; and 3. that the lakeshore property charged only a quarter for their supposed memberships.

    I believe that selection by interest group is an inherent quality of private membership clubs, and that’s exactly what we have with Worldcon. I think that and the relatively large size of the dues, along with the facts that non-members are excluded from the con, that members vote on the business conduct of the organization, that the con does not make money from non-members, that the club meets every year, and that its purposes are primarily social (parties, educational panels, and so on), cover it pretty well on the private club front.

  6. Oh, and a general comment about GoFundMes —

    I think some folks may be forgetting that GoFundMe campaigns don’t have to be set up by the actual beneficiaries of the campaign. Many times friends or even just random concerned citizens set them up for third parties. So it wouldn’t be necessary to involve the Worldcon folks in any way, aside from sending them the proceeds.

    OTOH, the comments about this being early days are also reasonable. There is no harm in taking a few deep breaths and waiting to see what develops over the next few days or weeks.

  7. I do not know all the details, nor do I belong to the SFSFC board.

    I’m looking at this with a wider eye to the moral picture that ConRunners will have to deal with, especially future WorldCon’s, because of this committee’s very tough decision that they had to make on this one person.

    The slippy slope of determining who should attend and should not be allow to attend a WorldCon. Even with the guidance of a Code of Conduct.

    Once you put a stake in the ground and say “There be Dragons here.”. What happens the next time, when the dragons comes up the edge of the markers, but they doesn’t quite go over it.

    Do you ignore them? Move the markers closer to them or maybe even away from them? All of these actions have consequences to them.

    If you were to push the markers to the extreme edge, do you ban entire groups who attempt to manipulate the Hugo awards, because they violated the Code of Conduct?

    The Code of Conduct will now have to be reviewed by all future WorldCon’s to see if the dragons are in check.

    And just to be clear, while the moral high ground belongs to . It can’t be occupied by both parties. Equally, it could also mean that neither of them have the moral high ground in this case.

    From my own knowledge, Boards like SFSFC have DOI’s and Liability Coverage for just such instances, however, it will impact their net profit and what will be passed along to the next three events.

  8. Laura hints at this above, but I think all of the handicapping about who might or might not win the suit misses an important point.

    Win or lose the suit, Worldcon 76 loses.

    Even with pro bono help, dealing with this is going to suck time, money and energy out of the board and the committee, time, money and energy that could have been devoted to fen, to the members of Worldcon.

    In economics, this is called opportunity cost: the things you didn’t do because you chose (or were forced) to deal with other things.

    Other puppies and their followers will no doubt pick up on the tactic. They’ll have their own crowdsourcing for funds and the cackling asshole crowd will no doubt pitch in money just to support the hurtfulness. To which a defense fund is probably the best response, though it will be too late for this year’s con.

  9. All Worldcons will be in places with different laws, so viewing another conventions CoC might no be applicable. Also, how wouldnit even be possible for all future conventions to review something!? When we don’t even know who they are?

    I find all this talk about imaginary dragons very unconvincing. Please use applicable words instead of strange symbolism.

  10. @Blackfish —

    I meant to answer this earlier, but forgot.

    Finally, isn’t Jon self-published? Wouldn’t that make Jon’s publisher… Jon?

    Jon has done some self-pubbing and some small-press pubbing. His latest book was pubbed by Superversive Press. So “Jon’s Publisher” could mean either Superversive (Jason Rennie) or Jon himself.

  11. So Del Aroz is essentially arguing that no convention can enforce their code of conduct, that no one can boycott anyone. that hotels and convention centers are public property.

  12. JJ and others have mentioned it before, and it bears repeating: being a known serial harasser is not a protected group. Jon not only loses his case based on the private club status of Worldcon, he ALSO loses it because there is no legal prohibition against throwing people out of public accommodations if you think they’re likely to make trouble. So whether you consider Worldcon a private club or not, Jon still loses.

    And every time Jon or his buds try to claim he isn’t actually a harasser, this quote from Jon works wonders in chasing them off: “Commence Operation: Troll The Shit Out Of SJW Sci-Fi Authors On Twitter. If you want to participate, ping me. I’ll start a chat.”

    That should be Exhibit A if this case ever actually makes it to court. Or before, assuming that Worldcon et al will file a motion to dismiss.

  13. @Craige Howlett–

    You’re basically making the argument that Worldcons can’t have codes of conduct, and can’t enforce them if they do, because of that terrible Slippery Slope.

    Wrong. Every organization and institution, of every kind, has rules of behavior. They vary in details. They vary in when and how and why they’re enforced. Local and national laws and customs vary.

    But nothing exists that doesn’t have, whether written or unwritten, minimum standards of behavior that you have to abide by or you’ll be asked, or rather, “asked,” to leave.

    And yes, announcing that you intend to violate those standards, especially if you have a long track record of behaving in ways that violate it, can get you banned. And you won’t win if you sue over it.

    Let’s say the Worldcon isn’t a private membership organization. Let’s say it’s purely a commercial event You pay your money, you get your ticket, you’re in.

    Just like Walmart. Which of course can’t ban you for your political opinions.

    Now, go to Walmart, stand in the pharmacy area, and start loudly ranting about opioids and the prescription drug addiction crisis. Or the gun department, and start harassing shoppers about the need for better gun legislation (in whatever direction you consider “better.”) Or reverse it! Lecture the pharmacy customers about gun laws and the gun customers about opioids. Whichever!

    See how long you’re allowed to stay before they throw you out.

    See how many repetitions you get before you are banned from that Walmart.

    Now, announce that you’re going to do the same thing at Target. On Twitter. Tag Target. Make sure they know. And let’s be real. You’ve made a name for yourself, now. Everyone knows you, and if your picture hasn’t been on the news, the security people at Target have been talking with the security people at Walmart.

    Because you’ve made yourself a known problem. At most, you’ll get in, and be followed around the whole time. More likely, they won’t let you in, because they do not need the problem you represent. They have a business to run, and customers to serve.

    And as long as they are banning you for your behavior, not you opinions on opioids or guns, they are within their rights.

    Even if the behavior is to advance your political opinions, or your own professional reputation.

    Really.

    Try it sometime. But not at a store you want to be able to continue shopping at afterwards.

  14. @Craige Howlett

    I don’t think that your ‘what ifs’ are entirely convincing. In banning JDA, the committee had stacks of evidence of his documented harassment and trolling of others, his public statements about his intention to continue said activities while attending WC and his plans to ignore both the CoC and California state law in order to record attendees without their consent. This wasn’t some arcane community custom that he ran afoul of. It was a clearly outlined pattern of harassment and a stated intent to continue his campaign that got him outed. So, yeah, the moral high ground is blindingly obvious here.

    For all your talk of dragons, context matters. The slippery slope arguments always seem to assume the people creating the guidelines and making the decisions are pulled back to a state of zero after every decision and that it alone represents the new path forward. But Worldcon isn’t SCOTUS. Because one serial harasser who was dumb enough to broadcast his attempts to trash Worldcon for other attendees doesn’t suddenly mean that the SF Right’s fever dreams about being banned for their conservative opinions or Trump votes exists as a possibility.

  15. … Is there anything more useless than non lawyers arguing law in an internet forum?

  16. @Lis —

    Because you’ve made yourself a known problem.

    Right. And you don’t even have to be a known disruptive problem. See, for instance, card counters getting banned from casinos. There’s no question that casinos are public accommodations. And card counters aren’t disruptive or breaking any laws — they simply cost the casinos more money than they’re willing to pay out. But it’s perfectly legal for those casinos to ban them.

    @Alex —

    … Is there anything more useless than non lawyers arguing law in an internet forum?

    Perhaps people complaining about non lawyers arguing law in an internet forum?

  17. The membership stuff feels like a bit of a red herring… where it turns, even under how I read the Unruh stuff is that a facility or a group can turn away people for breaking rules – they can’t for stuff covered like race, sex etc… but I think he’s going to have a job proving that he’s actually being turned away for being a Trump supporting republican… I doubt if it will be impossible for the Worldcon to find other republican fans who voted for Trump and who may disagree with people on politics they’re not planning on being total arses at the con.

  18. Glenn Glazer: Win or lose the suit, Worldcon 76 loses.
    Even with pro bono help, dealing with this is going to suck time, money and energy out of the board and the committee, time, money and energy that could have been devoted to fen, to the members of Worldcon.

    One of the arguments always ALWAYS brought up against having a Code of Conduct is that if the con bans somebody they might sue the convention. There are a few who believed there would never be a suit because litigation costs money, or the person banned would find it too embarassing to go public, or for some other reason discounted the possibility.

    Nobody expected the opposite to happen, that somebody would work hard to get banned and sue because it is his idea of a career move.

    However, the point of having a Code of Conduct, as you already know, is to discourage harassing and other unacceptable behavior and to make sure everyone coming to the con is aware they won’t be allowed to stay if they engage in that behavior. Worldcon 76 is committed to preventing some of the things that were problematic at other cons over the years. Even if they’d rather devote 100% of their attention to putting on the con itself, they know they’re doing an important service to fandom by seeing through the enforcement of their CoC.

  19. Daveon: I doubt if it will be impossible for the Worldcon to find other republican fans who voted for Trump and who may disagree with people on politics they’re not planning on being total arses at the con.

    It’s important to realize that the issue won’t be whether Worldcon 76 complied with the Unruh Act in every other case, but whether they violated it in JDA’s case. It won’t matter how many Trump Republicans they let join the con if it’s shown their decision to exclude him was for his political affiliation.

  20. I would think the challenge for JDA’s lawsuit isn’t the hairsplittingly specific nature of WorldCon (I think everyone agrees it’s not “public” space, since you have to a membership to get in), but rather that–this is clear even in the bits of the complaint quoted–that he can’t prove or demonstrate the claims in his complaint, namely that he has been banned because he is a Republican, that he has been banned because he is Hispanic, and that being banned from attending one WorldCon puts him at a professional disadvantage or disproportionately affects him as a professional (lots of sf/f writers with busy careers don’t attend WorldCon, after all).

    Meanwhile, WorldCon can show reasons for banning him that have nothing to do with his political affiliations or his ethnicity.

  21. Alex von der Linden: … Is there anything more useless than non lawyers arguing law in an internet forum?

    Well, you could fill in that blank with a lot of things. Isn’t it equally valid to ask “Is there anything more useless than [anyone] arguing [anything] in an internet forum?”

  22. It won’t matter how many Trump Republicans they let join the con if it’s shown their decision to exclude him was for his political affiliation.

    It’s much harder to prove he was blocked for his political affiliation if they didn’t block other people for the same thing – it suggests that other factors were indeed in play.

    Also, he needs to prove that a Trump Republican is a protected class under Unruh and that this isn’t really covered by laws covering rights of admission to events…

    I’m also not sure I’d want to spend time on a stand, under oath, trying to spin why I deleted the tweets that were deleted, nor trying to spin what he meant by his posts about wearing a body cam at the SFWA party, or what he meant when he trolled people.

    I’d say it’s his money, but he’ll tie up a lot of time and expense of other people as Glenn says.

    But hey, I’m not a lawyer, maybe there is something there… but I do spend a lot of my life looking at contracts and none of this feels like anything but a good way to blow several grand.

  23. Daveon: It’s much harder to prove he was blocked for his political affiliation if they didn’t block other people for the same thing – it suggests that other factors were indeed in play.

    That’s still the same fallacy. If JDA shows their decision about HIM violated the law, it makes no difference that they didn’t discriminate against somebody else.

  24. Well, of course conventions can have codes of conduct, and they can try to enforce them if they want to, but what they cannot do is have them without potential consequences. These are the consequences, and they have been entirely predictable from the outset. Future committees might be well advised to have the funds to lawyer up with before deciding they need to play chicken with assholes.

  25. Is there any reason why those wanting to support the Worldcon could not just write a check and send it to San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc.? (I mean, other than the convenience of wanting to send their contribution online.) It’s a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

    My question is semi-rhetorical, but maybe there is some reason not to do things that way, so in that case please correct me.

  26. Mike: But the law, as it’s written, doesn’t cover him as a protected class – so he has his work cut out there that this is about his politics, or, for that matter anything else. Breaking terms of entry or rules of a place, event or other stuff when you’re in/a member seems to be fairly clearly covered until fairly established laws otherwise bars would have a lot more problems with people than they actually do, even in CA. You could sue a bar for baring you for being an X or Y, but if you’d started a fight or otherwise caused a problem you’re going to be out of luck, even if you feel hard done by. I’m struggling with how what he has done and has done very publicly isn’t covered by some fairly dull case law.

    Feels like he’s found a really expensive way to fail to make a point.

  27. @steve davidson: While the defendants are entitled to each retain their own attorneys if they want to do so, they don’t have to unless their positions are or may be adverse to each other. (For example, if one defendant was going to defend themself by blaming everything on one of the other defendants, the same lawyer could not represent both of those defendants.) Defendants whose interests don’t actually or potentially conflict (generally because they are in agreement with each other) can be represented by the same lawyer if they want to be.

  28. Mike Glyer: Even if they’d rather devote 100% of their attention to putting on the con itself, they know they’re doing an important service to fandom by seeing through the enforcement of their CoC.

    I grant that Worldcon as an entity spanning the years may benefit from the setting of precedence. This particular Worldcon will not.

    P.S. While I know full well what you meant, “CoC” will always mean “Call of Cthulhu” to me and the substitution in your sentence made me giggle.

  29. Daveon: Mike: But the law, as it’s written, doesn’t cover him as a protected class.

    There have been several decades of case law since the law was enacted, and in the Complaint they cite cases that draw “political affiliation” into the mix.

  30. Glenn Glazer: I grant that Worldcon as an entity spanning the years may benefit from the setting of precedence. This particular Worldcon will not.

    If they hadn’t enforced their CoC they’d be having JDA performing his harassing act in person, so I think they’re getting the benefit they were after.

    There’s also likely to be unquantifiable benefits from showing they’re serious about the CoC.

  31. IANAL, but I’d suspect there may be an anti-SLAPP aspect to this (definition –
    SLAPPs are used to silence and harass critics by forcing them to spend money to defend these baseless suits. SLAPP filers don’t go to court to seek justice. Rather, SLAPPS are intended to intimidate those who disagree with them or their activities by draining the target’s financial resources.) Using the California Anti-SLAPP may well be the first response.

    So we’ll see. And I would be surprised if Worldcon doesn’t have some form of insurance coverage that would respond to this sort of thing.

    Echoing those above, I don’t think “being a dick on the internet” is (yet) a protected class.

    And sympathies to the WorldCon Board members who really don’t need this baseless lawsuit from a petulant child. Got to be stressful, even if groundless.

  32. Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag: I just don’t get how this advances any of his goals.

    You’re right, it doesn’t advance the goals of 1) being able to attend conventions; 2) being invited to participate in convention panels; 3) being popular with convention attendees; 4) selling books to convention attendees.

    But those aren’t his goals. His goals are 1) pandering to the conservative far right; 2) making a name for himself as a far-right bloviator; 3) gaining financial marketability for himself as a columnist and/or speaker for far-right organizations.

    This lawsuit, just like all the harassment and abuse which he’s been directing toward SFF authors and fans, is a performance. Yes, it’s a third-rate performance, but it’s still a performance.

  33. Mike: There have been several decades of case law since the law was enacted, and in the Complaint they cite cases that draw “political affiliation” into the mix.

    Googling a couple of them, while they might reference political affiliation in the cases, there seems to be more involved in all them. It didn’t take too long to find a couple of cases upheld either.

    With my contracts hat on thought, second clause, line 39 strikes me as the problem… Worldcon 76 is a business establishment in that it holds itself out as open to the public without restriction…

    The fact that JDA and his lawyer seem to be ignoring that there is a clear statement of rules and code on conduct dating from 2012 that is referenced when you google for Worldcon membership rules suggests that that line alone is factually incorrect. Basically, I can’t have violated a rule I didn’t know about doesn’t strike me as something that will hold a lot of water…

    I just do commercial contracts though, so I couldn’t say for use. But given the guy’s public statements and things like that in the complaint, I don’t believe this will get to the point where he gets a chance to prove much. We’ll see…

    They’ve thrown a lot in the complaint in the hope something sticks. Not sure that’s ever really been a sound strategy if you intend to go to court. Can work if you’re trying to get stuff settled but I can’t see Worldcon doing that.

  34. Ulrika: Future committees might be well advised to have the funds to lawyer up with before deciding they need to play chicken with a$$holes.

    This is an utterly inaccurate — and, it seems to me, malicious — description of what Worldcon has done. They did what they needed to do — because they were going to hemorrhage attendees and panelists if they didn’t announce that JDA wasn’t going to be permitted to come.

    They made a choice between what was best for JDA and what was best for dozens, if not hundreds, of their attendees. The needs of the many, and all that.

  35. MG: If they hadn’t enforced their CoC they’d be having JDA performing his harassing act in person, so I think they’re getting the benefit they were after.

    Is that a foregone conclusion? I still think that we can’t prove a negative and can’t prove what would have happened in the alternate universe where he wasn’t banned.

    As a case in point, Sasquan took a lot of heat, including from –bless their little hearts– committee members when we decided to accept David Gerrold’s acceptance of Lou Antonelli’s apology and chose not to ban the latter. At the con, absolutely nothing even faintly untoward with respect to Mr. Antonelli actually happened despite all of the wringing of hands during the run up to the con.

    MG: There’s also likely to be unquantifiable benefits from showing they’re serious about the CoC.

    Or, others will see it as a gauntlet thrown.

  36. And it wasn’t Gerrold’s place to apologize, even if he had been free to refuse the apology and given his position of the MC of the Hugos there is a strong argument he wasn’t. The threat was made, in a very real way, against the entire membership of the convention. You refused to enforce your Code of Conduct, and that was your choice. WC76 enforced theirs. This is an intimidation tactic. And you might think caving to those is a good thing, but I am against – not on principle, but on practicality. As long thugs get away with their thuggery, they will keep at it. Everyone who looks the other way for expediency bears responsibility for their continued thuggery, and the thuggery of those who see their success.

  37. Glenn Glazer: Are you talking about the “precrime” argument, that he hadn’t actually yet violated any video recording laws at the Worldcon?

    There’s plenty he’s already done. Page through Jim Hines’ summary of JDA’s existing history of harassing people. That’s not “proving a negative.”

    Maybe that’s not enough for you, I don’t know, but there’s a pretty strong track record already.

  38. steve davidson: If all thirty “defendants” each hire an attorney to represent them…and they each charge oh, $150 per hour, its $4500.00 per hour.

    IANAL, but as I understand it, the lawsuit is only against SFSFC; those individuals cannot be sued as people, because the decision was made by SFSFC. And anyway, note that, in order for them to be individual parties to this lawsuit, they would all have to be legally served notice individually, and how expensive it would be to do that; at least one of them lives in the UK. The measly $1500 JDA’s GoFundMe raised wouldn’t even cover serving all of the people named.

  39. CH: And it wasn’t Gerrold’s place to apologize….

    Bullshit. Antonelli directly threatened David and wrote to the Spokane PD to accuse David of things David had not done. David is the only one whose place it is to accept. None of these precon actions happened at convention events or under convention purview in any way. There was no threat made in “a very real way, against the entire membership of the convention.”. Period. That’s just inflating an interpersonal dispute way beyond its scope.

    And I am not talking about “caving in” or any other such nonsense. The point is that you can’t prove whether a CoC enforcement actually prevents anything because a) you can’t predict the future and b) you can’t assert what would have happened absent the enforcement.

    MG: Are you talking about the “precrime” argument, that he hadn’t actually yet violated any video recording laws at the Worldcon?

    Nope, I’m just saying that you can’t assert whether such tools are actually effective or not.

  40. Hmm. In deference to Mike, dragging the Antonelli thing into this may be derailing the thread and I don’t want to engage in that discourtesy. It was only intended to be illustrative of a particular case, not an invitation to rehash the whole thing.

    So, let me try a game theoretic approach:

    There are two choices, ban or not and two results, something bad happens with respect to the ban contemplated person or not, a typical four-square game matrix.

    What I have been trying to say is that the bad thing happens event can happen with either the ban (as this whole thing shows) or not banning. Similarly, the no bad things can happen with either choice.

    Banning/hard enforcement of a CoC is not a panacea.

  41. Daveon: But the law, as it’s written, doesn’t cover him as a protected class – so he has his work cut out there that this is about his politics, or, for that matter anything else.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I was curious about that, and found this page regarding a case involving the Unruh Act:

    https://law.justia.com/cases/california/supreme-court/3d/30/721.html

    Quoting:

    As our prior decisions teach, the Unruh Act preserves the traditional broad authority of owners and proprietors of business establishments to adopt reasonable rules regulating the conduct of patrons or tenants; it imposes no inhibitions on an owner’s right to exclude any individual [30 Cal. 3d 726] who violates such rules. Under the act, however, an individual who has committed no such misconduct cannot be excluded solely because he falls within a class of persons whom the owner believes is more likely to engage in misconduct than some other group. Whether the exclusionary policy rests on the alleged undesirable propensities of those of a particular race, nationality, occupation, political affiliation, or age, in this context the Unruh Act protects individuals from such arbitrary discrimination.

    (Bolding added for emphasis)

    So, yes, if I understand this, according to California law, if he could show he was arbitrarily excluded for his political affiliation (or for other arbitrary “class” reasons), that could be an issue. On the other hand, the convention should have “broad authority” to regulate personal conduct.

  42. JJ: Well, thank you for identifying yourself. I’ll remember that.

    Pointless. I’ve stopped running cons, in part due to attitudes such as the one you expressed in that comment.

  43. @JJ: Well, JDA is indeed seeking to sue the individual defendants; they are named in the caption and identified as Individual Defendants in paragraph 2. I don’t know enough to comment on whether he will or won’t have difficulty in serving them.

  44. @Stobor —

    I think the most important words in the paragraph you quoted are “solely because”.

    It’s ridiculously simple to prove that JDA wasn’t banned “solely” because of any political affiliations. Even IF (hypothetical) it were proven that some concom members were biased against him because of his conservative views, his proven internet asshattery provides plenty of additional impetus for the ban.

    And so he would *still* lose his case.

  45. Glenn Glazer: I’ve stopped running cons, in part due to attitudes such as the one you expressed in that comment.

    Ah, yes, those pesky con-attending fans who actually expect conrunners to take their best interests into consideration when putting on a convention. 🙄

  46. After reading all of the above, my first reaction (as a fan who has been attending WorldCons for over 35 years) is to mentally picture the plaintiff as one of those thugs in a cheap suit who drops in to the local establishment (restaurant, dry cleaner, whatever) and says “Nice little place you’ve got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.” and then shakes the proprietor down for protection money.
    There are, unfortunately, some people who just enjoy being toxic and spoiling everyone else’s fun, because it gives them a sense of (unjustified) power.

  47. Joshua K. Well, JDA is indeed seeking to sue the individual defendants; they are named in the caption and identified as Individual Defendants in paragraph 2. I don’t know enough to comment on whether he will or won’t have difficulty in serving them.

    The court will not consider them individually part of the lawsuit, if JDA cannot provide evidence that they were individually served within the time frame required by law.

    Which is probably just more evidence of the incompetence of JDA’s attorney.

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